Submitted by Veronica McDonald
Like so many things since I became a Christian four years ago, publishing a literary magazine for children was never on my radar. But in late January, I was on my laptop making updates to the literary journal I edit, called Heart of Flesh Literary Journal, when my 8-year-old daughter, Mia, asked if she could read it. Her large brown eyes were so curious and interested, but I immediately said no; Heart of Flesh deals with Christian topics, but it is definitely not kid-friendly. She proceeded to make my heart swell by asking if she could submit her poems to the journal. After I explained that Heart of Flesh is only for adult writers, Mia told me I should make a magazine that kids could read and to which they could submit their work.
I initially dismissed the idea as adorable but impossible. When submissions start rolling in, managing Heart of Flesh takes every ounce of my free time. The idea of running two journals with my two-year-old running around the house and refusing to take naps seemed crazy. Also, I had never written or published Kid Lit. I wasn’t sure if I knew anything about it. Did literary magazines for children even exist? I pushed the idea away, but it quickly came back full force. I couldn’t stop dreaming and planning for a children’s literary magazine, and I began to understand that the Lord was planting the idea firmly in my heart despite my objections. Finally, one sleepless night, I bounced out of bed, hopped on my laptop, and made a site for Pure in Heart Stories.
As I researched and continue to research Kid Lit and the Kid Lit industry, I can see the potential and need for such a literary outlet. While there are several Christian magazines devoted to children and teens, they are small fish in an ocean of secular literature inundating children with worldly ideas and morality. I’m paraphrasing Christian author Jordan Raynor when I say that the job of the creative Christian is to permeate culture with Christ. Poetry, fiction, art, cinema, music are the creators of culture, and, right now, what our culture needs is Jesus. Until now, I’ve been focusing on reaching and encouraging adults, but culture doesn’t begin with adults; it begins with children. This is something that those who write Kid Lit already understand. I’ve been so busy trying to protect my three children from secular views that clash with Christian values that I didn’t realize I don’t always have to play defence. An offensive move would be to fill a need—find the lack and remedy it. This is ultimately the goal of Pure in Heart.
Both Pure in Heart and Heart of Flesh have been open for submissions since February 1st, and I’ve never felt less stress and more peace, trust, and faith as I have since working on the two projects simultaneously. I know it’s because I’m not alone. I have the support of readers, writers, fellow editors, and my Lord Jesus, who carries burdens and worries and makes all things possible for the good of His Kingdom. To Him be the glory, always. I’m so excited to see what He has planned for this newest venture.
For those interested, both Pure in Heart and Heart of Flesh are open for submissions until March 31st. Pure in Heart accepts Christian-themed poetry, fiction, and art by adults for children ages 6-11. My daughter Mia is co-editor and has the final say on everything we publish. After our first issue, we plan on accepting work from young writers. This way, Mia and other kids will have a place to honour God and work out Christian topics creatively. I hope and pray that all who submit to Pure in Heart, Heart of Flesh, and Lost Pen Pub are encouraged that their work is a much-needed light in an often dark and highly secular field. May God bless you all.
About Veronica McDonald
McDonald is founder and co-editor of Pure in Heart Stories and Heart of Flesh Literary Journal. She edits and designs both Pure in Heart and Heart of Flesh, and is the primary reader in all categories. Veronica is a fiction writer, poet, artist, and mom of three, rascally kids who love books.