Nancy's Books

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 6/Calls for Submissions

Many middle grade readers are interested in understanding the universe that is gradually opening up in their lives. They are concerned about their place is this big world so they are looking for connections between themselves and family, community, and peers, etc. They are also interested in how things work, such as clocks and motors and mixing colors. At this age, they wonder about fairness, justice, right and wrong.   

Chart a chapter-by-chapter sketch of a character’s actions and reactions. I used a simple sentence or two to describe each chapter. Beginning with the question “What if...” What if I placed my character in a situation after situation in which s/he had to make decisions? What if my character tells the truth to break what he believes is a curse, but if he tells the truth, he will be in deep trouble with Mom, Dad, his best friend, and his teacher. If he doesn’t come clean, he will have to live with all the bad luck caused by the curse. Decisions, decisions, decisions.  

The adage that writers should treat their character badly and then treat them worse is applicable to middle grade novels. Create situations that reflect the lives of this age group, stir in some trouble, lots of conflict, and you have a recipe for an attention-grabbing read. 

Next week, I’ll continue this series. 

Call for submissions for young writers:

Insight Magazine. Categories are student short story, general short story, and student poetry. Prizes range from $50 to $250. Winning entries will be published in Insight. You must be age 22 or under to enter the student categories. Short stories are limited to seven pages. Poetry is limited to one page.

Deadline: July 31, 2014.

Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for adult writers: 
SPIDER, a literary magazine for children ages 6-9 that features fresh and engaging literature, poems, articles, and activities for newly independent readers. Editors seek energetic, beautifully crafted submissions with strong "kid appeal" (an elusive yet recognizable quality, often tied to high-interest elements such as humor, adventure, and suspense). 
Submission guidelines at



  1. Your posts are always informative and I like the good submission reminders at the end. Thanks.

    1. So glad they are helpful. I'm always on the lookout for submission opportunities for writers. Writing for magazines is a way to get credits to use in a resume'. If a writer has had several articles or stories published, that can do nothing but help make a good impression. Even better, they can make a good impression stronger.