Nancy's Books

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Writing a Chapter Book, part 7/Calls for Submissions

           This article is the seventh in the series: Writing a Chapter Book.

 Try these tips: 

Avoid the sagging middle. When we begin a chapter book, we usually have a definite beginning and ending in mind. We want the ending to solve the problem or reach the goal that the character confronts at the beginning of the story. But by chapter three, the story begins to slowly fizzle out. What can we do to keep the excitement of the beginning as we develop chapter after chapter?
Offer new insights into the character. What does the reader learn about the character that had not been revealed earlier? Maybe s/he has a learning problem or a phobia that comes into play at this point. 

Introduce a new character that will add a new problem or cause greater conflict. I once heard a speaker in a workshop describe it this way: treat your character badly; then treat your character worse. Add more conflict. Conflict is story and without conflict there is no story. Add barriers to prevent the character from achieving the goal or solving the problem during the middle of the story. Conflict is the motivation that keeps the character plugging along. 

Move the plot along. Don’t dwell too long on one scene. By adding conflict and depth to characters, the plot moves forward. Allow the characters to learn new bits of information that alters their viewpoints or decisions.

Next week, I’ll continue with chapter book tips.  
Call for submissions for young writers:

Writing at Sea Competition. Enter the Marine Society and Nautilus Telegraph’s new creative writing competition and you could walk away with a £1000 or a Kobo Aura and Kobo gift vouchers. The competition is open to serving and non-serving seafarers and is free to enter. The competition theme is Life at Sea and you can enter your poem (maximum word limit 80 lines) or short story (maximum length 3,000 words). Deadline December 31, 2013. The Marine Society Prize will have a sole winner. The Short Story and Poetry Prizes will be awarded in the following categories: Seafarers, Non-seafarers, Under 18’s.

Details at

Call for submissions for adult writers:

   Ask. ePals Media, 70 East Lake Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60601. Ask is the Cricket Magazine Group’s magazine of nature, science, the arts, and the world at large for ages six to nine. Each issue focuses on a designated concept, question, or theme related to the natural, physical, or social sciences, technology, math, history, or the arts. It is published nine times a year and has a circulation of 36,000.

    The nonfiction in Ask is always engaging, and not overtly educational or textbook-like in tone or perspective. Articles should be concrete but narrative, and relevant to the interests of the young readers.

    Query according to theme by email to, with Submissions in the subject line, or use Submittable, at Include an article overview, including scope and treatment, references/resources, an opening paragraph, and for writers new to Ask, a résumé, and an unedited nonfiction writing sample of at least 200 words. Articles, 1,200 to 1,600 words, including sidebar. Photoessays, 400 to 600 words. Humor, profiles of people, inventions, events, the arts, 200 to 400 words. Upcoming themes: Dropping Things or gravity (September 2014 issue), query by December 15, 2013; Fairy Tale Science (October 2014 issue), query by February 1, 2014; Chemist in My Kitchen (November/ December 2014 issue), query by March 15.
Details at

 Check out more contests on my blog:


  1. Thanks, Nancy. I am really enjoying this series and hope to put all these good tips to work one day soon.

  2. Fantastic. Wishing you the best with writing a chapter book.