Nancy's Books

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy New Year Greetings for Writers

2016 offers hope for old dreams and new beginnings, choice words with fresh voice, and a blank page to write. May the new year bring the joy of seeing your writing sparkle.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

This blog will continue with writing information goodies in January 2016.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Let’s Talk Picture Books, Part 6

It’s important to know what to write to get a picture book contract, and it’s just as important to know what NOT to write. Slice of life stories seldom get smiled upon by agents or editors, but they have become a little more popular after 9/11. When editors state that a manuscript is quiet or is a mood book, she means the story doesn’t have enough tension. These stories are a glimpse into a character’s life (slice of life). There is little action but the story makes the reader feel good. GOODNIGHT MOON is an example.

Mood or quiet stories are vignettes that involve a character in an activity with no conflict. Example: Billy goes for a ride on his bike. He sees a friend. They play a game of basketball. He rides to the ballgame and plays all afternoon. On his way home he meets his sister and gives her a ride on his bike. His day has been fun and now he’s ready to settle in for the night.
One of my early submissions years ago was a slice-of-life story about a day in the life of a young girl. An editor wrote in the rejection letter that nothing was happening to interest or intrigue the reader. She said my story was “too quiet.”
If you have written such a story, analyze it to discover a weakness or flaw in the character. In the example I gave, maybe the boy could have a fight with his friend, or maybe he could be afraid of the ball and his teammates blame him for losing the game. Within the story you just might find a hidden gem of a story waiting to unfold.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Launch Pad. A bimonthly magazine dedicated to publishing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, book reviews, and artwork written and created by children ages 6-12.
Submission guidelines at
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Jack and Jill (Ages 7-12).
FICTION: We accept full manuscripts of 600-800 words. The tone of the stories should be fun and engaging. Stories should hook readers right from the get-go and pull them through the story. Humor is very important! Dialogue should be witty instead of just furthering the plot. The story should convey some kind of positive message. Possible themes could include self-reliance, being kind to others, appreciating other cultures, and so on. There are a million positive messages, so get creative! Kids can see preachy coming from a mile away, though, so please focus on telling a good story over teaching a lesson. The message—if there is one—should come organically from the story and not feel tacked on.
NONFICTION: We accept nonfiction manuscripts of 700 words or less. We are especially interested in features or Q&As with regular kids (or groups of kids) in the Jack and Jill age group who are engaged in unusual, challenging, or interesting activities. No celebrity pieces please.
POETRY: We accept poems of up to 30 lines. Poems should include unique topics that appeal to kids like sports, pets, friendship, seasonal activities, vacations, and school activities.
PUZZLES, ACTIVITIES & GAMES: In general, we prefer to use in-house generated material for this category but on occasion we do receive unique and fun puzzles, games or activities through submissions. Please make sure you are submitting a truly unique activity for our consideration.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Let’s Talk Picture Books, Part 5

In earlier blogs, I have mentioned that editors did not often swoon when receiving submissions written in rhyme. Often, writers force the rhyme at the expense of the plot or add unnecessary words to keep the rhyme. Exceptions are always possible so just because it hasn’t been done often doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Stories about inanimate objects that come to life are difficult to write and difficult to nab a contract, also. Two train stories have become popular: THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD and THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE. THE GIVING TREE is also a classic about an inanimate object, but a book about a window that won’t open or a rock that can’t roll will probably not garner more than a rejection letter. Children want stories in which action impacts plot, where something happens. It is difficult to develop an inanimate object as the main character in a picture book. This works better in videos where sound and motion work together to build the character. THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT is also another example that inanimate objects can work, but it doesn’t seem to happen often in the publishing world.
Dolls and toys as the main characters can work. Children relate to these, such as the VELVETEEN RABBIT. Dolls look like people and it’s easy to imagine them become real.
What works best as main characters are children and animals, because a young child relates to both. By attributing human frailties to animals make them seem real. Kids identify with the characters’ weaknesses and mistakes. Many popular picture books showcase imperfect characters that grow and learn. Engaging, humorous stories that inspire and can withstand multiple readings are always searched for by editors and agents. 
Call for Submissions for Young and Adult Writers:
Kiki Magazine is an independent magazine owned and operated by women who care about girls. Kiki uses the college fashion design curriculum to tap into girls' creativity, including business, fine art, craft, history, world culture, math, and even chemistry. The publication accepts submissions of illustrations, artwork, photos, or articles from all ages.
Submission guidelines at