Nancy's Books

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Writing Picture Books--Simply Difficult, part 1/Call for Submissions

This blog is the first in a series focused on writing picture books, taken from the how-to article, WRITING PICTURE BOOKS—SIMPLY DIFFICULT, I wrote for a national newsletter.

A 400-word book has to be easy to write, right? As readers, picture books appear simple to create; as writers, we find the task simply difficult. Writing picture books takes a unique set of skills, so try these 10 key points to improve your manuscript:

1.  Short text. Picture books are based on a single idea. When I first began writing professionally twenty-four years ago, the average picture book text was 1,000-1,500 words. Not anymore. The sweet spot according to many editors is about 450 words. Deleting unnecessary words is a must in today’s market.

 2.   Audience. Most picture books are designed for young children up through age five. As adults read the words, children read the pictures. The text should be age appropriate for the audience both in language and interest. A five-year-old has a larger vocabulary and is much more likely to be interested in dinosaurs than a two-year-old. Children age six and up are typically exposed to beginning chapter books.

This article will be continued in next week’s blog.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Suddenly Lost in Words has reopened submissions. This ezine is for readers ages 13+ and is a paying market.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Idea Overload, part VI/Call for Submissions

This is the last blog in this series.

If you have more story ideas than you know what to do with, try these tips: 

There is no magic fix for any story. You simply have to keep writing and revising to get the story polished. Good writing comes from rewriting. Sometimes we want to abandon a manuscript for a new idea because we don’t know what to do with the one we’re working on. This happens all the time. Focus on the characters and plot. Concentrate on one idea at a time and how that idea can move the story forward.

Don’t fall in love with your writing. All writing can be improved upon. Instead, fall in love with completing your writing. Getting sidetracked undermines your goal of getting a story completed.

When you finish the manuscript to the point that you have done as much as you can with it, ship it to potential publisher; then begin another project with a shiny, new idea.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

From October 1st, 2013 to December 31st, 2013, The Jim Henson Company and Grosset & Dunlap of the Penguin Young Readers Group will be accepting writing submissions to find the author for a new novel set in the world of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal. This author search is open to all professional and aspiring professional writers.

This new Dark Crystal novel will be a prequel story set at the time of the Gelfling Gathering, between the Second Great Conjunction and the creation of the Wall of Destiny. We will be placing all known lore from this era on, the definitive home of The Dark Crystal. There you will find all the knowledge available for you to shape and build your story—and all we ask is that you share your stories with us. 

Your submission should be an original story set in the era outlined above. The final novel will be upwards of 50,000 words, but please send in 7,500-10,000 words that represent the story you would tell in a full-length Dark Crystal novel. It can either be the first chapters, final chapters, a collection of middle chapters, or a short piece that would form the inspiration for a novel-length story.



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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Idea Overload, part VI/Call for Submissions

If you have more story ideas than you know what to do with, try these tips:

Make a “Writer’s To-Do List.” If you’re working on a manuscript, plan for the next writing session. When you finish for the day, briefly write “continue with chapter 2” or something specific to the plot, such as “loses key.” When you return for the next writing session, you’ll see the to-do note and hopefully, that will keep you focused on the continuation of chapter 2 or writing a scene about losing a key. Know what you’re going to do during the session as soon as you begin.

Work on one manuscript at a time. If you hit a roadblock, try different scenarios to keep the story flowing. The key is to stay focused. Force yourself to complete the manuscript. Four half-finished manuscripts does not equal one finished, polished story. A story cannot be polished unless it’s finished. Editors want a manuscript to be finished before a contract is offered, especially with writers who are not published.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

FrostFire Worlds is a quarterly magazine for younger readers published by Alban Lake Publishing in February, May, August, and November. The first issue was released on 1 August 2013.
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Idea Overload, part V/Call for Submissions

If you have more story ideas than you know what to do with, try these tips:

Talk with a critique group or writing club. Explain how the story has bogged down and you don’t know how to get the character out of the situation or don’t know how to inflict more problems upon the character. Writers often receive excellent feedback from such groups.

Abandoning manuscripts decreases a writer’s efficiency. Rather than permanently shelving a manuscript, shelve it temporarily while you consider different options for the characters and plot.

Review the story ideas folder. Maybe you can consolidate some ideas by tapping into an idea or two and using them in the manuscript you’re working on.

Next week, I’ll continue the series.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Theme: What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? Whatever your story, share it with us. Winner is published in Real Simple Magazine and receives $3,000. Limit 1,500 words. Deadline
Deadline: September 19, 2013. Must be nonfiction.

Details at <>
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