Nancy's Books

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The following trends seem to be what editors are currently looking for. Check the previous blog post for the remainder of the list.

Diverse books are popular. These works represent a wide range of cultures, family structures, and experiences. The books are about diverse characters that reflect the real world, but the stories themselves are not about diversity. Subject matter includes economic disparity, race, religion, and disability. Authentic characters and a great imagination can lead to a contract.
Nonfiction for all age group continues to grow. Writers are finding innovative ways to approach a wide range of subjects. Nonfiction has evolved into a broader definition. Author’s voice and the structure of how the story is formatted and told offer innovative approaches to new nonfiction titles available today. Back matter is information located in the back of some nonfiction titles.
Creative nonfiction is a growing market. These books read much the way fiction stories do. I used a combination of poetry and prose in my eBook, IF CLOUDS COULD TALK. Editors want more creative nonfiction, especially on subjects that have not been extensively covered.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) books are increasingly used by schools and home schooling advocates. My first book, ONCE UPON A DIME, involves the reader using math to figure out how much money grew on the tree each season.
Writers who tap into these types of books and storytelling improve their chances of getting their books picked up by publishers.
Since no overwhelming trend dominates and because children’s literature spans a wide range of age groups, an individual title can shine. Strong writing and creative approaches to subjects always prevail.
Call for submissions for Young Writers: 

Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young WritersRestrictions: Open to writers aged 16-18. Genre: Poem (1). Prize: Full scholarship to The Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop, an intensive two-week summer seminar for writers aged 16-18. Deadline: November 30, 2016.  

Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for Adult Writers:

Upworthy reaches a massive audience with meaningful stories every day, and we're looking for original stories that support our mission of creating a better world. That's where you come in. We're currently accepting pitches from freelancers for stories that are:

Surprising: Is the topic, narrative, character, or outcome something truly new?

Meaningful: If a million people saw this story, would it make the world a better place?

Visual: Are there enough visual elements to engage readers who might be skimming on a phone?

Shareable: Would you share it? Would your friends share it? Most importantly, would your mom's friend share it?

Our stories are generally short (usually less than 500 words), but we're open to unusual ideas that will resonate with millions of people, and we love to experiment. Most stories of this short length will be paid at a fair base rate with traffic and distribution bonuses, and all of that will be hashed out in your contract if we decide to work together.

Submission guidelines a t

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trends in Children’s Literature, Part 1

The world of children’s literature is constantly changing. Writing to a trend is not recommended but understanding the market is critical to getting contracts. The following is some trends I’ve noticed as I research editors.

Print books are alive and well.
Digital books are also popular. The interactive component of these books add to their popularity.
Board books are the fastest growing books in juvenile titles. These are durable, cardboard page books designed for ages newborn – age 3. Since 2013, they have grown in publication at a rate of 20% per year.
Graphic novels are in high demand among many editors and publishing houses. The graphic novel format is showing up in chapter books and picture books.
Paperback books continue to rise in sales.
Picture books are on the upswing again after a lull of a few years. Competition is fierce and the text is short.
Chapter books are becoming a little more popular, especially series. The story needs commercial appeal with a strong hook.
Middle grade fiction is the winner at the moment. Manuscripts for this age group are reaping the most contracts and the books garner the most sales. Humorous stories are sought by editors and publishers and, most of all, readers. Adventure series, fantasy, science fiction, and standalone books.
Young adult books are still popular. Contemporary stories that deal with realistic issues. Also, fantasy and world building.
Next week, I’ll continue the list of latest trends.
Call for submissions for Young Writers:

Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School StudentsRestrictions: Student writers in the 11th grade. Prizes: First Prize – $500, Second Prize – $250, Third Prize – $100. Deadline: November 27, 2016.

Call for submissions for Adult Writers

Literary e-clectic. Story Submissions: As we said above, the only two requirements for the content is that it falls under the quarterly theme and that it is between 1,000-8,000 words.  

Artwork: Renfield Press is looking for cover artwork to feature in upcoming issues. We consider all forms of art and ask that artists submit up to five images per theme. 

Themes and Submission Periods: 

Lost and Found (theme). Accepting Submission through November 30th.

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Guest Author Ev Christensen

I’m thrilled to welcome award-winning author Evelyn Christensen to this blog. She has written numerous puzzle books for children and, today, is telling us about her brand-spanking new picture book.

Nancy: Congratulations, Ev, on an amazing career. How exciting to have a picture book!

Ev: Exciting, yes! The Twelve Days of Christmas in Kentucky is about an out-of-state cousin visiting his Kentucky cousin for 12 days of the holidays. Marybeth and her parents take Martin all around the state sharing with him what makes Kentucky special. Each day, to go along with the traditional song, she gives him a gift that ties in with what they saw. The book is chock full of interesting information about the state—geography, history, culture, fun places to visit, and activities that reflect life in Kentucky. I had such fun researching it and deciding what to include.

Nancy:  This sounds like a fantastic book that both children and teachers will enjoy. Why did you decide to write the book?

Ev: I used to belong to an online critique group. Seven years ago, our leader shared with our group that a publisher was doing a state series called The Twelve Days of Christmas in America. She thought it would be fun if we each sent a proposal to do the state we lived in. I sent one for Kentucky. I got no response. For five years. Then just before Christmas in 2014, I got an email from an editor at Sterling Children’s Books saying they were ready to do the Kentucky book and asking if I was still interested. I had to compete for being the author by writing a sample page of the book, and was thrilled when I was chosen.

Nancy:  Ev, you’re living proof that networking with writers creates a huge payoff. What’s the number one piece of advice you recommend for beginning writers?

Keep at it! Whether it’s reading lots of books, writing, revising our manuscripts, getting feedback from critique partners, researching potential agents and publishers, querying our ideas, or submitting our manuscripts—all of which are steps to being successful as an author, but all of which can be potential roadblocks along the journey where discouragement can sap our energy and enthusiasm—the important thing is to be persistent and keep going even when the disappointments come. (Even if we have to wait five years!)

Nancy: Excellent advice. Many, including me, will be interested in purchasing your book. Where can we find it?

Many local bookstores carry The Twelve Days of Christmas in Kentucky. For example, in Lexington you can find it at Barnes & Noble, JosephBeth, and Morris Bookshop. It can also be ordered online from Barnes & Noble (, from Amazon  (, or from IndieBound (

Also, there is a Goodreads giveaway of the book from November 7-14th. The URL is

Nancy: Ev, thanks so much for visiting my blog. I’m looking forward to reading your book, and I wish you continued success in your writing career.

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.

 Deadline: The deadline for the Fall 2016 edition of The Daphne Review is 31 July 2016. All submissions received after that date but before 31 December 2016 will be considered for our Winter 2017 edition.

Please send all submissions to

 Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for Adult Writers:

Chicken Soup for the Soul. Genre: True stories and poems for Dreams and Synchronicities. Sometimes magic happens in your life. You have a dream that reveals a truth or a course of action to you. You have a premonition that changes your behavior and saves you or a loved one from disaster. You meet someone at just the right time and you can’t believe the coincidence. Payment: $200.

Deadline: November 30, 2016.

Submission guidelines at

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.