Monday, April 28, 2008

Notes as the WriTeens Prepare to Do SATs

While writing your essay...

Average about five examples per paragraph.

These examples must be pink Kool-Aid (generic brand) examples. That is, description! Brand name! Secondary color! The College Board people love these examples.

Pretend to be a high-achieving student, even if you aren't one. The perfectionism essays always go over big.

Use the word "you" as little as possible (except in quotations by marvelous, educated people.)

Bull as much as you have to. They are not fact-checking, they are spell-checking. This means that you can pondiferate on the neo-classical themes of the no.2 hit band PolKast ("My love/ like a lullaby /drifts away") even though there is no such band as PolKast.

Note: few, if any, of these tips apply in real life freelancing. In fact, never apply this to freelancing. You will be hunted down and tied to an non-politically correct totem pole.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen

The Bewitching Past

WORD: Learning from the Big Guys

by Gabrielle Linnell

The Bookshelf Interviews are one of the best parts of running Innovative. It's incredible, for me, to interact with authors who have either "made it" or are in the process of making it. Excitement! Intrigue! Adventure! The publishing journey isn't fascinating, but it is inspiring.

Always read what writers have written about writing. They know what they are talking about.


The artist doesn't have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don't have the time to read reviews. - William Faulkner

Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead. - Louisa May Alcott

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards. - Robert Heinleim

Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it's just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it. - David Sedaris

Keep writing. Keep doing it and doing it. Even in the moments when it's so hurtful to think about writing. - Heather Armstrong

The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn't require any. - Russell Baker

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. - Thomas Mann

I've always believed in writing without a collaborator, because where two people are writing the same book, each believes he gets all the worries and only half the royalties. - Agatha Christie

Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. - Stephen King

If writers stopped writing about what happened to them, then there would be a lot of empty pages. - Elaine Liner

Thanks to, for making this easier.

Bookshelf: Interview with Marissa Doyle

Marissa Doyle originally planned to be an archaeologist but ended up as a writer. But she's okay with that, because both careers allow her to explore the past and bring back to life the people who lived (or might have lived) there. She lives near Boston with her family, a ludicrous number of books and antiques which she of course buys purely for research purposes, and a bossy pet rabbit. You can visit her at her website,, or at the blog on nineteenth century teen life that she shares with fellow YA author Regina Scott,
INN: What's been the craziest part of Bewitching Season's journey to publication?

MD: Probably the fact that its release was delayed--originally it was due to be released in fall 2007, but for various reasons was re-scheduled for spring 2008. It was very disappointing news at the time, of course...but in the long run I think it was an excellent decision for many reasons: I learned a lot more about promotion and about the publishing world in general in that extra time, and I think readers are more interested in teen historical fiction now since the release of books like The Luxe and the last of Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy.

INN: If you could have dinner with any one of your characters, who would it be and why?

MD: Queen Victoria, definitely. I know my heroines so well that dinner with them would be like a regular family dinner, nothing special...but what fun to hang out with an eighteen-year-old Victoria. Most people have this mental picture of her as an old lady with a beaky nose swathed in black (all of her, not just her nose), but when she was young she was a total party girl and liked nothing better than watching the sun coming up after dancing at a ball all night. And could we invite my heroines' little brother, Charles, to the dinner as well? He has a huge crush on Victoria and I want to watch him blush over the quenelles of chicken a la Toulouse and the artichokes a la Provencale.

INN: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

MD: The dumb thing is, I don't know--originally I thought I would be an archaeologist and actually started on a doctorate before realizing academia wasn't quite where I wanted to spend my life. I've been writing all my life--I wrote and illustrated books in grade school (usually about witches and bad fairies kidnapping good fairy babies), edited and wrote for the newspaper and the literary magazine in high school, and wrote fundraising letters and grant proposals before becoming a stay-at-home mom...but it wasn't till I was in my 30s that the first real book ideas grabbed me. So I think the drive to write stories was always just needed time to ripen.

INN: What's your favorite book from nineteenth century England?

MD: Oh, I love this question! Can I list a few? I love Pride and Prejudice, of course, for its sly humor and depiction of early 19th century English life...I love Jane Eyre because Jane is such a wonderful character, spirited and human...and I love Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers for the humor and characters, but also for the deeper layers--he examined many of the social issues of the day, as Dickens did, but in a more nuanced way and without Dickens' cheesy melodrama.

INN: Tell us about your next book (due out spring 2009).

MD: Well, it's about what happens to the other Leland twin--Penelope, or Pen--when she goes to Ireland to study magic with her former governess Ally and Ally's new husband, who is Irish. She meets a gorgeous young man who just happens to be an illegitimate son of Queen Victoria's "wicked" uncle, the Duke Of Cumberland, and learns about Irish magic in ways she'd never dreamed of. I think it leans a bit more toward fantasy than Bewitching Season did, though the concerns about the Duke of Cumberland being a threat to Queen Victoria are historically quite real--a lot of people were worried he'd try to have her assassinated before she married and had children, because then he would get the crown. He had kind of a bad reputation, as you might guess, and was rumored to have killed his own valet, with whose wife he was having an affair. The modern royals have nothin' on these folks as far as juicy gossip goes.

INN: Any advice for teen writers?

MD: Yes! Read a lot, both in your favorite genres and out of them. Read non-fiction too, because it's a great source of ideas. Try to read with a writer's eye and analyze what works (what makes you laugh or cry or keeps you riveted to the page) and what doesn't in the books you read.

2. If you're not quite ready to write fiction yet, at least keep a journal and actually write in it. It will get you into the habit of writing, teach you to express yourself clearly and use words well. And since it's not for public consumption, you don't need to feel self-conscious about it.

3. Explore the internet. There are dozens of excellent blogs, websites. and forums about writing and the publishing industry out there...and if you want to be a writer, you need to know how the industry works. Start with the Absolute Write Water Cooler, a writers' forum

4. When you are ready to write, join a critique group (check at your local library--they often meet there) or find a trusted friend (I recommend a teacher) to read your work and comment on it. It's terrifying at first--probably one of the scariest things you'll do if you're serious about writing. But it will accomplish two important things: it will help you improve your writing, and it will get you accustomed to sharing your work. After all, if you ever want to see your work in print, you'll have to submit it to editors and/or agents some day.

Thanks, Marissa!

You can buy Bewitching Season at, and don't forget to visit Marissa at both her website and her blog at .

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Homework vs. Writing

I'm a junior, hoping to attend a selective college, who therefore is chained to my computer at night when it comes to homework (okay, maybe not chained.) But my grades are important at this time of life and for many WriTeens, grades are our masters. We have to do whatever they say to make them happy.

Yet, if you are pursuing a writing opportunity, homework and writing can collide.

If it's a query you'd hoped to send out by tomorrow, but Mr. Math Grump assigned fifty-two problems: Mr. Math Grump wins. The exception to this is if you're writing a solicited piece: if you have told your editor it's in by the fifth, it better darn well be in that editor's inbox on the morning of the sixth. We're proving to the world that WriTeens CAN be responsible, remember? REMEMBER?

I try to schedule writing around homework- I work on my book for an hour before school. Freelancing is tougher to work around, but I'll get there. Slowly.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

If You Want to Write...

Research the Industry

What does a career in publishing look like? There are magazine editors, book editors (and within that, acquisition editors, etc.), copyeditors, freelance writers, publicists, literary agents... the list goes on and on. If you love all this publishing stuff, think about publishing as a career. I'm looking at becoming an editor (of books) because I love criticizing other people (their work, I mean.) Try the different blogs we have here. Read some books.

Is publishing your future?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen

Chick It Out!
Opal Mehta, Carolyn Mackler and WriTeen Plagiarism

WORD: Opal Mehta and WriTeen Plagiarism

by Gabrielle Linnell

Wikipedia has a succint (and hopefully accurate) summary of Kaavya Visnawanathan and her plagiarism charges over here I'm annoyed at what happened, but especially because of the effects on the WriTeen community. WriTeens are always suspected of plagiarism more than adults are. This means we have to fight harder to prove the originality of our work. What Kaavya did didn't help the stereotype.

Here are three tips for making sure her headaches never become yours.

1. Always check for proper citations. In nonfiction, make sure that you keep great records of where you get information. It's usually better to have a little too much citation than not enough. Few magazines use MLA, but most require a bibliography. Questions about a particular editor's citation desires? ASK!

2. Watch out for "osmosis plagiarism." Kaavya originally used that defense. If you're writing a short story about a yellow dog in a blue world, don't go reading a collection of short stories about yellow dogs in blue worlds. Be aware of what you read and how it affects what you write.

3. Write every word. The simplest way to protect yourself from plagiarism accusations is to write every word of every piece you write. If it's yours, truly yours, you will have nothing to worry about.

Gabrielle Linnell has written for FACES, Cobblestone, Library Sparks, ByLine, Once Upon a Time, Stories for Children and other magazines.

Bookshelf: Vegan Virgin Valentine

Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler was a book I picked up this week and enjoyed. Mara Valentine is your stereotypical type-A overachiever. She's gotten into Yale (early admission), Johns Hopkins summer program (2 college courses, 1 summer), is fighting with her ex-boyfriend over valedictorian status (she's so going to win) and life is pretty much manageable until her 16-year-old niece (yes, niece) V moves in and wrecks everything, including Mara's identity.
I love books about overachievers losing it (see: The Overachievers, Hacking Harvard, my own novel) and this was no exception. I wouldn't recommend this for readers under 13 or 14, and I do have some stylistic problems with the book, but... if you (are a girl) looking for a light, funny read, I recommend Mackler. I believe the sequel to this book, Guyaholic, was released this past year: where V, the most memorable character, takes center stage.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Another WriTeen Celebrity: Ned Vizzini

One I forgot to mention a week or two ago is NED VIZZINI. He started out writing essays for a local New York magazine as a teen, and then published a collection of student-observation essays in a book called Teen Angst? Nah.... He then wrote Be More Chill which did so well he had a nervous breakdown, which he then wrote about in a book, It's Kind of a Funny Story. He's in his mid-twenties now, and his website is An ex-WriTeen worth watching.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Stuff at Innovative

CHECK IT OUT! After hearing from Susan Johnston ( about all the cool new stuff on Blogger Draft, I found I could put a blogroll on here! I'm adding all the blogs we featured in "The Best of the Blogs."

This means you can stop by here and then go to any of the awesome blogs we featured and learn EVEN MORE about publishing... NO JOKE! It's just to the right of the sidebar, in case you can't see it.

AND tomorrow or later this week I'll add another blogroll for the blogs of authors we have interviewed. They all do cool things: E. Lockhart posts interviews with other amazing YA writers, Melissa Walker gives away free books... why not have all this stuff on the same page?

AND We'll be starting a new weekly-ish column soon called Famous Authors Speak Out! On WriTeenism. Updates this weekend.

If You Want to Write...

An Introspective Look into One's Personal Habits

What do you do with your old writing mags?

I'm sort of in a quandary. On one hand, The Writer and Writer's Digest have SO MUCH good information, SO MANY good interviews, how could I ever recycle them? On the other metaphorical paw, I never have time to re-read them. Sometimes I give them away as prizes here.

So... what do you do? If you want to write, you read writing magazines and e-zines and blogs and basically never escape from the writing world. What do you do with all those old magazine copies?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen

Prolific is Not the Adjective of Profile

WORD: Profilic Things to Think About

by Gabrielle Linnell

DISCLAIMER: I have yet to write one of these things so I can't pretend to be an expert. As always, however, I have an opinion AND observations to share.

Profiles are articles written to showcase a specific person or organization, usually with a slant. For example, Teen Vogue does a monthly feature on a girl performing some sort of activism: sending cell phones to soldiers or books to Chinese children, etc. Profiles are fun to read and therefore popular with most magazines.

As a WriTeen, your motto is to always approach a piece with my teenagerness in mind. (There has got to be a better way to say that.) There are several ways to do this.

1. Do the profile-essay hybrid. Write about Bill Clinton. Okay, there are thousands of articles and books written about the ex-prez, but how many of them are by teenagers? Write about what is was like growing up (as a child) while he was in power: from the economic decisions he made to the Lewinsky scandal. Tie it into the Hillary campaign and Definitely, Maybe: you're set for a fantastic general news magazine piece, or an essay for the "Opinion" section of the newspaper.

2. Write a profile for a teenzine. Pick the professor of biological engineering that's a great friend of your parents' and write a profile for Girl's Life. Sound bizarre? Focus the profile on the lack of women in the engineering field, opportunities for teenage girls to get involved in engineering, and ways that engineering and teen life intersect. This sounds a lot more interesting than a straight article about the professor's Ph.Ds.

3. Keep it personal. I think of myself as the best possible source for anything, from articles to short stories. The more personal the article, the better it is. If you're not writing a full-on profile, try tying yourself into it somehow. If that's inappropriate, write a freelance article with "mini-profiles" on your sources. People are interested in other people (thus the magazine People). People articles will sell.

Gabrielle Linnell loves fashion (amateurly), football (GO EAGLES) and writing (so fantastic I need a blog to express my love.)

NOTE: I totally forgot to feature Ned Vizzini in our WriTeen Celebs WORD. He'll grab the spotlight later this week.

Bookshelf: The Memory Keeper's Daughter

After seeing a full-page ad in the New York Times today about the upcoming Lifetime movie, I thought it worth talking about. The Memory Keeper's Daughter, I think, can be categorized as literary fiction. The author Kim Edwards has a distinct writing style and tells the story of lies and loss, and ultimately hope, in subtleties. I liked the book and it's worth reading if you're interested in a different style. Perhaps you are the next big Literary Fic Thing!

NEXTWEEK: We catch up with Marissa Doyle and talk about her debut novel, Bewitching Season, that comes out next week!

Crazed Mind Gone Missing, Authorities Scratch Heads


Gabrielle Linnell, editor/writer of Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen, has lost her mind and has no idea where to find it. After initiating a change from Sunday posts to Saturday posts, the editor completely forgot and has no idea why she forgot. Authorities are scratching their collective heads as to why this is. Meanwhile, Innovative will be posted later today.

Friday, April 11, 2008

If You Want to Write...

So, Journalism or Creative Writing?

I'm in Journalism Skills 1 right now and just had my first feature published in our school paper. Not the most notable article :D but it was kind of cool. I have discovered, however, that I hate journalism and a career in journalism is out. Telling the whole truth? Interviewing countless people? Something that nobody really reads anyway?

However, I concede that journalism has its purpose and many people are good at it and like it. So, if you want to write, which one? Journalism or Creative Writing?

Monday, April 7, 2008

In the Beginning...

I was Googling myself and found a copy of the first Innovative issue... way back in July 2007! It seems like an age ago. I thought it was funny. :D I'm a very funny writer.

a word for the writeen
premiere issue: July 22nd, 2007
Editor: Gabrielle Linnell


It is a truth universally acknowledged that teen writing is not socially acceptable.

I mean, what kind of weekend activity could be more embarrassing? “Hey, I skate-boarded.” “Hey, I shopped.” “Hey, I devoured three books on marketing and pasted four envelopes with submissions to hooty-tooty magazines?”

You see my point?

The problem that adult and teen writers face is that to be a writer is to dream about something, to leap for it. It’s not like you can go to School of Writing and graduate with a degree, so you’re “officially” a writer. Even real MFA graduate schools can’t guarantee that their students are prime storytellers. So, like most dreams, it’s embarrassing to talk about because if you do spill the beans, people are going to think you’re a little childish.

Thousands of kids dream of being writers. I guess there’s something enchanting about the word, about the creative process. Most of these same-said kids grow up and find different jobs, but some of us refuse to grow up. There are a few of us who take the dream and make it into something solid, like a copy of a magazine with your name on it. We’re not kids, we’re not grown-ups. We’re teen writers.

Innovative: (courtesy of

ahead of the times; “the advanced teaching methods”; “had advanced views on the subject”; “a forward-looking corporation”; “is British industry innovative enough?” [syn: advanced]
being or producing something like nothing done or experienced or created before; “stylistically innovative works”; “innovative members of the artistic community”; “a mind so innovational, so original”

We don’t have the maturity of a sixty-year-old woman who has seen the world. We don’t have the naivete of a six-year-old writing for Stone Soup. But I think we can bring innovation to the literary world, “producing something like nothing done or experienced or created before.”

Welcome to Innovative. Innovative is an adjective. Innovative is also my new baby project, that you are embarking on with me. I’m specifically looking at how WriTeens work in publication.
You have to love the metaphysical discussion of writing as art, but this is more writing-in-action.

I want to create something FOR the WriTeens, since there’s not a lot out there. I have never read a writing magazine for teenagers, about writing and the writing process. There are a few books, but nothing compared to the amount available for the big guys. So, to help fill in the blank, there’s Innovative.

How am I qualified to do this? I’m not sure that I am. I’ve been published multiple times (check me out at and writing since I was seven or eight. I love words, with a surpassing passion. I’m a teenager, who writes and attempts to do it with innovation.

And heck, this looks like fun.

nextweek: I take a look at Stone Soup Syndrome. What is it? Find out!

MARKET spotlight: is a monthly e-zine for people who write for children’s and teen’s magazines, like an online support group. First of all, it’s great to read. I read it every month and almost always come away with ideas and market opportunities. But it’s also a very nice way to get published.

It’s a nonpaying market, but it’s a good clip* and as Ariel Gore, author of How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead, says, publish as much as possible. If you have an innovative thought about writing, or teenagers, or publication, see if it would fit in here.

WHO YOU TALK TO: Jan Fields, editor. editor AT
WHAT YOU SEND: Essays and success/attempt/what-I-learned stories. No fiction. There is a niche in their submission guidelines for stuff about/for young writers.DETAILS:
*Clip: a published story/article/essay/poem, often requested by other magazines as proof you’ve been published and have writing ability. It’s like if my story gets published in Learn ABCs, I can print it out and then when big magazine Learn Alphabet Phonetically wants me to send my submission AND a “clip,” I can send (or CLIP!) my Learn ABCs story with it.

Bookshelf: The Young Writer’s Guide to Getting Published by Kathy Henderson.
YWG2GP is a classic every WriTeen should read. It covers the basic essentials of submissions and marketing, with some nice profiles and about one hundred markets. WARNING: The latest edition is several years old, so some magazines she lists are defunct. But the basics remain current.

~TIP!~When you read magazines you like, read the bios of the articles’ authors. Usually they list other magazines where they’ve been published, like: Julie Joyce has been published in Innovative, Creative, etc.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Minor Heart Attack

I was finishing up a submission and decided to include the link to my full publishing resume. I scrolled around my website... where is it?

Where is it?

It is gone.

I freaked out and I still haven't found it. I had a page up on my old blog that had a list of everywhere I was published, and I was very good about updating it. The blog has since become the food of spammers but the page has remained until somehow... it is gone. Completely vanished into cyberspace.

I spent the last fifteen minutes trying to remember everywhere I've been published. I know it's about twenty-five times. It's a heartbreaking type of situation because you work so hard for each piece and then not to have a record of it, for colleges and publishers, is devastating. I'm at 21 and 22 right now, so I think I got all the major clips, although I can't remember a few of the ones I wrote for Dang it.

Let this be a warning: KEEP GOOD RECORDS. Even if you've only been published once and think, gee, I'll never forget. I totally forgot about New Moon (my first clip) until like five minutes ago. Gee.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen

Smart Girls, WriTeen Celebrities and Undersea Contests

Bookshelf: Interview with Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, nationally known Positive Psychologist and Happiness Coach speaks regularly on radio programs around the country, is the host of her own radio shows and appears on television in New York and New Jersey. Her newest e-radio show is Kids, Tweens and Teens, A Positive Psychologist looks at all three, on Listen to it live on Mondays at 4:30PM EDT or download it as a podcast 24/7. Her inspiring e-radio show archives can also be found on the web in many places including where she has another e-radio show called THE ENCHANTED SELF. Dr. Holstein is the author of four books, including her latest, The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything). She is in private practice in Long Branch, New Jersey with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein. You can sign up for her e-mail newsletter and/or her daily blessings at Her blog is The Enchanted Self at

INN: Your book tells the story of a young girl going through puberty. What drew you to this particular topic?

BBH: Every stage of life is difficult but perhaps the most difficult time of all is leaving childhood behind and trying to figure out how to be a grown-up. We all spend years trying to figure this out! And we all need to find ways to hold on to the best of ourselves as we transition. Since a good story can be universal at its core, I decided to let a girl share her dilemmas and achievements, worries and wisdom, knowing that we can all relate.

INN: What's the craziest experience you've had with 10/11-year-old girls?

BBH: Probably my own when I was 11 and moving. After we had lunch at one of the girl's homes -homemade with chicken pot pie and chocolate cake, we were to take a public bus to the local amusement park. On the way, I got a horrible stomach ache and was in such pain I couldn't get off the bus. So all the girls went to the park anyway and had my party. I stayed on the bus until it returned me to my neighborhood. Then I got into bed in pain until my mother came home. I have never eaten chicken pot pie again!

INN: I love your title! There's been a lot of talk, from Reviving Ophelia to Queen Bees and Wannabes more recently, about how young adolescent girls are short-changed by society-- resulting in horrible self-image, academic intimidation, depression and worse. What's your advice to a teen girl on surviving the challenges that come with growing up?

BBH: My advice is to find a way, somehow, to hold on to the best of herself. The girl in The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything) finally figures out a solution to moving from girlhood to being a teen. It is an unusual solution, tied into her passions and interests, but it grounds her and makes her feel safe and connected to herself. I think reading this book will help other girls think of their own solutions. And once we hold on to ourselves no one can blow us away!

INN: What do you say to a teen boy trying to understand why teen girls are so crazy?

BBH: Good question. I would tell him that boys and girls develop at different rates and our brains also focus on information in different ways. We all go crazy a bit when we are teens. Boys get hormonal surges that can make them want to ride motorcycles and speed and do daring tricks. Girls have tons of hormones also and get extremely social and talkative. Also girls laugh a lot and that's not so bad. We are really quite different. Fortunately we all level out a bit by the time we grow up and it isn't as hard to understand each other. Just wait!

INN: How did you break into publication?

BBH: I wrote an academic book first-The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy, one of the first books in the field of Positive Psychology. Once I did that I found I just couldn't stop writing! And I was very lucky, that book was published by an academic press who really helped me understand the ropes as far as taking a book from an idea to a published book.
INN: Any advice for teen writers?

BBH: Don't be shy. Write everyday and you will see that you begin to develop a style-a way with words that really suits you. For me, it was the way I could think of almost a trick ending when I would write a story. I just had a certain feel for how something should end. But I don't think that would have happened if I didn't write all the time in high school. I kept a diary and wrote poetry and took any paper I had to write very seriously. My persistence was critical. Remember it is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. I wish you all good luck. Maybe some of you will turn out like me. I'm a professional psychologist but I'm also a writer. It is great to have more than one outlet.
Thank you, Dr. Holstein!

WORD: A Brief Look at WriTeen Celebs


Miley Cyrus is arguably the current teen queen right now. She's got number one songs, her own TV show, and every time I walk into Dillards I see her face on a little girl t-shirt. Yet WriTeen celebrities rarely look like models. If you want to be famous, don't be a writer. Writing is not really glamorous, and the highest satisfaction comes from being by yourself, with a computer. But we WriTeens usually attract attention by being so young and so good at what we do. Or not so good.

We don't have a WriTeen People, but here's a little celeb gossip all the same.
Christopher Paolini is The WriTeen. He wrote Eragon and Eldest, both which stayed on the NYT Bestseller List for an unbelievable amount of time and made buzz because he was a) fifteen when he wrote it and b) he was homeschooled. Eragon became a major motion picture, featuring a hot young Brit as the main character and Jeremy Irons as the cheesy mentor. The entire movie was cheesy, but I'm sure it made moola. Last I heard, Eragon was becoming a 4-book series. I hated Eldest, so I don't really care at this point. He looks a little like Dan Radcliffe in this picture.

Kaavya Visnawathan was The WriTeen Girl. She was a Harvard freshman with a two-book deal for How Opal Mehta Got Wild, Got Kissed and Got a Life, and rumors of a movie deal as well. Yet all was not sweet for this overachiever: within weeks of publication, she had at least five counts of plagiarism against her. Her book was removed from shelves and she's kind of lost the love of the limelight. (The popular novels Born Confused and Sloppy Firsts were both plagiarized from, and I heard rumors about Meg Cabot too.) I got to read the book before the whole plagiarism thing, and liked it. Shame it wasn't original.
S.E. Hinton: the old grande dame. She had a publication contract for The Outsiders on her graduation-from-high-school day. She's gone on to write Tex and other cool stuff, and as far as I know, has remained gossip-free and quite successful. I consider her a celeb for the pure fact that Francis Ford Coppola directed the movie and there was a young Tom Cruise involved. It was them, wasn't it?

SPOTLIGHT! Merlyn's Pen

"Down to the Sea with Paper & Pen"

WHO? One of the biggest organizations for teen writing, with the possible exception of The Alliance for Young Writers & Illustrators. Very reputable, very big deal. Curtis Sittenfeld, of Prep fame, wrote for them when she was a WriTeen.

WHAT? A writing contest for a full scholarship to their writing "camp" in New England.

HOW? They have a specific submission form, check the website for details.


Innovative Housekeeping

Thanks to Dr. Holstein for interviewing with us today!

If you are interested in writing for WORD and would like to see our submission guidelines, please email me at

If you have a question about publication that's personal and would prefer not to share in the comments section, feel free to email me as well! I love hearing from people. Anyone. Hobos on the street. Literary geniuses. I like email.

Innovative will now be posted on Saturdays, instead of Sundays. This means IYW2W will be Tu/Wed, instead of Wed/Thurs. Otherwise, it's business as usual.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

If You Want to Write...

The latest in our weekly "stiletto steps" writing series. Or dwarf steps. Whatever.

Go Local

The more local a writing contest is, the more likely you are to win it. The more local it is, the less entries there will be. There will always be at least fifty or sixty percent of entries that don't follow the rules or are completely impossible. So your odds are better. I was beating myself over the head because I missed a writing contest, and after seeing the winners, knew I could have placed. Darn it.

But, I did tell my English teacher about an essay contest on To Kill a Mockingbird. Our class is reading To Kill a Mockingbird. She has now created an opportunity for anyone in her classes to enter the competition, send her a copy, and earn an extra credit test grade. I feel popular-- except now I have a lot more competition to win this shindig.

P.S. Innovative issues will now be posting on SATURDAYS, allowing readers to relax with the weekend and WORD.

News & Reminders

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart, is on sale! It actually went to bookstores about two weeks ago but I was on Spring Break and it totally slipped my mind. We talked with E. in early March about her new book and I cannot WAIT to grab a copy.

Also, has published their April issue, and it is as helpful as ever. Jan Fields, the editor, wrote a great article about writing for teen zines. Check it out!

AND! April is a crazy publication month for me. I have an article in this month's issue of Library Sparks entitled "Princess Fun for Everyone," on how to incorporate princesses into any age book club.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

And the Granny Goes to... Gabrielle!

I am very honored to have won First Place Young Author Category in the first annual "Granny Awards" at Stories for Children ( My short story, "Eli & Me" was in the first issue of SFC ever! And one of my personal faves.

If you think I'm April-Fooling, check out

Hah! So there!