Nancy's Books

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Perseverance Part 1, Famous Writers' Rejections, Calls for Submissions

Perseverance is that catch-all word that means commitment, hard work, patience, and endurance. These qualities improve the job performance of many workers, and writers are no exception. For most writers no shortcuts exist in the publishing business. A writer has to hone writing skills. The best way to learn to write is to do just that, write. And read other authors’ works. Writing and reading take time, perseverance. Also, a writer needs to learn the market in order to submit the manuscripts. What types of manuscripts do particular publishers want? Spend time figuring out which publishers develop books similar to the manuscript you’ve written. After you ship out one story, begin another. If you keep at this, your writing will improve, you’ll have a good grasp of what books are already in the marketplace, and you’ll learn the editorial needs of various publishers.

Above all, understand that your work will get rejected. Most writers get manuscripts rejected, even those with years of experience and a shelf full of books with their names on the covers. Rejection is part of the growth of a writer.

It’s easy to become discouraged when every story shipped out is shipped back. The following list of books and the number of times they were rejected add perspective to the importance of perseverance.

And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss, 27 rejections.
Carrie by Stephen King; 30+ rejections.
Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, 140 rejections. [See what perseverance can do?]
A Time to Kill by John Grisham, 45 rejections.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 38 rejections.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, 18 rejections.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, 26 rejections.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding, 20 rejections.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, 12 rejections.

David Baldacci received rejections for 15 years.

The reason these famous writers are published is because they persevered.

Check out next week’s blog for part II of this article.

Calls for Submissions

Nashville Review publishes the best in literary fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and comics. Both distinguished and emerging writers are encouraged to submit.
Fiction Guidelines: We welcome flash fiction, short stories, and novel excerpts of up to 8,000 words. No genre or children’s fiction.
Poetry Guidelines:Up to five poems may be submitted at a time.
Nonfiction Guidelines:Creative nonfiction only, please.
Details at

“The Last 72″ Writing Contest

What would you do if you were told you had only 72 hours to live?
Share your real stories and be a part of a life-changing social experiment!
Everest Productions together with The Fountain: Magazine of Scientific and Spiritual Thought, are searching for 13 winners who will get to appear in a brand-new TV series, receive up to $5,000 in cash prizes and more.
Live life like it really matters.
Participants in the writing contest and The Last 72 TV show must be 18 or older.
Your entries must be 1,000-1,500 words written in English.
Express your own experiences and intentions and not the idea from another work of fiction. Move readers with its originality and your unique personality. Describe actions that you could realistically achieve in 3 days.
Send your 1,000-1,500 words entries to
Deadline: JULY 30, 2010.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Funny Business of Writing Humor for Kids, Part III, Contests

Today’s blog is part III of my article, The Funny Business of Writing Humor for Kids.

Knowing the sensibilities of the audience is imperative to a writer, especially when writing humor. Young readers use books to help discover the world around them, so the more we know about young readers, the better we can develop the humor in our writing.

Humor should not the focus of a story. The story is a vehicle to make readers think and feel. A story without a purpose is probably going to fall flat, with or without humor.

So how do we infuse humor into a story? When I wrote, The Munched-Up Flower Garden, I wrote the basic story first. In revision, I added the humor. I also wrote in first person so I could flavor the story from beginning to end with the character’s attitude and feelings.

Don’t try to make every character and every word in the dialog funny. One funny character or comment will carry the entire scene.

Watch comedians. They set up the humorous situation and the punch line comes at the end of the joke. Use this technique to end the sentence or paragraph with humor.
Read humorous books written for children at various age levels. Compare how the humor is similar or different among the books and the age groups.

Keep the characters realistic to the story. Even those who inject comic relief have to be developed so the readers will care about what happens to them.

Talk with children. Observe them telling stories and laughing. Notice what action or event or words make them laugh. Play with words and sounds. Make your writing business funny business.

SPS Studios-- Sixteenth Biannual Poetry Card Contest
In addition, the winning poems will be displayed on our website.
Poetry Contest Guidelines:
1. Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, although we find that non-rhyming poetry reads better.
2. We suggest that you write about real emotions and feelings and that you have some special person or occasion in mind as you write.
3. Poems are judged on the basis of originality and uniqueness.
4. English-language entries only, please.
5. Enter as often as you like!
1st prize: $300 * 2nd prize: $150 * 3rd prize: $50
Deadline: June 30, 2010
Details at

Cheerios Contest

Only writers who have never been paid for their writing are allowed to enter. Only US writers from one of the 50 states (or DC) can apply. Must be 18 or older.
Picture book story. Grand prize -- $5000, Runner Up Prizes -- $1000
Entry Deadline: July 15th.
Details at

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Funny Business of Writing Humor for Kids, Part II, Calls for Submissions/Contest

I’m pleased, make that thrilled, Woohoo!! to announce that my latest picture book, Trouble in Troublesome Creek, has been selected to represent Kentucky at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. this fall. The National Book Festival is organized and sponsored the Library of Congress. One book per state is selected for this honor.

Since most students are out of school for the summer, I will not post student activities until September.

Today’s blog features part II of my article, The Funny Business of Writing Humor for Kids.

As children develop language skills, the humor of rhymes and nonsense words make them laugh. Preschool aged kids are attuned to the sound of words. They enjoy the playful sound of repeated variations of a word—catty, batty, fatty. Calling a familiar word by the wrong name, such as referring to the nose as an ear, is just downright funny to them. They also find misplacement of a body parts comical—a dog with two legs up and two legs down or a donkey’s head on a turtle’s body. Exaggeration is laughable to this group—a car that is too long or too tall, oversized eyes, or a basketball for a head. They also find impossible behavior funny—a cow jumping over the moon, a talking dog, or a snake that wears underwear. Rhymes, alliteration, and rhythmic text please them.

When kids enter school, they still love wordplay, exaggeration, and physical or slapstick humor. They also enjoy simple riddles and jokes, especially potty humor, and rhyming and nonsense words. Dr. Seuss books are a hit.

Older kids, seven and up, have a better grasp of the language. They love jokes, riddles and other brainteasers, puns, and potty humor. This is the age when chapter books and middle-grade novels are devoured on various subjects. By age eleven, children gain a better understanding of complex literary devices and appreciate humor in irony and sarcasm.

Part III will be posted in next week’s blog.

Calls for Submissions and Contest:

Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms
Becoming a new mom is the most amazing experience. From the moment, that baby is placed in your arms; there is an incredible feeling only a new mother can know. This book celebrates the physical, emotional, and spiritual experience of having a child and creating a family. We are looking for heartwarming, insightful, and humorous stories about raising babies and toddlers that share with our readers the wonders of early motherhood. Stories should not extend past the toddler years. Written in the first person of no more than 1,200 words. If you have already submitted a story to our New Moms database, please do not submit it again. We have it. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it.
Pay: $200 plus 10 books
Deadline is July 31, 2010.
Submissions go to

Nature Friend
Perhaps your children or family are doing something nature-related. If so, write the story and tell us. Fiction is also okay. We need stories about nature, as well as article and essays. The stories are the fewest, so we are glad when stories come.
Details at

Highlights has posted a list of current manuscript needs.
Details at

Knock Our Hats Off Contest
Submit up to 3,000 words of fiction or 1-3 poems. $250 for the winner in each category and publication in Mad Hatters' Review. All winning entries will be published in a print anthology called “Knock Our Hats Off: A Little Book of Curious Delights.” Each winner will receive a copy of this deluxe collector’s item.
Deadline: June 30.
Details at

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Funny Business of Writing Humor for Kids, Contests

How much did the pirates pay for their earrings?
A buccaneer

Want to capture a kid’s attention and hold it with your writing? Try adding humor to your text. Today’s blog is part I of my article, The Funny Business of Writing Humor for Kids.

Kids love stories that make them laugh. Editors and parents love stories that make kids laugh. Humor is that delightful element that makes a story funny, but writing humor is serious business.

To create humorous stories for children, writers must consider the age-appropriate stages of humor in the development of children. A story that makes a four-year-old laugh may not be funny to a second grader. Humor is subjective and personal, and although everyone has an opinion of what is funny, the type of humor that connects with a child changes as the child grows older.

Babies, six months and older, laugh at silly actions, faces, and sounds. As writers, when we translate this to books, we can make human characters walk like a monkey, hang socks from ears to look like a dog, or moo like a cow to create a humorous book. Notice how parents interact with babies to get them to laugh. If the activity works for babies in real life, it will probably work for them in a book. The human character is doing something unexpected so it’s funny.

Parts II and III of this article will follow in my next two blogs.

Science in My Fiction contest!
Authors write a science fiction or fantasy short story which is inspired by a scientific discovery or innovation made or announced within the past year. It can’t be peripherally added: the science must be integral to the story. Writers must include a link to a relevant article or study of the applied science when they submit their stories.

We’ll be looking for thoughtful, creative and well-researched application of science to a story. This doesn’t mean you should neglect your plot or characters, though! The best entries will be those which use science to enhance the plot, setting and characters, rather than dominate them.

Details at
Deadline: June 30.

Trajectory Short Story Contest
Trajectory, a new Kentucky literary journal, is launching with a short story contest. The winner will receive $250. Submit original, unpublished work of no more than 10,000 words with a cover letter containing contact information. Trajectory is also accepting non-contest short stories and poems. More info, contact Trajectory, PO Box 655, Frankfort, KY 40602.
Deadline: July 1.