Nancy's Books

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Bones of a Picture Book, part IV/Calls for Submissions

This article is a continuation of a series.

Write to entertain, to enchant, to comfort, to enjoy; but not to preach. Write to inform, to teach, to inspire; but not in a didactic way. Didactic means writing to teach a lesson or moral. Children can learn life skills by reading about characters and their reactions to situation, but place the entertainment value above the teaching value in fiction. The lesson learned should be subtle. The purpose of a fictional picture is not to teach a lesson, but to tell a story. Enchant a child’s imagination with interesting characters, wordplay, strong plot, and humor.

Audience. Picture books need to be written for a specific audience. “Children” is a broad concept and the stories that interest different children vary with the age group. The word choice and subject matter should be age appropriate for the target audience. Consider the interest and ability of the child when creating a character. Children want to read about characters that reflect their life experiences. A two-year-old is interested in learning colors, while a six-year-old enjoys stories about school or friendship. Play into the reader’s imagination by taking into account the child’s experiences. The reader defines the writing so before you write the first word, identify the audience.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
FICTION: Short stories 450 words or less. Payment: $70 and up.
NONFICTION: We accept short articles of 300 words or less on science and nature, as well as age-appropriate how-to projects. Payment: $70 and up.
POETRY: We accept poems 4-12 line poems. Please remember the age of your audience. Payment: $35 and up.
RECIPES: We accept simple, healthful recipes of 200 words or less that generally require no cooking and minimal adult help. If possible, include a photo of the recipe with submission. Payment: $40 and up.
CRAFTS: We accept fun crafts of 250 words or less that young
children can make with a bit of adult help. Payment: $40 and up.

Call for submissions for young writers:
One Teen Story is a literary magazine for young adult readers of
every age. Each issue will feature one amazing short story about
the teen experience. If you love to write, we’re looking for one
great story. One Teen Story will consider original, unpublished
fiction written by teens ages 14-19. We are interested in great
fiction of any genre—literary, fantasy, sci-fi, love stories, and
horror. What’s in a great short story? Interesting characters, a
unique voice, and of course, a beginning, middle and end. The
winning story will be chosen by a best-selling novelist and
published in the May 2014 issue of One Teen Story. Contest winners
will receive $500, 25 copies of the magazine featuring their work,
and a 28” x 20” poster of the cover featuring their story. The
winner of the contest will also have the opportunity to edit his/her
story for publication with a One Teen Story editor. Honorable
mentions will be chosen in three age categories: 14-15, 16-17,
and 18-19-year-olds. To enter, you must be between the ages of
14 and 19 as of May 31, 2013. Short stories should be between
1,500 to 4,000 words and be the writer’s own original, unpublished
Deadline June 30, 2013.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Bones of a Picture Book, part III/Calls for Submissions

This article is a continuation of a series.

Rhyme. Some editors like rhyme; some love it; many shy away from it. All shy away if the rhyme isn’t perfect in meter and beat. Honestly, I’m totally lost on writing rhyming text so I don’t even attempt it. Instead, I choose to write rhythmic prose. If you’re a natural at writing rhyme or have studied it, give it a try. The rhyme should flow smoothly and as with prose, each line should further the plot. Surprise and delight the reader with the word choice.

Strong, unique concept. Every story plot has already been written, right? We’re not going to stumble onto anything new in that department. But we should provide a new twist, a surprise ending, something to make the story stand apart from others. Otherwise, why publish something that’s already in the market. Integrate the character’s emotional problem with a physical problem so when the character is actively trying to work toward the physical goal, the emotional goal is being met as well.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Funny Times. Our print publication pokes fun at politics, news, relationships,
food, technology, pets, work, death, environmental issues, business, and the human condition in general. Not much is off limits, so do your best to make us laugh. We pay upon publication, not acceptance, and the rates are $25-$40 per cartoon based on reproduction size and $60 each for story. You’ll even get a complimentary subscription to Funny Times and some serious bragging rights. Limit 500-700 words.

Details at

Call for submissions for young writers:

Skipping Stones. Writings (essays, stories, letters to the editor, riddles and proverbs, etc.) should be typed or neatly handwritten and limited to 750 words and poems to 30 lines. We encourage writings in all languages with an English translation, if possible. And, we love illustrations! Please send originals of your drawings, paintings, or photos. Include your name, age, and address along with your submission.

Tell us about yourself in a cover letter. What is your cultural background? What languages do you speak or write? What is important to you? What are your dreams and visions for the future? What inspired you to write or create your submission? We might even print your letter!

If you would like a reply from us or your work returned, include a self-addressed envelope with postage stamps. Submissions that do not include SASE's will be recycled if we do not publish them. Allow three months for our reply. When your work is published in Skipping Stones, you will receive a contributor's copy of that issue.

Submission guidelines at

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Bones of a Picture Book, part II/Calls for Submissions

This article is a continuation of a series.

Humor. Kids appreciate humor, and the funny stuff pulls the reader into the story. Every sentence and paragraph doesn’t have to create laughter. Sprinkle bits of humorous dialog or comical action throughout the narrative; that’s enough to carry the scene. Notice how comedians save the punch line for the end of the story. That effect works in picture books, too. Remember, illustrations add another level of humor that reflect the text and add more gist to the story.

Concrete writing. Concrete words evoke concrete images. Nothing throws open the doors of imagination like the use of the senses to conjure vivid mental pictures. Engage the senses—see, hear, touch, taste, and smell--with specific details to hold a reader’s attention. Strong, literal word choices allow the reader to experience the setting, action, and character as though they are actually in the scene. Action verbs—punch, crawl, scream—offer mental pictures. If you shut your eyes, you can mentally see a punch thrown, an animal crawling, or a person screaming. How difficult is it to imagine these verbs: is, are, was, were? Can’t see them? Neither can the reader. Action verbs create movement and sound and reflect real life.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

The Greenhouse Funny prize is open to un-agented writers writing funny fiction for children of all ages. To get a good sense of the voice and where the character is headed, we’d like to see the first 5,000 words PLUS a short description (a few lines) of the book AND a one page outline that shows the spine of the plot. Please send this as a Word doc attachment. If you’re submitting a picture book (or shorter fiction that comes in under 5,000 words), then send the complete text.

Please send your entries to

If you’re writing from the US or Canada (ie, North America), please put NA in subject line. If you’re writing from UK or the rest of the world, please put UK in subject line.

The deadline for submissions is Monday, 29 July.

 Call for submissions for young writers:
Speak Up Press [ages 13-19] All work must be your original creation

·         In 2013, Speak Up Press will accept POETRY ONLY. In Fall 2013, Speak Up Press will produce hand-made poetry chapbooks by teen poets.
    Submission guidelines at

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Bones of a Picture Book/Calls for Submissions

This article is the first of a series based on the basics of writing a picture book.

Some picture book manuscripts garner contracts. Many more do not. Let’s look at the bones of a picture book to see what makes the story work so successfully that an editor offers a deal.

Interesting character. The main character should be likeable and identifiable, someone with which the reader can identify. Kids enjoy reading (or being read to) about characters that accomplish big acts. Allow the character to fix his/her own problem, whether it’s handling the bully or getting in out of the storm. Children are small and young, but they enjoy stories in which they succeed on their own. Good fiction is all about the character. If the character doesn’t have a problem or goal, you don’t have a story. Jim was happy. He was happy yesterday and he’s even happier today. No problem. No goal. No story.
Universal appeal. Children enjoy characters that face similar problems and situations as their own. When creating a problem for the character, consider problems children face: moving, losing a pet, fight with a friend or sibling, or changing schools. These are just some issues children endure. Children can learn ways to cope by reading about characters that deal with similar situations.

Next week, I’ll continue with the article.

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.

Call for submissions for young writers:

GREYstone, a subdivision of BRICKrhetoric, 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.

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