Nancy's Books

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Keep a Small Notebook/ Two No-fee Contests

Writers, keep a small notebook with you, one that will fit into your pocket or purse. Teachers, encourage your students to do the same. Every time you hear a distinctive phrase write it down. If you read an article you think you could work into a story, write it down. Ideas pop into our heads and we always think we’ll remember them, but of course we don’t. Instead of relying on our memories, you guessed it: write it down in the small notebook you never leave home without. You just might create a contract-catching character as you’re out and about.
Students can use notebooks to learn to focus on the world surrounding them.
Encourage students to write notes they can later turn to for inspiration and ideas.
Some notebook ideas include:
What angers/upsets me?
What makes me happy/content?
What is interesting? Boring?
Favorite quotes
Interesting places to visit
Places to revisit
What makes a good friend?
I wonder why…
Interesting people
What I like to do
Books I like to read

Here are a couple of contests for young writers:

1. CREATIVE KIDS MAGAZINE is looking for the very best material by students (ages
8–16). Material may include cartoons, songs, stories between
500 and 1200 words, puzzles, photographs, artwork, games,
editorials, poetry, and plays, as well as any other creative
work that can fit in the pages of the magazine. Students
submitting accepted material will receive a free copy of the
Creative Kids issue in which their work appears. Creative Kids
reserves the right to edit submissions. For more details check out

2. The PBS The PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest is for kids who are in Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade or 3rd Grade. Are you in a K-3 Grade? Great! Here's what you'll need to do to submit your entry. Don't forget to ask for help from an adult here if you need it!
1-Take a peek at the Prizes & Rules page. Make sure you can enter the Contest...and see what you can win!
2. Find your local PBS station and download the Contest Entry Form.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Writing Activities Based on The Truth About Princesses

My latest picture book, The Truth About Princesses, is a look at popular fairy tale princesses. Where do princesses live? If you should meet a princess, how do you address her? Find out what princesses wear and what they do to have fun. Twirl through the pages of this book and catch up on all the princess fun. Here are some fun writing activities for students or anyone wanting to expand their writing techniques.

Ø Imagine what would have happened to Cinderella if her step-mother and step-sisters had been good to her? Would her fairy god-mother have helped her? Would she have met the prince? Write a new version of Cinderella based on these changes. Draw illustrations to help tell the story.

Ø Imagine a fairy tale princess as a modern girl. Her family has lots of problems and they discuss those problems on a television talk show. Write five questions to ask different members of the family. Write answers to the questions. Students will act out the scene.
Ø Write a newspaper article based on a favorite fairy tale.

Ø Write riddles based on fairy tales and ask classmate the riddles.
I’m spinning gold, who am I?
I ate a poison apple, who am I?
I wear my hair in a long, long, long braid, who am I?

Ø Create an imaginary character that possesses a magical power. Write a story about the character.

Ø Write an acrostic poem using a character from a fairy tale. Begin each line with a letter from the character’s name. Illustrate the poem.


Ø Write a diary from the point of view of a fairy tale character. Write an entry for five days or more.

Ø Drama: Students will dress up as their favorite fairy tale character as they present their writing.

Ø Students will dramatize their favorite fairy tale by retelling story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Check out my website, for class activities based on each of my books. Core Content included with each set of activities.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Writing Contest Part 2

Today, I’m listing three more contests with no entry fees. Check out the Websites for more information and follow the guidelines. Good luck!

1. Free Short Story Writing Contest "Family Stories"

The short stories could be about your family in the past, your family in the future, an imaginary family, a family of ducks or a family of your friends.

Enter your short story about families in BookRix’s free writing contest “Family Stories” now. The story must relate to families in some way. Tell us your story and share it with other readers to win cash and fame. In addition to the cash prize, the contest winner will receive free proofreading and editing services (of up to 3,000 words), courtesy of Elite Editing.

Community Voting – December 21, 2009 to February 23, 2010
Jury Voting– February 24, 2010 to March 15, 2010 DEADLINE: 02-23-2010.
PRIZES: $1,000.00.
ENTRY FEE: $0.00.

For more details check out

2. The Bloom Award 2010 is for unpublished authors only. Each year's award will consist of a different genre, age group and imprint. This award WILL result in the offer of a publishing contract for one lucky winner. (Disclaimer:If all parties come to an agreement)

2010 Details

The second Bloom Award will only be open to the following type of manuscript:

* Age Group: Young Adult
* Genre: Light Romance Fiction (However, sex is not appropriate for books at our press. The romance should be along the lines of the stuff found in Life in the Pit.)
* Imprint: "Tire Swing" (our children's/YA paperback imprint)

Submissions begins: May 17, 2010
Submissions Deadline is: October 31, 2010

For more details check out

3. Sourcebooks is launching a new Young Adult division called Sourcebooks Fire and they’re celebrating for two whole months!
Submissions for the contest will run 2/1/2010 – 2/28/2010.
For more details check out

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Writing Contests Part 1

Hear ye! Hear ye! The Truth About Princesses, my latest picture book is now available. Ths book is all aout popular fairy tale princesses. Where do princesses live? If you should meet a princess, how do you address her? Find out what princesses wear and what they do to have fun. Twirl through the pages of this book and catch up on all the princess fun.

Teachers, check out Class activities on my website, for fun ways to use this book.

Now, on to the writing contests. These have no fees and are legitimate.

Fiction based on a true story from your family.
Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua.
All entries must be postmarked between January 1 and January 31, 2010.
No entry form or fee is required.
*Entrants must be at least 16 years old at the time of submission.
We welcome work from both published and unpublished authors. All submissions must be previously unpublished.
Stories may be any length up to 750 words. Stories for beginning readers should not exceed 475 words. Indicate the word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of your manuscript.
No crime, violence, or derogatory humor.
Entries not accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope will not be returned.
Manuscripts or envelopes should be clearly marked FICTION CONTEST. Those not marked in this way will be considered as regular submissions to Highlights.
Highlights for Children
803 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
The three winning entries will be announced on in June 2010. These stories will become the property of Highlights for Children and will be published by Highlights. All other submissions will be considered for purchase by Highlights.
* We're sorry that we cannot consider contest entries from children under the age of 16. Young writers are welcome to submit their work for consideration elsewhere in the magazine. Guidelines are available on

2. 2010 Breakthrough Novel Award, along with Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace, is pleased to announce the third annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the international competition seeking the next popular novel. For the first time, the competition will award two grand prizes: one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction. The 2010 competition will also now be open to novels that have previously been self-published. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.
Congratulations to last year's Breakthrough Novel Award winner, James King, whose winning novel, Bill Warrington's Last Chance, will be published by Viking in August 2010. Bill Loehfelm's Fresh Kills, the 2008 winner, is now available in paperback.
The Breakthrough Novel Award brings together talented writers, reviewers, and publishing experts to find and develop new voices in fiction. If you're an author with an unpublished or previously self-published novel waiting to be discovered, visit CreateSpace to learn more about the next Breakthrough Novel Award and sign up for regular updates on the contest. Open submissions for manuscripts will begin on January 25, 2010 through February 7, 2010.
See the official contest rules for more information on how to enter.

Next week, I'll post three more contests. The window of opportunity is short so check the time frame for the entries.Good luck to all.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Writing Goals

- Happy New Year!

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to set writing goals. Whether you’re a writer or a teacher of writing, or both, goals will keep you focused on the path you choose.

Motivating students to become more involved in the writing process is a goal many teachers have. The key is to plan activities that will capture the interest of students using activities that are fun. In grade three and up, brainstorm with students to create writing projects. If the students are involved in the setting of the goals, they will be more interested in following through.

Here are a few writing goals to consider:

--Make more time for writing. If you're a teacher, make time for more student writing and allow students a platform for presenting their work to others.

--Make an on-going list of all the books you read this year. Reading a variety of books help writers broaden their writing. Read some books you normally would not read. Read a book from a genre you would not normally choose. If you never read biographies, read one you think you’d like. Read biographies of favorite authors to get an inside view of the struggles the author had in getting published.

--Set aside a time every day to write, even if it is only one sentence. Sometimes one sentence is enough to get inspired to write a paragraph or more.

--Set aside time every day to read.

-- Join a critique group. Feedback from other writers will help you improve your writing.

--Of course, reading this blog regularly will help you grow as a writer. In fact, pass the blog along to other writers and teachers of writing.

Make this year a great writing year.

The next two weeks, I’m going to post writing contests that do not require entry fees.