Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Today, I’m so happy to welcome Sandi Underwood, author of Mountain Laurel, as a guest author. Tell us about your latest book and what inspired you to write it. 

Sandi: Thank you for inviting me to your blog. I love reading your writing tips and I learn something each time. Thank you, also, for asking about Mountain Laurel. Out of my three books, this is my favorite. 

Mountain Laurel represents my mother at what I perceive her to be at age 14. She (and Dad) loved to tell stories about their childhood. It wasn’t until much later that I started writing them down, but every story in Mountain Laurel is based on stories from their childhood, stories I’d heard all my life. I wanted a way to preserve them for my grandchildren, so what better way than to write a book?

As my publisher describes it, Mountain Laurel is told through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old Appalachian girl in 1936. The acquisition editor stated he could see it being marketed to teachers for classroom use as the flavor and events are factual. It is set in the Smoky Mountains−close to where I grew up−and features the opening of Norris Dam, the first project of the newly formed Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’.

Nancy: A sequel may be in the works, right? If so, I want to read it.

Sandi: Mountain Laurel came out early March of this year and I cannot tell you how many people have already asked, “Well, who did Laurel choose−William or Mason?” You’ll need to read the story to learn why, but my answer is a teaser. I tell them I already have the sequel titled. It will be _____’s Story. I’d love to keep the secret until the very end; however, I doubt any publisher would agree to that, but wouldn’t it be fun!

Nancy: I’m sure readers will want to know who Laurel chose. I sure did as I read it.

You’ve been writing for years. If you could tell your younger “writer self” anything, what would it be? 

Sandi: I would tell my younger self what I tell every wanna-be writer: BIC (Butt in chair!) I didn’t get serious about writing until I was in my late 30s, but I’ve always loved to write. The answer is simple: writers write. Writing is like any other craft−the more you do, the better at it you become.

Nancy: Excellent advice, Sandi. We wish you the best with Mountain Laurel. I loved it so much, I had to ask if you would visit this blog. Would you consider visiting again in a couple of weeks to update us on future books you are working on? And one more question. Where will you be signing books this spring?

Sandi: Nancy, I’m honored to be a guest on your blog. I’ll come back any time you ask. As for book signings, my next one is the weekend of April 12-14 at The Old Oaks Festival at Tusculum University−the oldest University in Tennessee and the 28th oldest in the United States. The three-day festival has loads of food vendors, local crafters, and musicians. Last year, there were approximately fifteen authors on “Author’s Row,” some from your home state of Kentucky. I’m thrilled to join them−a first for me; but to be honest, I go every year just for the funnel cakes!

Nancy: That festival sounds wonderful. Sandi’s book can be found at the following:,, and other online bookstores. You can get a signed copy by emailing her at

Also, you can follow her blog: 

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Skipping Stones. Writing (essays, stories, riddles) limited to 1,000 words and poems to 30 lines.

Submissions guidelines at

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Amazing Kids! Online Magazine. Do you love writing, art, photography or videography, and are between the ages of 5 to 18? Would you like to be published in the Amazing Kids! Online Magazine? Read the following Amazing Kids!’ Writers Guidelines carefully, then submit your writing and art; it might just be published in an upcoming issue!
Submissions guidelines at

Leave a message or check out my blog at

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

Sunday, March 10, 2019

“Write” Start: Emotions

So far in my last few blogs, I’ve discussed different ways to open stories. This week the “write” start begins with emotions. Make the readers smile or laugh with the opening sentence. Or scare them. Shock them, even. Any emotion works to grab the readers’ attention.

Humor is a winner with any age group. But what’s funny? That varies with age, so ALWAYS write to your audience. In DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, the first line tickles my funnybone: “First of all, let me get something straight: this is a journal, not a diary.” So does THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGENT EVER: “The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.”
A Wrinkle in Time oozed with intrigue:It was a dark and stormy night.” The first line in A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS is a bit scary: “If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.”

Play with words. See what type of opening works best with the story you are writing. If you find that writing an attention-grabbing first line is difficult, you’re not alone. That is the most difficult line of the entire book, so take your time. Remember, you don’t have to have the first line written to write the second and third lines. Just write. Revision comes into play after you finish the first draft. That also gives you time to think about the opening. And to rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite. After all that, try out your opening with a few fellow writers and ask for feedback.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Magic Dragon. Writing – Work should be neatly printed or typed. If you type it, please double-space. Stories and essays can be up to three pages, poetry up to 30 lines. It is ok to send writing that you have also illustrated. You can write about anything that is important to you; it can be serious or funny, true or fiction. If you send originals and want them returned, enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

Submissions guidelines at

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Chicken Soup. Miracles do happen each and every day. Everyone has experienced events in their lives that cause wonder and astonishment and give them hope for a better future. Why did these things happen? Is there an explanation? Or did these things seem to happen for no reason at all?

We are looking for true stories of no more than 1,200 words for this multi-faith book that will awe you with examples of amazing events and unexplained happenings. Share your inspirational stories with us to remind us that each day holds hope and to never give up. A miracle can happen at any time.
Submissions guidelines at

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