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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Calling Teen Writers!

I love being a librarian surrounded by books, but for as long as I can remember, there’s been a writer in me scratching to get out. I’d scribble ideas in my journal or on scrap paper, hammer away at the keyboard and even occasionally publish an article or story.

However, just because I want to write, doesn't mean the stories always flow effortlessly. I know how hard it can be to face a blank page or screen. That empty space stares back at you as if to say, you’re not a “real writer.” Even when the ideas are flowing, it takes courage to pour yourself onto the page and it takes persistence to see a project through to the end. On top of all that, writing can be a lonely pursuit often done in solitary confinement.

Fortunately, if you've been bitten by the writing bug, you’re not alone. The library offers support and friendship through teen writing clubs at all three branches. Do you love to write? Would you like to get feedback on your work and connect with other teen writers? All types of writing are welcome: blogs, journals, short stories, poetry, novels… if you write it, we will read it!

The Fauquier County Public Library Teen Writing Clubs meet on the following dates and locations:

4 p.m. first Tuesdays - Bealeton Library (540) 422-8535
7 p.m. first Tuesdays and 7 p.m. third Mondays – Warrenton Library (540) 422-8516
5 p.m. third Tuesdays – John Marshall Library (540) 422-8527

Not only do I aspire to be an author, I love to read about other writers and their struggles and successes. I’m so in awe of anyone who achieves that dream and working in the library provides me with unlimited resources to feed that craving. Here are some titles that may inspire you to pick up the pen or power up the PC.

I listened to the audio version of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and I absolutely loved this story of Cath, a painfully shy college freshman who secretly writes fanfiction. A social misfit, Cath isolates herself in her room, working on her Simon Snow stories (the fictional equivalent of Harry Potter) while her twin sister Wren becomes the party girl. Although she’s acquired a fan base of 30,000 followers, Cath’s writing skills don’t translate to her advanced college level fiction writing course; she doesn’t think she can create fictional worlds of her own. Insecure because of her mother’s abandonment and father’s mental instability, Cath is still a quirky and endearing character; her pain and passion are evident throughout. Some language and mild love scenes make this novel suited to older teens. That said, the story has so many layers readers can relate to but most of all it’s about writing and anyone who yearns to be a writer or even just loves to read realistic fiction will want to check out Fangirl.

Adam Canfield of the Slash follows middle-schoolers Adam and Jennifer, who while serving as co-editors of their school newspaper, uncover fraud and corruption in their school and in the city's government.

In Carpe Diem, 16-year-old Vassar Spore's detailed plans for the next twenty years of her life are derailed when her bohemian grandmother insists that she join her in Southeast Asia for the summer, but as she writes a novel about her experiences, Vassar discovers new possibilities.

For older readers, Darius & Twig are two best friends, a writer and a runner, who deal with bullies, family issues, social pressures, and their quest for success coming out of Harlem. 

The library also has lots of resources that offer advice to up-and-coming young authors.

Spilling Ink combines inspirational anecdotes and writing prompts with practical writing guidance on how to find one's voice, develop characters and plot, make revisions, and overcome writer's block

In Writing Magic, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine shares her secrets of making magic with your writing. 

Immersed in Verse is subtitled an informative, slightly irreverent and totally tremendous guide to living the poet's life.

The library also carries Teen Ink, a national magazine devoted entirely to teen writing. It offers young adults the opportunity to publish their creative work and opinions. Check out the print version at any library branch or online.

                               Teen Writing Challenge                                  

Now that you’re inspired to write, it’s time to polish up that poetry or short story and submit to our Teen Writing Challenge. The deadline for submissions is quickly approaching on April 9. Students in grades 6-12 are invited to send in their original works: up to three poems or one short story (500 words max).

It's easy to enter. First, check out the entry guidelines
Next, download an entry form online or pick one up at any library location
Contestants can submit their work online here or at any branch of the Fauquier County Public Library. If you are under 18, don't forget to get your parent's authorization before entering.

You can learn more about our writing groups and the Teen Writing Challenge as well as other programs just for teens on the teen page of our website. Also check out the writings of last year's contest winners.

Ann McDuffie, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about the Fauquier County Public Library's collection, events or programs, visit us on Facebook, Twitter (Kiddosphere twitter is here) or online.