Nancy's Books

Sunday, September 25, 2016

How’s Your Inner Critic?

Quote: “Your inner voice whispers, but speaks the loudest.”
Matshona Dhliwayo

Yes, I have been hearing voices in my head and those voices have names, Inner Critic. My Inner Critic fills me with uncertainty by shouting about my writing failures or tells me I don’t have enough talent to finish the book. Sometimes the know-it-all tells me I’m wasting my time because the manuscript will be rejected. Another name for the Inner Critic is Self-Doubt. I’m up to his tricks (or is it a her?) of trying to erode my confidence.

Usually, I don’t have a problem with the first draft or even when I’m revising. Inner Critic pays a visit when I have a request for a rewrite from an editor, especially when the directions are vague, such as I need to feel more emotion from the character or when the revision notes are multi-paged, single spaced. What? That much of the story doesn’t work, yet the editor is still interested.  

The first thing I do is read through the notes once, maybe twice. Then I do what comes naturally: I walk away from the notes and the computer. My Inner Critic is yakking. Who are you kidding? You can’t do this. What if you do all that work and she decides to pass on the manuscript? That’s a lot of time to invest. 

Inner Critic is an emotional barometer that most writers deal with. We can either let it drown us in fear to the point that we quit writing or we can use it as a motivator to gear up for a challenge. If all else fails, I feed it chocolate to shut it up; then we’re both happy. 

Next week, I’ll discuss ways I handle the fear and use the fear to improve my creative deeds. 

Call for submissions for Young Writers

The Daphne Review. We accept submissions from high school age artists only (ages 13-18). All submissions must be original works by a sole creator and must not  be previously published/printed. Any evidence of plagiarism or theft of ideas or images will result in the rejection of your submission.

 Written Submission Guidelines:

Each written submission should include the following materials:

1.) Introductory cover letter

2.) The written work, submitted as an attached Microsoft word document titled as follows: “Last Name_First Name” 

Art Submission Guidelines:

Each art submission should include the following materials:

1.) Introductory cover letter, including a brief bio in third person

2.) Attachment image of artwork in JPG format at a minimum resolution of 300 dpi. These attached image files should be titled as follows: “Last Name_First Name.”

3.) If the submitted work is part of a series (a triptych or comic strip, for example) then please number each image in the order in which they should appear. For example: “Last Name_First Name_1” and so on. 

Please send all submissions to


Call for submissions for Adult Writers

Anthology call: “Our upcoming second anthology on multiples, Multiples Illuminated: Life With Twins and Triplets, the Toddler to Tween Years, will focus on stories about twins, triplets, or more from the toddler to tween years (ages two to 12). Editors Megan Woolsey and Alison Lee, both writers, and mothers of multiples (triplets and twins respectively), are calling writers who would like to contribute a personal essay and/or advice on their experience from the years of tantrums to a world of tampons and tween awkwardness. We are looking for stories that are honest, heartwarming, heart wrenching, and humorous.” Unpublished work only.

Deadline: November 30, 2016.

Submission guidelines at

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dealing with Rejection, part 2

"A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success."-Bo Bennett 

If a story is rejected several times, I shelve it for a few weeks, or months, and then reevaluate it. When I reread a shelved manuscript, I look for reasons the story is NOT publishable. If enough reasons pop up their ugly heads and I can’t figure out a way to correct the ugliness, I reshelve the rascal. Not all manuscripts are publishable, but I never discard one. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to rehab at some point in the future. Maybe my skills as a writer haven’t developed enough to write in a particular style. Maybe I’ll hone those skills and produce a better story later. Maybe I’ll use bits and pieces of a non-publishable work in another manuscript where they are a cozy fit. 

I try to appreciate the rejections. Hard to believe, huh? Some editors provide notes on what didn’t or did work. That gives me a basis from which to reevaluate the piece. Or a string of rejections with no comments also speaks volumes. Either way, I’ve learned.  

Fact: I can’t change the marketplace, but I can change what I write, so I focus on what I can control. I work to improve my writing and place all my energy on what I can change.

Develop a thick skin so rejection can’t become disabling. I’ve received so many rejections over the years, hundreds really. They still perturb me with a wasp-like sting, but I never think that I’ll quit writing because of one or two or more.  

Every writer works at his/her own pace. There is no right or wrong recipe for success. Try writing  in different genres and follow work schedules that adapt to your lifestyle. When I’ve done everything I can and still receive a rejection, I think of it as proof of my efforts. I finished the manuscript and shipped it out so that’s worthy of celebration. Pass the chocolate, please. 

Call for submissions for Young Writers

Ember is a semiannual journal of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction for all age groups. Submissions for and by readers aged 10 to 18 are strongly encouraged.
Submissions are managed through our Submission Manager, powered by Submittable. If you submit by e-mail, we will direct you to use our Submission Manager instead. A link to the submission manager can be found at the bottom of this page, after you have read through the submission guidelines.

Call for submissions for Adult Writers

Intergeneration Storytelling Contest rules:
  1. Stories must include characters from more than one generation.
  2. Stories must be original and unpublished, and may be fiction, non-fiction, or a combination.
  3. Stories may not exceed 400 words.
  4. Stories must be provided via copying and pasting the text into the body of your e-mail submission.
  5. Your e-mail submission must be sent through our website’s submission form, and include the author’s name, exact mailing address and e-mail contact in order that all winners may be advised immediately upon winning (contact information will remain private).
Deadline:  September 30, 2016.

Submission guidelines at


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Dealing with Rejection

Rejection hurts. That’s the simple truth. But if a writer garners contracts, s/he has to put up with rejections. I was asked to blog about ways to deal with rejection by several people, so here’s what I do. 

I moan to my critique partner, who understands completely because she, too, is a writer. (Hugs to you, Sandi.) Understanding that I’m not alone in the volume of rejected queries allows me to have more perspective. All writers receive rejections. 

Sometimes I mumble and gripe to my literary muses (two miniature schnauzers) that the editor didn’t “get” the story (but of course she “got” enough of it to understand it wasn’t right for the publisher). My reasoning can be a little warped when the rejections pour in, but the mental warp makes me feel better.  

I don’t fret beyond the day I receive the rejection. I move on with another project or send the rejected manuscript out to another editor. Remember, it only takes one editor to love the work and deem it contract worthy. Different editors have hugely different opinions about what is a great story. 

If a story is rejected several times, I store it away, temporarily. After a few months (sometimes, years) I reexamine the manuscript with fresh eyes. If my story seem to have merit, I rewrite and resubmit. (That’s what I’ve been doing the last few months and snatched a few contracts.) Sometimes the rewrite bears little resemblance to the original story. AMAZING GRACE began as a picture book (rejected). I rewrote it as a chapter book (rejected). After I rewrote it as a middle grade novel, it found a home with a publisher. 

Next week, I’ll look at other ways I deal with rejection. 

Call for submissions for Young and Adult Writers:

Submissions for Wee Tales and Refractions must be age appropriate for the journal (7 to 12 for Wee Tales, 13 and up for Refractions). If you have something more geared toward an adult market please still submit it for our next possible run of Deep Waters. General and Refractions short submissions should be between 1000 and 5000 words, Wee Tales submissions should be between 600 and 2000 words. Adult and teen writers are invited to submit. 

Submission guidelines at

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Remaining Positive in a Negative Atmosphere

My journey into the world of writing started later in life, age forty to be exact. A late bloomer, that’s me, but I had a big dream: writerdom (a homemade word). At the time I failed to realize writerdom was not in my immediate future. I put my dream into action and began writing, collecting rejections and an occasional tidbit of encouragement from editors, and creating a host of manuscripts that would never wrangle a copyright date. ONCE UPON A DIME, my first book, showed up on my doorstep almost ten years later. I was thrilled beyond belief and knew I could knock out another book lickety-split. Wrong! Overnight success bypassed me, but five years later, I held my second book, ON THE BANKS OF THE AMAZON. On a positive note, I had cut the waiting time in half.

The primary element that kept me thinking positively was my job. Every day, I read picture books to students in the school where I was a librarian. I continued to fall in love with new stories, watched students’ reactions to the stories, and read a wide variety of authors and types of picture books, on the job training at its best. Seeing how authors approached and plotted stories, developed characters and hooks, and played with words immersed me in lyrical literature. My daily activities forced my dream to stay alive.
Rejections poured in but so did new children’s books. The excitement of finding authors, whose words tingled and teased my senses, balanced the disappointment of “No, but thank you” letters.
I learned to embrace failure—to view a rejection as a challenge—and accept those tidbits of advice and encouragement the occasional editor sent my way. Still, I struggled to write a publishable manuscript, but I recognized that the business of publishing is frustrating to all authors. I’m not alone. The struggle is real as much today as when I first began, maybe more so. I’ll continue to accumulate rejections, but more importantly, I’ll continue to write, learn, and grow as an author.
On another note, beginning this month, I’m including markets for young authors to submit work.
Call for submissions for Young Writers:

Amazing Kids! Magazine is excited to announce our first Money Smarts contest, which is now open for submissions! September is the time kids start getting back into school and learning. For our contest, we want you to write a story about a character that learns a money lesson. We are looking for creative and fresh stories about learning a money lesson. Let your imaginations soar!

This contest is open to kids all around the world in ages 7 – 15. We have split the categories into the following age groups: 7 – 9, 10 – 11, 12 – 14, and 15 – 18. One winner will be chosen in each category to win a Solitaire Chess game and FootBubbles along with an official certificate verifying their winning entry and publication in the Amazing Kids! Magazine.

Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for Adult Writers:
Alphie Dog Fiction. We will consider stories from 1,000 words to 10,000 words for adult stories and 500 words to 10,000 words for children’s stories. The minimum word count is not flexible and does not include the story title. We consider a wide range of genres, including children’s, but not including stories which are graphically violent or pornographic in nature or erotica. Please don’t be put off if your story does not fit a classic genre, but give the best description you can of where you see it sitting. We want to offer our readers variety and enable them to choose stories to fit their mood.
Deadline: from 19th September to 16th October

Submission guidelines at