Nancy's Books

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel/Call for Submissions

Let’s take a look at the latest trends, according to some editors. I’m not advocating writing to trends, since by the time your story is ready to submit, the trend may have passed. However, trends can indicate types of manuscripts that editors are looking for.

Here’s a peek:
Picture books are on the rise. This category had been flat for several years.
Chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels and new adult novels are selling well and have editors requesting manuscripts.
Humorous stories in all categories are a plus, as are realistic, contemporary stories.
Series continue to be popular.
Paranormal and dystopian have saturated the market so they are in less demand.
Horror stories are seeing a growth pattern.
Strong male protagonists in Young Adult are seeing an upsurge.
Historical fiction is in an upward swing.
Nonfiction in all areas of children’s lit is growing, possibly due to the Common Core, a program used by schools in which nonfiction books are utilized.
Remember, quality fiction and nonfiction transcend all trends.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
The second annual short story contest from the Loudoun County [Virginia] Public Library is NOT limited to Loudoun County residents. No theme: Take part in our annual adult short story writing contest. For ages 19 & up. Stories can be inspired by real life, fantasies, mysteries, adventures, or even horror.” Cash prizes: $200/$100/$50 for the top three stories. Those winners and honorable mentions will receive a copy of the resulting book. No entry fee.
Deadline: August 11, 2014.
Submit your entry:
Submission Guidelines at

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel/Call for Submissions

Today, I’m continuing the series, Writing a Middle Grade Novel.
A story is told through the viewpoint of the narrator, either in first or third person. In first person, the story is told by one of the characters, as in “I said.” Third person narrative is told from the perspective of someone outside the story, as in “she said.”
First person is popular with this audience because it lets the reader know what is happening as it happens. The character’s thoughts and actions are relayed as they occur. The voice of the character can add humor, sarcasm, anger in a way that reflects the growth of the character.
Third person narrative is also popular. The advantage is that it offer more sophisticated language and observations.
The writer’s job is to get into character and express thoughts and feelings of the protagonist. Most middle grade stories are told from the perspective of a single character. This allows reader to identify with the character, understand why the character behaves the way s/he does, and to support his/her efforts. 
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
COUNTRY MAGAZINE. We pay $250 for story submissions that run a page or more. Contributors published in "Mailbox" or "Little Humor" receive a gift certificate for a one-year subscription, or subscription extension, to Country Extra. Most other contributors will receive an authentic hand-forged iron dinner triangle. In our "Just For Fun" section, photos garner a dinner triangle; jokes and short items earn payment of $25. Generally, a published one-page story runs 400-500 words in length. Country magazine celebrates the breathtaking beauty, engaging people, enduring values and spiritually rewarding lifestyle of the American
1 ripe avocado
2 ears of fresh sweet corn
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
Honey Lime Dressing
Juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp honey
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash of cayenne pepper
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel/Call for Submissions

Today, I’m continuing the series, Writing a Middle Grade Novel.
Begin the story with action and conflict to grab and keep the readers’ interests. When the action slows and the protagonist seems to be getting the upper hand on the situation, throw his/her world into a tailspin. If the character does not have to struggle, if success comes too easily, the reader will not make an emotional investment in the character’s journey. To build interest, raise the stakes by adding more conflict. Example: He has 24 hours to accomplish a seemingly impossible task, and if he fails something even more drastic will happen.
Readers want a story that connects in some way to their own lives—the betrayal of a best friend or fear of completing some task. Present a character that is flawed but has other qualities—courage, compassion, etc.—that inspire the readers. The character should feel and think in ways that parallel the audience.
Give the character the opportunity to fail a few times. Through failure s/he learns how to cope and succeed. The ending doesn’t have to have a “happy ever after” scene but it should leave the reading feeling that there is hope.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Hogglepot accepts fantasy and science fiction of all sub-genres, including (but not limited to) alternate history, dystopian, fairy tale, historical, gothic, light fantasy, magical realism, paranormal, science fantasy, space opera, steampunk, superhero, supernatural, sword and sorcery, time travel, urban fantasy, and weird western.
Submission Guidelines at

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel/Call for Submissions

Today, I’m continuing the series, Writing a Middle Grade Novel.
Middle grade readers enjoy action-packed stories. This does not mean it has to have a chase scene or a fist fight, but it should include movement and the idea of something happening. Allow the reader to become involved in the action by showing the scene rather than telling it.
Start with action. Place the main character in the midst of a problem from the first paragraph. This is called a hook and it draws the reader’s interest from the beginning. The first paragraph is no place to tell the reader that the character lives in Omaha or by the sea unless the setting is critical to the action scene. Description and setting are both important and can be woven in later, after the action has sprung loose and captured the reader’s attention. To hang on to their attention, keep things moving.
Every scene is not, and should not be, high-paced. Quiet scenes allow the writer to express what the protagonist is thinking and what his/her plan might be. Let the reader know what’s going on in the protagonist’s head. What scheme is he up to? What is the danger? How could it backfire? This type of writing keeps the reader interested during the non-action scenes.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Brain, Child is an award-winning literary magazine for mothers. We publish 20-plus essays per month for our print, online and blog publications. Founded in 2000, our mission is to bring the voices of women of different backgrounds and circumstances together on the page, on our website, and on our blog.
We love to read submissions. We are excited by great writing. It makes our day when we hear from an established writer or publish an author for the first time. We believe our writers are the lifeblood of our publication and strive to publicize and promote our writers through our website, Facebook (60,000+ fans), and partnerships with, The Huffington Post, and others. We respond within eight to ten weeks. We offer competitive pay rates. We welcome follow up emails if by chance you do not hear from us.
For all submissions, please email the manuscript in the body of the email to with “Submission” and the department (i.e. “Fiction” “Essay” “Feature Pitch”) as the subject heading. Please don’t send your submission as an attachment.
Submission Guidelines at

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel/Call for Submissions

Today, I’m continuing the series, Writing a Middle Grade Novel.
When writers consider characters and plots for a children’s novel, they must also consider the theme. The theme is the topic of the story, the message. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the theme is “home is where the heart is” or “there’s no place like home.” The plot revolves around Dorothy’s trouble as a tornado drops her in Oz and she has to figure out how to get back home.
Rather than deciding on the theme as you outline or consider the plot of the story, allow the theme to grow out of the character and plot. If writers plan the theme from the conception of the story, it may be so message-y, so strong, that readers are turned off.
Books may have more than one theme. One rule to consider is to keep the theme or themes appropriate for the age level of the audience. Middle grade readers are beginning to understand who they are as individuals and are developing opinions. They are introspective. Readers of middle grade fiction like characters that
·         Accept and respect differences in others
·         Overcome fears or take risks, courage
·         Deal with morals and values, justice, and compassion.
These readers enjoy books that mirror their personal experiences.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Fan Story. ABC Poetry Contest. Participate in this free writing contest. Cash prizes. Deadline: July 15, 2014.Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad
Submission guidelines at
Remove husks from corn and grill over medium heat for 10 minutes. The corn should have some brown spots and be tender and not mushy. Cut the corn off the cob then scrape the cob with the back of your knife to get the juices. Set aside and let cool. Slice the tomatoes in half. Dice the avocado and chop the cilantro.
Honey Lime Dressing

Add all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Combine the sliced tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and grilled corn and honey lime dressing and mix gently so everything is evenly coated. Be careful not to mash the avocados. Let the salad sit for 10-15 minutes to let flavors mingle


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel/Call for Submissions for Adult Writers

Today, I’m continuing the series, Writing a Middle Grade Novel.

Writing a middle grade novel is an exciting, tiring, uplifting, exasperating, and enormously satisfying activity. Stringing words together to tell a story can bog down by the middle of the manuscript. Most, maybe all, authors deal with this at some point in their writing. A strong plot with lots of tension prevents a sagging middle in a manuscript. The protagonist’s motivation must be clear. Why does s/he want to solve this problem? What is the character’s goal and motivation? What is preventing the character from reaching the goal?
To quote E. M. Forester, an English writer, who described the difference between story and plot.
The king died and the queen died. (A simple story that shows what happened.)
The king died and the queen died of grief. (A story with a plot that shows not only what happened but the effect of what happened. That’s a plot.)
Plot is a plan of action that moves the story from beginning to end. The plot must be age appropriate for the audience in children’s books. Also, it has to capture the interests of the readers so keeping the audience in mind when writing scenes is crucial. Readers in the 8-to-12 age range like plots with suspense, action, and humor. If you can combine all three, that’s even better. Family, fantasy, and realistic, contemporary stories are popular with middle grade readers.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Cicada, a magazine for readers ages 14 and up, publishes original fiction, poetry, first-person nonfiction, and comics by both adult and teen writers and artists. Cicada's on the lookout for the smartest, strangest, and most beautiful YA lit/art/comics around. Writers, artists, and comic artists of all ages: Visit the Cicada Submittable page to read our guidelines, create an account, and submit work!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Today, I’m continuing the series, Writing a Middle Grade Novel.
Description is used to enhance fictional stories. Check out the following ways:
Writing effective description can be difficult. Too little description leaves the reader wondering what happened and seeing a fuzzy mental picture of the scene. Too much description makes the reader lose interest in the plot, because it’s just simply boring. The sweet spot is to provide enough description to give the reader a visual of the people, events, setting, and objects in the story.  

Every detail should not be described. Allow the reader space to use his/her imagination.

Instead of describing the obvious details, occasionally focus on some less obvious. The girl is wearing a red straw hat, black pumps, and a blue suit. Looking closer, describe how the red hat seems faded, the back pumps look too tight, and the blue suit has stains on the sleeves. The less obvious details are what we notice and wonder about in real life so we should also focus on them in our writing.
Description slows the action. Avoid long description in the midst of an action scene since it will slow the momentum. In a fight scene, keep the pace fast with short descriptions. A left blow. An upper cut. A long description—from my left I saw the attacker swing. His fist was headed toward my left jaw—provides so much detail that it detracts from the action.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

THE NOTEBOOK  is published biannually by the Grassroots Women Project. We seek work by female or male writers, photographers & digital visual artists with rural or small town roots. We are interested in progressive thinking—past, present or visionary—that explores a spectrum of authentic experiences for women and girls in rural areas and small towns in any of the world’s cultures. Issues of THE NOTEBOOK comprise regular columns and other single-issue features, plus themed sections. We are a peer-review journal, so acceptances are selective. We encourage international submissions written in English. We are a print publication with plans to publish e-book editions in future.

ThemeFor the Fall 2014 issue (our third!), the theme focuses on SECRETS, BETRAYALS, LIES and REGRETS.  All genres of writing or digital imagery will be considered as long as some aspect of the theme is related to the experience of rural or small town women or girls, either directly or indirectly. You may define, interpret or conceptualize any or all parts of the theme  in any way you see fit.

Deadline: July 31, 2014

Submission guidelines at