Sunday, February 3, 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


The Driver's Manual to Publication, Part IV of VI:
Researching & Planning the "Big" Markets

You and your sweet little Mini Cooper have been having fun on small town streets. But disaster loms. You are required to take a ROAD TRIP spanning one thousandm iles. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?


Almost everyone dreams of writing for the big kahunas. Reader's Digest, Writer's Digest, American Girl, Sports Illustrated, GQ, Esquire, Vogue, Cobblestone, Redbook... the mystical fairyland of the magazine stand (or the highly regarded trade magazine) is seductive. But road trips are not for the losers in the beat-up Honda, and neither will the huge zines take notice of a sloppy, naieve WriTeen. Bring out your eco-friendly Corvettes and Jaguars, and let's journey to the land of $1/word (or .20/word.)


For many successful writers, getting paid $.25 USD/word is laughable. For WriTeens, this is amazing pay. Don't be afraid to relativize the words "big" and "big money."

1. Identify Motivation... DUH!

Obviously, the payoffs of being published in magazines that people have heard of, or that will pay for all your prom expenses, are obvious. But if you are seriously going to pursue publication in larger magazines, you need to make sure you want it enough to do the work.

I want it enough to sacrifice "free time" for research. I've been privileged to write for FACES and Cobblestone, two prominent educational magazines. Both times, it took a substantial amount of effort just to research the information for a query. I spent part of my summer vacation working on the Cobblestone article (comes out in March, folks) and I think I may have put aside homework for FACES. While I won't advise this as being wise, you need to want it and be willing to put in the work.

I want it enough to be professional. This means you will spend a great amount of time working on details, working on getting the correct envelopes, the right paper... time and money are required. You will also need to make sure you are submitting the correct piece to the correct magazine. Otherwise, all time and money will be wasted.

2. Identify Location: surprisingly easy.

The big guns are very easy to find. Any Writer's Market book will list these, as well as (mentioned last time) and freelance market indexes. It takes the intelligence of an ant to find these magazines, but the intelligence of a super-writer to write for them successfully. Or just a hardworking WriTeen, you pick.

Watch out, road trip. You've got a highly prepared teen writer coming at you.*

Gabrielle Linnell is the editor of Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen. She is cheering for the New York Giants this Super Bowl, because the Philadelphia Eagles have had an awful year.


Interview with Jessica Day George, author of Dragon Slippers and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

Jessica Day George is the author of two books (so far), and has a third, Dragon Flight, coming out in April. She lives in Utah with her husband, young son, and five pound Maltese. A BYU graduate, Jessica has also lived in Idaho, Delaware, and New Jersey. She enjoys traveling and watching movies, and reads like a maniac, knits like everyone in the world needs handmade socks, and spends far too much time tootling around the Internet. She speaks German and Norwegian and can read Old Norse, which sounds pointless but really comes in handy when you're writing about trolls. To get on her good side, offer her chocolate, the darker the better.

INN: What was the hardest part about writing Dragon Slippers?

JDG: Finding a balance between moving the plot along and showing Creel learning to be a professional dressmaker. Originally there were many long scenes of sewing in the book, but when I took them all out, it looked like she never did anything. I had to find a way to put in just enough dressmaking, but not too much!

INN: How did the characters (Creel, Luka, Marta, Amalia, Larkin) evolve from first to final draft?

JDG: These characters just sprang into my head, fully formed, one night, so very few changes were made. I think Larkin changed the most. She originally was the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, and had more of a chip on her shoulder about the royals. She wanted to be one, but at the same time she HATED them, and Amalia had promised to make her a lady if she helped her. It was all too convoluted, and so we simplified Larkin's character. Creel was also a bit more antagonistic, at least toward Larkin. Their fight was a lot more physical, and Creel broke Larkin's nose. Creel also slapped a couple of people. I wanted her to be tough, but it made her too mean.

INN: Where is your favorite place to write, and why?

JDG: My favorite place to write is on a sandy beach, with cool ocean breezes caressing my cheeks. . . . Ah! Of course, the reality is that I do most of my writing standing up at the kitchen counter (that's where I am right now!), because I have a toddler who likes to type, too! So I just use my laptop wherever and whenever I get a chance. Lately I've been sitting with it in our office to do my serious writing, which is nice. I sit on a little couch, and there are nice big bookcases with my favorite books right there next to me.

INN: In the book, Creel meets quite a few dragons! What other dragon books do you enjoy?

JDG: Oh, there are such WONDERFUL dragon books out there! As a teenager, I LOVED Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, and Tea With the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy. I love the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, by Patricia C. Wrede, and Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series, which is a sci fi take on dragons. And then of course there's Jane Yolen's Pit Dragon Trilogy (newly reprinted with fab covers), which are also technically sci fi and simply to die for. (I had the biggest crush on Jakkin for years!) And last year I discovered the Temeraire books by Naomi Novik, the first one is His Majesty's Dragon, and it's amazing. Go, read them! Read them all!

INN: Tell us about your new novel, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow.

JDG: This book is so close to my heart, I was almost afraid to write it. It's based on the Norwegian fairy tale East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon, about a young girl who agrees to live with a polar bear for one year, in return for her family being granted fabulous wealth. Now, I've wanted to live in Norway since I was a kid. I don't know why, there was just something about the landscape, the language, that just appealed to me.

I went there in 1997, and it was everything I'd dreamed: huge black rock cliffs, dark forests, blue ocean. Simply gorgeous. And East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon had always been my favorite fairy tale. I knew that someday I would write this book, and try to use my love for the story and for the country to really write a book from the heart. I included all my favorite things: trolls, expanses of snow, wolves, polar bears, strange old ladies giving magical gifts, true love, adventure, humor, and wove it all into this timeless story of an unwanted girl who finds love and magic only to lose it all, but instead of giving up, she searches to the ends of the earth to find her prince and make things write.

It's a breathtaking story, and I've included lots of imagery of the Norwegian landscape, as well as using Norwegian and Old Norse words to give it a very authentic feel. Can you tell I'm just so excited, I could talk about this all day?

INN: Any advice for teen writers?

JDG: Read, read, read! The best way to learn to write well is to read well-written books and see how it's done. And don't just read the one type of book you're interested in (fantasy, for example). You need to experience other ideas and other types of writing: biographies, graphic novels, classic fiction, plays, mysteries. And you need to practice writing. Write down any and all ideas you have, bits of stories, pieces of novels, and keep them. No matter how silly they seem at the time! You might find a way to use them later, you might just like to look back and see how your writing has changed. But any writing is practice, so as soon as you have something to write, write it!

Thanks, Jessica! Visit her website at

You can buy Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by clicking and buy Dragon Slippers by clicking

Innovative Housekeeping

Typo Correction: I goofed last week! Jessica's current new book is Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow.

We are always looking for writers or WriTeens to write WORD. Email me at for details.

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