Author Lisa Amstutz on Connecting Kids with Nature- PLUS GIVEAWAY!

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Hello world!!

Welcome to my book blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this Q & A, please welcome a talented NF writer who’s a mentor to me, and who also just became an agent at Storm Literary, Lisa Amstutz. After writing over 150 books, she still had time to release another: Mammal Mania, middle grade nonfiction, published by Chicago Review Press. Check out her book journey below.

BUT first- YAY! Lisa is generously giving away a free critique of a PB or up to 10 pages of a longer ms (double-spaced). All you have to do is comment on this blog post. Contest ends April 6, 2021.

 

Please describe the journey to publication for Mammal Mania.
I had previously written a book for Chicago Review Press’s Young Naturalists series called Amazing Amphibians. CRP was wonderful to work with, so my agent and I pitched some more ideas and this was the one my editor chose. My background is in ecology, so both of these books were right up my alley and fun to research and write.

Where did you draw the book’s inspiration?
Connecting kids with nature has always been one of my passions. Like the others in this series, this book is aimed at helping kids discover nature through engaging text, photos, and hands-on activities.

What is your writing process, and does it vary depending on the project?
It definitely varies by the project. The two books I wrote for this series were very research-heavy, so I would take one topic at a time, research it, and then figure out a good way to share that information in a kid-friendly way. Some of my others, like Applesauce Day and Finding a Dove for Gramps, were more like writing poetry – a spark of inspiration that flowed out onto the page—followed, of course, by lots of revisions.

Please paste a short and compelling excerpt from your book.
“Imagine that you took a beaver and a duck and mixed them together—you might come out with something like a platypus. In fact, when European scientists first saw a platy­pus specimen, they thought it had to be a fake! But they were eventually convinced that this odd-looking mammal was real.”

You’re skilled at writing nonfiction, what are some effective strategies to engage young readers while disseminating information?
Writing nonfiction is really no different from writing fiction, except that you can’t make stuff up. The same rules of good writing apply – use strong nouns, active verbs, metaphors/similes, wordplay, a compelling story arc (if writing narrative NF) – in other words, general good writing techniques.

Please share your favorite books that have inspired you and served as mentor texts.
Because this was part of a series, I used previous books in the series as mentor texts. Others that have inspired me in terms of engaging middle grade nonfiction include Some Writer by Melissa Sweet, All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat, Something Rotten by Heather Montgomery, Astronaut-Aquanaut by Jen Swanson, and many more.

You recently became an agent at Storm Literary, how do you balance writing and agenting?
Well, my pace has slowed a bit, but I’ve always had to fit my own writing in around freelance client work (writing, editing, etc.), so this doesn’t feel much different. Like anyone else with a day job or other full-time responsibilities, I write in my spare time – evenings, weekends, etc.

What is the best (one) piece of advice you would give to other writers?
When an opportunity presents itself, don’t let fear and ‘what if’s’ stop you. Say yes—then go figure out how to do it. My writing mentor gave me this piece of advice early on, and it has served me well, even though it often stretches me out of my comfort zone.

And a bonus question just for kicks! If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
Hmm. Maybe a cat—judging by my own three, it’s a pretty luxurious life!

BIO
Lisa Amstutz is the author of ~150 science and history books for kids. She spent eight years as a freelance editor, working with individual authors as well as corporate publishers. She also served as Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI: Ohio North and as a volunteer judge for Rate Your Story. Lisa recently joined Storm Literary Agency as an Associate Literary Agent.
Lisa’s background includes a B.A. in Biology and an M.S. in Environmental Science/Ecology. A former outdoor educator, she specializes in topics related to science, nature, and agriculture. She lives on a small farm with her family.

LINKS
Website: www.LisaAmstutz.com
Twitter: @LJAmstutz
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LJAmstutz
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisaamstutz.author/
Mammal Mania is available anywhere books are sold.
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mammal-Mania-Activities-Observations-Naturalists/dp/1641604360/
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mammal-mania-lisa-j-amstutz/1137370629?ean=9781641604369
IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781641604369

54 thoughts on “Author Lisa Amstutz on Connecting Kids with Nature- PLUS GIVEAWAY!

    Autism Candles said:
    April 15, 2021 at 10:17 pm

    Reblogged this on Autism Candles.

    Like

    Lisa Amstutz (closed to queries) (@LJAmstutz) said:
    April 6, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you all for your kind comments! I appreciate you stopping by!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      April 6, 2021 at 1:24 pm

      Thanks for participating in Blissfully Bookish!!

      Like

    allisonrozo said:
    April 5, 2021 at 9:10 am

    I so appreciate hearing your journey Lisa and thank you for posting this wonderful discussion Lydia. I can’t wait to read her new book to my children. I especially loved hearing Lisa’s thoughts on “don’t let fear and ‘what if’s’ stop you. Say yes—then go figure out how to do it.” So inspiring! Thank you again!

    Liked by 1 person

    Mona Voelkel said:
    April 4, 2021 at 7:51 pm

    Lydia, I enjoyed your interview with Lisa! The excerpt from from MAMMAL MANIA hooked me and I can’t wait to read this book. Like her advice about taking every opportunity!

    Liked by 1 person

    Shannon Howarth Nelsen said:
    April 4, 2021 at 7:47 am

    I loved hearing about Lisa’s process. So thankful to have writers who want to inspire a love of nature. I’m definitely ordering a copy of Mammal Mania!

    Liked by 1 person

    Kelly Rice said:
    April 1, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    I love hearing about writer’s processes! Thank you fir sharing your journey from science scholar to kids writer to agent!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      April 1, 2021 at 1:41 pm

      It’s awesome Lisa also finds time to be an agent, she’s disciplined and organized with her time.

      Like

    Paulette Sharkey said:
    April 1, 2021 at 11:31 am

    I love this: “Imagine that you took a beaver and a duck and mixed them together—you might come out with something like a platypus.” So engaging, so kid-friendly!

    Liked by 1 person

    Annie Lynn/AnnieBirdd Music, LLC said:
    March 29, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    Congratulations on becoming a Literary Agent Lisa! I was happy with you as an Author already, so being an agent is even nicer. I would like to apply for a critique of a STEM song I wrote based on animal families living in the ocean. I am convinced that NF picture books that are STEAM based are the most immersive way to convey learning in a fun way. p.s. I also do Amphibian & Reptile songs. 😁 Good luck with writing.✌🏼🎶🎨🔬📚Another great interview Lydia!🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    Lauri Meyers said:
    March 26, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    Between the title Mammal Mania and the giraffe and sloth goofy faces, this cover just begs to be opened. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    musicgrlmf said:
    March 26, 2021 at 2:59 pm

    As someone querying nature related manuscripts right now, thank you so much for this post and opportunity!

    Liked by 1 person

    dedradavis03 said:
    March 26, 2021 at 12:19 am

    This is inspiring and helpful! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    yangmommy said:
    March 25, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    I have to say, baby platypuses (is that even a word?!) are the darndest, cutest things!! I love your credo about stepping up to a challenge–say yes then figure it out 🙂 Because honestly, how else will one grow if one keeps saying no? Best with your release & in your new role as agent!

    Liked by 1 person

    seschipper said:
    March 25, 2021 at 12:30 am

    Great post! I agree with all of the responses regarding the Platypus! Certainly an interesting mammal..Hmmm could there be a story starter there???
    I also loved the advice regarding rules for good writing and saying yes when an opportunity arises!!
    Looking forward to reading this book! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Angie said:
    March 24, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    Congratulations! Mammals are just too much fun. Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

    rosecappelli said:
    March 24, 2021 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing this interview with Lisa, Lydia! I love her advice to always say yes when an opportunity arises. Overcoming doubts is hard for me sometimes, so I needed to hear that.

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 24, 2021 at 6:46 pm

      I’m right there with you. I experience self-doubt often, so I have to mentally swipe it away

      Liked by 1 person

    chardixon47 said:
    March 24, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    Congratulations Lisa on the new job at Storm Literary! Your advice is gold. Thank you for sharing your journey into writing MAMMAL MANIA. I have some kiddos who are going to love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Rosie Russell said:
    March 24, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    What an interesting and fun journey, Lisa Amstutz’s has had as an author and Literary Agent . I’m looking forward to checking out her books.

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 24, 2021 at 6:47 pm

      Well, you have 150 titles to choose from 🙂

      Like

    Sheri Delgado Preston said:
    March 24, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    Thank you for the awesome interview. I really enjoyed reading about your process and the excerpt from your book hooked me! Congrats Lisa:)

    Like

    Ann Harrell said:
    March 24, 2021 at 11:35 am

    Thoroughly enjoyed this! Thanks for sharing. I particularly liked your “one piece of advice” for writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    Beth Elliott said:
    March 24, 2021 at 11:27 am

    I appreciated the excerpt about a platypus. My daughters used to delight in sharing that the platypus lays eggs and saying this word in French, “un ornithorynque” – a ginormous word for small children to say – – which made them feel all the wiser! MAMMAL MANIA will be very popular with children; I look forward to picking up a copy.

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 24, 2021 at 6:47 pm

      Who doesn’t love a platypus, right??

      Like

        Genevieve Gorback said:
        March 26, 2021 at 11:08 am

        Lisa has a dream career! I love her books and I’m so excited to see what she does as an agent!

        I think I might have to tattoo “don’t let fear and ‘what if’s’ stop you” somewhere on myself so that I finally take that sage advice! 🙂

        Thanks for another great interview, Lydia!

        Liked by 1 person

    Kim A Larson said:
    March 24, 2021 at 11:25 am

    Congratulations on your new becoming an agent, Lisa! Thanks for sharing your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    lizluvselephants said:
    March 24, 2021 at 11:23 am

    Such a great read – inspiring!! Thank you for sharing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    limakat said:
    March 24, 2021 at 11:17 am

    As a kid with favorite fiction titles like “Llamas in the Living Room” and “Kangaroos in the Kitchen” I would have loved this kind of great middle grade non-fiction. With grandchildren now, it will be fun to share “Mammal Mania” with them. But, I have to admit that my jaw is still hanging open in awe at the fact that Lisa has managed to be the “author of ~150 science and history books for kids” AND everything else she does! Impressive (and not exactly unintimidating to someone still trying to get the first ones out!)

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 24, 2021 at 11:25 am

      I know, right?? She’s well disciplined and great at time management, to be sure

      Like

    Lindsey Hobson said:
    March 24, 2021 at 11:01 am

    Thanks for sharing! I love reading about the journey!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 24, 2021 at 11:17 am

      It’s often as interesting as the book! As a writer, I always love reading these journeys as well

      Like

    This looks like an awesome activity book for children. What a wonderful way to impart knowledge and make it fun! Just another reason why I love NF and the authors/agents (wow, Lisa – how do you do both?) that represent this genre. Thanks for shining a light on Lisa’s work, Lydia!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 24, 2021 at 11:18 am

      Yes, it takes great skill to juggle both writing and agenting, but I know Lisa is more than up for it!

      Like

    rozanark said:
    March 24, 2021 at 10:45 am

    Sounds like a really fun book! Great interview!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 24, 2021 at 11:18 am

      Yes, fun AND informative. That’s why I love NF.

      Like

    Sarah Meade said:
    March 24, 2021 at 10:33 am

    Thanks for sharing your book journey, Lisa! Thanks for the post, Lydia! Looking forward to reading Mammal Mania. Great title!

    Liked by 1 person

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