Non-fiction writer? Renew with the February NF Fest!

“I did it!” 

This is the phrase I proudly typed March 1st after I finished the last post for the Non-fiction Fest. Why? Because I persevered through a free, month-long, non-fiction writing course and I’m darn proud of myself. Plus, I loved it! I was so enthused and surprised by a renewed interest in writing non-fiction, that I wanted to spread the word.

What’s it all about?

The Non-Fiction Fest, or NF Fest, is a free month-long, crash course during February on writing non-fiction for children. By the end of it, participants will have read a daily post about researching, writing, and illustrating children’s non-fiction books. At least twenty activities and daily post readings are required by the end of the month in order to be eligible for prize drawings. (Keep reading!)

Who is in charge of the fest?

Why, the Non-fiction Chicks, of course! Meet Pat Miller, Linda Skeers, Lisa Amstutz, Nancy Churnin, Peggy Thomas, Stephaine Bearce, and Susie Kralovansky. These seven award-winning children’s authors who specialize in non-fiction writing, plus many other established writers and illustrators offer a daily post along with an optional activity. 

How does it all work?

One lovely post at a time! Participants read a daily post by authors and illustrators (including the Non-fiction chicks) on the structure and craft of non-fiction. At the end of each post, an activity is offered related to the content. To keep organized, the Chicks recommend circling the date on the blank calendar provided after reading each post and choosing one of the following: an author activity, a grid activity (from a pre-filled February calendar), writing, or research. Downloads include a blank calendar with reminder notes about what to do and a pre-filled calendar of activities, research, and writing prompts from which to choose.

To be eligible for the prize drawings, you need to read all 28 posts, complete at least 20 activities and have been registered before Feb. 1. On March 1st, you take the NF Fest pledge in the post’s comment section by typing, “I did it!” and sign your name. If you said you completed the requirements, then they’ll believe you. It’s all about the honor system, people! 

What are the prizes?

A new car! A check for 100k! (Um…just kidding.) Actually, they’re pretty great! They range from autographed copies of the authors’ books to a manuscript critique to a Zoom call or Skype session with one of the authors to discuss book ideas or career moves. Winners will be announced in middle March based on a random drawing of names.

Is there a FB group for this fest?

Yes! It’s called the NFFest. According to Pat Miller, one of the Non-fiction Chicks, it’s going to be active all year long for the participants. If you’re not a member, you can read the posts from February Fest to get caught up. The comments section is full of great questions, also.

Who can join the NF Fest? 

Anyone who’s interested in writing children’s non-fiction. The participants range from new to published writers. There’ll be another fest next year–don’t miss it! 

What did I take away from it?

A whole new perspective on writing non-fiction for kids, plus different research avenues I hadn’t thought of. I learned about making a book dummy (digital and physical) even if there is no MS yet, as well as the OneNote cloud-based platform for keeping notes and staying organized. Of course, there were many questions and suggestions to ponder that dealt with the planning and crafting of a piece, too numerous to go into here. So…

What’s next?

So go read the posts! Seriously, go and read them and try some of the activities. I always viewed myself as a mostly fiction writer, but honestly, after working through this fest, I realized that I, too, had multiple non-fiction ideas for articles and even books. Pretty confirming for this writer! I’d been keeping a file of them and now I’m going to dive into an idea that’s been rattling in my mind for a while. Maybe you will, too.

Let me know if you read any NF Fest posts and what resonated with you. I look forward to hearing about it! 

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