Nancy's Books

Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Year’s Resolutions

My New Year’s resolution is to simply remember to write 2015 instead of 2014. I’ll also try to incorporate the following into my daily routine:
Take time to write.
Read in the genre that I want to write. And read beyond that genre.
Have fun writing.
Finish the unfinished projects.
Rewrite some old manuscripts.
Submit manuscripts.
Write your own attainable and measurable resolutions. Just thinking about what you want to accomplish will help jump-start your writing career.
Here’s to a happy 2014 2015 year of writing.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
The Maze. Open to teens in sixth-12th grade. A teen annual anthology featuring poetry and artwork of high school students from around the world. Submissions accepted year round. Deadline for each year's edition is the first Friday of March. Each year we publish the best of all entries received. If your work is selected, you will receive two free copies of the book.
Deadline: Friday, Feb. 27
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Discover magazine is a popular science magazine made available to the general public in doctor's offices, schools and libraries. It has a large home-subscriber base as well. The subject matter covers exciting breakthroughs and research in medicine, technology and science, written in language an educated layman can comprehend. The magazine's breadth of science topics also includes paleontology, space travel and physics along with many other science-related topics. According to the editors' written instructions, if you have a science-related story you wish to write for Discover magazine, you must first send them a query or pitch.

Read more :
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas
Enjoy the holidays and the writing quotes.
The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.
~Mary Heaton Vorse
As far as I'm concerned, "whom" is a word that was invented to make everyone sound like a butler.
~ Calvin Trillin
A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit. ~ Richard Bach
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. ~ Thomas Jefferson.
Every writer I know has trouble writing. ~  Joseph Heller
Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. ~ Author Unknown
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
~ Ernest Hemingway
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.
~ Elmore Leonard
Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.
~ Larry L. King, WD
…and my favorite…
It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.
~ Jack Kerouac, WD
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Stone Soup is a magazine of writing and art by kids ages 13 and younger. We publish stories, poems, book reviews, and illustrations, all by young writers and artists. Stone Soup welcomes submissions from young people up to and including age 13. If you live in the U.S. or Canada, you must submit your work by postal mail. Send it to:
Stone Soup Submissions Dept.
P.O. Box 83
Santa Cruz, CA 95063
Submission guidelines at
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:


Nightlight Reading is requesting submissions for our 2014 Nightlight Readings Short Story Writers Contest that is geared to at-risk boys in the 10-12 year age group who often stop reading for pleasure.  Nightlight Reading’s goal is to fund and promote literature that appeals to boys and keeps them engaged and reading.


§ The written piece should be considered a SHORT STORY with a MAXIMUM COUNT of 5,000 WORDS.

Deadline for submission for the 2014 contest is December 31, 2014.
Mail entries to
Blaze Magazine, PO Box 2660, Niagara Falls, NY 14302


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing.”

Play with your memory. Relax. Think back to your childhood. What made you worry? What was fun?  What made you laugh, cry, or hide? The events that evoked your emotions are likely to do the same in readers.
Christmas is a time that floods my mind with memories. The sense of smell is the hardest to incorporate into a story; yet, the sense of smell is a vivid memory, especially when I think of Christmas: the spicy whiff of a fresh-cut tree from the hillside behind our house, the distinctive aroma of oranges, and turkey roasting in the oven. Mmmmmmmm. But one scent ranked above all others. The best smell in the world for this six-year-old gal was the enticing, magical fragrance of a new doll. Today, those enchanting aromas have the power to transcend me back in time in an instance and with only one sniff.
List a few memories from your childhood, maybe four or five. Toss them around to see if they could work as a children’s book. Use the memory as inspiration for the story, not the actual plot.
Mine your memories. Dig deep and write.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Rattle We like poems of any length. Send up to four poems at a time. We’re looking for poems that move us, that might make us laugh or cry, or teach us something new. We like both free verse and traditional forms—we try to publish a representative mix of what we receive. We read a lot of poems, and only those that are unique, insightful, and musical stand out—regardless of style. Since our issues include about 70 pages of poetry, one of the main things we’re looking for is diversity; we have enough room to be eclectic, and we plan on using it. So while most magazines suggest reading their back issues to get a sense of what they like to publish, we’d suggest reading to get a sense of what we’re having trouble finding—if you notice a style or subject matter that we don’t seem to be publishing, send us that!
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:  
Clear Creek Writers 2014 Contest: Clear Creek Writers is having their second annual writers contest with hundred dollar prizes for both prose and poetry. As the contest is new, the contestants are limited and your chances are good.
Deadline: January 4, 2015

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing.”

If a scene can be deleted from a story without changing the overall plot, the scene is probably not needed. Consider rewriting so everything your character does results in repercussions. What are the consequences if the character enters the door with a sign: Do Not Enter. If the characters actions are big, so will be the consequences. Readers want extraordinary experiences when reading. The characters must take action. As writers, we cannot let the characters take the easy way out of the predicament.
Characters’ reactions should have passion and fervor if we expect the reader to become involved in the story. The key to gaining a reader’s attention is through the reaction of the character. Make the character curious and show this through thought, action, and dialog. Take the reader inside the character’s head to show varying levels of intensity. The character will be more upset with some events than others, and the emotional reactions well vary accordingly.
Reactions make the characters seem real. Allow them to have high and low emotions, to get angry or upset, speak out in anger, make mistakes, and react in way they later regret. Readers respond to characters’ feelings so invite readers to the emotional side of your story.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
One Teen Story accepts submissions from writers of all ages. Most of the stories we publish are by adult authors writing for a young-adult audience. While teen writers are welcome to submit during our regular submission period, we encourage them to submit instead to our teen contest, which opens on May 1, 2013. One Teen Story is looking for great short stories written for the young adult audience ages 13 and up. These stories should deal with the teen experience (issues of identity, friendship, family, coming-of-age, etc.) and should be geared primarily toward an audience of teen readers.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

MONKEY STAR PRESS ANTHOLOGIES. We are looking for content for two mom lit anthologies 1) tantrums and babysitters, and 2) moms, children, and lack of sleep. We accept personal essay, creative nonfiction, flash memoir, and non-essay content including poems, lists, top ten, dos and don’ts, humor or inspirational, up to 2,000 words. Deadline December 31, 2014. One to two free paperback copies of the anthology and compensation ranging from $25 to $200 (to be paid after publication based on a payment structure that is explained and outlined in the contract that you sign).

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ways to Improve Writing Series/Calls for Submissions

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing.”
One way of looking at a story is to think of it as a series of scenes. A scene is a unit of drama that begins with a character placed in a situation that is problematic. The hero is thrown into a difficult world. As the character plows through the world and attempts to resolve the problem, s/he is faced with even bigger difficulties.
Linking scenes together forms a sequence with a beginning, middle, and end (or in writer terms, an inciting incident, a rising action and a climax.) In my book, AMAZING GRACE, a three-chapter scene sequence involved a bully. When that problem unraveled, another crisis erupted: another  three-chapter scene in which the character searched for her lost dog.
Some scenes in my book carried over into multiple chapters, but a scene can be limited to one chapter. When a sequence resolves the central problem and ties together all the loose ends, the story concludes. The central problem—the arc—that played through the entirety of AMAZING GRACE was the main character’s fear that her father may not return from WWII.
Of course, readers enjoy being surprised. Lead the reader into believing a sequence will solve the problem; then surprise the reader with the complete opposite: a bigger problem. By the end of the book, resolve the problems in a satisfying conclusion or give some suggestion of hope.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
ANNOUNCING HIGH SCHOOL WRITING CONTEST sponsored by the BFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University BFA in Creative Writing!
The BFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University is very proud to announce the reading period for our next edition of WORD HOTEL, our annual literary journal. We invite submissions in all genres and a multitude of styles, welcome experimental work, and are particularly hungry to hear from emerging writers (i.e., those who have not yet published a first book).
In fact: This year we are featuring a HIGH SCHOOL WRITING contest! In addition to being published prominently in Word Hotel, the top high school winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship to Spalding University; the runner-up, a $500 scholarship!
Please submit Word or RTF docs to
We will consider up to three poems (any length), short fiction/CNF up to 2,500 words, and hybrid texts as well.
Reading period for the 2013 issue ends DECEMBER 15TH. Acceptances and notifications of high school winners will be emailed by end of January. The issue is to be published April 2014.
For further information, please contact Merle Bachman, BFA Director, at
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Flash Fiction. We publish stories from 500 to 1,000 words in length.
They’re very short, but they are still stories. That means the best ones have strong, interesting characters, plots, and (to some extent, at least) settings.

Submission guidelines at



Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ways to Improve Writing/Call for Submissions

I’m starting a new series, Ways to Improve Writing. Let’s look at some ways to advance our writing, regardless of the age of the audience or the genre.

Beginning with the word There. Of course, we can find instances in which books begin with this vague word, but why? Using a nondescript word is like giving the reader a tranquilizer. There doesn’t encourage interest or build curiosity. Vague words weaken sentences. Instead, use action verbs and descriptive nouns to create a vivid world for the reader to imagine. When writing, I like to think of three children in my target audience reading my words. I want to string the words together so that each reader will “see” a similar image or action. Forming mental pictures is much more difficult to accomplish when using an imprecise word, such as there.
Should there be used, at all? We use this word in our language; therefore it can be reflected in our writing, as well, just not at the beginning of a strong sentence. Example: There is a mountain so high it seems to scrape the clouds. More specific is The high mountain seemed to touch the clouds. The subject is “mountain,” and placing it at the beginning of the sentence immediately forms a visual for the reader.
Here’s an exception. There can be acceptable, especially in dialog, even as the beginning word. “There, there, there. You’ll be okay.” Or “There it is!”
Watch for ways to make your writing stronger. Now, there’s an idea.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Louisville- Spalding University - Check into Word Hotel!: Attention creative writers, visual artists and photographers: submit your work to Word Hotel, the literary journal published by the BFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University. We invite submissions in all genres and a multitude of styles, welcome experimental work, and are particularly hunger to hear from emerging writers (i.e., those who have not yet published a first book). We also crave art: illustrations, photographs, and photographs of artwork. Submit your Word or RTF docs and picture files to We will consider up to three poems (any length), short fiction/CNF up to 2,500 words, and hybrid texts as well. Reading period for the 2014 issue ends December 12. Issue to be published by June 2015. Prizes awarded to top submissions from high school students.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
New Moon Celebrates girls and their accomplishments.  
Upcoming Themes: 

March/April 2015: Follow Your Dreams

Deadline: Dec. 1, 2014

Tell us how you'd love to follow your dreams. Share how a girl (maybe it's you!) is already pursing her passion, or interview a woman who has your dream job.

May/June 2015: 25 Beautiful Girls

Deadline: Dec. 1, 2014

Nominate a girl and tell us about her inner beauty! Go to the Beautiful Girls survey at the "Get Involved" box at We feature all Beautiful Girls in the magazine and at our online girls' community.

July/August 2015: Hello, Mother Nature!

Deadline: Feb. 1, 2015

Do you love being in the outdoors? Tell us about what nature means to you, and ways to keep our Earth healthy.

September/October 2015:Everything Bestie

Deadline: April 1, 2015

What's your "desert island" pick if you could have just one? We want to know about your fave books, music, food, website (besides!), and much, much more.

November/December 2015: Action: Animals!

Deadline: June 1, 2015

Share your passions for animals here and afar--from endangered species to shelter friends who need homes and service animals.

January/February 2016: What Do YOU Think?

Deadline: August 1, 2015

Take a side, and tell us why! We'll let you know about topics girls love to discuss, and get your pros and cons. 

Submission guidelines at

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Writing Mysteries, Calls for Submissions

I’m continuing with ideas for writing mysteries for middle grader readers. 
Prevent a sagging, boring middle by adding unexpected events, twists and turns in the middle of the story.

Let your readers in on something that the main character doesn’t know. Maybe the reader knows the next-door neighbor has a key to the house but the main character doesn’t know it yet.

Develop a setting to fit the mood of the story. Frighten the characters and the readers will identify with them. Rain and fog at night adds a scary element. During the day, the character might enter a dark house or tread down creepy stairs to a damp, dark basement.

Add a surprise ending. If the reader can figure out they mystery, the fun of reading the book is diminished. Consider many options. The ending has to be logical and follow through with the clues you’ve included throughout the narrative.

The character should solve the mystery by logical means, not rely on hocus-pocus, intuition, or anything other than the clues. Never try to fool the reader by being unclear in the writing. That leads to confusion, not a mystery.

Reveal the culprit or solution to the mystery at the end of the story. If the mystery is solved too early, the reader has no reason to continue reading.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Canvas. We are seeking writers ages 13-18 to submit: 
Fiction – Please limit submissions to 5,000 words.
Novel Excerpts - Novel and memoir excerpts are acceptable if self-contained (work as a complete narrative).
Poetry – You may submit more than one poem, but please do not exceed 5 pages worth of poetry.
Plays - Please follow standard play format. Limit to 10 pages.
Nonfiction – Essays, memoir, creative nonfiction. Please limit submissions to 5,000 words.  
New Media – Video, images, etc fine for website. But must be accompanied by written version to be considered for print and eBook.

Cross-genre - Experimental work (prose poems, art and writing, fiction and nonfiction hybrids) are highly encouraged, but please keep to the word limit for fiction.
Submission guidelines at 

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
American Short Fiction has published, and continues to seek, short fiction by some of the finest writers working in contemporary literature, whether they are established, or new or lesser-known authors. In addition to its triannual print magazine, American Short Fiction also publishes stories (under 2000 words) online.
Unsolicited submissions are accepted year-round. There are no set guidelines as to content or length. Anyone wishing to send a story to American Short Fiction should first become familiar with the work previously published by the magazine. Sample copies and subscriptions are available for sale through our online store.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Writing Middle Grade Mysteries/Calls for Submissions

I’m continuing with rules for writing mysteries for middle grader readers. 

Introduce the mystery within the first three chapters. Earlier may work even better, because the mystery is the hook that draws in the reader. 

Make the mystery believable. The reader will be trying to figure out the answer throughout the story. Build curiosity by offering clues. Some clues will help the character unravel the mystery and others will be red herrings, bits of information that mislead the reader. Red herrings are needed to make the mystery difficult for the reader to solve. The writing may lead the audience into thinking that the best friend or the new kid in town is the culprit when it is the kid next door. Reveal each clue that the character discovers with the reader. The curiosity may be as simple as wondering what is behind a locked door or who locked the gate and why. 

Give the reader hints, such as what is around the next corner or where a treasure might be buried.  

One crucial clue is needed to help the character solve the mystery. Maybe Susie hears a bell ring at 2:00 and thinks nothing of it. Later, the perpetrator says he heard the bell, and she realizes he is the only one that could have heard the ringing and is therefore guilty. Of course, much narrative and dialog would have to detail the events for the story to make sense to the reader.

Mysteries need suspense. Taps on the wall. Phone calls and hang ups. A ringing bell. Clues and red herrings keep the reader invested in the story. 

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
The Louisville Review accepts submissions of previously unpublished poetry from students in grades K-12. We seek writing that looks for fresh ways to recreate scenes and feelings. Honest emotion and original imagery are more important to a poem than rhyming and big topics—such as life, moralizing, and other abstractions.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
BOYS' QUEST. We are looking for lively writing, most of it from a 10-year-old boy¹s point of view, with the boy or boys directly involved in an activity that is both wholesome and unusual. We need nonfiction with photos and fiction stories around 500 words, as well as puzzles, poems, cooking, carpentry projects, jokes, and riddles.
Nonfiction pieces that are accompanied by clear photos with high resolution are far more likely to be accepted than those that need illustrations. The ideal length of a BOYS' QUEST piece, for nonfiction or fiction, is 500 words.
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Writing Mysteries/Calls for Submissions

The genres in children’s novels are about as diverse as those in adult fiction. Today, let’s look at mysteries for middle grade readers. Mysteries have their own set of rules that make the genre distinct. 

Know your audience. This age group is beginning to find their place in the world outside family. Peer and peer pressure is ever present. Many books for these readers have no parents in the narrative or parents are an insignificant part of the plot and characterization. Give the main character a best friend or someone who can help figure out ideas and clues. Add some people who do not want the character to figure out the mystery. 

Begin with action or suspense and introduce the mystery early. Plot is king with mysteries. The plot is the most important ingredient because the reader is involved and views the story as a game or puzzle to solve.  

Know the story ending BEFORE you begin writing. You need to know the answer to the mystery so you can add the real and false clues. 

Introduce the character who is solving the mystery and the villain who is trying to keep the character from solving the mystery early in the book. Other possible suspects can be introduced early as well. 

Next week, we’ll look at more rules for writing mysteries. 

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
American Girl. Accepting nonfiction articles from readers





And more. 

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

The Fountain 100th Issue Essay Contest. The Fountain invites you to join us in celebrating our 100th issue. Write an essay to yourself on your 100th birthday. What would you say to yourself at that age? What would your 100-year-old self tell you back? Would it be a conversation of praise and/or regret? Perhaps praise for the achievements in your career, but regrets about a lost family? Or warnings about the mistakes you made in your projected future or in your past; pitfalls you happened to be dragged into, temptations you could not resist; or celebrations for the good character you were able to display and sustain over a life; a precious life wasted or a life lived as it was meant to be.

Essay word count must be between 1,500 and 2,500 words

Cash prizes:
1st Place – $1,500
2nd Place – $750
3rd Place – $300
Two Honorable Mentions – $200 each

DEADLINE: November 30th.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel/Calls for Submissions

Today, I’m continuing the series Writing a Middle Grade Novel and focusing on more tips for those of us who suffer from stick-itis on occasion. Being stuck in a manuscript and not knowing where or how to take the character onward presents a special kind of frustration. 

Here are more tips to unstick our writing muscles from writers who have faced this with their works: 

Jot down ideas. List possible conflicts or character choices. Test these ideas in the manuscripts. Most may not work but some might.  

Bracket what doesn’t work and move ahead with the story. Revision can focus first on the parts with brackets. 

Pick an idea and write. Make the idea something you enjoy writing and make it fun. Kick the momentum in gear with an image, a scene, a memory, whatever works for you. 

Send the manuscript to a writing partner for quality feedback. A fresh perspective can place a workable new spin that you had not considered for the story. 

Winston Churchill was asked to speak to a group of students who attended the same school he had attended as a boy. His words: "Never give up. Never give up. Never, never, never give up.”
As these words apply to life, they also apply to writers.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Amazing Kids! Send your name, age, and state/country when you send us your work. Please keep in mind we only accept kid-friendly, age-appropriate original creative works done by kids and teens. (The work must be appropriate for kids ages 12 and younger) and can be any of the following:
  • Fiction Stories – (up to 2,000 words)
  • Non-Fiction articles – You may also include pictures or art with your article for our various non-fiction columns
  • LOL (Laugh Out Loud) – Send jokes, riddles, funny short stories or funny facts!
  • Poems
  • Art/Photography
  • Reviews – Including books, movies, music, or kids’ products such as fun tech gear for kids and families. Photos of the book cover, movie, album or product are welcome.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Harness Anthologies 2015. Empty Nests: Parents, Old and New. Springtime is the time of year when birds start building nests and laying their eggs. It's a time of rebirth, now that winter is over. The snow has melted and flowers are sprouting. Life is anew. Empty Nests is an anthology for parents and about parents. Whether you are building your nest for your newborn baby, or you are finding yourself in an empty nest now that your teens have gone off to college or moved out.   

Stories can be fiction or nonfiction, but should focus on adults either preparing to be parents or finding their own children turning into adults and moving out. What makes your nest, now full or empty, a home? Inspire the parents around you.
Stories should be 750 to 2500 words.

Open to Submissions: January 2015
Submission guidelines at    

Publication Date: July 2015

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel/Calls for Submissions

Today, I’m continuing the series, Writing a Middle Grade Novel.
Help! I’m suffering from stuck-itis on chapter 8. I’m staring at my plot outline and it just doesn’t seem to work. We’ve all been there, the place in out manuscript in which we wonder where to take out character next. The ideas in the outline no longer seem viable. We also read those books with a sagging middle, the excitement of the beginning just wanes and the story dulls rather than delights. What is a writer to do?
I asked some writer friends for advice.
Write. Just write. Ideas will begin to mesh and some will sparkle and work.
Don’t stress over the quality of your writing. All first drafts are bad. In fact, they stink. That’s what revision is for, to turn bad writing into good. At this point my manuscript is the literary equivalent of the aroma of limburger cheese. (Caution: No deep breaths, please.) Be content with the fact that you’re doing something right, you’re writing.
Put the story aside for a period of time. Give your ideas time to percolate and steep. Ideas need time to form. Later, you'll go back to the story with a fresh perspective.
In the meantime, begin working on a new writing project. When you return to the original story, you may be happy to discover that stuck-itis has changed to idea-itis.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
The Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose are awarded annually to two students of secondary or undergraduate status whose written work "inspires the masses to believe beyond feeling the work." In other words, we strive to receive the absolute best work from emerging young writers in high school and college, and the best of the best will receive these two lovely awards.We accept submissions for these prizes in the regular submissions pools throughout the entire year. For more information regarding submission at this time, please see our submission page.
The 2015 Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose will open for submissions on December 1, 2014, and will close on March 13, 2015.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Hopscotch is a magazine created for girls from 6 to 13 years, with girls 8, 9, and 10 the specific target age.
HOPSCOTCH looks for articles, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that deal with timeless topics, such as pets, nature, hobbies, science, games, sports, careers, simple cooking, and anything else likely to interest a young girl. We leave dating, romance, human sexuality, cosmetics, fashion, and the like to other publications. Each issue revolves around a theme.
Submission guidelines at