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Highlights--Too rough for Highlights?

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daisyjune

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I have written a short fiction story that my instructor has said  he feels has "strong marketing potential."
I have researched the magazines that the story might fit into. Highlights seems like it could   be a good match except....

I know that they state no violence. Do they mean against children in the story, against animals, if the animal really doesn't get hurt, what do you think?

In the story a  :cuccoan: gets clobbered with a waterpail (in self defense, honest), but he runs off and is fine afterwards.

daisy
#1 - March 11, 2005, 12:58 PM
« Last Edit: May 26, 2006, 11:01 AM by ShirleyH »

Jaina

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Daisy, I think if the chicken was fine afterward and the clobbering wasn't done out of meanness, I would take a chance and send it in.  The Highlights people, if they like your story, may write and ask you to revise that bit, if they feel that it's not in the right Highlights tone.  I know a few people who have had that happen.

If it's more than that one incident and something about the entire story seems a mismatch for Highlights, they'll just tell you so.  I'm sure it's a great story, chicken-beating and all, and hope you find a home for it soon!
#2 - March 11, 2005, 01:31 PM

daisyjune

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Thanks Jaina!

I will give them a try!

Btw..... In the actual story, the chicken DIDN"T get back up, if you know what I mean. :faint:
It was based on a story that my husband's grandmother told me. A childhood experience of hers. So, as you can see, I've already 'modified' it a bit ;)

daisy
#3 - March 11, 2005, 04:42 PM

Page7

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In the context of pretending to be pirates, would a swordfight (using cardboard swords) be too violent for Highlights?  Also, if one character tries to take the treasure away from the other pirates/children, would this be considered a form of criminal activity, and thus, not permissible in Highlights?  I don't want to waste their time and mine if it's not a fit.  I've tried reworking it without the swordfight and attempted theft of the treasure, and it doesn't seem to work as well.   
#4 - March 07, 2008, 03:15 PM

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Highlights is a PIRATE-FREE zone.  :grrr   No pirates allowed.  Not sure if pretend pirates would get in.

rainchains :horse
#5 - March 07, 2008, 03:58 PM

Harrietthespy

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No violence means no violence - at all.  They're very strict about it.  Clobbered by a pail probably doesn't pass the muster. Nor do pirates.....C (Chautauqua Instructor 2007)
#6 - March 07, 2008, 06:08 PM

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VEry interesting, indeed! So, pirates, even if they are defeated by the end of the story, are out of bounds?

#7 - March 07, 2008, 06:17 PM
Being Frank (Flashlight Press)
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Page7

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Thanks.  These answers are very helpful. 
#8 - March 07, 2008, 06:50 PM

Harrietthespy

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How about this - I was a student at Chautauqua (and later Honesdale) a few years back. They are so cautious, at the time they hired someone to vett their word search puzzles to look for slang and inadvertant swear words that might pop up in the random grouping of letters because they didn't know them all.

A friend of mine submitted a story that included a minor reference to a fight (not germane to the main action of the story) but the publisher came back and said the article was well written but they don't buy stories with fighting.

I was on the faculty at Chautauqua last year and their stance has not changed.  So I worry when people say "try it and see!" because Highlights has a long memory and flooding slush with manuscripts to see what sticks isn't a good way to make a good impression given that they are very explicit about the rules.

Hope that helps.
#9 - March 08, 2008, 06:02 AM

Jaina

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Keep in mind that my "try it and see" post above was made three years ago, after a friend of mine sold them a story in which there was an "animal incident."  The ed. in question asked my friend if the particular animal bit might not be changed and it was, and the story was purchased.  So that's where I was coming from when I answered that old question.
#10 - March 08, 2008, 06:14 AM

Harrietthespy

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That's cool.  And I didn't mean to imply that you said something incorrect.  I threw my alternative out because so many people lurk the boards and read into a post more than is meant - know what I mean.  So I was doing that devil's advocate thing.  Kind of like talking to an editor at a house (won't mention which one) that has a well-known contest. One day and editor said "we read everything that comes in, even if it doesn't fit the rules." and what was meant was - they "look" at everything. So now they're down to reading only first pages because writers started sending in PB's, nonfiction, etc. just to get a foot into the door of an agented house.

So mea culpa.  I knew you meant well about the Highlights thing.  But they're getting so much stuff, the competition is getting fierce.  Good news though - my friends article was picked up by another publisher!...C
#11 - March 08, 2008, 07:30 PM

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I just wanted to add that I received a very kind rejection, after the bear card process, explaining that while the editors found my story funny, it was too rough for them because of the implied joke involving the possibility of an animal eating another.  I really respect their commitment to complete nonviolence and was actually embarrassed when I realized my story really did contain it, albeit indirectly. 

I don't know if this helps you in your decision, but it illustrates how something subtle (and meant to be funny) might be considered inappropriate.


#12 - March 09, 2008, 05:36 PM

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And one more...

I received a bear card last January for a poem I wrote about Thanksgiving. After a couple of months, I received a lovely letter telling me that they liked it - BUT... :)
THey explained that the last two lines needed some tweaking and they thought it promoted gluttony.

At first I was like - WHAT? BUT then I reread it and realized.. oh wait. Of course it does. 
And even though it's a poem about all the food and family at Thanksgiving -- gluttony is still a a BAD thing. I teach my own children NOT to overeat. So why would I want to encourage others to do so?

THen I felt bad about it. I really did. They gave me the option of revising and resubbing -- which I did. Thankfully, I was able to fix it (after chewing on how to do so for a good 6 months!) and resubbed. I received an acceptance this year.

They really do know what they are doing. I like the way they approach things. It's one of the reasons I KNOW I can let my kids "dig in" to the mag without a first "read through" by me. Some magazines - not so much. But Highlights is a class act and I'm glad they work the way they do. 

Hugs,
Donna
#13 - March 09, 2008, 07:35 PM
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Well, it doesn't hurt to try, but I'm going to say that they are very conservative on this point. I did make a sale with them that had a very scary sea fish with sharp teeth and impending danger, but nothing happened to anyone in the story.  One note: even though they've paid for this story, they have never published it and it's been about five years.

They also passed on a story about a "rascal" character. They actually liked it but because the main character was sneaky, they had to pass.
#14 - March 09, 2008, 07:53 PM
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Well, since we're sharing...

I sold them a NF article about a famous person as a child teaching his dog to talk. They liked it, but I did have to have more than one vet write to say that the session wouldn't have harmed the dog and make sure that the wording didn't promote hurting dogs. (Pubbed Nov '06)

I sold them a fiction piece about Thanksgiving where an uncle made a joke about beating the stuffing out the turkey. Needless to say, the joke was changed to something about tickling feathers. (Pubbed Nov '07)

However, I'm afraid to post this one: I just sold them another NF article that has a violent backstory. I had written the actual story for a HL workshop. The ed suggested I write this angle for an article. I said that HL doesn't buy stuff like that. She encouraged me anyway. I wrote it. And wrote it. And wrote it. It took over a year of revisions with that ed holding my hand through them all. I had to tell the truth and still keep an upbeat, thankful tone. It was my greatest challenge to date. I saw her not long ago. When talking about the article, she said she was surprised they bought it. Ha!

Kelly
#15 - March 10, 2008, 05:15 AM
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Harrietthespy

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One of their editors said they are mindful of complaints they might get from MAE's (Mom's against everything.)  :D  Hence the cautious approach.  Many of their subscribers are very, very conservative.
#16 - March 10, 2008, 06:15 AM

Gabby

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This is all extremely useful information. I did not realize they were so strict about things. At first I thought some of these posts were in jest. I am enlightened. :trenchworm
#17 - March 10, 2008, 07:57 AM

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I have to reiterate -- I feel very blessed that they decided to buy my poetry and other works. It might seem over-strict to some, but I think their stance is a good one. They have a top-notch operation and have tons and tons of subscribers. I think that speaks volumes! :)

Hugs,
Donna
#18 - March 10, 2008, 01:40 PM
« Last Edit: March 10, 2008, 02:12 PM by WordWrangler »
Being Frank (Flashlight Press)
http://flashlightpress.com/

I agree, Donna. The world is ridden with enough violence and tasteless images. I love that Highlights is safe and consistent.

Kelly
#19 - March 10, 2008, 01:52 PM
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How about a story with kids having a brief pillow fight? Anyone have any thoughts about how the folks at Highlights would feel about that?
#20 - March 16, 2008, 10:38 AM

Harrietthespy

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You could always query to ask.  But "no" pretty much means "no" loopholes.  A pillow fight is still a fight even if jovial.

....C  ::)
#21 - March 16, 2008, 01:02 PM

I just read a story in Highlights, published about a year ago, in which a monster bullies some townspeople into submission by threatening to eat them.   :taz
The story was pretty funny, and in the end it was revealed that the monster had never actually eaten anyone. But I still thought it was kind of
surprising, given their standards.
#22 - March 27, 2008, 12:06 PM

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I liked it,  too (especially when he says "hiccup-a pie" instead of jicama   :applepie    :laugh).   Maybe the humor made it seem safe enough.   
#23 - March 30, 2008, 10:39 PM

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