Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Interview with Gayle Jacobson-Huset, Fiction and Poetry Editor at Stories for Children

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I’m so excited to have GAYLE JACOBSON-HUSET here today. If you don’t already know, she’s the Fiction and Poetry Editor at STORIES FOR CHILDREN MAGAZINE. This fantastic E-zine has received accolades and awards by some of the top-ranking writers and critics in the field of children’s writing.

When I asked Gayle if she would answer some questions for an interview she was back the same day with, “fire away.” So here goes.

First, I have to ask, when do you sleep, Gayle? You write, you edit, you review books and interview award-winning authors.

I used to NOT sleep very much until we got some more staff on board at Stories for Children Magazine to help us out. I just tried to stay as organized as I could and use every spare minute to stay afloat. Ms. Grenier, our Founder and Editor-In-Chief, is the "little engine that could"…do everything! She puts me to shame. I'm too ancient to be a multi-tasker like she is. So now I get lots of naps in, too.

Can you tell us a little bit about the submission/acceptance process at SFC? What does a story or article go through before it’s accepted or not accepted?

Basically, each fiction, nonfiction and poetry submission goes through three editors.

When a submission comes in, the first thing that is checked is: Have the Guidelines been met to the "t'? If they haven't, then the submission is automatically discarded. I cannot believe the number of people that don't read our Guidelines before submitting. Any editor will tell you over and over, "FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES". It sounds like common sense, but so many DON'T do this. Never second-guess a publisher. Their Guidelines are put together with much thought and are primarily geared for the way they do business. If you leave something off--for example, your third person biography--it hoses up the system and causes delays. We are much more likely to push forward a "professionally-submitted" submission than one with problems. We are just too busy and growing too fast to deal with problem submissions. They are pushed off to the side until we can email the author and get the information we need from them.

In fiction submissions, the first editor looks for a strong manuscript. Is there a HOOK beginning that starts right off with action? Is the middle plot full of conflict for the MC and does the MC solve his/her own problem? Is the ending a strong one, or does it just leave you flat?

If the first editor feels that with a few suggestions, we can get the story to work, then we invest the time to help that author. The second editor oftentimes suggests/makes adjustments because she is trying to help you, the author, get published in our magazine. When I get a manuscript, I know from just my experience working at SFC Magazine what kind of stories will work and not work for us. If the submission is really close, but not quite there, I make my suggestions to the author. Whether you are a new or a seasoned author, please realize that we editors are here to help YOU to get published in SFC Magazine. Our suggestions are well thought out as to what works for OUR magazine. Our suggestions may not work elsewhere, so it is up to you, the author, to decide if you want to continue further with SFC Magazine or not. Most authors do.

The biggest advantage you can have when submitting to SFC Magazine is an "open mind" when changes are requested. We also do this to "train" new writers about working with an editor. Every book-published author has worked with editors at the big publishing houses – it's the same thing with us. They are there to help you get your book/manuscript in publishable form for their particular publication.

The third editor is the one who makes the final decision on whether your submission is a "go" for publication or not. By the time it gets to this editor, everything has to be in top condition – all the guidelines have been met, everything such as a bio or bibliography are attached, and the actual copy of the manuscript is as clean and edited as can be. This will aid in the swiftness in which your manuscript is evaluated – the better the shape it is in, the quicker it can be read through and a decision can be made.

I don't handle the nonfiction submissions coming in anymore, but I will tell you that we are very strict about checking all the items in your bibliography, and the sources you use must be from 3 separate entities – ex: Internet, published adult books (not children's) and an interview with an expert in the field you are writing about. If 3 different sources aren't used, you will most likely be turned down unless our nonfiction editor gives you a second chance to get more sources if she really loves your article.

I am very strict about the poetry. Sixteen lines with a short count of syllables, and rhyming poetry is best. I am willing to work with authors if I like the idea of their poem and they are just not "quite there". The poems should be FUN and imaginative. Our readership loves the simplistic poems with short lines and fun rhymes. We don't want flowery poems that appeal to adults. The best way to write a poem for us is to
1) Make up a little story about your idea.

2) Go through your story and try to make each sentence the same set of

Syllables or "beats".
3) THEN write the poem with rhymes. You may find that your lines will entirely change from your original idea when you find just the right rhyming word. A good place to look for rhyming words is: There are many other rhyming sites out there that you can use, but this one is my favorite.
4) Write a poem like you talk. Ex – Don't write "The Eve of Christmas" but DO write "Christmas Eve" instead.

Our Founder and Editor-In-Chief, VS Grenier, sends the authors their acceptance, or rejection, or a request for more changes. This is the final step of the submission process for Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry.

The premise behind Stories for Children Magazine is FUN for our readership of children. No death, no drugs, no teenage-type issues. Just FUN. We feel that our magazine gives children a chance to be free of the pressures from the outside world; that they can read everything we have to offer with a giggle in their heart.

Thanks so much,Gayle. You've given writers a lot of help here about the submission process and the kind of stories, articles and poems SFC is looking for.

This isn't all Gayle has shared, so next month there will be more. Come back and read about what readers and contributors can expect to see in SFC's near future.


  1. Wonderful interview...looking forward to next month.

    Warm regards,

  2. Lots of good information here for people wanting to submit to this great magazine for children.

  3. Very nice interview, Lee.

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse in your busy life, Gayle.



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