Nancy's Books

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Writing for Gatekeepers

Have you ever read a book, an interesting story with lots of tension and at the height of the action when there seemed to be no escape for the character, he wakes up; it was all a dream? If you did, you were probably disappointed.

Editors want stories with a beginning, middle, and ending—a real plot. The character must experience a problem, a conflict, that is introduced early, dealt with throughout the entire story, and resolved (or leave the reader believing a resolution is possible) at the end. Children’s books have positive endings in which the character grows or learns something along the journey. Situations in life can be difficult to live through, but if you learn from the experience and become stronger/ wiser/ smarter, the end result was worth it. The same is true for the fictional situations writers set up for characters. Even though you are writing picture books for young children, don’t make it easy for the protagonist but DO make the problematic situation appropriate for the age group.

When a child reads a book about a character that overcomes her fear of the dark/monsters/riding a bike, the situation resonates and the child relates to the character’s efforts and fears. As the character efforts pays off/overcomes the fear, the child, once again, relates, so do the gatekeepers: agents, editors, parents, librarians, reviewers, teachers…and the list goes on. A child usually does not purchase a picture book. Before a book can reach the hands of a child, many gatekeepers must approve it for reading. So we have to write books that work for the child but also for the gatekeepers.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Canvas. We are seeking writers ages 13-18 to submit:

 Fiction – Please limit submissions to 5,000 words.

Novel Excerpts - Novel and memoir excerpts are acceptable if self-contained (work as a complete narrative).

Poetry – You may submit more than one poem, but please do not exceed 5 pages worth of poetry.

Plays - Please follow standard play format. Limit to 10 pages.

Nonfiction – Essays, memoir, creative nonfiction. Please limit submissions to 5,000 words.  

New Media – Video, images, etc fine for website. But must be accompanied by written version to be considered for print and eBook.

Cross-genre - Experimental work (prose poems, art and writing, fiction and nonfiction hybrids) are highly encouraged, but please keep to the word limit for fiction.

Submission guidelines at

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Timeless Tales exclusively publishes retellings of fairy tales and myths. We only accept submissions that are retellings of the fairytale or myth listed as our theme. We don't accept original fairy tales or stories outside of our current theme.
 These are the known upcoming themes:
Psyche and Cupid (Submission window Jan 25, 2016 - Feb 25, 2016) -- NEW: Now accepting poetry!
Submission guidelines at!submissions/c1vmu

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