Received a contract last week for "Two Young Frogs: An Old Japanese Tale." (Post of 10/17) Those frogs will appear in Highlights someday. Perhaps mentioning map skills did help.
Tension produces anxiety, excitement and fear. It's in the book a kid reads with a flashlight after Mom has closed the door. It's in the book a kid hides in his lap and reads while the teacher drones on about long division and percentages. It's in the book that makes the reader care deeply about the protagonist, and what is going to happen to that person.
I think creating tension in my writing is the hardest thing to accomplish. It means I must eliminate sections of description, dialogue and juicy observation, all excellent examples, of course, of my really great writing. At first it is hard to see why my story is better without all these paragraphs, why sixty pages can be cut without anyone (but me) noticing. But it's true.
As I revise, I ask myself exactly what happens on each page. How does the chapter support the plot? Would anyone notice if it were...gone?