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.