Nancy's Books

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Ebooks/Writer Guidelines/Contest for Kid Writers

Why in the world is it so hard to keep track of that old felt hat? It's on a flagpole. It's in a tree. That old felt hat is chased away by a bothersome wind. What will Little Lucy and Aunt Iris do to track down that elusive hat?

A bat, a spider, an owl and Wee, Wee Witch do their spooky best to make sad, mad pumpkin a glad, glad pumpkin.

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to participate in a brand spanking new literacy- technology program called Be There Bedtime Stories. Today, I’m unveiling my new ebook: THE OLD FELT Hat. A couple of months ago THE MOODY PUMPKIN was published as an ebook for the same group. These books can be read as bedtime stories by anyone with a camera and a microphone attached to a computer. The program was designed by a woman who lived a long distance from her nieces, so she developed a way of using a computer to read to the girls and they could listen to her voice as they looked at the pages of a book on the monitor screen. The idea caught on and a new company developed. You can check out my books and look at some of the pages on the company website: Click on “Bookstore” and type in my name or the book title and you can see a few pages of each.

Happy reading…and writing. May 2011 be filled with inspiration, perspiration, and excitation for each of your stories. Throughout the year I'll focus on specific areas of writing with each blog. Stay tuned and stay warm.

Writer Guidelines:

Parents Magazine welcomes new writers and prefers query letters instead of completed manuscripts. The editors suggest that writers look carefully at the magazines. This will provide a good idea as to the kind of stories that are published as well as tone they convey. Stories should be aimed at a wide variety of readers and specific age groups. Human-interest stories are always welcome.
Query letters should be sent to:
Parents Magazine
375 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Contest for kids:
. Are you an amazing kid who enjoys whipping up delicious food in the kitchen?
Enter your recipe in our Amazing Kids! Healthy Kids Recipe Contest for the chance to be published in the Amazing Kids! Healthy Kids e-Cookbook, by and for kids! Kids and teens, ages 6-17 can submit an original, healthy recipe that they enjoy and would like to share with other children. High-quality photos of the finished product are not mandatory but are appreciated.
Deadline: January 31, 2011
Email: with Recipe Contest and your last name in the subject line.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Manuscript Ready for Publication/Calls for Submissions

I received an email this week from a writer who asked how to tell when a manuscript is finished and ready to submit to a publisher or agent. That’s a difficult question I could discuss with a variety of answers. I sometime wonder the same thing about my manuscripts. I find it much easier to gauge the quality of manuscripts written by others than to identify the positives and negatives of my own writing.

My suggestion to the writer was to revise again and again, looking for strong opening paragraphs, descriptive language, character and plot development, pacing, voice, and a realistic ending. The list could be longer, but that’s a start.

Our best writing is never the first draft…or the second. Sometimes we don’t catch gaps and holes in the story because we see the narrative as a movie running in our minds and we totally understand the characters, their action and motives. Therefore, we need readers other than friends and family to read the work and provide honest and relevant feedback. I suggested to the writer that joining a critique group would be in her best interest. Of course, the group needs to have some interest in writing and preferably experience in writing in the same genre.

If you’re having trouble deciding if your manuscript is ready, try forming a critique group. You will learn from each other and you’ll gain new perspectives about your writing.

Calls for Submissions:

Bumples Pay: $.20/word. An exciting NEW INTERACTIVE online magazine for children four to ten years of age. Bumples specializes in illustrated fiction about children and animals in mysteries, sports, poems and fantasies with serialized adventures in each issue. Stories are uniquely supplemented with puzzles, question games, and activities, all of which makes Bumples story telling all the more engaging. Interesting information on a topic is always fun to explore after enjoying a great reading experience. Consequently, Bumples adds factual postscripts to complement each story.

Teen Ink is a monthly print magazine, website, and a book series all written by teens for teens." The Young Authors Foundation feels strongly that one of the greatest needs of young people is to preserve their sense of self-worth. Teen Ink's role is to listen to its contributors and provide a forum in which teens can express themselves through poetry, essays, stories, reviews, art and photography.
Details at

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Trends in Children's Literature/Calls for Submissions

Even though editors ask us to write stories we feel compelled to write, it’s nice to keep up with the trends in children’s literature. Here’s a list released last week from Scholastic.

1. The expanding Young Adult (YA) audience
2. The year of dystopian fiction The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner. Dystopian fiction features stories that indicate the future will be worse than the present.
3. Mythology-based fantasy: Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series set the trend – and now series like The Kane Chronicles, Lost Heroes of Olympus and Goddess Girls are capitalizing.
4. Multimedia series: The 39 Clues, Skeleton Creek and The Search for WondLa are hooking readers with stories that go beyond the printed page and meet kids where they are online or via video.
5. A focus on popular characters – from all media: Kids love to read books about characters they know and recognize from books, movies and television shows. Titles centered around those popular characters (like Fancy Nancy, David Shannon's David, or Toy Story characters) are top sellers.
6. The shift in picture books: Publishers are publishing about 25 to 30 percent fewer picture book titles than they used to as some parents want their kids to read more challenging books at younger ages. The new trend is leading to popular picture book characters such as Pinkalicious, Splat Cat and Brown Bear, Brown Bear showing up in Beginning Reader books.
7. The return to humor: Given the effects of the recession on families, it is nice to see a rise in the humor category, fueled by the success of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Dav Pilkey's The Adventures of Ook & Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, and popular media characters like SpongeBob, and Phineas & Ferb.
8. The rise of the diary and journal format: The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is the most well-know example of this trend, but the success of Wimpy Kid is leading to popular titles such as Dear Dumb Diary, Dork Diaries, The Popularity Papers, and Big Nate.
9. Special-needs protagonists: There is a growing body of literary fiction with main characters who have special needs, particularly Aspergers Syndrome and Autism. Examples: My Brother Charlie, Marcelo in the Real World, Mockingbird, and Rules.
10. Paranormal romance beyond vampires: The success of titles like Shiver, Linger, Beautiful Creatures, Immortal, and Prophesy of the Sisters shows this genre is still uber-popular and continues to expand.

Calls for submissions

Hazard Community & Technical College is hosting their annual Young Appalachian Poets Award. Any poet, high school aged or younger, may submit their original poetry. First prize includes $100 and publication in Kudzu; Second Place is $50 and publication in Kudzu. Up to five original poems may be submitted as attached documents to or Please include a brief biographical statement and put YAPA in the subject line. The deadline is January 30th.

KUDZU, HCTC’s literary magazine, is seeking submissions for its spring 2011 issue. Send your original poetry, short stories, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction. Submissions must be in either Word or as an RTF and emailed as attached documents to No snail mail submissions will be accepted. Please contact Professor Scott Lucero at 1-800-246-7521, ext 73200, or at for more detailed submission guidelines. Deadline is January 15, 2011.

Highlights Magazine is looking for stories.

Rebus Stories (ages 4-6) up to 100 words, Joëlle Dujardin, Senior Editor.
Beginning Readers (ages 6 to 8), up to 500 words, Joëlle Dujardin, Senior Editor. Wants humorous stories, folktales, holiday stories, sports stories.
Fiction for Independent Readers (ages 8 to 12), up to 800 words, Joëlle Dujardin, Senior Editor, Wants mysteries, humorous stories, adventure stories, historical fiction, sports stories.
Details at

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Developing Ideas/Calls for submissions

An idea is the seed of a story. Like a seed, a story needs the right environment to grow. Some ideas grow better in a short story, some are suited for a full-length novel, and some are perfect for a picture book. Since you’ll be living and breathing the idea for a long time, choose it with care. The enthusiasm you have for your idea will need to be strong enough to be worthy of weeks or months of your time.

Borrow ideas from your own life or that of someone who interests you. You don’t have to make up everything in a fictional story. Consider the worst day of your life. Or the time you made a terrible decision. These moments evoke intense emotions and can be used to develop a character. The character doesn’t have to experience the same situations you did, but basing the story on a real event can add authenticity to the story making it seem more real to the reader.

When you get an idea, write it down immediately. Keep a notebook handy for just that purpose. If you overhear an interesting phrase or an unusual use of a word, add it to the notebook and allow a character to think those thoughts or use the phrase in dialog to add distinctive voice to your story.

Look at photos to get an idea of a house or area so when you describe setting, the words will flow much easier. Imagining the layout of an area is more difficult than looking at a picture in which you see trees, stream, and animals roaming around.

Research the subject of the story so interesting facts can add to the realism. Readers enjoy learning something new or being surprised with a tidbit of information.

Create a problem for the character and plot the story so the character must solve the problem on his/her own.

Don’t rush the story. Like seeds, stories take time to bloom.

Calls for submissions:

Accents Publishing, an independent press for brilliant voices seeks poems of up to 50 words for an anthology of very short poems, edited by Katerina Stoykova-Klemer. Previously published work is accepted if credited. Send submissions, along with a short bio, in the body of an e-mail. There is no limit to the number of poems submitted.
Deadline: Dec. 31.

Kentucky Young Writers Connection Blog wants writers/artists for publication on the Kentucky Young Writers Connection Blog. One writer will be featured each week through April. Personal promotion allowed but no stipend. Write a 300-500 word essay addressing 1) how/why you became a writer/artist; 2) how nature, ecology, your environment past and present have shaped or fit into your work.
Deadline: April, 2011.