Monday, February 28, 2011


Today, I thought I'd tell you about TeenInk, in case you've never heard of it.

    As you probably gleaned from the title, only teens can submit their work there.  TeenInk puts up articles, poems, stories, you name it, onto their website.  They even select some of the pieces to go into their monthly magazine;  they'll print those works for free.  Others can comment on your work and offer feedback, and it's a great way to start making little networks with others your age.  Registration is free, by the way.

    Check it out. 

    I think you'll like it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Patience? I'm Not Its Biggest Fan

Ah, patience.  It's not really one of the virtues I've been blessed with.  At all.

    I'm the type of person who taps her fingers and stares the clock down when I'm waiting for something -- that's awful enough already, but for a writer, it's borderline-deadly.

    Think about all the things we have to wait for.  There's planning the book (which I don't do nearly enough anyway), actually writing it, the countless revisions, the query letters and the wait on those responses, then partials or fulls, and more response times.  And then you and your agent have to start submitting to publishers, waiting till it's in print, then for readers, a fan base, blah, blah, blah.

    As you can see, there's a lot of waiting involved.  I've been through some of it, which hasn't been fun, and I have a lot more to, um, enjoy. 

    But that's okay.  It'll be more than worth it, and this is good training for everything that comes after. 

    I promise.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

See? It Can Happen

It's Wednesday. 

    Um, obviously.  But my point is, we're halway through another week.  And by Wednesday, everyone's really looking to Friday -- like, the end of Friday, about the same time that school and work end. 

    So I figured everyone could use a little encouragement.  Here's some specifically for teen writers:  a link to a list of some published teen authors (a few are even younger), courtesy of Wikipedia.

    Enjoy -- 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Writer's Best Friend and Other Life-Savers

This is a writer's best friend:

In case you're wondering, this dictionary's spine is 5 inches,
and it's 11.5 inches tall.  Yeah.  I just broke out the ruler.
    And, for those I-don't-have-one-best-friend-I-have-several types, have a field day:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Um, Now What?

Well, we're here.

    To the post I don't really know how to write -- not because I don't get it, but because there are so many ways to go with this.  Anyway, I'll just do my best, and assume that you've written a novel which you want to get published. 

    It really just depends on what you want to happen with this book.  If you're only wanting to share it with family and friends, then self-publishing might be a way to go.  Or maybe you're like me.  Maybe you're looking to launch a career with this novel, start building a name for yourself. 

    Since I am trying to publish with the traditional route, I'm not sure I know enough about the process of self-publishing to explain it to other people -- so you're on your own, pal.  (In this stage of your life, Google will become your best friend, if it isn't already.)  Just look it up and check out some other writing websites and blogs. 

    But back to that traditional publishing idea.  Technically, you don't have to have a literary agent, but it makes things a lot easier on you.  A lot of publishers won't look at work unless it's represented by an agent;  then you'll just end up in the slush pile, and you'll be lucky if anyone ever checks out your book.  But what an agent actually does for her/his clients actually goes much deeper than that -- here's an explanation by literary agent Nathan Bransford:

    So really, you just need to decide what direction you're wanting to go in with your book, and explore your options from there.

Friday, February 18, 2011

We Prefer the Term "Revising"

There's this thing you do after you write your book.  It's called editing.

    Then there's also revision, improvement, and death-by-red-ink, but I suppose that's a bit redundant.

    I'm not going to lie:  Editing is one of the worst things ever.  Because of something called ego, it might also be painful.  But you've got to just push your sense of pride away and accept constructive criticism, because you're going to need a fresh set (or two) of eyes to help you proofread. 

    If you're anything like me, you'll need to go through a lot of times and polish.  See, even when I'd gotten all the technical and wording things to the point where I was fine with everything there, I learned something pretty unpleasant:

    They make guidelines for MG and YA books.  My manuscript was 7,000 - 27,000 words too long.

    Who knew? 

    Even though this isn't exactly the greatest news to get, I figure it is a good thing for my book.  Now that I'm pouring over it with the mission to delete anything I can (I mean, 27k is a lot of words), I'm finding all sorts of things that don't move my story forward -- so they kick the bucket.  Even the little things like thats and theres make a big difference, just because they add up so quickly.

    Here's your homework for the night:  a few really helpful references from the Literary Rambles blog, hosted by Casey McCormick.

About tightening your manuscript  --
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:

    And now, the word count guidelines:

    Okay.  This is the part where you get back to your editing.  Good luck.   

    You just might need it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Step #2: The Part Where You Actually Write

This point of the checklist is actually painfully obvious.

    It's also the most crucial part of all.

    And sometimes, the hardest.

    But the thing is, there's a pretty fine line separating writers and wannabes.  Both of them write, sometimes -- but only writers do it consistently, and keep up with a project, and don't give up. 

    I know, I know, it sounds a lot easier than it actually is.  Sometimes it's hard, and sometimes it's not so fun.  But those aren't the times you write for.  You write because you want to, because you have to -- because the people in your brain don't like being ignored, because writing is the only thing keeping you from going crazy.
    You write because you're a writer.  Laurie Halse Anderson does a great way of explaining this over at It's from a NaNoWriMo Pep Talk, but it still applies here.

    On that note, why are you still reading this?  You're supposed to be writing. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Literally "Yeah"? Um, No

Originally, I'd been planning on elaborating Step #2 for the checklist.

    Then it came to my attention that there's something desperately wrong with the situation this blog is in.  See, some people might think the "YA" in the title stands for "yeah".

    Not quite.  But let me explain. 

    YA stands for "young adult" in the publishing -- and writing -- world.  (MG is middle grade.  Your book's classification just depends on the word count and the story itself, if you know what I mean.)

    So really, all that the title's referring to is the fact that this blog is to help teens -- excuse me, "young adults" -- with their writing and books -- which are most likely in the YA category. 

    Make more sense now?  Good.  I'll pick the checklist up again tomorrow -- but until then, remember:  Literally Yeah doesn't exist. 


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reading: It's a Biggie

Starting today, I'll be addressing the points from your non-Hollywood checklist. 

    Okay, so that might sound a little cryptic if you didn't catch yesterday's post, but trust me, it really isn't.  And since we're starting at the top of that list, today I'm explaining why reading is sooo vital to writers.

    Actually, it's pretty simple:  Books equal brain-food for writers.  I mean, they inspire, they teach, they help motivate you. . . the list goes on and on, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you can think up some others on your own, you free-thinking little individual. 

    Anyways.  (If you're doubting the validity of the word "anyways," then let me put your mind at ease; it's a real word.  Look it up.)  Books have a double purpose for new writers especially, because of all the techniques they can teach you.  Those things I told you, yesterday, that you'll subconsciously pick up on?  Yeah.  Those are important little things.  Syntax, paragraph structuring, character and plot development -- all that good stuff.

    Um, by the way:  You need to learn from the books as examples, then use your own take.  Sure, you can learn about author styles from other novels, but if you can't find your own voice . . . well, nobody likes a cheater/knock-off/fake, you know what I mean?  So learn from other authors, but discover your own style and people and worlds, your own stuff. 

    Well, to recap:  Reading is important.  End of story. 

    That's all, folks.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Your Checklist -- Not to Hollywood, But Still

In the animated movie "Cats Don't Dance," the main character is a cat who wants to make it big in Hollywood.

    At this point, you may be wondering exactly where I'm going with this.  Just keep reading.

    So when that cat, Danny, actually makes it to Hollywood, he comes with a checklist in hand.  It looks something like this:

        Go to Hollywood
        Get Agent

        Get Discovered

        Go to Premiere

        Land a Big Part"

    Okay, so yeah, he's pretty straightforward -- definitely naive.  But that's beside the point.

    He set a goal, and he made plans to help him reach that goal.  And, even while the actual timing of everything was more than a little off, his checklist was spot-on.  As a writer (assuming that you're planning on getting your book published), there's a checklist that you can use, too. 
        1)  Read.  A lot.  You'll subconsciously pick up on all sorts of stuff. 
        2)  Write.  Even more.  It seems obvious, I know, but at the same time, writing is the only thing that separates writers from non-writers.  Sooo . . . write. 
        3)  Edit.  Revise.  Make your book sparkle.  Then rinse and repeat, as many times as it takes. 
        4)  At this point, you'll probably want to start submitting to literary agents;  in certain genres, you can also send your manuscript directly to publishers.  And their slush piles. 

    There's actually a lot of stuff that goes down after that, but this is far enough for now.  Soon, I'll go over the specifics in deeper detail.  But until then -- Happy Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

We're All In This...Never Mind

If you're reading this, then chances are you're a teen writer.

    Either that, or you're hopelessly Internet-lost.  Moving on. 

    Assuming that you are one of those teenage writers, though, you're not alone.  See, I am, too, and there are a lot more out there than just us.

    That's a big part of what this blog is about.  Hopefully, it'll inform, encourage, and support you.  At the very least, you might be able to get a few laughs here and there.

    So keep your eye on Literally YA.  I don't know everything about the publishing process -- who really does? -- and I certainly don't pretend to, but I'm learning some interesting stuff along the way, and I'll always share whatever I learn.  Oh, and if you have anything to share, then feel free.  I hesitate to say "We're all in this together" because of, you know, certain Disney musical movies, and the fact that some of us happen to have standards.  But you get the point.