Nancy's Books

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Twirl and Swirl--Adding Rhythm to Prose


My goal in adding rhythm to prose is to dance words across the page. Another name for this is voice. I never reach my goal on the first draft, and often not by the tenth. Little by little, as I revise the manuscript, the words begin to swing and sway, rollick and roll. Picture book text relies on a rhythm, whether it’s prose or rhyme.

Think of rhythm in terms of music. Listening to the upbeat sound of the Rolling Stones makes me shimmy and shake. An Elton John ballad brings on the swing and sway. The beat. The cadence. The rhythm. They affect us in the same way as we read. Short phrases speed up the action as in this scene in BARRELING OVER NIAGARA FALLS: Annie jostled inside the small, dark barrel, bobbing through the rapids, slamming into rocks. The barrel pitched and rolled—forward and back, left and right, up and down—in the rough, tough bucking-bronco ride. The sentences are long but the phrasing is short with emphasis is on the short phrase.       
Longer sentences, without short phrases, slow the action. I used this method as the beginning scene in HIRAM’S GIFT: Many winters ago Hiram walked to school from deep in a holler, snuggled tight between two mountains. A lemon pie moon dangled like a giant’s lantern and lit the path. 

When you read picture books, notice the rhythm of the words. When you find a passage that you particularly like, read it aloud. Does it swing and sway? Boogie and scoot? Tap and snap?

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Amazing Kids! Magazine. Our award-winning, kid-created monthly online magazine is dedicated to providing kids with a fun and educational experience, a place to share their creative works, through their writing, art, and photography. Our Amazing Kids! of the Month stories feature real life kids doing some pretty amazing things! Amazing Kids! believes by reading about other kids' accomplishments, or reading their creative works, it can help inspire more kids to explore their own amazing gifts and use them to make a difference in the world.

Submission guidelines at http://amazing-kids.org/

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

U.S. Kids Magazines (Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill), providing fun, entertaining reading material is our priority. We accept humorous, playful, and witty stories that kids would love to read—not stories that grownups think kids should read.

As part of the Children’s Better Health Institute, we are always in need of high-quality stories, articles, and activities with a broad health and fitness focus. Please keep in mind that we would rather show kids living a healthy lifestyle than dictate a healthy lifestyle to our readers. In other words, health topics should be incorporated into the story or article, not be the focus of it.

Submission guidelines at http://www.uskidsmags.com/writers-guidelines/

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 48 children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

Leave a message or check out my blog at www.nancykellyallen.com

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Proofreading Tips, continued.


Proofreading is not easy, but proofreading your own work is the most difficult of all. Here are more tips to uncover those sneaky mistakes we make. 
Read it aloud. By vocalizing each word, the ear picks up mistakes the eyes don’t catch. You can hear the words that stumble and those that have a rhythm and cadence. 

Print it on paper. A printout of the text also makes mistake glare. The same mistakes are difficult to notice on the computer screen.

Change the font. If you are using Courier font, try a different one. The words will be located differently on the line because some fonts are larger than others. The new format makes mistakes easier to catch.

 

Email the manuscript to an electronic tablet, such as a Kindle or iPad. I’ve caught more errors by reading a manuscript on my iPad because the layout is different on the page.

Read the text from the end to the beginning. This is a clever trick, especially for picture books. The meaning of the sentence is lost, so the brain focuses on spelling and grammar.

Use Word’s "Find" search to locate words you commonly misspell or use incorrectly, such as “which” and “that.” This is also a way to find words that are overused.

Circle the verbs and adjectives. Can you substitute with a better word? Many times you can. 


Count the number of words in the sentences. Paragraphs need a variety of sentence lengths and structures.  

Try these techniques. They’ll help you see your manuscript with fresh eyes.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
"The Children's Corner" accepts submissions of previously unpublished poetry from students in grades K-12. Seeks writing that looks for fresh ways to recreate scenes and feelings. Honest emotion and original imagery are more important to a poem than rhyming and big topics—such as life, moralizing, and other abstractions. Parental signature must accompany submissions.
Submission guidelines at https://winningwriters.com/resources/the-louisville-review-the-childrens-corner
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers: 
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers: Great News!! The book sellers want to feature our Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grandparents title for Mother's Day. They want us to publish it a little later than we first planned so we have extended the deadline for submission which gives you more time to submit your stories and poems to us. If you have already submitted your work to this title, no need to submit it again. We have it and it will be considered for this title.

The moment a grandchild is born, grandparents are born too. And what an amazing moment that is — to see your child hold his or her child. Your grandchild! Finally, your children get to experience all of the things you experienced — both the good and the bad — while raising them! Everyone has a great story about the unconditional love and that special bond between grandparents and their grandchildren.


Submission guidelines at http://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/possible-book-topics
Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.
Leave a message or check out my blog at www.nancykellyallen.com

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Proofreading Tips, part 1







Let’s face it, catching mistakes in our writing is not easy. Our brains often read our own writing as we intended it to be written, not the way we wrote it. Critiquing the writing of others is much easier because we don’t have a mental concept of the text. We’re reading it for the first time, so if there is an error, it pops. Margaret Atwood says it this way: You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.

Before sending a manuscript out to editors or agents, proofreading is a must. But if we can’t “see” all the mistakes, what can a writer do?

Of course, a professional proofreader is one option, but probably not an affordable one for many. So checking our own work is a good place to start. Here are some techniques I’ve tried with success.

Place the manuscript aside for a few days, a week, or even better, a month. Don’t look at it. Start another manuscript, so your mind will focus on the latest work. After a length of time, refocus on the finished manuscript. By that time your writing palate will be cleansed and your mind will catch the mistakes more easily.

Keep an error list. If you sometimes confuse the use of “which” and “that,” make a note so you can double check the manuscript.

Take your time proofreading. It’s a slow process, so don’t rush it. Read slowly—each word, each sentence.

In my next blog, I’ll provide more proofreading tips.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Skipping Stones Magazine. Publishing poems, stories, articles and photos from both youth and adults for readers ages 8 to 16. A resource in multicultural and global education, ecological and cultural diversity.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Skipping Stones Magazine. Our readers, ages 7 to 17, hail from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. We want to make their reading of Skipping Stones an active experience, relevant to issues confronting them locally and globally. Writing and artwork by adults should challenge readers to think, learn, cooperate and create.

We encourage adults to submit creative informational stories rather than pure fiction. We prefer submissions focusing on your own culture or experiences. No adult poetry, please.
Submission guidelines at https://www.skippingstones.org/wp/adult/

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.
Leave a message or check out my blog at www.nancykellyallen.com


































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Let’s face it, catching mistakes in our writing is not easy. Our brains often read our own writing as we intended it to be written, not the way we wrote it. Critiquing the writing of others is much easier because we don’t have a mental concept of the text. We’re reading it for the first time, so if there is an error, it pops. Margaret Atwood says it this way: You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.

 

Before sending a manuscript out to editors or agents, proofreading is a must. But if we can’t “see” all the mistakes, what can a writer do?



Of course, a professional proofreader is one option, but probably not an affordable one for many. So checking our own work is a good place to start. Here are some techniques I’ve tried with success.



Place the manuscript aside for a few days, weeks, or even better, a month. Don’t look at it. Start another manuscript, so your mind will focus on the latest work. After a length of time, refocus on the finished manuscript. By that time your writing palate will be cleansed and your mind will catch the mistakes more easily.



Keep an error list. If you sometimes confuse the use of “which” and “that,” make a note so you can double check the manuscript.



Take your time proofreading. It’s a slow process, so don’t rush it. Read slowly—each word, each sentence.



In my next blog, I’ll provide more proofreading tips.



Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Skipping Stones Magazine. Publishing poems, stories, articles and photos from both youth and adults for readers ages 8 to 16. A resource in multicultural and global education, ecological and cultural diversity.


Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Skipping Stones Magazine. Our readers, ages 7 to 17, hail from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. We want to make their reading of Skipping Stones an active experience, relevant to issues confronting them locally and globally. Writing and artwork by adults should challenge readers to think, learn, cooperate and create.

We encourage adults to submit creative informational stories rather than pure fiction. We prefer submissions focusing on your own culture or experiences. No adult poetry, please.

Submission guidelines at https://www.skippingstones.org/wp/adult/

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

Leave a message or check out my blog at www.nancykellyallen.com