“Every young person develops at his or her own pace, in his or her own way.” That statement and sentiment is a tag line for promoting summer camps at the Rowe Conference and Camp Center in northern central Massachusetts. Rowe has a 90-year history of listening to, supporting, and challenging teens in ways the promote growth and friendship. That statement is also an accurate explanation for why middle grade and young adult fiction must be diverse and thoughtful. One of my daughters, Vanessa, used to be a co-director of Rowe summer camps, and her stories about working at the camp was an education for me in how true this tag line statement really is. She also taught me about the 70/30 rule after working with all ages of teens. The 70/30 rule was a revelation to me as a parent. It means that 70% of what tweens and teens think, believe, and do is never shared with parents, only 30% of who they are is revealed in conversations with parents. Of course, most parents deny that their kids follow this rule. In fact, I don’t think I have ever talked to a parent who didn’t deny that this rule was true of his or her tween or teen. As parents, none of us want to believe that this rule is true, even though it is based on actual work with these age groups, but when I thought about my own teen years, I had to admit to myself that it was probably the 90/10 rule for me. Okay, so maybe this rule was more true than any of us wanted to admit. But why does this understanding of pace and secrecy matter in YA fiction?
Because at Relish Media we want to publish storytellers who are authentically writing about the lives of tweens and teens and not projecting adult sentiments, belief systems, or adult issues onto these characters and into these stories. It also means, though, that we do want stories that express appropriate values, such as tolerance, creativity, a forgiving spirit, a willingness to be different, and ethical behavior. It also means that we want stories that contain personal themes such as teen empowerment, questions of gender, anti-princess motifs, understanding the nuances of life’s choices, providing leadership, and even showing an entrepreneurial spirit. Strong social issues such as the difference in family structures, environmental concerns, the struggles with consumerism, and multicultural and diversity issues in local communities and for international relations. We believe these stories can be entertaining and edifying and create more helpful conversations in families and classrooms. We want and need for our authors to craft stories for these readers that authentically help them understand their own selves in a way that promotes self reflection, thoughtfulness, and a consciousness pertinent to their age group and development, and also about their place in family networks, various cultures, and the global community.
We’re growing up with our readers, so don’t think you have to create a picture book if you have a novel rattling around in your brain. Little Pickle Press is seeking chapter books for 9 to 12 year olds, and middle grade novels for 10 to 14 year olds, and Relish Media is seeking manuscripts in the young adult novel category for readers ages 15 and up. We are open to the many literary vehicles employed to convey a story—contemporary fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, and creative nonfiction.
Little Pickle Press/Relish Media is an award-winning, 21st century publisher of media, dedicated to helping parents and educators cultivate conscious, responsible children and tweens/teens by stimulating explorations of the meaningful topics of their generation through a variety of media, technologies, and techniques.
If our mission appeals to you, then we want to meet you at SCBWI. Our publisher, Rana, and Relish Media Editorial Consultant, Roy, will be in attendance. Please contact us to schedule an appointment at [email protected](dot) com.