Nancy's Books

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Delicious Story Development/Call for Submissions

The first paragraph should introduce the main character and show the character in action. Soon, very soon, introduce the problem. The main character needs to face difficulty early in the first chapter. In picture books, introduce the problem within the first three pages.

The second course is the middle. This is where the story can sag and become boring. Enhance the flavor with surprising, unexpected problems for the main character. When we increase the tension, we reel in the reader. Throw more obstacles/challenges at the character so s/he will struggle even more. Their lives should become more complicated. As one problem is resolved, replace it with an even greater one. Emotions should reach their peak as the character faces what seem insurmountable odds, a true crisis. Always keep in mind what would happen if the protagonist fails.
The third course is dessert, the story ending that is sweet and delicious. If the protagonist hasn’t resolved all issues to a satisfactory conclusion, at least, there should be hope. Two ideas to keep in mind when writing endings: what does the reader expect and what works best for your story. The key to a successful conclusion is the hero getting what s/he wants most, not necessarily getting everything.
Ideas are aromas. They tease us with a whiff of what could develop in a story. They are merely seeds that need to be planted, cultivated, and harvested to produce a delicious story.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Dream Quest One Poetry and Writing Contest! This poetry contest and writing contest is open to everyone and international.  We are excited about showcasing the creative writing and poetic talent, skill and ability of all poets and writers.  We hope that you have inspiration to display the beauty and art of writing short stories and poems for the entire world to see your "gift of a dream."

Writing Contest entries
may be written on a maximum of (5) pages, either neatly handwritten or typed, single or double line spacing, on any subject or theme.
  • Poetry Contest entries may be written on any subject or theme. All poems must be 30 lines or fewer and either neatly handwritten or typed, single or double line spacing.
The Mission of Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is to inspire, motivate and encourage anyone having the desire or love of poetry and writing, to continue doing so without fear of failure or success! Remember, in whatever you do, "it's okay to dream," for dreams do come true...
Deadline: July 31, 2015
Submission Guidelines at

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Story Beginnings/Call for Submissions

I recently heard a speaker compare a story to a dinner. The beginning is the appetizer. Appetizers are delicate, interesting pieces that tantalize the hunger and make us anticipate the meal with high expectations. The story middle is the main course, satisfying and delicious. That leaves the ending dessert, which should be small (short) and sweet. A happy ending works well in children’s literature. The reader closes the book feeling fulfilled and looking forward to the next literary meal.

The beginning is the most difficult part of the story to write. Let’s look at some ways to tantalize the reader.
The first sentence should be intriguing or exciting to hook the reader’s interest. Let’s look at some ways to do hook ‘em in.
Humor is an effective method.
Ragweed by Avi begins with "Ma, a mouse has to do what a mouse has to do." That sentence sets the tone for the humorous book.
Build excitement or tension.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy: “Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches stood at the top of a high mountain surrounded by a pine forest.”
By creating a mystery or a problem.
I began my book, Amazing Grace, with “My day began like every other day in 1944—ordinary—then the mysteries unfolded, not one, but two.”
By challenging (or reversing) the reader's expectations.
Try writing a beginning line for this type of opening. I’ll start. The biggest, baddest wolf in the whole forest feared only one thing—Little Miss Hen.
Practice writing beginning sentences for your manuscript even after it is complete.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Stories of Music. We are seeking new and published authors and artists to share works focused on music and the impact it has on people's lives. Whether it expresses a story of healing, community, cultural or family traditions, musicianship, travel experiences, an historical account, or any other experience with music, we invite you to tell your story. This opportunity is open to anyone, from anywhere in the world.

This page is intended to be a guide as you prepare your submission. If you need any help during the submission process, please contact us. We would be happy to assist you.
Deadline June 1, 2015.
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Writing a Synopsis

Another way to look at writing a synopsis is a take on writing a newspaper article—

Who (protagonist), What (main conflict), Where (setting), and Why should I care? Make the editor CARE. Make the editor want to read more. Make the editor want to turn your manuscript into a book.
What is the emotional toll on the protagonist? Does the character fear something? If so, make that know in the synopsis. Play up the emotion aspects of the story because that is the heart of the story and what sets it apart from other books. Focus on the conflict, that which drives the plot and forces the character into action.
Just like your manuscript, your synopsis needs time to breathe, to percolate, to marinate. Put it aside for three or four weeks. When you read it again with fresh eyes, you are more likely to see gaps or figure out ways to make the editor salivate.
Since you have a lot to say in a few words, choose your words carefully. Use action verbs. Play with the word and sentences to make them lively and reflective of the manuscript.
At this point, pat yourself on the back, because you have finished the manuscript. That’s an achievement and a dream come true. If you can write a manuscript, you can certainly tackle a synopsis, head-on.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
We are a YA lit/comics magazine fascinated with the lyric and strange and committed to work that speaks to teens’ truths. We publish poetry, realistic and genre fic, essay, and comics by adults and teens. Nonfiction up to 5,000 words and fiction up to 9,000 words. Stories and articles
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Writing a Synopsis

This blog is continuing with information on writing a synopsis.

If you’re writing a one-page synopsis, write one paragraph on each of the characteristics listed in the previous blog post. If it’s one-paragraph summary, briefly incorporate all of them in a few sentences.
Stay focused on the main problem and don’t deal with sub-plots and minor characters. After you’ve written the main points, revise to add voice and tone that matches the story. Consider the necessity of each word and cut out those that don’t expand the meaning or add voice.
Here’s a synopsis of my children's novel, AMAZING GRACE, I wrote for a query letter that garnered a contract:
Eleven-year-old Grace Ann Brewer’s comfortable life is torn apart when her father joins the Army in 1944 during WWII. Her family moves from Hazard to Ashland, Kentucky, to live with her grandmother. Grace enrolls in a new school and is immediately forced to deal with a bully, but the greatest challenge is to keep a positive outlook as she fears that her father has been injured—or worse—when his letters stop arriving in the mail. Gumption, that’s what Grace’s grandmother tells her she must have, but gumption isn’t easy to grasp when she listens to the wireless, a radio, that keeps the home front updated with the frightening events of the war. Grace finds solace in writing letters to her father and even more comfort in talking with her dog, Spot. With amazing strength Grace fights her own battles on the home front.
Next week, I’ll look at another way to write a synopsis.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Blue Mountain Arts Announces Its Twenty-sixth Biannual Poetry Card Contest
1st prize: $300 * 2nd prize: $150 * 3rd prize: $50

In addition, the winning poems will be displayed on our website
Please read the following, then scroll down to submit your poem.

Poetry Contest Guidelines:
  1. Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, although we find that non-rhyming poetry reads better.
  2. We suggest that you write about real emotions and feelings and that you have some special person or occasion in mind as you write.
  3. Poems are judged on the basis of originality and uniqueness.
  4. English-language entries only, please.
  5. Enter as often as you like!
Deadline: June 30, 2015
Submission guidelines at

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Dreaded Synopsis

Writers need a one-paragraph synopsis of the manuscript for the cover/query letter and a one-page (or more, check guidelines for each publisher) synopsis for chapter books and novels. I find a synopsis anything but easy to write. Condensing the entire book into one paragraph or one page and retain the tone and voice of the manuscript is simply difficult. That’s not all. The summary should be intriguing, tantalizing, and irresistible in such a way the editor/agent wants to read the manuscript. A tall order, I must say.

One way to get an idea of what to write is to read blurbs on the jackets of books in a bookstore or library. Read lots of them. On-line, search publishers' websites and read book blurbs.
Let’s analyse a synopsis.
The goal is to introduce the characters and explain the basic overall plot in a few sentences. Begin with the main character. Who is s/he before the story begins? (If you don’t know this, interview your character to get to know him/her better).
What happened to create a problem for the character (inciting incident)?
What is preventing the character from attaining the goal? What made the plans fall apart?
What is the darkest moment, the time when it seems the character cannot possible achieve the goal?
What is the resolution? How does the character overcome the odds and prevail?
Next week, I’ll continue with information about writing a synopsis.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
I will resume providing this information in September.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Diverse Books Contest If you write MG and have a diverse background, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities, you may be interested in submitting a short story to We Need Diverse Books. They are putting together an anthology of children’s literature to be published in January 2107.

Phoebe Yeh, VP/Publisher of Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House, has acquired publication rights to this Middle Grade WNDB Anthology, working title “Stories For All Of Us.”

The anthology will be in memory of Walter Dean Myers and it will be inspired by his quote: “Once I began to read, I began to exist.” Every new story contribution to this anthology will be by a diverse author.

WNDB is proud to announce that the anthology will have one story reserved for a previously unpublished diverse author. WNDB will fill that slot via a short story contest. The winner will be included in the anthology and will receive a payment of $1000 US.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The submission window is narrow, so if you want to submit you should start writing and polishing, but you can not send it in until April 27th 2015 when they start accepting submissions. The window for submissions is only open for 12 days (until 5:00PM EST on May 8th, 2015).
Short Story Rules

§ All submissions (short story or illustrated story) must be in English and never before published in any medium, print or digital.
§ Submissions must be no longer than 5000 words.
§ All submissions must be electronic and sent to the following email address:
§ All submissions must also be appropriate for a middle grade audience, ages 8 to 12.
§ If your submission is illustrated, it must be in a graphic novel format, but no longer than 10 pages.
§ Illustrations must be submitted electronically. Do NOT mail hard copy submissions to WNDB. They will not be reviewed, nor will they be returned.
§ First prize winner will receive an award of $1000 plus their entry will be published as part of the WNDB Anthology to be released by Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House Children’s Books in January 2017.
§ Two runner-up winners will receive honorable mentions and awards of $250 each.