Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
(Our 100th Post in 100 words)
Most people write long. They use five words instead of one, three similes when zero would suffice, and waste everyone’s time. As WriTeens, we have the shortest attention span of any human being. Use this to your advantage. Write like you’re writing for bored kids in study hall, who are going to tune out if they don’t hear something interesting fast.
Cut adjectives. Make verbs stronger. Read lots of writing books who tell you how to do this better than I can. The shorter you make something, the more action-packed every sentence will be. Tighter words. Stronger words. Better language.
A WORD ON OUR BOOKSHELF CONTEST:
Everyone seems to be too scared to enter. COME ON, PEOPLE! Since you're being such wusses, I'll give you a MAJOR CLUE.
Author X shares a last name with a pivotal character in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. GET TO WORK!
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Looking for quick improvements to make your success rate double? Here are ten quick ideas on getting that happy smiley face from a favorite editor.
1. Change your email from firstname.lastname@example.org to email@example.com.
2. Write a nonfiction piece, offering a student-to-worldingeneral point of view on a hot topic.
3. Read a practical book on writing (Writer Mama, The Renegade Writer, The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals.)
4. Do something crazy on a date, like volunteer at the zoo or climb the Eiffel Tower in a bathing suit.
5. Start a literary magazine at your school.
6. Offer to edit anything by anyone and learn from their mistakes.
7. Write a 300-word paragraph and shorten it down to 30 words.
8. Buy a small notebook that will fit in your pocket or small purse.
9. Email your favorite authors.
10. Write for Innovative.
Gabrielle Linnell has been published about twenty times. She loves writing, loves food, and is excited about the high fashion at tonight's Oscars. Of course, that would involve doing homework before the Oscars.
Who is this author? You're going to have to figure it out. To celebrate the interview on March 9th, we are going to have a little contest. First person to name the correct author in the comments wins! The winner will be featured on the website and will get something funky.
1. Author X has written six young adult books so far.
2. Two are in a series, two are coming out this year, four are stand-alone.
3. One is released on March 25, 2008.
4. Some keywords from these book titles are: "book," "disreputable," "fly" and "how."
5. Two of our previous bookshelf interviewees recommended this author in their Innovative interview (one of them was Melissa Walker, whose own sequel comes out next week!)
6. Delacorte is the publisher of most, if not all of the books (I don't have time to check.)
7. John Green said of a 2006 book, "I think this might be the best YA novel... I've ever read."
Have at it!
Our 100th post should be this week's If You Want to Write! Thanks for your support.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
In conclusion to our series on The Driver's Manual to Publication, on planning your way to print, I'm tackling the biggest project anyone can ever tackle literarily. THE BOOK.
I think just about every teen writer I've ever met is writing a book. Almost without exception it's fantasy. There is nothing wrong with that; fantasy is a great genre. Yet few of these WriTeens really consider publication, and if they do... I have yet to meet one who was really smart about it.
I hold off judgement on genre choice. However, if you are going to drive around the world (or write & publish a book), here are guidelines I've picked up on from books and blogs. I have yet to write a published book, so I can only offer secondhand (and observed) advice.
1. Treat yourself like a grown-up. If you don't take it seriously, success will not take you seriously. READ the books on writing books. READ the books on selling books. READ agenting blogs, publishing blogs, published writer blogs. Familiarize yourself with every aspect of this business.
2. Write a book that ties in with your age. I think this applies to every writer everywhere, but for WriTeens... it helps if you write a book that is directly connected to your experiences and age. Nobody else could have written your book. I think of the author of The Bright Side, a guy WriTeen who wrote a book, teen-to-kids, about surviving your parents' divorce. He made a smart choice, publishing-wise, in writing about an intimate and relevant topic. His age makes this a unique book.
3. Don't worship too many celebrities. Christopher Paolini... we've talked about him before. He wouldn't be as successful, I don't think, if he wasn't so young when he started. But don't pattern yourself on his trail. That's the point about crazy success: it's unique. It won't happen that way again.
Also, there's authors like Kaavya V. who wrote How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life. Sound familiar? The Harvard sophomore plagiarized five or more authors in writing her book. It is no longer found on bookstore shelves.
4. Look for long-term opportunities. If you plan on making writing a career, explore options. If you live near London or NYC, try to get a publishing internship. If not, think about majoring in creative writing or publishing and spending your summers with important writing people.
I don't include our regular "Directions" and "Maps" this week because there are few of either. Nobody really understands why certain books sell and why others don't. I can recommend the Scholastic PUSH! Contest, one of the few novel contests for WriTeens, as well as the Delacorte Middle Grade/Young Adult Fiction Contest. These are really competitive, but worth a shot.
Best of luck to you on your publishing journey, however far or near you want to drive. I, on the other hand, have several articles due and my mother wants me to go driving today. In a car.
Back to regular programming next week.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
And yes, I realize I talk about Heath Ledger in this article. :( I was so sad to hear we'd lost such a great, amazing (gorgeous AND gifted) actor.
Wonder how publishing and Heath Ledger collide? You HAVE to read this.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Kelly L. Stone is a freelance writer, journalist, essayist, and author; she earned a master's degree in counseling psychology from Florida State University and is a licensed professional counselor and a National Board Certified Counselor. Her nonfiction articles span a broad range of topics, including health, alternative health, relationships, parenting, women's issues, writing, and animal welfare. Her work has appeared in national magazines like Family Circle, The Toastmaster, Cat Fancy, Inspire Your World, DVM Newsmagazine, Trends, and Writer's Digest.
INN: How did Time to Write come to be?
KLS: Thank you for having me, Gabrielle!
I have always worked a full time job to support myself, but I wanted very badly to be a writer. I felt I never had the time to write because work chewed up 40+ hours a week, plus I had all the typical responsibilities everyone has these days: family, a home to maintain, pets, etc. But as the old adage says, when the student is ready the teacher arrives. I stumbled across some information about how many successful people would get up early before their days jobs began to do their own work. They would often do this for years before they became successful. This struck a chord with me. I realized that if I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a writer, I was going to have to make the time, not wait for it to fall into my lap. So I started getting up at 3:30 every morning and writing before I left for my day job. In about 2 years, I had written a novel that got published (Grave Secret, Mundania Press) and I also started getting published in magazines, both local and national.
When other aspiring writers found out that I worked a full time job and also got all this writing accomplished, they were stunned. Everybody wanted to know where I found the time. So that gave me the idea for Time to Write. I wanted to show other aspiring writers what I'd learned-- that time to write isn't something you have, it's something you make. And making time to write can be done, no matter how busy you are-- my book shows you how.
INN: What was it like interviewing so many wonderful authors like Jodi Picoult and Sandra Brown?
KLS: It was awesome! After I got the contract to write the book, my editor helped me set up the interviews, and it was simply fantastic to interact one on one with all these writers that I previously admired from afar. It was definitely one of the best parts of writing Time to Write.
INN: What have been the most influential books on writing that you have read?
KLS: For good education about the craft of writing, I return often to "Stein on Writing" by Sol Stein. Stephen King's "On Writing" was helpful to me, particularly the example he gives of the changes made to one of his early drafts. And the classic "If You Want to Write" by Brenda Ueland is always a good choice for inspiration and motivation.
INN: You have written both fiction and nonfiction books, as well as freelancing successfully. Do you have any tips for those of us managing multiple writing projects, like a book and freelance pieces?
KLS: Yes. Each night, make a writing schedule with goals for the next day-- for instance, you'll get a draft of your article done from 3:30-4 pm, from 4-4:30 you'll polish up a chapter of your novel, then you'll spend 4:30-5 on research for a new query letter. That's only 1.5 hours, but you've gotten a lot of writing done during that short time. So as you can see, time management and using a schedule are the keys to success here. In Time to Write, I present an alternative way of looking at time management that will help readers easily slip time to write into their existing lifestyle, and I also provide 7 professional writing schedules that are guaranteed to get results.
Also, keep a record of your progress. This is how you form and then ingrain the habit of writing. All of the authors I interviewed track their writing progress in some way-- I give specific examples of ways to do this in Time to Write.
INN: Any advice for teen writers?
KLS: Get in it for the long haul, because perseverance pays off-- Time to Write is filled with examples of how it paid off for 104 successful authors.
Set writing goals-- you can use the Writing Action Plan in Time to Write to do this easily. Then stick to your plan.
Don't let any rejection set you back for more than a day.
Oh, and don't paper the walls of your room with rejection letters-- throw them away!
INN: Thank you!
I loved Kelly's book-- and will be implementing my own Writing Action Plan once I get over this bug/flu/monster-cold. If you want time to write, you NEED this book.
Click here to buy Time to Write http://www.amazon.com/Time-Write-Professional-Writers-Writing/dp/1598694383/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1203352216&sr=8-1.
Click here to buy Grave Secret http://www.amazon.com/Grave-Secret-Kelly-L-Stone/dp/1594263914/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1203352363&sr=1-1.
And don't forget to visit Kelly's website at www.kellylstone.com.
- I apologize for the lateness of this issue. I've been fighting illness all week and got worse over the weekend (fever, chills, sore throat, yuck.) I'm writing this as I sit on my couch, surrounded by cough & cold medicine, blankets, used tissues, and orange juice.
-WORD will be posted later this week as part of "If You Want to Write." Again, see the "sickness" line.
-Look out for a contest next week to reveal the identity of our next bookshelf author.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Since day one of my life, I have never been the skinny kid that Italian grandmothers cluck over and say, "EAT! EAT!" One might argue for genes and heredity (and laziness and hatred of exertion) but I argue for destiny. Obviously everyone knew I was going to be a literary genius; so who needs exercise? All writers do is sit down and type or read, right? There's a lot of sitting involved. Nice, non-calorie-burning sitting.
But you can't write without moving. Or you shouldn't. Your writing lacks something if all you do is read and write and maybe play solitaire online. Life is meant to be lived; life is meant to be written down. Without life, there's nothing to write. And life also means moving.
Enough with the platitudes. I challenge you to move this week, but make a connection to your writing. Maybe you pick up the ol' cricket bat and imagine yourself in the shoes of Lord Peter Wimsey in Murder Must Advertise. Maybe you visit a salsa class to feel the movement for your novel (I do!). Join your mind-body-soul and see how it affects your writing.
Write, I should say, with physicality.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
The Driver’s Manual to Publication, Part V of VI:
Writing & Publishing the “Big” Markets
By Gabrielle Linnell
For anybody—whether you’re an award-winning freelancer or a scrubby WriTeen without a clip—breaking into these huge magazines is tough. Even tougher than completing a 1000-mile road trip. So the keyword for breaking in is angle-bio. Why do I not mention competence and professional skill? Because if you’re attempting to do this, you better be a master of sentence-stringing already.
I write about nonfiction here because I can give tips on breaking into large nonfiction mags. There are large fiction magazines (like Glimmer Train) but the only trick to getting in is writing a superb story.
All this fierce competition means that you must examine yourself and know that you are the best person in the WORLD to write this article. Look around for articles waiting to happen. Is your next-door neighbor an ex-NFL football player? Write about living to a former celebrity.
In other words, as a teenager, your angle and bio must be intimately attached. I have written and published articles in large magazines that have nothing to do with me being a teenager. But in most cases, an editor will pick a well-written adult article over a well-written teen article because they are more comfortable with over-21s… unless the fact that you’re a teenager is intimately connected to your article.
Go to your local magazine stand and look at every single non-offensive magazine there. Could you write for them? Would you possibly enjoy writing for them? Write down the titles of all the mags you like. Later, do a Google search for their guidelines (“XYZ Mag” + “writers guidelines” does the trick) or pull out a Writer’s Market Magazine Writer’s Guide. Follow their instructions to the letter.
Some magazines pay really well but aren’t on the newsstands. Carus Publishing Group, for instance, has many prestigious educational magazines that you can’t find at Barnes & Noble. Make sure to check your school library for other big magazines.
Good luck on your writing adventure, my friend. We’ll conclude next week with the biggest market of all: book publishing.*
Gabrielle Linnell has written lots of times, mostly homework. Occasionally she gets paid. Visit her full writing resume at www.storytellermag.com.
We’ve been able to do interviews with about half a dozen authors in the past several months. All of them have written different and exciting books, and it’s so COOL to see how the innovators work. So, in short, here are the links to all our past interviews, in case you missed some.
Mark Peter Hughes (author of Lemonade Mouth and I am the Wallpaper) http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2007/11/interview-with-mark-peter-hughes.html
Robin Wasserman (author of numerous series and Hacking Harvard) http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2007/12/innovative-word-for-writeen.html
Laura Preble (author of the Queen Geek Book Club series)http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2007/12/innovative-word-for-writeen_16.html
Melissa Walker (author of Violet on the Runway—Violet by Design comes out next month!)http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/01/innovative-word-for-writeen.html
Judy Gregerson (author of Bad Girls Club)http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/01/innovative-word-for-writeen_20.html
Jessica Day George (author of Dragon Slippers and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow) http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/02/innovative-word-for-writeen.html.
And next week I’m very pleased to interview our first nonfiction AND first non-YA author, Kelly L. Stone. Kelly’s latest book is a fantastic guide for writers on TIME MANAGEMENT, something we all need to know about. We'll learn about her book Time to Write and hear Kelly’s advice for teen writers.*
SPOTLIGHT: orb28 (www.orb28.com; www.orb28.blogspot.com)
Orb28 is a new online community for girls 12-18. Run by an editor at New Moon: A Magazine for Girls and directed by an international Girl Board, orb28 is a place for girls to share both political opinion pieces and good ol’ fashioned fiction—and everything in between. Check out their guidelines at http://orb28.blogspot.com/2007/12/call-for-orb28-submissions.html. This is a great break-in market and a fantastic experience for all girl writers.*
We are always looking for guest writers or WriTeens to write for WORD. If you’re interested in sharing a bit of wisdom, advice or chat with the WriTeen community, please drop me an email (or send it… either way) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Always wanted to interview an author? Dying to find out what she meant by THAT ENDING? Watch out for contest details soon.
KidMagWriters.com has published their February issue. Be sure to read it!
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Turn Your Homework into Clips
As teenagers, most of us are obliged to do homework for a living. With all those unpaid research papers, math tests, history projects-- what's a WriTeen to do? Get published, of course. Just as it is stupid to buy ten books at Borders without using your $100 gift card, it's ridiculous to enter the nonfiction freelance world and not use your teen-earned wisdom. Or slave labor.
Choose your research papers wisely. Research a topic you know will be of interest to a magazine. If "Elizabethan Today" pays well, write your MLA citation paper on Elizabethan cosmetics. Then write an article on how to "get that white lead look," using the same sources you used to get an A.
Use the student angle 24/7. SAT woes? Write an opinion piece for your newspaper on how College Board is swiping millions of dollars from the student population. Discovered a handy tip for buying calculators? Query "MathNerdzZine" with your student-tested expertise. Always use your age to your advantage; and if you can't, don't mention it.
Got any other tips for turning homework into cash-- I mean, tips? Legal tips? Leave 'em in the comments.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
If you've come here after reading Susan's blog, welcome! There are some fabulous archives here, if I do say so myself, and if you like teen writing, young adult lit and brilliant, witty bloggers, do stick around.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Edited by Gabrielle Linnell
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 jessicadaygeorge.com.
You can buy Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by clicking http://www.amazon.com/Sun-Moon-Snow-Jessica-George/dp/1599901099/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202076664&sr=8-1 and buy Dragon Slippers by clicking http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Slippers-Jessica-Day-George/dp/1599900572/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202076692&sr=1-1
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 email@example.com for details.