Nancy's Books

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy New Year Greetings for Writers

2016 offers hope for old dreams and new beginnings, choice words with fresh voice, and a blank page to write. May the new year bring the joy of seeing your writing sparkle.

Sunday, December 20, 2015






This blog will continue with writing information goodies in January 2016.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Let’s Talk Picture Books, Part 6

It’s important to know what to write to get a picture book contract, and it’s just as important to know what NOT to write. Slice of life stories seldom get smiled upon by agents or editors, but they have become a little more popular after 9/11. When editors state that a manuscript is quiet or is a mood book, she means the story doesn’t have enough tension. These stories are a glimpse into a character’s life (slice of life). There is little action but the story makes the reader feel good. GOODNIGHT MOON is an example.

Mood or quiet stories are vignettes that involve a character in an activity with no conflict. Example: Billy goes for a ride on his bike. He sees a friend. They play a game of basketball. He rides to the ballgame and plays all afternoon. On his way home he meets his sister and gives her a ride on his bike. His day has been fun and now he’s ready to settle in for the night.
One of my early submissions years ago was a slice-of-life story about a day in the life of a young girl. An editor wrote in the rejection letter that nothing was happening to interest or intrigue the reader. She said my story was “too quiet.”
If you have written such a story, analyze it to discover a weakness or flaw in the character. In the example I gave, maybe the boy could have a fight with his friend, or maybe he could be afraid of the ball and his teammates blame him for losing the game. Within the story you just might find a hidden gem of a story waiting to unfold.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Launch Pad. A bimonthly magazine dedicated to publishing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, book reviews, and artwork written and created by children ages 6-12.
Submission guidelines at http://www.launchpadmag.com/write/
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Jack and Jill (Ages 7-12).
FICTION: We accept full manuscripts of 600-800 words. The tone of the stories should be fun and engaging. Stories should hook readers right from the get-go and pull them through the story. Humor is very important! Dialogue should be witty instead of just furthering the plot. The story should convey some kind of positive message. Possible themes could include self-reliance, being kind to others, appreciating other cultures, and so on. There are a million positive messages, so get creative! Kids can see preachy coming from a mile away, though, so please focus on telling a good story over teaching a lesson. The message—if there is one—should come organically from the story and not feel tacked on.
NONFICTION: We accept nonfiction manuscripts of 700 words or less. We are especially interested in features or Q&As with regular kids (or groups of kids) in the Jack and Jill age group who are engaged in unusual, challenging, or interesting activities. No celebrity pieces please.
POETRY: We accept poems of up to 30 lines. Poems should include unique topics that appeal to kids like sports, pets, friendship, seasonal activities, vacations, and school activities.
PUZZLES, ACTIVITIES & GAMES: In general, we prefer to use in-house generated material for this category but on occasion we do receive unique and fun puzzles, games or activities through submissions. Please make sure you are submitting a truly unique activity for our consideration.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Let’s Talk Picture Books, Part 5

In earlier blogs, I have mentioned that editors did not often swoon when receiving submissions written in rhyme. Often, writers force the rhyme at the expense of the plot or add unnecessary words to keep the rhyme. Exceptions are always possible so just because it hasn’t been done often doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Stories about inanimate objects that come to life are difficult to write and difficult to nab a contract, also. Two train stories have become popular: THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD and THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE. THE GIVING TREE is also a classic about an inanimate object, but a book about a window that won’t open or a rock that can’t roll will probably not garner more than a rejection letter. Children want stories in which action impacts plot, where something happens. It is difficult to develop an inanimate object as the main character in a picture book. This works better in videos where sound and motion work together to build the character. THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT is also another example that inanimate objects can work, but it doesn’t seem to happen often in the publishing world.
Dolls and toys as the main characters can work. Children relate to these, such as the VELVETEEN RABBIT. Dolls look like people and it’s easy to imagine them become real.
What works best as main characters are children and animals, because a young child relates to both. By attributing human frailties to animals make them seem real. Kids identify with the characters’ weaknesses and mistakes. Many popular picture books showcase imperfect characters that grow and learn. Engaging, humorous stories that inspire and can withstand multiple readings are always searched for by editors and agents. 
Call for Submissions for Young and Adult Writers:
Kiki Magazine is an independent magazine owned and operated by women who care about girls. Kiki uses the college fashion design curriculum to tap into girls' creativity, including business, fine art, craft, history, world culture, math, and even chemistry. The publication accepts submissions of illustrations, artwork, photos, or articles from all ages.
Submission guidelines at submissions@kikimag.com

Sunday, November 29, 2015

At this year’s Kentucky Book Fair, I met a writer, James Ray Coffman, who is just beginning his journey in the publishing world. He illustrates and writes graphic short stories for middle grade and young adult readers. His three volume series, ARAURA, is a hero’s journey and challenges the reader’s view of right and wrong.

What I gleaned from the conversation with James:
A positive approach serves as motivation. He is extremely motivated to learn more about the industry and his upbeat attitude is contagious. I’m motivated to write every morning at 8:00 whether I feel like it or not, whether I know what I want to write or not. I just do it. It’s habit. It’s routine. It’s productive.
Writers need to believe in themselves. It’s so easy to get bogged down by rejection letters, but beginning writers haven’t dealt with years of “No, thank yous” so they believe publishers will want their work. It’s refreshing to meet these writers who WILL make their dreams come true for a number of reasons: talent, perseverance, hard work, and a strong commitment to follow a dream.
Enjoy what you do. James certainly enjoys his craft. He worked on an illustration during slow moments, which were few, at the book fair, but the attendees saw his work in various stages of production. People love demonstrations by illustrators, and they flocked to his table to talk with him. If writers are not enjoying the process, readers probably will not either.
Find ways to stay positive, believe that you will succeed, and most of all, enjoy the journey.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Ember is a semiannual journal of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction for all age groups. Submissions for and by readers aged 10 to 18 are strongly encouraged.
Poetry
Most forms are considered, both metered and unmetered, traditional and experimental. Poems from 3 to 100 lines have the best chance of acceptance. You may submit up to three poems at a time, but a separate submission form must be completed for each poem.
Short Stories up to 12,000 words will be considered. However, more important than word count is the quality of your work: we are looking for excellent, polished writing that pulls us into an engaging story.
Flash Fiction. The ideal length for Flash Fiction submissions is about 500 to 750 words, but pieces up to 1500 words may be submitted in this category. Remember that Flash Fiction is not the same as “vignette;” even very short works should still present an interesting and compelling story.
Creative Non-Fiction is the beautiful union of exposition and literature. Tell us a true story, and tell it well. Word count limits are the same as for Short Stories.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
 Highlights for Children. Fiction should have an engaging plot, strong characterization, a specific setting and lively language. No series or continuing stories.

·         Stories for younger readers (ages 3 to 7) should have 500 words or fewer and should not seem babyish to older readers.
·         Stories for older readers (ages 8 to 12) should have 800 words or fewer and should be appealing to younger readers if read aloud.
·         Frequent needs include humor, mystery, sports, holiday and adventure stories; retellings of traditional tales; stories with urban settings; and stories that feature world cultures.
·         For stories that require research, such as historical fiction, please send photocopies of key pages in references and of any correspondence with experts.
·         We prefer characters that set a positive example.
·         We avoid stories that preach.
·         We avoid suggestions of crime and violence.
·         We seldom buy rhyming stories.
Submission guidelines at https://www2.highlights.com/contributor-guidelines

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Communicating with Authors

Last week at the Kentucky Book Fair, I had the good fortune to meet Newbery Award winner Vince Vawter, who wrote THE PAPERBOY. Talking with writers is always inspiring for me, especially when they talk about the process of writing, marketing their books, or how they interact with young readers.

What I gleaned from the conversation with Vince and his wonderful wife:
Write what you know. Vince’s book is autographical. He wrote about a boy who stutters. Vince had a stuttering problem as a child. The setting is Tennessee, where he continues to live. By writing what you know, the strong emotion is evident in the writing and a writer can draw upon the emotions in an instant.

The first book doesn’t guarantee the second book will be easier to write. Each book has its own journey from beginning to end.
Revision is the key to good writing. Much about the publishing world is out of the control of the writer so if rejection slips haunt you, keep on writing and revising. Every manuscript improves with revision.

I came away from the conversations reenergized and ready to tackle new projects. Figure out what works for you to energize your own writing endeavors. The goal is to keep on keeping on.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Bazoof Magazine. Youth Story. Become a published writer by sending in a story that you've written for school or just for fun. You can write it with a friend, or do it on your own. A parent or teacher can assist you. It needs to be 1,000 words or less. And remember, we'll help you out once you send us something, so no worries!
Submission guidelines at http://bazoofmag.com/for-grown-ups.php?bp=3168

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Humpty Dumpty Magazine (ages 2-6)

FICTION: We accept full manuscripts of 600-800 words. The tone of the stories should be fun and engaging. Stories should hook readers right from the get-go and pull them through the story. Humor is very important! Dialogue should be witty instead of just furthering the plot. The story should convey some kind of positive message. Possible themes could include self-reliance, being kind to others, appreciating other cultures, and so on. There are a million positive messages, so get creative! Kids can see preachy coming from a mile away, though, so please focus on telling a good story over teaching a lesson. The message—if there is one—should come organically from the story and not feel tacked on.
NONFICTION: We accept nonfiction manuscripts of 700 words or less. We are especially interested in features or Q&As with regular kids (or groups of kids) in the Jack and Jill age group who are engaged in unusual, challenging, or interesting activities. No celebrity pieces please.
POETRY: We accept poems of up to 30 lines. Poems should include unique topics that appeal to kids like sports, pets, friendship, seasonal activities, vacations, and school activities.
PUZZLES, ACTIVITIES & GAMES: In general, we prefer to use in-house generated material for this category but on occasion we do receive unique and fun puzzles, games or activities through submissions. Please make sure you are submitting a truly unique activity for our consideration.

Submission guidelines at http://www.uskidsmags.com/writers-guidelines/

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Let’s Talk Picture Books, Part 5


Earlier, I mentioned that editors did not often swoon when receiving submissions written in rhyme. I’m still on a roll of what they do not want.

Stories about inanimate objects that come to life are difficult to write and difficult to nab a contract. Two train stories have become popular: THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD and THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE so exceptions are made.
 
THE GIVING TREE is also a wonderful classic about an inanimate object, but a book about a window that won’t open or a rock that can’t roll will probably not garner more than a rejection letter. Children want stories in which action impacts plot, where something happens. It is difficult to develop an inanimate object as the main character in a picture book. This works better in videos where sound and motion work together to build the character. THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT is also another example that inanimate objects can work, but it doesn’t seem to happen often in the publishing world.

Dolls and toys as the main characters can work. Children relate to these, such as the VELVETEEN RABBIT. Dolls look like people and it’s easy to imagine them becoming real.
What works best as main characters are children and animals, because a young child relates to both. By attributing human frailties to animals make them seem real. Kids identify with the characters’ weaknesses and mistakes. Many popular picture books showcase imperfect characters that grow and learn. Engaging, humorous stories that inspire and can withstand multiple readings are always searched for by editors and agents. 


Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Kiki Magazine An independent magazine owned and operated by women who care about girls.Kiki uses the college fashion design curriculum to tap into girls' creativity, including business, fine art, craft, history, world culture, math, and even chemistry. The publication accepts submissions of illustrations, artwork, photos, or articles from all ages.

Submission guidelines at submissions@kikimag.com

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Humpty Dumpty
Magazine (ages 2-6)
FICTION: We accept full manuscripts of 600-800 words. The tone of the stories should be fun and engaging. Stories should hook readers right from the get-go and pull them through the story. Humor is very important! Dialogue should be witty instead of just furthering the plot. The story should convey some kind of positive message. Possible themes could include self-reliance, being kind to others, appreciating other cultures, and so on. There are a million positive messages, so get creative! Kids can see preachy coming from a mile away, though, so please focus on telling a good story over teaching a lesson. The message—if there is one—should come organically from the story and not feel tacked on.

NONFICTION: We accept nonfiction manuscripts of 700 words or less. We are especially interested in features or Q&As with regular kids (or groups of kids) in the Jack and Jill age group who are engaged in unusual, challenging, or interesting activities. No celebrity pieces please.

POETRY: We accept poems of up to 30 lines. Poems should include unique topics that appeal to kids like sports, pets, friendship, seasonal activities, vacations, and school activities.

PUZZLES, ACTIVITIES& GAMES: In general, we prefer to use in-house generated material for this category but on occasion we do receive unique and fun puzzles, games or activities through submissions. Please make sure you are submitting a truly unique activity for our consideration.

Submission guidelines at http://www.uskidsmags.com/writers-guidelines/

 
 

 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Let’s Talk Picture Books, Part 4

Our stories should entertain, first and foremost, but they should also give readers something to think about, both as they read the story and after the book is finished—maybe a question about courage or friendship. The theme of the story is the underlying message, the big idea, of the story. We should never go overboard with teaching or hammering our message. A subtle guide is all that is needed. Consider ideas that you would have enjoyed reading about or what you needed to know when you were the age of the targeted audience. Did you lose a pet that left you heartbroken? Did your best friend move away and you grieved over the loss? Did you have to deal with a bully? Reflect on events in your childhood and how reading about characters who dealt with similar situations resonated with you emotionally. Kids identify with characters and in doing so learn more about themselves.
Kids relate to book characters and want to learn more. That’s the reason series are so popular. When writing, think in terms of the child character. How will the child relate to this situation? What would a child say and how would a child say it?
Try this exercise: Choose a situation: lost pet, best friend moving away, or a bully. Write a few paragraphs as an eight-year-old. Rewrite it from the perspective of a five-year-old. Use narrative and dialog.
Reading books geared toward both age groups will give you a good understanding of the differences in the writing.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Guardian Angel Kids. A children's Ezine designed for healthy and safe entertainment for children. Includes stories, poetry, video, audio, games, free coloring pages, and more. Submissions accepted from young writers and artists up to 12 years old.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Humpty Dumpty Magazine (ages 2-6)
FICTION: Short stories 450 words or less.
BUILD-A-BOOK: We are accepting short mini-stories of 70-125 words. These should be positive and light-hearted; often humorous. Characters can be children or animals. We welcome material that deals with kindness, love, good manners, friendship, holidays, and seasons.
NONFICTION: We accept short articles of 300 words or less on science and nature, as well as age-appropriate how-to projects.
POETRY: We accept poems 4-12 line poems. Please remember the age of your audience.
CRAFTS: We accept fun crafts of 250 words or less that young children can make with a bit of adult help. 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.
Submission guidelines at http://www.uskidsmags.com/writers-guidelines/








 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Let’s Talk Picture Books, Part 3

In picture books a compelling story must be told in 32 pages. If you read a few or a lot of these books, the task of writing one seems easy, but don’t let their simplicity deceive you. Picture books can be tricky to write. In a short span, you must to develop a character and situation and write the story in such a way that the reader will embrace it. 

Language and imagery work in unison to create a story. Some books are written in verse. There’s not an ounce of rhyming ability in my DNA so I don’t attempt it. Also, many editors don’t request rhyme because it is so difficult to carry over the entire story. If you are excellent at writing in verse, remember to think story first, verse second.
Many editors do not like stories written in verse because some writers may be tempted to choose a particular word that fits the rhyme rather than promoting the plot. When this happens the story loses momentum, sometimes takes a detour, and the dramatic core is sabotaged for the sake of the rhyme. Stories should unfold organically not forced in order to get two words to rhyme. Many common rhyme schemes have been overused: he/she/be/tree/me. If the child can guess the next word, that may take away the element of surprise and be less engaging for the audience.
When writing or marketing your first picture book, stick to prose. If you’ve written several picture books in prose and decide to write one in verse, experiment with the story. After you’ve written the rhyme version, write another in prose for comparison. Which works better?
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Hanging Loose Press welcomes high school submissions. "We feel a special responsibility to those young writers who look to us not only for possible publication but sometimes also for editorial advice, which we are always happy to give when asked. Our work as editors is of course time-consuming, but we feel a strong commitment to give as much time and attention as possible to the work we receive from high school age writers."
Submission guidelines at hangingloosepress.com/submissions.html
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
BABBLE. Indicate in the subject line of your email what section of Babble your piece would run: Mom, Pregnancy, Baby, Toddler, Kid, Body + Mind, Work + Money, Home, Relationships, Entertainment, Beauty, Food, or Travel. Pays roughly ten cents/word for articles up to 1,200 words.
Submission guidelines at http://www.babble.com/write-for-babble/

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Let’s Talk Picture Books, Part 2

Show, don’t tell. In picture books, illustrations show the action so the writer needs to use words to convey emotions and reveal the action, rather than describing what is happening. If the illustrations show the action, little description is needed. Example: Jasper is riding a bicycle in the illustration. Description of the bicycle and Jasper can be eliminated from the narrative and dialog.

Action verbs are our friends. These verbs-slither, crawl, jump, throw-focus on the action rather than description. Avoid overuse of adjectives and adverbs because they describe what is happening. The mantra for picture book writers is “Think visually.” Unless we create art for our books, which I don’t, it can be a difficult task for writers to think of the action in terms of pictures as opposed to narrative description and to omit the parts an illustrator will include. Consider moving the plot forward with action via dialog, strong verbs, and character behavior.
Word choice is key to a picture book and, for me, the most fun in writing. I usually just get the bones of the story in place from beginning to end—the hard part. Once I’m over that hurdle, it’s playtime. I love taking a plain, unemotional, flat sentence and turning it on its dull little head, bounce it around, and see what falls into place. Alliteration, rhythm, similes, and metaphors are word play writers use to be creative with language designed for a particular audience. Tickle the words; tease them; poke and prod them. Enjoy the process. If you’re having fun, you’ll more likely to finish the manuscript and write more.
Next week, we’ll talk more picture books.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Figment. An online writing community from HarperCollins Publishing for writers 13 years old and older to share young adult fiction, short stories, and poetry, give and receive feedback, and enter contests.
Submission guidelines at http://dailyfig.figment.com/category/contests/

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Dialogual is a new magazine seeking submissions year-round on dialogue-only prose.
We seek works on all genres, except erotica. Under 300 words. However, we do not take anything that has been accepted before, or that has appeared on blogs or similar sites. In other words, we want fresh material.
Send your snappiest, wittiest, funniest talks.
Or the ones you think will make us wonder, ponder and think about life.
It can be fiction or non-fiction.  

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Let’s Talk Picture Books, Part 1

It’s been a while since I’ve written about picture books, primarily because I’ve been so busy writing chapter books. I have a new picture book scheduled for publication in 2016 so let’s talk.

For the last few years, the picture book market has been down, but it is definitely on the rise. The word count is low, less than 500 for many of the books, but there are always exceptions. THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT is about 1,000 words, which is long for today’s market; yet it has become a best seller. Does that mean the trend for higher word counts is upon us? Trends come and go so who knows.
Some picture books are all narrative with no dialog, such as LOOK UP, the biography of Henrietta Leavitt astronomer. Some are all dialog and no other narrative, as in DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS. Usually, picture books are a blend of both narrative and dialog. In many, dialog is about one-third and narrative two-thirds. Dialog is useful in creating the character and developing the plot. It also serves as a way to keep the word count low. The dialog, “Stop!” uses fewer words than “She told her sister to stop.”
What trends have you noticed in picture books?
Next, week, we’ll talk more.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Creative Kids magazine is the nation’s largest magazine by and for kids with games, stories, and opinions all by and for kids ages 8–14.

Submission guidelines at http://www.ckmagazine.org/submissions/

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

RROFIHE TROPHY. NO-FEE SHORT STORY CONTEST. For an unpublished short story. Minimum word count 3,500; maximum to 5,000 words. Winner receives $500, trophy, announcement and publication on anderbo.com. Deadline October 15, 2015.
Submission guidelines athttp://www.anderbo.com/anderbo1/no-fee-rrofihe-trophy2015.html

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Write What You Know...Or Don't Know

We’ve all heard it, the adage Write what you know. I’ve often wondered what that means. For young writers, too young to do research, I encourage them to write about family, friendship, pets, etc.—writing about what they know.

What about everyone else? Writing what we know bases our fiction in facts and gives a realistic feel to the story, which is a good thing for the reader. The Write-what-you-know principle for aspiring writers can be limiting, too. I’ve seen some writers who are hesitant to change scene injected into a fiction story because it didn’t happen that way in real life. This restriction allows a writer to write only autobiographical information. While that may work for a scene or two in a fiction story, it limits the imagination and creativity of the author. This often happens when the writer attempts to tell a story in honor of someone admired. My suggestion is to use the information as inspiration and write the story with the idea of engaging the reader in storytelling as opposed to recreating the actual event.
Take liberties with actual events that happen in everyday life and build on it to create a world that draws in the reader. Life experiences—working in the medical field, teaching, and other life know-hows—provide valuable insight into characters and plots. Mine your experiences for potential stories but tell in in a way that expands your options. Tell the story that excites you and use your experiences to tell it in the most imaginative, creative way.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Edited and produced by the students in the Writing & Publishing Program at Walnut Hill, The Blue Pencil Online publishes verse, short fiction, and playwriting in English by young writers (ages 12-18) around the world.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: THE JOY OF LESS. Submit your poem or prose about the theme: Having More by Simplifying Our Lives. We have noticed at Chicken Soup for the Soul that we have received hundreds of stories over the years about people happily simplifying their lives, cutting back on material possessions, and reducing their time commitments so they can focus on what is important to them and their families. Share your own stories or resolutions about the joy of less! Deadline October 30, 2015. Pays $200 and ten copies for up to 1,200 words.

Submission guidelines athttp://www.chickensoup.com

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Writing Style

Have you ever read so many books by a writer that you recognize the style immediately. Dr. Seuss, for instance, had a specific style.

In The Cat in the Hat, the mood was fun, happy, playful. The word choice evoked lighthearted zeal.
"They are tame. Oh so tame!
They have come here to play.
They will give you some fun
On this wet, wet, wet day."
Bill Martin Jr. could not read as a child. He called his writing style “jazzy” and wrote “to a melody,” meaning that his words had a particular rhythm. Many of his books had a predictable text, such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
Writing style is the way an author chooses to write to the audience. It reveals the writer’s word choice, sentence structure, and tone, all of which varies with every writer. Style is the WAY a piece is written as opposed to WHAT is written.
When you will begin writing your book, consider the style. Will the text be condensed to a few words on each page or filled with imagery and details? Will it be told in a lyrical fashion, as Bill Martin Jr. and Dr. Seuss did, straightforward text as with many nonfiction books, or maybe with a touch of humor infused into a serious piece? Will it be told in first or third person?
As you write stories, your style will emerge. The way you use written language by creating dialog and constructing sentences and paragraphs, touches of humor, playfulness in word choice all contribute to your literary individuality—your writing style.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Adroit Journal. A  literary magazine run entirely by high school and college students. Adroint publishes poetry, fiction, flash fiction, art/photography, and cross-genre works with separate submissions for "adults" and those "under the age of 21."
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Young Rider is a bi-monthly magazine written for children and teens who own horses or who take lessons at riding schools. Pays $150 for features of 800 to 1,000 words.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Writing Time

In a workshop I taught this summer, an attendee asked me how much time should be spent writing each day to pursue a career in the field. The answer is not a one-size-fit-all. Every person has his/her amount of available time and tolerance.

Writers who gain contracts usually spend a few hours each day writing, revising, thinking, revising, reading, and revising. Do you notice a trend? Revision is the key. Successful writers keep writing and revising until the manuscript sparkles. That takes time. Spurts of inspiration are wonderful to motivate a person to write, but successful writers have a regular schedule. Some days inspiration much be given a nudge and that happens when we sit with BIC (butt in chair) and write even when we don’t want to, don’t feel like it, don’t know what to write. Yet, we write anyway.
In Stephen King’s book, On Writing, he states “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” There are no shortcuts. Garnering a publishing contract requires learning the craft of writing and crafting a quality story. Both take time. Some people have a solid knowledge of the craft and have read widely in the genre in which they are writing while others are just beginning the journey to publication.
Don’t be concerned if someone you know spends twice as much time writing as you do. You’re not in a race with anyone. Concentrate on what works for you and the time you have to devote to your manuscript; then write, read, write, revise, write, revise, read, write, revise, read…
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Flash Fiction/Prose Poetry Contest. The OddContest is an annual competition for speculative (science fiction, fantasy, or horror) stories or prose poems no longer than 500 words. The contest has been sponsored since 2008 by Odyssey Con. The contest offers cash prizes, convention memberships, and books in both Adult and Youth divisions.
The entry deadline is January 15 this year and results are announced by March 15. An awards ceremony and reading of the 2016 winning entries will be held at Odyssey Con on April 8-10, 2016; they will also be published in the Odyssey Con program and on this website.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
"Third Flatiron Anthologies. "It's Come to Our Attention" or "Scratching the Surface" - Under
the radar: things that are happening quietly, without a lot of
fanfare, that may still be extremely significant or make a big
difference.

Reading Period: August 1 - September 30, 2015
Writer Deadline: September 30, 2015
Publication Date: December 1, 2015

Submission guidelines at http://www.thirdflatiron.com/liveSite/