Nancy's Books

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

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

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

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

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

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