Monday, December 31, 2007

Celebrating Success!

Hana Calvez, a WriTeen who has written for us in the past, has been published two additional times now! The reprint of her original Innovative piece will appear in in January, and a poem she wrote ("The Moon") is currently published in Stories for Children (

Congratulations, Hana! Keep going!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Getting Started

I recently wrote this to someone who asked for advice on getting started with story publication. Thought it might be of interest!


1. Stop writing. No, not "stop writing forever." Just pause for a week so that you can spend your writing time learning about publication, so that when you *do* write you can write with publishers in mind.

2. Think about what you love to write. It sounds like you enjoy short stories-- but maybe articles can be interesting too? Nonfiction is much easier to get published, although fiction is by no means impossible. For now, I would write out 3 things that you love to write: say, "Girl stories" "Mysteries" "Articles about dogs."

3. Next, find magazines and/or contests. If you're writing a book, put that on hold because it's a whole different ballgame for short-term publication. In response to your original question, you can do BOTH. Publication is kind of like soccer, or any sport. You don't just learn one trick, you learn loads. The best way to find magazines is to a) go to the library and read some, or b) spend some time on Google, searching for "Young Writer's Guidelines." Innovative often spotlights different markets (a word for places that publish you) that publish young writers' work. I have some books to recommend that are "market guides", places that are literally lists of magazines that publish young wriers.

4. READ THE GUIDELINES. The worst mistake I see teen writers make (and one I've made myself) is just being SO excited about getting publish that they send just about any old story to any old magazine, without being smart. Would you submit your science project to your history teacher? Nope (or you'll get an F.) Treat publishing like a "match" card game: match a story or article to a publication. This might seem abstract, but it's not. If you've written a girl mystery, and you find a magazine that says: "We love mysteries with girls," then that's a match.

5. FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES. Again, big mistake if you don't. Magazines will tell you what information to send (your age, email address, things like that) or whether to email it or mail it, etc. READ THEM AND FOLLOW THEM.

6. Make a plan for the long run. This last tip is something I'll be covering in the new year for Innovative so I'm not going to write much about it now. I've been published about twenty times, in both really small magazines and big ones that have paid me almost $200 for an article-- and I'm still in high school. You *can* do it, just be patient and be smart about it. If you have any more questions, please feel free to email me.

Off the top of my head, here are some zines to look at (that publish young writers' fiction):

Stories for Children ( publishes stories *for* kids age 3-12 but accept pieces *by* kids up to age 17. They don't pay but are always looking for young writers to write (better chance of getting published.)

New Moon: Magazine for Girls and their Dreams ( publishes fiction and articles by girls up to age 14. They pay .06-.12 cents a word, but it's competitive.

ChixLIT ( I would *REALLY* encourage you to submit a piece to them. It's a very small magazine, and you don't get paid, but then you will be PUBLISHED and that always helps when you submit to bigger magazines. They publish loads of stories and articles by girls ages 7-17.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

The WD Market Guides

The Writer's Digest "Market Guides" are those big heavy books that are lists of places that publish certain kinds of writers. Writer's Market Deluxe costs about $50.00, last I checked, and is a comprehensive collection of more than a thousand markets. There are other market guides, like Children's Writers and Illustrators' Markets that are about $25 and worth getting. If you have the spare change and are looking to really get serious about publication, I would aim for the WM Deluxe or see if your local library has a copy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Best Buys for WriTeens

If you have holiday cash and are looking for ways to spend it, I recommend...

BOOKS! Treat yourself to the Writer's Section of your local bookstore. There are loads of great writing books on every subject from Freelancing 101 to the finer nuances of queries. Enjoy!

PENS AND NOTEBOOKS! Really nice ones. Buy beautiful pens.

DOMAIN SPACE. If you're serious about freelancing, your own webspace (preferably is a must.

CHOCOLATE or OTHER SWEET FOOD. Books and chocolate (sweet food) just go together. Writers were never meant to watch their weight, otherwise we could burn calories by sitting on our bums all day, typing.

SAVE FOR INSPIRATIONAL TRIP. Planning to go to Italy next year? Start saving!

More later, folks, and happy hols!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If You Want to Write...

More! More! More! in our weekly blog series on what to do if you want to write...

Suggestions for Holiday Reading

I am still amazed at the power of stories. My two friends and I ganged up on a fourth friend and gave her the complete Twilight series for her birthday, forcing to read them. Much to our delight, she has fallen completely in love with Edward and Bella before reaching page 150. Books can just do that to you.

Here are some of my recommendations.

Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes (Lyrical, beautiful, fantastic.)
The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer (I read this book three times in a week.)
Teen Angst? Naah... by Ned Vizzini (Hilarious, sarcastic essays by a teen author.)
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (... Edward...)
Hacking Harvard by Robin Wasserman (Fun, point-making, more fun...)
Queen Geeks in Love by Laura Preble (Quirky, awkward, lovable)
This is What I Did: by Ann Dee Clark (Brief and heartbreaking)
The Overachievers by Alexandra Robbins (Life-changingly true)
Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman (Ditto)
In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner (Fabulous, wonderful story for PG13 readers. Movie's good too.)
The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner (I'm a huge Weiner fan)
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale (Beautiful, simple story for any girl, with an Asian twist)

And a list of some books I'm attempting to buy this season:

The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer
What I Meant... by Marie Lamba
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

I'm pledging that in 2008, I will buy 25 books. For a booklover of my magnitude, I buy embarrasingly few books. I am pledging to support the book industry and the wonderful authors who write these wonderful books, by purchasing 25 over the next year. I hope to vamp it up each year.

We will be zooming in on books during our "If You Want to Writes" this holidays. Future topics may include bestsellers I don't understand, debut authors I'd love to interview, books I've bought... think personal and literary.

Happy Hols!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen

An E-Zine for Teens who Write, and Those who Support Them
Edited by Gabrielle Linnell


How to Use those Holiday Hours

by Gabrielle Linnell

For me, Christmas break is already here (YES!) and for many of us school-bound WriTeens, the evil of daily education will cease shortly, for a short period of time. What are you going to do with your free days? Lounge around watching A Christmas Story three times? No, you are going to read and write your little merry heart out. Here are some excellent ideas.

Make a daily goal. This is a fantastic time to force yourself to finish THAT BIG PROJECT. If you're only 25 pages into your 365-page fantasy epic, then perhaps don't finish it. But maybe you set a goal that by the time you return to school, you will have written 125 pages, or 10 pages a day, etc. Finishing smaller, short-term projects is also a great idea. I'm dedicating three hours a day until I leave on vacation, and after that probably more like 1.5 hours.

Read, read, read. This is a great time to max out your library card and discover authors you haven't read before. I would recommend finding one or two classic authors (brush up on Jane Austen and Shakespeare!), some books by authors you know, and at least one YA book by an unknown author.

Punish yourself if you don't meet your goal. Whether you ask a friend to make you accountable, or tell yourself you won't be able to spend any gift cards unless you finish a first draft, FORCE YOURSELF TO DO IT. If you do, you will look back at a fun, relaxing holiday that also helped you in your writing career.

Reward yourself for finishing! Need I say more?

Use your gift cards or holiday-earned cash. The best uses of your money will be for writing magazines (email me for suggestions), two or three notebooks, some pens, and books. Buy lots of books. Authors and your imagination will thank you.

Make this a holiday to remember: by watching A Christmas Story AND finishing your project.*


Interview with Laura Preble, author of The Queen Geek Social Club, Lica's Angel and most recently Queen Geeks in Love

Laura Preble, who does not own a robot of her own, grew up in Lima,Ohio and attended the Ohio State University, the only college with a poisonous nut as a mascot. She is the author of Queen Geek Social Club, Queen Geeks in Love, Lica's Angel (self-published), and Prom Queen Geeks, to be released in 2008. She was the winner of a Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize in 2005, and is also an award-winning journalist and teacher.

INN: Can you tell us about Queen Geeks in Love?

LP: It's basically the continuation of QUEEN GEEK SOCIAL CLUB, but with a fewmore layers and complications. In this book, the girls have to learn to balance their friendships with increasingly serious interactions with guys, something that I think is a real challenge to girls in high school. Plus, there is a Halloween party, a festival of geekiness, and karaoke.

INN: What's been the most surprising thing about the Queen Geek adventure?

LP: Well, to me, the most surprising thing was that I finally got to see a book with my name on it in the bookstore. I've been trying to do that since I was 16. As far as the characters go, the most surprising thing to me was how they sort of take over their own stories and even if I have a plan, they sometimes change it.

INN: How and where do you like to write?

LP: I'd love to write in Hawaii, in a romantic beachside apartment, but I don't. I write in my office, which used to be my son's nursery, and which is also our family's storage closet. We are remodeling, though, and I'm getting an office on the second floor, where I can barricade myself in with stacks of comic books.

INN: Do you like bad sci-fi as much as Shelby and Becca do, and if so, what's your favorite sci-fi movie?

LP: I love bad sci fi. I grew up on it. My dad and I used to watch old Star Trek reruns, and he took me to all the PLANET OF THE APES movies when I was a kid. My favorite bad sci fi movies are the same ones the Queen Geeks like, actually; Plan 9 from Outer Space for sheer badness, The Day the Earth Stood Still for a really good movie, and the Gila Monster for the worst special effects and misuse of an unwilling amphibian. I am also a huge fan of the old Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and some of the best bad sci fi was aired on that show.

INN: What's your favorite book (published in the last five years)?

LP: I love Christopher Moore's LAMB and also his A DIRTY JOB. He is a hilarious writer (although not young adult), and is both irreverent and spiritual. Iam also a huge fan of Jim Butchers' THE DRESDEN FILES.

INN: Any advice for teen writers?

LP: KEEP WRITING. I wrote for years and years and had stacks of rejection letters before I got a contract. I think you have to write because you need to or want to, not because you're looking to get published. That's definitely a nice bonus, of course, but I wrote even when I didn't think anyone would see it except my friends. The other thing is to read other writers you admire and try to see why they're good, and also to write things that you'd like to read.

Thank you, Laura!

You can buy Queen Geeks in Love on by clicking . This makes a great present for a lovable geek in your life! And don't forget to visit Laura at *

NEXT TIME: On January 6th, we'll talk fashion AND publishing with Melissa Walker, debut author of Violet on the Runway.

innovative housekeeping

As always, if you have a question or comment, feel free to email me at We're still looking for a male interviewer/reviewer.
Our next issue will be on January 6th, although If You Want to Write... will continue to be posted.
Thanks to Laura Preble for being a wonderful interviewee!
Logo designed by Katie Beth Groover.

Friday, December 14, 2007

WOW! Update

This is a few days late, but the fabulous female e-zine WOW! Women-on-Writing ( has published their December issue. Men: if you close your eyes and just click on the fantastic articles they have there, you might be OK.

AND just as a reminder, we will be publishing an interview with the marvelous author of the geeky but wonderful series, The Queen Geek Social Club, Laura Preble herself-- on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If You Want to Write...

The latest post in our weekly on-writing series, about small tasks to accomplish big things.

Serving the Editor

A mistake I see a lot of teenage writers is that they write a certain story, and are thrilled with it. They then find a magazine that publishes their kind of story, submit it and wait with high expectations. The story is rejected. They are heartbroken and angry.

Their mistake, obvious or not, is that they don't understand how a magazine works. A magazine must sell subscriptions and keep current subscribers happy. They do so by delivering a quality product. Vogue, for example, publishes the latest on fashion, socialites, etc. If Vogue fails to publish the *latest and best* stories or styles, their subscription rates will fall and so do the editors' salaries. Nobody wants that.

The way Vogue and other magazines accomplish the goal of delivering a fine product is paying fine writers to make the product for them. We want to be that writer.

So, in order to be the kind of writer magazines love to hire, we must understand that we are serving the editor. Teen writers (and some adult ones) carry around the idea that publishing serves writing, that editors almost "owe" us and need to publish us. Naievete, my friends, is rampant. Publishing is a business that allows writers to do what they love to do. If you don't understand publishing, you don't understand a lot about being a writer.

Next time you're considering a submission, think about the zine you're submitting to. What do they need? How can you give them what they need in the most professional manner? Think like that, and you're on your way.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen

December 9th, 2007
Edited by Gabrielle Linnell


The Art of the Bio

by Gabrielle Linnell

For those who don’t know, a query is made up of three parts. There is the “lead” or “hook”: where you interest an editor in the piece you are writing. There is the “detailed pitch,” where you outline exactly what is going to be said in your article. And then there is a “bio,” where you describe why you are the best person to write this article.

Paragraph-long bios are used almost anytime you have a byline—that is, when you are credited with your work. Bios can be both a connection to your audience and a promotion of yourself to the editor you want to work for. To write the best possible bio, there are three main questions to ask yourself.

Who is my audience? If this is a bio for a published article, you want to make a reader follow your work, maybe buy magazines that have your name in them. Think about who is reading this, and what information about yourself that is relevant to them. If you’re writing about dog shampoo for I Heart Dogs, then mention your six Golden Retrievers.

If this is for an editor, you want to make yourself sound professional, polite and personable.

Why am I the best person to write this? This doesn’t always apply to fiction, unless the inspiration for your story is some unique circumstance you found yourself in. If you have credentials (like being an expert in XYZ) list them. If you don’t have them, don’t list fake ones or cutesy ones.

What will make them like me? Maybe the magazine you write for is known for a sarcastic tone; put in a witty joke. If the e-zine is particularly stuffy, make sure you are just as formal as they are. If you’re writing to teen girls, make yourself chic. Develop a sense of taste and an understanding of what is appropriate where.

Writing bios is like fashion for “real women.” You want to dress your flaws so that nobody notices them. You want to dress your better parts with pizzazz and elegant style, so that people will look at you as a whole person, and love what they see.*

NEXTWEEK: Have a week off for Christmas break? Gabrielle Linnell talks about how to use those holiday hours.


Beauty by Robin McKinley

Even guys can enjoy this funny, detached retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the debut novel of the now-legendary fantasy author. Beauty is actually quite plain, and uses her time reading Greek and riding her horse Greatheart. When her father returns, cursed by an evil monster, she decides it’s probably best to go in his place. Original and witty, this is not the Broadway musical version.

NEXTWEEK: Innovative finds out what’s happening with Laura Preble, author of the Queen Geek series.

Spread the WORD! Contest Results

First Place: Ella Regan
Second Place: Hana Calvez
Over Five Points:
Katie Beth Groover

Interview with Ella Regan:

What do you like to write?
I like to write action-adventure.
Number One favorite author?
Gail Carson Levine (though she did not write my favorite book)
Favorite flavor of milkshake?
Umm… Max and Erma's Special Oreo-cream Milkshake. I don’t know if they make them anymore though :-(.
What was entering the Spread the WORD! contest like?
You put in a lot of work! It was really fun! All of my friends thought it was really cool that one of my friends actually started (and kept up with) an e-zine!
If you could be the host of a reality show, what would the show be about and what would the contest be about?
Honestly? I have Nooooo idea. I’d probably have it be a cliff-hanger though.

Hana Calvez says…

Favorite author: C. S. Lewis
Favorite genre: Fantasy
Song that describes you: Amazing Grace
Website you visit the most: Neopets
Project you're working on right now: My first novel called Obwanthia.

Innovative Housekeeping

We have been added to Maria Schneider’s (the editor of Writer’s Digest) blogroll, as part of her Project 20/20. This is a huge honor and we’re all quite thrilled! Visit Maria’s blog at to learn more.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Innovative Joins Maria Schneider's Blogroll!!

Maria Schneider, editor of Writer's Digest, has added our blog to her blogroll! Needless to say, I'm freaking out in the most embarrassing way (my little sister walked in to tell me she could hear me from outside) and am so thrilled/honored/flabbergasted that Innovative has been chosen. If you haven't read Maria's blog, you can find it at . There are some wonderful blogs on her blogroll, including J.A. Konrath's "The Newbie's Guide to Publishing," Susan Johnston's "The Urban Muse", Christina Katz's "Writer Mama"... the list goes on and now Innovative's there too!

Still freaking out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

If You Want to Write...

The latest in our weekly blog series about all sorts of writing, reading and being obsessed with words.

Updates: Our Spread the WORD! contest is neck-and-neck right now, with still half a day before the midnight deadline. NECK AND NECK! And we've also just about tripled our e-list. Oustanding job, everyone.

Also: after trying the online-format with this past week, I think Innovative will be moving to a mostly online form. The weekly emails will still happen, but they will just list the different sections and their topics to tease your love of Innovative.

And as always, welcome to our new WriTeens and WriTeen supporters! If you have a question, my email address is in the profile or you can use the comment section below.

The Belief in the Impossible Deadline

I promised an optimistic, fun, happy, delightful topic today, and so I'm going to talk about... impossible deadlines!

I love impossible deadlines. I've set the date of January 21st, 2008 to complete my young adult novel and there's no way it will be done... but the very impossibility of it drives me to succeed. Chris Baty talks about impossible deadlines in his book, No Plot? No Problem! and in the phenomenon of National Novel Writing Month. Nobody can write a 50,000-word draft in 30 days. Nobody. Of course, thousands of people do it every year. There's no way that Andy Sachs will get the Harry Potter books to Miranda's evil twins on time (and save her job) in The Devil Wears Prada. No way. Of course, she does.

How does this apply to writing?

Contests have deadlines. Themed magazines have deadlines. Editors set deadlines for solicited articles (and boy, do they love these impossible deadlines.) You need a deadline to write, whether you're writing a 200-word flash fiction snippet or a 3,000-word essay on your love of Nana's apple pies. Even if you have absolutely nowhere to send the short story you're writing (... not a great idea...), you should still enforce a deadline if you want to finish it.

I don't have a doctorate in psychology, but it seems that deadlines work. If your mother tells you to cook dinner before six pm or the XBox will be dead to you, then dinner is usually cooked. Teachers, coaches, directors all use deadlines and more often than not, they are impossible ones. You need to use these in writing.

The impossibility will make it more exciting. Set yourself impossible deadlines. You don't want the quality of your writing to suffer, of course, but who cares about the quality if there is never a finished product? Buy yourself a planner or a calendar, sit under an inspirational tree with your laptop, and meet those impossible deadlines.

Monday, December 3, 2007 Reminder has published their December issue, and if you look around you'll find an article by yours truly on the five most common mistakes in teen writing. Also check their "Inside Markets", there are listings are worthing looking for as teen writers.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen

Edited by Gabrielle Linnell

As a Man Thinketh
by Geary Smith, Guest Writer

"For as he thinketh in his heart..."

This proverb is very old, yet very true. I remember when I wrote my first published story, and the news got out in the city. Several weeks later, a young student, "out of the sky blue", called me at work. After I first inquired about who she was and how she found my number at work, I welcomed and was thrilled that she was so interested and had the initiative to call and want to know more about becoming a writer..

"How do you become a writer," inquired the young student. "What do I need to do to be like you? Are there any classes that I need take right now? How do I get published?"

Well, after several minutes, and thinking about what my answer should be, I gave the traditional response, in that I explained the fundamentals of writing, and developing a plot, characters, scenes, details, action, tension, climax, resolution, editing, preparing the cover and query letters, submission guidelines, etc. However, several months after that conversation, I realized that I had failed to tell the young girl a very important and essential element to becoming a writer or pursuing any other profession for that matter, and something that I had to work on myself, which was truly thinking and believing in my heart like a writer. Even after I had sold and actually gotten paid and published numerous short stories, articles and puzzles for children and teens in acclaimed magazines, I had a hard and difficult time truly believing, thinking, acting and seeing myself like a "real" writer.

"Are you the writer that I read about in the paper?" asked a person one day while I was in the local hardware store. "That is great. I always wanted to be a writer."

"I guess I am," I replied.

I was still holding on to experiences, thoughts, ideas and doubts. It took me several years to really grow and mature as a writer. I called, wrote and e-mailed many of the country's top children's writers, and asked them what they do and think everyday, and what it was like to be a good writer. At first, I got almost no response, but I kept trying and asking the right questions. And, to my surprise, I got several responses back, and found that I was not acting, nor thinking like a professional writer. Therefore, I began to make time for writing, getting up in front of my computer thinking of ideas, joining national writing organizations, and taking some additional writing courses to sharpen my skills. And, it was not very long that I was not only selling more and more of my stories, but also actually thinking and becoming a true writer. So, if you were to ask me today, whether I am a writer or not, the response would be a sharp and immediate,

"Yes, I am a writer."

Therefore, what is my advice for young students who wish to become writers? Work hard and study all aspects of writing, find your particular writing style, and most importantly, think and believe in your heart, that you are and will become a good writer. *

Geary Smith has a B.S. Psychology from Morehouse College, M.Ed. from Stephen F. Austin State University. He is married to Tonnette, and has two daughters, Jessica and Somer. He loves to read, write, run and play golf. Geary has been writing for children and teens for about 21 years, with published stories, articles, quizzes for Highlights for Children, Child Life, McGraw-Hill, ECS Learning Systems and many other publications. Currently, he is working as a Qualified Mental Retardation Professional (QMRP) Coordinator, at Mexia State School. He is also an associate pastor and spiritual/motivational speaker.

Interview with Robin Wasserman, author of Hacking Harvard and other books

Robin Wasserman is the author of several books for children and young adults, including the popular Seven Deadly Sins series, the Chasing Yesterday trilogy, and the novel Hacking Harvard. She grew up in Philadelphia where, as a bored only child, she had ample opportunity to make up stories and dream about a day when she would write them down and other people might actually want to read them. She still has a bit of trouble believing that day has finally arrived. Robin graduated from Harvard University with a degree in the history of science, then worked as an editor at Scholastic Inc, where she became an expert on Pokemon, LEGO, DragonBall Z, and all things Scooby-Doo. Her most recent book, Hacking Harvard, was inspired by her adolescent obsession with college admissions. Now that she's been out of college for as long as she was in it, she remembers the applications period with fondness. Fondness, that is, mixed with white-knuckled terror.

Robin lives in New York City, where she spends her days writing, reading, bike riding through the park, and trying to track down the world's most perfect cupcake.

INN: What was your inspiration for "Hacking Harvard"-- your own Ivy League experience, the fierce competition to get in these schools, love of hacking...?

RW: When I was in high school, I was totally and completely obsessed with getting into college. Partly because I found the process fascinating . . . mostly because I was terrified I wouldn't get accepted anywhere. (I had pretty much one mission in high school: getting out of high school.) I've been watching in horror these last several years as the admissions process has gotten more and more nerve-wracking. So the idea of writing about tearing down the system really appealed to me.

As for the hacking side of things, while I do have a serious love of caper movies (especially Sneakers, Oceans 11, and Dead Man on Campus), I have to admit that I've never done much caper-ing of my own. I've certainly never pulled off the kind of hack my characters would appreciate. I'll always be more of a Lex than a Max. I suppose that was also one of the reasons I wanted to tell this story. Like Lex, I was a very stressed, very nervous, very well-behaved high school student, who was always a little curious about the people who seemed more concerned with enjoying the present than plotting for the future. I never really strayed from my path in high school, so it was fun for me to imagine what might have happened if, like Lex, I had.

INN: What was your favorite part about writing this book?

RW: There's a lot to choose from, but I would say the part I enjoyed the most was being able to stuff the book with details, anecdotes, and unabashedly geeky musings from my own life. I can't imagine sliding that Star Trek vs Battlestar Galactica debate, or a long rant on the wonders of Descartes and the Navier-Stokes equation, into any other book. I also had a lot of fun setting scenes at my college – there's a pivotal moment up on the roof of the Science Center, for example, where I had many pivotal moments of my own.

INN: Favorite prank of all time?

RW: I suppose I should probably pick one of the famous MIT pranks on Harvard (and there are plenty to choose from), but if you want to know the truth, my favorite prank of all time is one that got pulled on me and my freshman roommates. My suite of five girls had become pretty good friends with the suite of five boys who lived below us, and at some point, we'd decided it would be a good idea to play a little prank on them. So we sneaked into their room, stole their favorite clothes, and then—after a lot of arguing about which of us would get to play which of them—spent the day dressed (and acting) like them. (You may or may not find this amusing, but I promise you that as giddy college freshmen, we found it hilarious.) The guys decided to pay us back.

So a week or two later, after one of the first big snowfalls of the season, we girls went outside to have a snowball fight. The boys grabbed a couple screwdrivers, sneaked into our suite . . . and stole our bathroom door. Somehow they managed to get it out of the dorm and across the campus without us noticing—and, no matter how much we begged and pleaded, it was weeks before they gave it back. Which meant that for a while, at any given moment in our suite, you could hear someone shouting, "I'm going to the bathroom— don't look!"

It may not be the greatest prank of all time, but it was one of those freshman year moments when I sat back, looked at my life, and realized, "It's finally happened. I'm in college." A thought which never failed to blow my mind.

INN: How did you break into publishing?

RW: I did an internship at Scholastic Inc. (home of Harry Potter) the summer before my senior year in college – and loved it so much that as soon as I graduated, I got a job there as an editorial assistant. In the back of my mind, I had always wanted to be a writer, but I wasn't sure how to make that happen—and was afraid it never would—so I decided to give editing a shot. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

It's not just that I made a lot of valuable contacts in the publishing industry, although I did. It's not just that I learned a lot about what kinds of books are most likely to sell, although I did. It's that I learned to see writing a manuscript as the first step in a very long process—a process that includes editing, designing, manufacturing, marketing, selling, etc. Obviously writers have a pretty fundamental role in the publishing industry, but it was immensely helpful to get an understanding of everyone else's roles, too. Making a book is really a team process, and because writing is such an isolating endeavor, that's sometimes easy to forget.

I left Scholastic after a few years and finally felt like I was ready to take the chance and write something. So I pitched an idea for a series about a bunch of teens living in the California desert with nothing to do but get into trouble – and, much to my shock, Simon & Schuster bought it. A year later the first Seven Deadly Sins book was on the shelves, and I was officially an author!

INN: What projects are you working on right now?

RW: I've just started writing a new (untitled) science fiction trilogy that will come out from Simon & Schuster in the fall of 2008. I'm pretty nervous, since it's the first thing I've written in this genre. (I did a trilogy called Chasing Yesterday that features some sci-fi/fantasy elements, but this new project is set in the future, which offers a whole new set of challenges.) But I'm also really excited about it, because I think it's the kind of thing I would have loved to read when I was a teenager.

INN: Any advice for teen writers?

RW: Almost anyone will tell you that the best advice for aspiring writers is: "Just write." Certainly that's what everyone told me whenever I asked for suggestions. And it's great advice . . . for people who are able to do it. I, on the other hand, was one of those people who really wanted to be a writer, but could never think of anything to write. Coming up with new ideas was really hard for me—and following through on them was even harder. I really started to worry that this meant I would never be a writer. Because what kind of writer doesn't write?

So my advice is directed very specifically to aspiring writers who are afraid that they'll never have a good idea or never be able to finish a story. And that advice is: Don't worry. I think for some people, it just takes a little time to figure out what it is you most want to say. And there are plenty of things you can do in the meantime. I highly recommend taking writing classes – partly because that will give you a deadline and force you to write something (and finish something).

This is really important. But also because writing ability isn't just a talent you're born with—it's a skill you can, and should, learn. I took a ton of writing classes when I was younger, and I wish I could go back in time and take them all over again, because I learned so much about what to do and what not to do, how to critique my own work, how to revise—so much that I never would have figured out on my own.

That said, if taking classes isn't an option, there are other things you can do to give yourself a deadline and force yourself to sit down at the computer: Submit something to the school literary magazine. Find some friends who also want to be writers and start a writing group where you read and evaluate one another's work. Join the school newspaper. Anything you can think of. Because it's true: Writers write. Find something—anything—to write, just to teach yourself how to do it. So that when your story finally comes to you, you'll be ready.

And one more piece of advice, when it comes to finding the right story to tell. Write the story you want to read. It took me way too long to figure that out, but once I did, it was the key to everything.

Thanks, Robin!

Click on this link: to buy Hacking Harvard on

There is also a book trailer , made by NYU Film Students, that is quite entertaining and worth checking out! And don't forget to visit Robin at .

-Would you like to interview authors?

If you're a 15-19 year old guy WriTeen who has time to read and a working knowledge of email, join THE HUNT FOR A GUY INTER(e)VIEWER and send me an email at

-Spread the WORD! Contest Update
Wow! I've been swamped with emails from everyone, entering the Spread the WORD! contest. So many new WriTeens and WriTeen supporters have joined that we've just about doubled our subscription e-list! But don't stop now, whether you have 20 points or none at all. There's a chance for everyone to win the 5 Points Plus prize, or even First or Second Place. Go for it! The rules are further down on this page. The last day to enter is DECEMBER 5th, 2007!

-More Innovative Housekeeping
There are two remaining issues of 2007: December 9th and December 16th. I am no longer accepting submissions for 2007; but am open to queries for 2008.
There are rumors of a January/February Fiction contest to coincide with Innovative's 6-month birthday. Those rumors may be true.
This issue is posted online because of how much we have! Thanks to Geary Smith for contributing and Robin Wasserman for being a wonderful interviewee.
Logo designed by Katie Beth Groover.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

If You Want to Write...

The latest in our weekly blog series about... hmm.... writing, maybe?

Therapeutic Writing

Write it out.

The sort-of sad part about developing yourself as a writer, is that nothing is sacred in your personal life. Or rather: nothing should be sacred. Are you dealing with depression? are your parents divorced? is your little sister demon-possessed? do you have a wonderful home life? is school your passion?

You need to write about it.

I'm not a great short story writer. Novels work better for me. But still I write short stories because the medium allows me to express something within five pages. My diary is another place to do this. Giving therapy-- or merely creative outlet-- on paper (or virtual, Microsoft Word paper) is so much easier than talking to people, and it can help you realize what you love or hate about a given situation.

This also makes for much better writing.

Jennifer Weiner is the highly successful women's fiction writer who writes constantly about divorce. She pokes fun at herself, knowing that this is a common theme because of her own parents' divorce. Her books, on the surface, seem like chicklit, but you can still cry whenever you read her because the pain that comes with a dysfunctional family relationship is still there, and you feel it as much as her protagonists do.

Keep it real, man. And I know the posts have been on vaguely depressing topics. We'll cheer up next week, or Sunday because... Robin Wasserman is interviewed!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Contest-- Another Form of Earning Points

If you write about Innovative on your blog, that's +3 points. Make sure to tell me that you do!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ahoy, Guy WriTeens!

So, I was gathering research (i.e., idling time) by looking for debut YA authors that would be good potential people to interview for bookshelf. I'm booked through January at this point, but I love interviewing authors and I think others enjoy them as well. I was browsing through the website. It's brilliant, because it's made up of thirty or forty debut young adult and children's authors, and I've gotten a lot of names to look up.

However, it made me realize... I don't like reading stereotypical "boy" books. I'm sorry. I'm much more chick flick or girl drama. But boy WriTeens make up a sizable minority of our subscription, and it's no fair that you have to suffer through thousands of books and interviews with chicky authors.

So: a brainstorm.

Would you, Guy WriTeens, be interested in becoming a reviewer/interviewer for Innovative? This is just an idea. I would make all initial contact with the authors, but you would get to interview the said "guy" authors and chat with them about their books. I would also love to receive book reviews of said "guy" books.

I'd be looking for someone 15 or older, who likes (and has time) to read and is inquisitive enough to ask different kinds of questions. You'd have to get back to me fairly quickly (no month-long wait) but you'd be published, you'd get to "meet" cool authors, you can say you are a book reviewer and interviewer for Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen.

What do you think? Girls, feel free to put in your two cents or nominate someone, too. This wouldn't get going until January, but a thought to mull over.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

If You Want to Write...

The latest in our weekly blog series about little things you can do to build a writing life...

I want to thank all the people who have entered the Spread the WORD! contest so far. You guys have been amazing. It's still anyone's win at this point, but everyone else: catch up so at least you can get your Post-Its! And the prizes can be interchangeable. If, for example, you already have a copy of Lady of Sherwood, you can have the Surprise Gift instead.

Now, back to "If You Want to Write...."

Burnout happens.

Burnout is kind of happening right now. Susan Johnston ( posted about it a week or so ago, and got me thinking. Burnout is when you feel like a car running on no gas, when inspiration is visiting a different address, when you're tired and you hate your characters and feel like quitting.

That's burnout.

Burnout is different from inspiration-loss. Look, if you wait to write until you're inspired, you'll be waiting a long time. You won't write, actually. The discipline of writing is writing anyway, always, whenever, however. Burnout is when you are really empty, not just tired.

But fear not! Burnout is neither forever, nor untreatable. The best cures, I've found, are below.

- Take a short break or
- THROW yourself into your book or short-term project.
- Listen to lots of music.
- Take long nature walks.
- Read an article you really disagree with
- Eat really good food.
- Watch a lot of cheesy, feel-good movies
- Or watch one gripping drama
And the best way:
- Read a really, really, really badly written book. I have lots of recommendations but am not going to post them here.

The basic idea is that you want to stimulate and rejuvenate yourself. Remember why you love to write. Remember what excites you. Remember to relax and let your creative pores soak. Remember that burnout's not forever, and soon you'll be flaming to go.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Interview with Mark Peter Hughes


Interview with Mark Peter Hughes, author of Lemonade Mouth and I am the Wallpaper

A former member of an alternative rock band, Mark Peter Hughes was once kicked out of eighth grade music class for throwing a spitball. His novel Lemonade Mouth is a Top 10 BookSense Pick and is nominated as a 2008 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. His first novel, I am the Wallpaper , was selected as one of the New York Public Library's Best Books for the Teen Age 2006, a BookSense Summer Pick and a finalist in the Delacorte Press Young Adult Novel Competition. Mark lives in Massachusetts with his wife, three young children, and a wild mountain cockapoo.

INN: Where did you get the idea for Lemonade Mouth?

MPH: The idea for Lemonade Mouth came from being in a band. I'm a musician and I've been in a few bands so I know what being in a band feels like. It seems to meet that a band takes on a personality of its own, apart from that of the individual members. It also has its own story arch, with a beginning, middle and ending.

INN: Do you love frozen lemonade, or is there another frozen beverage that's a hidden fave?

MPH: I grew up in Rhode Island, so Del's frozen lemonade has been a summer staple all my life. I love, love, love it. :-)

INN: What was the hardest part about writing this book?

MPH: The hardest part about writing this book was making one story out of five stories. Keeping each of the band-members stories alive and vibrant throughout, while never losing focus on the band itself. This was the challenge I set out for myself when I began.

INN: How did you first break into publishing?

MPH: My first novel, I am the Wallpaper, ended up getting published through the Delacorte Press Young Adult Novel competition.

INN: Any advice for teens who write?

MPH: The best writing tip, I think, is the most obvious—and, unfortunately, likely the dullest. If you want to become a better writer, you have to sit down in a chair and write, write, write. That's the only true way to get better – and it is guaranteed to work.

Thanks, Mark!

You can buy Lemonade Mouth on Amazon by clicking

To learn more about Mark and his books, check out .

Stories for Children update

Virginia S. Grenier, editor of Stories for Children (, just sent an email saying that Stories for Children now has two submission editors. If you have a piece to submit, make sure to check the guidelines so you submit it to the correct editor.

Bookshelf Squeals of Excitement

So, tomorrow we're publishing our first author interview, with Mark Peter Hughes ( and I'm very, very excited. We'll have two more before the holidays (December 2nd and December 16th) and again, I'm very, very excited.

It's been fabulous to talk to authors about their work; authors of books I enjoy and want to pass around to all of you. I hope all of you enjoy this as much as I have.

If there's an author that you would love to see interviewed, drop a comment or an email to .

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Innovative Spread the WORD! Buzz Contest

Sneak Peek

I hope Innovative has helped you in your creative life, whether it's supporting WriTeens or being one yourself. So help us out in spreading the WORD! and


You must spread the WORD throughout your community about Innovative, through email, discussion boards, fliers, announcements or personal contact. The person who contacts the most and earns the most points will win first prize.
Email addresses will be added to the Innovative e-list. Make sure people know that.
Current subscribers don't count (sorry.) Also: made-up or defunct email addresses. Play fair.
If X emails me person Y's address, and then Z emails me person Y's address later, only person X gets the point.
However, if person Y joins in the fun halfway through and sends me the emails of A, B, C and D, they can and will be eligible for prizes.
The contest begins this Sunday, November 18th, and finishes at midnight EST December 5th. No points may be earned before or after the contest.

Points System

For every 1 email address you send me, you receive +1 point.
For every 1 post on a discussion board (like: Hey friends, check out this zine...), you receive +2 points.
For every 1 flier you post in a public place (school, library, church), you receive +3 points.
For every 1 lecture/stand-up-and-shout about Innovative, you receive +4 points.
[If there's a way of communication that I'm not aware of, email me about it and I'll figure out a point value and then post it for all to see.]
If you cheat, that's -5 points.


You can send me emails and notifications one at a time, or all together. It really doesn't matter, as long as your name is clearly labelled.
As far as email addresses go... I will be sending a confirmation email to each one, so make sure that the people you send know that they're getting it and want to get it. Or it won't count.


First Prize: Whoever Has the Most Points (20 point minimum)
1 Publishing Mentorship with Gabrielle Linnell
1 Barnes & Nobles (or Borders) Gift Card for $10.00 (or international equivalent)
1 interview in Innovative
1 autographed copy of Gabrielle's first self-published book, Lady of Sherwood

Second Prize: Person with 2nd Highest Total (18 point minimum)
1 Barnes & Nobles (or Borders) Gift Card for $5.00 (or international equivalent)
1 old copy of The Writer magazine
1 profile in Innovative
1 Crazy Surprise Gift

Over Five Points Prize: For Everyone Who Scores +5 Points
1 pack of Post-Its
An Official Innovative Thank-You note

Let the games begin on Sunday, November 18th.

If You Want to Write...


Sometimes we don't want to share good writing things. Like places to submit to, or idea-makers, or . This is mostly because we're insecure, because we think that someone else's success will take away from our own.

But it won't. The three reasons why are:

1. You are unique. Nobody else can write like you can. Someone can't really copy your style.

2. Editors look for different things from different people. If you and your cousin write for the same zine, you could both get published.

3. Competition makes you write better. 'Nuff said.

So share the love today by, I don't know, telling a friend about Innovative?

But you may want to wait because you're about to get a sneak peak of the Innovative Spread the WORD! Buzz Contest.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Boring Parts [November 11]

As Hana said in our WORD this week, there are parts of writing that are boring but necessary, like writing mechanics: grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Speaking as an editor, I'm always impressed when WriTeens email me with perfect grammar. Does this mean they're brilliant writers? Not necessarily. But it gives a great first impression.

What part of writing is the most annoying to you?



Teen Ink (

This is probably the biggest publisher of teen writing around. Available at most libraries, Teen Ink is a huge collection of everything from fiction to political opinion, book review to angst poetry. If you write it, they will probably have a spot for it. They don't have a great response system to your submission ( i.e., if you are rejected, you never find out) but if you are published, there are some nice, non-monetary perks. Check them out.

Absolute Write (

WHO THEY ARE: A free semi-monthly writing e-zine
WHAT THEY WANT: Articles on writing, from experience to how-to, in a conversational tone.
WHAT THEY PAY: $.02/word ($10.00 minimum) or subscription to their services.MORE INFO? .

There's been a call for submissions (see their site) so don't miss this opportunity!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Buzz in the Creative World

Hello, everyone!

There's a lot happening, both in Innovative and the world-at-large.

Innovative will be kicking off author interviews in bookshelf on November 18th with Mark Peter Hughes (, author of Lemonade Mouth and I Am the Wallpaper. If you want us to interview a particular author (who is NOT J.K. Rowling) let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Hana Calvez, WriTeen, is the author of this week's WORD.

Harry Potter Mania is everywhere, because of this secret website It's rumored that it's the eighth book; or the eighth movie; or a total hoax. Nobody knows! And appears to be completely silent, or I'm not looking at their archives hard enough.

The Writer's Guild Strike. Both Hollywood and New York City are seeing the effects of a strike by the Writer's Guild. All screenwriters are picketing, with big names like Gary Marshall and actors giving support from The Office, Grey's Anatomy and other huge shows. If you want to know what all the fuss is about, check out and with Nikki Finke.

Innovative will be hosting a Buzz Contest in the near future. Loads of cool prizes in store, so start getting excited!

And the Spotlighted! archives ARE coming... I apologize for the long wait.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

If You Want to Write...

The latest from our weekly blog series on the little steps that lead to a big path to publication.

You Need to Know About NaNoWriMo

It's Day Seven in the National Novel Writing Month, and I sadly haven't been able to participate this year. J.A. Konrath ( is blogging his journey, as are many others. NaNoWriMo has helped me write the first drafts of my two books; in addition to being the most fun, most high-intensity burst of creativity months ever. It's late for this year, but look at what they're doing at .

I also recommend the book by the founder, Chris Baty, No Plot? No Problem!. This is a creative endeavour that's taking over the world, and producing a lot of fun books.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Winning Logo & Masthead!

Our two Honorable Mentions went to Ellen Vannin R. (entry above)and Madeline S. (entry below). Their profiles, as published last week in Innovative, will be online soon.

This is our new masthead, which will soon feature on our emails!

And this is our fine new logo, designed by Katie Beth Groover!
Thanks to everyone who participated, and congratulations to our winner and honorable mentions. You guys rock.

Thursday, November 1, 2007 Call for Submissions


Being the first of the month, e-zines like and WOW! Women on Writing have new issues, and they're worth checking out. Especially the former, as there's been a call for submissions. If you have something to say about the writing life-- especially writing for children & teen's magazines-- write it up and send it to the editor. Details on the site.

And warning: I'm going out of town this weekend, so Innovative may be a day late. Not sure.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

If You Want to Write...

The latest in our weekly blog series. Also, apologies for the trouble everyone's been having with the logos. We're working on it, but Gmail can be frustrating. Lovely, but frustrating.

The Go for It Principle

Basically, if you want to write and become published, you won't be qualified. You don't have a decade of trying under your belt. You have neither MFA nor a master's instruction, probably. You should dig yourself into a hole and stay there, quivering from fear of your ineptitude.

Yeah, right.

The thing is, you can feel (and in some ways, we all are) inept, inexperienced and unpublishable. Yet, and this is important to realize, the last thing is out of your control. Unless you self-publish your book or your magazine, the decision to publish something you have written is out of your control.

So, how do you make it happen? The Go For It principle. It's a complex theory that can be boiled down to: Go For It.

Whether "it" is a tiny e-zine or a huge, newsstand magazine, go for it. The worst that can happen is that you get a tiny little rejection letter (I've gotten one smaller than my hand) that says Thanks but no Thanks. The best that can happen is that you're accepted. Publication is out of your control, but submission is not. I've broken into some high-profile magazines while still a teenager. How? I went for it.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

If You Want to Write...

The latest in our weekly blog series of small tips for bigger results in this writing life.

The How-to of How-Tos, Mini Edition

A how-to article is just that: an article which tells you how to (or how NOT to) do something. These are extremely useful to write, because there is a need. Remember that it is easier to get published in nonfiction than in fiction. Fiction is by no means impossible; nonfiction is just easier. There is a huge demand for nonfiction articles.

The drawback for WriTeens in writing how-to articles is we barely have our high school diplomas, let alone any kind of PhD in a field that qualifies us to write about garter snake management. Our expertise, then, can only be what we've experienced. Did you have a huge garter snake problem in your garden? How did you deal with it? Were there one or three solutions? Can you remember them?

When I was in school, I had several awful experiences with substitute teachers. These people did not know how to sub, how to handle a room full of teenagers or how to speak to them. I just sold an article about two weeks ago to a teaching resources website on the DON'Ts of high school substitutes. Am I an expert? No. Have I experienced these things? You bet.

We'll talk later in detail about how-to articles, and also how to use your "inexperience" as an edge to get published. For now, think about the challenges you've faced in school, at home or with friends, and freewrite about how you solved them. Is there an article in there?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Winner of the Innovative Logo & Masthead Design Contest

Katie Beth G. !

More details later.

Magazine Reading [October 21]

What's the last magazine you've read lately? What did you like or not like about it? What are some quirks particular to that zine?

I'll start. I think the last magazine I've read is Glamour. It's interesting to compare the different magazines and their audiences. Redbook is for working women 30+, Glamour is more for the working woman in her twenties, Seventeen is for teenagers, etc. I prefer InStyle overall, but Glam's OK.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

If You Want to Write...

The third post in our weekly blog series about small ideas that can have big results.

Life vs. Writing

Many authors tell us poor unpublished folk to write every day and read a lot. Good advice. But what happens when there's this new movie out, or your best friend comes into town, or your grandparents want to take you to dinner? Or it's a beautiful day or you haven't talked to your mom in ages?

"Writing comes first," they say dramatically. I disagree.

If you want to write, writing needs to be a part of your life the way exercise, eating, leisure, school and relationships are a part of your life. The trick is balance. If you make writing your number one priority, and write in every spare moment that you have, you will produce a lot of work and probably get published. But you will burn out.

Writing is the way you take everything in your surroundings-- every experience, belief, emotion-- and culminate it into art. If you have nothing in your life except writing, "writing" will become the topic of every article and book you write! And there's only so much you can say about that.

I realize this is probably not a problem for most of you. But as you plod on your path to publication, make sure you have that balance. In your passion, don't forget to smell the roses and say hello to the little girl who lives down the street. Prioritize your writing, but never make it more important than people or God. Live, and write.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

If You Want to Write...

Our second post in this middle-of-the-week blog series

Creating a Write State of Mind

Many articles on "finding time to write" suggest that you bring notebooks wherever you go, and whenever you have a spare moment, use it to write the next scene to your novel or edit the article you're working on. This is great advice if it's related to a new idea-- write it down fast or it will definitely fly away! But for anything much longer than a paragraph, I haven't found it helpful.

This is because I normally need a certain space and environment to write. I'm blessed to own a laptop that I keep in my room. I usually write with a) loud pop music, b) while I'm alone and it's c) very late at night. Something about the urgency of the late time and the hard beat of music pressures my writing forward like an unseen linebacker.

So, if you want to write, try to understandwhat your "state of mind and body" has to be to write the longest and best(est) you can. Maybe you have to be around people, or write really early in the morning, or maybe you really have no time to write so therefore you take every moment you can get. Figure out what works for you, so that it can work.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Dream Publication [October 7]

Sorry this one is late.

What is the magazine that you dream about being published in? The one that has you suspended in delight every time you see it?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

If You Want to Write...

I will be launching a blog series (new stuff every Wednesday/Thursday) of which this is the first one. Every week, I'll post a some short thoughts on a different aspect of "If You Want to Write." This is for the little things that you can do. I know what it's like to really, really want to write but it seems like there is never time or hope enough. This is for little solutions that can slowly solve bigger problems.

The 10 Minutes a Day Rule

When I started Innovative, I got lots of comments and questions about the entire submissions process. I can answer almost all of them. Believe it or not, that's not a gene that is passed through literary bluebloods. When I was younger, I submitted the same poem (the same poem!) to about eight different magazines, regardless of what they published. Surprise, surprise: due to my lack of poetic talent and then-lack of business sense, I got about eight rejections.

The ten minutes a day rule is for the business side of writing. If you want to write, spend ten minutes of your day web-surfing different writing sites or reading a writing e-zine or magazine. Learn at least one new thing about the submissions, querying, etc. process. Learn about a different form of writing. If you don't want to just Google: "writing zines," here are some good blogs and sites that I read. The October issue came out on (surprise) October 1. This is Maria Schneider, editor of the biggest writing magazine Writer's Digest, 's blog. She posts about writers and writing. I also read her blogroll, and have found excellent stuff. The Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Also on Maria's blogroll. The largest-circulation writing e-zine in the world.

This is just a start, but if you start, then you continue, and then you're off.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Innovative Logo Contest Guidelines

The Innovative Logo Contest

Our masthead and nonexistent logo need a makeover, don't you think?

This is the first of many (I hope) Innovative contests. Do you like to design graphics and play with fonts? Then check out the following information, because oh yes, there are prizes involved.

There are two components to the contest: the logo and the masthead. You must complete both to be eligible for the Grand Prize.

Logo Requirements:
--Must be small enough to be used in all Innovative emails and hopefully on the website, without making it a 48 MB file.
--Must include the words: "Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen" (although proportion and location don't matter)
--Must somehow relate to one or more of the following: innovation, writing, teens, publication, cutting edge, new ideas: what Innovative means to you.
NOTE: I will reject all Victorian-looking logos the minute my poor eyes see them. I'm looking for something that is cool, attractive and describes who we are.

Masthead Requirements:
--Must ONLY use one or more of the following fonts: Times New Roman, Courier New, Arial, Georgia, Trebuchet, Verdana.
--Must include all information on the regular Innovative masthead: Email address, website address, title, tagline, editor.
Otherwise, have at it.

General Guidelines:
--Multiple entries are accepted and encouraged (you can also submit variations of the same logo/masthead design.)
--DEADLINE: OCTOBER 21st, 2007. Winners will be announced on the website, and later in the October 28th issue. Entries will NOT be accepted after the deadline.
--Submit your work in an email to Gabrielle at . Please include your name and email address.

Grand Prize:
-- $10.00 Gift Card to Barnes & Noble or Borders
-- Publishing Mentorship with Gabrielle Linnell
I will mentor your short story, essay or article from idea to submissions masterplan. You can ask all the questions you want. I will guide you through the entire submissions process of your piece.
-- Interview in Innovative
-- Design Credit in every Innovative email

Honorable Mentions:
--Entries posted on website
--Profiles published on website

-For our international WriTeens, the gift card would be translated into an equivalent in your country.
-We've had entries already, so keep it up! I have been very impressed with what I've seen, but I'm still open to new ideas.
-Tip: Make sure you put a lot of thought into the masthead. It may seem simple, but I am looking for something good, too.
-To be clear: this is judged subjectively by me, on what I need for Innovative. This is by no means an impartial critique of graphic talent.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Craziest Inspirations [September 30]

All right. What is the wackiest thing that has ever inspired you to write?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Logo Contest

Starting next week, SEPTEMBER 30th, we will begin the Innovative logo contest. There will be two weeks for you graphic artists to begin your "thang" as well as multiple detailed guidelines so that you don't waste your time. When I say, "Logo", I mean masthead font/color design as well as a graphic to go along with it; probably to be put on blog as well.

There will be a Grand Prize, as well as honorable mentions that will be posted/emailed so that everyone can see.

Mr. Perfect Paolini [Sept 23, 2007]

So... what do you think of him? And his work, of course.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Best School Book Ever! [Issue 9]

All right: what is the best book you've ever read about school? Whether it was an educational manual or a book that mentioned the "thang," what was it?

I'd have to say mine is "Queen Bees and Wannabes," the book that inspired Mean Girls.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Publication Hunter

"There's a word for a writer that never gives up... published."

J.A. Konrath, author of the Jack Daniels mysteries, said that. It's on his profile at I found his blog through Maria Schneider ('s blog, as well as finding Susan Johnston's blog ( and through hers finding The Chick Lit Review, which I'm submitting to.

See a pattern here? I used to think there weren't enough magazines for me to write for. Now I realize I wasn't looking (I have that problem a lot.) If you want to get published, read the writing lit. Read Writer's Digest, The Writer, ByLine. Read writing blogs and sites. Look for places that publish you. I'm always on the lookout for a possible article or short story market.

Market books (like Children's Writer and Illustrator Market, organized listing of magazines) are great but never limit yourself to them. They can't contain every zine. They're also organized by genre. I love fiction and I write it a lot. But I also write nonfiction articles, and so I'm looking for markets in both areas.

If this feels really overwhelming, don't let the feeling overwhelm you :). I've worked for three years to get to the point that I read all this stuff. Cold turkey won't cook your Thanksgiving meal, so here are a few suggestions to "ease in" to being a Publication Hunter.

1. Research the Innovative Spotlighted! magazines. These do accept teen writing, which eliminates a step for you. Never submit to them without going on their website at least. I can't publish all the information on submissions in a paragraph.

2. Read, and pay attention to two things in particular.
a. The Inside Markets section. Jan Fields lists different magazines every month, with news and guidelines. Normally, there are three to five listings. This is a perfect amount, because out of five probably one of them is applicable to you.
b. The authors' bios. publishes articles by both experienced and newbie writers. Read their bios and note down where they've been published. Then Google the magazines in particular, and see if you could fit in with them. That's how I discovered Fandangle, and my short story is being published with them this month.

Whatever you do, don't give in and don't give up. There's a word for a writer that does that.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

What do YOU read? [Issue 8]

So... what do you read?

A note:
I think we have some good WORDs coming up. Some topics to be discussed are:
-- Christopher Paolini and Fantasy WriTeens
--My Library, My Self
--Plagiarism and Opal Mehta

and more. Of course, this doesn't include WORDs from other writers. If you have a good idea you'd like to write, email me!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Welcome to New WriTeens!

We've had a couple people join us this week, and so I wanted to say Welcome! Obviously you're not a "New WriTeen," because you've been writing before, but it's great to have you with us. Our next issue should be released tomorrow, talking about WHY you need to read to be a good writer.

A few good things to know:
-Innovative is delivered to your inbox like a normal email. So no worries about attachments, photos, etc.
-This blog is to foster community. We don't have a lot of comments yet, but please feel free to do so! I'm on here a lot and others are coming. And it's moderated: meaning nothing gets said here that's inappropriate.
-We're small but growing. So, if you tell a friend about Innovative and they email me, you get profiled in an upcoming issue!
-There's extra information and updates posted on the site, like related articles and contest/zine reminders.
-I'm available by email if you have any questions (

Welcome to the WriTeen Community.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Article on Queries

I was reading the latest issue of "WOW! Women On Writing" when I came across this . Soak up all the query info you can get! And men, don't be shy. READ.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Will You Send in a Query? [Issue 6]

Will you send in a fake/real query to me? Brave the stampeding voices of critique? LOL, you really have nothing to worry about. Please try this! It's easy, fun and will help you as a writer.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Check out the packed new issue at !

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Practice Query Round

The way this will work...

After reading our WORD (8/2/07) Issue 7, you will know the basics of what a query is, why it's important and a general outline of how to do it. I will provide examples, but this is for YOU to try it out without having to face rejection!

Choose your "article," "magazine," and "editor. You can use the prompts below, or have fun with your own.

"How to Use 101 Bananas" for FruitLuvvers. Editor: Apple Deelish.

"The Quail" for Tragic Poultry. Editor: Ima Sosad.

"Jokes for the Humorless" for I Can't Laugh. Editor: Hea Haha.

Write your bio. I recommend you write a true one of yourself, using the tips in the WORD article. If you really, really want to, you can make it up.

Write your pitch. This is where your creativity comes in. Again, check the WORD guidelines!!

Send it to me! Email it to Gabrielle at . I will get back to you very quickly!

DISCLAIMER: I will not send you an email back telling you HOW ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE YOU ARE. Neither will I hand out gross flattery. This is a practice round. If I see a really great example of a bio, I'll tell you. If I think you should condense the query, I'll tell you. It's just a good way to practice the art of querying.

Can't wait for Sunday? comment here!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stories for Children reminder

Reminder: if you have a story appropriate for elementary aged children, get it ready for Stories for Children. Submissions open up again on September 1st, so be ready!

We spotlighted Stories for Children in Issue 2. If you missed it, lost it, or want more information, go on

Happy With Layout

I've been playing around with our layout. Unfortunately I do not possess the talent of creating web layouts, so I'm victim to the whims of Blogger. I think this sets a great tone, don't you think? Professional yet... not stuffy. I don't do stuffy.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What Writing Lit Have You Read? [Issue 6]

So, guys... what writing lit have you read? Whether it's for school or (admit it) for fun, what do you think?

Also: has anybody recently thought about submitting to a zine? or Innovative? Dreamed of it? had nightmares of it?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Quizzical Quandaries And Other Questions

Q is such a funny letter, isn't it?

Well, Innovative 6 is getting there. I've written WORD, know what I'm going to say in Spotlighted! and Bookshelf. This week's topic is How to Use Writing Lit. There's so many books, zines and blogs about the subject, how can you possibly choose the best things to read? What should you gain from them? Find out tomorrow!

If you are not yet on the Innovative email network, join in! It's free of charge and free of advertising, and your email address is considered private and will not be distributed to anyone. Send me an email at to get your WriTeen literary snack, every week.

LOOKING AHEAD... Next week I'd like to cover Quizzical Questions: What Queries Are and How to Write Them. This is a big topic but a very, very important one. So there's two special events that are going to happen to coincide with it.

First, at that time I will start accepting ideas from people who would like to write WORD one week.

The way that will work... I'd rather have ideas first, because I don't want you to write a 400 word essay and then get an email from me saying, that isn't what I'm looking for. We do enough of that in the writing world (and actually, that's one of the reasons we have queries...) So if you would like to speak to WriTeens about almost anything connected to the word "Writing", start talking to me. This is a great opportunity, whether you've been published before or not.

Second, again, because Queries are so important, we're going to practice! More on that next week, but think: pretending to write outrageous stories and see what I, representing THE EDITOR, will think of them. This will be one-on-one, but if yours is super good, I'll share them here.

That's all for now, folks! I'm 17 pages away from my rewrite being done, so I better chug along.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Finding Time to Write

Well, it's Thursday and I'm in my first week of education after a very lazy and yet eventful summer. Things will take a while to get insanely hectic, however.

I've read a lot of articles about "finding time to write." But I think what matters, in the end, is that you want to do it. If you want it enough, you do make it happen. Maybe you only write a page a day, maybe the weekends are your only time at all, but you do make it happen. There was a good quote from "Putting Your Passion Into Print," where someone said that the difference between authors that make it and authors that don't, is who wants it enough.

It's the same with finishing books. I am the not-so-proud author of about ten or fifteen books that have never made it past Chapter 3. However, I have also proudly finished two books (one was only 80 pages, but it was done) and am on the way to finishing a third.

The best novel-writing method I've ever come across is National Novel-Writing Month (, where you write a 50,000-word first draft in 30 days. I've never actually done the "real" NaNoWriMo with thousands of other writers doing it simultaneously, but have applied the principles to a month that worked best for me. The creative rush is unbelievable; they are some of the best months ever. I had so much fun writing the first draft of "Charming" a year ago.

If you want to finish your book, I recommend NaNoWriMo whole-heartedly, or something like it. Something fun, creative, and so fast you won't have time to doubt yourself.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Do You Care for ChickLit? [Issue 5]

So, it can be frivolous and ga-ga, but what do you think about chicklit? Is it pointless? Sexist? Humorous? Fun? Exciting? Have you read any really good (or really bad!) examples? What about you men, who never read it? What do you think?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Stephenie Meyer's book "Eclipse" came out last Tuesday and I finished it yesterday. Fantastic work, as usual, though I was a little annoyed with one of the characters. But any author that can make you care that much about a cast of fictional people is fabulous. Her website is . "Twilight," "New Moon," and "Eclipse" are amazing fantasy-romance books (rated PG13, if it was a movie.) They are the opposite of normal vampire stories.

I haven't quite started on our fifth issue yet but it's pretty clear in my mind. I'm attempting to finish the rewrite of my novel this week, we'll see if it happens.

TIDBITS: Some upcoming discussions we're going to have are:
--Why should you read so much?
--Writing About School
--How to learn from the theater

Hold the edges of your seats, Sunday's four days away!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Talking About the Book... [Issue 4]

So... are you working on a book? Multiple books? Give us the title of your book and a quick summary of the story.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Have a question about submission? [Issue 3]

Do you have a question about the submission process? or three thousand questions? Anybody inspired to write "The Tale of Fat Fred"? If you are, please write it and send it to me. FYI: Children's Horror is a fictitious magazine, but there are zines that publish mild kid horror.

WORD: Submissions 101

NOTE: Because it's so long, this week's WORD is directly posted here. It's also easier to find for future reference.

There are different kinds of submissions, because there are different kinds of magazines and pieces. Today I’m just going to explain an unsolicited short story. That is a bunch of big words meaning that I am sending a magazine a story they didn’t ask for. To answer the unspoken question, yes, there are situations when magazines do ask for certain stories or articles, but I’ll talk about that in another Innovative.

So imagine yourself as a teen called Gabrielle who, one day, has an idea.

1. The Idea: the first step to any submission. Who knows where ideas come from? They come from everywhere. The important thing is to notice them.

I have an idea: “The Tale of Fat Fred.” Who is Fred, I don’t have a clue. I just like the title. I think this could be a short story, maybe a short story about dieting and the Evil Master of Chocolate. It could be fun! I’d like to publish this.

2. The Research: not necessarily the second step to submission. A lot of stories are written completely first, and then submitted. While that can be successful, it saves you time if you find an idea and then research magazines.

But who will publish “The Tale of Fat Fred”? I have to go on a quest to look for the best magazine. I will look in very strange places. I can Google children’s magazines. I can read “Writer’s Market” books and zines. These are literally lists and descriptions of publications. Maybe I scour my siblings’ trashcans, looking for ideas. What I need is names, so that I can do…

3. The Picking: Figuring out which magazine to submit to. Submitting “Fred” to five different magazines at the same time is a BIG NO-NO. This is called “simultaneous submissions” and they’re not popular with editors. So I have to pick one.

There are several things to look for while picking a magazine.
The first thing is subject relevance. Do they publish your kind of story?
Methods of submission. I love email submissions, they’re free and much easier to deal with. However, most zines still prefer snail-mail submission.
Another thing to look for is payment. Will the magazine pay you? Paying magazines, obviously, give you money, but that means they’re more competitive. Nonpaying magazines are usually less competitive, but you still publish the story.
Yet another is quality. Will your story look nice? Will your name appear with it? What’s important in its presentation?

I have searched the internet and all writing literature, and found Children’s Horror. It’s a paying magazine that only accepts snail-mail submissions. It’s a nice-looking magazine (I can tell by the pictures on their website) and I think “Fat Fred” would do nicely here. My magazine is picked, so I can do…

4. The Writing: most necessary part of any submission.

The nice thing about doing the steps in the order I have put down here, is that you can tailor your submission exactly to the editor’s liking. Your best friend in writing a short story for Children’s Horror is their Writer’s Guidelines. I found these while going to (made-up website.) Their guidelines say that the editors prefer stories with fast openings and funny heroes.

So, when I start writing “The Tale of Fat Fred,” I open it with a nighttime chase in a candy store. I also have Fred cracking jokes while hiding from Evil Chocolate Master. I finish my first draft.

5. The Editing: Very, Very Important.

I re-read my first draft. It’s pretty good, but I have some awkward sentences and this one scene that isn’t working. So I fix it all. This can take a day or a week or a month. Every writer works differently. My pal, Writer’s Guidelines, is also a big help here. Children’s Horror only accepts short stories that are 1000 words or under. Because I know that I must always respect WG, I check my word count by clicking “Tools” and selecting “Word Count” on Microsoft Word. It tells me my total word count is 1200 words.

Uhoh! Too long. I re-read “Fat Fred” again, skimming down some paragraphs, taking out adjectives, making him thin. When I check my word count the second time, it’s 1004 words. That’s fine. I’m ready for…

6. The Sending: Necessary for submission. If this doesn’t happen, not much else does.

Again, my best friend Writer’s Guidelines tells me the address to send my story to and what to include. Some important things are an SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope), my contact information, a total word count and a picture of myself.

Every magazine is different. Make sure you send exactly what they request.

Now, I have assembled all the necessary ingredients for “Fat Fred” to be submitted. I neatly write the correct name and address on the large envelope (big enough to hold everything comfortably) in pen, and enclose everything they asked for. Most importantly, I included a neat, double-spaced typed copy of “The Tale of Fat Fred.” I walk down to my mailbox, lovingly place the large envelope in there, and stick the little red flag up.

7. The Waiting: the hard part.

This is exactly what it sounds like. I wait. The WG told me that the response would come in 2 months. So I play the piano, email friends, live my life and come up with an idea called “The Story of Skinny Sara.”

8. Their Response: the fun part. Sometimes.

One day two months after Step 6, my mother tells me that there’s a letter. My heart beats quickly as I race to open it. This is slightly strange, because it’s my handwriting on the envelope. But there’s a couple pieces of paper inside, stamped with the Children’s Horror insignia.

It’s accepted! I scream, and then seriously read it. The editor loved my story, but she wants me to make a few changes (cut 200 words and make more jokes.) I need to email them, to say I received their letter. I have two weeks to make their deadline.

9. My Response: this is where everything your mom taught you about manners is relevant.

I send them an email, that day, to I address it to the editor (Marja Black) who had sent me the letter. I tell her that I received her letter, that I am thrilled about the acceptance, and that I will give her the final version of “Fat Fred” by or before the deadline. Meeting deadlines is MOST IMPORTANT!

So, in the next two weeks, I work with the suggestions they gave me and turn “Fat Fred” into an incredible story. Maybe I have to stay up a little later, or skip the mall a couple times, but it’s worth it. I email the story back to Marja as she asked me to (many editors resort to email, after the piece is accepted.) I get a quick note from her telling me it’s great, and she’ll send me the payment ($20.00 and 2 copies) when it’s published.

10. The Publication: Where you see your name in print and dollars in your wallet.

One day, six months after Step 6, I get a big package in the mail. There are two free copies of Children’s Horror, Issue 121, and “The Tale of Fat Fred” is inside. It’s beautiful, it’s amazing, it’s got my name right next to it. Even better, there’s a check for twenty dollars. This is the end of a very happy idea.

Well, not really. Twenty bucks won’t cover the ten copies my mother is going to buy to send to family and friends. And for most people, the story has just started. Kids everywhere are going to read “The Tale of Fat Fred,” and never know how long it took to get into their hands. I, on the other hand, am already to step 2 with “The Story of Skinny Sarah.”

So, that’s your average submissions story, with a few noted add-ons.

Writing The Story First. Sometimes I write the story first, and then look for a suitable magazine. This is OK, but it means I may have to do extra work in order to make it fit the Writers’ Guidelines.

Getting Rejected. Rejection is a huge part of the writing life, and it will be part of yours too. If you are rejected at Step 8, you go back to Step 2… sort of. After dealing with your rage and disappointment, you remember this other magazine you thought about: Scary Stories. I would have to cut out some jokes, because this zine doesn’t like jokes as much, but altogether I can go from Step 3 to Step 6 because I’ve already written most of the story.

Un-perfect Publication. Maybe you get the magazine and your name is spelled wrong. The magazine looks terrible. Your money is late in coming. The editor is condescending and awful. After publishing a story, there’s not much you can do about it. But hey, you did get published. This way you can tell other zines that you have been, as well as your friends. Don’t ruin a pretty good ending… just avoid Children’s Horror in the future.

And, that’s a wrap! Any questions you would like to ask, please do. If you have a general question, I would advise you post it on the site, even directly onto this postIf you have a specific question about your situation, etc, talk to me at . I would like to say that most everything I have learned about submissions comes from other people. Editors, writers like Kathy Henderson, books, magazines, and one or two things from experience. Thanks to everyone.

Nextweek: So, we know how to submit, but why should we? And what happens if I’m working on a book at the same time?

One Day More...

Innovative 3 comes out tomorrow! It's a big issue, with Submissions 101 in "Word", and a unique, paying market (our first) magazine spotlighted, and a very cool book.

The title of this post comes from the best musical of all time (my opinion), "Les Miserables." I want to write about music and writing later, but first: you. Do you listen to music when you write? What kind?

I'm a huge classical fan, but strangely, I can't really write to classical. The first draft of my current book was written mostly on Disneymania 1 and 2. I usually have to listen to pop or rock, because it's fast and doesn't let me stall too long. The Lizzie McGuire movie soundtrack and some old Amy Grant CDs are my Old Faithful.