Nancy's Books

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The new year brings new beginnings. This is a good time for writers to reflect on habits and activities that worked well in the past and on changes that can promote writing careers. As Dolly Parton said, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”

Dolly’s words ring true with writing, also. If we want to grab a publishing contract we have to put up with some rain: schedule time to write, accept rejection, revise manuscripts, and other tasks that come with the deal.

Life interrupts. The interruptions are often and major. It’s easy for me to find reasons not to write or revise. The floors need to be swept. Laundry is piled up. I’m hungry. I don’t know where to go in the story. How can I make the character more interesting? I’m hungry. The dog wants out. The dog wants in. I’m hungry. [I think I see a pattern here.]

Our minds fill with guilt for not doing this or that. Or is that guilt a way to avoid sitting in a chair and writing. I can invent excuses for not writing as easily as grabbing another bite of that chocolate bar that keeps me jumping out of the chair. Writing is not easy and it will never be easy. Let’s face it: writing is hard work and I love nothing more than avoiding hard work. BUT, and there always seems to be a “but,” we have to keep the butt in the chair if we expect to get a contract. So here’s to butts in chairs and a prosperous new year of writing.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

GENEii Family History Writing Contest. Cash prizes for family history or local history articles, published or unpublished. Note that "subjects need not relate to California or the United States."

Deadline: December 31, 2012

Submission guidelines at http://www.scgsgenealogy.com

Call for submissions for young writers:

Relate Magazine. Pay: Varies The mission is to inspire teen girls to pursue their dreams with confidence and to teach them to be an example for others in their speech, life, love, faith and purity. Topics include design, entertainment, the future in terms of college and jobs, beauty, faith, life, quizzes. Average article is between 650 and 1,600 words in length although longer work will be considered. Sidebar information is also encouraged, as well as graphics, including illustrations, and photographs. http://www.relatemag.com/about/ Feature Article (around 1,800 words): $350-$700 General Article (around 800 words): $150-$200.

Submission guidelines at http://www.relatemag.com/

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Where Words Take Us/Calls for Submissions

A writer never knows where the words will take him/her. In 1939, Robert L. May, working in the marketing department for Montgomery Ward, created the words for a coloring book and titled it RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER. Before deciding to use the name “Rudolph,” May considered "Rollo" and "Reginald." Would the story have been as popular with either of the other names? Maybe, maybe not. Later, May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, adapted the rhyming text as a song, and Golden Books released it as a picture book. The story didn’t stop there. It has been developed into an animated TV special and a full-feature film.

Did the writer imagine that his character would become one of the most widely known in the world? Probably not. There’s no way to predict what will become an enduring classic. We write what we enjoy and hope others like it, too.

So here’s to words taking you to where you want to go and to places you never imagined. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my fellow writers.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

John Ciardi Prize for Poetry is offered annually for the best unpublished collection of poetry. Prize is $1,000 and publication by BkMk Press. Deadline: January 15 postmark. (Also offered with same deadline: G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction.)

Deadline: January 15 postmark.

Submission guidelines at http://cas.umkc.edu/bkmk/poetry.html

Call for submissions for young writers:

Speak Up Press[ages 13-19]

· All work must be your original creation (fiction, nonfiction, or poetry)

· Your pieces should be 2500 words or less

· Submission Guidelines at http://speakuppress.org/submissions/

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Nonverbal Communication, Part 1/Calls for Submissions



Communication between characters is critical to move the story forward and to tell the story. Dialog is a typical form of communication, but the nonverbal type can be effectively incorporated into a story with a few tricks of the trade.

Facial expressions can show fear, glee, anger, sadness, joy, and disappointment. A smile rounds a person’s eyes and raises their cheeks. A frown can wrinkle a nose and forehead. Fear sometimes opens a child’s mouth. So does surprise.

The way the character walks, stands, and sits can also rely information to the reader. Angry people walk with a heavy gait and may stomp a foot…or two. Sadness may be depicted with a shuffle of feet or stooped shoulders. A character that skips along is probably happy and one that walks with a straight back and held high shows confidence.

The character’s eye contact tells a lot. Direct eye contact implies truthfulness and self-assurance. A character that looks away may be lying or perceived to lack confidence.

Nonverbal communication adds depth to a character. Give it a try.

Next week, I’ll continue this article.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Iowa Award in Poetry, Fiction, & Essay is offered for the best short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Winners receive $1,500, plus publication in the Iowa Review.

Deadline: January 31, 2013

Submission Guidelines at http://iowareview.uiowa.edu/rules

Call for submissions for young writers:

Youth Imagination. Short Story Size limit: 1000 to 4000 words (preferred limit is 3000 words. We will consider longer stories, but they must be extraordinary)

Serial Size limit: 20,000 to 40,000 words (we only accept one or two serials per year)

Youth Imagination encourages and fosters creative writing, and especially writing by teens and preteens, by including guided writing exercises, discussion and workshops on our website. Then, after the stories are developed, written, workshopped and polished, there's always the questions, what's next? We have the "what's next,” too- a magazine that focuses on the creative writing for and by teens.

We are open for submissions, and are particularly interested in creative fiction stories by teens, but will also accept YA stories by adult authors. Make the stories awesome, inspiring and engaging. Our goal is to publish the best writing for and by teens. We accept a wide variety of stories: happy ending, sad endings, humor, genre, literary or gritty.

We accept most genres of fiction, including modern, urban or classical fantasy, as well as sci-fi, slipstream, literary, action-adventure and suspense.

Submission Guidelines at http://www.youthimagination.org/index.php/publish/submissions

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Author Interview/Calls for Submissions

At the Head of the Holler by Miriam Moyer is a historical fiction book for all ages—middle grade, young adult, and adult. This story is an inspirational and descriptive portrayal of mountain life in the 1880s.

ISBN: 978-0-69201-880-4

Price: $19.80—Book

$35.00—9 Audio CD Album

Today, I’m pleased to have the author, Miriam Moyer, as a guest.

NKA: Miriam, how did you get the idea to write about this fictional family?

MM: The development of family life in the home intrigues me. (I have eight children myself). So when, it is, that Sprout, a nine-year-old boy, runs carefree, avoiding rules and work, there is sure to be repercussions with the siblings. Readers easily love Sprout and his willful ways.

NKA: What was the most difficult part of writing your first novel?

MM: Since the aim was two-fold,

1. preserving the way of life, which is our heritage, and

2. creating our county and country,

I found making the “man talk” and their quarreling to be the most difficult.

NKA: I, too, have difficulty writing dialog for male characters and for characters who are not in my age group. That's why I'm always sneaking around and listening to people talk. I usually grab my notebook and jot down an unusual phrase when I hear it. Then the phrase will pop up in my writing. Your book certainly intrigued me. I really enjoyed it. Where can this book be purchased?

MM: At this point the book is available locally at the following, but the list is ever expanding:

Yoder Bulk Food—Hindman, KY

Appalachian Artisan Center—Hindman, KY

Cozy Corner—Whitesburg, KY

Lighthouse Bookstore—Pikeville, KY

Or an order can be sent to me at mwmoyer@emypeople.net

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition.Do you have a winning short story of 1,500 words or fewer? Would you like a shot at national recognition for your work? Imagine the effect winning or ranking in a highly respected story competition could have on your résumé and publishing career.

· Win up to $3,000 cash-Plus, more cash and prizes awarded to the top 25 entries

· Get national exposure for your work-The winner will be featured in Writer's Digest magazine, and the top 25 entries will be published in the 2013 Writer's Digest Short Story Competition Collection

· Win a paid trip to New York City-The first-place winner will be sent to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City!

Guidelines at The 13th Annual Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition

Call for submissions for young writers:

Launch Pad publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by kids and teens ages 6 through 14. We choose stories and poems that are creative and well written. We do not publish all submissions. Read some of our stories and poems to get an idea of the works we like to publish. We also have Writing Tips to help you out.
Guidelines at http://www.launchpadmag.com/write/

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, December 2, 2012

From Idea to Story, Part VII /Calls for Submissions

This article is the last of the series.


The protagonist must have an important goal, so important that if s/he fails, disaster strikes. Review your story. What happens if the main character fails? What are the consequences? Are they great enough to create a motivation so strong the character will pursue his/her goal at all costs?

The resolution must tie all loose ends or questions. Don’t leave the reader wondering what happened. Readers expect to see the main character reach his goal or attain a more favorable one. The ending should be logically drawn from the characterization and story details.

A happy ending is not necessary but a satisfying ending is. Make the reader glad s/he read your story all the way to the end.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

THE BINNACLE Annual Ultra-Short Competition. "THE BINNACLE will sponsor its Tenth International Ultra-Short Competition in the 2012-2013 academic year. We are looking for prose works of 150 words or fewer and poetry of sixteen lines or fewer and fewer than 150 words. All works should have a narrative element to them

Submissions: December 1, 2012-March 15, 2013

Guidelines at http://www.umm.maine.edu/ultra-short-competition.html

Call for submissions for young writers:

Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets

Deadline: January 31, 2013

Guidelines at http://www.bucknell.edu/x3724.xml

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/



Sunday, November 25, 2012

From Idea to Story, Part VI/Calls for Submissions



This article is part of a series.

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.

When describing a setting use photos to get an idea of a house or area or sketch your imagined locale. Having a visual layout of an area in which you see trees, stream, and animals roaming around makes the words will flow much 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.

Create a problem for the character and plot the story so the character must solve the problem on his/her own.

Don’t rush the story. Like seeds, stories take time to bloom.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Ashland Creek Press is currently accepting submissions of novels, memoirs, short story collections, and essay collections on the themes of travel, the environment, ecology, and wildlife — above all, we’re looking for exceptional, well-written, engaging stories. As you’ll see from our new and forthcoming titles, we are open to many genres (young adult, mystery, literary fiction) as long as the stories are relevant to the themes listed above. At this time, however, we are not reading submissions for children’s books.

Submission guidelines at http://www.ashlandcreekpress.com/submissions.html

Call for submissions for young writers:

Pomegranate Words Teen Writing 2012 Collection. Pomegranate Words will be producing a print publication early next year showcasing the best teen writing we can find! Will you be one of our featured writers?

Submission Guidelines at http://www.pomegranatewords.com/contests.html

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, November 18, 2012

From Idea to Story, Part V/Calls or Submissions



This article is part of a series.

An idea is the seed of a story. Like a seed, a story needs the right environment to grow. Some ideas grow better in a short story, some are suited for a full-length novel, and some are perfect for a picture book. Since you’ll be living and breathing the idea for a long time, choose it with care. The enthusiasm you have for your idea will need to be strong enough to be worthy of weeks or months of your time.

Borrow ideas from your own life or that of someone who interests you. You don’t have to make up everything in a fictional story. Consider the worst day of your life? Or the time you made a terrible decision. These moments evoke intense emotions and can be used to develop a character. The character doesn’t have to experience the same situations you did, but basing the story on a real event can add authenticity to the story making it seem more real to the reader. A fine storyteller never lets truth get in the way of telling a good yarn.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Sucker Literary Magazine. Magazine for young adult fiction. Submissions should be no more than 10,000 words. Only one submission per author per issue.

Submission guidelines at http://suckerliterarymagazine.wordpress.com/submission-guidelines/

Call for submissions for young writers:

New Moon Girls. Love to write? Share all your fabulous fiction here! Publish your newest creations, or get advice on works-in-progress. And read great stories by other New Moon Girls!

Submission guidelines at http://www.newmoon.com/voices/fiction/

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, November 11, 2012

From Idea to Story, Part IV/Calls for Submissions



This is part IV of the continuing series based on ideas to develop your story.

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. All writing has preliminary stages in which you discard some ideas and keep others. Twist and turn your idea into 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. Figure out the methods that work for you and keep writing.

Before sending your chapter book/middle grade/young adult manuscript to an editor, take a new look at the first three chapters and make sure you polish them. Publishers will probably ask for the first 10-25 pages or up to the first three chapters. Always check the submission guidelines on the publisher’s website.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Ladies’ Home Journal is a community that shares stories — and we’re dying to hear yours. If you win our essay contest, we’ll give you $3,000 and the chance to have your essay published in the Journal. You’re free to interpret the topic in whatever way you like, but remember that we value creativity and clarity above all.

Essays will be judged on their emotional power, originality, and the quality of their prose. They should be no more than 2,000 words and ideally typed or written in a Microsoft Word document.

You can enter the contest by e-mailing your submission as an attachment (with your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address) to LHJessaycontest@meredith.com or by mailing a copy to Personal Essay Contest, Ladies’ Home Journal, 805 Third Ave., 26th Fl., New York, NY 10022. Entries are due by December 7, 2012.

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 750 words and poems to 30 lines. We love illustrations! Please send originals of your drawings, paintings, or photos. Include your name, age, and address along with your submission.

Submission guidelines at http://www.skippingstones.org/submissions.htm

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, November 4, 2012

From Idea to Story, Part III/Calls for Submissions


Try these ideas to develop your story.

Remember moments from your childhood. What made you laugh? Cry? Feel sad or happy? Memories can inspire a story, but 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.

The basic 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. 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.

Plot an outline based on your idea. Think of the outline as a map that helps you get from the beginning of your journey to the end. The outline can be a great assist in determining where your story is going and how to get there.

Call for Submissions for adult writers:

Open City Magazine RRofihe Short Story Contest. For an unpublished short story. Minimum word count: 3,500; maximum to 5,000. Winner receives $500, a trophy, and announcement and publication on anderbo.com. NB: "Author must not have been previously published in Open City Magazine or on Anderbo."
Deadline: December 31, 2012
Submissions guidelines at http://www.anderbo.com/anderbo1/no-fee-rrofihe-trophy2012.html

Call for submissions for young writers:

THE STORY SHACK is not a magazine but is a place where you can potentially have your children's and young adult stories published online and shared with others. They are also looking for illustrators.
Submissions guidelines at http://thestoryshack.com/submissions/ for submission guidelines. This is a non-paying market.

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/































Open City Magazine RRofihe Short Story Contest. For an unpublished short story. Minimum word count: 3,500; maximum to 5,000. Winner receives $500, a trophy, and announcement and publication on anderbo.com. NB: "Author must not have been previously published in Open City Magazine or on Anderbo."
Deadline: December 31, 2012
Submissions guidelines at http://www.anderbo.com/anderbo1/no-fee-rrofihe-trophy2012.html

Call for submissions for young writers:

THE STORY SHACK is not a magazine but is a place where you can potentially have your children's and young adult stories published online and shared with others. They are also looking for illustrators.
Submissions guidelines at http://thestoryshack.com/submissions/ for submission guidelines. This is a non-paying market.

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/





Sunday, October 28, 2012

From Idea to Story, Part II/Calls for Submissions



Try these ideas for turning an idea into a story:

Ask What if. What if a dinosaur came to lunch. What if everyone looked the same. Probe your character and plot with the What if question to develop your story idea. When your story comes to a screeching halt and you don’t know where to go with the plot ask what if. You may be surprised at the turn your story takes and the new ideas you will explore.

Choose a perspective. Who is telling the story? Try different characters to determine which could tell the story in the most compelling way. If three kids and a dog were lost in the mountains, which character would you chose to tell the story. The serious kid? The smartest kid? The funny kid? How about the dog? Play around with the different characters to see which would work best for your story.

Try word associations. Write the first thing you think of when you see each of these words: snowballs, moon, skunk, rainbow, museum. For example, skunk and stink could work well together in a humorous tale. So could snowballs and fight. Try associations that we would usually not associate. Moon and museum could be interesting, as well as skunk and rainbow.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Dog Fancy. Pays on publication. Seeks nonfiction, photos/artwork. Subjects: Care and enjoyment of all dogs, purebreds and mixed breeds.
Submission guidelines at http://www.dogchannel.com/dog-magazines/dogfancy/writers_guidelines.aspx

Call for submissions for young writers:

Launch Pad publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by kids and teens ages 6 through 14. We choose stories and poems that are creative and well written. We do not publish all submissions. Read some of our stories and poems to get an idea of the works we like to publish.
Submission guidelines at http://www.launchpadmag.com/write/

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, October 21, 2012

From Idea to Story, Part 1/Calls for Submissions


An idea toys around in your mind—a phrase, an interesting character, or maybe a situation. The story becomes a mental movie. As days turn into months, the story evolves and grows. Characters become clearer and develop names. Sound familiar?

Writers use many techniques to develop story ideas. Some let stories percolate until the characters are strong enough to come to life on paper. Others take an idea and immediately construct a character and plot. Different methods work for different writers.

For the next six weeks, I’ll post techniques for turning an idea into a story.

Who is the audience? Is this story for a four year old or a fourteen year old? When we meet someone on the street and talk face-to-face, we adjust our speech and language to suit the audience. As writers, we have to recognize and understand the reading and interest level of our readers before we begin writing. A four year old thinks the word “underwear” is funny. A fourteen year old will probably roll eyes at the word.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Cricket magazine pays on publication. Seeks nonfiction, fiction, fillers, photos/artwork. Subjects: Literary magazine for readers ages 9 to 14.

Submission guidelines at http://www.cricketmag.com/25-Submission-Guidelines-for-CRICKET-magazine-for-children-ages-9-14

Call for submissions for young writers:

ChixLITtle, a print magazine and online community created by girls and made for girls 7-12.

Submission guidelines at http://chixlittle.com/littlesubmissions.html

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sensory Description: Revision/Contest/Call for Submissions



We learn about our world through the senses and we engage readers when we incorporate vivid, sensory details in our writing. The most effective way to pull readers into a scene is to use one or more of the senses to establish atmosphere with layered, textured details.

Play in the rain, walk down a busy street, and take along a notebook. Experience your senses. When you return home, mosey through your manuscript and add sensory descriptors. Highlight each example of sight, taste, sound, touch, and smell. I recommend using a different color highlighter for each of the five senses. You’ll get an immediate view of which you’ve over- or under-used. Maybe there is one you haven’t use at all. This method is a way to balance the sensory descriptors throughout your manuscript.

This revision technique will add the zing factor that will take your story to a higher level.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

The Flying Elephants Short Story Prize Guidelines-at-a-Glance

· Short Story Length: No length restrictions, but longer manuscripts (8,000—10,000 words) or shorter manuscripts (less than 2,000 words) will have to be truly exceptional to be shortlisted.

· Entry Fee: None.

· Eligibility: Writers must 18-years of age or older, and short stories must be original and previously unpublished.

· Theme: “AndWeWereHungry. . . .”

· *Top Prize Theme: “AndWeWereHungry for Nature.” (*Grand prize reserved for the story that connect the theme with nature.)

· Entry Instructions: A writer may submit only one story. Although simultaneous submissions are accepted, entrants must immediately notify AndWeWereHungry if the piece is accepted elsewhere. An excerpt from a novel in progress must stand alone as a short story.

· Submission guidelines at http://andwewerehungry.org/prize-rules/

Call for submissions for young writers:

Liminal. Original and unpublished fiction, nonfiction, book reviews, music reviews, poetry, artwork, comics, photography and short film from writers and artists aged 13-19.

Submission guidelines at http://liminaljournal.com/submissions/

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sensory Description: Smell/Calls for submissions


The sense of smell has a strong emotional pull. Certain scents linger in our minds for years. Thinking back to my childhood, I remember how a new doll smelled or the delectable whiff of Mom’s chocolate cake baking filled me with scrumptious anticipation. Decades later, all it takes is a fanciful thought about those aromas and I feel warm and cozy. When you write a description about the smell of a cake baking, the reader will be instantly transported back in time to his/her own memories of a sweet smelling kitchen. When readers connect the story to their own experiences, they make an emotional investment that draws them deeper into the plotline.

The sense of smell can also be used to get a character to remember a specific detail or to transition into a flashback. The smell of fresh-baked bread spreads a smile over our faces and one hint of a skunk spray has us running for cover, yelling puuuuuuuuu. Does your story take place on a farm? Let the reader smell the barn. Or the hay. Or the flowers.

Using smell in narrative scenes is a way to stir up emotion in characters and readers. Through our senses we encounter daily life, whether we enter a musty basement or breathe a honeysuckle-scented breeze. Create characters that reflect real life through descriptive language.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

· Gotham Writers’ Workshop has launched a “91-Word Memoir Writing Contest.” This contest “celebrates longtime Gotham student and friend Norma Crosier, who died in July five days shy of her 91st birthday….She embraced the principle of memoir – that it is not the story of the writer’s entire life, but rather one story among many.” Prizes: “The winner will receive a 10-week workshop, $91 cash, and bragging rights.”
Deadline: October 15, 2012.
Submission guidelines at
http://www.writingclasses.com/ContestPages/91W.php
Call for submissions for young writers:

Cyberkids. To submit your work, email it to: editor@cyberkids.com. In the email, tell us your name, age and country. If you are sending artwork, save the art in JPEG or TIFF format if possible, and attach it to the email. We do not pay for submissions, but if we use your work, we will send you an email telling you when it will be published.

Submission guidelines at http://www.cyberkids.com/he/html/submit.html

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sensory Description: Sound/Calls for Submissions



If you’re a visual learner, you may find that writing what you see is easy, but you struggle with the sense of sound. If you’re an auditory learner, you may have a much easier time describing the noises of the world. The sense of sound helps the reader understand the atmosphere where the story is taking place. A tin roof intensifies the splatter of raindrops and thunder booms with danger.

Scenes are seldom silent. Noise surrounds us in almost all situations, whether we’re in a field with bees buzzing or in a city with cars horns honking. By describing the sounds surrounding the characters, the scene comes alive with action and adds depth to the story.

Picture books often use onomatopoeia [words whose sounds suggest their meanings, such as clang or hiss] to incorporate sound into a story. In my book, Happy Birthday: the Story of the World’s Most Popular Song, I used this onomatopoeia: The thump-thud-thump-thud klackety-klack of the horse and buggy passing by on the street.

As you write ask yourself what the scene sounded like?

Call for submissions for adult writers:
Knowonder! Update. After a 3-month break to get themselves repositioned, Knowonder! relaunched on June 1st with a new look and a brand new app. In addition to their daily stories, they now have seven other categories of content. They are paying $25-$50 for stories and articles.
Submission guidelines at www.knowonder.com.

Call for submissions for young writers:
Frodo’s Notebook is actively seek submissions from teens, the ages of 13 and 19. Send us your very best work, and read the guidelines thoroughly and completely before sending anything:

Poetry

Creative/Personal Essays

Articles

Fiction

Submission guidelines at http://frodosnotebook.com/submit.html

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sensory Description: Taste/New Books/Calls for Submissions



I just received copies of my three new books. Holding them for the first time made me feel like a six-year-old at Christmas. Here’s a peek.





Back to regular programming. This blog is part of a series based on sensory description.

Describing sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, hot, cold, and different textures are ways to build convincing and engaging scenes. Imagery evokes pictures in the reader’s mind. Sour pickles, sweet chocolate ice cream, and juicy, cold watermelon are sensations that readers identify with instantly.

But to really get creative, we can go beyond the usual, the ordinary. A character might taste the salty air as she walks along the beach. Or the gritty taste of a mud pie. Yes, I actually did that once. Only once.

Taste is a description that many writers struggle with. It won’t be used as often as other senses because taste simply isn’t appropriate in many stories. But in stories in which flavor or tang is suitable, this descriptor can place the reader in the middle of the action.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

THE SANTA CLAWS CONTEST is for aspiring fiction and creative non-fiction writers who have not professionally published. This contest covers TWO issues: the October Issue (horror / suspense) and the December Issue (holiday / fantasy). SUBMISSIONS for the October Issue (horror / suspense) are now open. Please wait to submit holiday / fantasy material until AFTER October 15th. Liternational Editor’s will select the semi-finalists for publication and judging begins AFTER the December Issue’s release. Winners will be announced on or before St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th). You may submit in BOTH categories. You may also make MULTIPLE submissions. However, each contestant is only eligible for ONE prize.

Details at http://www.mariealexanderseries.com/submit.shtml

Call for submissions for young writers:

Creative Kids Magazine. The most exciting aspect of Creative Kids is that it is written by kids. Students from all over the world write for the magazine, so it includes exciting examples of the most creative student work to be found in any publication.

To find out more about Creative Kids or to submit your work for publication, please visit http://www.ckmagazine.org!

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 16, 2012

2012 Sensory Description: Sight/Calls for Submissions

In describing what a character sees, color, texture, and movement are essential. An easy way to frame descriptive scenes is with the use of notes. Jot down ideas in a notebook. If you’re at a ball field, observe the actions and reactions of kids as they participate in or watch the game. At a mall notice how people interact, walk, and shop. Writing notes will make you more conscious of observing others and you can refer to the notes when writing the scene.

Describing a scene through the sense of sight places the reader inside the scene. This allows the reader to “see” what’s happening and gives color to the flower or texture to the rock wall. A phrase such as “the barn” offers only the basic visual detail to the reader. A better visual is “the tilting, red barn with a rusty tin roof.” Instantly, the reader can conjure a barn visual.

Did the rain empty a dark, fat cloud in record time or did plump raindrops splat the sidewalk one at a time? How did people and animals react to the rain?

Pump up you writing with the sense of sight and your readers will know not only where things are but also what those things look like.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
WOLFoundation Prose Competition. "WOLFoundation runs an annual competition looking for the best non-technical, English language writing on any subject related to environmental issues. Entries will be judged by the members of our Advisory Board. The winning entry will receive a cash prize of $1,500. A further $500 will be awarded to the second placed entry. The shortlisted entries will be published as a book of collected essays." NB: "Entries should be written in prose in the English language. You can submit essays or short stories, factual commentary or fiction - whichever way and whichever writing style you choose to communicate your ideas. Just make it compelling." (Thanks to Adrienne R. Scanlan, http://www.shewrites.com/profile/AdrienneRossScanlan, for pointing me to this competition.)
Deadline: September 30, 2012
Details at http://wolfoundation.org/competition

Call for submissions for young writers:
STARSONGS
is a magazine for kids by kids ages 9-19. Our tag line is "voices of the future" and our goal is to inspire youth. Starsongs accepts original short stories, poetry, essays, photography, and art work by young people in the above mentioned age group. Full manuscript accepted from youth. Our next issue will focus on veterans, orphans, and loss. Each issue of Starsongs contains a mentoring article about writing submitted by an adult writer. If interested in writing for this feature, please query your idea first. Starsongs also features an interview with an extraordinary young person, which is usually conducted via email by Starsongs staff. We are always open to referrals of youth who have accomplished an extraordinary goal at a young age or impacted their community in some positive manner. For guidelines and further information about Starsongs, go to http://kidspublished.blogspot.com or contact Executive Editor Patti Shene at starsongs.mag@gmail.com.

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sensory Description: Sight/Calls for Submissions

In describing what a character sees, color, texture, and movement are essential. One of the best ways to frame descriptive scenes is to be observant to the things around you. Keep a notebook to jot down ideas. If you’re at the mall, notice how people walk, shop, and communicate. Write notes about similar situations in which you will place your characters. If a boy is at a bus stop, observe and make notes about kids waiting for the bus and how they act. Writing notes will make you more conscious of observing others and you can refer to the notes when writing the scene.

Describing a scene through the sense of sight places the reader inside the scene. This allows the reader to “see” what’s happening and gives color to the mountains or bloom to the flowers. Seeing “the cat” is a visual detail, but the detail can be improved upon with “the calico cat.” Instantly, the reader can visualize a specific color of cat.

Did the rain plummet in a blurry haze or did fat raindrops splatter one at a time on the sidewalk? How did people and animals react to the rain?

Pump up you writing with the sense of sight and your readers will know not only where things are but what those things look like.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
WOLFoundation Prose Competition. "WOLFoundation runs an annual competition looking for the best non-technical, English language writing on any subject related to environmental issues. Entries will be judged by the members of our Advisory Board. The winning entry will receive a cash prize of $1,500. A further $500 will be awarded to the second placed entry. The shortlisted entries will be published as a book of collected essays." NB: "Entries should be written in prose in the English language. You can submit essays or short stories, factual commentary or fiction - whichever way and whichever writing style you choose to communicate your ideas. Just make it compelling." (Thanks to Adrienne R. Scanlan, http://www.shewrites.com/profile/AdrienneRossScanlan, for pointing me to this competition.)
Deadline: September 30, 2012
Details at http://wolfoundation.org/competition

Call for submissions for young writers:
STARSONGS is a magazine for kids by kids ages 9-19. Our tag line is "voices of the future" and our goal is to inspire youth. Starsongs accepts original short stories, poetry, essays, photography, and art work by young people in the above mentioned age group. Full manuscript accepted from youth. Our next issue will focus on veterans, orphans, and loss. Each issue of Starsongs contains a mentoring article about writing submitted by an adult writer. If interested in writing for this feature, please query your idea first. Starsongs also features an interview with an extraordinary young person, which is usually conducted via email by Starsongs staff. We are always open to referrals of youth who have accomplished an extraordinary goal at a young age or impacted their community in some positive manner. For guidelines and further information about Starsongs, go to http://kidspublished.blogspot.com or contact Executive Editor Patti Shene at starsongs.mag@gmail.com.

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sensory Description: Touch/ Call For Submissions


Today, I’m beginning a series based on Sensory Description. Also, from September through May in each blog, I’ll continue to list a market that accept manuscripts from adult writers and will add a market for young writers. Happy writing.

Sensory Description: Touch

Action and dialog are important elements in storytelling. Just as important are sensory details. Descriptive writing allows us to paint pictures with words. In the next few blogs, I’ll discuss the use of senses in writing, beginning with the sense of touch.

Tactile descriptions are sometimes overlooked in unfolding a narrative, but the sensation of touch can make a scene more vivid. The character might stick her hand in a bucket of wet, cool slime. She jerks and slings her hand but the slime sticks. Kids will identify with the sensation of slime on their hands. Explaining how something feels adds another dimension to the story.

Tactile sensations can be used to up the tension in stories for older readers. Imagine a drip plop-plop-plopping onto a floor in a on a dark, cold winter night. The character slides his finger through the puddle and is surprised the liquid is warm. He turns on a light to discover blood trickling down his hand. The warm blood launches cold chills down his spine.

Consider the textures surrounding the characters. Describing the smoothness of the water or the roughness of the tree bark, allows readers to enter the fictional world.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

New themes for Calliope are here: http://www.cobblestonepub.com/guides_CAL.html.

Call for submissions for young writers:
AK eZine! We are looking for writers
Details: http://www.amazing-kids.org/old/ezine_12/ez.html

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Shushing the Inner Critic/Call for submissions


You know your inner critic—that voice in your head that says your writing is not worth its weight in kudzu. The one that asks, Is that the best that you can do? Who would want to read this? We writers can be our own harshest censors. We agonize over every word as we plot out the story and write the manuscript. Let’s look as some ways to put the shush on that inner critic. It can be our worst enemy.

When beginning a new story, focus on getting the story written, not getting it written in finished form. The first draft is not supposed to be your best effort; that’s why it’s called the FIRST draft. Allow yourself the right to make mistakes as you get the words strung together. Correct the mistakes later through revisions, which may include several drafts to polish the manuscript. Good writing comes from rewriting.

Keep a folder of positive feedback from editors, writing partners, critique buddies, friends, and family to bolster your confidence and filter your own negative thoughts. \
Treat your inner critic the way you would treat a pesky individual who is pessimistic or cynical in regard to your writing: ignore or counter with positive thoughts.

Convert your inner critic to an ally and veiw it as a writing partner. Consider the negative messages a citique of your work. If the negative voice is saying the paragraph isn’t working, a character isn't full developed or the dialog is cliche', use your writer’s critical eye to reexamine the piece. Make the inner critic a valued resource.

Next week, I’m beginning a series based on Sensory Description. And in each blog from September through May, I’ll list markets that accept manuscripts from adult and young writers.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
HarperTeen and Figment are partnering to provide YA writers with this contest opportunity to get their story published in an anthology along with other well-known YA authors. The contest challenge: Write a story that takes place at night or in the dark. The story can be of any genre: contemporary, paranormal, horror, science fiction, romance, humor, fantasy, etc. What happens in the dark? Why are things different at night? Maybe it’s magic, or madness or both. A new anthology coming Summer 2013 from HarperTeen, Defy the Dark explores those questions and invites you to try your hand at answering them.

What’s in it for you? A chance to be published in Defy the Dark. The winner will be noted in the book’s table of contents, on the copyright page, and have a byline on their story. The grand-prize winner will receive a $500 cash prize awarded by HarperCollins and five copies of Defy the Dark.
Deadline: September 1, 2012
Details at http://dailyfig.figment.com/defy-the-dark-official-rules/
Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Author Interview Blogs/Themes for Dig Magazine

Everyone has a story, but writing the story can be an overwhelming experience. Although the writing process is enjoyable (most of the time), a lot of hard work is involved. We sometimes get so immersed in our stories, it’s difficult to examine how to improve them. Writing is a solitary venture but that doesn’t mean that other writers can’t play an important role in the process. Writers gain immeasurable benefits from other writers. Writing conferences, workshops, and retreats offer practical information that can move a writer along the journey to publication. However, these events come at a cost: money for the event, time away from home and family, and travel expenses. This expenditure is out of reach for many writers.

The Internet offers useful, convenient advice, especially blogs. I read blogs that focus on author interviews. Those are the next best thing to sitting face-to-face and learning how the writer blazed the trail to publication. And this method doesn’t cost a cent. Read interviews by first-time-published authors to see how they maneuvered through the obstacles and passed through the gatekeepers (agents/editors) to gain that coveted contract.

For adult writers: New themes for Dig are here: http://www.cobblestonepub.com/guides_DIG.html

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Interview/Trends/Contests

This week I had the good fortune of being interviewed by Clancy Tucker, a writer, photographer, poet, and blogger extraordinaire who lives in Australia. I discussed my journey to writing professionally for children at
http://clancytucker.blog.com/2012/08/09/10-august-2012-nancy-allen-guest-author/ Clancy’s daily blog for aspiring writers reaches readers in twelve countries.

A few times each year I like to check out the latest trends in children’s book publishing as viewed by editors and agents. Here’s what I’ve found:

The market is improving for picture books. Woohoo to that trend.

Shorter, character-driven stories are becoming popular.

Middle grade books are still strong sellers, even stronger than young adult.

Adventure and fantasy stories are on the upswing.

Paranormal and dystopian young adult stories have flooded the market so these genres are more difficult to sell.

Steampunk, fiction revolving around time-travel in the Victorian era when steam locomotives were the latest technology, is growing in popularity with teens.

Publishers are interested in realistic fiction.

As always, I’m not suggesting that anyone write with the trends as the guiding standard. Instead, focus on what inspires you, but keep up with the business side of publishing, including the trends.

Contests:
· McSweeney’s Internet Tendency has announced that it is once again column contest time, and you’re eligible if you’re writing in English, regardless of location. Even better: “We have prizes. Cash prizes. The top five selections will each receive a $500 lump sum and a one-year contract to write your column (twice a month or thereabouts) for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. One of those five winners will win a $250 bonus voted on by our readers. We do reserve the right to choose fewer (or more) winners than our planned number of five.” Deadline: “Submissions will be accepted until Monday, August 20th at 10pm Eastern time.” No entry fee.

· The First Line First Line Contest: “To celebrate our 15th year, we’re giving you a chance to inspire the world. Send us your best (original and unpublished) starter sentences, and we’ll pick four to use for next year’s first lines. You have until August 31st to submit. The winners will receive $50 and five copies of the issue that was inspired by your first line.” No entry fee.
Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Former Occupation of Authors/Call for Submissions

Have you ever wondered what a famous author did BEFORE hitting it big in the literary world? Did the author’s job, such as news reporter, lead directly to another version of the printed word? Stephen King, The Shining, taught creative writing so the occupational leap wasn’t as great as that of George Orwell, Animal Farm, who was a police officer. Jack London, The Call of the Wild, worked at a cannery, and Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, tried her hand as an airline reservation clerk.

Eric Carle’s job as a graphic designer paid off when he illustrated his own book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Bill Martin, Jr., Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, taught school and developed literature-based reading programs before writing over 300 children’s books. Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat, worked as a cartoonist.

Successful writers abound from all backgrounds. So regardless of your profession, you can transition to writing books. Look around you for inspiration and let your imagination soar.

For more interesting information about authors and their early jobs, check out http://www.onlinephdprograms.com/the-surprising-early-jobs-of-our-favorite-famous-writers/

Spellbound Magazine (a fantasy publication for children that closed in 2003) is reopening as an electronic magazine. This is a quarterly themed magazine. The first electronic issue, Winter 2012, has "Rings & Other Magic Things" as its theme. Submission period for it is July 1- October 1. They use short stories (max. 2,500 words) and poems (max. 36 lines).

Submit by email to:
Raechel Henderson for fiction submissions@eggplantproductions.com
Marcie Tentchoff for poetry poembound@eggplantproductions.com

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 29, 2012

OOPS! Do As I Say, Not As I Do/Contest

When working with editors, our goal always is to mail an error-free manuscript and cover letter. In this electronic age when a simple press of the “send” key flings our work into cyberspace, it’s easy to overlook an error. Some publishing houses are now accepting manuscripts by electronic submission. The good news is two-fold: they accept manuscripts and emailing is free. So what’s the downside? Sometimes, we tend to ship out precious manuscript cargo without printing a hard copy. Catching our own mistakes is difficult because we read the work as we intend it to be rather than the way it is actually written and finding mistakes is more difficult when reading a computer screen. I made this mistake as recently as last week’s blog article in which I wrote “road” and it should have been “rode.”

I reread the article two or three times but overlooked the mistake with each reading. Had that been a cover letter, an editor probably would not have read further. Cover letters MUST be error-free and so should picture book manuscripts. Overlooking a grammatical error of longer manuscripts for middle grade and young adult manuscripts would probably not be a major problem for an editor if the mistakes are few and far between, but errors are totally unacceptable in cover letters and short manuscripts.

Happy writing and double-check, make that triple-check, your work. Even better, have a critique partner or two read it. Their eyes are fresh since they’re reading the work for the first time.

HIGHLIGHTS 2013 FICTION CONTESTCATEGORY:
Stories for beginning readers in 500 words or fewer. We welcome stories of any genre (mystery, historical fiction, sports, humor, holiday, friendship, etc.) as long as the stories are intended for kids ages 6–8.
PRIZES:

Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for any Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop. (For a complete list of workshops, visit http://www.highlightsfoundation.org.)
All entries must be postmarked between January 1 and January 31, 2013.
RULES:
No entry form or fee is required.
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.

Stories may be any length up to 500 words. Indicate the word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of your manuscript.
Include your name and the title of your story on 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.
SEND ENTRIES TO:
FICTION CONTEST
Highlights for Children
803 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
WINNERS:
The three winning entries will be purchased by Highlights and announced on Highlights.com in June 2013. All other submissions will be considered for purchase by Highlights.

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tips for Writers/Contest

In the past two weeks, I’ve conducted three writing workshops. In each class I’ve asked participants to offer feedback on some of the best tips for writing children’s books. Here are the top four:

1. Create a strong ending that reflects the beginning. The resolution should reflect the character’s problem or goal that was stated at the beginning of the story.

2. Show, Don’t Tell. SHOW the character in action rather than telling what the character did after the action was complete. Instead of TELLing that Timmy rode his bicycle down the road, SHOW the scene by describing how he pumped the pedals.

3. Treat your character badly and then threat the character worse. Place obstacles in your character’s journey to raise the tension of the story. High tension builds high interest for readers.

4. Just get the story written. Don’t be too concerned about the use of voice and grammatical correctness at this stage. Good writing comes from rewriting. Future drafts of the manuscripts can spit shine it.

Contest for adult writers:
Family Circle. Limit 2,500 words of short fiction.
Must be unpublished and never have won a prize. Limit two entries per person.
Must be 21 or older and a legal resident of the US. Grand prize may be published in Family Circle.
One (1) Grand Prize winner will receive a prize package including $750, a gift certificate to one (1) mediabistro.com course of his or her choice, one (1) year mediabistro.com AvantGuild membership valued at $55, and a one (1) year mediabistro.com How-to Video membership valued at $99.
One (1) Second Place winner will receive $250, a one (1) year mediabistro.com AvantGuild membership, and a one (1) year mediabistro.com How-to Video membership.
One (1) Third Place winner will receive $250 and a one (1) year mediabistro.com AvantGuild membership.
Deadline: Deadline September 7, 2012.
Details at http://www.familycircle.com/family-fun/fiction/fiction-contest-rules-2012/

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Conflict Ups the Interest in Reading, part II/Call for Submissions

Conflict is the key to keeping readers interested in a story. Characters act and react in ways they never imagined when their worlds collide in disagreements and problems. Compel your character to take action and expose his/her imperfections throughout the plotline. Here are a few more ways to up the tension with conflict.

-Surprise the reader by taking the story in an unexpected turn of events with new obstacles to confront and overcome.

-Craft an external conflict with another character or with an external force.

-Craft an internal conflict by subjecting the character to uncertainty or a predicament in which s/he doesn’t know how to deal with the problem or expose the character’s fear.

-Vary the intensity of the conflict. All scenes should not be loaded with high drama. As in life, some challenges are greater than others

-The intensity of the conflict should be the greatest at the climax of the story.

-Readers will appreciate your efforts when you allow conflict to drive your story.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
The Flagler Review, the literary journal of Flagler College, is seeking submissions of high-quality poems, short stories, creative nonfiction, screenplays, plays and artwork for our Fall 2012 issue, which may be published in print or online formats. Submissions must be previously unpublished. Submit work as a Microsoft Word attachment; include cover letter with contact and biographical information. Submit to flaglerreview@flagler.edu.
Deadline: AUGUST 15, 2012.
Details at www.theflaglerreview.com.

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Conflict Ups the Interest in Reading/Call for submissions

As in adult novels, compelling conflict in children’s chapter books and novels keep the pages turning. The main character needs a worthy goal. The goal should be worth all the trouble the character endures to be believable.

Try these tips for creating conflict and increasing literary tension:

-Begin the story at a moment in which the character will forever be changed, at a moment of excitement, or in the middle of the action. Grab the reader’s attention early.

-A way to up the tension is by setting a deadline in which the character must accomplish a task. Like a ticking clock, the urgency will make compelling reading.

-A rule many writers use is treat the character badly; then treat the character worse. Present one obstacle after another to make the character work hard and face difficult choices.

-The character should solve his/her own problems. Active characters act upon the situation. Don’t rely on Aunt Polly or a big brother to solve the character’s problems.

-Keep the character consistent. A shy kid shouldn’t suddenly develop an outgoing personality without sufficient reason.

Next week, I’ll address more ways to create conflict.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
Lingerpost is a biannual, online journal that seeks to publish wonderful new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by established and emerging artists. We’re open to a wide variety of work as long as it is well-written and innovative. What compels us is a desire to enter another heart and imagination, to know—we look for poetry that seeks to know and be known. We read submissions year around, and currently we're reading for our next issue. Email submissions to lingerpost@yahoo.com.
Deadline for next issue: July 25, 2012
Details at www.lingerpost.org.

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 1, 2012

First Sentence, First Paragraph/Call for Submissions

In revision, pay particular attention to the first paragraph. Hone the words sharp. Begin with action and use language that will attract readers’ attention. Some authors rewrite the beginning paragraph 100 times. I’m not suggesting that you go to that length but to rise above the competition, create a first paragraph that is attention grabbing, emotional, and sounds like music to the ears. A well-honed first paragraph is your first impression with many editors, since some editors don’t read the cover letter until AFTER they’re read the first paragraph. Some read the first paragraph, and if they like what they read, continue with the first page; THEN turn back to the cover letter to read about the submission.

Like editors, readers are captivated by the fictional world in the first five to seven words. Create a first sentence that is such a powerful and magnetic force, editors and readers can’t put it down. The first paragraph is the building block for the entire story. Make your first impression a lasting impression.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
Kentucky Monthly. Attention, writers! Kentucky Monthly is seeking submissions for our annual literary section, which will appear in the November issue. Entries will be accepted in the following categories:
• Poetry
• Fiction
• Creative Nonfiction

Guidelines
Only submissions from Kentucky writers will be considered for publication. Our definition of a Kentucky writer is anyone who currently lives in Kentucky, has lived in Kentucky or uses Kentucky as subject matter. Submissions must adhere to our literary guidelines. Please thoroughly review these guidelines before submitting your stories or poems. Submission of stories and/or poems indicates you have read and agree to the terms outlined in the guidelines. Writers may submit one fiction and one creative nonfiction story at no charge. 600-3000 words."
Deadline: August 3, 2012

Details at http://kentuckymonthly.com/uncategorized/guidelines-for-the-literary-issue/

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Theme/Call for Submissions

You’ve polished the character, the plot has twists and turns, and the dialog is snappy. When it seems that everything in the manuscript has come together in perfect harmony, it’s time to focus on the theme. Check your story for the broad message. Aim for a universal message with which many, maybe all, readers can identify. Writing about the loss of a pet, moving, fighting with a best friend, and controlling anger are themes that stand out and help young reader learn to cope. A story without an overall theme is considered to be too slight for publication by many editors.

The theme is not intended to sound preachy or teachy, nor is it presented directly to the reader, as in Jill learned to be nice to her friend. The theme is the underlying truth that evolves from the character and plot and recurs throughout the story. If the readers identifies with the theme, a stronger emotional connection is made with the story.

Is your story stronger because you have an identifiable theme or themes? If not, the manuscript needs more work.

Call for Submissions for adult writers:
Big Muddy, a literary journal, seeks new poetry, fiction, articles, photos (reproduced in b&w; high contrast is preferred) for its upcoming issue. Any topic, any style. Send unpublished work, cover letter, and SASE to Susan Swartwout, Big Muddy, One University Plaza, MS 2650, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701 .
Details at www6.semo.edu/universitypress/bigmuddy/


Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What Sea Creature Is This?/Call for Submissions


My latest picture book, What Sea Creature Is This?, is hot off the press. For this nonfiction title I focused on unusual or little-known ocean animals. In conferences, writers are often told that nonfiction is difficult to sell in today’s market, especially picture books. The key is to write with a different slant than other books or about a subject that has little written about it. I focused on the latter for this book. One of the animals has only recently been discovered; others are so unusual they’ll capture the attention of the reader and hold onto it. A parrotfish makes a sleeping bag out of slime—for protection, and another sea creature ties its three-feet-long body in a knot and moves the knot from head to tail. It’s no circus act, it’s a yellow-bellied sea snake.

Editors are interested in books that appeal to boys. Weird and wonderful creatures of the sea offer enough strangeness to capture boys’—and girls’—attention. If the creature’s behavior isn’t enough to offer reader appeal, the strange and curious appearance of the animal will do the trick. The flashlight fish does both: provides its own light with bacterial pouches in inky deep-sea travel.

When you’re considering your next manuscript, think about what will interest your target audience. Aim for a subject that has not been overly marketed or present the information in a new and appealing format. Have fun with the subject and turn your words into a book.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

The Whistling Fire’s July Guest Editor is accepting submissions. Guest Editor Athena Lark wants to read your stories about the African-American experience. Stories where African-Americans love, grow, despair, desire, and endure. Although African-American literature is generally defined as literature by African-Americans – all races are welcome to submit. Accepting fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Please send your submissions to whistlingfire@gmail.com. Include the words “July Editor” in your subject line. No more than two submissions per author, each under 3000 words.

Deadline: Submission Deadline: June 23rd, 2012
Details at www.whistlingfire.com.

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Author Interview: Ann Harth, part II/Call for Submissions




Ann Harth is back this week to share her favorite writing tips. Ann is the author of the upcoming children’s middle grade mystery book, The Art of Magic, that takes place in Australia, where Ann calls home. This book is a crossover that appeals to young adults and adults, as well.

NKA: Ann, I love your tip of thinking like a child. That’s a great mindset for developing plot and dialog. What other tips do you have?

AH: Observe. Live like a writer. Keep your mind open to story ideas. They can be lurking in the most unexpected places. Maybe that child at the bus stop carries an umbrella because it connects her to another world. Maybe that dog racing down the street is escaping from a dognapper who wants to use him for experiments. The cranky shopkeeper? Could he be a frustrated astronaut who builds rockets in his basement? Story ideas are everywhere.

Pay attention to your senses. While you’re living like a writer, don’t forget to use your senses. Sight is wonderful, but don’t forget smell, sound, touch and taste. Wherever you are, take the time to close your eyes and experience. Can you smell the burned toast from breakfast? The lilacs outside the window? Is your seat hot and sticky or cold against your skin? Can you hear cars? Horns? A ticking clock? Can you taste anything? The remnants of a peppermint? The need of a peppermint? The more you pay attention to your senses, the easier it will be to use these in your writing to build believable and three-dimensional settings.

Carry a notebook. If you’re anything like me, brilliant snippets of best-selling ideas whizz into your mind and then out again, never to be rediscovered. Carrying a notebook won’t capture them all, but it will possibly snare one or two. The trick is to remember to use it. No matter how unformed, if an idea pops into your head and you find yourself exploring it, even a little, write it down. You can also use your notebook for recording interesting character traits - eyebrows that flutter like moths, crooked lips, a thunderous voice booming from a tiny woman. These could all be possible inclusions in one of your stories. But the best thing about your ever-present notebook is that, the next time you get stuck for an idea, riffle through it. It might trigger your next story.

NKA: I love your examples. The senses of smelling and tasting are closely related and can make the scene seem so real. As far as a notebook goes, I need one because great ideas seem to whiz out of my mind faster than they enter. Last week, you told us that your children’s mystery, The Art of Magic, will be available later this year from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, FictionWise, SmashWords and Solstice Publishing. You have another book writers will be interested in. Tell us about it.

AH: I also have an ebook available from the beginning of June (Kindle Edition) on Amazon. Writing for Children: In the Beginning is the book I wish I’d had when I started as a children’s writer. It covers finding ideas, viewpoint, dialogue, character development, some tips to get you started in the publishing world and, as they say, much more.

NKA: I’m certainly looking forward to reading both of your latest books. Ann, thanks so much for visiting my blog and sharing your ideas and inspiration. I wish you much success with your writing career.

To learn more about Ann and her books, visit her website at www.annharth.com.

Call for Submissions for adult writers:

FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION
We are looking for stories that will appeal to science
fiction and fantasy readers. The SF element may be slight,
but it should be present. We prefer character-oriented
stories. We receive a lot of fantasy fiction, but never
enough science fiction or humor. Do not query for fiction;
send the entire manuscript. We publish fiction up to 25,000
words in length. We buy first North American and foreign serial rights and an
option on anthology rights. All other rights are retained by
the author.
Details at http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/glines.htm

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Author Interview: Ann Harth, part I/Contest



Today, I’m thrilled to have children’s book author, Ann Harth, visit this blog and provide her insight into writing a contract-grabbing manuscript. Ann lives in Australia but has contracts with U.S. publishers.

NKA: Ann, for your middle-grade novel, The Art of Magic, how did you get the idea to write the story?

AH: When my children were young we spent a couple of months in Hobart, Tasmania in Australia. Hobart was a penal colony in the 1800s and was built largely with convict labor. The streets are still lined with 19th century homes and, if you can erase the cars from the driveways, a walk down the street in Hobart feels like a stroll through the last century. While wandering the streets one day, I met an elderly woman who took me on a walk I’ll never forget. She pointed out houses and was able to give me the details of the people and families who lived in each over a hundred years before. I was completely charmed and a small thrill of mystery crept up my spine as I wondered how she knew about these people in such detail.

Her stories, and the feel of Hobart, never left me. An idea about a young boy who meets an aging, eccentric artist formed and grew. The Art of Magic was born.

NKA: I love the story behind the story, and I’m looking forward to reading your book. Not only are you taking us back in time but to a region of the world most of us only dream of seeing. Plus, the cover is beautiful. The house seems to be in motion as if my magic.

Where can readers purchase your latest book?

AH: The Art of Magic will be available later this year from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, FictionWise, SmashWords and Solstice Publishing.

NKA: I’m always fascinated with how authors create and develop ideas for books. We’d love for you to share some tips for writing children’s books.

AH: Read. One of the most critical tips I could give a children’s writer is to read. This is a popular suggestion given by writers, but it’s offered for a reason. Reading is imperative. Read in the genre you want to write, but don’t stop there. Explore different kinds of writing for different ages. You never know when an idea will strike. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t and try to figure out why. Soak up different styles and get a feeling for the current trends. When you find a book you love, check out the author’s website and delve even more deeply into the creation of the book and its creator. Immerse yourself in the world of children’s books.

Think like a child. There are plenty of ways to get into the mind of a child – watch them, play with them, let go of grown-up confines and recall your own childhood. Try to remember what it was like when each and every inanimate object had a face and feelings or when 30 minutes until dinner seemed a lifetime. Children live in the moment. Try it. It will open the door to a world filled with possibilities.

NKA: Great tips, Ann. Thanks. Next week, part II of Ann’s interview will reveal more writing tips.

Contest for adult writers:
TRAVELING FOR FUN CONTEST
Would you like to share your travel experiences from a fantastic (or not so fantastic) trip or vacation you are currently on or took in the past? Do you live in a popular (or not so popular) travel destination and would like to share what makes your town or city special with other travelers? Contest Winners will be selected in 3 categories. At the end of the contest, CruiseTrust staff will determine the winners of the CruiseTrust Vacations' Traveling for Fun, Adventure and Relaxation Blogs Contest. Contest is open to any individual age 18 or older as of March 2, 2012 who is a legal resident of the United States or over the age of majority and a legal resident of Canada.

First Place Winner in the category "Best Travel Blog" - $500.
First Place Winner in the category "My Favorite Trip or Vacation" - $250.
First Place Winner in the category "My Hometown / Destination
Business is a Great Travel Destination Because..." will receive $250.
Deadline August 31, 2012.
Details at http://trendytraveler.com/travel-planner/traveling-fun-adventure-relaxation-blog-contest-rules

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Picture Books: Nonfiction Revision

Facts are the bones of nonfiction. Unlike fiction, characters and plot don’t take center stage. Since facts make up the skeleton, the body of the story comes to life through an attention-grabbing, sparkling, and fresh presentation. When the revised draft is finished and polished, test out the following tips to make the story zing.

Does the story reflect the age of the audience?

Is the language—word choice and sentence structure—appropriate for the audience? Are technical terms explained so the reader can understand?

Is the subject suitable for the audience?

Do the facts and narrative provide the reader with a real understanding of the subject?

Does the manuscript flow from easy concepts to more complex?

Are the text and illustrations/photos/charts/visuals integrated?

Have you double-and triple-checked the facts for accuracy?

Is the material arranged in a logical manner?

When possible, have an authority in the field check the manuscript for accuracy.

Good writing springs from rewriting. Whether we love or hate revision, it’s the path to publication.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
The First Line, P.O. Box 250382, Plano, TX 75025-0382.
P(972)824-0646. Email: info-at-thefirstline.com. Website:
http://thefirstline.com/. Robin LaBounty, Manuscript
Coordinator. "The purpose of The First Line is to jump start
the imagination-to help writers break through the block that
is the blank page. Each issue contains short stories that
stem from a common first line; it also provides a forum for
discussing favorite first lines in literature. The First
Line is an exercise in creativity for writers and a chance
for readers to see how many different directions we can take
when we start from the same place." 95% freelance. Welcomes
new writers. Circ. [2000]. Quarterly. Pays on publication.
Publishes ms approx. 1 month after acceptance. Buys all
rights for 2 years only.

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Picture Books: Nonfiction/Call for submissions

Many picture books focus on information. Nonfiction text should not sound like a textbook. Instead, mix and stir and serve the information in an exciting, fresh manner.

Ear appeal is vital to a picture book. These books are designed to be read aloud. Before mailing a manuscript to an editor, test drive the story by reading it aloud. Your ears will pick up on the parts that don’t flow easily. Reading silently isn’t as effective.

Aim for lyrical, rhythmic prose to add a cadence to the text and to give an overall tempo to the piece. Listeners will cling to every word when the story has a musical quality. Carefully consider each word to maximize the rhythm, descriptive details, and dialog.

Editors want books that delight the reader/listener so a satisfying ending is critical to a successful manuscript. The story may have a gentle, rip-roaring, or surprise ending. When I’m writing, I know the ending before I ever begin a story. The ending is the last impression a writer makes on a reader so make the ending memorable.

One of the best ways to learn how to write picture books is to read lots of them from a variety of authors. Notice the different styles. Read like a writer and write like a reader.

Good picture books should remain interesting over multiple readings. The depth and richness of the writing and emotions can make a child say, Read it again. Ah, sweet music to a writer’s ears.

Call for submissions for adult writers
Lightspeed Magazine . CURRENT NEEDS: "Original science fiction stories (not fantasy) of 7500 words or less. Preferred length is 5000
words or less." 1000-7500 words.

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Picture Books: Historical Fiction, Part II/Contest

Accurate research makes the story richer and more believable. Filtering out the ideas that readers will find interesting is the key. I usually begin my research with the Internet and follow through with books and interviewing people who are knowledgeable about the subject. In writing historical fiction as well as all picture books, keep the illustrator in mind. Much of the setting, character description, and action can be depicted through the eyes and hands of the illustrator.

Begin with action to engage the reader quickly. Don’t let your opening become bogged down with backstory, which will slow the action. Kids like a fast-paced plot. Balance the historical facts with strong characters and plot. Since dialog cannot be manufactured, rely on sensory details to bring the narrative to life.

Like all genres of writing, historical fiction can be challenging. But the payoff can be a contract because kids love it and so do publishers, teachers, and parents.

Contest for adult writers:
Hay House Visions Fiction Writing Contest. "Hay House Visions, the new fiction publishing division of Hay House, is teaming with Balboa Press for the first-ever Hay House Vision Fiction Writing Contest. One Grand-Prize winner will receive a publishing contract with Hay House Visions and a $5,000 advance."
Deadline: June 1, 2012
Details at http://www.balboapress.com/PublishingContest.aspx

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Picture Books: Historical Fiction/Call for Submissions

Writing historical fiction requires research plus storytelling. I always research far more information than I will actually use in the story because I want to select the tidbits that will peak the interests of the readers. Storytelling involves writing intriguing plots with interesting characters in a captivating voice. Even though the story is fiction, the historical facts must be accurate. When I wrote Trouble in Troublesome Creek, I researched how Confederate soldiers hid in caves and used the underground areas to stow their goods and to make ammunition. The research was critical to the plotline because similar events had to have happened or the story would have lost its authenticity and all credibility with the audience.

The book is about a group of kids who are having a fun day of play along Troublesome Creek. I used just enough history to make the story interesting without detracting from the narrative. Allow the historical facts to enrich the story while the personalities and actions of the characters take the lead.

From May through August I will suspend the posting of contests and calls for submissions for young writers.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
Word Hotel, the literary magazine, published by the BFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University, is accepting literature, illustrations, photographs and photographs of artwork for the summer/fall issue to be published in August. They welcome submissions in all genres and a multitude of styles, including experimental, and are looking particularly for writers who have not yet published a first book. Writers may submit up to three poems (any length), short fiction or creative nonfiction up to 2,500 words, and hybrid texts.
Deadline: May 31
Details at wordhotel@spalding.edu

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Writing Picture Books: Term: “Slight”

Like many writers, I’ve had picture book manuscripts rejected because they are “slight.” The rejection letter may state: We’ve reviewed your story and find the character charming and delightfully; however the story is too slight. What!?! If the character was charming and delightful, what’s the problem? Picture books need a strong idea. Something must happen. A day in the life of a girl named Susie won’t work in today’s market even though the story is told well, unless Susie does something that ignites excitement. The story must have an emotional appeal that makes it stand out. Significant messages or universal themes that give a story lasting importance make and editor take notice. However, this gets tricky. Significant messages and universal themes should NOT be didactic, meaning preachy.

Stories are considered “slight” because the story doesn’t have depth or the plot doesn’t have action. A story in which a child strolls through the forest and sees the trees doesn’t have enough action or a significant message. A child walking through the woods counting trees has much more impact because the story has a strong focus: counting. Learning to count gives the reader something that will linger long after the book is closed.

The stories we write should resonate with young readers and embody thoughts, feelings, and desires that depict their world. Capture the childhood experiences of friendship and kindness and human emotions, such as anger and hope, in a magical way through writing.

Next week, I’ll explore further into the world of picture books.

Call for submissions for young writers:
Dragonfly. Send us your investigations, poems, short essays, and stories on upcoming themes, and you may be the next Dragonfly. For All Submissions, we Seek:
Writing from your own point of view. Material from third-grade through lower middle school students. Material on upcoming Dragonfly themes. Submit only your very best work. Use language that is sensitive to both boys and girls as well as to people from various cultural, economic, racial, and geographic backgrounds. Focus on a respect for nature, imagination, love of learning, and fun. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope, if you want material returned. 400-800 words.
No Deadline.
Details at http://www.units.muohio.edu/dragonfly/submit.shtml

Call for submissions for adult writers:
Boulevard. Pay: $25 to $500. Boulevard strives to publish only the finest in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction (essays, interviews, etc.).
Deadline: Accepts submissions after October 1 and up to May 1.
Details at http://www.boulevardmagazine.org/projects.html

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Picture Books: Problem Resolution Tales

The plot structure for Problem Resolution stories has a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning introduces the characters, setting and conflict. Most picture books have a third person point of view [he/she said] but first person [I said] also works. Sometimes dialog is used and sometimes authors choose an all narrative telling. Both work. In my book, Trouble in Troublesome Creek, I used dialog to help develop the individual personalities of the characters and to move the plot forward.

Rising action occurs when the character faces conflict. The Troublesome Creek kids found dead fish floating in their swimming hole. Yuck! That was no place for swimming. To make matters worse, no one knew what was killing the fish. By accident, they opened up a cave and decided to explore. Deep inside the cave, they dropped their flashlight and were swallowed by black. When the light worked again, they kids couldn’t remember the route out of the cave. Bats swarmed them. The way to build conflict is to create problems for the character. To keep the conflict high, create more problems. The conflict continues until the story reaches a climax, where the character confronts the problem.

The resolution comes quickly and suggests that the character has changed or solved the problem. The kids found strange rocks in the cave and later identified them as Minnie balls, Civil War lead bullets over 150 years old. The bullets were removed and the water in their swimming hole was safe for fish and swimmers. Problem solved.
This structure is the most popular in picture books.

Contest for young writers:
Gumbo Teen Magazine, a bimonthly print publication with a multicultural focus, accepts inquiries for submission by 13- to 19-year-olds on contemporary social, political and global issues of interest to teens, as well as news highlighting fashion, sports and entertainment.
Details at http://www.mygumbo.com/gumboteenmagazine/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=48&Itemid=46

Call for submissions for adult writers
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
CURRENT NEEDS: "Three general criteria are employed in
evaluating submissions: We look for strong writing, an
original and exciting plot, and professional craftsmanship.
We need hard-boiled stories as well as "cozies.
Details at http://www.themysteryplace.com/eqmm/guidelines/

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Picture Books: Journey Stories/Contest

The journey story is viable plot structure for picture books. The main character journeys into the world on a quest or with a specific goal in mind. While on the journey the character faces strong opposition and obstacles that s/he must overcome. By the end of the journey, the character experiences growth. This type of story has a definite sense of beginning, middle, and end. Many fairy tales, folktales, and myths are journey stories. Examples: The Three Little Pigs and Jack and the Beanstalk.

The beginning introduces the character and setting as well as the catalyst for the journey. Early in the story, establish the reason why the character is taking the journey. What is the character’s motivation to continue when presented with challenges? The pigs are seeking their fortunes. Introduce the villain, such as the Bad Wolf.

Challenges arise in the middle part of the story. The character is tested. The Big Bad Wolf huffs and puffs and blows down their houses. The character must learn to deal with the opposition so s/he can overcome the final obstacle that leads to the climax.

The ending is short and sweet. The Big Bad Wolf won’t bother the pigs ever again. A satisfying ending is a must for young readers. The pigs are victorious.

Consider how your journey story fits this plot structure. Add your own creative ideas, distinctive characters, and compelling plot to make the story fresh and engaging. As in building a house, the structure of a story provides the foundation, but the details offer the uniqueness.

Contest for young and adult writers:
Tapestry of Bronze "Odes to the Olympians" Spring 2012 Contest
"The Tapestry of Bronze is sponsoring a series of poetry contests to celebrate Greek and Roman mythology and the Olympian gods. The subject of the eighth contest is Ares (also known as Mars), the God of War." Prizes of $50 will be awarded for the winning poem in each age group (over 18/under 18). NB: "All poems remain the property of the authors. However, the Tapestry of Bronze reserves the right to post winning poems and those receiving Honorable Mention on the Tapestry of Bronze website."
Deadline: April 30, 2012
Details at http://www.tapestryofbronze.com/OdeForm.html

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/