I have a very poor attention span. This means I don’t watch a lot of movies in my free time. Instead, I spend my weekends watching Law and Order: SVU marathons. My family doesn’t approve of this, to the point my mom has given me an essential list of all the modern “classic movies” I need to watch. Take a look at this:

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Black teen girl sits on a couch facing the camera sticking her tongue out

An actual, factual teenager. I never said the reality was pretty.

Most published authors writing characters in their teens and twenties are much older than that — that’s just the reality of how the industry works. As a result, writers often end up relying on their own memories of what that age range was like instead of doing research (or thinking they can skimp on research because after all, everyone has personal experience of what it’s like to be a kid). My suggestion, as someone who is still considered a “young adult” by most people, is to tread very, very carefully.

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The words 'I am a writer' on a white piece of paper, a pen finishing off the last r.

In January 2016, I came across a post on Twitter advertising a call for submissions for a fiction anthology from Seven Scribes. The deadline was March 1, and the word limit was 10,000 words. I’ve written 10,000 words in a single day. Hell, I’ve written research papers in a couple of hours. I could definitely write 10,000 words or fewer within two months.

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Full Moon with glowing blue effect

Editor’s Note: This gothic short story was originally written for a Deviantart writing challenge when I was in high school. I can’t remember the exact guidelines for the challenge (and I deleted my original DA account out of shame), but I wrote it with the goal of creating fiction in the style of Edgar Allen Poe. It’s reproduced here more or less in its original version. Content warning for ephebophilia. 

Perhaps I am twisted for loving this girl as I do. Her delicate porcelain skin looks incredibly frail, as if a mere touch could crumble her to pieces. Her eyes are wide and pale as the moon, but her mouth is always painted with the bright red rouge of a whore. Yes, my dearest Almyra is a mass of contradictions. When she smiles and brushes her lush curves against me, I know the purest bliss and the darkest temptation. This entrancing girl—for at her level of seasoning, she truly is nothing more than a child—holds my heart and everything that goes along with it.

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Welcome to “Between the Lines,” my (hopefully) semi-regular blog series where I discuss my digital painting process from start to finish. First we have a portrait commission for my cousin, who just started her sophomore year in college, yay! I hope she likes it. <3

Portraits, whether done digitally or traditionally, are some of my favorite subjects to paint. Capturing the likeness of a real-life person is extremely difficult. Even if you’re using a specific photo for reference, it’s very easy to end up in the uncanny valley. Your eye skims over the image, feeling that something is off, but you can’t exactly say why.

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There is a never-ending war raging between writers and editors — writers say editors are constantly crushing their immaculate vision into generic slime and editors say writers are terrible at the most basic concepts of grammar. When we compare the difficulty of editing versus writing…who’s right? As someone who works as both a writer and editor, I feel like I’m uniquely positioned to settle this maddening infighting once and for all.

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Ah yes, editors…the people no one notices unless we screw up. We’re like ninjas that way. No wonder we’re always the first ones to get the axe when a company tanks so damn cheerful all the time.

No, but really, we’re actually lovely people. We just want the best for you and your writing, I promise. Still, you may be wondering: “I’ve got Spell Check and I’m writing in my native language, so why do I have to pay someone to do what I can do myself?” Good question, I’m glad you asked. The truth is, no matter how long you’ve been speaking a language or how many classes you’ve taken, you probably have quite a few weak spots. That’s not me being self-righteous, either—I say that from personal experience, because I have quite a few weak spots, too.

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Photo courtesy of Sunny Mama via Wikimedia Commons.

First of all, congratulations! You’ve taken the first step toward publishing: deciding on an idea, however vague. This is by far the easiest part. The next part involves asking yourself a series of questions about the project in question and how you plan to publish it. (Naturally you also have to write it, but that goes without saying. So let’s talk about the business side.)

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I’ve been blown away by all the positive responses I’ve received for the blog post I published about my depression. I haven’t been able to respond to all the messages and comments scattered around, but thank you so much to everyone who read it, shared it, and took the time to tell me how much they care about me. Knowing that someone you love is struggling is extremely hard, and sometimes you might think that the little gestures you make don’t make a difference, but they do. They really do.

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[Content warning for discussion of depression and suicidal ideation]

I graduated from college three years ago. My family was ecstatic. After four long years of exams, 10-page papers, and struggling to stay awake during lectures, I was getting a bachelor’s degree. I was one step closer to the elusive status of “independent adult” that had seemed so foreign to me since I was a kid.

I had a lot of advantages, but it wasn’t an easy path at all. My anxiety and depression had peaked my sophomore year in high school, leading me to be home schooled for 11th and 12th grades. I didn’t go to a prom, a senior trip, or walk across a stage in cap and gown. Years ago my mom asked me for one request: that I wear a dress when I graduated from middle school and high school, and for my wedding. When I graduated from middle school, I wore a bright red, flowy dress that showed off my legs and arms. For high school, I ordered a $30 diploma online and stayed in my pajamas for most of the summer.

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