Deadline (extended): 15 March 2013 15 April 2013
(Last updated 2 March; download the FAQ and writing example below)
Night Owls Press (www.nightowlspress.com) is currently seeking experienced creative writers and/or ESL instructors to participate in the development of a series of “chooseable path”/gamebook format novellas or short novels geared toward adult intermediate to advanced English language learners.
About the Project
The book market for ESL language materials is primarily focused on the production of guides and textbooks that feature cut-and-dry technical language instruction. We want to produce guides that teach the intricacies of idiomatic expressions, transitional phrases, phrasal verbs, collocations, and syntax in the form of short novels. Many ESL learners are avid readers who are looking for entertaining English language books to read. The ESL series we are proposing combines quality ESL instruction that reinforces lessons learned in class or from a tutor with the riveting experience of reading a great story.
To do something different, we want to revive the classic “gamebook” format— a type of story structure that makes the reader an active participant in the story. It is a format that is particularly well suited for ESL learners because it puts them in the driver’s seat. You may recall the popular book series, Choose Your Own Adventure. We want to create something similar for the ESL market, where readers’ decisions as the “protagonist” of a story shape the story they read, help them learn English, and allow for familiarity with different or alternative meanings associated with certain phrases or language elements. The goal is to build readers’ confidence in their English communication skills through active reading.
Here are the general parameters for the book series:
Length: 25-35K words/book. Stories can be limited to one book or may be continued across several books.
Setting and style: Stories are written in second-person (“you”) and take place in contemporary, realistic settings, though they can still feature imaginative twists and elements of adventure. (What we DON’T want: erotica or high fantasy/science fiction stories; no bondage scenes, dragon slayings, or colonies on Mars!)
Structure: At critical junctures in the story, readers will be asked to make decisions (e.g.: If you decide to do ‘A,’ turn to page X… If you decide to do ‘B,’ turn to page Y…). Decisions hinge on grammatical, language-driven choices; therefore, how well readers understand a situation or comprehend conversations with other characters in the book effectively decides how the story unfolds. The objective is to teach readers various language elements through a range of optimal and less-than-optimal situations. For example, a misunderstanding with another character or the ineffective choice of a phrasal expression results in a narrative path that is less than ideal. Authors are expected to consider the many ways to use and interpret English language expressions and other language elements. These “possibilities” and variations provide the gamebook style “decision points” that propel the reader onto different narrative paths in the book.
Reader’s guide: Each chapter will include a “Phrases” list of intermediate- and advance-level phrasal verbs, collocations, and vocabulary words from Robert J. Dixson’s Essential Idioms in English (1997, 2003 editions) to be “tested” in the decision points. A glossary will also be provided at the end of the book for the phrases and words that are used for the decision points throughout the book. (Other phrases and words that are not explicitly “tested” in the decision points will be bolded in the text, too, but will not be included in the glossary.) Overall, each book will have around 12 tested phrases per book provided by the series editor, and about eight to 10 phrases provided by the writer.
- A commitment to develop at least ONE novella-length book with us
- Demonstrated creative writing skills
- 2+ years ESL or general English literature instruction experience
- Interest in, if not passion for, gamebook-inspired, multiple narrative fiction
Invited authors will receive a publishing contract with Night Owls Press and work closely with our book development team. Books will be developed through 2013 and published in paperback and e-book formats. All books are published in the author’s name.
Your submission package must include the following:
- Cover letter/resume (highlight any ESL teaching experience and creative writing experience)
- Creative writing samples (or include links to samples/published works)
- Book proposal *
* Book Proposal Guidelines –
Any material that prospective authors send us as part of their submission package will be used for the purpose of our evaluation only and will not be shared with or distributed to third parties.
- Hook: Offer a tagline or one-sentence summary that creates interest in your story
- Brief overview: Write a brief summary similar to what you would read on the back cover of a book. Keep this exciting and descriptive but succinct – around 300 words or less.
- Pick option 1 –OR– option 2:
Option #1 – Synopsis/plot framework + One sample chapter/excerpt
- Synopsis/plot framework:Describe the story in 1,500 words or less. Don’t worry about spoilers or surprises or providing too much detail; explain the broad narrative arc of the story to give us a sense of how your story will develop. We want to know you have thought your story through.
- One sample chapter/excerpt: In 3,000-5,000 words, flesh out a chapter or a short excerpt that develops into 2-4 possible gamebook style narrative paths.
Option #2 – Several chapters/extended excerpt
- Several chapters/extended excerpt: In 10,000-15,000 words, flesh out several chapters or an extended excerpt that develops into 2-4 possible gamebook style narrative paths per chapter or section.
Note: For options 1 or 2, narrative paths should emerge from the shades of meaning and variations of interpretation of ONE idiomatic expression or phrasal verb you select. For each chapter or major section, make sure at least one of the narrative paths is the result of choosing the “correct” or optimal usage of the expression; the other paths can be the result of misinterpretation or less common uses of the expression. Be creative in where the narrative paths go and branch off, but keep the situations realistic and relatable to readers. Use second person (“you”). Be mindful of tone; write for an audience of intermediate to advanced ESL learners. For more guidelines, refer to the FAQ.
Send your submission package as a PDF attachment to Karen Hannah, Book Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. On the subject line, put the words “ESL Gamebook Series” and your full name. Applications will be accepted until Monday, 15 April 2013 (extended from 15 March).