Nancy's Books

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 2/Calls for Submissions

My inspiration to write about a spunky female character came when a good friend displayed such a spunky attitude when diagnosed with a serious illness. I created a spirited, courageous protagonist, threw her into a tension-filled plot, and enjoyed seeing the character rebound in the end, all this in the form of a picture book. The manuscript shipped out into the world to seek a contract. I wasn’t surprised with the rejections, but I was thrilled with the offer for publication. A few weeks later, the publisher withdrew the offer due to changes within the publishing house.  

Another rejection suggested that the material would work better as a chapter book. I agreed with the editor and revised the manuscript into ten 1,000-word chapters. Once again, my “baby” shipped out in the big world to seek a contract. Rejections came with similar advice given by a different editor: The story would work better as a middle grade novel.

Back to the keyboard. I wrote and rewrote, enlarging my story to encompass subplots and shipped it out into the big world to seek a contract. Rejections came but so did an offer for publication. This time, the editor suggested I add two more chapters on specific information. Editors’ insights have always made improvements in my writing, so I take their suggestions to heart. Now, 15 looooooong years later, a tribute to a friend is finally coming to fruition in the form of my first middle grade novel.  

Moral #1: perseverance is the key to a writing career.

Moral #2: Don’t get in a hurry.

Call for submissions for young writers:

GREYstone is a subsidiary of BRICKrhetoric, which publishes works of
poetry, artwork, flash fiction, photography and scientific art from
students and teachers {K-12} quarterly online in the months of February,
May, August & November.

Call for submissions for adult writers: 

MAIN STREET RAG Publishing Company will be accepting submissions of poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction for 3 upcoming anthologies. Themes: (1) Cars, (2) Crossing Lines, (3) Home & Houses. Reading period: January 1 through February 28. No reading fee. Submissions by e-mail only.

Submission guidelines ats:

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 1/Calls for Submissions

This article is the first in the series:

Anybody who writes a book is an optimist. First of all, they think they're going to finish it. Second, they think somebody's going to publish it. Third, they think somebody's going to read it. Fourth, they think somebody's going to like it. How optimistic is that?" ~Margaret Atwood
Sometimes I think the keys on my computer must be made of magnets. They keep pulling my fingers back to them. My fingers are so optimistic I’d feel guilty if the rest of me didn’t follow with equal enthusiasm. A positive outlook is easy to muster when starting a new book, but as the writing journey becomes more difficult, enthusiasm wanes, especially when rejection floods in. Some manuscripts are easier, much easier, to sell than others. Knowing that tidbit, it seems reasonable then to suggest that writers write only stories that are easy to sell. Of course, if we knew the magic potion that empowered us to write publishable print, we could jar it and make a fortune in a traveling show. 

Each children’s book I have written has followed its own path in the journey to publication. But in a total of 30 books, none have ventured into as many detours as my upcoming middle grade novel. 
In my next several blogs, I’ll detail my efforts and offer tips for writing for 8-12- year-old readers.

Call for submissions for Young Writers

YARN --- Since this is a YA literary journal, we ask that the material be appropriate for, and of particular interest to, young adult readers, 14 years old and up. We have no age restrictions for authors (fogies over the age of 18 write YA, too), and no genre restrictions (if you’ve got a story set in 2060, bring it on!). We only ask that the writing you submit be original and publishable, with some literary merit (in other words, if you’ve written a slasher thriller with lots of smooching and slaying, we recommend sending it to Hollywood and not to us). Send us only your very best. YARN is an award-winning literary journal that publishes outstanding original short fiction, poetry, and essays for Young Adult readers, written by the writers you know and love, as well as fresh new voices...including teens.

Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for Adult Writers

East of the Web. Children's short stories, ages 5 to 12. We're seeking children's stories aimed at age ranges between 5 and 12. We're looking for stories written by authors who know children and what children want to read. We want storytellers who can capture a child's imagination and who also know the children's book market, know what's original and understand what's interesting and appropriate for children of the age their stories are aimed at. We consider stories of all genres as long as kids will love them!
Submission guidelines at
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Setting Goals/Calls for Submissions

What’s up for the year? January is a good time to reassess goals. This year, my main goal is simple: I want to revise a chapter book and develop it into a middle grade novel. Notice I didn’t write that I wanted to snag a book contract. I definitely WANT that, but I set goals that I can manage. Since I can’t control what an editor and publisher decides to publish, I don’t set a book contract as a goal.

How do I plan to achieve my goal? I’m going to set times to write and research. John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Life interrupts goals but I’ll weave writing in between the interruptions that are sure to pop up.
I’ll revise my writing and have it critiqued; then revise again and again. I’ll try not to fall in love with my words and send them to an editor before the manuscript is ready. In the meantime, I’ll research potential markets for the manuscript so when my literary “baby” is ready to go out into the publishing world, it will be more likely to find a home.
Of course, I have other goals. One is to write a picture book.
Think about writing goals you can manage and control. Focus on those goals and let’s make 2014 a productive year.
 Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Eifrig Publishing's YACK! (Young Authors-Creative Kids!)
Kids up to age 14 my submit stories to Eifrig Publishing. All stories are turned into an online book which may be read for free on the site. At the end of the event, a jury will select the story to be published in paperback. The author will select a charity to whom all proceeds will be donated.

 Call for Submissions for Adult Writers: 
For Magazine “Ask You Ask Me” for children ages 6-14:
We are interested in articles rich in scientific accuracy and lively approaches to the subject at hand. The inclusion of primary research (interviews with scientists focusing on current research) are of primary interest to the magazine. We hope the writer to study the real cases in the scientific field, find the one that is the best for explaining (or corroborating) the basic scientific knowledge. We want the readers to face the real scientific world, but not simply the textbook knowledge. 

Feature Articles: Up to 1000 words. Includes: in-depth nonfiction articles. (An interactive approach is a definite plus!) Q & A interviews, plays, and biographies are of interest as well.
Fiction: up to 1,000 words. Includes: science-related stories, science fiction, retold legends, etc., relating to the theme. 

Submissions, queries and questions should be directed to:
Editor: Conny

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

I’m so happy to have Alison Davis Lyne back this week. Alison is a creative illustrator with a stack of picture books claiming her art. She’s been working professionally since 1996. You can check out more of her work at She writes the column “Art Tips” for the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Bulletin.

 Alison, tell us about your process of designing art for the text of a book. 

I begin by thinking about how the individual characters will look and act. That will often lead to a character study page like this: 

This is a character page from my most recent book, Little Things Aren't Little When You're Little written by Mark Burrows, and published by Pelican Publishing. 

All of this work is for “my eyes only,” and is used just like a writer's text outline, and character sketches. I then work up and send on final black and white sketches to the Art Director.  After doing any revisions that the Art Director requests.....I begin the “funnest” part of the job (at least for me)....painting the final artwork. 

You, as the writer, can polish your PB manuscript with this exercise. When you have reached a semi-final stage of your manuscript, you might take 16 sheets of paper, and number them front and back 1 thru 32.  Usually the text for a book starts on something like page 5. You might try to divide out blocks of text on the pages of your “book” spread over pages 5 thru 32. See if you can structure the action and rhythm of your text to flow easily over page turns and double page spreads.  This is “for your eyes only”, NOT to be sent to a publisher. 

This exercise can be a great way to smooth out some of the story line, word plays and rhythms. And it will “show” when an editor reads your manuscript. You can bet that editors reading your manuscript will be thinking along the same lines.....and that can't help but be a “good thing” when an editor is evaluating your manuscript for publication.

Alison, thanks for the great tip on how to structure page turns to keep the energy, flow and interest levels high in the text we write for our picture books. I look forward to another visit from you this spring.

Call for submissions for young writers:

Vademecum Magazine is a student-run high school literary print publication. The quarterly magazine publishes poetry, prose, and black-and-white photography that "illuminate aspects of the everyday that are frequently unseen, un-ogled, unappreciated." This is a non-paying market. Submission guidelines are here.
Submission guidelines at!submissions/cihc

Call for submissions for adult writers:
 The American Kennel Club contest. Entries must be original, unpublished stories that have not been offered to or accepted by any other publisher. Only one entry per author.

The American Kennel Club retains the right to publish the three prize-winning entries in AKC FAMILY DOG, or other AKC publications. Entries may feature either a purebred or mixed breed dog. The maximum length is 2,000 words. Entries exceeding that length will not be considered. No talking dogs, please. 

Entries must be printed on 8 1⁄2″ x 11″ white paper, one side per page, double-spaced. Poor-quality or faded copies cannot be considered. The author’s name, address, and phone number must appear on the first page. The author’s name and the page number must appear on each successive page. 

All acceptable entries will be read by a panel of judges selected by AKC Publications. They will choose the winners based on the style, content, originality, and appeal of the story. All decisions are final. Winners will be announced in an issue AKC FAMILY DOG in 2014.

Send entries to:
AKC Publications Fiction Contest
The American Kennel Club, 260 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016

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