RLGL, “Write for Their Lives” is here!

Hello WFCAT fans,

Please read this post in full before sending anything.

It’s your favorite time of the year again: RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT is here! This is the game where only a handful of people win, but everyone wins!


All contestants will receive some feedback on their entries, regardless of win!

Entrants will also be eligible to receive a client referral from Kissy to Jen Rofe of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, one of the best children’s lit agencies in the world.

Show us what you got!  Play the game, and you never know, your work may be paw-selected by Kissy for Jen to have a second peek.  You many know that the agents at ABLA work as a team, so even if your work may not be right for Jen, she could refer you to another agent.

Now keep in mind that Jen will not give your work special treatment just because you happen to know her client’s pooch. Your work has to be right for her. You must be able to deliver the goods that she’s looking for. Kissy can only take a guess as to what that is, but he’ll do his best to highlight some of the most promising submissions to her.  Think of Kissy as Jen’s first reader.  If he gives it a tail wag, Jen will make sure she looks at it in case Kissy has found that teeny bone in the haystack!

All work submitted to RLGL will be considered for referral.  You must be selected though, so don’t go contacting Ms. Rofe saying the dog sent you.  The referral has to come from the pup himself (and we promise, we’ll ask you for permission first before we tell Jen.) We hope this stokes many of you on to keep trying with RLGL. Don’t give up. Remember, this game is a lot like the real world out there. Expect lots of rejection and keep a thick skin. All you’re trying to do is write, revise, and find that perfect match!

Good luck!  Yipppp-eeee!


But first, introductions …

Allow me to tell you more about the newest addition to my Writing for Children and Teens website. Kissy!  (He prefers K-dog, or K-master, but whatev) He’s a devoted fan, an excellent reader, and most of all … a fabulous chewer. He’s ready to gnaw on your work!

Free-tique followers, it was tough to say goodbye to Snoop over a year ago, a true manuscript muncher extraordinaire. There was something missing from our family, and Kissy came into our lives from an adoption shelter.  So this free-tique round will be a little special. We are dedicating this RLGL game to PAWS, the adoption society in Chicago that gave our family Kissy. I find it hard to believe that someone gave this beautiful, I mean, handsome, guy up. Maybe he ate the former owner’s home, I don’t know. But to me, he’s a pup full of kisses with just a slightly overactive mouth.

K-Dog and I came up with a genius plan to help out a good cause.  Keep RLGL alive by keeping dogs (and cats) alive! Kissy and I are participating in PAWS’ “Run for their Lives”, a run/walk event to raise money to help a homeless dog or cat in need.

DONATIONS ARE OPTIONAL. $5 or more is all you need.

We know these are “ruff” times for many of you.  You do not have to donate to participate, but if you have some spare change, help everyone join in on the fun (or succumb to the guilt and donate anyway).  All donations are tax-deductible through PAWS.  Please, a cat’s or dog’s life depends on you.

Normally, we run RLGL until someone is a winner, or we’re too tuckered out to keep going. But Kissy and I feel that we can keep this thing going for as long as we need to, IF you all help save a fellow animal in need.

We will set fundraising goals at regular intervals to keep RLGL alive and furry friend alive, too.

The actual walkathon is September 23rd. It’s totally possible we can have many rounds and multiple winners.

Can we do it?

“Woof, woof,” says Kissy. “Yes, we can!”

I love having Kissy here at WritingforChildrenandTeens.com, and I hope you will, too.  So without further ado …  here are the rules of this free-tique game.


How does it work?

  • Kissy stands at one end of the playground. You and your fellow contestants at the other.  You begin when Kissy says, Arroo! (That means “Green Light!”)
  • All contestants enter the first-half-page (125 words max) of any children’s FICTION work (PB, ER, CB, MG, YA) before the round deadline.
  • When Kissy says, Arf! (“Red Light!”),  he stops to sniff everyone’s submission. If he finds something not to his liking, he will point a paw toward the starting line, and you start again with the first half-page of a different work. (We must also have not seen some version of the work ourselves before. Only works that are NOT ACTIVELY with an agent or editor are submittable. For example, if an agent has given you feedback on the work and is awaiting your revision, do not submit that work.  If the work is sitting in a slush pile somewhere  and you have not received a response yet, you MAY submit that work. )
  • The results of each round are posted anonymously (you will receive an entry # for your submission and an X will appear by your number when results are posted. Your X will send you back to start or pass you to the next round. )
  • If Kissy lets you pass to the next round, you wait for him to say, Arrooo! Green Light! again, then you submit your next FULL page in the manuscript (250 words max.)
  • Kissy will continue to judge all works in each round until a contestant gets all pages of his picture book or easy reader past Kissy. That contestant wins in the short-work category. First contestant to reach eight pages of her CB, MG, or YA novel wins in the longer-work category.
  • Winners receive a FREE-TIQUE from the K-master and there are more GREAT surprises in store that you will love as the game continues.
  • Kissy will also be giving short feedback on entries when eliminated, regardless of the entrant’s standing in the race. That means EVERYONE WHO ENTERS will receive some input about his/her work. Your work will not be shared with anyone besides Cynthea and Kissy.
  • Contestants may enter at ANY TIME. Miss a round? No biggie. Join in on the next.

Are you ready to rumble?!

To participate in this free-tique round, please read the rest of this, I mean it, IN FULL, before doing anything.

1) Optional: Donate at least $5 to keep RLGL and an animal alive by clicking on this link.  (If you strategize well, donate in small increments, just in case the donate-o-meter needs a bump right before a deadline.)

2) By submitting your work, agree to the solemn Critiquee Oath.

The Solemn Critiquee Oath

  • I shall not shed a single tear upon reading the results of my free-tique
  • I shall remember I am asking for only one opinion. That is all.
  • I shall not take any comments personally as Kissy can be a pretty tough little dog to please.
  • I shall allow Kissy the opportunity to gnaw on the ms if he so wishes.

2) Please make sure you title your emails correctly in the SUBJECT LINE of your emails, not the body of the email. DO NOT ATTACH WORK. Paste it in. Do not attempt to format your work in the email. Kissy is great at reading emails in hieroglyphics.

3) Email your first 125 words to SUB at WFCAT dot COM.  That is considered P. 1.  *Title the email (IN THE SUBJECT LINE) with the page number, book type (i.e., PB, ER, CB, MG, YA), and manuscript title to help Kissy keep track, like so (P. 1, PB, If You Give a Pooch a Mailman).

4) After the deadline for each round has passed, please wait patiently as Kissy reads your entry and gives you an entry number for the work.  Your entry number will be used to conceal your identity when results are revealed. We do not know when Kissy will deliver results for each round, but it will probably occur within the first 24-48 hours after a round deadline. Results will be posted here at http:www.writingforchildrenandteen.com.

5)  Check www.wfcat.com for updates.  You will not receive email notifications about the rounds because we don’t want to flood people’s inboxes for those who are not playing. So check www.wfcat.com often (refresh the page) for the latest updates, results and deadlines. Look for your X by your #.  Check to see which column it is in. Go back to start as instructed OR advance to the next round.

Next, Kissy will say “Green” again with a new round deadline. If your entry was sent back to the starting line, you start over with a NEW work.  First 125 words (half-page). Correctly titled in the subject line. Don’t title your next submission with the previous entry’s number. If, however, your entry passed the round, you email the next FULL page (250 words) of your competing entry. This time you title the email with your ENTRY #, like so. (e.g. #75, P.2, PB, If You Give a Pooch a Mailman)

6) Play continues until winners have been identified in BOTH categories, and the final round has been announced. If you enter after someone has already won in your category, you may still enter out of curiosity to see how far you can get and also for Kissy’s feedback on that entry.

7) All free-tiques won will be returned at Kissy’s earliest convenience. His schedule is packed these days but he will get back to you as soon as he can. Referrals will be decided after RLGL is over.

8) THIS RACE COULD LAST FOR DAYS, POSSIBLY WEEKS, depending on how much money is raised. So get ready for one of the most exciting games of your writing life!

8) You should plan to send something off prior to each deadline so you can keep up with your competition.  However, you may not send extra pages in advance of round deadlines. If you fall behind in a round though; don’t worry, elimination can happen to any of your competitors at any point in the game.


10) Help us spread the word on Fbook, Twitter, and wherever else you live and blog. We would do it ourselves, but we’ve taken a hiatus from social networking for a bit so Kissy and I have time to go on walks. 🙂

11) The most important rule of all: breaking any one of the rules will make you subject to complete elimination from RLGL. Don’t screw this up!

Now are you ready?

K-Dog says:

Remember: Check the latest RLGL postings on the homepage (refresh the website) for results and updates.  Follow the submission rules, make the deadlines, and you’re in. Woof!

Don’t want to play?
Just want a paid critique instead? Visit www.writingforchildrenandteens.com/critiques for full details.  September’s submission deadline is fast-approaching!

23 thoughts on “RLGL, “Write for Their Lives” is here!

  1. Wow! Thanks, Cynthea, for your generosity in doing this again! I love your free-tiques.

    A question. When you say, “Only works that are NOT currently with an agent or editor are submittable,” are you excluding mss that are currently sitting in some agent/ed slush pile? Or are you only excluding mss that an author is having active dialogue with an agent/ed about? I mean, I’d like to think all those mss I’ve submitted are “with” those agents or editors, but until they at least open them, there’s not much “with-ness” going on. And, since lots of editors now say, “No response means a rejection,” it’s hard to know whether our subs are still ‘with’ them even to the extent of still being in their slush pile.

    Thanks bunches. And it was great to get to see you at the SOKY book fair last spring.

  2. Kissy is adorable! However your links for Kissy are not working. Would love to know more about your new family member! Congrats to you all!

  3. Yes, but only if you have the intent to revise the work. If the book will not be revised, it sort of defeats the purpose of obtaining feedback from Kissy and me if you win.

  4. Active dialogue between yourself and an agent/editor on any part of that work – even if it’s just ten pages that is being actively considered. If it’s just hanging out in someone’s slush pile, that work IS submittable.

  5. How exciting! Once you get your entry number back from the first round , is that when you send in the next 250 pages or will there be another announcement on this page that it is now time to send in the second page?
    Thank you.

  6. I probably should have asked this question earlier, but say my PB is written in verse and a full page equals only 80 words. When you say send in the next full page (max 250 words), do you truly mean by the page (in my case 80 words)?

  7. I’m having trouble finding the red light/green light designations by number. Could you direct me to the list. Thanks.

  8. What does it mean if you get an X* next to your number (asking for the next 250 pages) as opposed to just an X ?

    Also, some of the comments are running into each other and it’s not clear to me which number they are referring to.


    1. The asterisk is explained on results pages now. (it’s just a warning mark.) I’m trying to get the notes to look better, but right now, I can’t seem to find a great solution. If you don’t know what is yours, ask me.

  9. My question is simliar to Margaret’s. My PB is 460 words. I submitted the first 125 words per your comment to her, but if I submit the next 250 words (assuming I make it through), then it would only be 2 more submissions. If I truly do it by pages, then it would only be 27 words at a time (to span 22 pages). Thoughts?

    1. If you pass the first 125 words, send the next 250. You are correct, some PBs may only require a few rounds. But that doesn’t mean it’s easier to win a free-tique. PBs are difficult little buggers to write and many are sent back to start before reaching the end.

  10. Sorry to be thick, but I don’t understand what Kissy wants us to do if we receive an asterisk–submit a revision of the asterisked page, or try to “turn it around” as we go forward?

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