Nancy's Books

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel/Calls for submissions

This week, I’m continuing my focus on scenes. 

How did the character react? The character should remain true to his/her identity. If outgoing, use that personality throughout the story. A shy character should not suddenly become the life of the party. 

What is the main character’s dilemma? An old adage of writing novels is treat the character badly; then treat him/her worse. Dilemma is a situation in which the character has no good options available so s/he has to choose the best of the poor choices. This throws the character out of his normal life and into a situation in which he is not ready to handle, so future mistakes will be inevitable. This is a set-up for upcoming scenes in which the character will work through different choices and fail even more. It also allows the character to learn and grow by the end of the tale. 

Reaction is the response to the dilemma. Express the character’s feelings along with the reactions. Show how the character is hurting. The more you create an emotional experience for the reader, the better your writing becomes. This can be shown through narrative, dialog, gestures, expressions, and how the character decides what to do next; then acts on the decision. Make your reader wonder if the character can ever get out of the situation. Make the reader worry. Make the reader want to find out how the story ends. 

Next week, I’ll continue to discuss scene development. 

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Magic Dragon. Work should be neatly printed or typed. If you type it, please double-space. Stories and essays can be up to three pages, poetry up to 30 lines. It is ok to send writing that you have also illustrated. You can write about anything that is important to you; it can be serious or funny, true or fiction.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: THANKS TO MY MOM. We're looking for stories about moms of all ages, from young mothers to great-grandmothers, and everything in between. Please remember, we no longer publish "as told to" stories. Please write in the first person about you and your mom. Do not ghostwrite a story for someone else unless you list that person as the author. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it. Deadline October 20, 2014.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel/Call for Submissions

Readers enjoy fiction because they are emotionally involved with the character and plot of the story. If the reader’s emotional experience is powerful, the writer has succeeded. If not, it’s time to relook the scenes. 

The fundamental unit of fiction is the scene. A novel is basically a series of scenes strung together like beads on a necklace. The scenes form a beginning, middle, and ending with the character trying to reach a goal. Each scene needs conflict and change. 

In writing each scene, keep the following in mind: 

Is this scene carrying the plot forward?   

Quickly get the character involved in the action. This is the stimulus, the something that happens to the character. The something should cause conflict. (No conflict, no story.) The conflict should result in some kind of problem or disaster when the character fails to meet the goal.  

Hook the reader with surprising action. A lost dog or an embarrassing experience or a big disappointment or worse trouble. If the reader can guess the character’s every action and reaction, the story will seem trite and dull. 

Next week, I’ll continue to discuss scene development. 

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
BOP readers, it's a dream come true! It's time for you to be a BOP reporter! Tell us your stories and one might be printed in a future issue! We can't wait to hear from you!
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Creative Nonfiction magazine is seeking new essays for an upcoming issue dedicated to WAITING. We want your well-crafted true stories of delays, postponements, and pauses that explore and examine our relationship with time. Whether you're waiting patiently or not, on tables or for Godot, however you approach the subject, we can't wait to read your work. 
Submissions must be 4,000 words or fewer. $1,000 for best essay; $500 for runner-up. 
Deadline: September 22.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel/Calls for Submissions

Today, I’m continuing the series, Writing a Middle Grade Novel.
Plot is all about problems encountered by the protagonist, the main character. The inciting incident is the first sign of trouble. It’s the event that sets the plot into motion. In my book, Amazing Grace, the inciting incident is the letter that Dad received. The letter was his call to join the Army during WWII, and his daughter knew her world had dramatically changed. 

This event is the moment the character’s world changes from the normal routine to something that disrupts his/her life. When the event occurs, the character needs to react. Bring emotions into play. The event should be important enough to make him/her show both strength and weakness. It’s the reactions and actions that allow the character to grow by the end of the story. 

Inciting incidents should arise in the first one-third of the story, sometime they are in the first paragraph or first chapter, sometimes they are in chapter two or three. As you read books by various authors, notice where the inciting incidents occur and how they are written. Those mentor texts can help in writing your own novel.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Skipping Stones. Writings (essays, stories, letters to the editor, riddles and proverbs, etc.) should be typed or neatly handwritten and limited to 750 words and poems to 30 lines. We encourage writings in all languages with an English translation, if possible. And, we love illustrations! Please send originals of your drawings, paintings, or photos. Include your name, age, and address along with your submission.
Tell us about yourself in a cover letter. What is your cultural background? What languages do you speak or write? What is important to you? What are your dreams and visions for the future? What inspired you to write or create your submission? We might even print your letter!
If you would like a reply from us or your work returned, include a self-addressed envelope with postage stamps. Submissions that do not include SASE's will be recycled if we do not publish them. Allow three months for our reply. When your work is published in Skipping Stones, you will receive a contributor's copy of that issue.
Ideas for Submissions
Share your culture by explaining why a belief or tradition is important to you. Describe your city/village/home. Write and/or illustrate an article on an upcoming theme. Write about a community project you organized, or your experiences in a culture or country. What are your favorite ethnic foods? (Send us the recipe.)

Submission guidelines:

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Skipping Stones. Our readers, ages 7 to 17, hail from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. We want to make their reading of Skipping Stones an active experience, relevant to issues confronting them locally and globally. Writing and artwork by adults should challenge readers to think, learn, cooperate and create.
We encourage adults to submit creative informational stories rather than pure fiction. We prefer submissions focusing on your own culture or experiences. No adult poetry, please.
Submission guidelines:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, Calls for Submissions

Today, I’m continuing the series, Writing a Middle Grade Novel, focusing on pacing. 

Another way to keep the pace of the story moving along is look at the scene as if you’re a photographer. Think visually. What is happening close-up? Take the reader on the journey so s/he can feel, see, hear, taste, and touch the scene. Is there a tear in the dress, is the whimpering that of a dog or a child, or is the burr sticky? Let the readers discover these things as if they were there. 

Pacing differs with the scene. Long sentences tend to slow the pace and short sentences speed the action. If there is a fight scene, short sentences, even one-word can be powerful. Pow! Onomatopoeia (crash, bang, boom) add zip to the story. Sentences can be shortened by eliminating prepositional phrases to move the action along at a faster clip. Instead of writing “the rooms in the cave” state "the cave’s rooms.” 

Action verbs and strong nouns work better because they are specific. Avoid the overuse of adverbs and adjectives. He ran quickly doesn’t work as well as He sprinted.

Cliffhangers are great devices to speed up the action. When a chapter ends with lots of suspense, the reader quickly turns the page to find out what happens next. 

Short chapters and scenes are effective ways to speed up the story. 

Slow scenes and fast-paced scenes both work well. The key is to use the best speed and rhythm for each scene in your manuscript. 

With this blog I’m resuming Call for Submissions for Young Writers. I’ll continue posting these through May, 2015.  

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
The Louisville Review. The Children's Corner, work by students in K-12.
Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, and Drama

Submissions of previously unpublished manuscripts are invited. Prose submissions should be double-spaced and page numbered. Poetry (up to 5 poems) need not be double-spaced. Drama should appear in standard format. Include name on every page. Reply time is 4-6 months. Our editorial staff reads year around. Submissions are recycled. Poetry and prose should be submitted in separate envelopes.
Submission guidelines at
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
ASK is a nonfiction magazine for children 7-10 years old who are curious about science and the world they live in. Each edition of ASK is built around a central theme on some question or concept in the natural, physical, or social sciences, technology, mathematics, history, or the arts. ASK introduces kids to the joys of thinking, writing, and observing scientifically, and presumes them to be active participants in the ongoing search for better knowledge about the world.
ASK articles should read as engaging nonfiction, not like school textbook or encyclopedia material. Intended to be accessible and appealing to newly independent readers (grades 2-5), the ideal ASK article should also be interesting to any general adult reader. ASK looks for articles that are concrete, specific, and relevant to this age group. They should tell a good story, with an emphasis on ideas rather than just facts.
Submission guidelines: