Nancy's Books

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Word Choice, Part III/Call for Submissions

This is the final article of the series, Word Choice.

1.   Choosing the right word conveys meaning and sets the tone of the story. If you’re writing about the early pioneers, you wouldn’t use the words snacked or lunched since those terms were not in use at that period of history.

2.   Use specific terms Pioneers and Indians feasted on catfish and corn as they celebrated the harvest are words that resonate with the genre and are specific in the reader’s mind. If you’re writing about a dog, tell the breed. Is it a hound or a Chihuahua? Is the flower a daisy or a rose? Plant pictures with words. Dog and flower are so general they don’t trigger an image as specific as hound or daisy. When vague words are used, they present unclear meaning and images, which weakens the story.

3.   Convey meaning with accuracy. Is there such a color as dull black? Maybe charcoal   would work better because it’s more precise.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
Red Squirrel Magazine. "Xiaoduo Media is a boutique publishing house with a portfolio of premium quality publications for children in China and a pioneer in the re-packaging of English and other language content for the Chinese audience. Currently we have three monthly magazines targeting elementary school students, one of which is literature called "Red Squirrel". We have introduced many contemporary children's literature from both US and Europe to our Chinese readers, including the writers and their works. We are the only children's magazine in China that has done that.

 "For our magazines published next year we are looking for authors, who could supply us with short stories. The age group of our young readers is from 8 to 12. We are looking for cool stories in length of 500 to 2000 words (An exact word count should be noted on each manuscript submitted. Word count includes every word, but does not include the title of the manuscript or the author's name.) For the selected works we will pay a rate up to 0.25 USD per word."

Submissions, queries and questions should be directed to:

Editor: Conny Fang

Submit by e-mail to:

Please send the submission pasted directly into the email itself.

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Word Choice/Call of Submissions

This article is the first of a series.

We’ve all heard the expression, There are two sides to every story. Let’s look at this with a literal interpretation. The first side is the idea we’re presenting to the reader. That’s the plot, the story. The second side is the way in which we present or write the story. The goal is to build words into sentences and paragraphs that pique the interest of the reader.

Choosing the right word is critical to making a phrase or sentence jump and jive, strut and swagger, with rhythm—or glide with ease like a puffy, white cloud sailing, sliding, slipping across the sky. A rich, robust vocabulary creates images that perfectly detail the action. Word choice should be clear and concise. Mark Twain said it best:  The difference between the precise word and one that comes close is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Overused words and clichés [hungry as a bear, thin as a rail] are dull and boring. They add no excitement to the text, so avoid clichés as you would a thin-as-a-rail, hungry bear.

In my next blog I’ll showcase ways for writers to make the best word choices.

Call for submissions for adult writers: 


After the success of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive, our bestselling book for adults, we decided to make a version for children too. That’s the goal of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids — to start conversations with children about core values, good examples, making good decisions, and having the courage to do the right thing. It is geared for children 12 and under. We’d like to keep stories in the 500-1200 word range. We are looking for stories from your own childhood, or about children you know, written in the first person, that both entertain and educate children, and that expose them to positive thinking and good values. If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100.
Deadline June 30, 2013.

Details at

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Bones of a Picture Book, Part VI/Calls for Submissions

This is the final article in a series.

Now that your manuscript is complete, it’s time to create a dummy book. This is for your eyes only; not for an editor or agent, although an agent may request it. This allows you to see your manuscript in book format before you submit it to a publisher. Fold eight sheets of paper in half and staple along the fold. This will create a 32-page booklet. Divide your story into sections that you place on 28 pages. You may choose to place the text on 14 pages in which text is placed on one page, leaving the facing page blank for an illustration. Either way, you should have about 14 scenes or pieces of action. The other pages in a picture book are used for the title page, copyright page, and sometimes a half-title page. By placing the text on 28 pages, you can better determine the flow of the words and the action. Do the page breaks work? Does the text placement work? Does the illustrator have enough information (action) to illustrate a scene on each page?

Writers tend to have difficulty thinking visually. A book dummy helps us see how our story unfolds and where we might need to amp up the action.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Overcoming Challenges Life is filled with challenges. We have all gone through trying times and have had to overcome difficult situations. We would like to know what challenges you have faced in your life and what you did to overcome them. Are you recovering from health problems, financial difficulties or the loss of a loved one? What changes did you make to help you cope with these issues and turn negative into positive? Your stories will give our readers inspiration and insight into how others are coping and let them know that there is hope even in adversity.

Deadline: October 31, 2013.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Bones of a Picture Book, Part V/Calls for Submissions

This article is a continuation of a series.

Repetition/pattern. Repetition is a common pattern in children’s picture books. Kids enjoy these books because they can participate in the reading. The interactive quality is engaging and has the read-it-again factor. The pattern of three is found in many folktales, such as The Three Little Pigs and The Three Bears. Some patterns contrast two lifestyles, as in The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. In Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, patterns form a cumulative format in which the characters create a chain of events. Word repetition forms a pattern in A Dark, Dark Tale on a dark, dark night when a dark, dark visitor goes to a dark, dark house. This type story invites children to predict what will happen next or guess the upcoming words, phrases, or sentences. Since the reader is actively involved in the reading of the book, these books remain popular.

Short text. The world of publishing is in a constant state of change. The current trend in picture books, both fiction and nonficton, is 500 words or less for children under age five. Picture books for ages five to eight are longer. For either age group, write with an economy of words and descriptive language so the illustrator can tell part of the story through art.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Appleseeds. Nonfiction Magazine for Ages 6-9 Accepting Queries. Appleseeds is a 36-page, multidisciplinary, nonfiction social studies magazine for children ages 6- 9 (primarily in grades 3 and 4). Writers are encouraged to study recent Appleseeds back issues for con- tent and style. Looking articles that are lively, age-appropriate, and exhibit an original approach to the theme. Feature articles are 150-600 words (includes nonfiction, interviews, and how-to). Departments include Fun Stuff (games or activities relating to the theme, 300 words); Read- ing Corner (literature piece, 300-600 words); Upcoming themes and [query due dates]: Who Did What on the Frontier (March 2014 issue): In our continuing series of "who did what" in specific periods, a look at work and job roles on the American frontier including both pioneers and Native Americans in the 19th century. [Query by 5/15/13]. Wheels (April 2014 issue): Wheels make the world go round-from wagon wheels to mill wheels, from skate- boards to automobiles. How do wheels affect our lives and why-and what challenges did humans face without wheels? [6/29/13]. Snakes (May/June 2014 issue): Snakes both fascinate and (for some) repel. As in our issues on horses, dogs, and cats, a look at snakes and how we live with them. [7/29/13] You Are the Desert (July/August 2014 issue): Exploring the world's deserts and how they affect the people who live and work there. [9/15/13] Additional themes will be posted after July 2013.

I will continue the Call for Submissions for Young Writers in the first September blog.
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