Interview with Arun Toké
Founder and Executive Editor
Skipping Stones Magazine
Skipping Stones is an award-winning magazine that comes out every two months, five times during the school year. It publishes work by writers of all ages. In a typical issue, you’ll find stories, articles, and photos from all over the world, including pieces in other languages, with translations.
Here’s an interview with the founder about how to get your writing published in Skipping Stones. As with all magazines, the key step is simple: send in your best work!
INTERVIEW WITH ARUN TOKÉ, EDITOR
1. Any particular types of writing you are interested in currently?
We sponsor an annual honor award contest, for ages 7 to 17. The two themes are always: Multicultural Awareness and Nature Appreciation. We invite students to write on themes such as: Traditions and Celebrations; Diversity and Tolerance; Your Dreams and Visions; Youth Activism; Family and Society; Nature and Environment; Peace, Justice and Equality.
The entries are due by June 25th. Everyone who enters receives a copy of the issue featuring the ten winners and noteworthy excerpts from other entries.
2. Any tips for improving my writing, making it more likely to get published?
Make it more interesting! Write from your experiences, in first person. Be genuine. Avoid stereotypes. Make it short and concise; if you can make a point in 100 words, don’t drag it for 500 words.
Revise. Read it to yourself aloud; that might help you improve it. Sleep over it, then rewrite it if it seems to need it. Like any exercise, the more you write, the better you will become. Let your classmates, friends, or siblings read your finished draft and ask them for an honest feedback. This might help you in editing your writing. (But don’t let their criticism make you feel upset or stop writing.)
If editors ask you to revise, do it and send it back to them on time, or your work won’t get published.
A good idea: read an issue or two of Skipping Stones to get acquainted with us – our format, themes, style, etc. (or any other magazine for that matter where you want to submit) – before you send something to us. You will know better what kind of writing we publish. That will cut down on the rejection letters you might get.
A short and insightful cover letter that explains where you are coming from will help improve your chances of getting published.
3. As an editor . . . why did you get inspired to do this?
It was my international experiences that led me to begin Skipping Stones – to promote international understanding, multicultural awareness, learning of other languages, and appreciating nature.
I came from India to study in the United States. And I’ve spent six months biking in Northern Europe, and almost a year traveling in Mexico and Central America – we walked for Peace in Central America. I saw that in many countries around the world, students learn two or three languages. In 1986, I attended an international peace conference in a Gandhian Ashram in Western India. When I came to the United States, I knew I wanted to provide a forum for youth where they can share their truth, their opinions, and their life with each others.
I think it is very important to encourage young writers to continue writing and sharing their experiences. When a child is published, it boosts their self-esteem and encourages them to carry on in their life, no matter what the odds.
What I like the most is when I get letters of thanks and appreciation from kids and their parents/teachers. I know then that we are helping make a difference in their lives.
We publish 25 or even 30 young writers in each issue.
4. What about Skipping Stones is unique?
Over the years, Skipping Stones has become the leading multicultural magazine for children and youth. There are only a few magazines that welcome student writing to the extent we do. Our poetry is almost exclusively by children and teens. And we publish bilingual stories and articles. We have received many national awards and just celebrated our 20th year! As a small, non-commercial, and ecologically-aware magazine, that is an important milestone.
5. How can I submit my writing to your magazine?
Send your poems, stories or thoughts to us. Write for our thought-provoking departments, such as What’s on your mind? Or Letters to the Editor, etc.
We like writings under 750 words or 800 words. Poems can be free form, or any style, and under 30 lines.
Send with a cover letter that tells us about you, your age/grade, cultural background, etc. What are your dreams and visions?
You might like to know that each piece of writing sent to us gets read by at least three readers (several of them youth, our interns)!
For more submissions details, click here.