Nancy's Books

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Today, I’m so happy to have the talented illustrator, Alison Davis Lyne, visit my blog. She has illustrated picture books and has an art column in the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) newsletter.  

Just WHAT Does An Illustrator  DO?? 

When an illustrator is chosen to illustrate an author's PB manuscript, it's the beginning of a working partnership between the publisher, writer and illustrator. Most of the time the writer has already done the work of writing the manuscript and any revisions that the publisher suggests. When the publisher is satisfied with the manuscript, the Art Director and Editor will chose an illustrator that fits the tone of the manuscript and the publishing house's “look.” 

When I get a manuscript, I immediately begin reading and planning how I think the picture book ought to look. Every illustrator has a different work flow, but I usually start out by laying out the text of the manuscript on a 32 page “book chart.” I continually change it up as I also start very rough sketches, or thumbnails. You can see an example of how I work this below. 


The thumbnails take but a moment to change so it's easy to try out different ideas, and discard them just as easily if they don't work out. Very much like writers make up a outline of how they want the story to flow.....and can change it quickly with each plot change. 

Here are some of the books Alison has illustrated:

Halloween Alphabet

Thanksgiving Day Alphabet

Easter Day Alphabet

Kudzu Chaos

G is for Grits

Little Things Aren’t Little When You’re Little 
Alison is making a return visit next week. She will explain an exercise that writers can do to improve the action and flow of their picture books.  

Call for submissions for young writers: 

KidSpirit Online is a free teen magazine and website for kids that
empowers youth everywhere to tackle life’s big questions. KidSpirit
provides a creative internet publishing outlet for teens around the
globe to share original essays, poetry and artwork.
Call for submissions for adult writers:
Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine is an online publication for ages 13 and up. It publishes 2 pieces each month—story and/or poem. Authors receive a $25 gift certificate.

Check out more contests on my blog:

Sunday, December 22, 2013

This is the final article is the series: Writing a Chapter Book.

Try these tips:

The climax, the most exciting part of the story, leads quickly to the ending. The ending should be clear and concise with resolutions for all the problems. The best endings offer an element of surprise. At the same time, the ending should be logical and appropriate, yet deliver an unexpected twist that isn’t predictable.
Chapter books are often published as a series. This audience reads a book and wants another that is similar. Many of these books have 10 chapters with black-and-white illustrations. Readers this age group like to visualize the characters.  

After you’ve written the story, read and reread to check for errors in grammar and typing. Tie up all loose ends in the story; then find a critique partner to read the manuscript and offer feedback.

Place the manuscript on a shelf for a month or two and begin writing another. Pull the manuscript off the shelf and reread. At this point you’re immersed in another story that you’ve begun writing. Since you’re focused on a new story, you’re more emotionally removed from the story you just finished. You'll also be more objective and able to find flaws that you couldn’t earlier. Polish the story and ship it out to a publisher. Happy writing. 
Next week, I will interview an illustrator, Alison Lyne, who is an outstanding talent in the world of picture books.  

Call for submissions for young writers:


Open to US high school students in grades 9-12 attending public, private, parochial, or home schools; US students under the age of 20 enrolled in a high school correspondence/GED program in any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the US territories; and US citizens attending schools overseas. Write an original and creative essay of less than 1,000 words that demonstrates an understanding of political courage as described by John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage. Students should use a variety of sources such as newspaper articles, books,and/or personal interviews to address the following topic: Describe and analyze the decisions, actions, and risks of an elected public official in the United States since 1956 who has courageously addressed a political issue at the local, state, national, or international level.

Submission guidelines at

Deadline January 6, 2014.

 Call for submissions for adult writers: 

The American Kennel Club contest. Entries must be original, unpublished stories that have not been offered to or accepted by any other publisher. Only one entry per author.

The American Kennel Club retains the right to publish the three prize-winning entries in AKC FAMILY DOG, or other AKC publications. Entries may feature either a purebred or mixed breed dog. The maximum length is 2,000 words. Entries exceeding that length will not be considered. No talking dogs, please.

Entries must be printed on 8 1⁄2″ x 11″ white paper, one side per page, double-spaced. Poor-quality or faded copies cannot be considered. The author’s name, address, and phone number must appear on the first page. The author’s name and the page number must appear on each successive page.

All acceptable entries will be read by a panel of judges selected by AKC Publications. They will choose the winners based on the style, content, originality, and appeal of the story. All decisions are final. Winners will be announced in an issue AKC FAMILY DOG in 2014.

Send entries to:

AKC Publications Fiction Contest
The American Kennel Club, 260 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Deadline: 1-31-2014

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part 10/Calls for Submissions

This article is the tenth in the series: Writing a Chapter Book. 

Try these tips: 

Chapter books have a denser page of print than that of easy readers. Although the books are illustrated, the reader is dependent upon the art to help “read” the book. These books are broken into short chapters, and the reader can often read the entire chapter in one sitting. 

The number of characters is small and the plot is not complicated. Usually the action takes place in a short period of time and revolves around a single situation, such as trying to win a contest. Action and suspense drive these stories. 

Intense relationships and strong emotions spin throughout the stories. Character development is not as great as in books for older readers. Issues relevant to children ages 7-10 are must-haves. Stories should reflect the everyday experiences of the readers. Family, school, pets, friendship, moving, divorce, and bullies are a few of the common situations on which stories are based. The situation must be something that the main character—and the reader—care about. 

Call for submissions for young writers:

Starsongs. You are the future, and Starsongs wants to hear your voice. Our intention is to inspire and promote the creativity of youth. Starsongs is a general market magazine interested in work by writers, artists, and photographers ages 9-19. Please keep this age range in mind and focus your work to a PG rating level. We are open to fiction or non-fiction and “as told to” stories.

Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Highlights Magazine Fiction Contest

The theme for the 2013 Highlights for Children magazine Fiction Contest is holiday stories. Stories should be up to 800 words long, for children any age between 5-12. Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for any Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop will be awarded. (For a complete list of workshops, visit No entry form or fee is required. Accepting work from both published and unpublished authors age 16 or older. All submissions must be previously unpublished. Indicate the word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of your manuscript. Include your name and the title of your story on your manuscript. Entries not accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope will not be returned. Manuscripts or envelopes should be clearly marked FICTION CONTEST. Send to: FICTION CONTEST, Highlights for Children, 803 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431. All entries must be postmarked between January 1 and January 31, 2014. The three winning entries will be purchased by Highlights and announced on in June 2014. All other submissions will be considered for purchase by Highlights.

 Check out more contests on my blog:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part 9/Calls for Submissions

Try these tips:
 When writing humor, don’t rely on one type to please all readers. Vary the humor by tickling the audience in a laugh-out-loud scene and again with a simple chuckle. Every sentence doesn’t have to be funny; instead, drop in funny situations and dialog as you play with the words and have fun with the story. Keep the audience in mind as you create situations that are relatable with the readers.
The main focus of the story should not be humor; rather, it should be about character and plot. Dashes of humor merely add kid appeal to a well-developed story. Humor is not the story.
Sometimes, the word choice for dialog or narrative is funny. Words, such as “doohickey” and “rumpus” are funny. Also words that start with a hard “K” or a hard “G” sound are funny. Consider “kerfuffle” or “girdle.” Their sounds bring a chuckle.
Never be disappointed when the humor in your writing doesn’t come through in the first draft. Humor is released in revision. Keep working the text until the humor emerges. 
Read humorous chapter books so you’ll get a feel for what works with this age group. 
Call for submissions for young writers:
Magic Dragon. Each writer and artist whose work is published in Magic Dragon will receive one copy of the issue in which the work appears.  Written work should be neatly printed or typed. If you type it, please double-space. Stories and essays can be up to three pages, poetry up to 30 lines. It is ok to send writing that you have also illustrated. You can write about anything that is important to you; it can be serious or funny, true or fiction. If you send originals and want them returned, enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
Submission guidelines at 
Call for submissions for adult writers:
AppleSeeds is a 36-page, multidisciplinary, nonfiction social studies magazine for children ages 6 and up (primarily in grades 3 & 4). Writers are encouraged to study recent APPLESEEDS past copies for content and style
Submission guidelines at 6 and up. Theme Lists for 2014-2015 have been posted on Submission-Guidelines page.
Submission guidelines at

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part 9/Calls for Submissions

This article is the ninth in the series: Writing a Chapter Book.

Try these tips for writing humor:

Strange and wacky situations, such as a bird building a nest on a character’s head captures and holds the reader’s attention.

Use comedic timing. Place the punch line or funny word at the last possible moment.

Use the element of surprise. Humor comes from the reader expecting something, but a twist takes the reader in an entirely unexpected (and funny) direction. This works every time, except when it doesn’t.

Self-check the humor. If what you write cracks you up, someone else will probably find it funny, as well. Humor test your work with a group of kids the age of the audience for which your manuscript is intended. If the kids think it’s funny, you’re wheeling and dealing. If not, it’s revision time. Ask the kids where the humor fell flat and what parts were funny.

Call for submissions for young writers:

Spaceports & Spidersilk is an online magazine for younger readers [8 to 17 and beyond].  Formerly it was called KidVisions.  Spaceports & Spidersilk features short stories, poems, and art, as well as brief essays on science and the environment, interviews, quizzes, contests [and, quite frankly, anything else that is genre-oriented and will help encourage the younger generation to read...and to dream, especially about going to the stars].  We at Nomadic Delirium Press hope that younger writers and artists, as well as adults, will submit their work.

The genres for Spaceports & Spidersilk include fantasy, science fiction, and a category we are going to define as ‘shadow stories’.  Shadow stories are mild horror.  We want spooky, not terrifying.  Most of all, we want ADVENTURES!  And especially SF or fantasy adventures.

Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Short Kid Stories. Kids love stories, they can’t get enough of them. Launching in 2013, Short Kid Stories is a site dedicated to short stories for kids and will showcase a huge range of classic and original short stories for children, free of charge. My aim for this is simply to be the best resource available for adults looking for short stories for kids, either to read to them or for kids to read themselves.

Submission guidelines at
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part 8/Calls for Submissions

     This article is the eighth in the series: Writing a Chapter Book.

Try these tips:

Humor reigns supreme. The humor doesn’t have to occur on each page or paragraph. Text that is scattered with bits of humor surprises the readers and holds their attention. If you make the readers laugh, they’ll keep turning the pages and want another book just like it. Comical characters are a hit as are funny situations and witty dialog. Humor makes the book fun to read and hooks a kid into a lifelong passion for reading.

Conveying humor through text on a page can be challenging. What’s funny to one person is just plain silly to another so how does a writer deliver a humorous story to the readers?

Chapter book readers find mixed-up language funny. They love jokes, riddles, and puns. These kids are independent readers. They are developing a good grasp of the language and enjoy the wordplay.

If a character has lost his/her two front teeth and talks with a lisp, this age group will enjoy the strange sounding speech.
Always keep the audience in mind when writing humor. What works for a seven-year-old may fall flat for a ten-year-old. 

Call for submissions for young writers:

Zamoof! Hey, everyone! This is Oay here at Z! Headquarters. How would you like to be published in an upcoming issue of the magazine? It is easy to do and a lot of fun. I'll give you some ideas of what you could do, and you might even ask a parent, older brother or sister, or even your teacher to help you! Submissions are welcome from youth readers or their parents/care givers.

Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for adult writers:
Timeless Tales is an ezine that exclusively publishes retellings of fairy tales and classic myths.

Check out more contests on my blog:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part 7/Calls for Submissions

           This article is the seventh in the series: Writing a Chapter Book.

 Try these tips: 

Avoid the sagging middle. When we begin a chapter book, we usually have a definite beginning and ending in mind. We want the ending to solve the problem or reach the goal that the character confronts at the beginning of the story. But by chapter three, the story begins to slowly fizzle out. What can we do to keep the excitement of the beginning as we develop chapter after chapter?
Offer new insights into the character. What does the reader learn about the character that had not been revealed earlier? Maybe s/he has a learning problem or a phobia that comes into play at this point. 

Introduce a new character that will add a new problem or cause greater conflict. I once heard a speaker in a workshop describe it this way: treat your character badly; then treat your character worse. Add more conflict. Conflict is story and without conflict there is no story. Add barriers to prevent the character from achieving the goal or solving the problem during the middle of the story. Conflict is the motivation that keeps the character plugging along. 

Move the plot along. Don’t dwell too long on one scene. By adding conflict and depth to characters, the plot moves forward. Allow the characters to learn new bits of information that alters their viewpoints or decisions.

Next week, I’ll continue with chapter book tips.  
Call for submissions for young writers:

Writing at Sea Competition. Enter the Marine Society and Nautilus Telegraph’s new creative writing competition and you could walk away with a £1000 or a Kobo Aura and Kobo gift vouchers. The competition is open to serving and non-serving seafarers and is free to enter. The competition theme is Life at Sea and you can enter your poem (maximum word limit 80 lines) or short story (maximum length 3,000 words). Deadline December 31, 2013. The Marine Society Prize will have a sole winner. The Short Story and Poetry Prizes will be awarded in the following categories: Seafarers, Non-seafarers, Under 18’s.

Details at

Call for submissions for adult writers:

   Ask. ePals Media, 70 East Lake Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60601. Ask is the Cricket Magazine Group’s magazine of nature, science, the arts, and the world at large for ages six to nine. Each issue focuses on a designated concept, question, or theme related to the natural, physical, or social sciences, technology, math, history, or the arts. It is published nine times a year and has a circulation of 36,000.

    The nonfiction in Ask is always engaging, and not overtly educational or textbook-like in tone or perspective. Articles should be concrete but narrative, and relevant to the interests of the young readers.

    Query according to theme by email to, with Submissions in the subject line, or use Submittable, at Include an article overview, including scope and treatment, references/resources, an opening paragraph, and for writers new to Ask, a résumé, and an unedited nonfiction writing sample of at least 200 words. Articles, 1,200 to 1,600 words, including sidebar. Photoessays, 400 to 600 words. Humor, profiles of people, inventions, events, the arts, 200 to 400 words. Upcoming themes: Dropping Things or gravity (September 2014 issue), query by December 15, 2013; Fairy Tale Science (October 2014 issue), query by February 1, 2014; Chemist in My Kitchen (November/ December 2014 issue), query by March 15.
Details at

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part 6/Calls for Submissions

      This article is the sixth in the series: Writing a Chapter Book.

Try these tips:
Spend time with kids who are the age of the characters and listen to how they speak. Reflect their language in your writing. A rich, lively language with expanded vocabulary makes the storytelling seem real. Action verbs depict a specific image. The boy ran is not as specific as the boy dashed. Dashed indicates a faster pace than ran; thus, more specific. Create an image with words so the reader can better imagine the action. Sensory language—using see, hear, touch, taste, and smell—create vivid scenes that take the reader along on the journey as though s/he is in the midst of the action.

Capture the interest of the reader at the beginning of the story with immediate action, where something important is happening to the main character. Hook the reader by focusing on the protagonist. Begin with a scene that mirrors the overall conflict in some way. If the story involves a ghost, you might choose to open with a scene in which the protagonist sees a ghost or finds something that make the character suspect a ghost is creating havoc. Conflict should be evident from the beginning. Avoid a long build up with backstory that will have readers moaning booooorrrring.  

Call for submissions for young writers:

Parallel Ink is your friendly, neighborhood e-magazine publishing writing by students around the world in grades 6-12*. Aside from super-imaginative sci-fi serials and epic fantasy tales, we welcome poignant poetry, quirky rants/personal essays, discarded love letters, and offbeat text exchanges with open arms (among many other countless gems of literature teenagers write). Anything goes if it's well-written, captivating, and ready for sending out into the world wide web!

Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for adult writers:

MUSE Literary Journal Seeks Poetry and Creative Nonfiction. Send up to 3 poems (all styles welcome) or one piece of creative nonfiction (1500 word maximum) to be considered for Spring 2014 issue. Most recent edition includes work from new and established writers, including BZ Niditch, Donna Hilbert, Allison Whittenberg, Lloyd Aquino, Robert Cooperman, Irving Gaeta, Michael H. Winn, Candace Mayo, and Tina Holden Burroughs. Previously unpublished work only; simultaneous submissions okay if notified upon acceptance elsewhere. Include separate cover letter with full contact information, 5-7 line bio, and SASE. Mail to: MUSE Literary Journal, Riverside City College, 4800 Magnolia Avenue, Riverside, CA, 92506.

Submission deadline: February 15, 2014
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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part 5/Calls for Submissions

This article is the fifth  in the series: Writing a Chapter Book.

Try these tips:

Voice. If the characters are kids, they should sound like kids. Make the dialog authentic and age appropriate. Chapter books use lots of dialog to show character development. One character may stutter or have a lisp. The other may talk in a way that is easy to identify, such as ending sentences with a question. Let’s go for a walk, okay? Each character needs to have a distinct way of talking. These identifying markers—unique speech patterns and phrasing—make them seem real. Capture the reader’s imagination with action verbs and specific descriptors. The squirrel climbed up the tree is okay but The squirrel scampered is better.

Active voice usually works better than passive voice because the reader “sees” the action as it takes place. Example: The bicycle was ridden by the boy is passive. In passive voice the action is performed upon the subject. In active voice the subject performs the action, as in The boy rode the bicycle. Sentences with active voice are more concise and use fewer words to describe the action and express the idea.

Call for submissions for young writers:

TEEN INK, a national teen magazine, book series, and website is devoted entirely to teenage writing, art, photos and forums. Students must be age 13-19 to participate, register and/or submit work. Distributed through classrooms by English teachers, Creative Writing teachers, Journalism teachers and art teachers around the country, Teen Ink magazine offers some of the most thoughtful and creative work generated by teens and has the largest distribution of any publication of its kind. We have no staff writers or artists; we depend completely on submissions from teenagers nationwide for our content. We offer teenagers the opportunity to publish their creative work and opinions on the issues that affect their lives - everything from love and family to teen smoking and community service.

 Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for adult writers:

FrostFire Worlds is a new quarterly science fiction and fantasy adventures print magazine for young readers (ages 8-17) from Alban Lake Publishing. The first issue will be released on August 1, 2013.
Submission guidelines at

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part 4/Calls for Submissions

This article is the fourth in the series: Writing a Chapter Book. 

Try the following tips:

1.      The readability level should match the age of the child. Word choice, sentence structure, and sentence length vary with age/grade levels. The reader will not recognize every word, but may be able to use context clues or sound out the word to figure it out. Use the readability check on the Word program. Many chapter books range from 4,000-12,000 words, with chapters running 400-1000 words, depending on the guidelines of the publisher. These books have shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs than middle grade novels and are often accompanied by line drawings scattered throughout the text.
2.      Many chapter books have 10 chapters with approximately 1000 words per chapter. I like to outline the plot with a general beginning, middle, and ending. I do this by numbering vertically 1-10 to indicate each chapter; then I write a sentence or two or maybe a paragraph defining the action in each chapter. As I write the story I allow myself to detour from this outline if I think it benefits the story. Sometimes, I rearrange the action in the chapters. If the action in chapter 8 works better in chapter 4, I make those changes. The outline helps me stay focused on the overall story, but I’m always modifying it as the story progresses.

 Next week, I’ll continue with chapter book tips.

Call for submissions for young writers:

Kid's Imagination Trail. All aboard! Welcome to the Kid's Imagination Train, where children can take the journey of reading in a brand new way. KIT offers book reviews, fiction, poetry, and nonfiction for kids ages 5 - 12. It’s unique in that it engages children by providing the opportunity to illustrate their favorite features and have them published online. I invite you to read, to learn, and to draw! ~ Randi Lynn Mrvos, Editor.

Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine is an online publication for ages 13 and up. It publishes 2 pieces each month (story and/or poem). Authors receive a $25 gift certificate. Submissions are only open the first two days of each month.

Submission guidelines at

 Check out more contests on my blog:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part III/Calls for Submissions

This article is the third  in the series: Writing a Chapter Book

Try the following tips:

1.      The simple, clear plots are fast paced. Smart, clever kids who outwit dragons or villains work with these readers. Events can be filled with drama but should not be nightmarish, nothing too scary. The story is told through the viewpoint of one character or is a narrative about the adventure of one character, sometimes two. This age group loves action-packed adventure and solving mysteries.
      I’m in the process of writing an adventure story that has a puzzle the reader tries to solve. The puzzle involves distance so the puzzle keeps changing as the characters travel, but when the characters discover the solution to one puzzle near the end of the story, the readers can figure out the others. Some readers will figure out the solution before the characters do. That’s part of the fun of reading this type of book.

2.      As I begin forming the plot, I ask What if. What if a boy had a speech problem that embarrassed him but others thought was funny? What if a girl found a hoodie that could make her fly? What if a boy understood the language of bark and knew exactly what his dog was saying with each yip. The What if question stimulates the creative juices and provides the writer a variety of plot possibilities and character development opportunities. “What if questions work with any subject and almost any genre of literature.

What if…

You were unable to smile for a year

A space alien wanted to be a friend

You had a supernatural power for three days only

What if you tried this question when writing a chapter book and What if your work garnered a contract? Food for thought.

 Next week, I’ll continue with more chapter book tips.

Call for submissions for young writers:
PATRIOT'S PEN CONTEST. The Patriot's Pen program is open to
students in grades 6-8 (on the Nov. 1 deadline), who are enrolled
in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program
in the United States and its territories. 2013-2014 theme, "What
Patriotism Means to Me." Limit 300 to 400 words. Top prize $5,000.
Deadline: Deadline November 1, 2013
Call for submissions for adult writers:
At U.S. Kids Magazines (Turtle, Humpty Dumpty, and Jack and Jill),
providing fun, entertaining reading material is our priority. We
accept humorous, playful, and witty stories that kids would love
to read—not stories that grownups think kids should read. As part
of the Children’s Better Health Institute, we are always in need
of high-quality stories, articles, and activities with a broad
health and fitness focus. Averages 25 to 30 cents/word.
Submission guidelines at

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part II/Calls for Submissions

This article is the second in the series: Writing a Chapter Book. 

1.     Before writing the first word, develop a character sketch of the main character. How does this character sound, look, and act? What upsets this character? What problem does the character face? How does the character act under pressure? Ask the questions and allow the character to answer in his/her voice. The point is to learn the character so the actions will stay consistent. Each secondary character should have distinguishable actions and voice so the reader can identify each. If all the characters act and sound alike, the story won’t be as interesting and the language won’t be as lively.

2.      Everyday experiences. As with all writing, keep the audience in mind. What appeals to kids in the 7-9 age range? They are interested in stories that reflect their own experiences, including such topics as friendship, school, family, playing sports (or dance or music or gymnastics), fitting in with a group, and other areas that directly affect their lives. They also face such challenges as parent’s divorce, loss of a sibling or beloved pet, or best friend moving away.

The more time you spend developing the story BEFORE you lay words to paper, the less time you will spend in revision.
Call for submissions for young writers:

We want aspiring young writers from around the country to enter the
2013 Red House Young Writers’ Yearbook competition and win the chance
to see their stories or poems published in a beautiful book. The
winners will also be invited to a writing workshop, hosted by a
children's author, at The Imagine Children's Festival in February 2014.
To enter the competition, your child should be aged between 7 and 17.
They can submit a story, poem or article and it’s up to the individual
what subject they choose to write about. This year the competition
entries will be divided into four age categories: 7+, 9+, 11+ and 13+.
Entries must be under 1,000 words.

Submit by July 31st. Winners will be notified by September.

Spellbound is a children’s fantasy e-zine for 8-12 year olds.  Each issue will be published in ePub format, and available from, B& and other online vendors.  This is a quarterly publication with reading periods.

A week or so ago, I posted information on Spellbound themes. An editor at Spellbound sent this message: We have started reading for a special, fairy tale themed edition of Spellbound which will be published in print and electronic.

Details for Spellbound available at

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part 1/Calls for submissions

This article is the first of a series.

Chapter books are for kids who are becoming fluent readers and bridge the gap between early readers and middle grade novels. Let’s take a look at the ingredients for stirring up a good chapter book.

The main character. The protagonist should be close to the age of the reader, or a little older. If the character is totally offbeat, completely strange, make the setting familiar, such as home or school. Conversely, if the characters are normal, the setting can be anywhere, even outer space or somewhere in the past or future.

The main character should be “good” even though s/he might display rude or mischievous behavior at times. Allow the characters to make mistakes so they can learn from those mistakes by the end of the story.

Next week, I’ll continue with chapter book tips.
Call for submissions for young writers:

Crashtest publishes poetry, stories and creative non-fiction in the
form of personal essays, imaginative investigation, experimental
interviews, whatever, but please don’t send us the book report you
wrote for English or your Speech and Debate abstract. Any student
grades nine through twelve from any high school in the country (or
abroad) can submit to Crashtest, but we’d like to know a little bit
about who you are and where you come from. Please include a brief
cover letter in the body of your email submission that tells us a
little bit about yourself, your name and your grade at the very least.
Details at

Call for submissions for adult writers:

CHICKEN SOUP: THE CAT DID WHAT? --- Our cats make us smile every day, but sometimes they really outdo themselves. Whether they came up with the idea themselves, or you put them in a situation that caused them to do something unusual, we want to hear about it! Tell us what your cat did that made people want to ask again and again, "The Cat Did What?" We are looking for first-person true stories and poems up to 1200 words. Stories can be serious or humorous, or both. We can't wait to read all the heartwarming, inspirational, and hysterical stories you have about your cats! Pays $200 and ten copies of the book.

Details at

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Correction--Spellbound Call for Submissions

I mistakenly posted incorrect Spellbound calls for submissions and dates in the previous blog. The following is the correct information. Thanks, Rosi, for letting me know.

 Spellbound is a children's fantasy e-zine for 8-12 year olds. Authors and poets are welcome to submit their own artwork to accompany their stories and poems. Artwork should be submitted as per the art guidelines. Please understand artwork, poetry, and prose will be evaluated separately, and there is no guarantee that any or all “companion” work will be accepted together.

Please note this is a Middle Grade reader publication, not Young Adult.Themes and Submissions Periods

· Winter 2013: Giants, Reading/Submissions Period: July 1 – September 30, 2013

· Spring 2014: Dwarves, Reading/Submissions Period: October 1 – December 31, 2013

· Summer 2014: Sea Monsters, Reading/Submissions Period: January 1 – March 31, 2014

· Fall 2014: Magical Cats: Reading/Submissions Period: April 1 –  June 30, 2014

· Winter 2014: Elementals: Reading/Submissions Period: July 1 – September 30, 2014

All submissions will receive a response.


Fiction Editor: Raechel Henderson

Word limit = 2,500
Payment = 2.5 cents per word
Rights bought: First World Electronic English-language Rights
Multiple submissions okay
No simultaneous submissions

We’re looking for stories involving magic, myth, legend and adventure in a fantasy setting. We want Spellbound to introduce children to fantasy in all its wonderful forms.

What we’re especially interested in seeing

· Young protagonists and showing girls in “heroic” roles.

· Non-Western European settings, characters and stories.

· Minorities and disabled characters.

· Stories where children protagonists have an active role in the story’s resolution.

Please send fiction submissions to Send submissions in the body of the e-mail. No attachments!



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Publishing Trends/Calls for Submissions

Autumn has arrived, and with the changing season, it seems appropriate to look at the changes in the publishing world. Today, I’m once again focusing on trends in children’s publishing.

The middle grade and young adult fiction markets continue to be hot, but with some deviations. For years, series and trilogies captured the attention of agents and editors and still are, but stand-alone books are beginning to as well. Favorites of young readers are fantasy, science fiction, and mysteries.
Nonfiction books dealing with history, science, and biographies are becoming more popular. This trend will probably continue due to the Common Core used by teachers across the nation.
Picture books seem to be more popular, compared to the slump in the past few years. Animal stories have been a big hit in 2013.
Beginning/early readers written with humor are growing in popularity.
I enjoy staying current with the trends, not necessarily to write toward the most popular subjects, but to gain a better understanding of the publishing world.
Call for submissions for young writers:

Speak Up Press accepts writers ages 13-19 years old as well as adult. We are always looking for new and engaging works of nonfiction for young adults. (Poetry submissions are closed.) We are looking for stories about finding voice, overcoming adversity, striking out in new directions, or being creative. Contemporary stories are preferred, but historical nonfiction is also accepted. If you are querying historical nonfiction, make sure you have a fresh and engaging angle for your story. Query one page first.

Details at 

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Spellbound is a quarterly fantasy magazine for children 8-12. Each issue will be published in ePub format.  This is a quarterly publication with reading periods.

Themes and Reading Periods:

Winter 2012: Rings & Other Magic Things, Reading Period: July 1 – September 30, 2012

Spring 2013: Changelings & Doppelgangers, Reading Period: October 1, 2012 – December 31, 2013

Summer 2013: Dragons, Reading Period:  January 1 – March 31, 2013

Fall 2013: Creatures of the Deep Dark Woods, Reading Period: April 1 – June 30, 2013 

We want Spellbound to introduce children to fantasy in all its wonderful forms.
Details at
Check out more contests on my blog: