Nancy's Books

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Manuscript Wishes

At the beginning of each year, I enjoy trolling through sites and picking up on the latest manuscript wishes as presented by publishers, editors, and agents. The literary offerings are constantly in flow—changing, morphing. New publishers emerge, new styles take charge, and new opportunities for writers abound.

 Here are some of the predicted trends and editor wishes for 2018

 1.      Strong female characters
2.     Kid-friendly nonfiction
3.     Series

4.     Fantasy worlds and creatures

5.     Activity books in STEM areas

6.     Board books

7.     Picture books for ages 4-8—fiction, humorous, wacky stories. Narrative nonfiction. Strong females who made a mark in history.

8.     Historical fiction for middle grades. Action and adventure stories with elements of fantasy and magic (series and standalone) as well as nonfiction.

9.     Young adult fiction and nonfiction. YA thrillers becoming popular.

10. Graphic novels

11. Unusual voices

12. Unfamiliar style and unique perspectives

13. Diverse books by Own Voice writers
14. Subjects on contemporary social matters

Of course, many books that don’t fit within this list will find homes with publishers. Make your manuscript the best it can be, ship it out to prospective editors, and begin a new manuscript while waiting for a response.

Here’s to a bountiful year of writing.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Hanging Loose magazine. Since 1968, every issue of Hanging Loose has had a section of high school writing. We’re always looking for new writers. Poems or short stories, or an equivalent combination of poetry and prose.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
APPLESEEDS: Ages 6 and up, focus on 3rd and 4th grade. Multidisciplinary, nonfiction social studies. Theme-oriented. See guidelines for upcoming themes. Articles should be scientific and/or historical research-oriented. Feature articles, nonfiction, interviews, etc: 1-4 pages. Articles must be proposed first.

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.
To leave comments or to check out her blog click, go to

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Working Together

In a literacy meeting, I heard an African proverb that resonated with me: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. 

I’m dedicating my first blog post of 2018 to my critique partner, Sandi Underwood, who has enriched my writing over the years. With her keen eye, writing experience, and willingness to help, my writing journey has taken me farther, much farther, than if I trekked alone.  

She is invaluable to me because she questions my work. If all the feedback I receive is positive, I won’t grow as a writer and won’t learn to create stronger stories. Editors will certainly find holes, actually wide gaps, if my eyes are the only look-see my words get prior to submitting to a publisher. My critique partner not only points out what does not work but what works well. I need to know both. Her feedback offers an objective review of my draft, an evaluation of its suitability for the age group, and most importantly, it allows me to “see” my work from another perspective, and a qualified perspective, at that. 

I almost never follow-up with an explanation of why I wrote something the way I did. If she didn’t understand it or the writing was cumbersome on her first read, it will be the same for an editor or a reader. She has my trust, so if she isn’t grasping the flow and rhythm, neither will the gatekeepers. 

In turn, I evaluate her work, which is as valuable to me as receiving a critique. I’m forced out of my comfort zone by engaging in her story and analyzing the many components. 

Regardless of where you are on your writing journey, a knowledgeable critique partner can take you far. Attend writing workshops and conferences to find people who understand the genre in which you write and are interested in working together toward a common goal. 

Sandi, thanks for traveling this literary journey with me!   

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Sprout. Our vision is to have a space where young minds can share their thoughts and opinions about society through creative expression. Sprout is a nonprofit, online literary journal for teens, by teens—we look to publish creative media that demonstrates awareness of the world and social commentary, sharing art in its purest, rawest form.

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?
Submission guidelines at

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