Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 11/Calls for Submissions

Tips for writing a middle grade novel:

Powerful sensory description evokes images that take the reader into the action of the story. When the reader is engaged in the character’s plight, the story seems more real.
See: Providing visual details about how a character looks and acts bring him/her to life. Some authors are reluctant to describe details, such as long, brown hair. Instead, they choose other specifics: a cross tattoo on an arm or a face roadmapped with wrinkles.
Hear: Almost no setting is completely void of sound. Ducks quack, thunder booms, and wind whistles.  Sounds are the second most frequently used sensory descriptor, following visual. Certain sounds trigger personal memories. Fingernails on a chalkboard still send shivers down my spine.
Touch: Allow the reader to feel the damp morning mist as a character walks down the street. Make it pleasurable with the feel of a dog’s soft fur or painful with the door slamming on a hand. The tactile experience allows the character to explore the world and its many textures, shapes, and sizes.
Smell: This sense is used less often in writing. The delectable aroma of cornbread baking fills grandma’s kitchen. The scent drifts through the house to the bedroom where the character is holed up. This sense has the power over our thoughts and emotions to transport us through time. The tangy scent of oranges reminds me of the Christmas season.

Taste: One whiff of chocolate cake and her mouth waters for a taste, a bite, a morsel. These vivid descriptions resonate with readers, especially when we define a particular sweet, sour, salty, or bitter palate.  

Look for opportunities to add smell and taste sensory descriptors to your writing. Those are the most difficult to incorporate. You certainly don’t have to use all five senses in every scene. That would be overkill. But used effectively, sensory writing will connect your readers to your fictional world. 

I have a guest author/editor who will visit the next two weeks. 

Call for submissions for young writers:

The KET Young Writers Contest is a terrific opportunity for young children to express their creativity by writing for an authentic audience beyond the walls of their school or home. Students in kindergarten through the 5th grade are invited to send in their illustrated stories and, for the first time, students in the 3rd through 5th grades can choose to enter a 400-600 word short story without illustrations instead.
The contest runs until April 15, 2014 and winners will be notified in May. You can visit the Young Writers Contest website, which has links to the rules, scoring rubrics, and entry forms.
Submission guidelines at http://www.ket.org/writerscontest/
Call for submissions for adult writers:

Hay House Publishing is reviewing full-length nonfiction manuscripts for this year’s Hay House Insights Nonfiction Writing Contest, which will award an author a publishing contract and a $5,000 advance under its self-help imprint Balboa Press.

This contest is open to any subject, topic, or theme, as long as it is nonfiction. Submit only unpublished, full-length works.

The judges will evaluate manuscripts on creativity, story structure, expertise of the subject, writing style, and obedience to the publisher’s editorial values.

Hay House Publishing, along with its imprint Balboa Press, specialize in self-help and inspirational books. The company also publishes a wide range of other subjects, including children’s books, cookbooks, fiction, and poetry.

Deadline: May 1, 2013.  On June 3, 2013, the winners will be announced. All prize winners will be notified and posted on www.balboapress.com and the Hay House Facebook page, www.facebook.com/hayhouse.

Submission guidelines at http://www.freelancewriting.com/freewritingcontests/FWC-hay-house-insights-nonfiction-writing-contest.php

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 10/Calls for Submissions

Tips for writing a middle grade novel:

Transport the reader to the middle of the action through the use of senses—sight, smell, hear, taste, and touch. Painting a picture in the reader’s mind is much more than a visual one. A description such as, the green meadow popped with white flowers, is the easiest to write. Since readers see the story unfold through the eyes of the writer, the sense of sight is the most important one. But don’t forget the others. How about, his bristly hair felt like straw (touch) or his words flowed in a jumbled mix that made no sense (hear) or the soup was so spicy, my tongue cried for mercy (taste), or the nasal-prickling smoke (smell). 

Sensory writing is all about details. The sense of seeing is the one writers use most often. Use sight to describe the texture of the rock or the shape of the object. Color and light add realism, as do the noise of thuds and jingles, the aroma of coffee, the velvety feel of a blanket, and the mouth-watering deliciousness of pickled broiled liver over a steaming bed of Limburger cheese. The last example may be questionable by some. Anyway, sensory writing is the best way to download your imagination into that of the reader. 

People learn about surroundings through their senses. Use the same approach to introduce the readers to the imaginary world of your novel. Give them goosebumps, a laugh-out-loud response, or a smell/taste that evokes a memory (Limburger cheese will do that. I’m living proof). Give them details. 

Next week, I’ll continue this series. 

Call for submissions for young writers:

Magic Dragon. Work should be neatly printed or typed. If you type it, please double-space. Stories and essays can be up to three pages, poetry up to 30 lines. It is ok to send writing that you have also illustrated. You can write about anything that is important to you; it can be serious or funny, true or fiction. If you send originals and want them returned, enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

Submission guidelines at http://www.magicdragonmagazine.com/?page_id=6 

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Silver Apples Magazine. New online journal Silver Apples Magazine seeks submissions of unpublished poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, one-act plays, comics, and artwork. Emerging writers welcomed. All genres accepted: fantasy, horror, science fiction, mainstream, etc. The theme for the first issue is "Modern Mythologies". See website for length limits and format for email submissions.
Deadline March 31 (must be received by this date).
Submission guidelines at http://silverapplesmag.wordpress.com/

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 9/Calls for Submissions

Tips for writing a middle grade novel:

One of the best methods of learning how to write middle grade fiction is to read a truckload of books in the genre. Select books that have been published in the last five years so you’ll have a good grasp of what is being published today. Many of the middle grade fiction books that were published in the 1970s and ‘80s and earlier were simply collections of episodes. Each chapter is a separate adventure with no overall goal or situation. The Little House books are an example. This type of manuscript is not likely to grab a contract.
Today’s books for the 8-14-year-old reader needs a main character that is likeable. The character needs a challenging, overwhelming problem that carries the plot throughout the story. This is called the story arc. The goal can be internal (emotional-coping with the loss of a father) or external (dealing with a bully).
My critique partner (Hello, Sandi) just submitted a manuscript of a middle grade novel. In her cover letter she compared her novel to four books that were published in the last five years. This requirement by the publisher provided Sandi an opportunity to explain how her manuscript is similar to popular books in the marketplace. Writers can also explain how their work is unique.
Next week, I’ll continue this series. 

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.
You can email a story or poem to the Editor editor@launchpadmag.com or send it through the mail.
(We are experiencing some problems with our form, so please use email.)
Submission guidelines at http://www.launchpadmag.com/write/

Call for submissions for adult writers: 

Anotherealm. Contest. For February, March and April 2014 we're going for the mood or tone of the story instead of an absolute topic. The mood is "Creepy" which can be found just about anywhere from your local mall to your workplace. You could find "creepy stuff" anywhere or anyplace. A bright summer day or a gloomy foggy night. "Creepy" could be a time or place. Or even a person or thing. What is creepy and why of course is up to you. Tell us about something or some place that would just send shivers up your spine. As always have fun!
1000 words or less, Science fiction, Fantasy or Horror only please.
Contest closes April 30 2014
 

Submission guidelines at http://anotherealm.org/

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 8/Calls for Submissions


Conflict is story. If you have no conflict, you have no story. In my children’s novel, AMAZING GRACE, I began the story with the family receiving a mysterious letter. When the parents revealed the contents of the letter, conflict began for the daughter, Grace. The long-range conflict running from the beginning of the story to the end revolves around Grace’s emotions and coping abilities. She is forced to move away from her home and friends. Even worse, she misses her father and worries that he may never return home.  

Short-term conflicts flare up. Grace deals with a bully, a younger brother who frustrates her, a lost dog, etc. As she resolves a short-term conflict another rears its ugly head. Conflict is the driving force that propels the story. Conflict is all about struggle and pain. As writers we sometimes want to shy away from the troubling situations and keep our characters safe from harm. Think of conflict as a sense of need. The character needs something badly, and if s/he doesn’t get it, something even more drastic will happen. 

A story about children happily playing marbles is bland. A story in which a child walks over, picks up the marbles, and runs away with them is more likely to grab our attention.

Next week, I’ll continue this series. 

Call for submissions for young writers:

KidSpirit Online is a free teen magazine & website for kids created by and for young people to tackle life’s big questions together. Teens share online writing, poetry, artwork, volunteer opportunities and examine their spiritual development in a non-affiliated and inclusive forum. Join the conversation!

Submission guidelines at http://kidspiritonline.com/help/

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Short Kid Stories. If any you would like your work showcased on the site when it is launched, we’d be delighted to evaluate any children’s author submissions. In return, accepted authors will have a profile page with bio and links to any other material they wish to promote. My goal for the site is to deliver significant author exposure to tens of thousands of unique visitors per month visiting the site from all over the world.
Submission guidelines at http://www.shortkidstories.com/author-submissions/

 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 7/Calls for Submissions

A middle grade novel should revolve around a primary conflict. The main character tries to solve the problem or reach a goal but encounters more problems in the meantime. Once again, remember the adage: Treat you character badly; then treat him worse. Conflict drives the story. Conflict keeps the character engaged in the action and keeps the reader engaged in the story. The primary or long-term problem should not be resolved until the end of the story, but the short-term problems can be resolved along the way. In dealing with short-term conflicts, the character learns to cope with difficult situations, to change and grow, and resolve the primary issue. 

I recently heard a writer compare writing a novel to driving a car. You must keep your eyes on the distance to see the road signs, traffic lights, and on-coming vehicles. But just as importantly, you must focus on the up-close parts, as well: fuel gauge, speedometer, and radio (If you’re constantly changing channels to find the best classic song, as I do). Both are important aspects of the driving experience. 

To reach your destination, whether it’s a trip to the beach or writing a novel, your focus should be both long- and short-ranged. Keep those poor, unsuspecting characters in deep doo-doo. 

Next week, I’ll continue this series. 

Call for submissions for young writers:

Crashtest is a magazine by and for high school students. If you are currently a student in grades nine through twelve, we want to hear from you. Here are the details:
Crashtest publishes poetry, stories and creative non-fiction in the form of personal essays, imaginative investigation, experimental interviews, whatever, but please don’t send us the book report you wrote for English or your Speech and Debate abstract on why (insert trend) is (good or bad) for (insert interest group). In other words, we’re looking for writing that has both a perspective and a personality. We’re looking for writing that has something to say. Our editors are also all writers; we work in many different forms and have many different ideas about what makes writing “good.” As a result, we don’t have a specific kind of writing we’re looking to publish. If you write poetry that rhymes, great!, as long as you do it well. If you write short stories in which characters grow wings and fly around the town’s bell-tower, great!, as long as the story has the guts to pull it off.
Submission guidelines at http://www.crashtestmag.com/?page_id=8

Call for submissions for adult writers: 

FrostFire Worlds is a quarterly magazine for younger readers published by Alban Lake Publishing in February, May, August, and November. FrostFire Worlds publishes original science fiction and fantasy short stories, poems, art, articles, reviews, and interviews. Preferred are adventure stories, space opera, and magic opera [like space opera, but fantasy]. Also preferred are stories that take place on other worlds. Stories must have the following: characters the reader cares about, plots and subplots, and settings that draw the reader into them. Must have.

Submission guidelines at http://albanlake.com/guidelines-frostfire/