Writing Organizations and Programs for Young Adult Writers

So you want to write for teenagers.  You’re not alone: young adult blockbusting books have been sweeping the country, from the meteoric rise of the Harry Potter series to the Twilight and Hunger Games phenomena.  It’s still considered a niche genre, though – one that isn’t always respected at the college level, as I’ve found through personal experience.

Yet it’s easy to see that networking and peer critiques are incredibly important, and you may even want an MFA – but it might be difficult to get accepted into a typical or traditional MFA program with only young adult writing samples.  Here, I’d like to give you a few tips and tricks to finding organizations or programs if you’re a YA writer.

Your best bet, at least to start with, is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, more commonly known as SCBWI.  SCBWI is one of if not the absolute largest organization of people working in the children’s book industry.  It hosts conferences and contests, gives awards and grants, and boasts over 22,000 members and 70 regional chapters across the world.

Canadian YA writers may be interested in CANSCAIP, or the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers. CANSCAIP is an association of Canadian children’s entertainment workers with around 400 members.

Classes or graduate work in young adult literature is also an option.  While traditionally there has not been many YA programs, there are classes and degree-granting programs available for those interested in the topic.

Those in the Minneapolis, MN area may be interested in taking classes at The Loft.  While The Loft is a literary center rather than a young adult-specific establishment, it offers several classes for adults who are interested in writing for young adults.  Don’t forget to check your local writing or literacy centers as well as your local public library system to see if there are any similar classes – and you can also check your local degree-granting institutions as well.

Vermont College is known for the first program focusing on an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.  This low-residency program allows degree-seeking candidates to take distance learning classes, allowing students to continue working full-time in their current career while simultaneously learning finer points of craft.  The program boasts a number of published alums and a postgraduate study program.

Hamline College in Minnesota also offers an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.  The program is also low-residency, as is the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Spalding University in Kentucky.

There are many great options for those interested in writing for young adults.  Beyond these listed, you can also search on your own or even found a new organization dedicated to young adult literature.

31 January: Review

January was a busy month for me! It marked the beginning of my last semester at the University of Toledo as well as tons of fun things in UT Writer’s Guild.

At UT Today, several of my articles went up this month:

This list does not include articles printed in UT News that were not posted on UT Today.

January also marks the second anniversary of The TECH Project’s publication date.  When I think back of all I learned while working on it, I also think of all I’ve learned since then!  It’s so hard to think that it was just two years ago…  It feels much longer.

As for UTWG, we welcomed Elizabeth Irwin and Chad-Michael Simon of the Northwest Ohio Writers Forum at our first-of-2012 meeting.  Members seemed pretty interested and receptive, and lots plan to attend the NWOWF meetings this year.  (Pretty successful!)

UTWG also selected J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit as our novel for Book Club Month in February.  I’ll post a few Hobbit-related articles this month, so if you’re a Tolkien fan, stay tuned!

Writing Organizations for Student Journalists

This is a bit late for me, since I’m graduating in May, but I thought it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about writing organizations for journalists and other editorial media that students may be interested in.

First off, any student who is either an intern at a news organization or works at a student publication should consider joining the Society of Professional Journalists.  SPJ is a fantastic resource for students.  During my time at the Independent Collegian, our staff received two regional SPJ awards, and we were able to have some great experiences because of SPJ.  College student memberships are $37.50 for one year.

For those students at print publications, there is also the American Copy Editors Society.  ACES is an organization for those interested in editing – especially copy editors for newspapers – and holds an annual conference about copy editing.  ACES also has regional events and scholarships for students expressing an interest in and aptitude for copy editing.

Female students may be interested in joining the Association for Women in Communications, which offers both professional and student chapters to its members.  Other benefits include job resources, membership directories, and awards.  Student memberships are only $34, and Recent Graduate memberships are available for the same price for those graduating within 12 months of applying for membership.

There are also associations for student journalists who belong to specific minority groups, including blacks, Hispanics, Asians, gays and lesbians, and other minorities.  Please visit the appropriate site to learn more about their student membership program.

If you are a dedicated student journalist planning to pursue a career in journalism, consider checking out these organizations.  If you are interested in learning more about other journalism organizations, please check out the American Journalism Review’s page dedicated to journalism organizations.