L Language, Landscape, and Lore Celtic Heritage in Children’s Literature CONTENTS

MARCH 2013
Newsletter of Writing
and Publishing Trends
Language, Landscape, and Lore
How Self-Publishing
Is Changing Our
Relationship with Books
Celtic Heritage in Children’s Literature
By Mary E. Furlong
ast year, I spent the month of September in Ireland. Everyone spoke English—
with delightful brogues seasoned with darlin’s and dearies. Another language
was in evidence as well. Signs spelled the names of roads and towns in English
and in Irish Gaelic. (Headed to Dún Laoghaire? It is pronounced dunleary). I overheard a local librarian remark that she routinely orders new books in two versions,
English and Gaelic. A restaurant might feature a cupán tae.
Through many centuries, the threads of Celtic language, land, and lore have been
influential, and still weave through stories for readers of all ages. Much contemporary fantasy fiction, especially the Arthurian, is grounded in this heritage, as are
many folktales, quest legends, and poems. The Celts—whether Irish, Scottish, Welsh,
Cornish, Manx, or Breton—have a reputation as storytellers, and wonderful wielders
of language. Their tales live on in such works as The Once and Future King, The
Dark Is Rising, the novels of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, even J. K. Rowling—
and on up to picture books and middle-grade and young adult fiction being written
Contest Critique 7
Feeding Frenzy:
Create Stories Teens
Hunger For
Contest Winner 9
Dough Girl
The Tradition
Make that Deadline!
Preservation of language is the first leg of the Celtic tripod. The six Celtic
languages all have the same grammatical structure, with a variant vocabulary.
The second leg of the Celtic tripod is the landscape. The mountains and lakes
and rivers, the mists shrouding them in mystery, the sudden shafts of sunlight that
reveal myriad shades of green: No wonder the ancient Celts and their modern counterparts share a spiritual connection to their natural surroundings.
Third is lore, a literary heritage that has grown out of a venerable oral tradition.
In the ancient Celtic culture, the bard held a position almost equal to that of the
druid, or high priest. Part historian, part storyteller, part entertainer, part magician,
the bard honored his tribal society with a well-trained memory and with his ability
to touch imaginations with his words.
Like us on Facebook and
join the conversation
about writing for kids.
A Modern Poetic Tribute
At Charlesbridge Press, the bardic tradition
(To page 2)
eltic goes on with the The Ink Garden of Brother
Theophane, a gorgeous picture book that tells
the story of the medieval Irish monks who instinctively
used pagan Celtic art forms to enhance painstakingly
copied Christian gospels and classics.
Initially drawn to author C. M.
Millen’s “allusive language,” Charlesbridge Editor Alyssa Mito Pusey was
also impressed by the author’s
research into the ink ingredients used
in illuminated texts, and in the way
she created a rhyming story from bits
of poetry real monks wrote in the
margins of their manuscripts. Borrowing heavily from the scribbled notes of
St. Columba, Millen “took lines from
different poems, wove together
themes, and created ear-pleasing rhymes” in what Pusey
regards as “a modern poet’s tribute to the Celtic poets of
old.” Illustrator Andrea Wisnewski’s task was to provide
the landscape: accurate, colorful depictions of sixth-century Ireland with over-arching Celtic style designs.
Pusey, whose love of Celtic mythology and folktales led
her to study Modern Irish (Gaeilge) in college, is “always
on the lookout for more” Celtic-themed books.
Lili DeSisto, Marketing, Publicity, and Promotions
Associate Director at Charlesbridge, adds her praise,
focusing on the teaching guide opportunities in The Ink
Garden. Such guides (downloadable at the Charlesbridge website) are sometimes submitted with the original manuscript, sometimes developed in-house. In
either case, the author is given an opportunity to offer
input before the final guide is published online.
Other Charlesbridge titles with Celtic themes include
Fiona’s Luck, by Teresa Bateman, and the popular Sir
Cumference math series, by Cindy Neuschwander.
Rooted in Reality
Editor Kaylan Adair rejoices in the fact that Candlewick
~ Candlewick Press: 99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144.
www.candlewick.com. Agented authors only.
~ Charlesbridge Press: 85 Main St., Watertown, MA 02472.
www.charlesbridge.com. Open to manuscript submissions for picture books, bridge books, and middle-grade. Complete manuscript
for picture books; for fiction over 30 pages, submit a synopsis, outline, and 3 chapters.
~ Floris Books: 15 Harrison Gardens, Edinburgh EH11 1SH Scotland. www.florisbooks.co.uk. Send synopsis, biography, and 3 sample
chapters. Accepts hard copy only.
~ Pauline Books and Media: 50 St. Paul’s Ave., Boston, MA 02130.
www.pauline.org. Query with synopsis and 2 chapters; complete
manuscript for board and picture books. Mail or email to [email protected]
~ Pelican Publishing: 1000 Burmaster St., Gretna, LA 70053.
www.pelicanpub.com. Query with synopsis or outline, 1-2 chapters, and résumé; complete manuscript for picture books (to 1,100
~ Arthurian Sequence, by Elizabeth E. Wein, 12 and up. Titles include
The Winter Prince (Viking).
~ The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander, are five fantasy
novels influenced by Welsh mythology for middle-graders and up. The
titles include The High King, which won the Newbery (Square Fish).
~ The Dark Is Rising Sequence, by Susan Cooper, for ages 9+ (Margaret K. McElderry). Heavily influenced by Celtic legend, especially
Welsh. Cooper is also the author of the middle-grade The Boggart,
based on a Scottish legend (Perfection Learning).
~ Here Lies Arthur, by Philip Reeve, 8 and up (Scholastic)
~ I Am Morgan le Fay and I Am Mordred, by Nancy Springer, 12+
~ The Lost Years of Merlin Epic, The Great Tree of Avalon trilogy,
and Merlin’s Dragon trilogy, three series by T. A. Barron, for middlegraders and up.
~ The Squire’s Tales (10 titles) and The Knight’s Tales (4 titles to
date), two series of Arthurian tales by Gerald Morris, for middlegraders and up. Titles include The Ballad of Sir Dinadan; The Quest of
the Fair Unknown, and The Adventures of Sir Balin the Ill-Fated
(Houghton Mifflin).
~ The Sword and the Circle, by Rosemary Sutcliff, age 10+ (Puffin).
Press “has room on its list for books that play with popular perceptions of what a picture book should be.” In
this category she places King Arthur’s Very Great
Grandson, by author-illustrator Kenneth Kraegel, who
combines “a unique, naïve art style and playful,
idiomatic language” in a surprising and refreshing spinoff of Arthurian legend. Kraegel’s hero, Henry Alfred
Grummorson, makes Adair laugh. Mounted on Knuckles, his faithful donkey, the hero sets out in search of
The timelessness of adventure stories and heroic
tales accounts for the continuing appeal of the old Celtic
myths and legends, says Adair, especially when they are
“rooted in reality,” as the King Arthur stories may be.
The popularity of these tales is enhanced by our familiarity with them through the many books and films
inspired by Arthur’s legendary charisma. “There is
something undeniably romantic,” says Adair, “about the
figure of King Arthur, ‘the noblest knight ever to wield a
Arthur’s glamour in no way detracts from would-be
heroes like his very great grandson and young Tobias
Burgess of Richard Platt’s entertaining and informative
Castle Diary. Like many Candlewick publications, the
book has a related downloadable activity, created by the
illustrator, Chris Riddell. Young adult readers may also
catch exciting glimpses of medieval life in Catherine
Jinks’s page-turner mysteries, the Pagan Chronicles.
Compelling Legends
Sister Christina Wegendt, Aquisitions Editor at Pauline
Books and Media, a Catholic publishing house, also
looks for heroism, of the saintly kind. “Not a lot is
known definitively about many of the Celtic saints,”
says Wegendt, but she does not see this as a problem
since “compelling legends” serve the Pauline editorial
2 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com
mission just as well, if not better. She looks for books
that “get readers caught up in the adventure and mystery
of the Celts, while showing the growth of the Catholic
faith in this land which is so much a part of our cultural
Wegendt especially welcomes picture books like The
Saint Who Fought the Dragon: The Story of St. George,
by Cornelia Bilinsky. (The story of St. George originated
in Greece.) She also sees possibilities in the graphic
novel format as a creative approach to recounting “the
often adventurous lives these holy men and women
At Floris Books, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Publisher
Katy Lockwood-Holmes looks for “a cracking story with
strong characters, believable dialogue,
and compelling atmosphere.” By compelling atmosphere, she means accurate
Scottish settings that are reflective of the
fact that the author is genuinely familiar
with them. She rejects “stories where the
author has attempted a Celtic or Scottish
feel by adding a smattering of Scots
words or a random Scottish name.”
Stories based upon creatures from
Scottish mythology work for her, as do
titles with a historical background, which are much more
successful with Floris’s North American readership than
books with contemporary Scottish settings. LockwoodHolmes cites Kathleen Fidler’s The Desperate Journey,
the story of a Scottish family that settles in Nova Scotia
after being displaced by the Highlands clearances, which
were the removal of farming tenants from newly
enclosed lands during the eighteenth and nineteenth
Lockwood-Holmes is especially open to submissions for
the company’s Kelpie series, fiction with a Scottish connection for ages 7 to 12. A favorite Picture Kelpie is You Can’t
Play Here, by Angus Corby, a story about a boy looking for
a place to practice his bagpipes. “Overt references to
If the richness of Celtic literature and culture speaks to you, try looking
into these to generate ideas for a story, article, or book.
~ The ancient myths, such as the Ulster Cycle, and the stories of
Finn, which are stories of both Ireland and Scotland. The epics are
full of heroic stories, humor, and poetry. The stories include those
of the Tuatha Dè Danaan, a supposed ancient race of inhabitants
—often divinities—who included the high kings.
~ William Butler Yeats, his poems, and writings on the stories of
~ The Crock of Gold, and Irish Fairy Tales, by James Stephens, who
was well known in the twentieth century for his vivid retellings.
~ The Welsh Mabinogion: Arthurian characters like Uther
Pendragon Morgan le Fay appear to derive from Welsh mythology.
~ Early versions of Arthurian legends, from the medieval legends
and romances to Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. Consider
related epics and poems, like those of the Tristan legends, or the
stories of Parsifal, or poems such as Gawain and the Green Knight.
The River Liffey flows through the center of Dublin on its
way to Dublin Bay and the Irish Sea. Pedestrians love to stroll
across its many picturesque bridges. Tourists enjoy great views of
the city from the decks of sightseeing cruisers. Sportsmen value
the Liffey for the salmon that splash their way upstream.
But Brenna Briggs, an American living in County Sligo, just
liked its name. She borrowed it for the heroine of a middle-grade
novel she had in mind—one that combined Irish dancing, a mystery, and as much legend and folklore as possible. River Liffey
became Liffey Rivers, a 13-year-old stepdancer who turns out to
be as clever at solving mysteries as she is at taps and slip jigs.
Because Briggs thought of her book idea as “very niche,” she
opted to self-publish rather than seek a mainstream publisher.
What Briggs had not anticipated was her readers’ enthusiasm for
Liffey Rivers and the Mystery of the Sparkling Solo Dress Crown. Soon
after the novel was released, she was “bombarded” with emails
from young stepdancers and their parents wanting to know when
the sequel would come out. It was easy enough to comply. Since
stepdance competitions take place all over the world, Liffey would
have plenty of places to go in subsequent books, and plenty of
mysteries to solve. Briggs and her high-stepping girl detective
were on their way.
Soon, glowing reviews appeared in arts newsletters and dance
magazines, and in Celtic news commentaries. Nevertheless, Briggs
was unprepared for the reception she received when she
returned to the United States in 2009. Adoring fans greeted her
with ecstatic screams at her first American feis (pronounced fesh, a
dance competition). Briggs signed and sold more than100 books
that day. Briggs checks in at feisana (plural of feis) now and then,
but mostly she depends upon Amazon and bookstores to handle
her sales. Presently, the Kindle versions have the lead. The future
is bright for Liffey Rivers.
Scottish themes/imagery, such as bagpipes and tartans,
often go down well in North America,” she says.
Wide Interest
Editor in Chief Nina Kooij sees Pelican Publishing
Company’s Celtic theme books for children as “a natural
extension of that segment of [Pelican’s] adult list,” which
includes works like How Celtic Culture Invented Southern Literature, by James P. Cantrell, and Mysterious
Celtic Mythology in American Folklore, by Bob Curran.
Pelican’s books focus largely on Louisiana and the South.
Pelican’s juvenile offerings consist of picture books
and stories for younger readers. Kooij finds that there is
a wide interest in Celtic subjects, due in part to the
strong Irish and Scottish roots in parts of the American
South, and in part to the fact that “the Celtic tradition...
is renowned the world over for its storytelling.” The
whimsical St. Patrick and the Three Brave Mice, by
Joyce Stengel, is a Pelican favorite, as are informative
alphabet books like The Scottish Alphabet and The Irish
Alphabet, by Rickey Pittman. Sarah Blazek’s An Irish
Hallowe’en celebrates Snap Apple Night in a tale that
offers some insights into the Celtic origins of Halloween.
Whether in English or in rediscovered ancient languages, Celtic storytelling, history, and spirit speak to
the imaginations of young readers. For centuries, writers
have tapped into their myths and legends with astonishing success. So can you.
3 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com
How Self-Publishing Is
Changing Our
Relationship with Books
By Christina Hamlett
verheard at a pitch session for authors and
agents: “I guess if nobody likes what I wrote, I
can always self-publish.” I was instantly struck
by the parallel to a remark once made by a grade school
classmate’s mother about her daughter’s plain looks: “If
nobody marries you, there’s always the convent.” How
disheartening is the undertone of defeat, of settling.
For writers, the ultimate validation is a Big Six (soon
to be Big Five if the Penguin/Random House merger
goes through) publishing contract. Unfortunately, that
goalpost has moved farther away for aspiring authors as
the economy has led to the downsizing of many traditional presses.
Self-publishing has emerged in a new light during
this time, thanks also to technology. It has changed
author-editor interactions, and distribution, pricing
models, and the way readers connect with books. The
stigma once associated with DIY publishing is diminishing rapidly as more authors rush to take greater control,
retain more rights, and reap higher royalties when
It is a popular trend, but is self-publishing the right
option for everyone?
The Number-One Fear
Many authors are wary of self-publishing because they
believe it closes doors to traditional markets. Fact or fiction? “Absolute fiction,” says Publisher Nancy Cleary of
Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing. “If you can show impressive retail sales and build an engaging platform with
major media success, the door to a traditional publisher
may be pried open. Yes, it’s true that in the not-so-distant past agents wouldn’t touch self-published authors,
but as the industry changes, so have the opportunities.
There are brand new doors any author can be knocking
on! Some big houses have launched their own self-pub
divisions, eager to scout out bestsellers to move to their
traditional roster. And Amazon’s own traditional publishing enterprise keeps a close eye on sales through
their self-publishing division.”
Cleary addresses another common assumption about
self-publishing and bookstores. “If you’ve self-published
you’ll never have books pushed by the tens of thousands
into bookstores like a traditional publisher. But if you’ve
lined up distribution with a full 55 percent discount and
books are returnable, plus you get major media, garner
good reviews, and people are requesting your title at
counters, a bookstore may give the book a chance on its
shelves for a few months.”
Bonnie Vent, author of Publish Your Book Fast with
Maximum Profits on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and
More: 10 Secrets Publishers Don’t Want You To Know
(CreateSpace), believes that writers can better position
themselves for future opportunities if they are willing to
publish their own books. “Amazon.com and others work
directly with authors, make no claim on your book
rights, and its exposure on their websites can result in a
publishing deal,” says Vent. She cautions writers about
self-publishing companies that keep a percentage of
profits and have upfront costs. “Read the fine print in
your contract and make sure you’re not giving up your
intellectual property rights. I’ve heard many horror stories of authors thinking they’d received an acceptance
letter from a legit publisher only to find they wanted a
lot of upfront money from the author to publish their
Authors sometimes ask how much formatting and
software knowledge is needed to publish a book from
scratch? “None, zip, zero,” says Steven Spatz, Vice
Just as traditional houses favor certain genres, self-publishers
such as Babette Pepaj, Founder of BakeSpace, sometimes attract
clients by specialty. “We run a self-publishing platform called
Cookbook Café that enables anyone to create both an ebook
and native iPad app (for free). The biggest hurdle in self-publishing
for any author is discoverability; even if you have a following on
Twitter, Facebook or natural traffic from your own website, it’s
difficult to make a name for yourself in publishing. We solved this
problem by turning our platform builder into a storefront to sell
books and a reader where a user who downloads a book can
access author content quickly. If a reader needs a chocolate chip
cookie recipe, our platform searches every recipe in every book
so authors have a greater chance of being discovered by more
than just a title search. You simply don’t have this option in any
other platform on the market. Real cookbook authors, chefs, and
even publishers are using this platform to find a new audience
and connect with fans between traditional publishing schedules.”
4 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com
President of Marketing for AVL Digital Group, owner
of the BookBaby brand. “Writers should spend their
precious time writing, not trying to keep pace with fastchanging publishing technology. There are lots of companies out there that can—and should—do this work for
you, either for a fee or free. From my company,
BookBaby, all the way to PubIt, KDP [Kindle Direct
Publishing], or Smashwords: They’ll all format and
convert your Word document and get your book online.”
Platform Creation
Even through traditional channels, you need a soapbox
to attract buyers. In self-publishing, shout-outs must
begin long before your book’s debut.
Brent Sampson, President and CEO of Outskirts Press,
advises three simple tasks to start: “(1) Start a blog at
“Writers should spend their
precious time writing, not trying
to keep pace with fast-changing
publishing technology. Lots of
companies can do this work for
you, either for a fee or free.”
WordPress and make a commitment to contribute to that
blog on a consistent, scheduled basis (at least two to
three times a week) with helpful, informative, or entertaining content; (2) Build a following on Twitter or
Facebook (or preferably, both); (3) Use RSS to share the
content among WordPress, Twitter, and Facebook and
engage your readers, followers, and fans.”
Vent recommends purchasing the domain name for your
name and book title. “Create a website under your author
name. This will come in handy when you do radio interviews and speaking engagements. They might not remember your book title but they will remember your name!”
Spatz stresses the importance of thinking like a marketer, not like an author. “Your book is a product; take
your ego out of key decisions such as pricing. In addition, you need to determine your book’s USP—unique
selling proposition—in a couple of sentences, and sell it
hard. Dominate your niche or theme to stand out on the
virtual bookshelves.”
Informed Choices
According to a study by Self-Publishing Resources (SPR)
(selfpublishingresources.com), approximately 9,500
new publishers enter the field each year, most of them
self-publishers. It reports that 78 percent of books pro-
~ Amazon Self-Publishing: www.amazon.com/gp/seller-account/
mm-summary-page.html?topic=200260520. Also see Kindle
Direct Publishing, below.
~ AVL Digital Group: 7905 N. Route 130, Pennsauken, NJ 08110.
www.corinthiancap.com/avldigital.html, www.avldigital.com
~ BakeSpace: www.bakespace.com
~ BookLogix: 1264 Old Alpharetta Road, Alpharetta, GA 30005.
~ Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP): kdp.amazon.com. Ebooks for
Amazon’s best-selling Kindle e-reader.
~ Launch Pad Publishing: www.launchpadpublishing.com. Offers
editing, marketing, and other self-publishing resources. (Not to be
confused with the Launchpad website for free software development; see blog.launchpad.net).
~ Lulu: lulu.com. Printing, publishing, distribution, fulfillment of
print-on-demand books, for self-publishers since 2002. Also does
ebooks and calendars.
~ Outskirts Press: 10940 S. Parker Road-515, Parker, CO 80134.
www.outskirtspress.com. Includes help finding illustrators for
self-published children’s books among its services.
~ PubIt: pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=pi_reg_home.
The self-publishing arm of Barnes & Noble.
~ Self Publishing Press: 211 Seneca Way, Spring Grove, PA 17362.
~ SmashWords: www.smashwords.com. An independent, “selfservice” ebook publisher and distributor founded in 2008. It
works with Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony devices.
~ Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing: 15115 Highway 36, Deadwood,
OR 97430. wyattmackenzie.com. Focuses on “mom writers” and
offers services from editing to design, marketing platforms, and
even imprint launches.
~ Simon & Schuster: www.simonandschuster.com. Simon & Schuster announced in late 2012 that it was launching a self-publishing
division, Archway Publishing (www.archwaypublishing.com), in
conjunction with Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI; www.authorsolutions.com).
duced today are by small presses or self-publishers, and
over half of all books are purchased online or through
catalogues. Self-publishing increasingly makes sense for
With so many competitors in the game, authors must
learn the most important criteria for selecting the one
that will do their projects justice. Sarah Gilbert, Director
of Sales for Lulu, sums up: “Distribution availability,
control, and cost. As the author, it’s much easier to publish in one place and in multiple formats that can be distributed through many retail channels. You’ll always
want to maintain control of the process and your work.
Publishing also shouldn’t have to cost anything; choose
free if you can, and optionally select services that will
make your book and publishing experience easier for
you. Depending on needs, there might be upfront
design/editing costs, but in the long run you’ll reap
bigger rewards if it sells.”
Angela DeCaires, Marketing and Communications
Manager of BookLogix, emphasizes the importance of
authors educating themselves about self-publishing
before they ever start the process. “We help authors
make educated choices by offering free workshops and
5 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com
webinars with a variety of experts in the publishing
industry. We also offer free consultations in-person or
over the phone; there’s never a charge to meet with us,
ask questions and get our recommendation on what will
be best to help them meet their publishing objectives.
One of the first things we ask any writer is, ‘What’s your
goal in publishing your book?’ Anything we do to help
them self-publish stems from their answer to that question, from advising them on what editing they might
need, to the look and feel of the book, printing options,
marketing, selling methods, website design, etc.”
“My business is focused on providing a realistic outlook to authors,” shares Kevin E. Pirkey, President and
Publisher of Self Publishing Press. “We don’t promise
rave reviews or bestseller status; however, we do
provide all the tools and support needed to produce a
professional publication. The average self-published
book sells approximately 75 copies. We strive to educate our customers so the experience of publishing
their novels, family and business history books is positive and so they achieve success by whatever measure
that’s important to them.”
“Historically, nonfiction has been a better genre for
self-publishing than others,” says Sampson, “but with the
rapid adoption and acceptance of ebooks, the fiction and
poetry writers are gaining access to readers and buyers
more successfully than ever before. The Kindle and Nook
have really leveled the playing field for all genres in selfpublishing. When looking at publishing in general,
The Future
ebooks will be sharing [markets] and penetration with
hard copy books. If traditional publication is removed
from the equation, ebooks will be far more popular for
self-publishing due to lower costs and faster turnaround
times. In all likelihood, ebooks will probably be free or
subscription-based, so self-publishing authors will need
to explore other ways to monetize their creativity.”
Pirkey predicts that a proliferation of ebooks will
cause print to become an on-demand supplement. “The
future will bring more books that can only exist in electronic form by their use of audio, video, interactive tools.
These things become more accessible each year, lowering
the barrier of entry for individuals to compete with—and
stand alongside—large commercial publishers through
online bookstores and ecommerce-enabled websites,
with little differentiation to consumers.”
Despite self-publishing’s creative and economic
advantages, writers may still measure their authenticity
on the basis of formal acceptance by agents and editors
for some time to come. And yet the author’s investment
of real time, real energy, and real emotions still adds up
to the most important result:
Post about this article on
a real book, regardless of the
our Facebook page.
path it takes to reach its
Start a conversation!
intended audience.
Just as ebooks raise the wrath of those who deem them a
threat, self-publishing has critics vocal about product
quality. DeCaires observes, “We believe the future of selfpublishing should be one where self-published books
adhere to certain standards, just as traditionally published books do today. One of the biggest complaints we
hear is that people think self-published books aren’t up
to the same level. By educating writers about the industry and what the rights and wrongs are, this will help
change that view. And with that, we see self-publishers
getting more recognition.”
Faye Levow, Publisher of Launch Pad Publishing,
thinks self-publishing has only just begun. “Authors will
continue to self-publish, and become more sophisticated
and more demanding as they figure out what is possible.
Self-publishing will be the route of choice, even for
authors who were once strictly traditional. Generally,
authors will have higher expectations, looking for quality
editing, proofing, and design work, rather than a lowbudget, do-it-alone approach. Prices and services will
vary, with an obvious distinction between low-budget,
glorified printers and strong, hybrid companies such as
Launch Pad where people will receive high-quality, donefor-you books and ebooks with true marketing support.”
Self-publishing has only just
begun. It “will be the route of
choice. . . . Authors will have
higher expectations [in] editing
proofing, and design . . .” and
marketing support.
Editor in Chief Susan M. Tierney. Publisher Prescott V. Kelly.
Children’s Writer, ISSN 1060-5274, is published by The Writer’s Institute, Inc., 93 Long Ridge Road, West Redding, CT 06896-1124.
Published monthly. Subscription rate is $30 for 12 issues.
All rights reserved. The material contained herein is protected by copyright.
Quotations up to 40 words are permitted when Children’s Writer is clearly identified as the source. Otherwise, no part of
Children’s Writer may be republished, copied, reproduced, or adapted in print or digital form without the express written
permission of the publisher. For subscription information, please visit our website www.childrenswriter.com.
Email queries, manuscripts, or MarketPlace information, to [email protected]
6 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com
YA f i c t i o n c o n t e s t c r i t i q u e
Feeding Frenzy: Create
Stories Teens Hunger For
By Pamela Holtz Beres
rom the later books in the Harry Potter series to
the Twilight saga and The Hunger Games trilogy,
young adult fiction remains hot, and there are no
signs it will cool down anytime soon. Everyone wants a
piece of the pie, and it is no surprise that the Children’s
Writer YA short story contest drew 1,200 entries. That’s
right—1,200 stories in almost every genre imaginable.
Through paranormal fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, historical,
contemporary, realistic, stories in verse, and even a little Twilight Zone-style horror, authors shared tales of
first loves, lost loves, grief and death, bullying, and the
search for identity. While some submissions missed the
mark completely (historical nonfiction, how-to’s, and
novel excerpts are not short stories), hundreds more
told compelling tales that made the competition close
and the judging process grueling.
The contest announcement designated a narrow
audience of 13- to 14-year-olds, which presented a special challenge. Kids this age physically and emotionally
straddle the line between middle school and high
school, and their reading tastes reflect this. Some are
“You made my day!”
Learning her short story, “Dough Girl,” had placed first in the
Children’s Writer YA contest left winner Jeannie Bossert speechless.
After placing second in a science article contest a few years ago,
she was nevertheless stunned to hear the good news.
Bossert has always been fascinated by yeast and the history
behind starter dough, such as that in sour dough bread. This fascination prompted the piece she wrote for the science article contest and it also suggested the topic for the current winning story.
Research told her that certain people have an intuitive feel for
yeast and keeping it at just the right temperature. These people,
like the main character in “Dough Girl,” have played an important
role in their community throughout history. Their job is to keep
the dough, ensuring there will be enough bread to feed everyone.
Starter dough is carefully guarded and often passed down from
generation to generation.
With this knowledge, Bossert turned to her own family. “My
daughter is a hard worker,” says Bossert, “and I know she would
have done just what the main character did in the story.” Bossert
also recalls having a great aunt who gave birth to twins in 1910.
She was told they would not live. Undaunted, the woman kept
them warm in an old coal oven, and they did survive. With all of
this in mind, Bossert began writing. Twenty-seven days later, she
says, she had her story.
Bossert’s science article from the first contest was published in
Nature Friend. Perhaps “Dough Girl” will find an audience on the
pages of a magazine, too.
more comfortable with topics found in middle-grade
stories while others are ready for the grittier reality and
soul-searching themes of teen stories. Since this was a
YA contest, stories which landed on the “middle-grade”
side of the line, despite a young teen main character,
didn’t make the cut.
Middle-Grade or YA--What’s the Difference?
Middle-graders are notoriously curious about the world
around them. Their world expands and they explore
and learn. They see, they hear, they touch, they learn.
Teens turn inward. They know about family, school,
and friends but yearn for answers to questions they had
not thought about before—who they are, and where
they fit within their family, community and society.
In the contest’s winning place, “Dough Girl,” by
Jeannie Bossert, the main character known simply as
Dough Girl is sent to spend a cold stormy night in a
cave-like hovel with a young mother who died giving
birth to triplets. One baby has also passed and Dough
Girl is told that the other two will not make it through
the night. But Dough Girl must stay with them until
someone comes for them in the morning. Aside from
dealing with the physical challenges of the situation,
Dough Girl wonders why she, out of all others, was sent
to carry out this task.
In Dan O’Donnell’s third-place story, “The Whale’s
Daughter,” 13-year-old Summer questions her identity
when her mother leaves the family. Will she continue as
before, hanging out with her best friend Shay and following the rules as she had known them? Or will she try
a new path with the wilder crowd from the beach? Who
is she, and will she be okay now that her mother has
In each of these stories, the main characters move
beyond the concerns of middle-grade children and turn
inward for answers.
Naturally, romance is another area where middlegrade and YA differ. A friend recently noted that in
middle-grade fiction, the characters might think about
their attraction to another person. In YA, they act on it.
Romance will not carry a middle-grade story but in YA
the plot might indeed revolve around the relationship
between two characters.
In the second-place science fiction romance
“Changes,” by Teresa Robeson, 15-year-old Claire is
7 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com
distracted, flustered, and sometimes annoyed by sandyhaired Kent. When Kent goes outside the spaceship to
check an engine and the crew loses contact with him,
Claire realizes what he means to her. In another highranking story, a 14-year-old deals with an overprotective
father as she navigates her first romance. Another features a nerdy boy who creates a robot clone who gets the
girl for him. Given that the contest specified an audience
of 13- to 14-year-olds, writers needed to keep in mind
that readers are just stepping into high school and the
dating scene.
Winning Qualities
The contest announcement further specified pageturning quality, interest to teens, character, and voice
as judging criteria. With 1,200 entries, a winning story
needed a strong beginning to keep it from landing in the
no pile. Fourth-place story “When She Fell,” by C. J.
Malarsky, exemplifies, beginning like this:
My world was a paper kingdom. It had been
carefully constructed with heavy doses of whimsy and wonder. A patchwork daydream sprung to
life. We made it together. It was our precious
nothing, as we called it. But that was before.
Paper kingdom? Patchwork of dreams? Precious nothing? Who made this world and what happened to change
it? In just 40 words, the author piques our interest,
planting enough questions in our mind to keep reading.
The opening paragraph of “Dough Girl” hooks us
immediately with the question the main character wants
answered: Why was I sent here? Bossert then paints a
striking scene. Dough Girl knows someone has been
screaming, even though she did not hear it; she senses a
cold wind, a stench from dirty blankets, a dark room
with only a tiny ray of disappearing sunlight, and an old,
haggard women who blends in with the rock wall behind
her. We are present with Dough Girl and are eager for
But page-turning quality does not end with the first
paragraph. Keep the reader curious, needing to know
more. The opening paragraph of “The Whale’s Daughter”
offers plenty for us to wonder about:
The whale died. The one from our trip. The
name of that small town jumps out from the
page as I read the paper. I blink back tears.
Maybe I’m sad because the whole summer’s been
so crappy. Or maybe because I have my first
Two paragraphs later, we learn that the whale and her
calf were spotted under a bridge, far from the sea where
they belonged. They are not mentioned again, however,
until the end of the story. Instead, the author focuses on
the other questions raised in the opening. We learn
about the break-up of a family and the actions taken by
the main character in response. Finally, at the end, we
learn the fate of the whales, mama and daughter. The
significance of the whales becomes clear, and the story
ties together.
The fifth-place story, Judy K. Roofner’s “Stepping
Up,” begins with the words, “Dad was a no-show.” Main
character Mike feels his father was not there because in
the heat of an argument, he had told his dad not to come
to any more of his games. As the story unfolds, it seems
less and less likely that a simple argument would keep
this dad from coming to the game. The reader keeps
turning pages to find out the real reason Dad did not
show up.
Character and voice were also carefully evaluated in
the submissions. Age is important because young readers
like to read up, and teens will not read stories about
characters younger than themselves. But labeling a character as “15-year-old Mary” is not enough. Mary, and the
entire YA cast, must sound and act like teens.
It is good practice for YA writers to spend time with
teens. Eavesdrop at the mall or if you have the chance,
volunteer for a carpool. You will learn enough to fill
volumes! Teens are self-centered, concerned with how
things affect them first and foremost. Very few
empathize with parents, teachers, or other adults. If they
give any thought to why they or someone else does something, it usually comes in the form of growth and development that comes after the experience.
In “Stepping Up,” Mike does not think about why his
father hovers over him, offering the son too much help
and advice about his game. Even after Mom explains that
his father’s own lack of parental guidance is the reason
for Dad’s overdoing the job of parenting Mike, Mike does
not get it. But when Mike learns the real reason Dad is a
no-show, he begins to put the pieces together. Finally, he
understands the reasons for Dad’s actions.
When looking for publishable YA fiction, editors (and
contest judges!) look for a strong teen voice. While thirdperson stories can succeed, teen stories are often told in
first-person, planting the reader squarely in the mind of
the main character. Stories for teens often feature plenty
of white space on the page, since teen dialogue and narrative is relaxed, with short and often fragmented sentences. In contemporary stories, text-message lingo is
common, including smiley faces and other emoticons.
Word choices throughout should reflect a teen’s point of
view. If a story’s voice does not ring true, teens will not
read it.
The competition in this contest was keen, and writers
need to be equally up to speed when submitting short
stories to today’s tight YA short fiction market. Magazines, anthologies, and online literary journals offer
opportunities for authors who are willing to hone their
craft and write stories aimed specifically at this savvy
audience. With a few short stories under your belt, who
knows? You might move on to bigger, longer stories and
the next series that teens hunger for might be yours.
8 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com
YA f i c t i o n c o n t e s t w i n n e r
Dough Girl
By Jeannie Bossert
hy was I sent here? At least
I couldn’t hear screaming. I
lifted the latch. Wind from
behind me shoved open the door. The
stench of dirty blankets braced my
senses. One small opening high up let
the last rays of daylight shine across the
room. An old lady leaned against a rock
wall opposite me. Somehow her wrinkled face
and gray shards of coarse hair allowed her to
blend into the rock behind her. She stared at me for a
long time. I finally spoke.
“I’m from the cooking fires. Cook said someone here
sent for me.” She kept staring at me. Finally, she raised
her arm and waved it slowly across the floor, as though
she were dragging a sodden mop. Her gnarled finger
stopped at the base of a heap of blankets. There I could
make out the face of a girl not much older than me.
“Triplets,” the old lady finally spoke. “She did not
eyes. “I will send help tomorrow morning. They will bury
them for you.” She lowered
her head, gripped her hood,
and entered the wind.
“Triplets,” the old lady
spoke. “She did not make it.
One goes with her.
Runts, all of them.”
make it. One goes with her.” I looked again and saw a
tiny head tucked at the girl’s neck. The old lady pointed
at the ground beside her. “Here are the other two.” A
warped wooden box sat between her feet and the fire.
“Runts, all of them,” she said.
The old lady pushed herself from the wall and slowly
made her way toward me, as though she’d lived all the
days of her long life in this one afternoon. Her hand
came to rest on the door latch beside me. She rested a
moment, then looked up. “Dough Girl,” she said, slowly
studying my forehead, my chin, and the sides of my
face, “I must go while I am able, before the storm
She turned toward the wooden box. “They will not
live through the night. Still, you must stay with them.”
She paused, then turned and looked straight into my
The Starter
I latched the door and made my
way to the box. Soft firelight
reflected off the infants’ eyes. They
lay side by side, each swaddled in its own
blanket, like two loaves of bread ready for market.
“Why was I sent here?” I whispered to them. The
infants breathed steadily and silently. Two sets of tiny
eyes looked back at me.
I was a dough girl. Everyone knew my job. I was
trained to care for the starter dough. I was to take care
of it above any other task I was set to do. I was good at
it. I could place a wooden bucket, a stone crock, or an
iron pot against my neck and know if they were warm
enough for the dough to rest in. I could uncover my
forearm, pass it through a corner of a room, and know
if dough could rest there. I was proud of what I could
do. If the starter dough went bad, our troops would be
without bread. Then we would have to trade for new
starter. If that happened, others would know we had
gone without bread. And then they would know our
A scream of wind brought my thoughts back to the
infants. I was getting cold. The infants would be colder.
I looked at the dimming fire. I hadn’t seen any wood in
the room besides the few logs in front of me. Even if
there were enough wood, if a stray spark landed on
their blankets, they couldn’t flee their tiny cradle. I
couldn’t risk it.
I looked at the dark corner where the heap of blankets covered their mother and sibling. Perhaps I could
stay warm by covering myself with some of their blankets. I could cover the infants with them, too. I looked
into their makeshift cradle. Their tiny hands and tiny
fingers were just like mine. If they got cold, could they
pull a blanket closer to their tiny frames? Maybe they
could rest against my middle, the way I sleep with the
starter dough on cold nights to keep it warm. But would
my warmth reach them in the box? Perhaps I could lift
them out and put them at my side. But what if the
ground were too cold? And morning—it was 12 hours
away. What if I fell asleep and rolled over them?
In the Darkness
Nightfall had come. The room was pitch dark except for
9 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com
the fire’s light. I stood up, put my hands out, and inched
my way into the darkness. No use. I stepped back to the
fire and sat to the side of it. This time I stared into the
darkness and poked the fire with the heel of my shoe,
careful not to send a spark toward the infants. The room
brightened, but I drew my foot back quickly; the heat
was too much. Was it too much for the infants?
I lunged toward the box as my heart beat a warning
against my ribs. Relief swept over me. The infants
breathed steadily and silently. The side of their box
seemed hot, so I moved it a ladle’s length from the fire.
When I did, it knocked into something, making a clinking sound. The infants gasped and shuddered, then
exhaled. When their breathing became steady again, I
reached behind the box.
I touched something thin and hard and knew
right away that it was man-made. I dragged the
object to the light. It was a Dutch oven—a deep
iron skillet standing on three stubby legs. Not
much use to the three of us. We needed warmth
now, not food. And I needed a candle to see the
room. Right then the idea came to me, and my
mind began to wrestle with it. Should I risk it?
What if I didn’t?
My actions overcame my doubts. Before I
knew it I was on all fours feeling the dirt floor in
the darkness. I had found the Dutch oven there.
Perhaps I would find what I needed close by. My
hands soon became numb from the cold, and I
no longer sensed what I touched. I gathered my
apron into a pouch and collected what objects
I’d found. I crawled to the fire and sifted through them.
Driftwood, rocks, shells, splintered pieces of firewood—
no luck. I gathered another load of objects, and another
after that. Finally, I found a lump with something poking
from its side. I held it to an ember. It glowed, then grew
into a flame. I had found what I needed—a candle.
First Place
“Dough Girl”
Jeannie Bossert. Ridgecrest, California.
Second Place:
Teresa Robeson. Bloomington, Indiana.
Third Place:
“The Whale’s Daughter”
Dan O’Donnell. Sacramento, California.
Fourth Place:
“When She Fell”
C. J. Malarsky. Astoria, New York.
Fifth Place
“Stepping Up”
Judy K. Roofner. Port St. Lucie, Florida.
I thrust the candle into the dark and made my way to
the pile of blankets. I paused. I thought about the mother
and her baby. I stopped myself and forced my mind to
think of the infants still alive. I quickly grabbed a wad of
blankets and dragged it toward the fire. Then I blew out
the candle, pinched it cool, and tucked it in my deepest
pocket. I raked through my pile of collected objects and
picked out the sharpest, most pointed seashell.
Next, I chose a spot two walking sticks away from the
fire. I began whittling a hole into the cold, hard dirt floor,
twisting the pointed end of the seashell back and forth,
Finally, I found a lump with
something poking from its
side. I held it to an ember.
It glowed, then grew into
a flame. I had found
what I needed.
digging deeper and wider, then deeper still. I scooped out
the dirt and took the candle from my pocket. I looked at
it for a moment. This one candle had to do it. It had to. I
lit it, returned to the hole, and planted it firmly in the
center. Finally, I set the Dutch oven on top. Light
beamed from between its legs. Then I waited. And I
hoped. At last I lay on the ground beside the oven and
hugged my neck to its side.
In My Whole Life
“Missy. Wake up, Missy.”
I felt a tug at my sleeve. I had fallen asleep. My eyes
popped open. A stranger crouched over me. “I’m sorry,
Missy, ’bout that young mum and her brood. I’m here to
take ’em out o’ your care.”
I turned toward the Dutch oven. Light glowed from
beneath it. I was afraid to look inside. Then I heard a
huffing sound.
“Well, I’ll be. If you didn’t go and put them little ones
in a pot.” The man was sniffing, waving his hat in front of
his face, and looking into the oven. “I’ve heard o’ such a
thing, but ne’er seen it, ne’er seen it in my whole life.”
What did he see? What had I done? I forced myself to
look. Two sets of tiny eyes looked back at me. The infants
breathed steadily and silently, and I began crying into
the wad of blankets covering me.
“Now I know why I was sent here,” I whispered to
10 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com
p ro f e s s i o n
Make that
By Veda Boyd Jones
start). Editors love
our reputation as a writer depends on two things:
them; fact-checkers
turning in quality work, of course, and meeting
need them; and I do not
your deadlines. If you consistently meet deadhave to scramble with wherelines, an editor will give you more assignments. Turn in
did-I-get-that-information-itis when I
your work late, and you probably will not work for that
am proofing my piece to make sure every fact is correct.
editor again.
If I have several assignments at one time, I will have
So how do you meet deadlines and not rely on cafbooks stacked on top of separate file folders on my
feine and late nights? Every writer does things differentoffice floor. I try to work on one project during the writly, but my way is simply to plan ahead. I have listened
ing stage, but if I need expert opinions for another
to my architect husband, who has a couple of rules that
piece, I research enough to compose solid questions and
I apply to writing. When he gets a remodel estimate
get them sent. I call if I have to, but email interviews
from a contractor, he warns clients to double the time
give me exact quotes that I did not hear wrong or tranand money because of the unforeseen nature of remodscribe badly. I count on all sources being as busy as I
els. When I receive an assignment, I assess the time
am, so I give them plenty of lead-time to answer my
needed to complete it, and douquestions. I need their
ble the time (unfortunately not
responses in my inbox
the money) because of the
when I am ready to write.
~ When you receive an assignment, create a time cushion.
unforeseen nature of life. This
~ Maintain a calendar (or two) that reflects your work, and
A Balancing Act
gives cushion time, but my real
your home life.
goal is to turn in assignments
About my daily to-do lists:
~ Set up a file immediately for each assignment, and keep it
ahead of deadline.
They are realistic and allup-to-date.
My architect’s second rule is
encompassing. Water
~ Keep a complete, accurate bibliography for yourself, factthat the first days are as imporplants and mop kitchen
checkers, and editors.
tant as the last days when clients
are on the list right along
~ Assess your assignment and break it into manageable
want work finished by, say, a
with send interview quesparts.
certain holiday. Every delayed
tions, write 750 words on
~ Leave time for interview subjects to respond.
decision pushes back the comnovel, and revise article.
~ Know your own revision process, and the time it takes.
pletion date. I translate this to
As a freelancer, I set my
writing: When I accept an
own schedule, but I strive
assignment, (and I say no if I am too busy to meet the
for a balanced life.
deadline) I immediately set up a file.
You have read good advice about not answering
phone calls or checking email when you are working,
The First Steps
but that is not how I live. Oh, I let the machine take
Although some writers use separate work and housecalls from unknown numbers, but if a friend calls, I find
hold calendars, I have one calendar since my writing life
out what she needs.
and my family/social/household life are as entwined as
Back to writing. (See how easy it is to shift from
honeysuckle vines on the neighbor’s chain link fence. I
friends to focus on work?) After I have written a piece, I
note the due date of the piece and do not accept extra
let it set a couple of days while I start on the next
commitments too close to a deadline.
assignment. I need cold time to do a good revision. That
I take time right then to assess the article, break it
is another reason I plan ahead. Writers who barely meet
their deadlines with an eleventh-hour effort are at risk
into manageable parts, and put them on my daily to-do
of harming their reputations by not turning in quality
lists. Research is first, of course. I consult the Internet
work, which is as essential as meeting deadlines.
for information. If I need books, I see what is available
Through years of experience, I have gotten revision
at the library and make a list for my next trip downdown to four times through a manuscript. The last two
town. If I know I will need interviews for the piece, I list
passes may be a morning read and an afternoon read,
possible willing suspects and their contact information.
but then I am ready to click the send button.
I start my bibliography right off and add to it each
time I work on the project. Every book I consult, every
It is hard to beat that wonderful feeling you get when
magazine article I read, every website I visit gets a coryou turn in a well-written manuscript ahead of the
rect bibliographic entry (in alphabetical order from the
deadline. And you get to mark it off your list.
11 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com
MARCH 2013
Swoon Reads
Speeding Star
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
www.macteenbooks.com/swoonreads, http://us.macmillan.com/
Feiwel & Friends, one of the juvenile imprints of Macmillan,
announced the launch of this “revolutionary new crowdsourced
teen imprint” for teen romance, starting in spring 2013.
Swoon Reads allows writers to submit manuscripts online,
where they will be read and critiqued by a community of other
writers—and teen readers. The Feiwel & Friends staff will read the
novels that receive the highest community ratings, and some of
the best will be published as ebooks and in print.
Manuscripts should be “irresistible, unforgettable love stories
for readers ages 14 and up.” They may be in a variety of genres
from contemporary to historical, realistic or paranormal. Endings
do not have to be happy, but the story should be intense. Submissions must be complete novels of 50,000 to 70,000 words. Include
one or two sentences for a “keynote” (140 characters or less),
and a synopsis of about 125 words. No short stories, novellas, or
incomplete submissions, outlines, proposals, or queries.
To join the community, and submit, go to www.macteenbooks.
com/swoonreads, and see the FAQs for more specifics about the
Swoon Reads community, and submissions.
Two Lions, Skyscape
Amazon Children’s Publishing announced that it is launching two
imprints this spring: Two Lions for picture books through middlegrade fiction, and Skyscape for YA and crossover fiction.
Amazon acquired 450+ titles from children’s publisher Marshall
Cavendish in late 2011. The former publisher of Marshall Cavendish,
Margery Cuyler, is Editorial Manager of Two Lions, while Amazon
Associate Publisher of the Children’s Division Tim Ditlow is heading
up Skyscape.
The Amazon Children’s Publishing catalogue, announcing 30+
new titles, can be reviewed at https://reseller.brillianceaudio.com/
images_ global/Reseller_Home_Page/ACP_SPRING2013.pdf.
Among the first titles are Susan Pearson’s Slugger, to be published
March 19, and Melinda Hardin’s Hero Mom, released April 2, both
by Two Lions. New YA titles from Skyscape include You Know
What You Have to Do, by Bonnie Shimko (March 26), and Silent
Harmony, the first mystery in a series with an equestrian setting.
Full, official submission guidelines for Amazon Children’s Publishing have not yet been posted. Query by email to [email protected]
amazon. com, attaching the complete manuscript for a picture book
or, for middle-grade or YA fiction, the first three chapters (Word
document or PDF).
Amazon’s audiobooks division is also expanding and looking for
new and established writers.
Like us at Institute of
Children’s Literature
Box 398, 40 Industrial Road, Department F61, Berkeley Heights, NJ
07922. www.speedingstar.com,
A new trade imprint from the wellestablished educational publisher
Enslow Publishers, Speeding Star has
a mission to help boys from third
grade to high school become enthusiastic, engaged readers. It will publish
fiction and nonfiction on subjects and
in forms that boys love, including
adventure and mysteries, and easy-to-read nonfiction on
beloved topics such as sports.
Speeding Star is looking for submissions. The first list of
easy readers will be published in fall 2013. Books will be 48,
64 or 96 pages and published in hardcover, paperback, and
as ebooks.
Fiction manuscripts and nonfiction queries are welcome.
They should be accompanied by a résumé, sample chapter
or other writing sample, and if available, a list of published
credits. Write to a fourth-grade reading level. Fiction
should be between 5,000 and 12,000 words, and the genres
of special interest are adventure, mystery, sports, and fantasy fiction with male protagonists, but with other characters
who are female or have diverse backgrounds.
Send submissions via the website submission form, at
www.speedingstar.com/Manuscript_ Upload.aspx. No regular mail submissions and no agent submissions.
Kids Crafts 1-2-3
7 Waterloo Road, Stanhope, NJ 07874.
This new crafting magazine publishes
pieces directed at kids from toddlers to
teens. The bimonthly is sold at Walmart.
It has requested idea submissions for its
summer 2013 issue. Editor Jennifer
Perkins says, “The main things to keep in
mind is that the magazine is for kids so we want crafts
a 5- to 12-year-old could make.”
Kids Crafts I-2-3 describes itself as offering examples
of “informative articles like how to use picture books to
inspire your child's inner artist and introducing kids to
crochet.” Contact Perkins at [email protected]
12 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com
Upstart Crow Literary
Cobblestone Publishing
P.O. Box 25404, Brooklyn, NY 11202.
Former Editor at Simon & Schuster’s Paula
Wiseman imprint, Alexandra Penfold has moved
to Upstart Crow Literary as an agent, for children’s books, and cooking and lifestyle titles. She
will look for quirky picture books, funny and
effecting middle-grade fiction, and YA with an
edge. She is not interested in high fantasy.
Upstart Crow agent Danielle Chiotti is open to
middle-grade and YA fiction, women’s fiction, and
historical fiction, as well as adult nonfiction in
categories such as memoir, lifestyle, and women’s
issues. Query by email only to [email protected]
upstartcrowliterary.com or [email protected]
Standard agency contract. 15 percent for
domestic sales; 20 percent for subrights sales.
30 Grove St., Suite C, Peterborough, NH 03458.
Calliope is a world history magazine from
Cobblestone Publishing that is directed to readers
9 to 14, and published 9 times a year. Issues are
each centered on a theme, and include nonfiction
and related fiction. Upcoming themes, with query
due dates, are Marie and Pierre Curie (Feb. 27,
2013); World War I, for the centennial in 2014 (March 29, 2013);
Mao Zedong (April 26, 2013); and Hercules (June 25, 2013).
Dig is an archaeology magazine for ages 9 to 14. Articles focus
on recent discoveries, archaeologists, concepts and theories, and
activities. Upcoming themes, with due dates, are experimental
archaeology (Feb. 27, 2013); Paris through time (March 29, 2013);
underwater archaeology, or shipwrecks (April 26, 2013); and
green archaeology (June 25, 2013).
Faces covers world cultures for grades 5 to 9. Its featured nonfiction includes interviews and personal accounts. Upcoming
themes are the weird and the wild (Feb. 25, 2013); the Czech
Republic (March 25, 2013); Paris (April 29, 2013); the World Cup
(May 31, 2013); and the Beatles (June 24, 2013).
For all three magazines: Features (in-depth nonfiction, plays,
biographies), 700-800 words. Supplemental nonfiction, 300-600
words). Fiction (historical, biographical, adventure, retold legends), to 800 words. Activities, to 700 words. Mail a brief cover
letter, with subject and word length; a detailed one-page outline; a
thorough bibliography of research sources; a writing sample; a
brief author biography, and an SASE. Primary sources and scholarly secondary sources are important for all the magazines.
Buys all rights. Payment, 20–25¢ a word for fiction and nonfiction. Activities and other submissions, varies.
Natural Child
A small, independent digital magazine, Natural
Child focuses on living a green family life. Its articles focus on the child and family. A “positive,
grounded, open-minded, non-preachy, subscribersupported digital magazine for parents who want
to explore conscious, environmentally sound,
healthy family life for the sake of their children
and the Earth,” Natural Child gives writer-parents a
place to share strategies for living.
The magazine is open to submissions on green
living with children, a natural diet, vegetarian
babies, environmentally healthy cleaning, children
and Nature, natural remedies, family fun, games,
grandparenting, healthy pregnancy, homebirth,
breastfeeding, babywearing, cosleeping, vaccination
issues, circumcision issues, non-coercive parenting,
and nonviolent communication. A recent issue
covered helping children learn to share, 10 gentle
disciplines, and taking a cross-country trip with a
Query by email to Editor Wendy Priesnitz at
[email protected] Include an outline, information on your background, and knowledge of the topic. Articles, 1,500 to 2,000 words
preferred, submitted as Word document. Editorial
deadlines: the first of December, February, April,
June, August, and October.
Submissions should use gender-neutral language, and since the publication’s readership is
worldwide, avoid local references. International
references are preferred. Reprints and simultaneous submissions accepted. No payment; link to
your website, blog, or advertising barter offered.
See guidelines on the website for more details.
The quarterly, digital Babiekins Magazine “was created to translate
the style, comfort and sophistication of must-haves for real kids all
around the globe.” In addition to children’s fashion, it covers parties
for children, do-it-yourself projects, and family relationships and children’s issues. The emphasis is on motivating mother and child.
Babiekins is also publishing two print editions annually. It is looking for talented contributors, whether they are “a mom with a funny
story,” a designer or photographer or illustrator, or “a skilled and
creative individual with a great idea.” A contributor’s form is available
for download on the website, or email to [email protected]
The founder is Priscilla Barros.
Little Industry
Little Industry is a new digital quarterly covering children’s
fashion. It is looking for talented contributors, including those
knowledgeable on the subject of children’s clothing and design,
bloggers, and photographers. Content includes “informative
features and expert advice on all aspect’s of children’s fashion . . . .”
The second issue is dated February 2013.
To contribute, contact via the online form.
13 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com
The Creative Company
Capstone Young Readers
P.O. Box 227, Mankato, MN 56002. www.thecreativecompany.us
The Creative Company has been publishing since1932, starting with maps
and classroom products, and moving into textbooks. Its current imprints are
Creative Education, a nonfiction publisher that produces more than 100 books a
year; the picture book division, Creative Editions; and Creative Paperbacks.
Titles are distributed by Chronicle Books.
Much of its list includes nonfiction series titles, but The Creative Company
also publishes nonfiction picture book. It publishes preK and elementary nonfiction, story picture books, early readers, and middle-grade nonfiction, often written at a grade-seven reading level. Nonfiction books are generally written on
assignment Topics include animals, nature, biography, computers, current events,
politics, education, regional, social studies, sports, science, history, architecture,
geography, and the arts.
Query with proposal by mail for nonfiction series; include an outline of the
whole series (4–8 titles) and writing samples. Send complete manuscript for
picture books. Work-for-hire or royalty. Payment policy varies.
1710 Roe Crest Dr., North Mankato,
MN 56003. www.capstoneyoungreaders.
com, www.capstonepub.com
A large and growing educational publisher, Capstone Publishing has been
moving into trade publishing as well. It started
a trade imprint called
Capstone Young Readers (CYR) last year,
including board books,
chapter books, and
crafts books.
Capstone Publishing
has just announced it
would be expanding to include pictures
books on the CYR list. The spring list
will have 13 picture books, and the
imprint will then offer 4 to 6 picture
books annually. The company’s other
imprints are Compass Point Books,
Heinemann-Raintree, Picture Window
Books, and Stone Arch Books. Many
Capstone books focus on emerging
readers and inspiring a love of reading.
The company is open to submissions.
Fiction submissions should include sample chapters, a résumé, and any credits,
emailed to [email protected]
com. Nonfiction submissions should
include a cover letter, résumé, one to
three writing samples, hard copy mailed
to the attention of the Editorial Director,
Capstone Nonfiction.
Responds only if interested. Royalty;
nonfiction may be assigned under a
work-for-hire arrangement.
Paper Lantern Lit
Paper Lantern is a book producer and development company specializing
in children’s books that searches for new writers with potential to write to its
specifications. The company self-defines as “a literary incubator. We come up
with story ideas, we plot them using our knowledge and experience with narrative structure, and we coach authors through the writing process. Like
architects, we envision, design, and layout all the basics of a book, but it’s our
writers who inhabit them and bring them to life. When a project is ready, we
sell it to one of the publishing giants.”
The company was founded by Lauren Schecter, author of the successful
teen novels Before I Fall and Delirum (as Lauren Oliver), and Lexa Hillyer,
who was formerly an editor at HarperCollins. They developed and sold 20 YA
novels in Paper Lantern’s first year.
If interested in working with Paper Lantern, submit your résumé, a brief
author biography, and 10 pages of representative writing (fiction preferred)
in the body of an email to [email protected] Remember that
Paper Lantern develops the ideas, and looks for writers to work to complete
them. Place your name and the title of your writing sample in the subject
line. Responds in 3 months. Writers receive a flat fee, and sales bonuses.
Amazon Children’s Publishing
3, 4, 5, 12
AVL Digital Group 5
Babiekins 13
BakeSpace 4, 5
BookLogix 5
Calliope 13
Candlewick Press 2
Capstone Publishing 14
Charlesbridge Press 1, 2
Chronicle Books 14
Cobblestone Publishing 13
Dig 13
Enslow Publishers 12
Faces 8, 13
Feiwel & Friends, 12
Floris 2, 3
Kids Crafts I-2-3 12
Kindle Direct Publishing 5
Launch Pad Publishing 5, 6
Little Industry 13
Lulu 5
Macmillan 12
Natural Child 13
Outskirts Press 5
Paper Lantern 14
Pauline Books & Media 2
Pelican 2, 3
PubIt 5
Self Publishing Press 5, 6
Simon & Schuster 5
Skyscape 12
SmashWords 5
Speeding Star 12
Swoon Reads 12
The Creative Company 14
Two Lions 12
Upstart Crow Literary 13
Wyatt-MacKenzie 4, 5
14 Children’s Writer • March 2013 • www.ChildrensWriter.com