September 24, 2012

Mary Kole's Webinar and PW Article

I'm always searching for helpful articles and writing classes.  Here is a recent article and an upcoming webinar that may help you in your writing.  

Literary Agent Mary Kole is presenting a MG and YA Intensive Writer's Digest webinar coming up Thursday, October 25th at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Here's what Mary says:  Middle grade and young adult novels are the hottest markets in children's books today. If you want to write novels for child readers ages 9 - 12 (middle grade) or 13+ (young adult), there are tips and tricks that you need to know before you can break in. The middle grade and teen novels market is so specific—if you want to succeed, that is. This entire 90-minute session will be devoted to this kid-lit craft. 

This webinar is for all of your teen novelists out there, and it comes with the benefits of the lecture, the Q&A, and a writing sample critique as well. This should dovetail nicely with the publication of my book, WRITING IRRESISTIBLE KIDLIT.  Register for the webinar here.

So, you think you're ready to publish?  Check out this article from Publishers Weekly: 

September 17, 2012

Back Issues

I’ve written several blogs on the importance of reading the contributor's guidelines before submitting a nonfiction article to a publisher.  But, let’s take it one step further.  I’d advise writers to read a few back issues of the publication for which they want to pitch.  

I know, it's extra work.  But in reviewing back copies, you’ll see how an author handles a subject.  You'll discover the writing style—whether the tone is serious or playful.  You'll see if the author writes the piece in first, second, or third person. (Writing in second person is challenging, but fun.) You'll get a feel if quotes are needed.  Reading published articles will show you how the author handled the hook and closed the piece.  Lastly, you'll be able to compare your work to the published pieces and see if your article will be a good fit for the magazine. 

Once, I received a strange nonfiction article for Stories for Children Magazine.  This piece was only a list of words in alphabetical order of collective nouns.  In contrast, a nonfiction article has a beginning with a hook, a middle and an ending that usually ties in to the beginning.  It’s been well-researched and has a bibliography.  A list is not a nonfiction article.

I think the author desperately wanted to teach children about collective nouns.  Had she read a few back issues, she would have noticed that the editors publish more substantial pieces.  She would have also learned that her “article” fell short of the word count. 

Though this author’s first attempt was rejected, she should not give up.  She should consider revising her work so that it reads more like nonfiction.  She should hunt for a suitable publication because her subject might make an interesting article.  But before submitting again, she ought to review a few back issues first.       

September 10, 2012

Saying Farewell to SFC

Stories for Children magazine closed its doors last month.  The news hit me hard because I had been part of the magazine for five years.  Before becoming an editor, I submitted nonfiction articles to the magazine.  A team of professional editors worked with me to make my pieces acceptable for publication.  It was thrilling to see my articles online. 

But just as I was growing as a writer, Editor Virginia S. Grenier decided to close the magazine.  Suddenly, the rug was pulled from my feet.  I felt lost.  During this time, I continued to write and to submit to tougher markets—sometimes successful, sometimes not.

Some years later while reading the SCBWI discussion boards, I read about the re-opening of SFC.  I was especially excited to read that Virginia was in need of editors, so I sent her a brief email. Three days later, I was awarded assistant nonfiction editor.  In this job, I made sure that the submissions met our needs before sending them on to the nonfiction editor.  For several months, everything was going smoothly until the nonfiction editor decided to leave her position.   

This presented a problem.  Virginia asked me if I'd be interested in taking the position. Assuming more responsibility made me nervous, but I accepted knowing that Virginia was no more than a phone call or email away.  I loved reading the submissions, making suggestions for revisions, and moving submissions on one step closer to publication.  But little did I know this wonderful job would not last.  A little under two years, Virginia needed to close SFC magazine again.  In a phone call, she shared why she needed to make this tough decision. 

I’ll miss working as an editor for the magazine, conferring with my efficient and lovable assistant Irene Roth, and seeing people reach their dream of publication.  But I do believe that one day, SFC just may open again, when the stars align themselves.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the SFC contributors and the SFC staff.  Stories for Children magazine was a beautifully produced publication.  I can honestly say, it has touched the lives of many and it will be greatly missed.