Pockets, published by The Upper Room, for 6 to 12-year-olds. Like Highlights, Pockets runs an annual fiction contest. They also accept a variety of material, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, puzzles, and activities. Although Pockets is a Christian magazine, not all content is explicitly religious. I recall studying a sample issue years ago that happened to include a story that had won their fiction contest. It was a wonderful story about a girl learning to accept her new stepfather. I don't believe it mentioned God at all.
As it says on the Pockets website:
"Each issue is built around a specific theme with material that can be used by children in a variety of ways. Submissions should support the purpose of the magazine to help children grow in their faith, though all submissions do not need to be overtly religious."The magazine's monthly themes are listed on their website, along with a submission deadline for each issue. To paraphrase something I heard Richard Peck say years ago, "A deadline is a writer's friend." When I first learned of Pockets and their theme/deadline list, I submitted some theme-related puzzles. To my delight, they were accepted! That success led me to try my hand at writing a short story specifically for an issue focusing on "prejudice." They accepted that piece, and "The Cupcake Man" became my first published children's story. Pockets also published my first children's poem. (Is it any wonder why I'm so fond of this magazine?)
Of course, the key to success when writing for Pockets or any other magazine is to study several issues so that you can draft a submission that fits with the magazine's overall feel. You should be able to check out copies of well-known magazines like Highlights and Cricket at your public library. For smaller magazines like Pockets, you can usually request a sample copy from the publisher. Instructions for doing so are often listed in the "Magazines" section of the annual Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market (Writer's Digest Books). You may be surprised by the number and range of magazines you'll find listed there. If you're a member of SCBWI, you can also download the latest SCBWI Magazine Market Guide, which also includes general tips on writing for magazines.
on their website along with their submission deadlines. (Remember: Deadlines are our friends!) When Chicken Soup put out a call for the book Teens Talk High School: 101 Stories of Life, Love, and Learning for Older Teens, I submitted a poem in two voices called "Questions," which they accepted. My Writing Buddy, Leanne Pankuch, recently had her second Chicken Soup story published in Hooked on Hockey. Again, to place a story in a Chicken Soup book, it's important to study past issues, and also to carefully read their guidelines. While Chicken Soup stories are nonfiction, they must read like well-crafted fiction--with a beginning, middle, and end; action; dialogue; conflict, a theme, etc.
By the way, all the markets I've discussed today pay for your writing. While it's not exactly a "pot of gold," receiving payment for our work is affirming. And it has given many of my former students the confidence to say "I am a published author," even as they wait for their first book contract.
Don't forget: there's less than a week left to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of JoAnn Early Macken's, Write a Poem Step by Step. See JoAnn's guest post for details.