An Ode to Rejection Letters


You’ll get plenty of “Nos” if you’re going to write
Mine make a pile more than half of my height

Rejection letters are just part of the deal
And often quite lousy you’re going to feel

I freely admit that there have been tears
Getting these letters for all of these years

When it comes to rejection, I’ve seen every one
I’ve heard every “no” there is under the sun

And I can tell you, my heart, well it bleeds
Each time I don’t meet their “development needs”

“Not right for us”, I do hate to hear
That’s BS ’cause you published that type just last year

“We’re closed to submissions, no more at this time
We’ll reopen again in 3009”

“We only take queries from people we know
So if you’re not published, you’ll get the heave-ho”

“If someone refers you, we might take a look.
If not, there’s no way we’ll consider your book.

“If we’ve met at a conference and spoke for a while”
You say you might fish my book out of the pile

But I can’t afford travel, can’t spare the expense
Got two kids and a mortgage, no dollars or cents

So I’ll stay at home and I’ll work on my writing
And try to think straight while the kids are all fighting

I’ll continue to write and to read and to learn
And someday perhaps a good paycheck I’ll earn

Yet all of these years that I’ve heard the word “no”
Have really and truly allowed me to grow

Success isn’t easy, it takes lots of years
Of hard work and heartache and facing your fears

It’s been a long time now and I’ve never quit
So when I make it, I’ll have earned it legit

And when that day comes, what will happen I guess
Is that I’ll be deemed an “overnight success”…



So Here’s What Happened This Week (February 22, 2013)


What I Did:Completed research on extensive children’s magazine list for magazines I want to try to get published in! More character and plot work for my latest middle-grade novel. 


Cool Links I Found:

Building a Platform Vs. Promoting a Book

How to Read Like a Writer

The First Five Pages

How to Get Published in Children’s Magazines

Getting published in a children’s magazine is difficult, but not impossible. Though you may get paid for your work, it’s not likely to be a huge amount. That’s the bad news, but stay with me here, folks. The cool part is that you will be able to say that you are a published writer and you will get to see your work in print! You’ll also have something quite impressive to add to your resume, which can ultimately help you in getting a literary agent and/or getting the attention of a publisher for your book. Plus, you’ll have something to brag about at parties and you can even hand out copies of the magazine on Halloween to all the neighborhood children.  Won’t they be delighted!

The most important piece of advice for when you’re trying to get published in a magazine is to be sure you’ve read the submission guidelines very carefully. Nothing annoys editors more than writers who submit work that’s inappropriate for their magazine. Except maybe papercuts. That might annoy editors even more. The point is, you’ll need to tailor your writing very specifically to the magazine’s audience and focus. Pay close attention to the target age group of the magazine as well as the general tone and subject matter. A few magazines may focus exclusively on fiction stories, while many have a nonfiction slant based on world cultures, nature, science, history, and so forth. Though you may be a fiction writer in general, nonfiction articles in most magazines greatly outnumber fiction so you may want to keep that under consideration when planning your submissions. Just sayin….

Before submitting to a publication, make sure you’ve actually read the magazine. You can write to request a sample copy or see if it’s available in the library or bookstore. They also may have some information and sample articles on their website. It’s important to review as many past issues as you can to make sure they haven’t recently covered the topic you’d like to write about. Be sure to target your submission so that it jives with the magazine’s overall mission. For example, the focus might be on keeping kids fit and healthy, so your story or nonfiction article will need to reflect and reinforce that mission. Don’t write about how much fun junk food is when submitting to a pro-health magazine. THAT will annoy editors more than papercuts…

There are a great number of magazines out there and it can be quite overwhelming to review them all. The best place to start is to narrow your focus to just a few magazines that publish the type of material you’re interested in writing. It might be helpful to purchase the latest edition of Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers.  I have also compiled a children’s magazine list, complete with the magazine’s general focus, target audience, and a link to their submission guidelines. That list took me forever. You’re welcome…Anyway, if you narrow your focus to just a few of these magazines, you can really familiarize yourself with exactly what those magazines publish and you can increase your chances of creating an article that the editors simply must have for their magazine.

It’s important to come up with an idea that is both interesting and specific. Don’t just write an article about the Titanic, write an article about children on the Titanic or what kind of dessert they served. Something entertaining that hasn’t been done a millions times before.

Don’t talk down to the kids, whatever you do. Children’s magazine editors have tremendous respect for their audience and so should you. Also, don’t preach. You know, like I’m preaching to you right now? It’s fine when I do it. You’re not allowed to – at least not when writing for children.

Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, it is vital to conduct comprehensive research on your subject using both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources may include interviews, original documents, professional research, and so forth. Secondary sources may include books, articles, museums, science centers, and other sources that do not stem directly from an expert in the field. Though your bibliography will likely not be included in the actual print of the article that may be published, you’ll need to document your sources and send the information with your query and/or manuscript submission. The more good sources, the better. Wikipedia’s not gonna cut it, people.

Depending upon the individual magazine’s submission requirements, you may be required to submit a query, an outline, and/or the entire completed manuscript. If you need to send an outline, make sure it contains detailed facts, statements, resources, and it should cover the whole proposed article from beginning to end. Be sure to adhere to the stated word count limit. Staying on the lower end of the word count may be preferable, depending on the editor. Fewer words are cheaper – for the magazine. If you get paid by the word, don’t try to you know kind of intentionally and on totally on purpose stretch out the word count for as long as you humanly possibly can if you kind of know what I mean and totally get my drift. Editors, like teachers, are on to that trick….

Be sure to do your homework, kids. This article is like the Cliff’s Notes of getting published in a magazine. The next step is to read up on the actual magazines and maybe purchase (or get from the library) the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market and/or the  Magazine Markers for Children’s Writers. You can also join the Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators.

Now come up with a cool idea. Research the hell out of that cool idea. Go get published and thank me when you’re famous.

My extensively researched and really time-consuming Magazine List I developed JUST FOR YOU.

More helpful links:

Writing for Children’s Magazines

Six Tips to Help Sell Your Nonfiction Magazines 

Five Ways to Begin a Children’s Magazine Article 

Want to Make Money Writing? Write Magazine Articles for Children. 



Children’s Magazine List

This is a list of children’s magazines for writers who wish to try to break into children’s publishing. For the most part, this list does not include magazines that publish fewer than five freelance articles per year. It also does not include Christian or Canadian magazines, but it does include numerous classroom magazines. Many of these magazines also accept poetry, recipes, crafts, and so forth. See their guidelines for specific details. What follows is a breakdown of just fiction and nonfiction.

 AIM: Intercultural magazine. Fiction and nonfiction: No more than 4000 words. Focus is to fight racism and promote intercultural awareness and respect.

AMERICAN CHEERLEADER: Cheerleading-related. Includes teams, fitness, competitions, trends, etc. Authors should have some background in cheerleading. Articles: 1000 words.

AMERICAN GIRL: Girls 8-12. Focus is to build confidence and self-esteem. Fiction: 500-1000 words. **Not currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts or queries.

APPLESEEDS: Ages 6 and up, focus on 3rd and 4th grade. Multidisciplinary, nonfiction social studies. Theme-oriented. See guidelines for upcoming themes. Articles should be scientific and/or historical research-oriented. Feature articles, nonfiction, interviews, etc: 1-4 pages. Articles must be proposed first.

ASK: Ages 6-9. Nonfiction magazine with a focus on science and the world. Each edition centers around a specific theme. Focus on engaging nonfiction, not dry text. Humor, unusual questions. and unexpected connections are encouraged. All articles are commissioned. Query first with resume and writing samples. Feature articles:  900-1600 words. Humor pieces: 200-400 words.

BABAGANEWZ : Jewish middle school students and their teachers. Ezine. Focus is creative ways to explore Jewish traditions and issues. Guidelines available by email request at Word lengths of articles vary.

BABYBUG:  Ages 6 months – 3 years. Stories: Simple and concrete. Four to six sentences. Nonfiction: Very basic words and concepts. Ten words maximum.

BASEBALL YOUTH: Ages 7-13. Covers both youth and major league baseball. Articles: Word length varies. Artwork increases chances of acceptance. Contact  for submission guidelines.

BERRY BLUE HAIKU: Targeted to kids, but also parents and teachers interested in Haikus. Accepts email submissions to .

BEYOND CENTAURI: Ages 10 and up. Science fiction and fantasy. Fiction: 2500 words or fewer. Nonfiction: 1500 words or fewer.

BLAZE MAGAZINE: Ages 8-14. Focus is on horse-related entertainment and education.

BOYS’ LIFE:  General interest published by the Boy Scouts of America. Nonfiction: 500-1500 words. Most are commissioned. Fiction: By assignment only.

BOYS QUEST: Boys ages 6-13, with emphasis on ages 8-10. Seeking “lively writing, mostly from a 10-year-old’s point of view.” Fiction and Nonfiction: Ideally around 500 words. Nonfiction with clear photos are more likely to be accepted.

BRASS: Young adults. Focus is on making money matters interesting and relevant to young adults. Prefers contributors from 16-29 years old. You must register with Brass to get information on submitting.

BUMPLES: Ages 4-10. Interactive online magazine. Focus on illustrated fiction about children and animals in mysteries, sports, poems, and adventures. Fiction: ages 4-7 up to 800 words. 8-12 up to 2000 words.

CALLIOPE:  Ages 9-14. Focus is world history. Editions are theme-related. Feature Articles: 700-800 words. Supplemental nonfiction: 300-600 words. Fiction: 800 words. Query first.

ChemMatters: Grades 9-12. Aims to demystify everyday chemistry. Published by the American Chemical Society. Focus on health, materials, and the environment. Articles: 1300-2000 words.

CICADA: Ages 14 and up. Literary magazine. Fiction/Articles. Up to 5000 words. Protagonist should be 14 years old or older. Novellas: Up to 15,000 words. Nonfiction should be first person experiences that are interesting to teenagers. Submissions accepted from ages 14-23 for the Expressions section.

CLICK: Ages 3-6. Focus is introducing children to topics on science, nature, arts, math, and history. Each edition is theme-based. See submission guidelines for list. Nonfiction: 200 – 400 words. Fiction: 600- 1000 words.

COBBLESTONE: Ages 9-14. Focus on American History. Each edition is theme-related. See submission guidelines for themes. Fiction: 700 – 800 words. Supplemental nonfiction: 300-600 words.

CRICKET: Ages 9-14. Focus on high-quality literary material. Nonfiction: 200- 2000 words. Fiction: 200-1500 words.

CURRENT HEALTH KIDS: Grades 4-7. Focus is general health issues of interest to middle-grade students. See editorial calendar on website. Email Articles: 600-850 words.

CURRENT HEALTH TEENS: Grades 7-12. Focus is general health issues of interest to tween and teens. See editorial calendar on website. Articles: 700-1000 words.

DIG: Ages 9-14. Focus on archaeology. Query first. Fiction: Up to 800 words. Nonfiction: Up to 800 words.

DIMENSIONS: Ages 14-18. Focus is on international group of marketing students and preparing them for the business world.

DISCOVERY GIRLS: Ages teen and tween. Magazine for girls by girls.

DRAMATICS: High School age theatre magazine. Focus on any area in performing arts, particularly innovations in theatre. Also publish plays. Fiction: 800- 4000.

ECO-KIDS MAGAZINE: Focus is on a green and eco-conscious community. Seasonally themes articles and profiles of healthy and environmentally conscious youth. Articles: Word length varies. Query or send complete manuscript.

ESPNHS: Dedicated to high school sports. They publish both a boy’s and a girl’s version. For more information, contact for the boy’s version and for the girl’s version.

FACES: Ages 9-14. World cultures magazine. Each edition is theme-based. See submission guidelines. Feature articles: 800 words. Supplemental nonfiction: 300-600 words. Fiction: 800 words.

FUN FOR KIDZ: Ages 6-13, with emphasis on ages 8-10. Each issue has a specific theme. See guidelines for theme list. Fiction and Nonfiction: 500 words or fewer. Focus is on activities and promoting positive values. Articles with photos are more likely to be accepted.

GIRLS’ LIFE: Girls ages 10-15 years. Focus is guidance and support on everyday issues for girls. Articles: 1200-1500 words. Fiction: 3000 words.

GIRLWORKS: The “magazine for smart girls” aged 11-15 years. Focus on all issues facing girls. Articles: 400-800 words.

GO MAGAZINE: Online magazine for young adults interested in careers in transportation. Covers transportation infrastructure and people. Articles/blogs: 300-800 words. Fiction: Length varies.

GUARDIAN ANGEL KIDS: Interactive ezine. Focus on health and safety. See website for upcoming themes. Emailed submissions only. Articles: up to 500 words. Fiction: Up to 500 words.

HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN: Up to age 12. Seeking an engaging plot, strong characters, specific setting and lively language. General interest fiction magazine. Fiction for ages 3-7: 500 words or fewer. 8-12: 800 words or fewer. Nonfiction: 800 words or fewer, 500 for younger readers.

HIGHLIGHTS HELLO: Infant – 2 years and their caregivers. Simple, age appropriate stories.

HIGHLIGHTS HIGH FIVE: Ages 2-6. Fiction: Word length varies.

HOPSCOTCH:  Girls ages 6-13, with emphasis on ages 8-10. Each issue has a specific theme. See guidelines for theme list. Seeking “lively writing from a girl’s point of view”. Nonfiction: Around 500 words. Fiction: No more than 1000. Nonfiction with clear photos are more likely to be accepted.

HUMPTY DUMPTY – Ages 5 -7. Fiction: 450 words or fewer. Currently accepting mini-stories of 70-125 words. Focus on kindness, fun, and humor. Nonfiction: 700 words or fewer. Nonfiction focus on science, nature, and how-to.

IMAGINATION CAFÉ: Fiction: 1000 words. Nonfiction: Careers, celebrities, and more. Nonpaid.

INTERNATIONAL GYMNAST: Preteen and teen gymnasts. Articles: 1000-25000 words. Fiction: Up to 1500 words.

JACK AND JILL – Ages 6-12. Fiction: 600-800 words. Health, fitness, positive living. Nonfiction: 700 words or fewer. Esp interested in Q + A with kids doing unusual things.

JAKES COUNTRY: Teaches youth and teens about conservation and hunting. Published by the National Wild Turkey Federation. Articles: 500-1000 words.

JUNIOR BASEBALL: Ages 7-17 years, parents, coaches. Focus on all aspects of youth baseball. Articles: 750-1500 words.

JUNIOR SHOOTERS: Ages 8-adult. Focus on all aspects of shooting. Articles: Word lengths vary.

JUSTINE: Teenage girls. Focus is on “young voice without patronizing”. Articles: Word length varies.

KIDS’ STORYTELLING CLUB: Ages 5-12 years. Storytelling activities, crafts, telling tips, and creative story ideas for elementary and junior high students. Articles” Word lengths vary. Email

KIKI: Girls ages 8 and up. Accepts both child and adult submissions. Focus on girls becoming confident women.

KNOWONDER: Ages 0-12. Aim is promoting literacy. Almost exclusively fiction. Focus on adventure and fun. Imagination is encouraged – not interested in boring daily life. Imagery and action are key. Fiction: 500-2000 words.

M.L.T.S. Most Likely To Succeed. Focus is on young college women who want to start their careers while still in school. Fashion, beauty, fitness, entertainment, careers, and more. Email  Articles: Word lengths vary.

MUSE: Ages 9-14 years. Aim is to get kids interested in a wide range of topics, including science, technology, history, culture, and the arts. Articles: 2500 words.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS: Ages 6-14 years. Focus is that learning is fun. Articles: Word length varies.

NEW MOON: Girls ages 8 and up. Focus on empowering girls and women. All material should focus on girls and women. A large percentage of material is submitted by girls. Adult work is accepted for “herstory” (600 words), Women’s Work (careers, 600 words), Last Words, and Fiction (900 – 1600 words).

ODYSSEY: Ages 9-14. Focus is on science, math, and technology. Fiction: 1000 words. Articles: 750-950 words. See guidelines for upcoming themes.

ONE TEEN STORY: Ages 14 and up. Literary magazine for teenagers.

PLAYS: Ages 6-17. Subtitle is The Drama Magazine for Young People. Seeking wholesome, secular, one-act plays.

TURTLE: Ages 3-5. Fiction: 350 words or fewer. Nonfiction: 250 words or less. Reinforce counting, measuring, reading, nature, science, simple science experiments.

RAINBOW RUMPUS: Ages 4-18. Focus on children and teens with LGBT connections, such as parents or other family members who are LGBT. Stories should be from the point of view of children of LGBT parents. Do not focus on bullying, teasing etc. Transgender, multicultural stories are especially encouraged. Stories for ages 4-12: 800-2500 words. Ages 13-18: Up to 5000 words.

RANGER RICK: Ages 7-14 years. Focus is education about animals and nature. All material is assigned. Send resume and clips only. Very few freelance submissions are published.

READ: Grades 6-10. Themed issues featuring classic and contemporary fiction and nonfiction. All work is assigned. Send resume and clips only. Articles: 1000-2000 words.

RECREATIONAL CHEERLEADING MAGAZINE: Young cheerleaders, coaches, parents. Email Valerie@recsportsmedia.

ROBIN AGE: Ages 6-15 years. English-language newspaper published in India. Focus is understanding current events and share a love of learning. Email

SCHOLASTIC CHOICES: Ages 12-18. Advice to teens about challenges in their lives. See editorial calendar. Articles: 500-1000 words.

SCHOLASTIC DYNAMATH: Grades 3-6.  Focus is on making math fun. Articles: 600 words.

SCHOLASTIC MATH: Grades 6-9. Focus is making learning math fun for middle and high school students. Articles: 600 words.

SCHOLASTIC SCOPE: Ages 12-18 years. Focus is high-interest material that grabs attention while building vocabulary, writing, and reading skills. Articles: 1000 words.

SCIENCE WEEKLY:    Grades K-6. Develops and reinforces reading, writing, math, and critical thinking through interactive science content. All work is assigned to writers in Washington, DC, Maryland or Virginia.

SCIENCE WORLD: Grades 6-10. Focus is on science from around the world. All articles assigned.

SPIGOT SCIENCE FOR KIDS: Grades 5-8. Ezine for upper elementary and middle school science classes. Written at a fifth and sixth grade level. Email Articles: 300-400 words. .

SUPERSCIENCE: Grades 3-6. Focus is on all aspects of science and how they figure into our daily lives. Articles: 100-600 words.

SEVENTEEN: Ages 12-19 years. Articles: 650-3000 words. Fiction: 1000-3000 words.

SHAMELESS: Teen girls and transgender youth in Canada. Email

SIMPLY YOU MAGAZINE: Mostly teens, some material for 20s and 30s. Articles: Word lengths vary. Fiction: Word lengths vary.

SKIPPING STONES: Ages 7-17. Nonprofit literary and multicultural magazine. Articles: Up to 1000 words. Fiction: Up to 1000 words.

SLAP: Young adult. Online magazine dedicated the sport of skateboarding. Email Articles: Word length varies.

SPACEPORTS & SPIDERSILK: Ages 8-17 to adults. Focus is science and the environment. Articles: up to 800 words. Fiction: Up to 3000 words.

SPIDER: Ages 6-9. Literary and activity magazine. Fiction: 300-1000 words. Nonfiction: 300-800 words.  

STORIES FOR CHILDREN MAGAZINE: Ages 3-12 years. Focus is strengthening children’s interest in reading and academics. Articles and Fiction: ages 3-6, 150-400 words. Ages 7-9, 400-800 words. Ages 10-12, 500-1200 words.

TEEN VOGUE: Teen girls. Focus is fashion, beauty, and health.

THRASHER: Boys 12-20. Focus is skateboards and snowboards. Articles: Up to 1500 words.

TURTLE: Ages 3-5. Fiction: 350 words or fewer. Nonfiction: 250 words or less. Reinforce counting, measuring, reading, nature, science, simple science experiments.

TWIST: Teens. Focus is celebrity news and profiles. Articles: Word length varies.

YARN: For anyone who enjoys young adult literature. Articles: Up to 3000 words. Fiction: Up to 6000 words.

YOUNG BUCKS OUTDOORS: Ages 7-13 years. Focus is kids who enjoy hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation. Articles: Up to 400 words.

YOUNG RIDER: Ages 6-14 years. Focus is riding and horse care. Articles: 800-1000 words. Fiction: 800-1000 words.

So Here’s What Happened This Week (February 15, 2013)

Oh Noes


What I Did: Researched more children’s magazines. Got one more rejection letter. Worked on my new baseball novel. Sent RAIN ON THE WATER off to the literary agent in NYC who requested the full manuscript!!!

What I Read: THE TIME TRAVELER by HG Wells.

Cool Links I Found:

8 Ways To Be A Happy Author

Are Self-Published Books the New Slush Pile?

How EBook Readers Shop and the Importance of Sampling

25 Things You Should Know About Narrative Point of View

The Hardest Writerly Truth of Them All




Creating Characters: Characters Take the Wheel

Characters drive the story. The plot is the road taken. Structure is the map. Your main character’s goal is to get to his destination and he’ll do whatever it takes to get there. He chooses the route. Sometimes, he chooses right. More often, he chooses wrong. Though once in a while something bad might happen to him during his trip, such as a detour caused by construction, many times he causes his own misfortune. He fails to listen to his wife’s brilliant directions, he drives too fast and gets a speeding ticket, he runs out of fuel in his quest to find a station with gas pennies cheaper than the last one. He’s a good guy but he’s flawed. He needs to find his way and defeat the bad guy who slashed his tires. Finally, in most cases, he’ll reach his desired destination; a little worse for the wear, but wiser for the experience.

Okay, I’m getting carsick from this analogy. Hopefully, this road trip tale will help you to remember that characters drive the story, not the other way around. If the ride is nothing but construction detours, accidents, bad weather, and crossing deer, you’ve got a contrived story, not one that comes from characters taking the wheel.

Take the movie SPEED for example (sorry, I guess I just can’t stop….). The bomb on the bus isn’t just bad luck that happens to the good guys. It was planted there by a bad guy, which certainly shows his character. It is also the hero’s choice to climb aboard the doomed vehicle, showing his character and well, cojones. Complications ensue, such as nearly running out of gas, but even those complications arise out of the original problem caused by the villain. In addition, the occupants of the bus must use their wits to try to escape while being constantly watched, via remote camera, by the villain. By contrast, the fact that the road is not finished (a device used TWICE in the film) is an eye-rolling coincidence and is much less satisfactory because it’s an outside complication and not caused by any character in the story.

The character drives the story, but what drives her? “What’s my motivation” isn’t just a cliché. We need to know what motivates the character, otherwise we don’t care if she gets what she wants or not. Inigo Montoya wanted vengeance for his father’s death. We know some brute murdered his father when Inigo was just a young boy, so we can’t wait to see him kick some ass when he finally gets the chance. Ace Ventura goes on a quest to find a missing dolphin out of a love of animals and because it’s his job. Both E.T and Dorothy are motivated by a desire to go home. Harold and Kumar just want a burger.

Characters cause change in the story. Certainly, outside forces can act upon a character to cause great changes in his life. In Groundhog Day, Phil is forced to repeat the same day in his life and over and over again. What does he do with a challenge like that? At first, he uses it to his advantage. He learns things about other people and then uses the information the next “day” to get what he wants. Soon, he grows tired of this and tries – repeatedly – to kill himself. Finally, he uses his time to help others, thus ending the vicious cycle. Consider this same film with Forrest Gump instead of Phil Connors as the main character. Forrest is a swell guy. He doesn’t need the lesson that Groundhog Day teaches. Sure, he’s a bit slow and could probably use a couple of repeated days to catch up with the rest of us, but he would likely have started helping people by the second day. No conflict. Boring is as boring does.

The best method to ensure that the characters drive the story is to develop the characters AS you develop the plot. Don’t plot the course and then hang characters on there like hood ornaments. The main character must be in the driver’s seat. She controls the motion of the story. Don’t start planning the trip without her. Groundhog Day only works as Phil’s story. If he didn’t have the attitude that needed adjustment, there would be no story to tell. His dramatic need or goal is to be able to give and receive love. The goal (desired destination) of the protagonist is the whole focus of the story you’re telling. If we don’t have a clear idea of who he is and where he wants to be, why do we care if he ever gets there? The strongest stories are ones where the characters and plot are deeply integrated. You can’t have one without the other.

Only when we truly care about the characters do we want to go along for the ride.