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Interview with Virginia S. Grenier, Editor of Stories for Children Magazine, Part I

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Stories for Children Magazine is a free online publication for children and children's authors and illustrators alike. I recently had the chance to chat with its editor, Virginia S. Grenier. Virginia talks about her magazine, its guidelines, and about the process of starting your own ezine, among other things.

How and when did Stories for Children Magazine get started?

I started Stories for Children Magazine after being published in a few children’s ezines. I really liked what they were trying to do and felt I could bring something different to the table with my own ezine. My first goal: to develop a free children’s ezine for elementary aged children. The second goal: To publish youth authors (ages 17 and under.) There aren’t a lot of print or on-line magazines out there publishing authors under the age of 18. I wanted Stories for Children Magazine not only to be read by children, but to be written by children authors along with new and established children’s writers and illustrators. So far we have met my goals. Stories for Children Magazine is free for its readers and we have at least one writer, 17 years old or younger, in each issue. Stories for Children Magazine’s debut issue released on April 1, 2007. We’re on our sixth issue this September.

Virginia S. GrenierWhat inspired you to begin such a project?

Mostly, because I love children, writing, and marketing. I use to be a buyer in ladies and junior fashion before I started writing. And really the writing just sort of happened. I retired from fashion to be home for my children. But I wanted something to do when my son was in school and my daughter took her naps. I came across the Institute of Children’s Literature and from there fell into writing and starting Stories for Children Magazine. I love sharing what I write and helping new writers young and old getting published. And what better way to do that, but with my own ezine?

What type of stories do you publish?

Stories for Children Magazine publishes any genre of children’s fiction as long as it’s written for our audience, ages 3 to 12 years old. We publish four stories in each issue's age group: Read Aloud (ages 3-6), Early Readers (7-9), and Middle Readers (10-12). We also publish three non-fiction pieces in each group along with poems, crafts, puzzles, and games.

Who is your audience?

Stories for Children Magazine is for kids ages 3 to 12 years old, but don’t let that stop you from reading our ezine. We have teachers, writers, illustrators, and parents reading Stories for Children Magazine each month, too. Just recently a teacher from Henrico County, Virginia contacted me about using multiple stories and articles in preparation for the state’s reading and comprehension test. I’ve also received emails form two children’s actors. One is on the TV show Jericho and the other is the Disney Channel.

Are you open for submissions at the moment?

We did close our door to submissions this summer, but are open once again September 1, 2007.

What are your guidelines?

Our guidelines are like most publishers who are serious about the type of writing they want to see for their publications. The basics always apply at on-line or print publications, but here is quick breakdown of what we look for: we publish short stories, articles, poems, coloring pages, word and picture puzzles, book reviews, arts and crafts, and interviews with children's book authors and/or illustrators for children ages 3 to 12 years old.

Stories for Children Magazine
will publish reprints with the information as to where it was published prior to our magazine. Content should be age appropriate. We encourage you to study back issues for content and style.

When writing non-fiction, please use primary sources with up-to-date information. We also like to see engaging articles that read more like a story or have a wow factor. Kids read enough book reports and text books at school. We want to be fun and lively when sharing information.

Stories for Children Magazine
isn't a themed magazine, but there are holidays and subjects that we would love to cover in each monthly issue along with the creative, adventurous, and thought provoking stories and articles.

STORY CATEGORIES:

  • READ ALOUD STORIES (ages 3-6): Rebus, easy-to-read stories, humorous tales, fantasy, fables, and myths.
  • EARLY READERS (ages 7-9): Realistic fiction, humorous tales, satire, fantasy, fairy tales, science fiction, fables, light scary stories, mysteries and myths.
  • MIDDLE READERS (ages 10-12): Realistic fiction, humorous tales, satire, fantasy, fairy tales, science fiction, fables, scary stories, mysteries and myths.
  • NONFICTION CATEGORIES: nature, animals, science, technology, environment, foreign culture, history, and biographies. Please make sure the information is appropriate for the right age group.
  • Discovery (ages 3-6): Learning about the world around them.
  • HOW AND WHY (ages 7-9): Wants to understand the how and why of things.
  • TELL ME MORE (ages 10-12): Has a basic knowledge of how things work. This age group wants to dig deeper to really understand their world.

A short bibliography is required for all nonfiction articles.

LENGTH FOR ALL STORIES AND ARTICLES:

  • 3 to 6 year olds: 150 to 400 words
  • 7 to 9 year olds: 400-800 words
  • 10 to 12 year olds: 500-1200 words

Poems: Two pieces per submission, 100 words max per poem.

Puzzles/Arts & Crafts/Games: 1 page

Book reviews-targeted at children: up to 200 words

Word counts should be noted on each submission.

For a more detailed look at our guidelines young writers, adult writers, and illustrators can visit our site.

Do you also review books?

Stories for Children Magazine does do book reviews. There are multiple ways to send in a book review. One type of book review we publish is from our readers. We love hearing about a book our readers enjoyed or didn’t enjoy reading. The second type of book review we publish is from book reviewers themselves. We have a few book reviewers who will send in book reviews that are also posted on their book review blogs or sites. The last type of book review is done by one of our editors. This would either be myself or my assistant, Gayle Jacobson-Huset. Our reviews are sent back to the publisher, agent, author, illustrator, or editor that asked for the book review for their promotional use and is also posted on our site.

How may authors contact you with book review requests?

Currently we are seeing about two submissions a month for professional reviews, two to three from book reviewers, and one or two from our readers. Authors or illustrators can contact us at the following address or they can email myself or Gayle Jacobson-Huset:

Stories for Children Magazine
54 East 490 South
Ivins Utah 84738
Phone/fax: (206) 350-3440

How hard is it to start your own online magazine?

I don’t find anything hard if it’s what you want or love to do. Something you’re passionate about shouldn’t be considered hard, but if you want to start an ezine, there are a few key factors to consider.

The first factor is where to host your site. There are lots of free hosting sites or hosting sites that cost very little money if you plan to be a free ezine like Stories for Children Magazine. I think it’s a little harder if you are going to charge for a subscription online. Most people surfing the web feel it should be free if it’s on the Internet. But there are some willing to pay a subscription and therefore you may want to go with a higher paying hosting site that can do some of the maintenance for you.

The second factor is know what you want to do, say, or get across with your publication. You need to first know your niche before you can really start putting an ezine together. Have a mission statement, goal, or outline of what you stand for. This is going to be your guide in how your site and information will look, and the type of readers you will attract.

The third factor is you need to have the time. If you plan to write a series of books for young adults, adults, or middle graders, you may want to rethink doing an ezine. I spent a lot of time working on Stories for Children Magazine, from reading submissions to formatting each new issue.

What words of advice would you give to people who are considering such an endeavor?

Do your homework! Starting a magazine is no different than starting your own business or submitting your manuscript to a publisher. You need to research, research, research, and then research some more.

I know lots of people think they can just jump online, build a site, and have readers or subscribers. Well you can, but if you want to be taken seriously as a magazine then you need to know your niche, competition, and publication rights.

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About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.