Thanks for your interest. GreenPrints lives because people like you care about gardening—and about sharing with other gardeners. Without your garden writing, the magazine simply would not exist. So, thank you!
Now, what do I want?
1) The best, personal (important word, that) garden writing I can get. Expressive, thoughtful, humorous, angry, contrite, flippant, searching, witty, observant, sad, inviting— whatever. We focus on the human, not how-to side of gardening. On the people as well as the plants. After all, gardening is a relationship, not a recipe. GreenPrints explores that relationship, not by instructing, preaching, or lecturing about it. Instead, we celebrate it . . . by sharing the stories and experiences we all have trying (and sometimes failing) to get along with plants.
Do you want to know a secret? The kind of garden writing Pat most wants? That will win him over every time?
A good STORY.
That’s it. A good, entertaining, clever, moving, funny story. One with, you know, a narrative. A plot. Where something happens—something remarkable, touching, unexpected, hilarious. Let me say it again: a good story. One you’d like to hear or read. Most especially, a true story. Something special that happened to you. That’s the garden writing I most want.
And, please, try to show us the story, not tell us about it. Remember the old high-school English-class dictum: Show, don’t tell. Take us through the experiences in your garden writing with trenchant details and tight descriptions. Don’t say it was profound or funny or beautiful: make us experience the feelings by taking us through them with you. (Hint: Dialogue is good.)
2) We’re not opposed to essays, but the good ones a) evolve directly from personal experience and b) offer new insights or at least new ways of expressing old insights. They’re not just the same garden writing we’ve all seen before. We’re not opposed to fiction, either, but don’t you agree that it should offer something special that the nonfiction stories we get don’t (i.e., don’t just imitate reality).
3) One thing for sure, we don’t want sappy, gooey writing. Tender, moving, poignant is wonderful. But syrupy garden writing is a big trap GreenPrints has to avoid. (Another is preachy. We can all read lectures and sermons other places, n’est-ce pas?)
4) Strong endings. Many, many, many times I send pieces back to say, “This peters out. The ending is weak, obvious, trite. Give me a creative, witty, forceful conclusion. Stop the piece with a wham, not a whimper.” A good ending (some of which make a clever reference back to the beginning) can lift a whole piece of garden writing a notch and make it end with an exclamation point of strength, instead of, well . . . just . . . fading . . . away . . .
5) Length? I don’t know. Since we’re digest-sized, most of our pieces are no more than 2,000 words. But write what you have to. If it’s good garden writing, we’ll work out length problems.
6) Payment? Did you have to ask? We pay miserably; top payment is $150 and we often pay less. I apologize. You deserve more. If GreenPrints ever starts paying me better than miserably, I will be only too glad to pay more. (Right now, I’m working for peanuts. small peanuts.) We pay on acceptance, buy First North American Serial Rights (unless you’ve already published it somewhere else first; we’re happy to reprint garden writing pieces—as long as they’re good!).
7) How to submit your story:
a) Real Mail: I still enjoy real-mailed submissions. I write personal replies to all real-mailed garden writing submissions IF they include a SASE. PLEASE, do include a SASE [SASE = Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope]. Pretty Please. (Thank you.)
b) E-Mail: I do accept emailed submissions. Please put “Story Submission” in the Subject Line. Warning: It may be a while before you hear back from me. And please do include your actual mailing address with your submission so that if I do accept it, I can pay you.
Mail your garden writing manuscripts to:
Pat Stone, Ed.
P.O. Box 1355
Fairview, NC 28730
Email your garden writing submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
8) In your cover letter, please tell me something clever/witty/appropriate about yourself that I can use for our “Contributor’s Page” if we use your piece of garden writing.
9) Poetry: Well, we run about 1 poem per issue. That’s 4 per year, so let’s admit there’s not much chance I can accept your poem. The ones I do take tend to be a) hands-on, dirt-under-the-nails, gardening poems b) not too saccharine, and c) rarely in rhyme, but most of all d) clever. Innovative. Offering well-expressed, detail-dressed new twists on this magazine’s very old topic: garden writing. Payment: $20.
10) One last thing: Are you a SUBSCRIBER? If not, please—oh, please—become one: $19.97 a year; $22.97 U.S. to Canada. Not only does it get you a wonderful little magazine and the best possible feel for the type of garden writing we run, it also helps us survive so we can run your (and other people’s) writing! Thanks again. (Hint: Do you know anyone who loves gardening? What a great gift GreenPrints makes.)
Thanks again. I do appreciate your contribution and the work it takes. Best to you with prose, plants, and life,
Pat Stone, Editor
P.S. Oh, one more last thing: I generally can’t find time to read submissions until the month after an issue deadline. So your garden writing submission is likely to lie fallow until late in Feb., May, Aug., or Nov. Sorry. I will read it carefully then.
P.P.S. And sorry about sticking the phrase “garden writing” so many times in these garden writing guidelines! I know it gets tiresome to read garden writing (“Garden Writing! Garden Writing! Garden Writing!”) over and over and over. (Garden writing, anyone?) It’s the kind of redundancy that makes for, well, bad garden writing, no? I’m just, of course, trying to encourage search engines to find GreenPrints when someone types in the phrase: garden writing. So please do forgive me for saying garden writing so much. Happy Garden Writing!