YA Clicks October 2009
Teens Publish: Sites for Teen Writers
Rebecca Purdy and the Web Surfers from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library
Today anyone can publish online by creating their own blog or writing on their personal networking spaces. We have suggestions for where teens can find kinship with other writers and sites that will bring them recognition.
Teen Ink, The 21st Century and The Young Authors Foundation, Inc.
3I 5R 5U J M S
This print magazine’s online component has a professional, dynamic appearance that invites the writer (or reader) to take a closer look. There are places for teens to submit the usual—poetry and fiction as well as nonfiction and opinion pieces. The most unique section offers teen reviews of colleges and summer programs (for example, the Rockette Intensive, Outward Bound, and Barnard Pre-College.) There’s also a Pride and Prejudice section geared toward LGBT teens. Readers can sort through submissions by “most recent” or “most popular” search options, but I was unable to find works I knew were there. Registration is free and all online submissions are considered for print. Users are allowed to comment on others’ work so there’s an opportunity for feedback. Surprisingly for a teen oriented site, there was some adult-geared advertising, but that does not detract from this site’s usefulness. Add a link and encourage your teens to submit!
3I 5R 5U J M
Free writing advice from Rodman Philbrick, Virginia Hamilton,, Jane Yolen, and more! A variety of authors present brief “workshops,” offering suggestions on everything from news to biography and mystery writing. When they finish, children and teens are invited to submit their own writing and many from around the world have! I do wish some of the workshops were more in-depth and some of the pictures were more teen friendly; the homepage shows a picture of a young child proudly holding up her writing. Teacher’s Guides and Related Booklists are also available. Advice on types of writing not usually covered makes this site worthwhile.
THROUGH YA EYES
5I 4R 4U J M S
The Blue Pencil Online is a magazine run by the Writing and Publishing Department of Walnut Hill, an arts-oriented high school in Natick, Massachusetts. This extension of their student-run print journal allows teens ages twelve to eighteen to submit verse, prose, drama, or audio readings of already existing works. The writing is reviewed by the faculty, who publish pieces they find compelling and work with the authors to improve their writing. Students can also apply for the Bishop Prizes, named for the poet Elizabeth Bishop, who attended the school and edited The Blue Pencil. The prizes are scholarships for the school’s summer programs.
The concept behind the site seems excellent; there are surely many great adolescent writers who don’t attend such elite schools and who would love an outlet for their work. The Web site seems relatively well set-up. The design is not dramatic or bold but is functional and tasteful. There are sections for special types of submissions, such as Pencil Shavings in which writers submit single sentences based on a one word topic.
Although the print archives of the journal were available for the years 2005-2009 as well as some older publications dating back to 1927, the online archives still seemed pretty slim. The links page, for example, only contains six random links to major publications and seems like it needs more fleshing out. The site layout has the occasional glitch; some boxes and text overlap one another.
It combines the convenience of the Internet with the rigorous editing process of a professional publication, which means that any adolescent can submit work regardless of school, status, etc. and know that, if displayed, her work will be alongside a select group of other quality works—not in a YouTube-like jumble of everything and anything. It appears to be a great tool for any aspiring adolescent writer.—Dylan Vasey
5I 3R 5U
Writing at About.com is made simple with hundreds of helpful links and suggestions that guide the viewer through the writing process. Whether you need help writing a fun dialogue, crafting good characters, finding an agent, or getting published,About.com has an answer. This resource could be used by all ages; it’s very easy to navigate. The site is arranged clearly, although not very prettily, because of the many advertisements on the sides. The site is very interesting if you wish to author a book or improve your writing skills.—Elizabeth Chase
5I 4R 3U
Frodo’s Notebook, although an attractive name, is not so attractive on the inside. Upon opening the main page, a bombardment of different colors and words show up. The biggest section of the homepage, titled Bonus Issue, includes a letter from the editor and critiques of several compositions. I have no idea how that organization made sense to the creators of the site. At the top of the page are several links; some are dated and some don’t work at all. The only way to reach those links is by going to different pages and finding them from there. On the left hand side are links to different writings under which are a clutter of seemingly random things. The only thing on the main page that I found appealing was the design of “Frodo’s Notebook.”
Once in the writing portion of the Web site, there is a plethora of excellent compositions to read. I found myself reading from the poetry, essay, and fiction section simply through the desire for good writing. The organization of the archives is pretty good; everything is alphabetized and can be broken up into categories like author or subject. The appearance of the writing section is simple yet appropriate for the site’s purposes. Other sections are very informative, especially Writing Tips. With the improvement of the appearance and usability of the main page, this site could be top notch.—Chris Yang
The Write Place, St. Cloud State University.
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Literary Education Online (LEO) is an interesting Web page that can be explored for hours. Although the site can tell a person anything they need to know about writing, the attractiveness is lacking. The page has very little color, with the exception of the links. Some of the examples can be confusing but there are always multiple examples. The whole page is very informative and the organization is excellent. It is not so much an entertaining site as an educational one.—Kiyomi Keen
KUDOS FOR LIBRARY TEEN SITES
Greensboro Public Library
Librarian Robbie Owens demonstrates the ease with which a library can use one of many free Web services, in this case Blogger, to reach patrons. His blog invites teens to review books, but he does too. One of my favorite features is that the teens comment on his reviews and he comments on theirs, making it a true collaboration. The site is simply designed so everything is easy to find. Different colored fonts add visual appeal but are still legible!
[Note on the Kudos section: If you think your library blog, wiki, podcast, or site is worthy of consideration, please e-mail me at email@example.com. The Web Surfers and I will surf submissions and choose one to showcase for each column.]
Rebecca Purdy is the Youth Services Manager at the Headquarters Library of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library system in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Web Surfers are a collection of teens willing to volunteer some of their time to see their names in print and help young adult librarians find good sites for their library blogs and Web pages.