Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 9/Calls for Submissions

Tips for writing a middle grade novel:

One of the best methods of learning how to write middle grade fiction is to read a truckload of books in the genre. Select books that have been published in the last five years so you’ll have a good grasp of what is being published today. Many of the middle grade fiction books that were published in the 1970s and ‘80s and earlier were simply collections of episodes. Each chapter is a separate adventure with no overall goal or situation. The Little House books are an example. This type of manuscript is not likely to grab a contract.
Today’s books for the 8-14-year-old reader needs a main character that is likeable. The character needs a challenging, overwhelming problem that carries the plot throughout the story. This is called the story arc. The goal can be internal (emotional-coping with the loss of a father) or external (dealing with a bully).
My critique partner (Hello, Sandi) just submitted a manuscript of a middle grade novel. In her cover letter she compared her novel to four books that were published in the last five years. This requirement by the publisher provided Sandi an opportunity to explain how her manuscript is similar to popular books in the marketplace. Writers can also explain how their work is unique.
Next week, I’ll continue this series. 

Call for submissions for young writers:

Launch Pad publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by kids and teens ages 6 through 14. We choose stories and poems that are creative and well-written. We do not publish all submissions. Read some of our stories and poems to get an idea of the works we like to publish. We also have Writing Tips to help you out.
You can email a story or poem to the Editor or send it through the mail.
(We are experiencing some problems with our form, so please use email.)
Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for adult writers: 

Anotherealm. Contest. For February, March and April 2014 we're going for the mood or tone of the story instead of an absolute topic. The mood is "Creepy" which can be found just about anywhere from your local mall to your workplace. You could find "creepy stuff" anywhere or anyplace. A bright summer day or a gloomy foggy night. "Creepy" could be a time or place. Or even a person or thing. What is creepy and why of course is up to you. Tell us about something or some place that would just send shivers up your spine. As always have fun!
1000 words or less, Science fiction, Fantasy or Horror only please.
Contest closes April 30 2014

Submission guidelines at


  1. Nancy, What are some of your favorite, recent MG books?

  2. The Al Capone series is wonderful. Al Capone Does My Shirts is the first in the series. I'm reading the second book in the Lucy Rose series. Love those, too. Cynthia Lord is one of my favorite writers. I'm looking forward to reading Half a Chance that came out last month.