Nancy's Books

Sunday, February 17, 2019

“Write” Start: Action



Action is another way to open a story, whether it’s a picture book, chapter book or YA novel. The official term is in media res, Latin for “in the midst of action.” Delving the reader into the exploits of the main character establishes the stakes at risk and ups the tension. I used this style of opening in FORTY WINKS. A dragon zoomed around the child’s room at night, waking him. 

Opening a story with action places the reader in the middle of the scene as it is taking place. It’s been used for centuries, as far back as the Roman poet Horace who stated that an epic poem should not begin “from the egg” but should “snatch” the listener “into the middle of things.” It kicks the story off in the middle of the plot. 

To begin with action, something happens. The action may be near the beginning of the story, or closer to the middle or ending. The writer then backtracks to introduce the character and the situation.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

The Louisville Review accepts accepts submissions of previously unpublished poetry from students in grades K-12. Seeks writing that looks for fresh ways to recreate scenes and feelings. Honest emotion and original imagery are more important to a poem than rhyming and big topics—such as life, moralizing, and other abstractions. Parental signature must accompany submissions. Unsolicited submissions of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and drama year round. All work must be previously unpublished. Reply time is 3-6 months. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please notify us promptly via email if your work is accepted elsewhere. All submissions are considered based on quality of writing above all else.

Submissions guidelines at http://www.louisvillereview.org/submissions/

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

East of the Web. East of the Web is keen to provide exposure for writers by offering them a place where their work will be seen and read in a high quality, respected setting. The site receives about half a million unique visitors per month, so successful submissions are likely to be viewed by more readers than in almost any other short story publication. In addition, the site receives attention from agents, the press, film makers, schools, universities and other publishers.

Submissions guidelines at http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/Publishing.html


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, February 3, 2019

"Write" Start: Image


Today’s blog is a continuation of the “Write” Start series. Along with appealing to the readers with unexpected events or situations and stirring their curiosity, try writing the opening with an image. Focus on a sensory detail—see, hear, touch, taste, smell—with the first line. In  my picture book, DEAR KOMODO DRAGON, the opening focuses on a visual setting:

Over on Komodo Island living, breathing dragons, giant, man-eating dragons, sharp-clawed and fierce, stomp through the wood and lurk in the grass, ready to attack.

The goal is to immediately engross the reader in the setting, hooked by the image. Background information and context can come later. 

Beginning with an image provides a pivotal moment that creates an interesting mental picture. First lines are difficult to write. If we can provide the readers with information to paint a picture in their minds, they are more likely to keep turning the pages. The opening scene is the make-or-break moment for the reader. Either engage immediately, or many, maybe most, readers will close the book and choose another.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers: 
Skipping Stones Magazine. Writings (essays, stories, letters to the editor, riddles and proverbs, etc.) should be typed or neatly handwritten and limited to 1,000 words and poems to 30 lines. We encourage writings in all languages with an English translation, if possible. And, we love illustrations! Please send originals of your drawings, paintings, or photos to our post office box address below. Include your name, age, and address along with your submission. We welcome electronic submissions as well.

Submissions guidelines at http://www.skippingstones.org/submissions.htm

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Boys’ Quest Magazine. We are looking for lively writing, most of it from a 10-year-old boy¹s point of view, with the boy or boys directly involved in an activity that is both wholesome and unusual. Our current need is nonfiction articles accompanied by strong supporting photos. 
Nonfiction pieces that are accompanied by clear photos with high resolution are far more likely to be accepted than those that need illustrations. 
The ideal length of a BOYS' QUEST nonfiction piece is 350-375 words for a one-page magazine article or 700-750 words for a two-page magazine article.  
Submissions guidelines at http://funforkidzmagazines.com/bq_guidelines


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

Sunday, January 20, 2019

“Write” Start: Curiosity


 My last blog focused on the “write” start by introducing the unexpected as the beginning of the story. Another way is to appeal to the reader’s curiosity. In my book, AMAZING GRACE,” a young girl had two mysteries—a wrapped box and a letter—that intrigued her because she didn’t know what was in either.
When we stir readers’ curiosity, we hold their interest. They want to dig deeper and explore the story to discover the next turn of events. Readers enjoy immersing themselves in the plot as they attempt to figure out the mystery or how the protagonist will escape from the dire situation the writer has created.
As writers, we want to give the reader a compelling force to grasp and hold their attention. Allow them information so they, too, can become part of the team as they try to figure out the solution or solve the problem. End each scene with them wanting more, using such tactics as an unexpected twist to the story, a surprise, or another problem or setback.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Guardian Angel Kids.

MONTHLY THEMES AND DEADLINES 2019

March----- SADDLE UP! -----February 3 2019
April----- CHALLENGES-----March 3 2019
May------ LIVING IN A FISHBOWL -----April 3 2019
June----- I AM ME -----May 3 2019
July----- SCENT SENSE -----June 3 2019
August----- CONSERVATION FOR KIDS -----July 3 2019
September----- SUPER HERO -----August 3 2019
October----- TRAINS, TRACKS, AND TRAVELERS -----September 3 2019
November----- GAK SAYS LET'S EXPLORE OREGON TRAILS -----October 3 2019
December----- THE BEAUTY OF THE HOLIDAY -----November 3 2019

Submissions guidelines at http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com/submissions.html
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers: Cast of Wonders. Stories that evoke a sense of wonder, have deep emotional resonance, and have something unreal about them. We aim for a 12-17 age range: that means sophisticated, non-condescending stories with wide appeal, and without gratuitous or explicit sex, violence or pervasive obscene language. Think Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.
Submissions guidelines at http://www.castofwonders.org/submissions/

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, January 6, 2019

“Write” Start: The Unexpected



As we enter a brand new year, my goal is beginning with the “write” start. A recent study indicated that announcing our resolutions to the world makes authors less likely to follow through on those good intentions. So, instead of resolutions, I’ll broach the subject of ways to open a story to keep the reader interested, the “write” start. 
Whether writing a picture book or children’s novel, the opening lines should work as an invitation for the reader to keep on reading. It’s the writer’s job to convince the reader to follow along. 

One way to do this is starting with the unexpected. In my book, TROUBLE IN TROUBLESOME CREEK, kids swing across the creek and their landing creates a rock slide that opens an entry into a cave. My goal included an unexpected event to add an element of surprise, make the audience pause for a moment, capture their attention, and intrigue to the point the readers want to know more.
In my next blog, I’ll focus on another type of opening to a story: curiosity.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Magic Dragon. Writing – Work should be neatly printed or typed. If you type it, please double-space. Stories and essays can be up to three pages, poetry up to 30 lines. It is ok to send writing that you have also illustrated. You can write about anything that is important to you; it can be serious or funny, true or fiction. If you send originals and want them returned, enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
Submissions guidelines at http://www.magicdragonmagazine.com/?page_id=6
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide. Anthology. We’re looking for stories that:
· Have a main character that a middle grade reader (ages 8-12) can identify with;
· Show a diverse set of real characters;
· Are well written, fun to read, and encourage a love of reading science fiction;
· Tell of adventure, space, science. Give us rockets, robots and alien encounters, and we’re pretty happy; Steampunk, time travel, weird west and alternate history are all fine;
Are between 3,000 and 6,000 words

Submissions guidelines at https://dreamingrobotpress.com/young-explorers-adventure-guide-submissions/
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, December 9, 2018

Are Restraints Holding You Hostage?


As a visiting author, I’ve been extremely fortunate. I love working with kids, love teaching the writing process to kids, and love their excitement when they share the writing. For the last few weeks, I’ve been working with 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 8th graders, primarily focused on informational and nonfiction pieces. Every day, they amaze me with their creativity and enthusiasm. I especially appreciate word choices and phrasing that distinguishes their personalities through writing. Voice. The concept of grasping the personal uniqueness of writing is not an easy task, yet I see it in these young writers. It makes me wonder why it can be so difficult for adult writers.  

Maybe it’s because the students are fearless in placing thoughts on paper. Adults have a contract hanging in the balance, so maybe we can’t capture the voice because somewhere in our minds someone told us that a particular word or phrasing was not acceptable with some editors. Maybe it’s because we try so hard to write a marketable piece that the manuscript becomes too commonplace to stand out. Maybe we’ve allowed our imaginations to hover, rather than soar.

Let’s shake off our restraints and write to please ourselves. The worst that can happen is no contract. Conversely, a new style of writing may evolve from our fingertips.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Skipping Stones. Writings (essays, stories, letters to the editor, riddles and proverbs, etc.) should be typed or neatly handwritten and limited to 1,000 words and poems to 30 lines. We encourage writings in all languages with an English translation, if possible. And, we love illustrations! Please send originals of your drawings, paintings, or photos to our post office box address below. Include your name, age, and address along with your submission. We welcome electronic submissions as well. We prefer Word.doc. or .docx.files or text.edit files. Art and photos can be sent as .jpeg or .tiff files. Please DO NOT send us zip.files.
Submissions guidelines at https://www.skippingstones.org/submissions.htm
Skipping Stones. Our readers, ages 7 to 17, hail from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. We want to make their reading of Skipping Stones an active experience, relevant to issues confronting them locally and globally. Writing and artwork by adults should challenge readers to think, learn, cooperate and create. 
We encourage adults to submit creative informational stories rather than pure fiction. We prefer submissions focusing on your own culture or experiences. No adult poetry, please. 
Submissions guidelines at

https://www.skippingstones.org/submissions.htm#adult

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Common Writing No-Nos (of which I am guilty)

Oh, those tricky grammar rules. So many. And then there are rules for writing. So many. Plus, factor in the tendency to misuse grammar and writing rules. Realizing my tendency to choose the incorrect word, I watch for my errors knowing that I will find many. So many. 

This writer tends to fall in love with a word and use it too often. Just is one word I just can’t drop…until I force it out during revision. Diverse language adds voice to writing, taking it from a hum to a song. Using the same word repeatedly doesn’t cut it with readers. 

Clichés sneak into our prose and are as boring as Uncle Ned’s tenth retelling of his visit to the E.R. Surprise the reader with sensory descriptions as you write the unexpected. Boring as an old shoe or as watching paint dry adds no excitement to the storytelling because it’s expected.   

I also have a tendency to write sentences of mid-size length. During revision, I actually count the number of words in sentences, for picture books. Vary sentence length. The variety adds rhythm to the text and engages the reader.

I do the same with paragraph lengths. Paragraphs offer breaks in the text, but if all are the same length, that pattern may become boring and expected.

Action verbs help push the plot along. My goal is to provide the reader with visual images of action by using such verbs as slither, hop, scurry. In the first draft, I’m so busy writing character and plot development, non-action verbs—was, have, are, and is—make too many appearances. 

Spell-check catches some mistakes, but in-depth revisions elevate questionable writing to a reader pleaser. 


Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Stone Soup. We publish stories on all subjects—horses, dance, sports, problems at school, problems at home, magical places—and in all genres—literary fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, mystery—there is no limit to the subject matter of a Stone Soup story. What matters to us is not the subject. It is how interesting your story is to another reader. Does it have a strong beginning, middle, and end? If there is dialogue, is it realistic—is it the way people speak? If your story has talking animals, is there something about the way the animals think or move that feels true to that particular kind of animal?

We publish stories on all subjects—horses, dance, sports, problems at school, problems at home, magical places—and in all genres—literary fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, mystery—there is no limit to the subject matter of a Stone Soup story. What matters to us is not the subject. It is how interesting your story is to another reader. Does it have a strong beginning, middle, and end? If there is dialogue, is it realistic—is it the way people speak? If your story has talking animals, is there something about the way the animals think or move that feels true to that particular kind of animal?
Submission guidelines at https://stonesoup.com/how-to-submit-writing-and-art-to-stone-soup/
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers: 
Fun For Kidz is a magazine created for boys and girls from 6 to 13 years, with children 8, 9, and 10 the specific target age. Issues are themed. Genres: Nonfiction and fiction. Length: 300-325 words for a one-page magazine article or up to 600-650 words for a two-page magazine article.
Submission guidelines at http://funforkidzmagazines.com/ffk_guidelines
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