Posted by: nancyisanders | July 8, 2009

Editor Interview: Jesse Florea

Meet Editor Jesse Florea!
Featured Publisher: Focus on the Family’s magazines:
Clubhouse Jr.

“The most important advice is not to talk down to children. Children learn from and enjoy stories, and this is something you want to cultivate as a writer. By preaching at them, it can hurt their love of literature,” advises Jesse Florea, editor of Clubhouse magazine from Focus on the Family. “I’d like to share that as children’s writers we have the awesome responsibility of shaping the next generation. Like I said, kids develop their values and learn from story. We need to make sure we’re helping them build a solid foundation that will help them have a positive impact on the world in years to come.”

At conferences, Florea makes it a point to give positive feedback and encouragement to every author whose work he reads. Following Philippians 4:8, “If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things,” Florea encourages everyone. Himself an author of several books for Tyndale House and thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, Florea has held his current position as editor of Clubhouse for 11 years.

Clubhouse magazine is a Christian kids’ magazine targeted to 8-12 year olds who desire to know more about God and the Bible. It began 21 years ago as Focus on the Family’s first children’s product. “It’s also an award-winning publication,” says Florea. “Every year our art and editorial is recognized amongst the best by the Evangelical Press Association.”

Focus on the Family also publishes another Christian kids’ magazine, Clubhouse Jr., for 4-8 year olds. Both publications are designed to inspire, entertain and teach Christian values to their target audience.

Clubhouse publishes fiction (humor, historical, mysteries, fantasy, contemporary multicultural) of 500-1600 words, and nonfiction (essays, interviews, how-to, profiles of ordinary kids, news articles) of 800-1000 words, plus activities and quizzes.

Clubhouse Jr. publishes wholesome fiction for beginning readers (250-750 words) or read-aloud stories (700-1000 words), nonfiction to 600 words, Bible stories up to 800 words, rebuses, poetry, activities and puzzles. Fiction for both magazines should have well-developed characters and a fast-paced storyline built upon a foundation of Christian values. Stories can have a lesson or moral but should not be didactic.

For writer’s or illustrator’s guidelines, send your request to Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO 80995. Requests are filled within 7-10 days, or feel free to call them at 1-800-232-6459. Send all submissions (full manuscripts) for both magazines with SASE to Joanna Lutz, Assistant Editor, 8605 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.

At one of his workshops, Florea offered these tips for writing for Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.:
1. Don’t underestimate your audience.
2. Get into a child’s mind. What are kids interested in?
3. Work on a gripping opening. Grab the reader in the first ten seconds.
4. Use vibrant action verbs. Take out passive verbs.
5. Think like a poet.
6. Omit needless words. Every word should count. Vigorous writing should be concise.
7. Leave children a nugget of truth. Give them something to take away from your article.
8. Play by the rules for writing and submitting.
9. Use humor.
10. Stay away from clichés like “quiet as a mouse.”
11. Don’t wrap up the story in a neat little bow. Realize you do not always have happy endings. If you make bad choices, you have bad consequences.
12. Be creative.
13. Be industry savvy. Keep up with the trends. For example, Clubhouse is now eco-friendly and looks for writing that is “edutaining”: educational and entertaining. Pay attention to movie trailers for trend ideas.
14. The main character should be a compelling child character.
15. Be yourself. Children can sniff out a phony.

Note: A special thanks goes to Jan Parys for writing this wonderful interview of Jesse and sharing it on my blog!


  1. Nancy,

    I love your blog! I attended a writers conference and had the opportunity to attend one of Jesse’s classes – FABULOUS! AND FUN!

    I will be back often…keep up the great blogging.

  2. Thanks, Michelle, for your kind words! -Nancy

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