Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 11/Calls for Submissions

Tips for writing a middle grade novel:

Powerful sensory description evokes images that take the reader into the action of the story. When the reader is engaged in the character’s plight, the story seems more real.
See: Providing visual details about how a character looks and acts bring him/her to life. Some authors are reluctant to describe details, such as long, brown hair. Instead, they choose other specifics: a cross tattoo on an arm or a face roadmapped with wrinkles.
Hear: Almost no setting is completely void of sound. Ducks quack, thunder booms, and wind whistles.  Sounds are the second most frequently used sensory descriptor, following visual. Certain sounds trigger personal memories. Fingernails on a chalkboard still send shivers down my spine.
Touch: Allow the reader to feel the damp morning mist as a character walks down the street. Make it pleasurable with the feel of a dog’s soft fur or painful with the door slamming on a hand. The tactile experience allows the character to explore the world and its many textures, shapes, and sizes.
Smell: This sense is used less often in writing. The delectable aroma of cornbread baking fills grandma’s kitchen. The scent drifts through the house to the bedroom where the character is holed up. This sense has the power over our thoughts and emotions to transport us through time. The tangy scent of oranges reminds me of the Christmas season.

Taste: One whiff of chocolate cake and her mouth waters for a taste, a bite, a morsel. These vivid descriptions resonate with readers, especially when we define a particular sweet, sour, salty, or bitter palate.  

Look for opportunities to add smell and taste sensory descriptors to your writing. Those are the most difficult to incorporate. You certainly don’t have to use all five senses in every scene. That would be overkill. But used effectively, sensory writing will connect your readers to your fictional world. 

I have a guest author/editor who will visit the next two weeks. 

Call for submissions for young writers:

The KET Young Writers Contest is a terrific opportunity for young children to express their creativity by writing for an authentic audience beyond the walls of their school or home. Students in kindergarten through the 5th grade are invited to send in their illustrated stories and, for the first time, students in the 3rd through 5th grades can choose to enter a 400-600 word short story without illustrations instead.
The contest runs until April 15, 2014 and winners will be notified in May. You can visit the Young Writers Contest website, which has links to the rules, scoring rubrics, and entry forms.
Submission guidelines at
Call for submissions for adult writers:

Hay House Publishing is reviewing full-length nonfiction manuscripts for this year’s Hay House Insights Nonfiction Writing Contest, which will award an author a publishing contract and a $5,000 advance under its self-help imprint Balboa Press.

This contest is open to any subject, topic, or theme, as long as it is nonfiction. Submit only unpublished, full-length works.

The judges will evaluate manuscripts on creativity, story structure, expertise of the subject, writing style, and obedience to the publisher’s editorial values.

Hay House Publishing, along with its imprint Balboa Press, specialize in self-help and inspirational books. The company also publishes a wide range of other subjects, including children’s books, cookbooks, fiction, and poetry.

Deadline: May 1, 2013.  On June 3, 2013, the winners will be announced. All prize winners will be notified and posted on and the Hay House Facebook page,

Submission guidelines at

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