Monday, January 10, 2022

 A New Year, A New Opportunity

One thing I appreciate about a new year is the opportunity to focus on what we want to do with our time and energy. Writers need meaningful goals.

Promoting my latest book, BUGS ON THE JOB, tops my list. Working with critique partners is another. Meeting readers is a must. Those are lofty, doable, and meaningful.

Then there’s writing, another must. I’m working on a manuscript with a so-so ending, not one I want to use. Last night or maybe early this morning I woke up, at least semi-awake, and the ending popped into my brain. Later in the day, I remembered the new ending. It works. That’s happened to me a few other times, but not often. I consider it a gift from my muse, or maybe my brain needed time to process the information. Either way, I’m thankful.

The world of writing is filled with many opportunities to make us thankful. A book contract is exciting, but little things we encounter on the up-this-hill-and-down journey sustain us. Kind words from a critique partner or editor, a fan who wants another book, hearing a phrase that’s inspiring, writing a page or more of a manuscript….

What is on your thankful list?


Here's a fun activity for writers of all ages:

Writing activity

New Bug on the Loose

You are a bug detective and have just discovered a bug no one has ever seen. Your job is to give it a name and describe it. Also, draw a picture to show the world your discovery.

Bug Name:

Describe the bug’s appearance.

Where does it live? (Example: in wood, underground, in trees)

What does it eat?

How does it hunt?

Draw a picture of the bug.

Monday, December 20, 2021

 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

May the sparkle and joy of the season inspire us in positive and creative ventures.

Happy writing!

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Here’s a peek at my latest picture book. BUGS ON THE JOB is a hive of activity. Fireflies are deLIGHTtful. Beetles break down rotting wood. They’re TREEmendous workers. Dung beetles are super scoopers. They save the earth from piling up with you-know-what. Bees are responsible for one out of every three foods people and animals eat. Honey, that's BEEutiful! 

BUGS ON THE JOB will be available in January and at that time, I’ll have a book signing at the Read Spotted Newt Bookstore in Hazard. The book signing date will be announced soon. If you are local and can’t attend the book signing, contact Mandi at and she will reserve a book for you. 

Those who are not local can preorder on the website on this page

The book will be available beginning January 1st at and will be available through the distributor APG Sales and Distribution in Nashville beginning February 1st. 

Holding a new book is the ultimate thrill for writers. We’ve poured our hearts, along with smidgens of sweat, and trickles of tears, into the work for months and years. From the time a picture book is accepted for publication, a two-year stint is in order to revise, tweak, and wait, and wait, and wait. The effort is worth it.

Sweat and tears morph into chills and thrills as writers meet fans of their literary “babies.” The publication date is approaching quickly, and I’m ready. 

Writing tips:

If you’re writing a picture book or a short story, keep the number of characters small. BUG ON THE JOB has two characters per page, and occasionally a third character, a flower, pops up.

Dialog breathes life into the characters. Allow your words to show a character's personality.

Add humor. Every reader loves it.

Add conflict. The flower gives power to conflict in this book.


Nancy Kelly Allen has written 51 children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY. Check out her blog at

 BUGS ON THE JOB, Nancy’s latest picture book will be available in January 2022.

Check out her blog at



Sunday, November 21, 2021

         A week ago, I attended the Kentucky Book FairAfter months of isolation, I was a 

bird finding my wings. This was a day of sharing on so many levels.

          Talking with other authors gave me the chance to learn what they’d been writing and discuss my upcoming books. Forging professional relationships with authors is instrumental in developing a career. Fun, too. Viewing their extensive collection of books juiced up my creative flow. Now I’m ready to tackle my next manuscript with vigor. How’s that for a win-win!

          I met friends I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, longer for some, and filled the time chatting, laughing, reminiscing. How’s that for a treat!

          Making new friends and meeting fans is another opportunity offered by a book fair. We instantly connect through a common bond: the love of books. How’s that for a slice of happiness!

          Here’s a win-win writing treat that’ll make your words happy.

Each student will write one “What if” question on a strip of paper.

Examples: What if my cat could talk? What if people could read my mind?

Students will fold each question and place it in a bowl.

Each student picks a question out of the hat and writes about the topic.         

Note: I’m using the word “student” loosely in this context. Students of writing come in all age groups. This activity works equally well in a writer’s group.

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50 children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY. Check out her blog at

BUGS ON THE JOB, Nancy’s latest picture book will be available in January 2022.

Sunday, October 31, 2021


         The Kentucky Book Fair is the largest book signing event in Kentucky and will be 

held on November 6th at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington. I’ll be signing

copies of five of my books, so if you attend, stop by and we’ll chat.

I’m looking forward to meeting lots of people who love to read. Another treat is meeting authors and renewing friendships with authors I’ve met at events over the years.

Since this blog is all about writing tips, here are five I highly recommend:

1.     Read books. Readers make good writers.

2.     Write as often as possible. Your writing “muscle” needs to be exercised on a regular basis to get and stay in shape.

3.     Let others read your work and give you feedback on what works and what does not.

4.     Revise. The first draft is never our best work.

5.     Play with words. Have fun with them. If you don’t enjoy writing them, the reader won’t enjoy reading them.

A fun exercise for your writing “muscle.”

          Write a page or two of a comic book/graphic novel. Draw the pictures first; then add the speech bubbles. On a separate paper, write the dialog that goes in the bubbles. Read it aloud. Think about ways you can revise it to make it sound better for the reader. After you finish revising, add dialog to the bubbles.

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50 children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY. Check out her blog at


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sound Words Add Pizzaz to Writing


Achoo! More fun to say it than to sneeze it, right? Sound words are downright fun to read aloud to and with a young child or a group of young children. They love to join in and become a part of the activity.

Sound words have a name, and it’s a mouthful. Onomatopoeia. It simply means a word the imitates its sound. Clink. Honk. Jingle. You can use this figurative language to pizzaz, pop, and sizzle writing.

Onomatopoeia makes writing more descriptive and memorable because we can easily imagine the sound and picture the scene.

Writers use the sense of sight more than the other senses. Visual clues help the reader imagine the scene, but other senses add to the overall picture. Sound words are fun to create, too. How would a drop of water hitting a pond sound? Maybe, plop. Plink. Plip. How would it sound hitting a rock? Pa-plip. Ka-plop. Dopp.

Have fun writing a story or poem using sound words. Listed below are some ideas to boost your imagination.

Create zoo music: roar, grrrrrrrrr, screech...

Night sounds: whooooo, chirp, hiss…

Parade: boom, oompa, toot, beep-beep, clack, clang…

Animal: arf, baa, moooooo, squawk, flap, tap-tap-tap…

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50 children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY. Check out her blog at

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Sandi Underwood, Guest Author of Middle Grade Fiction

What an exciting day for me! The super-talented author of children’s books and adult novels, 
Sandi Underwood, is my guest.

NKA: Welcome, Sandi. You have exciting news—a new book. Congratulations! Tell us about it.

SU: Thank you, Nancy. It’s good to be a published writer again – especially after the past two years we’ve had! The writing industry, like everything else, was hit hard during the Pandemic, but my new book fits right in there as ‘stranger than strange.’

I received an email from a publisher on New Year’s Day 2020 offering a contract. Now here’s where the strange part comes in: I had only submitted a cover letter and the first three chapters of ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN, a coming-of-age story with sinister undertones. The editor provided a phone number and asked me to call at my convenience. Lucky me, it was convenient that very next day, and when I asked if she was sure she wanted my book (I don’t recommend that question to a would-be publisher under normal circumstances!), she gave an emphatic, “yes!”

Never one to be outdone, I argued that I had only submitted the first three chapters. She informed me it was exactly what she was looking for. To sum up, I wound up sending the remainder of the story, along with a signed contract. I doubt that will ever happen again; but if it were to, I will never argue with a Publisher over whether they made a mistake in offering a contract—especially in this topsy-turvy world of publishing that we have come to know.

NKA: This book is a story that touches our emotions on a deep level and is a story that needs to be told, and what a cover. It's beautiful. What gave you the idea for the characters and plot?

SU: I would be less than truthful if I said I had a clear-cut answer to that question. I started out writing a story based on an actual situation, but the final product took wings and veered slightly off-course. ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN is about the painful period of time known as adolescence—a time when insecurities and peer pressure rule the day. Drawing on my own experience as a ‘PK’ (Preacher’s Kid), I identified with my main character in thinking others were born with that proverbial ‘silver spoon’ in their mouths, while I had less…friends, opportunities…stuff. Of course, looking back I realize what a perfect childhood I had and, to be honest, I never missed out on much. In the book’s dedication, I acknowledge my loving home and parents for raising me in a safe environment. Not all children have that. Certainly not one character in my book!

NKA: You have other books, too. What are their titles and for what age groups are they written?

SU: I love all genres. I love to read them, and I love to write them. My first book was a children’s book, a Sci-fi Mystery of sorts about ‘shapeshifters’, of all things. THE SECRET AT ONE BELMONT LANE, was written for my second grandson. He was of the age that enjoyed all things weird and bizarre, and I wanted to write a book he would read.

Next book to be published was the first in The Baker Manor Series, BLOOD MONEY. It’s a paranormal romance-mystery that tells the story of a kindergarten teacher that led a happy life until she became an heiress of a vast fortune. After that, unexplained accidents and broken trusts turned her happy life upside down until that fatal night when she stared evil in the face. The Baker Series continues with books #2 and #3, unpublished as of yet.

My third book MOUNTAIN LAUREL, is the story of my parents’ first date, and the setting is pure Appalachia. I drew on family tales that were passed down from both Mom and Dad with the hopes of preserving them for my grandchildren. I enjoy reading this book over and over as it conjures up memories of hearing them for the first time.

NKA: You’ve been a busy gal. Any new books on the horizon?

SU: Book #2 of The Baker Manor Series is finished, and I’m smack-dab in the middle of the final one. I say that, but I’ve grown so familiar with the Baker family, I can’t bear to say goodbye to them. Who knows where that story will really end??? I also have a book, ON THE BANKS OF THE NOLICHUCKY, a fictional story about the young Davy Crockett that is under contract, but no publication date has been announced. And finally, I am playing with the idea of combining two unfinished manuscripts into one. That remains to be seen or, in this case, written.

NKA: I love your books. You use a wide variety of writing techniques in creating interesting characters and plots that amp up the tension in your stories and snag readers’ attention. Would you share a couple of writing tips with us?

SU: In a nutshell, when a new storyline pops into my head, I begin with my main character (MC) by asking myself: Who, What, Where, When & Why?

My MC needs someone to feed off. A love interest? A BFF? A stalker? Honestly, my mind goes immediately to the stalker because I like edge-of-seat mysteries. Once decided, I have two individuals that allow me to begin character sketches—one or two descriptive words to get started, but by the time I’m well into the story and added several more characters, these can turn into lengthy bios.
At this point, I carve out a rustic outline–sometimes just a beginning, a middle (a thought or two that will move the story forward), and an ending (not everything all tied up with a bow at this point, just whether the MC lives happily ever after…or not.

All this before I write the first paragraph, which is without a doubt the most re-written paragraph in the entire story. But that’s a whole separate blog post!

I truly think the reason I love writing adult fiction is due to something you once said: Chase your main characters up a tree and throw rocks at them. (I believe you were quoting someone else, so I acknowledge the fact you and I both are plagiarizing!) I get the most joy writing what I enjoy reading and when life becomes predictable and humdrum for my characters, it’s time to shake it up a bit. Plotting is a fun pasttime for me. I tend to create two or three different paths for each character and hang onto the one that interests me most. At that point, I become the reader. If I listed one bit of advice to a new writer it would be: Write what you enjoy reading.
NKA: Great advice. Keeping readers on the edge of their seats is what holds their attention from the first page through the last. I’m sure people would like to know where can we find your books? 

SU: My latest book, ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN, is available on Amazon at:
On A Scale Of One To Ten or as with any of my books, to get a signed copy, email me at or check out my website at

NKA: Thanks, Sandi, for telling us about your books and giving us valuable writing tips by sharing your writing process. ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN is one of the best middle-grade books I’ve read, so I highly recommend it. I hope you visit again.

SU: Definitely!

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50 children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY. Check out her website at