Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Trends Update/Calls for Submissions

The world of children’s publishing is in a constant state of change. Often what’s HOT today is NOT tomorrow. I don’t write with trends in mind, but I do make an attempt to stay up-to-date on what’s current in the world of children’s books. The more I'm connected, the more I’m inspired to write.

 Here are seven trends that are HOT today:

1.      Increased interest in middle grade fiction. Lightly illustrated contemporary, realistic, stand-alone books.

2.      Young adult books decreased in sales. There is a shift from paranormal and dystopian [an imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is extremely bad] to contemporary, romantic stories with an element of humor

3.      The move from print to ebooks continues to grow. Illustrated books lag behind others. [Note: Most of my picture books are in ebook format. If my books are a barometer of the publishing climate, it seems that picture books may be catching up to the others.]

4.      Books on bullying are still widespread. With the media focus on bullying, the trend may stick around for quite some time.

5.      Fascinating nonfiction is on the rise. Emphasis from the academic community will probably keep nonfiction books alive and well.

6.      Survival stories are on the upswing.

7.      Tough girls are popular topics in books.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Appleseeds Magazine.  "We're looking for new, different, and interesting activities that kids will love to do. No crosswords or word searches. Activities requiring adult supervision are acceptable.
All activities MUST relate to upcoming theme so check guidelines before submitting.
Details at

Call for submissions for young writers:

GREYstone is now accepting submissions of poetry, artwork, flash fiction, photography and scientific art from students {and teachers} K-12 for our quarterly online publication which
comes out in the months of February, May, August & November. Submissions are accepted year-round, and submissions to multiple genres are permitted.
Details at

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Landing a Contract/Calls for Submissions

Stuck in the middle of my emails one day last week was a whopper of a smile maker: a picture book contract. The contract was with a publisher I’d been courting for five years. My first four manuscripts had each been rejected, but the editor had nice words about each. In the end though, they didn’t make the final cut, until this one!
Perseverance and patience rule. A writer must keep writing, submitting, and studying the market. Getting published is a slow process, as is building a relationship with an editor BEFORE publication. 
So how do you attract an editor to the point of getting a contract? With picture books, it begins with writing the manuscript as you would poetry. Since many of these books are designed to be read aloud, focus on rhythm, alliteration, and other literary devices that allow the text to jump and jive with a lively cadence.
After the manuscript is honed with stylistic flourishes, aim submissions toward publishers that produce the type of manuscript you wrote. Arm yourself with information to better target the editor that wants your type of writing. I do this by checking out the publisher’s website and getting a good idea of the types of books published. I check out the editor and read interviews and blogs looking for information stating the types of manuscripts s/he accepts. This task is time consuming, sometimes taking much longer than time spent on the manuscript. But the payoff is hitting the bull’s eye when targeting the manuscript…and landing that coveted contract.
Call for submissions for adult writers:

FamilyFun Magazine:  Pays on publication.  Seeks nonfiction, columns/departments, photos/artwork.  Subjects: Crafts, ideas for children & family fun.  Submission guidelines at 

Call for submissions for young writers:

JUNIOR AUTHORS SHORT STORY WRITING CONTEST. Open to young writers ages 9 to 21 from any country. Amazon Gift Cards for the top 6 writers in each age category will be awarded as follows:
1st place – $100
2nd place – $25
3rd place – $25
4th place – $25
5th place – $25
6th place – $25
Age categories:
Category I – ages 18-21
Category II – ages 15-17
Category III – ages 12-14
Category IV – ages 9-11
Your story can be about anything you like. Be creative and have fun.
Your story must be in English. Maximum length is 1,000 words.

Deadline 6/30/2013
Submission guidelines at

Check out more contests on my blog:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Every book begins with an idea. Sometimes the idea needs minutes, hours, and days to take shape; sometimes weeks and months. The idea may gush forth like a flood with the characters and plot quickly following; others form as slowly as a tree growing from a tiny seed.

Years ago, my husband and I visited Niagara Falls and I was enchanted with the beauty, roar, mist, and majesty of the waterfall, nature’s handiwork at its finest. Still, I didn’t consider writing a picture book about the subject. One morning about four years ago, I watched a program on TV that featured Niagara Falls. Like magic, the idea of a book grabbed hold and refused to let go. I checked out armloads of books from my public library—anything and everything that centered on Niagara Falls. I was most intrigued by the daredevils who challenged gravity as they tightrope-walked across the Falls and those who enclosed themselves in various types of containers and plunged over the Falls, taking risks with calculated emphasis on survival. Most of all I was interested in someone who was the first person to perform a stunt.

That someone was Annie Edson Taylor. She was 62 years old, definitely an unlikely candidate to be the first person to ride a barrel over the Falls. The more I read about Annie, the more intrigued I became.

Hooked, I was. Annie’s story was one children would enjoy. Since boys tend to not read books about females, I added a section about other Niagara Falls daredevils, primarily males who performed stunts. Some succeeded; some did not. My goal was to include facts that would fascinate children in the same way I was fascinated.

Today, four years later, I hold that book in my hands for the very first time. From idea to story, my book was born.                                                                                                               

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Big Fiction’s Knickerbocker Prize. Online submission deadline is February 28, 2013 for Big Fiction’s Knickerbocker Prize. Open to long-form fiction, between 7,500 – 30,000 words. First- and second-place entries will receive $500 / $250 and publication. Lauren Groff (author of the novels Arcadia and The Monsters of Templeton, and the story collection Delicate Edible Birds) will judge. All entries will be considered for publication, and all participants will receive a copy of the contest issue. The winning entries will be announced on our website in May 2013. For complete guidelines:

Call for submissions for young writers:

Speak Up Press publishes Speak Up Online quarterly, featuring the original fiction, nonfiction, and poetry of teens (13-19 years old).  IN 2013, SUBMISSIONS ARE ACCEPTED APRIL 1, 2013-AUGUST 31, 2013. Send Submissions in the body of an email to:

Submission guidelines at

Check out more contests on my blog:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rewrites/Calls for Submissions

Rewrites are daunting tasks. Editors ask for the changes for a reason. One reason is simply to make the manuscript become a better fit for that particular publishing house. This happens often with magazine articles and stories. The editor wants to bring out a writer’s best talent and that can take several rounds of revision in many cases.

The suggestions may seem overwhelming. As often happens with me, I read through once, maybe twice, and set it aside for the remainder of the day. During this time, I attempt to channel my muse (who can frequently be contrary and unchannelable) and mull the ideas presented in the editor’s notes. The next morning, I reread the notes and tackle the rewrite, one word at a time.

If you question a change, go ahead and make it anyway. Tackle the small changes first. As you accomplish those, your confidence will built and the larger tasks won’t seem so daunting, after all. Once all the changes are made, you may decide that you agree, or at least don’t strongly disagree, with the editor. However, if you still strongly disagree with the revision, talk with the editor. You will probably be able to work a compromise. If not, you can always pull the manuscript and submit to another publisher.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
2013 South American Short Story Writing Contest is open for submissions. We are looking for the best possible short stories from writers located in any country. Winning prize is $100 USD and publication in Southern Pacific Review. Deadline is 30 March 2013. Candidates must have previous writing experience either in a print publication or on-line in a blog. Submit entries along with links to any work you have published to There is no reading fee. We are interested in quality writing.

Deadline: Online submission deadline: March 30, 2013

Call for submissions for young writers: 

Skipping Stones. 50% of magazine is written by young people. Accepts Spanish/English  check this site for topics, or themes, for future issues short fiction and plays (500-750 words)poems, jokes, riddles, proverbs (250 words or less)

Submission guidelines at

Check out more contests on my blog:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fiction Inspired by Real-Life Characters and Events/Calls for Submissions

Real people and events inspire many fictional stories. The advantage of this type of writing is that those images produce authentic sensory details to bring the setting and characters to life. The disadvantage is that the writer may develop an emotional attachment to a person or event and experience difficulty letting go of reality in creating the fictional story. 

Allow the actual event or character to plant the seed of the story idea, but when you begin writing, give the characters opportunities to take on their own story and evolve. If that means a particular character plays a lesser role in the fictional tale, so be it. Let the story unfold and see what happens. Focus on the characters and not reflect on the real-life situations that inspired the story. You'll have more flexibility and freedom to take the story in different directions to determine the best route for the characters.

My book, Trouble in Troublesome Creek, is based on an actual story told to me by my husband  and told to him by his grandmother. Neither of them is mentioned in the book. Their stories simply inspired my story.

So when writing fiction inspired by a real-life, focus less on the actual events and more on the imaginary tale to develop a smooth, well-crafted story. 

 Next week, I’ll discuss rewriting the first draft.

   Call for submissions for adult writers:
HISTORY MAGAZINE. Chronicling everything from the fall of the Roman Empire and the start of the Second World War to the sinking of the Titanic and the exploits of Al Capone, the articles in History Magazine are accompanied by breathtaking archival images and detailed maps. You’ll read fascinating stories and discover facts you never knew about the development of government, medicine, technology, trade, crime, the arts, the art of war, and everything in between! Pays up to $250.
Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for young writers:

New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams
34 E. Superior St. #200
Duluth, MN 55803
Send to: Julie Hoffer
75% is written by girls aged 8-14. Uses fiction, nonfiction, poetry, book reviews, articles about historical women and girls, letters. Uses only work by girls except letters.

Submission guidelines at

Check out more contests on my blog: