Nancy's Books

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Trends in Writing for Children and Young Adults



The adage of never writing to trends is one I strongly uphold, but I also like to keep my eye on the pulse of the publishing for children. In doing so I’ve found some of the movements in the marketplace.

Editors show interest in books (children - teen) that sell well in an international market. Setting may be in America, but the characters are universally relatable and stories evoke emotions.

Books with content suitable to be built into games and toys.

The demand for biographies of groundbreaking women has been overflowing and may be saturated. Yet, one told with a unique angle can be a hit.

MG humor and fantasy is strong, along with those offering powerful emotional punches. 

Illustrated MG is hot. So are graphic novels.

Standalone titles for MG.

Realistic contemporary MG and YA that tackles serious topics. 

Female protagonists in contemporary, fantasy, and literary titles for MG and YA.

Paranormal stories for teens have been down, but seem to on the rise again.

YA thrillers, mysteries, and horror are popular.

YA fantasy that can crossover into the adult markets.

Diverse books by Own Voices authors are sought after in every category and age group.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Skipping Stones. You can send your regular submissions of poems, stories, essays, art and photo essays anytime. We accept your submissions for upcoming issues as they come in.

Submissions guidelines at http://www.skippingstones.org/wp/youth/


Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Chicken Soup for the Soul. Everyone loves holiday stories and our contributors write great ones. They are so good that we create a new edition for the holiday season every year. We are now collecting stories for our HOLIDAY 2020 book and we are looking for stories about the entire December holiday season, including Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and New Year’s festivities too.

We want to hear about your holiday memories and traditions. The rituals of the holiday season give a rhythm to the years and create a foundation for our lives, as we gather with family, with our communities at church, at school, and even at the mall, to share the special spirit of the season, brightening those long winter days. Please share your special stories about the holiday season with us. Be sure that they are “Santa safe” so that we don’t spoil the magic for precocious readers!

Submissions guidelines at https://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/submit-your-story



Comment or check out the blog at https://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 29, 2019

What to Show, Tell, and Omit, Part 2


            Every writer must decide what to show, tell, or omit in a manuscript.

Check out these tips:

When characters talk (dialog) they should not repeat what they already know, unless the action took place a few chapters prior and the repetition is used to remind the reader. The purpose of dialog is to enhance character development and push along the plot. If your dialog isn’t doing that, omit it.


Limit the use of “he said” and “she said” as dialog tags. Allow the character to show some action to let the reader know who is speaking. 

Dialog should be authentic. It should sound like the age, gender, and culture of the speaker. A young child sometimes mispronounces words. That can be worked into the dialog to make the character seem real. 
Example:

“Don’t go there,” Annie said.

Annie stopped and stared at Jim. “Don’t go there.”

Also limit the length of a character’s dialog. A character that fills in an entire page without interruption, may be (probably is) talking too much.

Use exposition (explaining) sparingly. Large chunks of information should be fed to the reader in small doses to keep the interest high and the action moving.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Blue Marble Review. Are you age 13 to 21? (Or do you have writing kids?) If so, then Blue Marble Review is worth considering since there are few paying markets for teen writers. They accept fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. Pay is $25 ($75 for cover art). All submissions should be unpublished.
Submissions guidelines at https://bluemarblereview.com/submit/
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

The Writer magazine: “Calling all YA & kidlit authors: We’re currently accepting pitches for our annual “Writing for Young Readers” issue! We are interested in how-to stories, reported pieces, narrative essays, and profiles of writers and others in the field.

Submissions guidelines at https://www.writermag.com/the-magazine/submission-guidelines/

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

What to Show, Tell, and Omit, Part 1




In a recent writing workshop, a participant said she had difficulty knowing what to tell or show in a story and what to leave out. Writers, both experienced and novice, deal with the same problem.

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up in the thirty years I’ve been calling myself a writer:

Begin a story as late in the plot as possible. Start with the situation, as it is happening, that changes the character’s life. Opening with an action scene is a surefire way to engage the reader. Maybe the action is ambiguous, in order to add suspense or mystery. Or introduce an interesting character that captures the attention of the audience and holds it in a tight grip.

I usually write the first draft without too much concern for voice, focusing on plot,  characterization, and conflict. Later, as I revise, I concentrate on voice. At this point, I change much of the telling parts to showing by adding sensory description and details. If I’ve included a block of backstory, I revise to feed it to the audience, bit by bit. Long chunks of backstory slow the action and often becomes boring to the reader, so tread lightly.

In my next blog, I’ll continue with more tips.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Amazing Kids E-zine. This educational non-profit publishes work of kids between the ages of 5-13 as well as teens up to the age of 17. To learn more visit their submission guidelines here. They publish a wider variety of work than most traditional journals and are interested in non-fiction, fiction, poems, videos, reviews, and more.

Submission guidelines at http://mag.amazing-kids.org/get-involved/write-for-us/

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Chicken Soup for the Soul. “You Go, Girl!” This call is looking for true stories designed to help young women feel stronger, more capable, and more confident. Limit 1,200 words. Payment is $200 and ten copies of the anthology that contains your story. 
Deadline December 15, 2019.
Submissions guidelines at https://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/possible-book-topics

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

Comment or check out the blog at https://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Writing with a Slant, Part 2


Narrowing a topic and choosing an audience are two factors to consider in writing with a slant. Both were discussed in the previous blog. Two additional factors include:

Researching a topic. When writing AMAZING GRACE, I set aside time to explore books and websites on the Kentucky home front during World War II. Collecting tidbits of information, much more than I’d ever need, provided me with the luxury of sifting out the truths and proofs that worked best for my story setting and age group. Yes, fiction must include accurate facts. Historical fiction comes alive through details.

 Simple items, such as Kool-Aid, needed to be researched. What flavors were available during the early 1940s? Was a radio station in operation in Ashland, Kentucky, during 1942? I began the story with a family moving from Ashland to Hazard, but further research led me to realize Hazard had no radio station at that time. Ashland did, so the family moved from Hazard to Ashland. Details, small details, make a difference in the believability of a story.

Voice. What type of voice should I use? I didn’t want the story to sound frivolous, too carefree. The times were difficult for those on the home front during the war, so I wanted the tone of the book to reflect that, but without burdening the reader with morose nuances. The main character, a young girl named Grace, tells the story and hits a balance between reality and a child-like view that infused a humorous touch.

Writing for a particular audience with a particular slant or particular angle can narrow your story to a perfect fit.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers: 

Blue Marble Review. Are you age 13 to 21? (Or do you have writing kids?) If so, then Blue Marble Review is worth considering since there are few paying markets for teen writers. They accept fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. Pay is $25 ($75 for cover art). All submissions should be unpublished.

Submission guidelines at https://bluemarblereview.com/submit/


Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Fun For Kidz magazine looks for activities that deal with timeless topics, such as pets, nature, hobbies, science, games, sports, careers, simple cooking, and anything else likely to interest a child. Each issue revolves around a theme.

Submissions guidelines at https://www.freelancewriting.com/writers-guidelines/children-publications/

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

Comment or check out the blog at https://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Writing with a Slant


When I begin a fictional manuscript, I think about the character, plot, and setting, but I also consider the slants. By slant, I mean writing with an angle, such as:

Narrowing the topic. Amazing Grace, a middle grade novel, is a fictional account of American life during World War II. The landscape of the early 1940s is so broad, I narrowed the setting to one small town, Ashland, Kentucky. Rather than covering the entire war years, I focused on one. The book is about 33,000 words, so I was limited in both time and space. Narrowing the topic was a must.

Choosing the audience. What age group do I want to reach? I began the Amazing Grace manuscript as a picture book. After many rewrites and revisions, an editor suggested that I rewrite the story for an older audience. After weeks of planning and plotting the story mentally, I started over with middle grade readers in mind. What could my readers handle? What would they enjoy reading and learning? Those were questions that I asked before writing a word.

In my next blog, I’ll address the next two factors for writing with a slant.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

The Caterpillar. This is a respected literary journal for kids between the ages of 8 and 11 accepts submissions of poetry and fiction.

Submissions guidelines at http://www.thecaterpillarmagazine.com/a1-page.asp?ID=4150&page=11

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. 

Leave a message or check out my blog at www.nancykellyallen.com

Sunday, August 4, 2019

I’ve Finished My Manuscript, Now What? Part 3


After compiling a list of 15-20 potential publishers that fit the type of manuscript you’ve written, trim the list to the top 5 and submit to those. Before subbing a story, always check the publisher’s/agent’s website to make sure the submission guidelines still accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Follow the guidelines exactly. Some have specific information required in the cover letter (such as, three comparable titles in the last three years) and in the number of pages to send. Some want the pages in the body of the email; others prefer an attachment. And some are specific in the information listed on the Subject line of the email. Still, others require manuscripts to be sent by the U. S. Postal Service. Each publisher is different, so check the submission guidelines carefully. 

Some editors/agents may provide comments on what does or does not work with the manuscript. Take the information and use it (if you agree) to revise the piece. Some editors/agents may suggest the changes and offer and R & R (revise and resubmit). Some may not offer the opportunity to resubmit. Don’t resubmit the manuscript unless the editor/agent requests it. Spend time revising and submit to the next 5 potential publishers on your list. By this time you may have made changes that will make the manuscript more appealing and marketable. 

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Youth Imagination is interested in creative fiction stories by teens as well as by adult authors. Make the stories awesome, inspiring and engaging. Our goal is to publish the best writing for and by teens. We particularly love stories exploring their issues, such as bullying, drugs, romance, school, parental issues, teacher issues, etc., as well as about the grit and character of teens and young adults.
We accept most genres of fiction, including modern, urban or classical fantasy, as well as sci-fi, slipstream, literary, action-adventure or suspense.

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. 
Comment or check out the blog at https://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 14, 2019

I’ve Finished My Manuscript, Now What? Part 2


Finding a market for a manuscript is as labor intensive as writing it. Once the story is polished, go to your local bookstore/library and look at books in the same genre geared toward the same age group as your manuscript. Check out the publisher. Does it match those on your list? If not, add to your list. Check out the Acknowledgement Page. The editor is sometimes listed there, and sometimes at the end of the book.
Look at publishers’ catalogs. You can find them on their websites. Do the books seem to be similar to the manuscript you wrote, but different enough to not compete with books in the catalog? If you’re going the agent route, study the type of books s/he represents.

At this point look at books listing editors and/or agents, and make a list of approximately 15-20 that seem to be a good fit. Turn to your trusty computer and research the editors/agents’ names. Look for interviews to determine the type of manuscripts they are interested in, the subjects they want to publish (some may state they would love to see a fiction story about a rescue animal or a specific request such as that), and whether they accept unsolicited manuscripts. 

Read industry resources. Children’s Bookshelf is free. Some editors and agents participate in MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) at http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/.

Attend conferences and writing workshops to learn about publishers, editors, and agents. Conferences are helpful in networking with other writers and finding qualified critique partners, who are knowledgeable about writing for children.

In my next blog, I’ll continue with more tips on marketing a manuscript.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

DIG (Into History) is where world history and archaeology meet for kids ages 9 to 14, though adults have been known to find it an interesting read, as well! Each issue of DIG focuses on providing comprehensive coverage of a single theme, allowing children to get in-depth information on historical topics and archaeological discoveries from writers who are experts in the field. With nearly 60 ad-free pages in each issue, DIG provides an adventurous trek through the past that will entertain and educate any young history buff or budding Indiana Jones.
Submission guidelines at http://cricketmedia.com/dig-submission-guidelines

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at www.nancykellyallen.com