Nancy's Books

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ways to Improve Writing

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing” and focusing on character emotions.
Consider writing an embarrassing situation for your character. Everyone experiences moments of humiliation. Embarrassment humanizes characters and help readers identify with them.  
Place your character in a bad situation and make it worse…and worse. Don’t go easy on the main character. Tension keeps the story interesting and the reader reading. If embarrassment doesn’t work for you, try painful or stressful or all three.

Allow the character to express anger through dialog, body language, and thoughts. As in real life, the character will react to difficult situations. The character responses should be consistent with his/her personality. Susie might throw a remote control while Ben would be more likely to land a punch. One character may be slow to anger and another is easily provoked.

Make the character suffer. Of course, by the end of the story, you can let your softer side prevail and create a world that works for the long-suffering character.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Crashtest is an biannual online magazine founded and run by the creative writing students at the Fine Arts Center, a public arts high school in Greenville, South Carolina, so that students in high schools all over the country will have a place to publish work that tests limits, asks questions, rejects the easy answers, risks obliteration, believes in failure, is suspicious of scripted success.
Submission guidelines at Kids Magazine. We are looking for the very best material by students (ages 8–16). Material may include cartoons, songs, stories between 500 and 1200 words, puzzles, photographs, artwork, games, editorials, poetry, and plays, as well as any other creative work that can fit in the pages of the magazine. As long as it's creative, we're interested!
All materials must be mailed to:
Submissions Editor
Creative Kids
P.O. Box 8813
Waco, Texas 76714-8813
Submission guidelines at
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Unagented authors will be able to send their manuscripts direct to the imprint for two weeks in March, with the event being held to celebrate two years of Tinder Press. The open submissions period will take place from March 2nd to 15th, with authors asked to submit 50 pages, an outline and an author biography. Only previously unpublished writers of fiction can take part, and short stories as well as novels will be considered. All submitted books must be complete, and written in English.

Submission guidelines at

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ways to Improve Writing

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing” and focusing on character emotions.
Think of your characters as real people, and like people, some display emotions more easily than others and in different ways. One character may be more verbal and another more physical (hits the wall with a fist.)
The next time you get angry or frustrated or extremely worried, try writing your feelings. Use your anger or anxiousness in a scene to show the character’s emotional “truth.”
Rather than telling how the character felt (Jill was angry) or writing a weak adverb in a dialog tag such as “she shouted angrily,” use strong verbs to convey emotions.
“Shut up. Just shut up,” she said as she stomped out and slammed the door behind her.” This works better because the reader is involved in the action as it is happening and through the use of a strong verb, slammed. The physical cues clue the reader in on what the character’s anger looks like.
When we are extremely upset, our body and hand movements can be jerky and more expressive. Consider using facial expressions to show emotions. A narrowing of the eyes, puffed cheeks, face in a wad, and with kids—sticking out a tongue.
Anger is an interesting emotion. It’s a part of every human so don’t be afraid to let anger energize your character.
Call for submissions for Young Writers:
7th Annual Junior Authors Short Story Writing Contest
Ages 9 to 21 | All Countries | Free to Enter
Entries accepted in June only (June 1 – 30)
Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for Adult Writers:


Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for any Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop. (For a complete list of workshops, visit
*Entrants must be at least 16 years old at the time of submission.
We welcome work from both published and unpublished authors. All submissions must be previously unpublished and not found online.
Stories may be any length up to 750 words. Indicate the word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of your manuscript.
No crime, violence, or derogatory humor.
Entries not accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope will not be returned.
Manuscripts or envelopes should be clearly marked FICTION CONTEST. Those not marked in this way will be considered as regular submissions to Highlights.
Highlights for Children
803 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
Deadline:  January 31, 2015.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ways to Improve Writing

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing” and focusing on character emotions.
A character’s actions can tell even more than dialog. A response that contradicts her words adds another layer of emotions. “Yes, of course you’re invited,” she answered, balling her hand into a fist so hard she cracked her favorite pencil. This works to elevate tension in a plot, as well. The reader feels the emotion.
When emotions run high, tension is increased and perceptions can be stronger. In a dark alley late at night, a character relies on all senses to guard against danger. Fear is shown different ways by different characters. One might not look directly into the eyes of someone s/he fears; another might stare wide-eyed. Some may sweat or shake due to the increased adrenaline. Does the character have a nervous tic? Make it noticeable in tension-filled situations.
Body language helps to develop a character, reveal emotions, and strengthen the story. Don’t just tell the reader the character is afraid, make the reader feel the fear. Describe the physical effects.
Think about a time when you were anxious, frightened, or panicked. Draw on those memories to write authentic emotions.
Call for submissions for Young Writers:
ONE TEEN STORY. Contest submissions will be accepted from May 1st to June 30th, 2015!
If you love to write, we’re looking for one great story. One Teen Story will consider original, unpublished fiction written by teens ages 14-19. We are interested in great fiction of any genre—literary, fantasy, sci-fi, love stories, and horror. What’s in a great short story? Interesting characters, a unique voice, and of course, a beginning, middle and end.
Call for submissions for Adult Writers:
Reader’s Digest Writing Contest. Contest is open to residents of the U.S., its territories and possessions, including Puerto Rico who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Tell us your original poem, in 15 lines or fewer. The entry must not be lewd, obscene, sexually explicit, pornographic, disparaging, defamatory, libelous or otherwise inappropriate or objectionable, as determined by the Judges and/or Sponsor in their sole and absolute discretion.

Prize(s): One grand-prize winner will receive $500 and his/her story will be published in Reader’s Digest Magazine. Reader’s Digest will also select three (3) runner-up winners to receive $100.
Deadline: January 31, 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ways to Improve Writing

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing.”

Play into a character’s emotions as you write. By showing the reader how the character feels, the character seem more real, and that is the goal.
Fear flooded my entire body as I watched the bear walk closer. The reader is not going to feel the character’s fear because the character isn’t feeling it. The emotion has not been revealed. Stating that a character feels fear is telling.
Show how the character feels and reacts. The bear walked closer. My hands trembled and my heart pounded so hard, it hammered my ears works much better because you have placed the reader in the middle of the action. Emotions trigger a body’s physical reactions.
Thoughts and dialog also suggest emotions.
Thought: Why can’t he just shut up? And dialog: “You think I did what?”
Use such mental and verbal responses to showcase a character’s feelings. The more real the character, the more engaged the reader.
Website for Young Writers:
The only way to become a storyteller is to tell stories. The way to become a better storyteller is to learn new storytelling skills. And the way to become the best storyteller is to develop your own storytelling techniques. The best way to do all this is to explore many different kinds of storytelling. To find a storytelling project, with a story, craft, and activity, that you can do right now, stop in at the ClubRoom Page to learn about telling a Story Sprite Story with Storytellling Cards.
Call for Submissions for Adult  Writers: CHICKEN SOUP: HOLIDAY EDITION

Everyone loves holiday stories and that’s why our holiday books are so popular. In fact, we create a new edition for Christmas/Hanukah every other year. We are now collecting stories for our Holiday 2015 book and we are defining Christmas as the entire December holiday season, including Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and the New Year’s festivities too. We want to hear about your holiday memories and traditions. If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. 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 January 31, 2015.
Submission guidelines at