Nancy's Books

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ways to Improve Writing/Call for Submissions

I’m starting a new series, Ways to Improve Writing. Let’s look at some ways to advance our writing, regardless of the age of the audience or the genre.

Beginning with the word There. Of course, we can find instances in which books begin with this vague word, but why? Using a nondescript word is like giving the reader a tranquilizer. There doesn’t encourage interest or build curiosity. Vague words weaken sentences. Instead, use action verbs and descriptive nouns to create a vivid world for the reader to imagine. When writing, I like to think of three children in my target audience reading my words. I want to string the words together so that each reader will “see” a similar image or action. Forming mental pictures is much more difficult to accomplish when using an imprecise word, such as there.
Should there be used, at all? We use this word in our language; therefore it can be reflected in our writing, as well, just not at the beginning of a strong sentence. Example: There is a mountain so high it seems to scrape the clouds. More specific is The high mountain seemed to touch the clouds. The subject is “mountain,” and placing it at the beginning of the sentence immediately forms a visual for the reader.
Here’s an exception. There can be acceptable, especially in dialog, even as the beginning word. “There, there, there. You’ll be okay.” Or “There it is!”
Watch for ways to make your writing stronger. Now, there’s an idea.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Louisville- Spalding University - Check into Word Hotel!: Attention creative writers, visual artists and photographers: submit your work to Word Hotel, the literary journal published by the BFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University. We invite submissions in all genres and a multitude of styles, welcome experimental work, and are particularly hunger to hear from emerging writers (i.e., those who have not yet published a first book). We also crave art: illustrations, photographs, and photographs of artwork. Submit your Word or RTF docs and picture files to We will consider up to three poems (any length), short fiction/CNF up to 2,500 words, and hybrid texts as well. Reading period for the 2014 issue ends December 12. Issue to be published by June 2015. Prizes awarded to top submissions from high school students.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
New Moon Celebrates girls and their accomplishments.  
Upcoming Themes: 

March/April 2015: Follow Your Dreams

Deadline: Dec. 1, 2014

Tell us how you'd love to follow your dreams. Share how a girl (maybe it's you!) is already pursing her passion, or interview a woman who has your dream job.

May/June 2015: 25 Beautiful Girls

Deadline: Dec. 1, 2014

Nominate a girl and tell us about her inner beauty! Go to the Beautiful Girls survey at the "Get Involved" box at We feature all Beautiful Girls in the magazine and at our online girls' community.

July/August 2015: Hello, Mother Nature!

Deadline: Feb. 1, 2015

Do you love being in the outdoors? Tell us about what nature means to you, and ways to keep our Earth healthy.

September/October 2015:Everything Bestie

Deadline: April 1, 2015

What's your "desert island" pick if you could have just one? We want to know about your fave books, music, food, website (besides!), and much, much more.

November/December 2015: Action: Animals!

Deadline: June 1, 2015

Share your passions for animals here and afar--from endangered species to shelter friends who need homes and service animals.

January/February 2016: What Do YOU Think?

Deadline: August 1, 2015

Take a side, and tell us why! We'll let you know about topics girls love to discuss, and get your pros and cons. 

Submission guidelines at


  1. I totally agree with you about the word "there." It's too passive and unnecessary.

  2. Good reminder to us. Very helpful for the editing process. Thanks.

  3. The key to good writing is rewriting. Rosi, you're right, the editing process is a must. Susan, I agree, passive and unnecessary words strip the flavor out of writing.