Sunday, January 20, 2008

Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen

Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen

An E-Zine for Teens Who Write and Those Who Support Them

Edited by Gabrielle Linnell

The Driver’s Manual to Publication, Part II of VI:

Writing and Publishing “Small”

By Gabrielle Linnell

While watching the NFC and AFC championship games today (I’m a not-so-closeted fan of the NFL), it’s tempting to revert back to a dried-out sports cliché. But I am resisting the linebacker-size demons and continuing with references to an art I know nothing about: driving.

As a reminder from last week,

“We will identify Motivation (why the heck do you want to go there?), Location (where the heck you want to be published), Directions (how the heck do you get there?) and Maps (resources that heck, will get you there.) In our research & planning segments, we'll focus on Motivation and Location, and the rest will fit in somewhere else.”

This week, as we discuss writing and getting published with small nonpaying markets, here are your Directions and Maps.

Directions. After you have figured out why you want to be published and laid out goals (I suggested between four and ten “small” clips), how are you going to map your way there?

Projects File. To keep track of what I’m writing and what I want to write, I have a document called “Project What’s On.” I keep a list of pieces I’m working on, and where I want to submit them, as well as ideas of projects I want to work on in the future. This is one idea for “mapping out” your writing projects.

Another method is the brainstorm-and-outline idea. Take a market like travel writing. Joaquin Jalapeno wants to write eventually for the New York Times Travel Section, but he’s being smart and writing for small zines first. He’s taken five trips recently, and knows that he can turn all of those into multiple articles.

He does his research with his Maps and finds ten travel e-zines, all with different specialties. Joaquin brainstorms for ways to slant his different trips into pieces to fit the specific zines. For example, he comes across McDonalds TravelZine. On his trip to North Carolina, he had met a former football star at a local McDonalds—brilliant story for the article.

But the trick with planning and outlining is that Joaquin doesn’t stop. He matches ALL of his newfound zines with articles that he could write, through brainstorming and outlining. Then, when he has a list similar to this:


“Deer Honey” (article about the effect of deer on honey production) for NATURAL TRAVEL, BEE EDITION.


After he’s formed his plan, he can start with the first article on his list, write it and submit, and continue.

TIP: Small markets are usually more specialized than larger ones. Make sure you get a feel for the nuances before you submit.

Maps. Nonpaying markets like e-zines and small circulars can be hard to find, because people aren’t that crazy about writing for them (think about the money thing.) However, they are out there and with a few tricks you can figure it out.

Read bios of newbie writers. You should be reading several writing zines, just to keep on top of your game. Look for the articles written by new authors, and see if they’ve been published in places you’d like to write for, as well.

Google Keywords + writers or writers’ guidelines. Joaquin, for example, could Google “North Carolina travel writers.” You will find all sorts of results, but chances are there are zines about the topic of your choice.

Ask the fanatics. Browse through forums or go to group meetings of enthusiasts. If you’re writing literary fiction, see if there’s a Yahoo! Group of people who love literary fiction, and ask around if there’s any good e-zines or websites they can recommend. Keep your ears perked.

Think about driving (ah, I try not to.) Your ultimate goal is to race down the highway to your friends’ parties. However, in order to get there, you start in a parking lot. You aim to get 5 hours experience on the backroads and in cemetaries. After that, it’s Main Street and eventually—slowly—the 70 mph highway. But that comes later.

Got to go—dang, if those Patriots didn't just win again.*
Gabrielle Linnell is the editor of Innovative. Personally, she cheers for the Eagles while writing for magazines like Cobblestone, FACES, Library Sparks, ByLine and others.

bookshelf Interview with Judy Gregerson, author of Bad Girls Club (Blooming Tree Press, Summer 2007) - ISBN: 1-933831-01-4

Judy Gregerson was born at the very end of Long Island on a very warm and sunny summer day. Everyone was happy she made it because the cord was wrapped around her neck and there were a few scary moments before she popped out. The rest of her life went a little better. She grew up in a town that shut down at 5 p.m. and got out as soon as she found a college that would accept her. That was SUNY Oswego and she attended school with famous people like Bruce Coville, Al Roker, and Jerry Seinfeld. Ok, only Bruce was there at the time and she didn’t know him. But it makes for a good story. After college, Judy worked as a newspaper copy editor, a marketing assistant at Viking/Penguin, in the advertising department of The New York Times, and then had various jobs at an ad agency, doing public relations, and the likes. Finally, she worked herself into an ulcer and moved to the west coast.

Her first book was published in 1980 by Doubleday (a memoir) and she was named in Who’s Who in America that year. It really didn’t help her any. In fact, no one seems to remember. Judy now lives in the Seattle area with her two daughters, husband, dog, cat, frog, gerbil, and two mice. She has gone back to college to get a degree in Human Development and Family Studies.

INN: Bad Girls Club is about a very painful topic (child abuse.) What inspired you to write this story?
JG: Well, although abuse may be one of the themes, I was thinking more of writing about a family that made all of the worst mistakes and exploring what it means to make bad choices and how those choices affect us and the people around us. So, I see the book as more about choices and consequences than I do about abuse. And I also see it as more of a book about role reversals, where the child takes on the role of the parent.
I will admit, though, that my story was inspired by a man who told me that his mother locked him and his brother in the house and set it on fire. But that got me to thinking about what kind of mother would do that to her kids. From there, it moved to the idea of what a teen would have to do to survive in a home like that.
I could have chosen to write about alcoholism or drug abuse, but somehow this crazy mother fit really nicely into the story. I wanted to make her crazy, in almost a generic way, so that people who had experienced craziness in others on any level could relate to her. And other than some verbal abuse, I kept the child abuse in the background because it was more about how the choices of these parents nearly destroyed their children’s lives than it was about child abuse. It’s a tragedy but I think it happens all the time in America.

INN: What kind of writing did you do before you wrote Bad Girls Club? Short stories, articles, poetry, journaling...?

JG: I started out by learning copy editing at a newspaper. Then I moved to writing copy for a mail order company and then an ad agency and another newspaper. Along the way, I worked in promotion and did lots of brochures and things like that and then I wrote a nonfiction book when I was about 27 that was published by Doubleday. After that, I gave up writing and about 9 years ago, I decided to learn how to write a novel. I figured I could do it in a year. Boy, was I wrong. So, I’m a copy writer turned novelist who was just a little bit off about what it would take to learn to write a novel.

INN: What was the best part about the writing of your book?

JG: I think the best part was when I fully and completely understood every character, their back story, their motives, and their wants. Once I hit that, the story grew and things started connecting. I loved the feeling of creating something from nothing and watching the story form in front of me when the day before I might not have known where I was going. For a long time (5 years), it was like driving through the fog. I only saw as far as the headlights and it frustrated me no end sometimes. I learned to write in that fog but when the fog cleared (finally) and things became completely clear, I felt like I’d hit my stride and the book deepened greatly.

INN: How did Bad Girls Club get published?

JG: It went the normal route. Lots of rejections. Encouragement from unexpected places. It sat on my hard drive for months sometimes while I tried to figure out where to send it. I had help from two very nice editors who believed in the story and helped me form it. And then Blooming Tree Press decided that they wanted to buy it.

INN: I believe you're a member of the Class of 2k7 (, a group of debut young adult and children's authors supporting each other in publicity, encouragement, etc. What has that experience been like?

JG: It’s been a wild year! I’ve met lots of new people and I’ve gotten to share in their successes. We’ve all learned from each other and encouraged each other. It was fun to see our name in print in some of the big industry rags and also to meet librarians who had heard about us on the web. The year has almost come to an end and I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime.

INN: Any advice for teen writers?

JG: Take your time, write what you care about, and don’t worry how everyone else does it. Find your own process and let it lead and guide you. And don’t plan on getting rich as a writer. Get an education and a day job.

INN: Again, thank you for your time.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for having me on your blog today! I really enjoyed the interview and look forward to answering any questions that come up.


Cheryl said...

Thanks for hosting Judy today. She has written an amazing book and I am thrilled to help her get the word out about it.