Nancy's Books

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Shushing the Inner Critic/Call for submissions

You know your inner critic—that voice in your head that says your writing is not worth its weight in kudzu. The one that asks, Is that the best that you can do? Who would want to read this? We writers can be our own harshest censors. We agonize over every word as we plot out the story and write the manuscript. Let’s look as some ways to put the shush on that inner critic. It can be our worst enemy.

When beginning a new story, focus on getting the story written, not getting it written in finished form. The first draft is not supposed to be your best effort; that’s why it’s called the FIRST draft. Allow yourself the right to make mistakes as you get the words strung together. Correct the mistakes later through revisions, which may include several drafts to polish the manuscript. Good writing comes from rewriting.

Keep a folder of positive feedback from editors, writing partners, critique buddies, friends, and family to bolster your confidence and filter your own negative thoughts. \
Treat your inner critic the way you would treat a pesky individual who is pessimistic or cynical in regard to your writing: ignore or counter with positive thoughts.

Convert your inner critic to an ally and veiw it as a writing partner. Consider the negative messages a citique of your work. If the negative voice is saying the paragraph isn’t working, a character isn't full developed or the dialog is cliche', use your writer’s critical eye to reexamine the piece. Make the inner critic a valued resource.

Next week, I’m beginning a series based on Sensory Description. And in each blog from September through May, I’ll list markets that accept manuscripts from adult and young writers.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
HarperTeen and Figment are partnering to provide YA writers with this contest opportunity to get their story published in an anthology along with other well-known YA authors. The contest challenge: Write a story that takes place at night or in the dark. The story can be of any genre: contemporary, paranormal, horror, science fiction, romance, humor, fantasy, etc. What happens in the dark? Why are things different at night? Maybe it’s magic, or madness or both. A new anthology coming Summer 2013 from HarperTeen, Defy the Dark explores those questions and invites you to try your hand at answering them.

What’s in it for you? A chance to be published in Defy the Dark. The winner will be noted in the book’s table of contents, on the copyright page, and have a byline on their story. The grand-prize winner will receive a $500 cash prize awarded by HarperCollins and five copies of Defy the Dark.
Deadline: September 1, 2012
Details at
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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Author Interview Blogs/Themes for Dig Magazine

Everyone has a story, but writing the story can be an overwhelming experience. Although the writing process is enjoyable (most of the time), a lot of hard work is involved. We sometimes get so immersed in our stories, it’s difficult to examine how to improve them. Writing is a solitary venture but that doesn’t mean that other writers can’t play an important role in the process. Writers gain immeasurable benefits from other writers. Writing conferences, workshops, and retreats offer practical information that can move a writer along the journey to publication. However, these events come at a cost: money for the event, time away from home and family, and travel expenses. This expenditure is out of reach for many writers.

The Internet offers useful, convenient advice, especially blogs. I read blogs that focus on author interviews. Those are the next best thing to sitting face-to-face and learning how the writer blazed the trail to publication. And this method doesn’t cost a cent. Read interviews by first-time-published authors to see how they maneuvered through the obstacles and passed through the gatekeepers (agents/editors) to gain that coveted contract.

For adult writers: New themes for Dig are here:

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Sunday, August 12, 2012


This week I had the good fortune of being interviewed by Clancy Tucker, a writer, photographer, poet, and blogger extraordinaire who lives in Australia. I discussed my journey to writing professionally for children at Clancy’s daily blog for aspiring writers reaches readers in twelve countries.

A few times each year I like to check out the latest trends in children’s book publishing as viewed by editors and agents. Here’s what I’ve found:

The market is improving for picture books. Woohoo to that trend.

Shorter, character-driven stories are becoming popular.

Middle grade books are still strong sellers, even stronger than young adult.

Adventure and fantasy stories are on the upswing.

Paranormal and dystopian young adult stories have flooded the market so these genres are more difficult to sell.

Steampunk, fiction revolving around time-travel in the Victorian era when steam locomotives were the latest technology, is growing in popularity with teens.

Publishers are interested in realistic fiction.

As always, I’m not suggesting that anyone write with the trends as the guiding standard. Instead, focus on what inspires you, but keep up with the business side of publishing, including the trends.

· McSweeney’s Internet Tendency has announced that it is once again column contest time, and you’re eligible if you’re writing in English, regardless of location. Even better: “We have prizes. Cash prizes. The top five selections will each receive a $500 lump sum and a one-year contract to write your column (twice a month or thereabouts) for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. One of those five winners will win a $250 bonus voted on by our readers. We do reserve the right to choose fewer (or more) winners than our planned number of five.” Deadline: “Submissions will be accepted until Monday, August 20th at 10pm Eastern time.” No entry fee.

· The First Line First Line Contest: “To celebrate our 15th year, we’re giving you a chance to inspire the world. Send us your best (original and unpublished) starter sentences, and we’ll pick four to use for next year’s first lines. You have until August 31st to submit. The winners will receive $50 and five copies of the issue that was inspired by your first line.” No entry fee.
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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Former Occupation of Authors/Call for Submissions

Have you ever wondered what a famous author did BEFORE hitting it big in the literary world? Did the author’s job, such as news reporter, lead directly to another version of the printed word? Stephen King, The Shining, taught creative writing so the occupational leap wasn’t as great as that of George Orwell, Animal Farm, who was a police officer. Jack London, The Call of the Wild, worked at a cannery, and Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, tried her hand as an airline reservation clerk.

Eric Carle’s job as a graphic designer paid off when he illustrated his own book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Bill Martin, Jr., Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, taught school and developed literature-based reading programs before writing over 300 children’s books. Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat, worked as a cartoonist.

Successful writers abound from all backgrounds. So regardless of your profession, you can transition to writing books. Look around you for inspiration and let your imagination soar.

For more interesting information about authors and their early jobs, check out

Spellbound Magazine (a fantasy publication for children that closed in 2003) is reopening as an electronic magazine. This is a quarterly themed magazine. The first electronic issue, Winter 2012, has "Rings & Other Magic Things" as its theme. Submission period for it is July 1- October 1. They use short stories (max. 2,500 words) and poems (max. 36 lines).

Submit by email to:
Raechel Henderson for fiction
Marcie Tentchoff for poetry

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