Writing for Children's Magazines
An Ezine

   Interview with Sparkle and SHINE brightly Editor Kelli Gilmore 



We're delighted to have KELLI GILMORE with us to tell us some about Sparkle and SHINE brightly. These are print magazines published by GEMS (which stands for Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior).

Welcome, Kelli! Would you please begin by sharing a little about yourself with us?

It's great to be featured! I've been a magazine editor for three years now. But my passion for journalism and editing was sparked when I was still in high school. I worked on a school newspaper for a few years and moved on to an English and Journalism degree from Calvin College. Since then I've been working with GEMS Girls' Clubs as the managing editor for SHINE brightly and Sparkle Magazines.

I currently live in Chicago, Illinois with my husband and our puppy, Zoey.

What do you love most about your editor job? What do you find challenging about it?

One of my favorite things about my job is knowing that the girls' who read our magazine truly cherish everything we publish. I've had the opportunity to meet many of our readers and knowing the joy that our publications bring them makes each day of writing and editing enjoyable! Something that is challenging about the job is always finding fresh material and ways to write it with a new perspective. We want to always be engaging our readers and giving them information that will benefit them and they will enjoy!

For those who might not be familiar with SHINE brightly and Sparkle, please tell us a bit about them. What sets them apart as magazines?

SHINE brightly is a magazine for girls ages 9-14 and Sparkle is a magazine for girls ages 6-8. What makes these publications unique is they are both Christian publications. Our focus in each publication is different but our main goal is to encourage girls to be doers. Our parent organization, GEMS Girls' Clubs, has a mission based on Micah 6:8 that states, And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. We encourage our readers to be activists when they see injustice. Each of our publication seasons has a different theme as well as each magazine. These can all be found on our website (gemsgc.org).

Any tips for writers or illustrators who might want to break into your two magazines? Suggestions that will increase their chances of acceptance?

Read the writers' guidelines thoroughly!

What things turn you off to a submission? Any pet peeves?

A few of my biggest pet peeves about submissions are a failure to read our writers guidelines and cliché endings. Our writers' guidelines are very specific—down to how we would like to receive our submissions. When writers ignore these details or don't take the time to read something we spent a lot of time to prepare for them, it's hard for me to read their submissions. Cliché endings is another pet peeve. Our readers want real stories. They want to relate to what happens in our fiction stories. I understand that some stories will have positive or more put-together endings, but my desire is that the majority of the submissions we receive are not that way.

For puzzles and activities, do you have particular kinds you prefer?

I tend to stay away from publishing the typical crossword puzzle or word search activities. As a staff, we want our readers to also be able to engage and have fun with the activities we publish. We try to give everything a purpose or meaning for being in our publication—not just filler items.

If authors quote scripture, do you have a version you prefer that they use?

We use the NIV version.

Do you use freelance illustrators? If so, how should they share their work with you?

We do have freelance illustrators. If they would like to share their portfolios they can send a link to their work, their contact information, and price range to our designer Lisa Hunter. She can be reached at lisa@gemsgc.org.

Thank you so much, Kelli, for taking the time to share with our readers this helpful information, and for creating these wonderful, engaging magazines for girls.

For you writers who are now excited about submitting something to Sparkle or SHINE brightly, please check out the GEMS website. Very detailed and helpful submission guidelines, along with the current theme list, are here for Sparkle. Similar submission guidelines and the current theme list for SHINE brightly are here.

Writing for Children's Magazines, July 2014


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