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Dear magazine publishers - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Dear magazine publishers
Please start making magazines on interesting subjects written at a teenage level, instead of skipping from "The Wonderful World Of Fuzzy Animals" to "Abstract Concepts in the Advantageous Evolution of Fur." Y.A. librarians would buy them.

Some magazines I wish existed:
Science Projects Monthly--gives handy tips, how-to's on designing your own project, interviews with fair winners, and diagrams of particularly good ones. Also, perhaps, interviews with great science teachers.

Teen Writer's Digest--includes fiction and poetry clinics, simple, logically presented information on the publishing business (starting with the assumption that the reader manages to know nothing about it without being a bleeding idiot), interviews with well-known authors that focus on matters of technique. It's an actual writing teaching magazine, and does not include "Stories and poetry written by your peers, focusing on your issues!" (In fact, every issue, Dead Poets Society-like, would open by invoking the King passage from On Writing in which he pokes fun at the soppy personal essay, just for good measure.)

Art and Stuff--has currently popular styles like manga for a draw, and also shows different styles through history and looks at architecture and so on, and how art interacts with the world. Again, assumes no prior knowledge--that's the great advantage of teen books, and why adults would sometimes benefit from reading them... they're not geared to people who haven't mastered the language yet, but they are geared toward people who don't have basic grounding.

Other sorts of things would be job magazines (profiles of different jobs, talking to the people who make a difference--eg, don't interview the actor; interview the agent--salaries and expectations, all presented clearly and amusingly), a whole series of trivia magazines with silly little facts of all sorts, gaming 'zines with info on how to meet local gaming groups, book and movie reviews, and so on. They actually do manage to get a couple of YA current events mags published, but honestly, I would vastly prefer them to be NPoV, which I don't trust the current ones to be. Let teens make up their own damned minds.

I feel a bit...: nerdy librarianly

16 comments or Leave a comment
ani_bester From: ani_bester Date: August 8th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you give me till the weekend, I think I can find you an art magazine with some of that.

I'd love the job one!
It's assumed people go to college to start a career track and it's very frustating trying to find one without having a degree that spils into one, like teaching -_-

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2006 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I was mostly still thinking of being a writer or an actress when I went to college, and I know how frustrating it is to want a job when no one tells you how to apply for it. (Of course, I also think our lockstep connection between college and career needs to be broken, so that college can get back to the business of a liberal arts education.)

I'd much appreciate art mag recs. It may be too late for this year (we're running into a deadline), but maybe next year.
ashavah From: ashavah Date: August 8th, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
What great ideas. I so would have read those when I was a teenager. :-)
camry_1 From: camry_1 Date: August 8th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

A Different Teen Magazine

Fern, I think you've found your fortune. As a fantastic writer and thinker, you could start "A Different Teen Magazine." Include science, art, writing and other stuff exactly as you've described. It'd be brilliant. Someone should- why not you?
laureate05 From: laureate05 Date: August 10th, 2006 02:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: A Different Teen Magazine

Sort of expanding on that, I'd love to see a magazine connect all those subjects in an interesting and comprehensive way. Like, pick an issue and look at how it influences/is portrayed in science, art, writing, etc.
versinae From: versinae Date: August 8th, 2006 06:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would totally read The Wonderful World of Fuzzy Animals, I think that is where my brain is today...
spookykat From: spookykat Date: August 8th, 2006 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
If there's isn't one out there like this already...this is something EVERY teacher who has to read to kids would appreciate...

Young Reader Monthly

Offering a well-known YA author's profile each issue, along with a list of upcoming books that are projected to be popular and found in most stores, and synopses listed by genre. Also included would be a parent/teachers' section for activity ideas for each book listed. Maybe even quarterly contests, like The Best Ever Book Review, and the winner would get a gift card to B&N or something along those lines.

From: sleepingfingers Date: August 8th, 2006 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Such magazines would have been awesome, especially Science Projects Monthly.
From: marciamarcia Date: August 8th, 2006 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Wish? Meet Command...

Some magazines I wish existed:
Science Projects Monthly--gives handy tips, how-to's on designing your own project,

Make magazine is so awesome.

a whole series of trivia magazines with silly little facts of all sorts

Mental_Floss magazine isn't necessarily aimed at teens (it's readership falls anywhere from 14-70), but it's definitely got a fun feel and is something teens would enjoy. And I don't just say that because I used to work for them.

Teen Writer's Digest--includes fiction and poetry clinics, simple, logically presented information on the publishing business

This may not be exactly what you're looking for. But try
Teen Ink magazine.

Also, one of my favorite magazines in my pre-teen years was Zillions, the kids' magazine from Consumer Reports. It went under in 2001, but all the articles are archived online at the above link. It was really probably more of an early teen thing...I'd say ages 9-14. But it was amazing. This is the where a nine-year-old me first learned about music industry marketing and the mass production of pop idols (via a comic page!) and was thus able to avoid the insidious maw of New Kids on the Block.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: August 8th, 2006 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wish? Meet Command...

I am checking out Teen Ink for my teenagers. Thanks for the link (and I'll pass it on to our YA librarians, too.)
From: marciamarcia Date: August 8th, 2006 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wish? Meet Command...

No problem. There's so many little publications out there that are new or not affiliated with big publishing houses. It's amazing how often one of them fits into a niche that people don't realize is being served...and they need love! (And advertising...but that's beside the point.)

I like to spread the knowledge of them around when I can .
lady_moriel From: lady_moriel Date: August 8th, 2006 11:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Teen Writer's Digest? Like Writer's Digest geared for teens? Man, I would have killed for that when I was younger. Still might, for that matter, seeing as I'm technically a teenager anyway. That would be wonderful, especially since you could combine "Look what your peers are doing and learning" stuff with advice from older, more experienced writers who can point out all the stupid mistakes to avoid and such.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 9th, 2006 10:57 am (UTC) (Link)

teens & writing

Fern, can you recommend some resources for a reluctant young teen writer? My daughter wants to free up her writing, but worries about grammar and spelling block her creativity. I think some weekly creative exercises would help get the juices flowing - do you have any suggestions?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 9th, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: teens & writing

Get her more confident about her grammar and spelling, first off. I wouldn't want her to stop worrying about that--there are enough teen writers out there who think that grammar and spelling are optional, so I'm glad to hear about someone who actually cares whether or not she's comprehensible. Stephen King makes a good point in On Writing (a book I strongly recommend for writers of all ages) that what most people fear in grammar is the naming of parts of speech--people generally have a pretty good idea about the actual grammar of their own native languages. (If they don't, it's probably too late.) As for spelling, write in Word with spellcheck and autocorrect on, and it will catch and correct as she types, and the more she watches it do that, the more she'll where her spelling weaknesses are, and what the correct spellings are. Just for heaven's sake don't pay attention to its grammar check. Its grammar database is not made for fiction writers. I'm not sure what it's made for actually. The only useful thing the grammar-check does is notice when there are extra spaces between words.

There's a book out there called Fast Fiction that's more or less just a long list of prompts, which you're meant to write about for five minutes--turn off the spelling brain, turn off the grammar brain, turn off everything except the instinctive reaction to the prompts. (Of course, the more you do it, the better your spelling and grammar will get, because they'll be second nature.) For instance, the prompt might be "chair." She'd just write furiously for five minutes about whatever came into her head when she first heard the word "chair." If she's like some teens of my acquaintance, this will throw her at first, because she's used to reports and will wonder what she's supposed to say about a chair, rather than thinking about whatever it suggests to her--eg, a memory of curling up with you in a big easy chair when she was little to listen you read her favorite story again. But the more she does it, the more she'll get used to the idea.

Does that help?
zyprexia From: zyprexia Date: August 10th, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

i know!

yeah! you make excellent points. i'm sad that i no longer frequent the library, but what do i look for?

difficult to find reading material (not fanfiction) in the library outside of YA since i grew out of it.
purple_ladybug1 From: purple_ladybug1 Date: August 16th, 2006 01:46 am (UTC) (Link)
One of the things I really like about CosmoGirl is their Project 2024, which is a projection of when a woman will be in the White House. As part of their goals, every issue has an interview with a highly successful woman (although there have also been issues with highly successful men). The women include CEOs, presidents, politicians, etc. The most recent was Vera Wang.
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