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.

Thursday, August 2, 2007 Reminder, the incredible web-zine for those of us who write for children & teen's magazines, has published their August issue. Check it out! It's free of ads and charge, and a terrific resource. You hear motivational and instructional wisdom from writers across the country, plus submission advice and market ideas. And guess what? In the "Inside Markets" section, there's a blurb about Innovative!

A word on "Submissions 101": I'm doing it for this coming up issue of Innovative (Innovative 3) and will be posting it here, and giving the link on the email. I've written the draft and it's 3 pages full, with a size 10 Times New Roman font. So this way nobody gets a clunky email, and the info will be here for future reference.