September 28, 2014

Pushing the Limit on Word Count

Do you stay within word count when submitting to a children's magazine?  I hope so. Yet, some writers think it's okay to push the limit.  Once, a writer sent Kid's Imagination Train a 1200-word article.  That's a bit too long—700 words over the limit.  KIT accepts fiction and nonfiction that run about 500 words.

It is clear to me that this writer didn't read (or understand) our guidelines.  What a shame because it wastes my time and the writer's time.  Had the requirements been reviewed, this writer may have sent an appropriate piece that KIT would love to publish.

Magazine editors post word counts not to challenge or frustrate writers, but to encourage writers to create pieces that are suitable for their audience.  Five hundred words or less is an appropriate length for young children because it's short enough to keep kids engaged.  Anything longer may result in losing a child's attention.  In fact, other editors will tell you that even adults lose interest in reading lengthy pieces online.

Here are some general rules:  twenty to fifty words over the count is generally okay. Going over by one hundred words is iffy.  Pushing the count to several hundred words over the limit is a no-no.  Just don't go there.  

Writing for children requires that you write concisely.  If you want to get published in the children's markets, make it a point to read the guidelines and stay close to the expected word count.  

September 12, 2014

Making a Lousy Day Better

I suppose everyone has a lousy day from time to time.  Not long ago, I had one of those kind of days.  A business associate left Kid's Imagination Train without giving notice, leaving me to fill in for her duties at the last minute.  Luckily, I had some clues that this might happen, so I prepared in advance.  Looking back, it was for the best.  My former partner is probably happier and I have fewer worries.  More, her departure pushed me to be creative with KIT.  And I could not be more pleased with the direction it has taken.

As I look back, it was truly an awful day.  A question kept burning:  How could anyone treat another person that way?  It really bummed me out.  But that question would never get answered.  So, I had two choices: to continue to have a bad day, or to do something to make the day a little better.  I choose the second. 

Early each morning I take a walk and pass by a dry cleaning business.  Cathy, the owner always waves or says hello to me.  It occurred to me that on this lousy day I could do something nice for her.  I was on my way to the grocery and decided to buy a potted flowering plant. 

When I gave it to her she looked stunned.  “Why?” she asked.  I said, “It’s a ‘because’ plant.”  I did not go into any details about my day.  I told her it was because she was always friendly to me.

Believe it or not, the little plant still blooms even months after it had been given as a gift.  Cathy tells me that people remark about it when they stop in.  As for me, it never reminds me of my lousy day.  Instead, it reminds me of hope and kindness.  It makes me smile knowing that a small gesture made my day better and someone else’s day a little bit brighter.