Nancy's Books

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.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Journal, a Secret Weapon for Writers, Part III

Other uses and benefits of keeping a journal:

After you read a book, jot down notes about why you enjoyed the book. What did the author do to hold your attention? The list of books your enjoyed can be referenced when you are stuck in the middle of your own manuscript and wonder where to take the character next. Refer to some of the books and study them to figure out how those authors dealt with the same issue. When I find children’s books that really appeal to me, I read them the first time for enjoyment and a second time to analyze the structure, plot, character development, pacing, phrasing and word choice, scenes, and numerous other elements of writing.
When an idea for a new book or article slams into your head, write it in a journal. As with a house, writing needs a strong foundation. Sketch character traits and plots. Plan how the writing will be organized. The more advanced planning, the less revision. At least, I find this to be true for my work. If I thoroughly examine my characters and plot before I begin writing and know the ending of the story, I stay more focused and the plot doesn’t wander too far off course. The best and most efficient way is keeping a journal for the article or book. All the resource material, notes, and ideas are in one place so they are less likely to be forgotten, misplaced, or go unused.
A journal in a writer’s toolkit=a good thing.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
The Threepenny Review is paying $400 per story or article, $200 per poem or Table Talk piece. This payment buys first serial rights in our print and digital editions, and the copyright then reverts to the author immediately upon publication. As a rule, critical articles should be about 1,200 to 2,500 words, Table Talk items 1,000 words or less, stories and memoirs 4,000 words or less, and poetry 100 lines or less.
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Journal, a Secret Weapon for Writers, Part II

Don’t limit the journal to words only. If you find a photo that would reflect a character or setting, place it in the journal for safe keeping. When describing a setting, the photo of the fictional area makes the words flow much easier. If you can’t find the perfect photo of the setting you have in mind, sketch the locale according to your story. Having a visual layout of an area in which you see trees, stream, and animals roaming makes writing realistic scenes easier.

Research the subject of the story so interesting facts can add to the realism. Readers enjoy learning something new or being surprised with a tidbit of information. Journals are a great way to store  thoughts and facts that stimulate your imagination.
Create a problem for the character and plot the story so the character must solve the problem. Think about it when you are out and about running errands or simply relaxing. Make a list of five, but I prefer ten, options the character can choose. Write these in the journal and let the ideas simmer in your brain. Refer to them as you add another option or cross one off the list. By writing the options, they are implanted more in your brain and you can play with the possible outcomes. A journal becomes a log of your thoughts and ideas so when writer’s block comes knocking, you have a list of choices and one of them may offer the perfect breakthrough.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
2015 RRofihe Trophy. Contest for an unpublished short story (Minimum word count: 3,500; maximum to 5,000 words).
Winner Receives:
$500 cash
Announcement & Publication on

–Stories should be typed, double-spaced, with the author’s
  name, the story's title, and contact information on the
  first page
–Submissions must be received by October 15th, 2015
–Limit one submission per author
–Author must not have been previously published
  on Anderbo
–E-mail submissions to with
  RROFIHE TROPHY in the subject line
–THERE IS NO READING FEE and all literary rights will
  remain with the author
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Journal, a Secret Weapon for Writers, Part I

A journal can be your secret weapon for writing. What is the best source for ideas? Life, of course. Things happen. Funny things. Sad things. Everything imaginable.

When you get an idea, write it down immediately. Keep a notebook handy for that purpose. If you overhear an interesting phrase or an unusual use of a word, add it to the notebook and allow a character to think those thoughts or use the phrase in dialog to add distinctive voice to your story. Story ideas pop up around us all the time. Make a habit to listen and look for possible plot ideas or interesting characters traits. You never know who will say or do something to make you think, laugh, wonder, or tease your imagination.
The idea or comment you write may not work for the piece you are currently working on but it may be perfect for a future project. If you fail to record information, you are more likely to not remember it, and if you write it on a scrap piece of paper, it may be lost. Get in the habit of collecting ideas for writing and place them where they are easily accessible,  such as a journal.
Sometimes I hear song lyrics and I think “That’s just what my character would say.” I have even pulled off the road to write in my journal.
A journal can hold the inventory you turn to when you need the extra oomph for your manuscript.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Brigantine Media’s Publish or Perish contest seeks authors who can help market their books.
Authors today must be more than authors. They also must take an active role creating a market for their books to have sales success.
We’ll let you in on a secret: today, publishers choose book projects based partially or entirely on the author’s ability to help in the sales process. We think it’s time to be honest about the need for authors to be marketers, too.
> Criteria
Submit your manuscript as well as your marketing ideas for the book. Entries will be judged 50 percent on the book’s content and 50 percent on the marketing plan for the book. Length limit: 150,000 words for the manuscript; 5,000 words for the marketing plan.
> Prize

The winner of the contest will receive a publishing contract and a $2,000 cash advance against royalties. The winner will receive the cash advance when he or she signs the publishing contract. And since we think the winning author will have a successful book, the winner agrees to give Brigantine Media right of first refusal on his or her next two subsequent books.
> Cost
There is no cost to enter the Publish or Perish contest!
> Important Dates
Entries will be accepted from April 15 through August 15, 2015.
The winner will be announced September 15, 2015.
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Idea to Finished Manuscript, Part IV

A new pair of eyes is needed before sending your manuscript to an editor or agent. Latch onto a writing partner and trade critiques or join a critique group. Either way, you will receive honest, constructive feedback. The feedback will make you look at your work in a new way. It is the most efficient way to strengthen writing skills and brings a new perspective to your manuscript. Choose a partner or group that writes the same type manuscripts as you, if possible. 

Having a writing buddy or buddies keep you working. On days when you procrastinate, deciding to wait until tomorrow or next week or when you feel inspired to write the next chapter, you keep fingers to the keyboard because your group expects you to submit a new chapter. Not only do these groups keep you writing, they keep you writing your best. The quality feedback offers ideas and avenues that you had not considered for your characters and plots.  

Shared resources is another benefit. If one member hears of a publisher requesting a particular type of manuscript or running a contest, the information is passed along. My critique partner and I share lots of information from contests to new publishers to agents. I know her work so well and she knows mine so we pass along timely information that fits our writing.  

Networking with other writers is inspirational. Writers will encourage you when rejection letters pile up, as rejection letters do with everyone who submits.  

Writing is a solitary job but good writing comes from rewriting. With a little help from writing buddies, your manuscript can shape up so you can ship it out.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Features are generally 800-1,000 words in length, and cover travel, specific outdoor destinations, issues affecting children and the outdoors, and how-to articles; they should reflect a wide diversity of outside opportunities in a variety of environments. Recipes, trip reports, and gear reviews should range between 600-800 words. “My Outdoor Family” is a popular segment of our magazine, and a great vehicle for writers new to online publications. Share your family’s outdoor passions, experiences, and goals in 600-700 words. Fifty percent kill fee.
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Idea to Finished Manuscript, Part IV

Outline. Are you a panster (writing a story by the seat of your pants) or a plotter (outliner)? Do you outline the story from beginning to end? I’m a plotter because it helps me think the story through before I begin writing and saves me a ton of time in revision. I figure out the plot and the setbacks and other twists and turns before hit the keyboard. Other writers plan as they go. Both ways work. Try each to see which is a better fit for you.

Add dialog to make the characters come alive. Dialog should sound real, not be real. When people talk, our words usually flow freely out of our mouths but the conversation can be boring reading. We often add uh and um and get sidetracked in our thoughts. Dialog should stay focused and either promote the plot or help develop the character.   

Play with your idea and have fun with it. The first draft is supposed to be terrible so don’t be alarmed when you read your story and say Yuck! Garbage material. All writing has preliminary stages in which you discard some ideas and keep others. Create different plots to discover what works and what doesn’t. Give your ideas time to incubate and grow. If you’re not having fun with the story, the reader probably won’t either.  

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Send us your stories about what it means to be an American, whether you’re talking about apple pie and baseball, country music and our national anthem, barbecues, national holidays, our military heroes, first responders, American ingenuity, buying “made in America”, our huge and varied country, our diversity and our tolerance, our energy and spirit, and all the other things that make us proud Americans. Deadline November 30, 2015. Limit 1,200 words. Pays $200 and ten copies.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Idea to Finished Manuscript, Part III

Try these ideas to develop your story.

Remember moments from your childhood. Fiction writing often draws from real life and what is more real that memories of your youth? Mine these memories for stories and scenes to use in fiction writing. What made you scared, happy, angry, sad, joyful, laugh, jump up and down? Memories are wonderful triggers that inspire a story; however here’s a word of caution—don’t allow memories to tell the entire story. Use them as a starting point then allow the characters to tell their own special tale. Let your imagination take the story in a new direction. Adhering too closely to the actual details limits the scope and potential of a manuscript. Think about the universal appeal of a book. The story should resonate with a large segment of the audience.

Emotions: The character’s feelings make the protagonist seem real to the audience. In fact, the most powerful way to connect a character with readers is through strong emotions. The interaction becomes meaningful when a character displays a vulnerable side and transforms to become stronger by the end of the story. As in life, people often are in control of their emotions when the sailing is smooth, but when life gets rocky and rough, we see the real person emerge through their emotions and actions. Allow the character to travel a rough, rocky road to fully develop. 

Get back to the basics. A story consists of two elements: character and conflict. The character needs to aim for a goal or experience a problem and must reach the goal or solve the problem on his/her own merit. Ask these questions. Who is the character? What does the character want? What is standing in the way of the character getting what she/he wants? When you answer these questions, you have a story idea. Other elements, such as setting, can be added later.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Dramatics is an educational theatre magazine published since 1929 by the International Thespian Society, and its parent organization, the Educational Theatre Association. Dramatics is published nine times a year, September through May, in both print and online digital replica versions. It has a circulation of about 45,000. Approximately 80 percent of its readers are high school theatre students; about 10 percent are high school theatre teachers. Other subscribers include libraries, college theatre students and teachers, and others interested in educational theatre.  The primary editorial objectives of the magazine are: to provide serious, committed young theatre students and their teachers with the skills and knowledge they need to make better theatre; to be a resource that will help high school juniors and seniors make an informed decision about whether to pursue a career in theatre, and about how to do so; and to prepare high school students to be knowledgeable, appreciative audience members for the rest of their lives.  Submission guidelines at