Nancy's Books

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/