To help you as you write
Stories must be written from a Christian perspective and be consistent with Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and practice. Most must contain an overt spiritual message and yet not be preachy. Normally, authors will be asked to add this message; if necessary, we will add it in the editing process. Note: Once accepted, you will not see the story again until it is in print.
Submit your own material
It should go without saying, but let me say it again anyhow, don't be a plagiarist. If you wonder about the definition and the serious nature of plagiarism, go to http://www.plagiarism.org/plag_article_what_is_plagiarism.html and read the information there. Please, I count on my authors to be honest and to reveal their sources when they do research. Don't disappoint me.
Write for today's child
Your stories need to speak to the experience, life-style, needs, and vocabulary of today's child. That might include living in a single-parent home, or a home where both parents work outside the home, going to a day care center or baby sitter, or being a "latchkey" child. (These circumstances can be part of the setting of a story. They do not need to be the focus of the story in most cases.)
We look for stories that avoid stereotypical roles for men and women. More than half of today's mothers work outside the home. Stories should reflect that fact some of the time. A more traditional life-style setting is OK too. And, we want many more stories with Dad as the adult. We get plenty with Mom.
The right age level
Story plots, vocabulary, and main characters should fit the age level for whom the story is written. OLF is for ages 1 to 5 (through kindergarten). PT is for ages 7 to 9 (grades 1 through 4). Children like protagonists a little older than themselves, but not younger. The reading level we aim for is third grade. In stories for this age level words are simple; sentences uncomplicated; description minimal; conversation carries every scene.
All stories submitted to us must be true even though you write with the best story writing techniques used in fiction. What does this mean? The persons you write about really do live (or did live); they faced the problem you say they faced; and they solved that problem the way you say they solved it. Names and gender can be changed in your true story. True-to-life stories do not qualify as true. Neither do stories of talking animals or other kinds of fantasy stories.
Be positive rather than negative
We want stories about good children setting good examples, being kind, and making right choices. Occasionally, we use stories about children who misbehave and are punished, usually through the natural consequences of their misbehavior, but we prefer stories that focus on positive role models. A story about a child who misbehaves and is punished should not include so many details about the poor behavior behavior that the reader wishes to copy it because it sounds exciting.
We need short stories (one to two manuscript pages, double-spaced) for OLF. We prefer stories of 4 or 5 manuscript pages or shorter for PT.
Stories that are humorous, yet teach a spiritual lesson, rate high in this office.
For the Seventh-day Adventist author
We are eager to publish stories that explain God and His love and our response of love to Him from a Seventh-day Adventist perspective, that deal with Adventist life-style in a positive way, that explain and examine Adventist beliefs from a child's perspective, stories about mission service (what a child would experience if he/she were to go to the mission field today), about Adventist education, in short, any story that will explain being a Seventh-day Adventist and help children want to be Adventists throughout their lives.
Seasonal and holiday stories
Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines', Mothers', Fathers', and Grandparents' Days are the holidays for which we want stories. De-emphasize the commercial aspects of all holidays, please. We need to receive holiday and seasonal stories approximately seven months early. Please indicate in the subject line the holiday you have written about.
Story topic ideas
- True adventure stories with a spiritual focus
- Answered prayer stories
- Assurance of salvation
- Child's worth to God, family, friends
- Moving—a major trauma of childhood
- Handling fear, i.e. performing in a recital, going to the dentist, parent on a trip
- Disagreeing agreeably
- Saying No to drugs (PT)
- Nature stories (see separate section)
- Coping with negative emotions
- Maintaining positive parent/child relationships
- Handling bullies and remaining Christian
- Friendship skills (making friends; when friends leave you out; when your friends don't like each other)
- Handling peer pressure
- How a child can have a vibrant devotional life
- Living in a blended family
- Watching TV intelligently
- Making good choices in toys, other entertainment
- Stopping abuse
- Coping with disappointment
- Perseverance when task is hard
- Parent apologizes to child
- Ways of honoring parents
- Coping with serious illness or other handicap
- Divorce in the family (PT only)
- Practical ways to keep Sabbath
- Home schooling (PT)
- Attending small church schools (PT)
- Being healthy (eating habits, washing hands, getting enough sleep, going to bed on time)
- Resisting temptation
- When religion divides home
- Practical ways a child can witness
- Respecting others' feelings
- Working mothers
- When parents argue/fight
- Praying for God's will, accepting when He answers No or Wait
- Attending a small church
- Relating to being teased
- Being kind to kids left out by other kids
- Basic social skills/manners
- Accepting personal differences
- Getting along with siblings/fighting fair
- How habits/actions change when Jesus' love is in the heart
- Christian perspective on material things
- How to pray
- Value of memorizing Bible verses
- Any story that helps a child understand Jesus better and rely on Him more
Things we sometimes change
We sometimes change the main character in a story from girl to boy. Also, we sometimes change names and activities to give an ethnic or more modern flavor to a story. We choose the ethnicity of the children in the illustrations we use to reflect the rich ethnic variety in the United States and Canada. (Go to www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames to see the most popular names in the United States for 2008, the year in which many of our PT kids were born.) Recently we have been changing Mom to Dad in stories. If it is imperative that these details not change because of the person you're writing about, please let us know, because, once it is accepted, you will not see your story again until it is in print.
Things we always change
Children eating unhealthy snacks to fruit or raw vegetables; drinks between meals to water or fruit juice; unhealthful foods to something more healthful; meat foods to vegetarian dishes; attending church on Sunday to attending on Sabbath (Saturday); "I bet" to "I'm sure"; unsupervised children, especially young ones, to children who have supervision nearby; anything that conflicts with Adventist beliefs and practice although we will reject a story rather than violate the intent of an author's work.
This makes the editor crazy
Stories that seem to be written for a creative writing class instead of for readers of a child's magazine. PT is to be a magazine that children can pick up and read by themselves without a lot of struggle. It should be entertaining, challenging, and thought-provoking in content, but not hard to read. It is not the mission of PT to teach reading skills. Its mission is to teach spiritual truth. Don't let your vocabulary and sentence structure get in the way of truth. Stories for PT should be written on a third grade reading level. This means simple sentences and few words over three syllables. Conversation should carry every scene.
The same simplicity of writing goes well for stories in OLF. If you think writing simply won't challenge your creativity, here's a story for you from the Urban Legends Reference Pages: "In 1957, Dr. Seuss produced a classic children's tale, The Cat in the Hat, using only the words on an average first-grader's vocabulary list. This work was followed by a series of books employing an ever more limited vocabulary. What prompted this minimalist trend by Dr. Seuss? A dare from his editor, Bennett Cerf, that he write a book using no more than fifty different words. Seuss took Cerf up on the dare and produced a classic children's work that many of us can still recite from memory."
Don't bother sending these
Stories of talking animals or other kinds of fantasy stories. Stories about hunting or fishing. Stories with a Halloween setting (except those that deal with the danger of the occult on a child's level or highlight community service instead of tricking or treating). Rewritten Bible stories.
When children get into a car in a story, include a sentence about buckling their seat belt. Small children should be put into their car seat. When a child gets on his/her bike, include a sentence about putting on a helmet. Same thing goes for looking both ways when crossing a street and for using proper safety equipment for any sport or hobby.
Children love stories about nature. We look for nature stories that acknowledge God as Creator and Sustainer of all life and glorify Him as such. We also look for stories that are more than an encyclopedic description about an animal, plant, etc. Kids—the editor too!—should be able to say, "I never knew that before" when reading your nature story.
Poetry, games, puzzles, art, photos
We are not in the market for these.
We prefer not to receive queries, except in the case of a continued (multiple part) story.
Payment and rights
We will pay between $25 and $50 for an OLF or a PT story depending on the excellence of the manuscript, length, and other editorial considerations. We purchase one-time magazine rights and electronic rights; accept previously published material; and pay upon acceptance. We also reprint stories after four or five years have gone by. We make every effort to reach the authors of these older stories to pay them again at half the first rate so tell us if you move. We prefer that you not submit reprints to us. It works better if you let us choose the reprints—we stay more organized that way!
How should your manuscript look?
Put your name, address, telephone number, and email address on the first page of the manuscript. Title pages are unnecessary. Manuscripts should be double-spaced with no extra space between paragraphs. Paragraphs should begin with an indented line. Be sure to include a stamped, self-addressed envelope that is large enough to hold your manuscript. We need your Social Security number to pay you, but will contact you to ask for it if we don't have it.
Instructions for electronic submissions
We prefer to receive stories electronically. Do try not to share a virus with your attached file. We regularly upgrade our virus protection here at Pacific Press, but it helps if you do too.
Attach a word processor file of your story to your email message. Do not paste your story into the email itself. Microsoft Word is our word processing software and it does open most files, but it helps if the file is saved properly, using a ".doc" or ".rtf" extension. Your word processor file becomes our publication file so it is important for you to use a tab at the beginning of each paragraph, not individual spaces. Avoid other odd spacing as well.
Send electronic submissions to
When will you hear back?
When I get your electronic submission, I try to evaluate it within four weeks of that time. When I decide to use your story, I will send payment shortly after the decision. However your story may not be used immediately due to seasonal considerations. When it is printed, we will mail three author's copies to you.
Anita Seymour, Managing Editor
Our Little Friend® / Primary Treasure®
P.O. Box 5353, Nampa, ID 83653