Nancy's Books

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part III/Calls for Submissions

This article is the third  in the series: Writing a Chapter Book

Try the following tips:

1.      The simple, clear plots are fast paced. Smart, clever kids who outwit dragons or villains work with these readers. Events can be filled with drama but should not be nightmarish, nothing too scary. The story is told through the viewpoint of one character or is a narrative about the adventure of one character, sometimes two. This age group loves action-packed adventure and solving mysteries.
      I’m in the process of writing an adventure story that has a puzzle the reader tries to solve. The puzzle involves distance so the puzzle keeps changing as the characters travel, but when the characters discover the solution to one puzzle near the end of the story, the readers can figure out the others. Some readers will figure out the solution before the characters do. That’s part of the fun of reading this type of book.

2.      As I begin forming the plot, I ask What if. What if a boy had a speech problem that embarrassed him but others thought was funny? What if a girl found a hoodie that could make her fly? What if a boy understood the language of bark and knew exactly what his dog was saying with each yip. The What if question stimulates the creative juices and provides the writer a variety of plot possibilities and character development opportunities. “What if questions work with any subject and almost any genre of literature.

What if…

You were unable to smile for a year

A space alien wanted to be a friend

You had a supernatural power for three days only

What if you tried this question when writing a chapter book and What if your work garnered a contract? Food for thought.

 Next week, I’ll continue with more chapter book tips.

Call for submissions for young writers:
PATRIOT'S PEN CONTEST. The Patriot's Pen program is open to
students in grades 6-8 (on the Nov. 1 deadline), who are enrolled
in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program
in the United States and its territories. 2013-2014 theme, "What
Patriotism Means to Me." Limit 300 to 400 words. Top prize $5,000.
Deadline: Deadline November 1, 2013
Call for submissions for adult writers:
At U.S. Kids Magazines (Turtle, Humpty Dumpty, and Jack and Jill),
providing fun, entertaining reading material is our priority. We
accept humorous, playful, and witty stories that kids would love
to read—not stories that grownups think kids should read. As part
of the Children’s Better Health Institute, we are always in need
of high-quality stories, articles, and activities with a broad
health and fitness focus. Averages 25 to 30 cents/word.
Submission guidelines at

Check out more contests on my blog:



  1. I really like your "what if...." tag line ideas! The concept of asking a question of your "creative mind" is such a great start off of a story, or an illo. Thanks for reminding me of that technique!

  2. Hope all is well with you, Alison. Are you going to be at the Kentucky Book Fair in November? I'd love to see you.