Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
I don't know.
The way I see it, I need to be involved in school- not just to give back, but because I get really bored otherwise. But writing is also important because
a. I love it and
b. it sets me apart on my college apps. (Oh yeah: since I'll have seven of those to do this summer/fall, too.)
How does it all fit? I'm curious to hear how anybody else handles the school/writing balance, or opinions in general.
The language and content can get pretty adult- just be aware.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
If you're argumentative and enjoy heated discussions about anything, the essay/op-ed market is one you won't want to miss. It's also a market that you can start getting involved in a little bit at a time: your newspaper is the place to start.
Start a habit of writing a letter to the editor once a week. The smaller the paper, the more likely your letter will appear. Kathy Henderson, in The Young Writer's Guide to Getting Started, comments that many smaller newspapers are understaffed and would love to have a teen reporter or columnist.
If you start small, with responding to articles every week, you can develop a relationship with the editors. They'll appreciate your input. Then, after a while, you can see if there's a spot in the teen section-- or if they would let you start a teen section. Talk about experience!
Susan Johnston (over at The Urban Muse, re-decorated) writes about the difference between journalism and writing-- which are you? http://www.urbanmusewriter.com/2008/05/are-you-writer-or-journalist.html.
Kristen Nelson dishes on what it's like to work with Hollywood co-agents: the people responsible for making movies out of our favorite books. http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2008/05/90210.html.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I hadn't read Catcher in the Rye before this week. Although I've had a classical education (frequented by The Republic and The Faery Queene) and although I spend most of my time reading YA lit (half of which seems to be coming-of-age), I never read Salinger's masterpiece. Catcher is called the coming-of-age novel. Writer's Digest does a regular feature on debut authors, and often list particular influences: Salinger is more likely to be on there than anybody. And when I was at a Christian school my English teacher said she would never teach the novel, because of certain lewd parts.
So what is this book? It offends, it is a virtual textbook for style, it is a legend and leader of YA literature, it is an inspiration to countless people, it is a classic.
I'm ashamed to say I had almost no idea what it was about before I read it as a homework assignment. I soon figured out that it was told from the point of view of Holden Caulfield, a male teenager who was just kicked out of another prep school, in America after World War II. The best feature of the book was his voice. Holden tells you a story the way your best friend tells you a story, with interruptions and color and witticisms and sadness. Although Holden would be a grandfather today, the teens in my class identify with him. He sounds like a teenager.
For me, reading this book is important because so many YA authors look to it as a standard for the genre. It covers awkwardness, sexuality, identity, truth, hypocrisy: all themes that are fully discussed today in YA books like Avi's Nothing But the Truth, Meyer's Twilight, Garfinkle's Storky: How I Lost the Name and Got the Girl. Did Salinger start the conversation? by no means. Did he influence it? Of course.
Catcher is a book I won't fully understand without pondering for a while. Some books you can read and instantly understand what the author says. This one will take contemplation, not because Salinger is obtuse but because he is subtle. A good writer, by any account.
Gabrielle Linnell is a published writer who enjoys partying hard on Memorial Day with Slip n' Slides and too much homemade ice cream. She is currently re-reading "Gaudy Night" for pleasure and "The Things We Carried" for English.
Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers is, without reservation, my favorite book of all time. I've read it at least ten times in the past two years. If you like England, if you like mysteries, if you like intelligent and witty writing by the most intelligent and witty author, if you like fantastic writing, read this book. If you're a fan of Gilmore Girls or House or any show full of literary quips and references, read this! Of course, it would probably help to read Strong Poison and Have His Carcase first, but regardless: Gaudy Night is a masterpiece-of-masterpieces.
Throughout her writing career, Sayers was determined to transcend the "whodunit" genre and make a mystery novel a good all-around novel. Gaudy Night was written in pre-WWII England (1930s), about an twisted prankster wreaking horrors on an Oxford women's college. As the United States celebrates Memorial Day, a day in which we remember troops who have died to protect our freedom, let us also remember the authors who defied convention to give us the true definition of great literature.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Disappointment is different from rejection, I think. I submit a lot of stuff and most of it is rejected, but I'm not disappointed. I'm only disappointed when I entertained hope, when I thought-- maybe, just maybe-- I might win this one. Then I lose that one. Unlike being attacked, which motivates me to fight back (and attack harder!), losing gives you a sense of... loss. Something that could have been there, wasn't.
I frequently feel like this after contests. I'm writing this after finding out I'd lost in a contest I'd hoped to win.
However, I believe in what I'm writing and I know it will find its home-- I'll have to work harder, write harder, darn it. The best way for me to handle disappointment is to treat it like an attack. Am I doing something wrong? Let me check. Do I need to keep pedalling, and pedal harder? You betcha. Am I going to win the next one?
Wait and see. Or rather, you wait and see while I work my butt off and win it.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Nathan Bransford (literary agent with Curtis Brown) is hosting a contest for best dialogue. The competition is steep but the prize is unbeatable.http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/2008/05/preposterously-magnificent-dialogue.html.
Jessica Faust (of BookEnds Literary Agency) has been blogging about the good stuff and bad stuff in publishing. http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2008/05/now-good-stuff.html.
Here's a cheer for all these fantastic agents blogging fantastically!
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Writing conferences as a WriTeen are usually awkward. You're much younger than every one else; people may ask you why you're not in school (on a Saturday.) Condescension and snobbery may be abundant. On the other hand, you can make some really cool car-owning writer friends and, more importantly, the Big People who come to conferences. Where are these confs? How should you go?
1. Google your local writing organization. The closest city to you probably has a writer's organization. If you can't find it through the internet, pick up Writer's Digest or The Writer and look in the back for an index of upcoming conferences (organized by state.) These are cheap!
2. Google your local WriTeen club. I know that in Virginia, the Virginia Writers' Club has a Young Writers division. This division usually has an annual conference just for WriTeens! Look around for these, because they'll have more young adult authors and kids just like you.
3. Prepare questions. When I went to the last conference, I asked a prominent literary agent for advice on getting into the business. Think about what you want to find out. Your youth may work in your favor with answers. If you have specific people you want to meet (editors, favorite authors, literary agents) check their websites for conferences they're attending.
4. College applications! Definitely put this on your application. List any famous authors or editors that were there, and the ones that you met. This proves to your school of choice that you're serious about what you love, and pretty darn good at doing it.
5. If you can go to BEA... Technically, I'm doing a European trip for graduation. But I really, really want to go to BEA Expo. This is the biggest industry conference in the States and you would not believe how many mind-blowing authors and editors go there. This is like Literary Super Bowl. If BEA is affordable/manageable, GO.
Gabrielle Linnell has been published about twenty-five times. She enjoys prom, prom and after-prom. Have fun, everyone!
Cheaper by the Dozen Bonnie Hunt plays Mrs. Gailbraith in this cheesy feel-gooder. Mrs. G gets a book contract and, amazingly, has her book published in the course of three weeks. Umm... the shortest time span is usually 9 months for any novel... but it's the movies, right? If you haven't read the CLASSIC humor book by the same name, check it out right now. It will make your hypothetical Coca-Cola spurt out of your nose.
Finding Forrester Sean Connery is the writer who only wrote one book, the great book, and then disappeared. This is a fantastic movie, though rated PG13 for some language. If you have a family of middle schoolers and up, let them all watch it. Basketball, race relations and writing never made a better combination.
Miss Potter Renee Zellweger plays Beatrix Potter, the creator of more childhood classics than possibly Hans Christian Anderson (and no, I have not found a movie about him yet.) This is a sweet movie and it captures the spirit of a woman who found her place in her drawings.
Sylvia Gwyneth Plath plays the infamous Sylvia Plath. I have not seen this movie and so cannot give advice regarding ratings, etc; although anything about Sylvia Plath is going to be... interesting. Still, Gwyneth's a decent actress. Anybody seen this?
Little Women Pre-shoplifting Winona Ryder plays Jo, one of the best characters EVER, in Louisa May Alcott's classic. Based on the author herself, Jo has to find her own writer's voice and famously learn to write what she knows. This is an all-out fantastic movie for anybody with a brain, and especially writers.
This doesn't even cover TV shows (Gilmore Girls, Murder She Wrote) that feature writers, or the plethora of movies based on books. Prince Caspian comes out this weekend, though: see you there!
There are some great recommendations in this article "Top 10 Movies for Writers," click here for more. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/217261/top_10_movies_for_writers.html?page=2.
Friday, May 16, 2008
J. K. Rowling continues in her legislation against a promised Harry Potter Lexicon not written by herself. Mugglenet.com continues to cover the story.
All of this proves that one MUST be subscribed to Publisher's Lunch. The free version is-- guess what-- free! Sign up at publishersmarketplace.com and get another daily burst of publishing gossip. News. Whatever.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
With all my talk about articles and freelancing, one might assume that I hate all fiction and poetry and think WriTeens should crank out only straight nonfiction. NO!! I LOVE fiction and poetry. They are incredibly important. Can I re-emphasize that I LOVE FICTION AND POETRY?
I think fiction and poetry are important because they are freest in creative expression. It is the cheapest airplane ticket of the imagination known to mankind. Fiction is where the best moments of my Wri-Life happen. And poetry is the most delicate and incredible form of writing, and the hardest to write well. Both fiction and poetry are harder to sell but never never impossible.
There is no larger font size than LARGEST FONT in Blogger, so I can't re-emphasize that I love fiction and poetry. But to allay your doubts, I'm starting a Fiction/Poetry Spotlight here at Innovative and I'm looking for submissions and ideas. Some of mine include
Featuring fiction and poetry from WriTeens
Quotes & excerpts from fantastic fiction & poetry
Tips from both WriTeens and published writers
Random brainstorms on the love of art
Inspiration corners! Random Van Goghs in pink! YouTube videos! Go wild!
Looking for a better name than Fiction/Poetry Spotlight and for fantastic ideas on ways to express our communal love of the imagination. Ideas and comments appreciated. :D
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I've never been an average teenager. The words "unorthodox," "wacko" and "eccentric" usually take the place of "normal." A little genetic nerdiness and a big love of gossip have shaped how I write. People interest me. How people change interest me, and seeing as I see more teens than adults every day, I write about teenagers.
The current book project (because there's always a book project) is my first one on teens, teendom, school, academics, angst, the works. I've never been so secure about a project, or as inspired, because this is what I know. I live in this crazy adolescent environment and can write about it as both an insider and as an observer. If I wrote this book ten years from now, it would change: I would be more mature, have better style, take different stances. But the heartbeat of the story wouldn't be as strong, because the book's pulse is my pulse. Teen life is what drives my writing.
So in the interests of a better writing future, I am investing too much of other people's money and going to prom this weekend. Because, you know, think of what I could write about.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Nathan Bransford, a literary agent who blogs at www.nathanbransford.blogspot.com, often writes about the wealth of publishing information on the internet.
Maria Schneider, editor of Writer's Digest, blogged recently over at www.writersdigest.com/writersperspective on tips for aspiring journalists.
Jessica Faust, an agent at www.bookendslitagency.blogspot.com, wrote about what an agent looks for in a submission just this week.
Janet Reid has started a blog at www.queryshark.blogspot.com giving query critique-- the kind of feedback one can only dream of getting.
GalleyCat, over at galleycat.com, is the publishing gossip website and perfect for celeb-author news and scandal.
Want to know how to get an agent? Write a book? Publish a short story? Become a journalist? It doesn't matter that you live as far from New York City or London as you possibly could. You can still find out what's going on. And the best part? This stuff is NOT BORING! The bloggers are witty and scathing, the magazines are colorful and informative, the books are (mostly) well written.
The first If You Want to Write post was the 10 Minutes a Day rule. Spend ten minutes learning more about the publishing industry every day. Understanding how this biz works will make you a better writer. Just don't forget to actually do the writing.
Gabrielle Linnell spends too much time in publishing and hopes to continue the trend for the rest of her career. She is currently living out her vegetarian lifestyle and studying hard (i.e., catching up on Gilmore Girls) for AP Chemistry.
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (2006 National Book Award Finalist: Young People's Literature.) A graphic novel about a Chinese-American boy in an all-American school. I don't read graphics much, but this one is great.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2008 National Book Award Winner, Young People's Literature.) This book has been makin' waves: a story about an American-Indian teen caught between the white world and the reservation.
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz (2008 Newbery Award Winner.) A story told in monologues from different people in a medieval village.
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean (2008 Michael Printz Award Winner.) The story of a girl's journey to Antartica with her uncle.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
I have come out of the proverbial closet: yes, my friends, I am a herbivore as of last Thursday. Technically, I'm a lacto-ovo pescetarian, since I eat dairy, eggs and fish.* But I am not eating meat any more and I am thinking about how this relates to WriTeenism...
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Part of what I love about running Innovative are the emails I receive from WriTeens and WriTeen parents and friends, asking about how to get started on this whole publishing thing. I probably write much too much in reply, but there's so much to know! And how could I sleep at night if the next Stephen King didn't get published because I didn't tell him about writing conferences?
Here's part of an email I sent a little while ago, that sums up the basics. Later this week I will post the links to a Submissions 101 post I did last year, as well as Query 101.
I really recommend getting a copy of The Young Writer's Guide to Getting Published by Kathy Henderson. It was published in 2001 or 2002, I believe, and many public libraries have them. This book is a fantastic guide to the nuts and bolts of getting short stories and articles published. It also includes a guide to about 100 "markets" or places to get published for young writers.
There's also The Young Person's Guide to Becoming a Writer by Janet Grant, which is also ten or so years old but has some great writing exercises. This is designed to help young writers develop style. Try getting a copy of Writer's Digest, The Writer or other writing magazines from a local bookstore. These "zines" have articles on how to get published, how to write a better sentence, interviews with bestselling authors, etc.
There's also an incredible amount of literature available free on the web, through writing e-zines and blogs. On our site I have "The Best of the Blogs," about ten or so blogs that are really fun to read. [Top right sidebar]
You can pay for a professional editor to look over work, but that is usually very expensive and I don't think necessary. Reading a lot of "writing lit" would help develop one's own sense of editing, etc., and that is the best teacher. Also, check your local area for writer's groups and conferences. Local writing onferences are usually not too expensive and are a lot of fun to attend. It's a great place to hear from different writing experts and get a feel for what's going on.
And to add on to what I said originally, WRITE. NOTHING makes you a better writer than the act of simply writing lots and lots of words on paper, and learning how to write.
For everything else, there's Innovative.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Most of her books so far can be sort-of classified as "chick lit," roughly. With titles like The Boyfriend List you may think this is a mindless hot-dude book, when it's really an exploration of the complexities of teen relationships (and ceramic frogs.) But Frankie breaks the sound barrier. It's so subtle and yet every observation Lockhart makes about the way we view women and men and teenagers, I find myself agreeing with. You fall in love with this book.
The biggest candidate for throwing E. Lockhart off my personal pedestal is Stephenie Meyer and Breaking Dawn on August 2. But that's a long time away.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
One fabulous issue today!
Why Gabrielle has become a vegetarian and the resounding effects on WriTeenism
The Best Book of '08 (so far)
Publishing news (Borders out of business? Authors not getting royalties? Book festivals? Conferences?) explicated
The Basics of Getting Published (all you need is love)
One fabulous issue on May 11th
Everyone who talks about good time management (like Kelly L. Stone, in the fabulous and practical Time to Write) talks about immovable time. What blocks of your day are always the same? How can you use those blocks more efficiently? For WriTeens, I suggest the phrase 'time for writing' and 'school' be connected.
Whether you're a public schooler that does the 7:30 to 2 deal, or a homeschooler who wakes up at noon and is done by 3pm, school is the driving force behind your schedule. So work writing around school.
1. Study halls are amazing. If you're lucky enough to have a study hall, USE IT! Either use that time to get all your homework done so that you can come home and write, or make a habit of bringing your writing notebook or laptop to school so that you can make study hall "writing time." There's also the non-study hall: the class where you don't do anything (I have those.) Now it can be Freelance 101.
2. The early bird gets published. I wake up, as per my still unwritten WAP, every morning at 6:30 to write for an hour before school. This gives me sleep time, writing time, and time to academically prepare for my schoolday (read: do hair, make-up and change outfits three times.) I have a concrete deadline and a steady alarm clock. Think about it.
3. The homeschool joy. If you are home-schooled and are at home for two or three days a week, beg your mother to allow an hour of school time for writing. I mean beg. From eleven to twelve-thirty every afternoon, or just for twenty minutes every day: it adds up.
4. Late night sleeping beauty. My sophomore year, I was working on a novel (when am I not working on a novel?) and wrote almost every night, before I went to bed. Try this if you are a complete non-morning person and/or you don't mind losing sleep (those 1 AM bursts of inspiration...) It helps if you have a computer in your room, so that you don't bother the rest of the house.
5. If you are over-achieving, forget eating. If you are swamped non-stop, then I humbly suggest you become anorexic. Or at least a loser. Skip lunch with your buds two or three times a week and spend half an hour by yourself, with pen/paper/computer, and work on your writing. If they ask why you're abandoning them, mutter something about English extra credit.
Gabrielle Linnell is a high school junior who has been published in Cobblestone, FACES, Library Sparks, New Moon, ByLine, Once Upon a Time and other magazines. She has been a vegetarian for about four days.
This is What I Did:
by Ann Dee Ellis
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Being a WriTeen, you are 99% likely to be living with some form of adult. Probably parent, possibly grandparent or godparent. If you are in the 1% that do not live with adults, you are either orphaned in Africa or a millionaire writing about what it's like to be a millionaire without parents.
It is hard to be a WriTeen without involving the 'rents.
Parents drive you to the library or get you a car to drive. Parents taught you to read. Parents buy you pens and paper and quite possibly a laptop. Parents sign permissions slips for magazines that require them. Parents provide angst-filled essay fodder and they will be your shrink's sources of income when you are middle-aged and hopelessly messed up.
My parents are involved in exactly the right way. My mom helped me write two articles (one for Cobblestone and FACES)- double Linnell bylines were pretty sweet. My dad buys the New York Times every Sunday so that I can read the Style Section-- I mean, Book Review. They take me to the library, buy me books, provide essay fodder, and complain a bit about all the hours I spend on the computer. This means that my writing, although supported, is my own.