Nancy's Books

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

Check out more contests on my blog:


  1. Thanks, Nancy. Always good stuff here. I appreciate your calls for submissions.

  2. Great. So glad the blog is helpful.

    Happy writing.