Nancy's Books

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Write. Revise. Submit. Repeat.

Bad news. I haven’t received a book contract in about a year. 

Good news. I have two books scheduled for publication this summer/fall.

Bad news. I have NOTHING with a contract attached to it after birthing those two literary babies.

This hit me full force back in January when I was assessing my New Year’s Resolutions. I had been writing faithfully but had not submitted the manuscripts. My focus was writing and revising. At some point shortly thereafter, I changed my goals. Since I had so many manuscripts written, new ones as well as numerous rejected manuscripts going back years, I decided NO MORE NEW manuscripts. I have been retooling the older manuscripts to add spice and new life into them. The new manuscripts still need revision. 

I wrote and rewrote revisions on three manuscripts; then sent them out to publishers. I’ve had a couple of rejections, but both were as positive as rejections go. I was encouraged to send the manuscript to others because the editors though it would work for some, just not that particular publisher. So I did.

Two weeks ago, I must have irritated some muse somewhere. I received three rejections, two in one day. I don’t deny it, rejections pack a powerful punch, but I have tough skin (working on developing rhino hide). I checked my level of stubbornness (still high) and decided to view this whole process as a challenge. I am now revising the same manuscripts, once again. (My writing always leaves ample room for improvement.)

What a difference a week makes. Last week, I received two acceptance notices. One is for a chapter book and the other for an educational picture book. Happy dance time.

What a difference a revision makes.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Frankenstein Bicentennial Dare: Seeking New Stories about Science and Creation
Two centuries ago, on a dare to tell the best scary story, 19-year-old Mary Shelley imagined an idea that became the basis for Frankenstein. Mary’s original concept became the novel that arguably kick-started the genres of science fiction and Gothic horror, but also provided an enduring myth that shapes how we grapple with creativity, science, technology, and their consequences.

Two hundred years later, inspired by that classic dare, we’re challenging you to create new myths for the 21st century.
 Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by writing your own scary story! Tell a short fiction story about the complex relationships between creators and their creations, or write an essay about the evolving relationships between humans and technology in real life. Presented by Arizona State University, National Novel Writing Month, Creative Nonfiction magazine, and Chabot Space and Science Center.
Submission guidelines at
Deadline: July 31, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Know Your Audience, Part 3

In a recent workshop, I met individually with several beginning writers who arrived with manuscripts in hand. The first drafts showed that each had worked hard to develop characters and plots and they had devised interesting dialog, along with a narrative arc that included a happy endings.  So what could be the problem?  

The problems fell into two categories. 

Category 1.  Example: The school-based story involved a history project about Abe Lincoln, but the text was written on a level for children ages 2-3. The concept was excellent but the target audience needed a more sophisticated, in-depth rendering. The word choice was too elementary and the text too sparse for the target audience. The subject of school, history project, and Lincoln are key in determining the audience is of school age. Children in the toddler age group don’t have the life experiences to connect with such a story and the emotional impact is lost.  

Category 2. Example: A family-oriented story about a cat that wanted to play with a ball was text heavy and the word choice was too advanced. Longer text with complex sentence structure is best suited for an older reader, but the character and plot were more in line with a much younger audience.

Every story must relate to the audience. If the character and plot aren’t relevant, the child will not be interested. The language should also reflect the reader’s age. Know the target audience, their needs, likes, interests, and what they think is funny or spooky or weird. Use these elements write a story that ignites interest. 

Call for submissions for Adult Writers
Blue Mountain Arts. Announces Its Twenty-eighth Biannual Poetry Card Contest

1st prize: $300 * 2nd prize: $150 * 3rd prize: $50

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!

Poetry Contest Rules

All entries must be the original creation of the submitting author. All rights to the entries must be owned by the author and shall remain the property of the author. The author gives permission to Blue Mountain Arts, Inc. to publish and display the entry on the Web (in electronic form only) if the entry is selected as a winner or finalist. Winners will be contacted within 45 days of the deadline date. Contest is open to everyone except employees of Blue Mountain Arts and their families. Void where prohibited.

Deadline: June 30, 2016


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Know Your Audience, Part 2

We’ve all heard the adage, Know your audience, but what does it really mean? 

Writing for a particular age group allows an author to be more specific in word choice, sentence length, and content selection. If you’re writing for a younger audience, choose basic information since the focus is an introduction to the subject. Older readers may be more familiar with the topic so consider making a list of what the audience already knows, wants to know, and needs to know. The list will determine the best way to approach the structure and content of the book.  

The age of the audience governs word choice. To be an effective writer, the language must be audience-centered, which is writing that is both understandable and interesting, but that’s not all. Consider the emotional response of the audience. What will they think or feel about this? How interested will they be in the subject? 

Today’s books challenge the readers to think. Creative and interesting ways to approach any and all subjects are the imaginative pearls editors love. Offer the reader a new way of thinking about a subject or character. Rich, vivid language sows the seeds of learning and curiosity. 

Many of us (including moi) are still kids at heart, so tap into your inner child and mine that source to write engaging stories for your target audience. Write what you would enjoy reading. Maurice Sendak, children’s author extraordinaire, said, “I don’t write for children. I write—and somebody says, “that’s for children.”  

Call for submissions for Adult Writers

Sarah Odedina, the new editor-at-large at Pushkin Children’s, is looking to build the children’s list through a new open submissions initiative.

Odedina is looking for full-length novels for readers aged 8+ and is asking potential authors to send in a synopsis of their novel, along with the first 20 pages.

Authors only have 24 hours to send in their work on 20th June before the open submission window closes, however.

Odedina said: “It takes a lot of energy and courage to finish a book and authors must find the process of getting published daunting. Pushkin Press is very positive about talking directly with authors and we hope that our Open Submissions Initiative will help us build bridges with the writing community and lead to some exciting books being published.”

Adam Freudenheim, publisher at Pushkin Press, pointed out that Pushkin Children’s has previously only released books that had already been published in other parts of the world.

“Sarah’s appointment is part of building and extending the children’s list and this open submissions initiative is one innovative way we hope to reach out to and discover up-and-coming writers,” he said.

Odedina joined Pushkin in February, after holding previous publisher and editorial roles at OneWorld, Hot Key Books and Bloomsbury.

The Open Submissions Initiative will run for a 24-hour period on 20th June and authors can send their material to with the subject line ‘SARAH ODEDINA OPEN SUBMISSION MATERIAL’.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Know Your Audience, Part 1

In a recent post, I discussed writing to meet the needs and wants of a target audience. One of the most effective ways to target an audience with writing is to talk with members of a particular age group and simply ask what they like to read. Feedback is literary gold because the answers are authentic. Whether you talk with one or many, enjoy a friendly discussion on types of reading material and topics. The need of one may be the need of many. 

Knowing you audience is the key to the voice of the piece. Does an eight-year-old protagonist sound like an eight-year-old? If the answer is no, further revision is necessary. Imagine you were in an automobile accident. The way the character relates the details should be different according to the person s/he is talking with. If the character is talking to the police, a more serious tone would work. If telling friends, more humor may be expected. In fact, the character may brag to friends that he darted into traffic and tell the police that he stumbled.  

Either way, the character should mirror the actions/reactions and speech of a child the same age. The first question to ask is Who is reading or listening to this book? Adapt the content accordingly.  

Call for submissions for Adult Writers

Writing for Animals Nonfiction Anthology. Ashland Creek Press is currently accepting nonfiction submissions for a new anthology, Writing for Animals: An anthology for writers and instructors to educate and inspire.

From Franz Kafka’s Report to the Academy to Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are Completely Beside Ourselves, animals have played a central role in literature. Increasingly, writers are playing a central role in advancing awareness of animal issues through the written word.

And yet little has been written about the process of writing about animals—from crafting point of view to voice. Writers who hope to raise awareness face many questions and choices in their work, from how to educate without being didactic to how to develop animals as characters for an audience that still views them as ingredients. We hope to address these issues and more with a new collection of articles, by writers and for writers—but most of all, for the animals.

We seek articles from authors and educators about the process of writing about animals in literature.* Our focus is on including a mix of instructional and inspirational articles to help readers not only improve their work but be inspired to keep at it. Articles may be previously published and should not exceed 10,000 words.

The deadline is January 3, 2017. Accepted submissions will receive a stipend of $100 plus a copy of the finished book upon publication.

Submission guidelines at