Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 26, 2017

How to Stay Motivated, part 2



The number one way to stay motivated is to fine positivity in writing. For some, that means satisfying feedback from critiques, a compliment from someone who has read your work, or the ultimate: a contract that leads to seeing your work in print. 

My critique partner, the awesome Sandi Underwood, and I are in the fortunate positions of completing revisions for books that will be published next year. Along with editorial notes are the myriad emotions that accompany the task at hand: elation (I’m beyond thrilled.); doubt (Can I actually rewrite this manuscript on a professional level?); fear (What if I fail? I’ve already told people the book is in production.); confidence (Yes, I can. Yes, I will!); and more too numerous to list, plus completing the revision with a deadline looming. Underlying the mixed emotions is this powerful drive called motivation (deadlines will give even the most reluctant writer a huge dose of get-up-and-go).

Sandi and I work together on our manuscripts all the time, but each of us working at the same time on final revisions for forthcoming books is uncharted territory. The big positive here is that we’re more excited than ever. She’s helping me. I’m helping her (I hope). 

Positive moments in a writer’s life create motivation, a yearning to push a little harder, a little farther down the path to publication. 

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at www.nancykellyallen.com 

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

One Teen Story publishes 4 stories a year and accepts submissions from teen writers ages 13-19.

Submissions are now open. What kind of stories is One Teen Story looking for?

One Teen Story is looking for great short stories written by teens about the teen experience. We seek stories that deal with issues of identity, friendship, family, and coming-of-age. Gratuitous profanity, sex and drug use are best avoided. We’re open to all genres of well-written young adult fiction between 2,000 and 4,500 words. Because of our format, we can only accept stories that are strong enough to stand alone (as opposed to excerpts from novels-in-progress). Proof of the author’s age will be required for all stories accepted for publication.


Call for submissions for Adult Writers:

ASK: Ages 6-9. Nonfiction magazine with a focus on science and the world. Each edition centers around a specific theme. Focus on engaging nonfiction, not dry text. Humor, unusual questions. and unexpected connections are encouraged. All articles are commissioned. Query first with resume and writing samples. Feature articles:  900-1600 words. Humor pieces: 200-400 words. http://www.cricketmag.com/19-Submission-Guidelines-for-ASK-magazine-for-children-ages-6-9

Submission guidelines at
https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=ask+magazine+submissions

 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

How to Stay Motivated


 


 

This week I received a request to blog about how I stay motivated after 28 years in the business of writing for children. Sometimes, I can easily answer with quips such as, I have so many ideas rattling around in my head, I need to push some out of there or The process has become a habit so I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t write. Both answers are true; however, what I’m not saying in my answer is that there are days when I write very little for a number of reasons: I don’t feel like writing, I’m giving myself a break following a long revision of a manuscript, or I simply don’t want to. Period.



The don’t-want-to-write attitude doesn’t last long, seldom more than a day or two. Even on the no-write days, I’m usually thinking about a new character or how I can approach a subject in a fun way to introduce facts or a fictional account to young readers. Writing every day doesn’t necessarily mean taking pen to paper. Writers need time to let a story perk cognitively before beginning a manuscript. Some people call this daydreaming. I prefer the word strategizing
Writing a manuscript is a solitary venture. Butt-in-chair is required for long periods of time—days, weeks, months, whatever it takes. The excitement and energy exhibited in the beginning stages of writing the story often evolves into feelings of doubt with a double dose of I’m incompetent by the time we hit the middle of the tale. Excitement tarnishes, energy fades along with interest, and sometimes I abandon the manuscript. Has this every happened to you?
So what’s the pick-me-up?  
Next week, part 2. 
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Parallel Ink. This is an e-magazine that publishes writing by students for students around the world aged 12-18.

Submission guidelines at http://parallelink.tumblr.com/submitwork 

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
New Moon. Portrays girls and women as powerful, active, and in charge of their own lives – not as passive beings who are acted upon by others. Celebrates girls and their accomplishments and supports girls’ efforts to hold onto their voices, strengths, and dreams as they move from being girls to becoming women. Female contributors only. All material should be pro-girl and focus on girls, women, or female issues. Edited by and for girls ages 8 to 14. Fiction: 900 to 1,200 words, stories in which the main character is a girl ages 8 to 14.

Submission guidelines at http://newmoon.com/how-to-get-published-new-moon-girls

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at www.nancykellyallen.com


 
 
 
 


 

 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

How to Create Memorable Characters in Picture Books, Part 5

A relatable character connects with the reader.  

In HIRAM’S GIFT, I wanted to create a humble, caring, good-natured, hard-working character—easier said than done in the short text of a picture book. So I structured the book over a period of several years to showcase the Christmas gifts Hiram received as opposed to what he had hoped to receive. His reactions SHOWed his emotions and humbled nature, which works better than me TELLing them. He hoped for a fiddle but received a harmonica. He by-passed disappointment and embraced the idea of learning to play a harmonica with joy.
 
I try to custom build my characters to fit my story world and never base a fiction character on a particular person. If I use real people as a basis, the character is an amalgamation of several.
My goal is to hang a suitable name on the protagonist that fits the story and the time. Page or Armor are more appropriate names for the pet of a knight than Fluffy. Also, use a name the audience can easily read. "Pfogmoregetti" might fit the character, but the difficulty of pronouncing it forces the reader to stop and focus on the name, rather than the action. 

Characters give life to the story. Take time to know the character prior to writing. Focus on his/her uniqueness: hobbies, habits, fears, hopes, goal, temperament, vocal expressions, gestures, etc. A memorable character lives on in the minds of the readers after the book is finished. 

Call for Submissions for Young and Adult Writers:

Pearl S Buck Short Story Writing Contest!

§ Send your original and unpublished manuscript to The Pearl S. Buck Writing Center by April 15, 2017.

§ There are categories for children, teens and adults, and a winner in each will be awarded a $100 prize!

§ Grades 3-6 word count not to exceed 1000 words

§ Grade 7-12 word count not to exceed 1000 words

§ Adult word count not to exceed 2,500 words

§ This contest is open to everyone.

§ The winners will be announced at the 125th birthday celebration of Pearl S. Buck on June 26, 2017.

Submission guidelines at

https://psbwritingcenter.org/2017/01/18/2017-short-story-writing-contest/

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at www.nancykellyallen.com

Sunday, March 5, 2017

How to Create Memorable Characters in Picture Books, Part 5

Memorable characters are those that seem real to the reader. Try these tips to bring out the “real” in your characters.

            Give specific details in a character’s development. Maybe he loves pancakes and wants  
pancakes every meal or she wants to wear only polka dots.

What are the character’s physical attributes? A character can be unusually built: extremely tall or short for the age group. How can these traits benefit or hinder the character? In many picture books these are depicted in the illustrations. But if the physical traits impact the problem the character is facing, they should be revealed in the text.

Verbal traits also distinguish the characters. A lisp due to missing front teeth works for a young child. Some kids use catch phrases. Listen to kids talking. “Awesome,” “like,” and “very” are words frequently used.
A character’s special interests should mirror those of the audience at a particular age. Does the character love to ride a bicycle or swim? The little boy in FORTY WINKS loved to read a book that he thought was magical. When the monster living in the closet would not share the book, the boy faced a dilemma: confront the monster or never read the book. What did it take to make the character react the way he did? Motivation + emotions = reactions. Figure out what motivates the character, add a dose of emotions, and let the story evolve.
I am never concerned if my book is more appropriate for a boy or a girl. My preference is to allow the reader to decide what s/he wants to read.
Next week, I’ll discuss more ways of creating memorable characters.
 
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Young Writers Magazine. We actively seek the work of extremely talented teenage writers. Browse the site and see for yourself. 


Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Ashland Creek Press is currently accepting submissions of book-length fiction and nonfiction on the themes of the environment, animal protection, ecology, and wildlife — above all, we’re looking for exceptional, well-written, engaging stories.
We are open to many genres (young adult, mystery, literary fiction) as long as the stories are relevant to the themes listed above.
Submission guidelines at http://ashlandcreekpress.com/about/submissions.html

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at www.nancykellyallen.com