The Telling Room has gone virtual until it feels safe for our staff, volunteers, teaching artists, students and community to gather. Like many of you, we've been actively following the progression of COVID-19 in Maine, in other parts of the country and across the globe. In the interest of following guidance from local, state and federal authorities regarding measures that best promote public health, we have suspended our daily in-person operations until further notice. Please visit our Programs page for more information and to learn about our virtual programming.


Meet the 2019-2020
Young Emerging Authors!

Alexa Barstow comes to us from the midcoast, where she is a junior at Oceanside High School in Rockland. With aspects of both realism and magic, her collection of short stories explores fear in many different forms: childhood fears, fears of growing up, and fears in the modern world. Expect ghosts, death, uncanny gifts, and an “anti-Cupid.”

Emma Dawson-Webb is a tenth-grader at Traip Academy in Kittery. Her original poetry collection will explore one fictional character’s imaginative relationships to, and with, the everyday objects around her, from a demanding love seat to a drinking glass that refuses to practice self-care. A whimsical and perceptive meditation on the ways humans are impacted by and impose their own personalities on their surroundings.  

Devin Gifford, a ninth-grader at Greely High School in Cumberland, will write an eerie sci-fi mystery about a sister and brother investigating a deadly invasion by fog-dwelling shadow monsters who turn out to be at the bottom of an explosive conspiracy. This genre-bending novel promises to have readers questioning the lines between right and wrong.

Nina Powers is a junior at Morse High School in Bath. Her contemporary YA novel follows two roommates in their senior year of high school. When the boys’ friendship blossoms into a romance that surprises them both, each boy questions what he wants out of life. Nina is already hard at work on her second draft!


The 2019-2020 YEA Program

What is YEA?

The Telling Room's Young Emerging Author (YEA) fellowship is our writing and publishing program that offers successful applicants the chance to plan, write, edit, design, and publish their own books in a single year. In weekly sessions at The Telling Room, fellows work collaboratively, writing and sharing their work, and independently with professionals in the writing and publishing industries, including authors, editors, agents, designers, and publishers.

The year is divided into four parts:

• In the fall, fellows engage in an intensive writing workshop to hone their book ideas and shape the arcs of their books;
• In the winter, they move on to peer editing and one-on-one sessions with individual writing coaches;
• In the spring, they begin an immersion in pre-publication production including design and marketing; and,
• In the summer, they launch their books with public readings, events, and book tours.

The YEA fellowship is a free program open to applicants ages 12-18. The selected cohort meets for the first time in the fall and continues to meet weekly, on Tuesdays from 3:00-5:00 pm at The Telling Room’s writing center in downtown Portland, ME, through their book launches and events the following summer.


Application Requirements

Do you have a novel you want to publish, or a collection of flash fiction? A batch of poetry? A graphic novel to write and illustrate? A memoir or series of personal essays? If you are between the ages of 12-18, and are ready to dedicate yourself to writing, editing, and publishing a complete book in one year, please submit the application requirements listed below to

Applications for the 2019-20 YEA fellowship will be accepted starting September 1 and are due by noon on Wednesday, September 18, 2019. You will receive a confirmation email that your application was received.

Applications should include:

1) A one-page pitch that answers these three questions about your proposed book:

  • What is your book about? (Be specific! Talk not just about themes but about plot and/or content.)
  • Why this book by you?
  • Why this book right now?

2) An excerpt of your proposed work in double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font. Ten (10) pages of prose or five (5) poems (10 pages max). The writing should demonstrate your voice and style. Please include sample art with any graphic novel submission.

3) A brief letter of support from someone who knows you and your writing well, such as a teacher, mentor, employer, etc. Letters from parents are accepted only as second references.

All materials should be contained in one document and attached to your email. Please use “YEA APPLICATION” as a subject line for that email, and use your full name as a file name for your application document. No Pages documents, please—.doc, .docx, .rtf, and .pdf are acceptable document formats. There is no application fee. You will receive confirmation by email after September 13. Please contact us only after this date if you have not gotten a confirmation.

Applicants will be notified of their acceptance status on October 8. Please check email and/or the website on that date for the names of the 2019-20 fellows. We will begin the program on Tuesday, October 22.

For more information, please call our main number: (207) 774-6064.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I do the program long-distance?

A: Unfortunately, no. An integral part of this program is the support of a true writer's community, as YEA peers and mentors meet face-to-face and work side-by-side. We have had students travel up to an hour each way to participate, and we are happy to write a letter in support of early dismissal from school if necessary. However, in-person attendance every Tuesday from 3:00-5:00pm is required.

Q: Does the idea for the book have to be a new one? I have several ideas I've been working on over the years.

A: The idea for your book should be the story you really want to tell. It can be an old idea or a brand new one, but you should be committed to seeing it through, as you will get sick of it (and then excited about it and then sick of it and then...over and over again). The idea should also be fairly fleshed out. The most successful participants in this program have written much of a first draft when they start, or at least are clear on the content and/or plot of their books.

Q: How long will my book need to be?

A: Quality over quantity! There are no word count requirements. However, this program, though a year from application deadline to book launch, is incredibly short in terms of book writing. It is rare that authors are able to plan, write, edit, and publish a book within a single calendar year. Therefore, we are typically drawn to shorter book forms: a novella, a chapbook of poetry, a comic book, a focused collection of essays. No tomes!

Q: My idea is a series. Does the book have to be a stand-alone?

A: While we would be thrilled for you to continue publishing books related to your book-world, this program is designed for stand-alone concepts. The book should feel complete in and of itself—no cliffhanger endings. In the book publishing industry, authors often have to prove themselves with one book before they are greenlighted for multiple.

Q: Is it necessary to have a set title for my story when I apply?

A: You definitely do not need a title yet! Titles are important, of course, but ultimately decisions about them are reserved for the end of the publication process. Often as an author works on a book, the concept and/or story evolves so that an original title doesn't fit the final work. Once your first draft is submitted in late spring, we will work on titling it. We will also "blurb" it and learn how to talk about it when you're inevitably asked, "So, what is your book about?"

Q: I have a really busy year of school, and I’m trying to set realistic goals for myself. How much time will I spend writing outside of the time we meet together each week?

A: This is a great question to ask! First off, good for you for trying not to put too much on your plate. It’s critical for you to consider how much time you have to give this book before applying to the program. It will take up a TON of your time. You will be at The Telling Room about two hours a week on average, but you can expect to put in many more hours each week writing and revising on your own. If you are a rising high school junior or senior, beware—the assembly of a complete first draft will monopolize your time in the late winter and spring. And if you don’t know what your summer holds, please be aware that pre-publication work and the launch of your book will happen deep into the summer months, after school is out.

Q: What about content rating? My writing is a far cry from explicit, but sometimes it gets too mature or intense for younger readers.

A: If you feel there's an audience for your content, then you should write for that audience. However, this program does include fellows as young as twelve. It's enormously important to the success of all participants that fellows trust and feel respected by each other. When we consider applications and subject matter, we keep this in mind.

Q: Are there any topics that you will not consider?

A: All topics are fine, though we may lean away from content that is overly graphic or dark. The beauty of the words is important, but we're looking for good bones. We love scene-based writing and vivid imagery. We look for stories within stories (or poems). Poetry, short fiction, and narrative nonfiction are appealing. We also love children’s books and realistic fiction for a YA audience. Comic or illustrated chapter books will be considered. Sweeping fantasy is difficult to write in a year, but we welcome realistic fiction with fantasy or sci-fi elements. Also, we love ghost stories. Basically, if it’s a story you want to tell, we are ready to listen.

Still have questions? Call (207) 774-6064 for answers.


2018-2019 titles available NOW at our webstore!