Nancy's Books

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 6/Calls for Submissions

Many middle grade readers are interested in understanding the universe that is gradually opening up in their lives. They are concerned about their place is this big world so they are looking for connections between themselves and family, community, and peers, etc. They are also interested in how things work, such as clocks and motors and mixing colors. At this age, they wonder about fairness, justice, right and wrong.   

Chart a chapter-by-chapter sketch of a character’s actions and reactions. I used a simple sentence or two to describe each chapter. Beginning with the question “What if...” What if I placed my character in a situation after situation in which s/he had to make decisions? What if my character tells the truth to break what he believes is a curse, but if he tells the truth, he will be in deep trouble with Mom, Dad, his best friend, and his teacher. If he doesn’t come clean, he will have to live with all the bad luck caused by the curse. Decisions, decisions, decisions.  

The adage that writers should treat their character badly and then treat them worse is applicable to middle grade novels. Create situations that reflect the lives of this age group, stir in some trouble, lots of conflict, and you have a recipe for an attention-grabbing read. 

Next week, I’ll continue this series. 

Call for submissions for young writers:

Insight Magazine. Categories are student short story, general short story, and student poetry. Prizes range from $50 to $250. Winning entries will be published in Insight. You must be age 22 or under to enter the student categories. Short stories are limited to seven pages. Poetry is limited to one page.

Deadline: July 31, 2014.

Submission guidelines at http://www.insightmagazine.org/contest/rules.asp

Call for submissions for adult writers: 
SPIDER, a literary magazine for children ages 6-9 that features fresh and engaging literature, poems, articles, and activities for newly independent readers. Editors seek energetic, beautifully crafted submissions with strong "kid appeal" (an elusive yet recognizable quality, often tied to high-interest elements such as humor, adventure, and suspense). 
Submission guidelines at http://www.cricketmag.com/32-Submission-Guidelines-for-SPIDER-magazine-for-children-ages-6-9
 
 

 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Win a book. A picture book. My latest picture book, FIRST FIRE—A CHEROKEE FOLKTALE. 

Sign up for a chance to win. Tell others. Tell others to tell others. 

My publisher, Sylvan Dell, is giving away 5 copies. Here is the Goodreads link:


Thanks a bunch and good luck.
Let’s look at how to write a middle grade novel. 

Keep a log of character features. If the character has black hair in one chapter, s/he should have black hair in every chapter, unless you tell the reader otherwise. Stay consistent. Give the characters special quirks. Every person has unique quirks so let’s make our characters more realistic by giving them specific habits and behaviors. This uniqueness allows you to develop lifelike characters. This is much easier to achieve if you have a list of characters to which you can refer for their peculiarities.

 So, if you are writing about two or more characters the same age, how do you give each of them unique characteristics? Dialog works. As you read works by various authors, notice how they make characters sound differently. One character in my book has a habit of saying, “First thing.” Some characters might use few words to communicate and others may say in 20 words what could be said in 2. 

Another way to show individuality is with mannerisms. A character in one of my books twists her hair when she gets nervous. Maybe the a habit of interrupting others when they are talking could be used as a trait. The choices are unlimited.
 
All readers love to relate to the characters, and the middle grade audience is no different. Create weaknesses, problems and situations the characters must deal with and in which the readers can relate. The readers will see themselves reflected in the characters problems, actions and reactions.
 
I'll continue this series next week. 

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION CONTEST. This environmental journalism competition invites youth between the ages of 13-21 to report on topics related to the environment. Participants submit an article, photo, or video to the competition for a chance to win great prizes, plus national and international recognition. Deadline March 14, 2014. Prizes for the Young Reporters for the Environment USA 2013-2014 competition will be awarded in each media category (writing, photography and video) for each age group (13-15, 16-18, and 19-21). A first, second, and third place winner will be recognized in each category, for a total of 27 awards.


Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Ladybug is the Cricket Magazine Group literary magazine that targets children ages three to six. Its stories, articles, poems, and activities are fun and imaginative. It is open to submissions that use “clear and beautiful language” and have “a sense of joy and a genuinely childlike point of view.” For fiction, editors look for very well crafted original pieces or folk and fairy tale retellings (to 800 words). The are particularly interested in receiving stories set in cities or foreign places. Ladybug nonfiction (to 400 words)

explores the places in a child’s daily world, nature, science, and cultures. Rhythmic or rhyming poetry of current interest (to 20 lines) also deals with children’s “daily lives and their emotional and imaginative worlds,” or are action rhymes that encourage movement. 

Submission guidelines at www.ladybugmagkids.com

 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 4/Calls for Submissions

The best way to learn to write a middle grade novel is to read a wide assortment of stories by numerous authors. Books that have won awards are a good bet, but don’t overlook those with poor reviews. Read those you enjoy and those that don’t capture your interest. Stephen King advises writers to read books they don’t like to figure out what is not working with the way the story is presented. Books that really grab my attention and hold it to the last word are those that I read twice, first for the entertainment value and second to analyze how the author developed the characters and plot. 

Tackle a story with universal appeal, something that will resonate with a wide range of readers, something that is meaningful to the age group. Lying, bullying, divorce, loss of a parent, suicide, war, or sibling rivalry are subjects that this age group deals with in everyday life. Write a story that reflects real life. 

The middle grade audience enjoys reading about characters that are slightly older than themselves. The characters should be three-dimensional, so real that they practically step off the page. 

Next week, I’ll continue the series. 

Update: Last week, I listed a call for submissions for Turtle Magazine. The magazine is no longer in publication.  

Call for submissions for young writers: 

NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION CONTEST. This environmental journalism competition invites youth between the ages of 13-21 to report on topics related to the environment. Participants submit an article, photo, or video to the competition for a chance to win great prizes, plus national and international recognition. Deadline March 14, 2014. Prizes for the Young Reporters for the Environment USA 2013-2014 competition will be awarded in each media category (writing, photography and video) for each age group (13-15, 16-18, and 19-21). A first, second, and third place winner will be recognized in each category, for a total of 27 awards.
Submission guidelines at http://www.nwf.org/Young-Reporters-for-the-Environment.aspx

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Brain, Child is the largest literary magazine for mothers. We publish 20-plus essays per month for our print, online and blog publications. Founded in 2000, our mission is to bring the voices of women of different backgrounds and circumstances together on the page, on our website, and on our blog.
We love to read submissions. We are excited by great writing. It makes our day when we hear from an established writer or publish an author for the first time. We believe our writers are the lifeblood of our publication and strive to publicize and promote our writers through our website, Facebook (16,000 fans), and partnerships (e.g. Huffington Post). We respond within six to eight weeks. We offer competitive pay rates. We welcome follow up emails if by chance you do not hear from us.
For all submissions, please email the manuscript in the body of the email to editorial@brainchildmag.com with “Submission” and the department (i.e. “Fiction” “Essay” “Feature Pitch”) as the subject heading. Please don’t send your submission as an attachment.
Submission guidelines at http://www.brainchildmag.com/about/writers-guidelines/

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 3/Calls for Submissions

Let’s examine a middle grade novel idea. 

Children’s novels, as with all writing, begin with an idea. The problem is, how do you determine if the idea is worthy of the vast amount of time and effort needed to take the idea to a completed manuscript. Here are some details to consider:
Conflict drives a story. Does your idea allow for conflict to develop between characters, within the character, or both?
Offer something different. Does the idea add a spark that will catch the interest of an editor? If the story has been told over and over, you need to find a way to take your idea in a new or different direction. Maybe the setting could be in the future or the past. Tell your story in a fresh way that will intrigue and please the reader.
Excitement factor. How much fun do you think you’ll have writing the story? How interested are you in the subject? About one-third of the way through the manuscript, many writers feel worn down by the task. The excitement factor has vanished. Develop an idea that will hold your interest over the long haul. Think of the types of books you enjoy reading and consider writing in that genre.
Next week, I’ll discuss ways to begin the manuscript.

Call for submissions for young writers:

Guardian Angel Kids is pleased to announce we are now accepting
submissions from children up to 14.


Upcoming themes:

The date on the right is the submission date.

May UNIQUE ART March 1, 2014
June
SPECIAL NEEDS KIDS April 1, 2014
July
SIDEWALK ART May 1, 2014
August
INCREDIBLE ART June 1, 2014
September
EXTRAORDINARY ANIMALS July 1, 2014
October
AUSSIE ANIMALS August 1, 2014
November
FLYING TO THE MOON September 1, 2014
December
SOLVING MYSTERIES October 1, 2014

Submission guidelines at http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com/submissions.htm

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Turtle Magazine for Preschool Kids (ages 3-5)
  • FICTION: Short stories 350 words or less. Payment: $70 and up.
  • NONFICTION: We accept short articles/activities that introduce and reinforce measuring, counting, reading, nature, simple science experiments, etc., 250 words or less. Payment: $70 and up.
  • POETRY: We accept poems 4-12 line poems. Please remember the age of your audience. Payment: $35 and up.
  • RECIPES: We accept simple, healthful recipes of 200 words or less that generally require no cooking and minimal adult help. If possible, include a photo of the recipe with submission. Payment: $40 and up.
  • CRAFTS: We accept fun crafts of 250 words or less that preschoolers can make with their family. Crafts can celebrate holidays or seasons. Materials should be inexpensive and easy to obtain. Include easy-to-understand steps and directions and, if possible, include a photo of the finished craft. Payment: $40 and up.
  • FINGER PLAYS & ACTION RHYMES: We accept finger plays and action rhymes of  200 words or less that preschoolers can easily do. These are often written in rhyme and include lots of movement. Payment: $40 and up.
  • Submission guidelines at http://www.uskidsmags.com/writers-guidelines/