Nancy's Books

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Writing Style

Have you ever read so many books by a writer that you recognize the style immediately. Dr. Seuss, for instance, had a specific style.

In The Cat in the Hat, the mood was fun, happy, playful. The word choice evoked lighthearted zeal.
"They are tame. Oh so tame!
They have come here to play.
They will give you some fun
On this wet, wet, wet day."
Bill Martin Jr. could not read as a child. He called his writing style “jazzy” and wrote “to a melody,” meaning that his words had a particular rhythm. Many of his books had a predictable text, such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
Writing style is the way an author chooses to write to the audience. It reveals the writer’s word choice, sentence structure, and tone, all of which varies with every writer. Style is the WAY a piece is written as opposed to WHAT is written.
When you will begin writing your book, consider the style. Will the text be condensed to a few words on each page or filled with imagery and details? Will it be told in a lyrical fashion, as Bill Martin Jr. and Dr. Seuss did, straightforward text as with many nonfiction books, or maybe with a touch of humor infused into a serious piece? Will it be told in first or third person?
As you write stories, your style will emerge. The way you use written language by creating dialog and constructing sentences and paragraphs, touches of humor, playfulness in word choice all contribute to your literary individuality—your writing style.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Adroit Journal. A  literary magazine run entirely by high school and college students. Adroint publishes poetry, fiction, flash fiction, art/photography, and cross-genre works with separate submissions for "adults" and those "under the age of 21."
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Young Rider is a bi-monthly magazine written for children and teens who own horses or who take lessons at riding schools. Pays $150 for features of 800 to 1,000 words.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Writing Time

In a workshop I taught this summer, an attendee asked me how much time should be spent writing each day to pursue a career in the field. The answer is not a one-size-fit-all. Every person has his/her amount of available time and tolerance.

Writers who gain contracts usually spend a few hours each day writing, revising, thinking, revising, reading, and revising. Do you notice a trend? Revision is the key. Successful writers keep writing and revising until the manuscript sparkles. That takes time. Spurts of inspiration are wonderful to motivate a person to write, but successful writers have a regular schedule. Some days inspiration much be given a nudge and that happens when we sit with BIC (butt in chair) and write even when we don’t want to, don’t feel like it, don’t know what to write. Yet, we write anyway.
In Stephen King’s book, On Writing, he states “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” There are no shortcuts. Garnering a publishing contract requires learning the craft of writing and crafting a quality story. Both take time. Some people have a solid knowledge of the craft and have read widely in the genre in which they are writing while others are just beginning the journey to publication.
Don’t be concerned if someone you know spends twice as much time writing as you do. You’re not in a race with anyone. Concentrate on what works for you and the time you have to devote to your manuscript; then write, read, write, revise, write, revise, read, write, revise, read…
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Flash Fiction/Prose Poetry Contest. The OddContest is an annual competition for speculative (science fiction, fantasy, or horror) stories or prose poems no longer than 500 words. The contest has been sponsored since 2008 by Odyssey Con. The contest offers cash prizes, convention memberships, and books in both Adult and Youth divisions.
The entry deadline is January 15 this year and results are announced by March 15. An awards ceremony and reading of the 2016 winning entries will be held at Odyssey Con on April 8-10, 2016; they will also be published in the Odyssey Con program and on this website.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
"Third Flatiron Anthologies. "It's Come to Our Attention" or "Scratching the Surface" - Under
the radar: things that are happening quietly, without a lot of
fanfare, that may still be extremely significant or make a big

Reading Period: August 1 - September 30, 2015
Writer Deadline: September 30, 2015
Publication Date: December 1, 2015

Submission guidelines at

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I was nominated for this award by Susan at Please check out all she has to offer at her blog also! 

Thank you, Susan, for selecting my blog for this award.

What is the Newbie Blogger Liebster Award?
The Newbie Blogging Liebster Award is an award given to new bloggers, usually for those who have less than 200 followers, by other bloggers as a way to support each other in our journey to growing and building our blogs.

What are the rules?
  1. Post your award to your blog.
  2. Answer the questions you were given by the person who nominated you
  3. Nominate a small group of other new bloggers you’ve discovered
  4. Create 10 new questions for the nominees
  5. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link their blog.
Here are my questions, along with my answers!

1.                Where do you live?
In Kentucky, between Hazard and Hindman

2. What was your last work published?
First Fire: A Cherokee Folktale

3. What is your next work coming out?
2016, Forty Winks, a picture book.

4. What are you reading?
Lots and lots of picture books because I’m writing one. I have almost 40 picture books published and each time I begin a new one, I read a ton of them to get the mindset I need.

5. Where is your favorite place to snuggle down and read?
In bed with my two miniature schnauzers that dream up stories for me.
6.                What is your favorite quote?
By John Greenleaf Whittier: “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”
Before I received my first book contract, I kept that quote taped to my computer screen. The words inspired me to never give up my dream of becoming a published author...of what might have been.

7. How would you describe your blog?
The name of my blog is “Writing Workshop” and that’s basically what it is about. I write tips for various aspects of writing. Also, I list markets for young writers and for grown-up writers.

8. What is your favorite writing tip? Read, read, read. Write, write, write.

9. What is your favorite place on the web? SCBWI’s Blue Board

10.  Sweet or salty?
Sweet, definitely, saturated in chocolate.

Who Did I Nominate for Liebster Award?

***Stephanie Brown***

This awesome blogger deserve a shout out for all of her hard work! Please get to know her through her blog and enjoy!  Check out her blog at
Congratulations on your Liebster Award!

My Questions For Stephanie:

1.      What inspired you to write your blog?

2.      What is your blog about?

3.      How long have you been writing for publication?

4.      What is the most fun you have writing?

5.      What advice would you give people who want to write?

6.      Where do you live?

7.      What is your favorite genre to write?

8.      How often do you write?

9.      Favorite food?

10.  Favorite book?





Sunday, September 20, 2015

Creating Scenes

Let’s look at other elements needed in scenes.

As you write subsequent scenes, consider if the character will fail or succeed. Most novels and chapter books revolve around a character’s failure and the response to the failure. Make life difficult for the protagonist; then make it more difficult. Keep throwing setbacks until the character is in a situation that seems impossible to overcome. As failure increases, the character’s emotional state changes as well. The change doesn’t have to be great, but bring his/her emotional state to the stage so the reader can identify with the character.
Strong stories are created by characters that have inner conflicts. The conflict drives the story by the way the character reacts to the problem and makes decisions. This is the plot. To know how the character will act and react, a writer must have a complete understanding of the character. You can do this by writing a history of the character or interviewing the character. If you understand the character’s backstory before you write, the character will be easier to develop and will make consistent and appropriate decisions based on the conflict. Strong characters create strong plots.
As you write a scene—a place, a time, a change of action—allow the protagonist to come to life through action and reaction. This advice recently came to me from an editor: Invite the reader into the mind of the protagonist and see the story through his/her eyes. The effect is an engaging read.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Skipping Stones. Writings (essays, stories, letters to the editor, riddles and proverbs, etc.) should be typed or neatly handwritten and limited to 1,000 words and poems to 30 lines. We encourage writings in all languages with an English translation, if possible. And, we love illustrations! Please send originals of your drawings, paintings, or photos to our post office box address below. Include your name, age, and address along with your submission. We welcome electronic submissions as well. We prefer Word.doc. or .docx.files or text.edit files. Art and photos can be sent as .jpeg or .tiff files. Please DO NOT send us zip.files.

Submission guidelines at

Skipping Stones. Our readers, ages 7 to 17, hail from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. We want to make their reading of Skipping Stones an active experience, relevant to issues confronting them locally and globally. Writing and artwork by adults should challenge readers to think, learn, cooperate and create.
We encourage adults to submit creative informational stories rather than pure fiction. We prefer submissions focusing on your own culture or experiences. No adult poetry, please.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Creating Scenes

Let’s look at other elements needed in scenes.

Action. The sooner the action, the sooner the reader is drawn into the story. The momentum of action carries the reader forward, turning the pages. Remember to keep the action true to the character. A girl might run away from home, but she is not likely to intentionally place her younger sister in harm. One effective beginning is to start a novel with an action scene without explanation. Jump into the action. Backstory is unnecessary as a novel opening and is best revealed and scenes unfold.
Add conflict, tension, or suspense. I began my children’s novel, Amazing Grace, with two mysteries. As the scenes unfolded, the first mystery was revealed. A few scenes later, I introduced the second mystery. Failure creates conflict, tension, and suspense. Allow your character to fail and fail again. Through failure comes learning, experience, and change—elements needed so the character can grow and succeed. Failure is a motivator. It’s what keeps the character determined to continue the quest. Failure and learning creates an emotional growth for the character, as well.
Consider how each scene takes the character to the goal or solution to the problem, the end result. If the scene doesn't do that, scrap it. Save it for the next book.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Cuckoo Chronicle is a bi-annual online literature journal for young writers aged 15-21. We like innovative, original work by young writers, and aim to both support talent development and showcase high quality work. We accept poetry, short fiction, flash fiction, excerpts from longer fiction (providing they make sense as a stand alone piece) and creative non-fiction (not reviews). We also love to receive audio/ video/ film- so send us your songs, performances and illustartions too. We’re also interested in illustrations too. BE CREATIVE.
We also offer a Cuckoo prize of £50 for the best submission of every issue!
All submissions are read by our Editorial Committee made up of young people, also aged 15-21. They decide what goes into Cuckoo, edit pieces and decide on the editorial direction of Cuckoo Chronicle.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Writers from around the world are invited to enter the 2016 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. The winner will receive £30,000 (US$46,500), making this the most valuable prize for a single short story in the world. The prize is for stories up to 6,000 words in length and there is no entry fee. Stories can be either unpublished or published. If published, the work must have first appeared after 1 January 2015. Writers can enter regardless of their nationality or residency but they must have an existing record of publication in creative writing in the UK and Ireland. Deadline September 24, 2015.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Creating scenes

A scene is a piece of action, a unit of drama. Novels and chapter books consist of a series of scenes with pieces of narrative connecting them. They are the building blocks of a story.

As you write scenes for your manuscript, keep in mind that each needs a beginning, middle, and end and should reveal information about the character or plot. Scenes often begin and end with chapters. Mystery writer often end scene and chapters with a cliffhanger. Many writers end a scene when there is a major shift in the action.
With each new scene consider these questions:
Where are the characters in the plot?
What information should I reveal?
The answer to these questions will vary with every writer and story.
Time and setting are essential. The “when” and “where” are usually established in the beginning of the story and only need to be implied in following scenes.
Allow the character to act first and think later. Jesse jumped from the high cliff. Falling faster and faster, he promised himself he would never take another dare. This type of opening for a novel is effective because it hooks the reader immediately.

Next week, I'll discuss other ways to develop scenes.
September through May, I will include Calls for Submissions for Young Writers.
Calls for Submissions for Young Writers:
Teen Essay Contest. Gilda's Club of Louisville seeks entries for 4th Annual Write Stuff Teen Essay, Poetry and Visual Art Contest.  Teens who are or have been impacted by cancer are invited to participate through submissions of essays, poems, two-dimensional artwork and videos.  Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three participants in each of six categories - essays written by middle school students connected to cancer, essays written by high school students connected to cancer, essays written by survivors, poetry, artwork and video. Youth in grades 6 through 12 who live in Kentucky or Southern Indiana may enter. Their original writing, artwork or video can be about their own cancer diagnosis or that of a family member or friend.   All entries are due no later than midnight EST, Friday, October 2.
Calls for Submissions for Adult Writers:
The online journal, Waypoints, is open for submissions of journey-themed poetry, fiction, and art until October 1. Published work will be eligible for the Editor’s Choice Award of $50.  The publication seeks writing and artwork that embodies a sense of what you’ve encountered on your journey--places you've been, people you’ve met, and obstacles you’ve traversed.
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Journal, a Secret Weapon for Writers, Part IV

Other uses and benefits of keeping a journal:

Writers of children’s books can mine their gray matter for scene development ideas. In a journal, list things that upset you when you were the age of the protagonist in your current manuscript. Or something that delighted you. Scared you. Made you wait with gleeful anticipation. Look at the situation from the perspective of a child. When you remember the way you felt when something happened, jot it down in a journal. These tidbits can be pure gold.
A journal for writers goes beyond ideas for manuscripts. Daily writing keeps you in the habit of writing. Yes, writing can be habit forming. Conversely, avoiding writing can be, also. Keeping a journal heightens awareness of your behavior and habits. The best way to become better at writing is to write. If you want to build a career of writing, consider a regular schedule for writing.
Journal writing can do wonders for your ideas. Simply try different possibilities for your piece. What works? What doesn’t? Play with words and have fun writing.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
AE welcomes submissions from both established and emerging authors. We publish exclusively science fiction, though our interpretation of the genre can be quite inclusive. We are interested in stories from 500 to 3,000 words in length. We are not soliciting poetry or screenplays at this time.