October 29, 2014

Multiple/Simultaneous Submissions

Do you know the difference between multiple submissions and simultaneous submissions? Though some people use the words interchangeably, there is a difference between the terms.  In the case of a multiple submission, a writer sends several different manuscripts to one editor.  In other words, an editor may end up with two or more pieces from one writer. Conversely, a simultaneous submission is when a writer sends the same manuscript to different editors. This means that your story is being considered by more than one editor.

It's important to understand the difference and know if multiple or simultaneous  submissions are accepted.  Your work might get rejected if you send an editor multiple submissions when the guidelines state otherwise.  So it's your job to find out if what is permitted.  

For instance, Kid's Imagination Train has a small staff so we don't accept multiple submissions or simultaneous submissions and we state that in our guidelines.  But that doesn't mean that everyone adheres to the rule.  Once, a writer sent a very nice poem which was accepted for publication in KIT.  Since the piece required a little editing, I worked on the revision for a few days.  And then, the author retracted the poem.  The explanation:  another publication had excepted the piece.  The author had submitted her work simultaneously.  I was not a happy editor—my time was spent editing a piece that KIT will not be able to use.

Be sure to find out what an editor prefers before submitting.  If multiple and/or simultaneous submissions are permitted, you will get the chance to have your work and lots of it considered by editors.  But when the guidelines state that an editor does not want multiple or simultaneous submissions, then follow those requirements.  That way, you will know exactly what to submit and how to target editors who may be interested in publishing your work. 

October 7, 2014

More Tips for Writing Nonfiction for Kids

In July, I had written a blog that had tips for writing nonfiction for children.  I’d like to add a few more.  The following came to mind after I edited an article and a book.   

*Write in the present or past tense.  Avoid using the future tense if the wording can be expressed in the past tense.  Example: She would become a great athlete.  Better:  She became a great athlete.

 *Look up words in a dictionary if you are not sure if they need to be hyphenated.  Check out the links below to discover extra tips on using hyphens: 

*Dig deep when you research your topic.  Go beyond what is presented in encyclopedias or on the Internet.  Aim for primary sources.  Editors love primary sources.

*If you include an organization that is known by initials or an acronym, spell out the name of that organization. If it is not well known, give one sentence to describe the essence of the organization.

*Read your article out loud.  Really!  You will be surprised how many grammatical errors you may catch.

Before you submit manuscript to an editor, edit it thoroughly.  Put it away for a few days and read it again with fresh eyes.  Have someone you trust take a look at your work. Review the tips in the July blog and follow the tips listed above to help your writing get stronger and to make your manuscript shine.  

Do you have any tips for writing nonfiction for kids?  I welcome you to leave a comment.

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.

August 24, 2014

KIT's Writing Contest for Kids

All aboard!  Kid's Imagination Train is sponsoring a writing contest for children ages 7 - 12.

Here are the rules:

There is no entry fee.  Create a holiday or winter-themed story up to 500 words.  The story should be typed or neatly printed.  On the right hand corner of the first page include your name, age, and home and email address.

Submit online at kidsimaginationtrainmag@gmail.com  Type "Contest" and the title of your story in the subject line.  The stories can also be mailed to:

KIT c/o Randi Lynn Mrvos, Editor
4637 Spring Creek Drive
Lexington, KY  40515

Be sure to keep a copy of your story.  All submissions must be received by October 1, 2014.  The KIT editorial staff will review the stories.  Notification will be emailed approximately six weeks after the closing date of the contest.

The prize:  The winning story will be published in the 2014 KIT December issue.           The winner will also get to choose a book that has been reviewed on KIT.  Go to www.kidsimaginationtrain.com and click on Contest to see the list of books.

Stumped on ideas?  Here are a few titles that you can use or that might get your creative juices flowing:  

"Snowman has a Wish"
"A White and Wondrous World"
"The Magical Snow Angel"
"The Loneliest Snowflake"
"A Gift for Santa"

To read the latest issue of Kid's Imagination Train visit:  www.kidsimaginationtrain.com

August 15, 2014

Write Every Day?

You probably know the adage: “Write every day.”  Because I love to write, that's not hard to do. But not long ago, my writing routine was abruptly interrupted.  I came down with some weird mysterious flu.  The chills, a migraine, and nausea kept me from writing (and cooking for my family, going to the hair salon, taking care of the cat, and doing household chores).  I was miserable and bed-ridden.  All I could think about was staying warm and not throwing up.  After several doses of Imitrex and Tylenol, plus anti-nausea medicine, I was back on my feet in five hours—until another headache and a wave of nausea hit again.  So…back to bed. 

Through it all, my cat stayed by my side.  I had heard that dogs know when their owners are sick and will stay close by.  I never knew cats would.  And yet, Ollie did.  Okay, I was using one of his favorite nap-time comforters, but I like to think he really wanted to be close to comfort me.  And he did, snuggling and purring.  Later that evening, I was up and at ‘em.  I couldn’t eat much, and I didn’t want to think about anything, even writing. 

Two days later, I was ready to tackle some editing.  It was a great feeling, sitting in front of the computer with my work before me. After being sick, my mind was clear. I had more drive and energy.    

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t recommend that anyone get sick to find a new zeal for writing.  But I noticed that in getting away from the computer keyboard was beneficial.  I’ll have to think hard about the “writing every day” approach.  Maybe taking a break from time to time is a good thing.  For me, putting writing on hold for a few days gave me a new appreciation for what I love to do.   

Don't forget to check out the August issue of Kid's Imagination Train, now a flipbook, at: www.kidsimaginationtrain.com 

July 31, 2014


We all want second and even third chances of trying to succeed.  But when it comes to revising a manuscript, a writer may only have one more chance to get it right. 

I believe everyone deserves to know why a story or an article is not ready for publication. Generally, if I see a manuscript for Kid's Imagination Train that has promise and needs a little editing, I’ll point out the areas which need attention.  For example, I might suggest getting closer to the expected word count, or finding another research source, or presenting the conflict earlier.  These are things a writer can easily fix.  I’ll send an email offering to read the revision.  Most writers are eager to comply to perfect their work.

But sometimes, the issue is the mood of the story.  Kid's Imagination Train does not accept violent or scary stories.  If we receive stories such as these, we still offer a chance to revise.  In some cases, writers will re-work the story and the revision will be accepted. 

Other times, writers refuse to make significant changes.  They re-submit the same story, but with fewer words. When this happens, their work will not be accepted.  I will tell them why:  KIT publishes whimsical, upbeat stories.  Yet a few writers can't accept the fact that their story has been rejected.  They want another chance.  They even feel entitled to send multiple unsolicited revisions. 

Sending a revision without an editor's invitation is discourteous and unprofessional. Many writers may never know the reason why a piece is rejected. Even fewer get an opportunity for a revision.  So receiving an editor’s opinion and getting a chance to edit is rare.  If however, an editor indicates that she must pass on the submission after seeing a revision, then writers have two choices.  They can either send the editor a new story that better fits her needs or they can find another market that accepts pieces similar to the story they have written.