Stories that talk 2 - Invitation to submit manuscripts

Stories that Talk, the read-aloud story book produced as part of HEARTLINES' first phase programme, has been extremely successful. It has been welcomed in homes as a powerful tool for discussing values with children; it has been used by pre-schools, and in primary school assemblies; it has been purchased by libraries; it has been reprinted in all 11 languages and distributed to all primary schools in South Africa by the Department of Education.

In light of this success, HEARTLINES feels that a follow-up story book for use in families and schools is needed. Stories that Talk, the first book, was designed as a read-aloud book, so that it would be mediated by parents, teachers or care-givers. It was aimed at ages 3-8, although we know that it has been used also with older children.

We are now compiling a book for children to read to themselves. Stories that Talk 2 will have a range of stories aimed at children between the ages of 8 and 13.

HEARTLINES invites you to submit a story for consideration for this new compilation. We are looking for stories about values in action, good stories first and foremost - that show children taking action, individually, with their families, or in groups. HEARTLINES has launched a movement, forgood, which encourages people to take action. See the website www.forgood.co.za. The HEARTLINES vision statement, see final page of this document, will inform our selection of stories.

Deadline - draft of your story to Sally Howes by 31st August 2008.

Please email a covering letter and your story to Sally Howes


Or post it to:

Sally Howes, Watermark Publishing, PO Box 21700, Mayor's Walk, 3208, South Africa

If you are posting it, include a self-addressed envelope.

Please phone 0027 33 3442478 if you have any further queries.

NB. Please do not consider this a commission - it is merely an invitation to submit a story for consideration. We have sent this invitation to many people, networks of authors and related people throughout the country and beyond - so we will be processing a huge volume of submissions. This means we will unfortunately not have time to provide you with detailed critical feedback on your manuscript - unless it is accepted.

Details of stories required:

  • book description

    Stories the Talk 2 will include 10 stories for children that have recently begun to read to themselves. The book will include stories in a
    range of subject matter, style, genre and reading levels.

    The collection will be extensively illustrated. Each story will be illustrated by a different artist.

  • level

    To be read by children aged 8 to 13 year olds. The book will contain
    stories that range in length and difficulty, so to suit the different reading abilities and interests within this age group.

    Stories should range from 100 - 1000 words.

  • the values

    Values that you might consider exploring include:

    • compassion and caring
    • forgiveness
    • courage
    • perseverance and endurance
    • taking responsibility in difficult circumstances
    • acceptance of difference
    • respect
    • integrity
    • truth
    • hope

  • the stories

    Each story should have a central protagonist with whom the reader can identify. This protagonist will have to explore the value issue in the story and take some action that sees that value being lived out in a practical way. Though the stories should not be didactic, our pilot testing has shown that parents, teachers etc were happy if the value is explicit.

  • target audience

    The stories should not present stereotypical racial or gender roles. We will try to balance girls and boys as protagonists.

  • specs

    17x22cm; 112 pps; full-colour illustrations.

  • story testing

    An initial draft of the story which will be reviewed by HEARTLINES.

    Page proofs of the story will be tested by HEARTLINES with children - the approach and content (particularly the value issue) will be tested. Authors will need to agree to review and rework stories in light of this testing.

  • contract

    The books will be contracted by HEARTLINES through Sally Howes. The author will be paid a flat amount of R10 000 once the story has been received in its final form, acceptable to HEARTLINES.

    The author will retain copyright of the story text but the illustrated version of the story will belong to HEARTLINES. Further contract details are in the contract itself which will be forwarded to the author if a story is accepted.

  • schedule

    Please send a draft of your story to Sally Howes by 31st August 2008.

    The intention is to have the books in schools in 2010, so the development printing and distribution would take place during 2009.

    This is a tentative schedule - and could change in the course of the development of the broader forgood project.

  • proviso

    HEARTLINES is an initiative of the Mass Media Project, a not-for-profit donor funded organisation formed in 2002. The project therefore relies on receiving the level of donations required to fund it, and could be delayed or cancelled at any point. However, once your story has been formally accepted, HEARTLINES will be liable for payment for your story, even if the printing and distribution does not take place as scheduled.

The Heartlines Vision Statement

The vision statement will give you an idea of the broad spirit of the campaign - it should not restrict your choice of subject matter or the context of your story. It was drawn up for the broader campaign aimed primarily at adults.

HEARTLINES' vision encompasses the following:

  • A belief that change for good is possible and that behaviour and actions, driven by underlying values, are the key to this change.
  • A sense of community, in which people feel they are joined with others, so that they feel that the ripples created by even their smallest acts of goodness are not pointless, but contribute to a groundswell of change.
  • An intervention to connect and magnify the existing good work done in our society.
  • An intervention to mobilise and organise the thousands of formal and informal groups, such as savings groups and faith groups, for social action.
  • The tools and framework for practical actions that can translate beliefs into behaviour and behaviour into habits.
  • A vision that can move people from hopelessness to hope, from hope to action and from action to change "for good".
  • While the move "for good," should impact broadly on the fabric of society
  • HEARTLINES will be specifically promoting actions that will impact on the following issues:
    • Safety and security (the opposite of crime, violence and corruption)
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Support for education and youth
    • Support for the family and social cohesion
    • The environment
    • Poverty





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