Nancy's Books

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Characters Talk




When developing characters, my goal is to develop a distinct voice for each. I consider voice, cadence, slang, dialect, and word pronunciation. For example, in a chapter book I’m still tinkering with, one of the characters has a lisp due to missing front teeth, so some of her words become slurred. “Great” becomes “gweat.”

The tone of voice is a consideration. Tone can be serious, funny, formal, sarcastic, cheerful, or any other attitude. In my picture book, The Munched-Up Flower Garden, Liz is excitable and upset. Her attitude is expressed through dialog and actions.

Cadence is the rhythm of the text. Does your character speak in long or short sentences? Another character I’m currently developing uses more sophisticated words than his friends. These elements give characters uniqueness.

Think of each character as a real person and remain consistent throughout the story with his/her particular speech patterns. Word choice in speech reflects the time in history. If characters are contemporary, they use language that reflects today, but if they lived in the 1920s, their word choice should sound differently than that of modern-day kids.

Realistic dialog makes characters seem real and adds appeal to their personalities. 

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

The Amazing Kids! Magazine is an award-winning online publication created by kids and teens like you! We are proud of the amazing creative work kids can do, and love showcasing it here on our website! Take a look and get inspired to write your own stories or articles!

Submissions guidelines at http://mag.amazing-kids.org/

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Youth Imagination is interested in creative fiction stories by teens as well as by adult authors. Make the stories awesome, inspiring and engaging. Our goal is to publish the best writing for and by teens. We particularly love stories exploring their issues, such as bullying, drugs, romance, school, parental issues, teacher issues, etc., as well as about the grit and character of teens and young adults.

Submissions guidelines at https://youthimagination.org/index.php/yi-submissions

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

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Inside Story

As writers, we need to think of ourselves as the characters we’re writing about. If the main character is a raccoon, imagine thinking like the raccoon in your story. How would a raccoon express itself if it spoke? How would it react in the events/problems/struggles in which it’s confronted?

As you develop dialog and actions, imagine what the raccoon is thinking and feeling. That’s the heart of the story. Internal thinking and feeling—what’s going on inside the character’s mind—can be the opposite of the character's dialog and actions. Internal dialog allows the reader to better understand the character’s motivations, which adds to character development.

A character may agree with another character by answering, “Sure!” Following this with the thought, Never in this lifetime, triggers the true feelings of the character. The feelings and internal dialog reveal truths that allow readers greater insight into the character.

Exposing the character’s true sentiments can also be used as a method to lighten the story with a dash of humor or to advance the plot.

Let your readers listen in and raise the emotional level of a scene.

 Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

The Telling Room. Empowers youth (young writers ages 6-18) through writing.

Submissions guidelines at https://www.tellingroom.org/submit

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Smarty Pants Magazine for Kids. We are taking submissions for children’s short stories (up to 800 words).

Submissions guidelines at https://smartypantsmagazineforkids.com/submission-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

Sunday, November 10, 2019

TK “To Come”





Sometimes when ideas refuse to flow, when the plotting refuses to plot, and the story refuses to gel, consider writing the bones of the story. Write the draft quickly. The first draft won’t be pretty, but it never is, anyway. Don’t know the name you want to attach to your character? Simply write TK, which means “to come.” The point is to keep writing, even when you don’t know that much about your story.

This strategy works well for Dumpsters, writers who write quickly. The idea is to hammer the gist of the story into a draft. Later, review the draft and fill in the TK spots, followed by revision, revision, revision.

This also works for Plodders, such as I. Even though I have a general idea of the map of the story and how it will end, I don’t have the rhythm or voice nailed down. Sometimes, I don’t even have the particular actions of the antagonist in mind. I have a choice, write the parts I know and TK the parts I don’t. My other recourse is to delay writing.

Both strategies work. Some people prefer to wait and think more about the story. I do that a lot, but I find that if I’m actually writing words, more ideas evolve and that gives me fodder to work with.

The most important takeaway from this blog is to find a way to stay involved in a story. If we delay writing because of some parts that we haven’t worked out, the story may never get written.

Have fun. Play with words. 
Call for Submissions for Young Writers: Word Smorgasbord is thrilled to publish the original work of young writers in elementary school, middle school, high school and college.
Submissions guidelines at https://wordsmorgasbord.wordpress.com/submissions/

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Chicken Soup for the Soul. Our dog titles are so very popular, and you have so many great stories to share with us, that we do a new dog title every eighteen months or so. Here is another chance for you to share a story or two about the member of your family who just happens to walk on four feet!

We are looking for first-person true stories and poems up to 1200 words. Tell us about the magic of your dog or the magic of a dog you know. Stories can be serious or humorous, or both. We can’t wait to read all the heartwarming, inspirational, and magical stories you have about a dog and the magic that dog brings to your life or the life of your family!

Submissions guidelines at Submissions guidelines at Submissions guidelines at https://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/submit-your-story 

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

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Building Tension and Suspense




In most fictional picture books, MG and YA novels, the character faces a problem or goal. The story builds as the character makes multiple attempts to solve the problem or reach the goal. Think about the part leading up to the moment of victory. Slow down the action in this part of the story, so you won’t reveal the outcome quickly. Slowing the action builds tension. Tension builds suspense. The suspense keeps the reader hanging on to know more, cheering on the protagonist, and holding on to finish the story.

So how do writers slow down the action? One way is to add details that delay the resolution. In Barreling Over Niagara Falls, I focused the action between the barrel ride and the crowd who watched the daredevil stunt. Refocusing the text between the main character’s action of dropping over the Falls into the pool of water and turning the page to reveal the people watching, prolonged the reader from knowing the final outcome.

Another way to slow action is to write longer sentences. Short sentences speed the action, and longer sentences slow it.

Think about ways to slow the action in order to build tension and hold the reader’s attention to the last page.


Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Hanging Loose Press. Send up to six poems or short stories, or an equivalent combination of poetry and prose.

Submissions guidelines at Send up to six poems or short stories, or an equivalent combination of poetry and prose.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Chicken Soup for the Soul. Our cat titles are so very popular, and you have so many great stories to share with us, that we do a new cat title every eighteen months or so. Here is another chance for you to share a story or two about the member of your family who just happens to walk on four feet!

We are looking for first-person true stories and poems up to 1200 words. Tell us about the magic of your cat or the magic of a cat you know. Stories can be serious or humorous, or both. We can’t wait to read all the heartwarming, inspirational, and magical stories you have about a cat and the magic that cat brings to your life or the life of your family!

Submissions guidelines at Submissions guidelines at https://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/submit-your-story

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

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Trends in Writing for Children and Young Adults



The adage of never writing to trends is one I strongly uphold, but I also like to keep my eye on the pulse of the publishing for children. In doing so I’ve found some of the movements in the marketplace.

Editors show interest in books (children - teen) that sell well in an international market. Setting may be in America, but the characters are universally relatable and stories evoke emotions.

Books with content suitable to be built into games and toys.

The demand for biographies of groundbreaking women has been overflowing and may be saturated. Yet, one told with a unique angle can be a hit.

MG humor and fantasy is strong, along with those offering powerful emotional punches. 

Illustrated MG is hot. So are graphic novels.

Standalone titles for MG.

Realistic contemporary MG and YA that tackles serious topics. 

Female protagonists in contemporary, fantasy, and literary titles for MG and YA.

Paranormal stories for teens have been down, but seem to on the rise again.

YA thrillers, mysteries, and horror are popular.

YA fantasy that can crossover into the adult markets.

Diverse books by Own Voices authors are sought after in every category and age group.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Skipping Stones. You can send your regular submissions of poems, stories, essays, art and photo essays anytime. We accept your submissions for upcoming issues as they come in.

Submissions guidelines at http://www.skippingstones.org/wp/youth/


Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Chicken Soup for the Soul. Everyone loves holiday stories and our contributors write great ones. They are so good that we create a new edition for the holiday season every year. We are now collecting stories for our HOLIDAY 2020 book and we are looking for stories about the entire December holiday season, including Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and New Year’s festivities too.

We want to hear about your holiday memories and traditions. The rituals of the holiday season give a rhythm to the years and create a foundation for our lives, as we gather with family, with our communities at church, at school, and even at the mall, to share the special spirit of the season, brightening those long winter days. Please share your special stories about the holiday season with us. Be sure that they are “Santa safe” so that we don’t spoil the magic for precocious readers!

Submissions guidelines at https://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/submit-your-story



Comment or check out the blog at https://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 29, 2019

What to Show, Tell, and Omit, Part 2


            Every writer must decide what to show, tell, or omit in a manuscript.

Check out these tips:

When characters talk (dialog) they should not repeat what they already know, unless the action took place a few chapters prior and the repetition is used to remind the reader. The purpose of dialog is to enhance character development and push along the plot. If your dialog isn’t doing that, omit it.


Limit the use of “he said” and “she said” as dialog tags. Allow the character to show some action to let the reader know who is speaking. 

Dialog should be authentic. It should sound like the age, gender, and culture of the speaker. A young child sometimes mispronounces words. That can be worked into the dialog to make the character seem real. 
Example:

“Don’t go there,” Annie said.

Annie stopped and stared at Jim. “Don’t go there.”

Also limit the length of a character’s dialog. A character that fills in an entire page without interruption, may be (probably is) talking too much.

Use exposition (explaining) sparingly. Large chunks of information should be fed to the reader in small doses to keep the interest high and the action moving.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Blue Marble Review. Are you age 13 to 21? (Or do you have writing kids?) If so, then Blue Marble Review is worth considering since there are few paying markets for teen writers. They accept fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. Pay is $25 ($75 for cover art). All submissions should be unpublished.
Submissions guidelines at https://bluemarblereview.com/submit/
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

The Writer magazine: “Calling all YA & kidlit authors: We’re currently accepting pitches for our annual “Writing for Young Readers” issue! We are interested in how-to stories, reported pieces, narrative essays, and profiles of writers and others in the field.

Submissions guidelines at https://www.writermag.com/the-magazine/submission-guidelines/

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

What to Show, Tell, and Omit, Part 1




In a recent writing workshop, a participant said she had difficulty knowing what to tell or show in a story and what to leave out. Writers, both experienced and novice, deal with the same problem.

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up in the thirty years I’ve been calling myself a writer:

Begin a story as late in the plot as possible. Start with the situation, as it is happening, that changes the character’s life. Opening with an action scene is a surefire way to engage the reader. Maybe the action is ambiguous, in order to add suspense or mystery. Or introduce an interesting character that captures the attention of the audience and holds it in a tight grip.

I usually write the first draft without too much concern for voice, focusing on plot,  characterization, and conflict. Later, as I revise, I concentrate on voice. At this point, I change much of the telling parts to showing by adding sensory description and details. If I’ve included a block of backstory, I revise to feed it to the audience, bit by bit. Long chunks of backstory slow the action and often becomes boring to the reader, so tread lightly.

In my next blog, I’ll continue with more tips.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Amazing Kids E-zine. This educational non-profit publishes work of kids between the ages of 5-13 as well as teens up to the age of 17. To learn more visit their submission guidelines here. They publish a wider variety of work than most traditional journals and are interested in non-fiction, fiction, poems, videos, reviews, and more.

Submission guidelines at http://mag.amazing-kids.org/get-involved/write-for-us/

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Chicken Soup for the Soul. “You Go, Girl!” This call is looking for true stories designed to help young women feel stronger, more capable, and more confident. Limit 1,200 words. Payment is $200 and ten copies of the anthology that contains your story. 
Deadline December 15, 2019.
Submissions guidelines at https://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/possible-book-topics

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

Comment or check out the blog at https://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Writing with a Slant, Part 2


Narrowing a topic and choosing an audience are two factors to consider in writing with a slant. Both were discussed in the previous blog. Two additional factors include:

Researching a topic. When writing AMAZING GRACE, I set aside time to explore books and websites on the Kentucky home front during World War II. Collecting tidbits of information, much more than I’d ever need, provided me with the luxury of sifting out the truths and proofs that worked best for my story setting and age group. Yes, fiction must include accurate facts. Historical fiction comes alive through details.

 Simple items, such as Kool-Aid, needed to be researched. What flavors were available during the early 1940s? Was a radio station in operation in Ashland, Kentucky, during 1942? I began the story with a family moving from Ashland to Hazard, but further research led me to realize Hazard had no radio station at that time. Ashland did, so the family moved from Hazard to Ashland. Details, small details, make a difference in the believability of a story.

Voice. What type of voice should I use? I didn’t want the story to sound frivolous, too carefree. The times were difficult for those on the home front during the war, so I wanted the tone of the book to reflect that, but without burdening the reader with morose nuances. The main character, a young girl named Grace, tells the story and hits a balance between reality and a child-like view that infused a humorous touch.

Writing for a particular audience with a particular slant or particular angle can narrow your story to a perfect fit.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers: 

Blue Marble Review. Are you age 13 to 21? (Or do you have writing kids?) If so, then Blue Marble Review is worth considering since there are few paying markets for teen writers. They accept fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. Pay is $25 ($75 for cover art). All submissions should be unpublished.

Submission guidelines at https://bluemarblereview.com/submit/


Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Fun For Kidz magazine looks for activities that deal with timeless topics, such as pets, nature, hobbies, science, games, sports, careers, simple cooking, and anything else likely to interest a child. Each issue revolves around a theme.

Submissions guidelines at https://www.freelancewriting.com/writers-guidelines/children-publications/

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

Comment or check out the blog at https://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Writing with a Slant


When I begin a fictional manuscript, I think about the character, plot, and setting, but I also consider the slants. By slant, I mean writing with an angle, such as:

Narrowing the topic. Amazing Grace, a middle grade novel, is a fictional account of American life during World War II. The landscape of the early 1940s is so broad, I narrowed the setting to one small town, Ashland, Kentucky. Rather than covering the entire war years, I focused on one. The book is about 33,000 words, so I was limited in both time and space. Narrowing the topic was a must.

Choosing the audience. What age group do I want to reach? I began the Amazing Grace manuscript as a picture book. After many rewrites and revisions, an editor suggested that I rewrite the story for an older audience. After weeks of planning and plotting the story mentally, I started over with middle grade readers in mind. What could my readers handle? What would they enjoy reading and learning? Those were questions that I asked before writing a word.

In my next blog, I’ll address the next two factors for writing with a slant.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

The Caterpillar. This is a respected literary journal for kids between the ages of 8 and 11 accepts submissions of poetry and fiction.

Submissions guidelines at http://www.thecaterpillarmagazine.com/a1-page.asp?ID=4150&page=11

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, August 4, 2019

I’ve Finished My Manuscript, Now What? Part 3


After compiling a list of 15-20 potential publishers that fit the type of manuscript you’ve written, trim the list to the top 5 and submit to those. Before subbing a story, always check the publisher’s/agent’s website to make sure the submission guidelines still accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Follow the guidelines exactly. Some have specific information required in the cover letter (such as, three comparable titles in the last three years) and in the number of pages to send. Some want the pages in the body of the email; others prefer an attachment. And some are specific in the information listed on the Subject line of the email. Still, others require manuscripts to be sent by the U. S. Postal Service. Each publisher is different, so check the submission guidelines carefully. 

Some editors/agents may provide comments on what does or does not work with the manuscript. Take the information and use it (if you agree) to revise the piece. Some editors/agents may suggest the changes and offer and R & R (revise and resubmit). Some may not offer the opportunity to resubmit. Don’t resubmit the manuscript unless the editor/agent requests it. Spend time revising and submit to the next 5 potential publishers on your list. By this time you may have made changes that will make the manuscript more appealing and marketable. 

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Youth Imagination is interested in creative fiction stories by teens as well as by adult authors. Make the stories awesome, inspiring and engaging. Our goal is to publish the best writing for and by teens. We particularly love stories exploring their issues, such as bullying, drugs, romance, school, parental issues, teacher issues, etc., as well as about the grit and character of teens and young adults.
We accept most genres of fiction, including modern, urban or classical fantasy, as well as sci-fi, slipstream, literary, action-adventure or suspense.

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. 
Comment or check out the blog at https://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 14, 2019

I’ve Finished My Manuscript, Now What? Part 2


Finding a market for a manuscript is as labor intensive as writing it. Once the story is polished, go to your local bookstore/library and look at books in the same genre geared toward the same age group as your manuscript. Check out the publisher. Does it match those on your list? If not, add to your list. Check out the Acknowledgement Page. The editor is sometimes listed there, and sometimes at the end of the book.
Look at publishers’ catalogs. You can find them on their websites. Do the books seem to be similar to the manuscript you wrote, but different enough to not compete with books in the catalog? If you’re going the agent route, study the type of books s/he represents.

At this point look at books listing editors and/or agents, and make a list of approximately 15-20 that seem to be a good fit. Turn to your trusty computer and research the editors/agents’ names. Look for interviews to determine the type of manuscripts they are interested in, the subjects they want to publish (some may state they would love to see a fiction story about a rescue animal or a specific request such as that), and whether they accept unsolicited manuscripts. 

Read industry resources. Children’s Bookshelf is free. Some editors and agents participate in MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) at http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/.

Attend conferences and writing workshops to learn about publishers, editors, and agents. Conferences are helpful in networking with other writers and finding qualified critique partners, who are knowledgeable about writing for children.

In my next blog, I’ll continue with more tips on marketing a manuscript.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

DIG (Into History) is where world history and archaeology meet for kids ages 9 to 14, though adults have been known to find it an interesting read, as well! Each issue of DIG focuses on providing comprehensive coverage of a single theme, allowing children to get in-depth information on historical topics and archaeological discoveries from writers who are experts in the field. With nearly 60 ad-free pages in each issue, DIG provides an adventurous trek through the past that will entertain and educate any young history buff or budding Indiana Jones.
Submission guidelines at http://cricketmedia.com/dig-submission-guidelines

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at www.nancykellyallen.com

Sunday, June 23, 2019

I’ve Finished My Manuscript, Now What? Part 1


A few times each month, beginning writers contact me asking for directions, primarily, what to do after they finish their manuscripts. First of all, congratulations are in order. Finishing a manuscript is no small task. 
My initial reaction is to advise the writers to do nothing with the manuscript for a month or so, and in the meantime, begin another writing project and find a critique partner to read the manuscript and offer feedback.

After revising the manuscript and polishing it, make a submission list of appropriate publishers. If a publisher doesn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts or accepts only middle grade and young adult, sending a picture book will garner nothing but a rejection. The goal is to submit to a particular editor or agent. Writers need an individual who will love the work and promote it within the publishing house or literary agency.

Editors and what they are looking for in manuscripts can be found in  Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, a book that is sold or can be ordered at bookstores or online. Guide to Literary Agents is another source if you choose to go the agent route.


Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
SPIDER, a literary magazine for children, features fresh and engaging literature, poems, articles, and activities for newly independent readers. Editors seek energetic, beautifully crafted submissions with strong “kid appeal” (an elusive yet recognizable quality, often tied to high-interest elements such as humor, adventure, and suspense).  

Submission guidelines at http://cricketmedia.com/spider-submission-guidelines



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

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Writing Nonfiction


When I decide on a topic for a nonfiction book, I consider three elements: curiosity about a subject, the desire to know more, and the number of published books on the topic. I’ll spend weeks researching facts before I write the first word of the book. 

My interest in writing DEAR KOMODO DRAGON began when I visited a zoo and saw “Big Man,” the name given to a ten-foot-long Komodo dragon. I knew nothing about the magnificent creatures, but my interest grew the longer I watched it flick its yellow tongue and maneuver in a clumsy walk. But was my interest enough to spend weeks working on a manuscript that may or may not get published? And how would I present the information in a way that is different than other Komodo dragon books already in the marketplace? 

I pondered these questions as I wrote other books. One day when I talked with some students who discussed how much they love receiving letters, the Ah-ha moment triggered an idea. I’d present the dragon information in the form of letters, in particular, pen pal letters.

So letters became the structure of the text. For me, deciding how to present the nonfiction information in an interesting way is more difficult than the writing or the research. I love to write, and I love research, but figuring out the structure of the text is never an easy task

What is the hardest part of writing nonfiction for you?

Between May and September, Calls for Submissions for Young Writers will cease.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Golden Fleece. For Short Stories, Poetry, Puzzles, Artwork, and Essays:
Please attach your submission to the email and include a short bio and any relevant social media links in the message. The subject line of your message should include the specific project you are pitching to, the title of your piece, and what it is. 
Submission guidelines at http://www.goldenfleecepress.com/submissions.html

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


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Becoming and Staying Productive with Writing


We’re ending the fifth month of the year. Back in January, many writers had manuscript ideas popping and cracking as if trying to explode onto paper. The passion was sizzling. But as we write and the sentences don’t flow quickly or in any semblance of rhythm, the flame of passion for writing can cool to an ember, if that.

This happens to many writers, including me. If it also happens to you, take time to figure out why you’re writing. Do you have an appetite for storytelling? Do you write because you love it? If so, the words will come. Perseverance leads to success. Along the way, you face heartbreaking moments, those times when you KNOW, you are certain the editor will contact you with great news because you’ve been exchanging emails and phone calls; then the unbelievable happens. After all those rewrites and time and anxious moments, you receive a rejection. Pain as real as a punch shoots clear to the heart and hammers it.

Perseverance also brings joyful surprises. You may have sent out a manuscript so long ago, you simply forgot about it and gave up hope. Then out of the blue, an editor contacts you with a YES. 

The day-to-day writing schedule can be more hum-drum than kicking-up-heels exciting, but those moments when your writing connects with an editor or a fan contacts you stating that your book, your literary baby, was her favorite, takes the mere ordinary into the extraordinary stratosphere. That’s the magic of writing, the magic that fires a writer’s passion to produce more and better storytelling.

Persevere and you will find success in writing. Persevere and experience the magic.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Skipping Stones. Writings (essays, stories, letters to the editor, riddles and proverbs, etc.) should be typed or neatly handwritten and limited to 1,000 words and poems to 30 lines. We encourage writings in all languages with an English translation, if possible. And, we love illustrations! Please send originals of your drawings, paintings, or photos to our post office box address below. Include your name, age, and address along with your submission.

Submission guidelines at http://www.skippingstones.org/submissions.htm

Since schools are dismissing for summer, I’ll discontinue Call for Submissions for Young writers until September.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Skipping Stones. 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. 


I’ll resume Call for Submissions for Young Writers in September.

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at www.nancykellyallen.com


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Writing to an Audience


With each writing class I teach, one element always surfaces with novice writers. In various ways they express the same idea: I thought writing for children would be easier than it is

Today’s children’s books are sophisticated and creative. The storyline encourages readers to imagine a world or event they’d never thought of. In addition, the story should not be so complex the reader has difficulty following the plot. Neither should it be so simple it bores them. A worthwhile story challenges the reader to think, imagine, and ask questions to learn more. 

Readers of all ages are discerning critics. If a child does not like the book, he/she will not read it. Knowing your audience is critical to writing a book that appeals. Children ages 3 and up, like rhyme. Lots of rhyming books are available for children younger than three, but the rhyming aspect will be lost on most. 

Many children ages 5-6 concentrate for about 10-15 minutes on a single activity. Those who are 7-8 can concentrate about 30 minutes, but they must be engaged in the story to do so. 

Understanding your audience and writing to that audience can benefit writers. Writing clear and understandable text with compelling characters and interesting plots engages readers of any age. 

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Berry Blue Haiku. Now that we are live, we are involving kids, too. In the magazine we are running haiku contests and challenges for kids and all entries, as well as miscellaneous submissions, will be considered for publication.
Initially, we had decided to run our contests/ challenges for children up to age 13, but we have decided that we will also welcome entries from students ages 14 – 18 (under a separate category).

Submissions guidelines at http://www.haikubytwo.com/berry-blue-haiku-a-new-online-haiku-magazine-for-kids/

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Berry Blue Haiku. Although the magazine is dedicated to kids, it’s also targeted toward teachers and parents who have an interest in or want to learn about haiku. We’ll be featuring articles and lessons on writing haiku that can be used both at home and in the classrooms. We want the magazine to inspire young and old alike.

Submissions guidelines at http://www.haikubytwo.com/berry-blue-haiku-a-new-online-haiku-magazine-for-kids/


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, April 21, 2019

“Write” Start: Question


Today’s blog concludes the series, “Write” Start.

When opening a story with a question, the reader should feel the need to look for an answer, and the only way to discover the answer is to continue reading. 

Charlotte’s Web begins with the question, “Where’s Papa going with that ax?” Those six, gripping words have intrigued generations of readers. A good hook creates interest and also sets the tone, mood, and builds expectations for the reader. From the first sentence, the reader wants to know what is going to happen.

Using a question as an opening hook works for fiction and nonfiction. In my Rock It series, I used this as the beginning text:” Can one type of rock change into another?”

The question doesn’t have to be answered immediately. Unanswered questions keep the tension high and hold the readers’ interest. Plus, the initial hook buys the writer some time to use quality writing to keep the reader turning the pages.

Hooks can take the reader into a state of wonder and pique their inquisitiveness. Decide what your audience is interested in and write accordingly.  Consider what details or moments would spark their interests, and begin there.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Cyberkids. Would you like to have a story, poem, article, picture or other creative work published in Cyberkids? To submit your work, email it to: editor@cyberkids.com. In the email, tell us your name, age and country. If you are sending artwork, save the art in JPEG or TIFF format if possible, and attach it to the email. We do not pay for submissions, but if we use your work, we will send you an email telling you when it will be published.

Submission Guidelines

Here are some guidelines our editors use to decide what to publish:

  • We especially like stories, articles and poems that are funny.
  • Art and written submissions can be on any topic that is appropriate for our audience (ages 7 to 12).
  • Stories which include an original illustration or photo are more likely to be published than stories without pictures.
  • Originality is very important--make sure the work you submit is your own and not copied from someone else.
  • In addition to art and writing, we also like to publish games, puzzles, brain teasers, jokes, and multimedia creations by kids.
 Submissions guidelines at http://www.cyberkids.com/he/html/submit.html

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Fun for Kidz. We are looking for lively writing that involves an activity that is both wholesome and unusual. The Ideal length of a FUN FOR KIDZ nonfiction piece is up to 300-325 words for a one-page magazine article or up to 600-650 words for a two-page magazine article. Articles that are accompanied by strong high-resolution photos are far more likely to be accepted than those requiring illustration.

Submissions guidelines at http://funforkidzmagazines.com/writers


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