Nancy's Books

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Writing Quotes/Calls for Submissions

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

A friend sent me this photo of a Christmas tree made of books. How appropriate for writers.

Here’s a gift for my Followers: May each of you find writing inspiration in the new year. To help you along I’ve listed some of my favorite writing quotes. Enjoy.

A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer." - Karl Krauss

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." ~Anaïs Nin

"Write about what you know and care deeply about. When one puts one's self on paper — that is what is called good writing." ~Joel Chandler Harris

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." ~Anaïs Nin

"Anyone can become a writer. The trick is staying a writer." ~Harlan Ellison

“To write is to practice, with particular intensity and attentiveness, the art of reading.” –Susan Sontag

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a
manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer.
You send that work out again and again, while you're
working on another one. If you have talent, you will
receive some measure of success - but only if you persist.
~Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992)

“Writing for children means thinking about your own past, while staying in touch with young people now."-- Michael Rosen, UK Children's Laureate

"Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.
(William Strunk, Jr.)

"To me the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the music the words make." Truman Capote

"Rejection is actually an opportunity to find the right editor and the right publishing company." - Jane Yolen.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Electric Dragon Cafe Science Fiction and Fantasy Quarterly Short Story Contest
Entry Fee: None
Prize: 1st place: $25 Barnes and Nobel gift certificate 2nd place: $10 certificate
Seeking short fiction contest entries. Must be science fiction, fantasy or horror with fantastic elements and adhere to a theme which we will provide.
Please visit the website for full contest details and guidelines.
Deadline: MONTHLY
Details at

Call for Submissions for Student Writers:

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. Makalani Bandele will serve as this year’s judge. He has been a member of the Affrilachian Poets since 2008. His poetry has been anthologized in My Brother’s Keeper and The Storytellers, and has been picked for upcoming issues of the African-American Review and Mythium Literary Magazine. He is a winner of the Ernest Sandeen Prize for Poetry. His most recent book—hellfightin’—is out now. You can contact Scott Lucero the contest’s coordinator at With all correspondence, please put YAPA in the subject line. You can submit your work at their new submittable account-- The deadline is January 30th.

Check out more contests on my blog:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thinking in Pictures/Calls for Submissions

The sage words of poet Frank O’Hara: “If you think in pictures, write. If you think in words, paint.”

O’Hara’s words may seems strange, but if you’re writing picture books, thinking visually is critical. Picture books are composed of about 14-15 spreads. The scenes are pieces of action that are shown not only through words but pictures. Each written scene must have enough action to create an illustration.

Many of the visual details of a picture book are not in the text. Since the story is told in both words and pictures, elements that can be illustrated don’t belong in the words. The illustrations carry the story beyond the words. As a writer creates a story, consider the visual details of each spread. Each spread will become a page of the picture book. Picture books are 32 pages and 28 of those pages are devoted to the story. Approximately 28 pages or 14 spreads become the text and illustrations. [The other three pages are used for title and publication information.]

Limit the details. Illustrations will show the color of the dress or the furniture in the room so these details aren’t needed. Concise, sensory writing with loads of action is needed for 14-15 spreads.

Keep the amount of text equally spread among the pages.

When the text is finished, divide the manuscript into 14 spreads. Is there enough action in each spread for an illustration and to keep the reader interested? Is the amount of text per page about the same?

What must be told in words and what can be told through illustrations? Those are two questions I ask with every line I write. Think visually when writing picture books and see how your writing changes.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers

The Cincinnati Review
CURRENT NEEDS: "Really, all we'd like is your best work, a
brief cover letter, and a SASE so we can send you our
response." Pays $30/page for poetry, and for fiction(max of
40 pages)/expository prose (max of 40 pages) $25/page.

Call for Submissions for Student Writers

Young Voices
PO Box 2321
Olympia, WA 98507
Quarterly publication. stories, poems, art and essays.

Check out more contests on my blog:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Improving Word Choice/Contest/Call for Submissions

In children’s writing, especially picture books, every word must be necessary so the importance of word choice is paramount. How do we learn to develop a writing style in which we select the best words for the story?

Read widely. Let books by numerous authors serve as a learning experience. Notice how authors choose particular words to convey an idea.

Write in a variety of styles. Try using figurative and lyrical language in all types of writing.

Keep sentences clear. Short sentences are less confusing. If you use longer sentences, retain the meaning by writing in a direct manner. Clear, precise, detailed writing gives life to words. The goal is communication.

Avoid clichés and stereotypes. “Mad as a wet hen” is a cliché and the words don’t resonate with a fresh expression. If you write your first thoughts when describing something, you may be using clichés. Play with the words to develop your own phrases for comparison. Avoiding stereotypes isn’t easy but aim for writing original phrases and descriptions.

Vary sentence length. A paragraph composed entirely of long sentences tends to bog down a story. Varied sentence lengths adds interest to the flow and pace of the words.

Experiment. Try writing the same story using different perspectives. If the story is about a lost cat, try telling the story from the child’s point of view. Retell the story from the cat’s perspective. Which works better?

Have fun. After you get past the dreaded first draft, have fun with the words. If the story is playful, choose upbeat words. The best choice of words will reflect the tone of the story.

Contest for Adult Writers
Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest.
Write a poem, 30 lines or fewer on any subject or write a short story,
5 pages maximum length on any theme, single or double-line spacing,
neatly hand printed or typed.
Writing First Prize: $500, 2nd: $125; 3rd: $100
Poetry First Prize: $250, 2nd: $125; 3rd: $50.
Entry fees: $5 per poem, $10 per story.
Postmark deadline: December 31, 2011.
Details at

Call for Submissions for Student Writers
New Moon Magazine
34 Superior Street, Suite 200
Duluth, MN 55802
75% written by girls, ages 8-14: fiction, non-fiction,
poetry, book reviews and articles.

Check out more contests on my blog:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Right Word/Call for Submissions/Contest

Mark Twain once wrote, The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.

Imagine a manuscript as a window for readers. The wrong words distort the view, leaving streaks and smears that make the reading difficult. Every writer experiences this in the first draft, but in revision we can create a spotless window by revising with words that make the meaning clearer and add resonance to the piece.

When choosing words consider the following:

Audience. Is the text age appropriate? Can a child understand the story? Could another word better describe the action or situation?

Setting. Do the words vividly describe the character’s world?

Dialog. Do the characters sound realistic? Does each piece of dialog carry the plot forward or help develop the character?

Subtleties. Does each word convey the exact meaning you want? Instead of hot, you might consider fiery, flaming, or feverish? Each word has a slightly different connotation and can give a more vivid detail.

Voice. Do the words form colorful phrases or make an emotional connection with the reader?

Writers have many choices in word selection. The difficult part is choosing the best words for the story.

Next week, I’ll discuss ways to improve word choice in writing.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
STRAND MAGAZINE We are interested in mysteries, detective stories, tales
of terror and the supernatural as well as short stories.
Stories can be set in any time or place, provided they are
well written, the plots interesting and well thought.
We are interested in stories of almost any length, but
preferably the 2,000-6,000 word range. However, we may
occasionally publish short shorts of 1000 words, and
sometimes we may consider even a short novella. At the
moment, our payment rate for stories is $25-150. No
submissions accepted by e-mail.
Details at

Contest for Student Writers:
For those under 18, grades 6-12 by US Standards. No reading
fee. Poetry or Short Fiction (under 20 pages). Deadline
February 1, 2012. First place $500. Second place $300.
Third $200. Entrant must be sponsored by a teacher in a
traditional high school or middle school classroom.
Deadline: February 1, 2012
Details at