Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Getting Ideas and Writing a Book

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with students at an elementary school last week. Such visits inspire me to write more and to the best of my ability. Students' interest and questions spur me on.
Two questions in particular resonated: How long does it take to write a book? How do you find ideas to write about?
I wrestle with an idea anywhere from a week to years (thirteen years, as in the case of AMAZING GRACE). DEAR KOMODO DRAGON, my latest picture book, required less time, about two years.
When I visited the Louisville Zoo, I saw a Komodo dragon named “Big Man.” At nearly eight-feet long, he lived up to his name. This king of the lizards wagged a long, yellow tongue and shuffled every step. A close look and a bit of imagination conjured my first instinct:  write about this animal, whose ancient ancestors dated back millions of years. The species had staked its claim on planet Earth and held tight. A story had to be in there somewhere.
I wrestled with the idea of how to write about this amazing animal in a way that had not been done. A few days later, I talked with a group of young students about what they enjoyed. One young girl said she loved to receive letters, but almost never did. The others echoed her, voicing the excitement of receiving their own mail.
The two ideas—Komodo dragons and letters—simmered, scrambled, and stuck together. Out popped a brand new idea: a book about a Komodo dragon pen pal. Once I figured out the structure—a series of letters—I began brainstorming and outlining the plot. Since I knew almost nothing about Komodo dragons, I spent a lot of time researching facts. I gathered a basket full of information. From that, I selected the most interesting facts that would appeal to the readers.
Each book is different and the amount of time to write a book varies.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Storybook Online. Tons of activities including writing stories, read original stories, create interactive stories and much more.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Blue Mesa Review accepts previously unpublished work in Fiction (up to 6,000 words), Nonfiction (up to 6,000 words), Poetry (up to 3 poems), and Visual Art. We have a rotating editorial board, so each issue is fresh and unique. In general, we are seeking strong voices and lively, compelling narrative with a fine eye for craft. We look forward to reading your best work!
Submissions guidelines at

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

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