Nothing gives me more peace than photographing nature.

I’m so excited to have a guest joining our blog today! The following is a post from author & nature photographer Lieve Snellings, the creator of a series about Margot the groundhog. Thanks to our groundhogs here in America, we know we’re in for another six weeks of winter. But perhaps this post about the beauty and inspiration of nature will help make that time pass quickly!


About 10 years ago I was introduced to this heavenly pleasure of nature photography. I was so charmed seeing all these pretty animals and birds in our Quebec garden. I had seen cats washing themselves, but here I also saw birds, squirrels, groundhogs… doing the same. Observing them was so much fun.

I don’t know if these lovely creatures have emotions like humans have, though I could hear them talk. And Margot the woodchuck started to tell me I had to publish their story, to show small and big kids that all creatures in nature are living beings and that they love to live too.  Of course Margot wanted to play the first violin in the orchestra, but that was OK. She loved to share the attention with her family and friends.

It was Margot, who told me about Eufrazie the hairdresser and how she create a special hairstyle for every critter, also birds, when some festivity is coming up. It was exciting to see all those birds with this special haircut. I had to photograph them and share this with you all.

Squirrel 2

Maybe you are interested in how to photograph birds too. I’m glad to offer you these 14 easy tips:

  1. If you want to start photographing birds, you do not have to go far. It is best to start in your garden or street or a park or field in your area.
  2. It is important to get to know the behavior of the birds you want to photograph. Around what time of the day do they show up? On which branch do they usually sit? Do they show up alone or in the company of others?
  3. Use a tripod.
  4. Hide yourself, make use of a shelter, something you’ll not too visible. An old paravan, with opening to pierce the lens of your camera through can also be a handy thing to hide.
  5. Don’t make sudden movements.
  6. Birds adhere to the same habits, they regularly return to the same place. Choose a spot, prepare your camera and wait until the bird returns to that spot.
  7. Set your camera to a fast shutter speed (S in high number) and the aperture or diaphragm as large as possible (F in small number) – this is to allow as much light as possible to come in and to make the shutter speed as short as possible.
  8. Take your photos in the larger format (highest megapixels) because otherwise you lose a lot of quality when you make a cut-out afterwards.
  9. Make sure you are dressed warm enough because you may have to sit still for a while.
  10. Pay attention to the foreground and background.
  11. Birds like to fly against the wind direction to keep more control. So when you choose to photograph birds in flight, draw with your camera in the flight direction.
  12. Experiment with different points of view.
  13. Photographing birds is in fact, like top sport. Patience, exercise and perseverance are important.
  14. It is pleasant to have a bird encyclopedia or a bird app on your smartphone or tablet, so you can look up which birds you just saw and to learn more about them.

I wish you can enjoy as much as I did and do.


…if you want to learn more about my work.

Thanks for sharing these fantastic tips, Lieve!

How to Get Published in Kid’s Imagination Train

Guest post by Randi Lynn Mrvos, editor of Kid’s Imagination Train.


Liz kindly invited me to blog about the types of stories Kid’s Imagination Train publishes. Before we explore submissions, allow me to introduce you to our little magazine. KIT is a free online magazine for kids five to twelve. It was created to encourage children to read and to learn.  We also wanted to give children the opportunity to illustrate our features and have their work published online.  By drawing pictures kids have the chance to be creative while reflecting on what they’ve read.

The second reason KIT was developed was to help writers get their stories and articles published.  Since the children’s magazine market had been shrinking for years, writers had fewer choices to place their work.  With KIT, writers can earn credits to build their bios.

KIT accepts nonfiction, poetry, and fiction, but let’s focus on fiction. If you are thinking about submitting a story we would like to see the six structural elements of a story: Character, quest, complications, climax, conclusion, change. In addition, we are looking for light-hearted tone and voice. We like to see whimsical stories with illustration potential.

Here are some tips to help you write a story for KIT:

Introduce the main character in the first paragraph.
Make the protagonist likable even though she may have faults. Readers should care about this character.
Establish place or setting in the first or second paragraph.
Create conflict in the first third of the story.
Have the protagonist solve the dilemma by herself and without any help from an adult.
Use “said” for dialogue tags. Avoid using fancy tags like she promised, she cried, she shouted.
Try to incorporate the senses into the story.
Drive the story with action. Balance action with dialogue.
Keep the story under 500 words.
Have the protagonist grow or change by the end of the story.

We encourage you to read back copies. This will help you get a feel for the kinds of stories we publish. It may even spark your imagination.   Kid’s Imagination Train loves publishing stories for children. So now that you know what we’re looking for, do you have a story that you can share with KIT?

You can find Kid’s Imagination Train at Read more by Randi at Thanks for joining us today, Randi!

Guest Post on Children’s Writer’s World

Many thanks to Randi Lynn Mvros for inviting me to write a guest post on Children’s Writer’s World! Visit her blog for my discussion of how I review books, and to read my review of BOB, NOT BOB! by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick. While you are on the blog, enjoy some of the other posts that are there to inspire children’s writers!

Visit my guest post here – Writing A Review: BOB, NOT BOB!

Thanks Children’s Writer’s World!