Nancy's Books

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ways to Improve Writing

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing” and focusing on character emotions.
Consider writing an embarrassing situation for your character. Everyone experiences moments of humiliation. Embarrassment humanizes characters and help readers identify with them.  
Place your character in a bad situation and make it worse…and worse. Don’t go easy on the main character. Tension keeps the story interesting and the reader reading. If embarrassment doesn’t work for you, try painful or stressful or all three.

Allow the character to express anger through dialog, body language, and thoughts. As in real life, the character will react to difficult situations. The character responses should be consistent with his/her personality. Susie might throw a remote control while Ben would be more likely to land a punch. One character may be slow to anger and another is easily provoked.

Make the character suffer. Of course, by the end of the story, you can let your softer side prevail and create a world that works for the long-suffering character.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Crashtest is an biannual online magazine founded and run by the creative writing students at the Fine Arts Center, a public arts high school in Greenville, South Carolina, so that students in high schools all over the country will have a place to publish work that tests limits, asks questions, rejects the easy answers, risks obliteration, believes in failure, is suspicious of scripted success.
Submission guidelines at Kids Magazine. We are looking for the very best material by students (ages 8–16). Material may include cartoons, songs, stories between 500 and 1200 words, puzzles, photographs, artwork, games, editorials, poetry, and plays, as well as any other creative work that can fit in the pages of the magazine. As long as it's creative, we're interested!
All materials must be mailed to:
Submissions Editor
Creative Kids
P.O. Box 8813
Waco, Texas 76714-8813
Submission guidelines at
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Unagented authors will be able to send their manuscripts direct to the imprint for two weeks in March, with the event being held to celebrate two years of Tinder Press. The open submissions period will take place from March 2nd to 15th, with authors asked to submit 50 pages, an outline and an author biography. Only previously unpublished writers of fiction can take part, and short stories as well as novels will be considered. All submitted books must be complete, and written in English.

Submission guidelines at

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ways to Improve Writing

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing” and focusing on character emotions.
Think of your characters as real people, and like people, some display emotions more easily than others and in different ways. One character may be more verbal and another more physical (hits the wall with a fist.)
The next time you get angry or frustrated or extremely worried, try writing your feelings. Use your anger or anxiousness in a scene to show the character’s emotional “truth.”
Rather than telling how the character felt (Jill was angry) or writing a weak adverb in a dialog tag such as “she shouted angrily,” use strong verbs to convey emotions.
“Shut up. Just shut up,” she said as she stomped out and slammed the door behind her.” This works better because the reader is involved in the action as it is happening and through the use of a strong verb, slammed. The physical cues clue the reader in on what the character’s anger looks like.
When we are extremely upset, our body and hand movements can be jerky and more expressive. Consider using facial expressions to show emotions. A narrowing of the eyes, puffed cheeks, face in a wad, and with kids—sticking out a tongue.
Anger is an interesting emotion. It’s a part of every human so don’t be afraid to let anger energize your character.
Call for submissions for Young Writers:
7th Annual Junior Authors Short Story Writing Contest
Ages 9 to 21 | All Countries | Free to Enter
Entries accepted in June only (June 1 – 30)
Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for Adult Writers:


Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for any Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop. (For a complete list of workshops, visit
*Entrants must be at least 16 years old at the time of submission.
We welcome work from both published and unpublished authors. All submissions must be previously unpublished and not found online.
Stories may be any length up to 750 words. Indicate the word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of your manuscript.
No crime, violence, or derogatory humor.
Entries not accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope will not be returned.
Manuscripts or envelopes should be clearly marked FICTION CONTEST. Those not marked in this way will be considered as regular submissions to Highlights.
Highlights for Children
803 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
Deadline:  January 31, 2015.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ways to Improve Writing

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing” and focusing on character emotions.
A character’s actions can tell even more than dialog. A response that contradicts her words adds another layer of emotions. “Yes, of course you’re invited,” she answered, balling her hand into a fist so hard she cracked her favorite pencil. This works to elevate tension in a plot, as well. The reader feels the emotion.
When emotions run high, tension is increased and perceptions can be stronger. In a dark alley late at night, a character relies on all senses to guard against danger. Fear is shown different ways by different characters. One might not look directly into the eyes of someone s/he fears; another might stare wide-eyed. Some may sweat or shake due to the increased adrenaline. Does the character have a nervous tic? Make it noticeable in tension-filled situations.
Body language helps to develop a character, reveal emotions, and strengthen the story. Don’t just tell the reader the character is afraid, make the reader feel the fear. Describe the physical effects.
Think about a time when you were anxious, frightened, or panicked. Draw on those memories to write authentic emotions.
Call for submissions for Young Writers:
ONE TEEN STORY. Contest submissions will be accepted from May 1st to June 30th, 2015!
If you love to write, we’re looking for one great story. One Teen Story will consider original, unpublished fiction written by teens ages 14-19. We are interested in great fiction of any genre—literary, fantasy, sci-fi, love stories, and horror. What’s in a great short story? Interesting characters, a unique voice, and of course, a beginning, middle and end.
Call for submissions for Adult Writers:
Reader’s Digest Writing Contest. Contest is open to residents of the U.S., its territories and possessions, including Puerto Rico who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Tell us your original poem, in 15 lines or fewer. The entry must not be lewd, obscene, sexually explicit, pornographic, disparaging, defamatory, libelous or otherwise inappropriate or objectionable, as determined by the Judges and/or Sponsor in their sole and absolute discretion.

Prize(s): One grand-prize winner will receive $500 and his/her story will be published in Reader’s Digest Magazine. Reader’s Digest will also select three (3) runner-up winners to receive $100.
Deadline: January 31, 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ways to Improve Writing

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing.”

Play into a character’s emotions as you write. By showing the reader how the character feels, the character seem more real, and that is the goal.
Fear flooded my entire body as I watched the bear walk closer. The reader is not going to feel the character’s fear because the character isn’t feeling it. The emotion has not been revealed. Stating that a character feels fear is telling.
Show how the character feels and reacts. The bear walked closer. My hands trembled and my heart pounded so hard, it hammered my ears works much better because you have placed the reader in the middle of the action. Emotions trigger a body’s physical reactions.
Thoughts and dialog also suggest emotions.
Thought: Why can’t he just shut up? And dialog: “You think I did what?”
Use such mental and verbal responses to showcase a character’s feelings. The more real the character, the more engaged the reader.
Website for Young Writers:
The only way to become a storyteller is to tell stories. The way to become a better storyteller is to learn new storytelling skills. And the way to become the best storyteller is to develop your own storytelling techniques. The best way to do all this is to explore many different kinds of storytelling. To find a storytelling project, with a story, craft, and activity, that you can do right now, stop in at the ClubRoom Page to learn about telling a Story Sprite Story with Storytellling Cards.
Call for Submissions for Adult  Writers: CHICKEN SOUP: HOLIDAY EDITION

Everyone loves holiday stories and that’s why our holiday books are so popular. In fact, we create a new edition for Christmas/Hanukah every other year. We are now collecting stories for our Holiday 2015 book and we are defining Christmas as the entire December holiday season, including Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and the New Year’s festivities too. We want to hear about your holiday memories and traditions. If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it.
Deadline January 31, 2015.
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Year’s Resolutions

My New Year’s resolution is to simply remember to write 2015 instead of 2014. I’ll also try to incorporate the following into my daily routine:
Take time to write.
Read in the genre that I want to write. And read beyond that genre.
Have fun writing.
Finish the unfinished projects.
Rewrite some old manuscripts.
Submit manuscripts.
Write your own attainable and measurable resolutions. Just thinking about what you want to accomplish will help jump-start your writing career.
Here’s to a happy 2014 2015 year of writing.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
The Maze. Open to teens in sixth-12th grade. A teen annual anthology featuring poetry and artwork of high school students from around the world. Submissions accepted year round. Deadline for each year's edition is the first Friday of March. Each year we publish the best of all entries received. If your work is selected, you will receive two free copies of the book.
Deadline: Friday, Feb. 27
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Discover magazine is a popular science magazine made available to the general public in doctor's offices, schools and libraries. It has a large home-subscriber base as well. The subject matter covers exciting breakthroughs and research in medicine, technology and science, written in language an educated layman can comprehend. The magazine's breadth of science topics also includes paleontology, space travel and physics along with many other science-related topics. According to the editors' written instructions, if you have a science-related story you wish to write for Discover magazine, you must first send them a query or pitch.

Read more :
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas
Enjoy the holidays and the writing quotes.
The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.
~Mary Heaton Vorse
As far as I'm concerned, "whom" is a word that was invented to make everyone sound like a butler.
~ Calvin Trillin
A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit. ~ Richard Bach
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. ~ Thomas Jefferson.
Every writer I know has trouble writing. ~  Joseph Heller
Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. ~ Author Unknown
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
~ Ernest Hemingway
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.
~ Elmore Leonard
Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.
~ Larry L. King, WD
…and my favorite…
It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.
~ Jack Kerouac, WD
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Stone Soup is a magazine of writing and art by kids ages 13 and younger. We publish stories, poems, book reviews, and illustrations, all by young writers and artists. Stone Soup welcomes submissions from young people up to and including age 13. If you live in the U.S. or Canada, you must submit your work by postal mail. Send it to:
Stone Soup Submissions Dept.
P.O. Box 83
Santa Cruz, CA 95063
Submission guidelines at
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:


Nightlight Reading is requesting submissions for our 2014 Nightlight Readings Short Story Writers Contest that is geared to at-risk boys in the 10-12 year age group who often stop reading for pleasure.  Nightlight Reading’s goal is to fund and promote literature that appeals to boys and keeps them engaged and reading.


§ The written piece should be considered a SHORT STORY with a MAXIMUM COUNT of 5,000 WORDS.

Deadline for submission for the 2014 contest is December 31, 2014.
Mail entries to
Blaze Magazine, PO Box 2660, Niagara Falls, NY 14302


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing.”

Play with your memory. Relax. Think back to your childhood. What made you worry? What was fun?  What made you laugh, cry, or hide? The events that evoked your emotions are likely to do the same in readers.
Christmas is a time that floods my mind with memories. The sense of smell is the hardest to incorporate into a story; yet, the sense of smell is a vivid memory, especially when I think of Christmas: the spicy whiff of a fresh-cut tree from the hillside behind our house, the distinctive aroma of oranges, and turkey roasting in the oven. Mmmmmmmm. But one scent ranked above all others. The best smell in the world for this six-year-old gal was the enticing, magical fragrance of a new doll. Today, those enchanting aromas have the power to transcend me back in time in an instance and with only one sniff.
List a few memories from your childhood, maybe four or five. Toss them around to see if they could work as a children’s book. Use the memory as inspiration for the story, not the actual plot.
Mine your memories. Dig deep and write.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Rattle We like poems of any length. Send up to four poems at a time. We’re looking for poems that move us, that might make us laugh or cry, or teach us something new. We like both free verse and traditional forms—we try to publish a representative mix of what we receive. We read a lot of poems, and only those that are unique, insightful, and musical stand out—regardless of style. Since our issues include about 70 pages of poetry, one of the main things we’re looking for is diversity; we have enough room to be eclectic, and we plan on using it. So while most magazines suggest reading their back issues to get a sense of what they like to publish, we’d suggest reading to get a sense of what we’re having trouble finding—if you notice a style or subject matter that we don’t seem to be publishing, send us that!
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:  
Clear Creek Writers 2014 Contest: Clear Creek Writers is having their second annual writers contest with hundred dollar prizes for both prose and poetry. As the contest is new, the contestants are limited and your chances are good.
Deadline: January 4, 2015