Announcing the 2020-2021 Young Emerging Authors!


Maya Denkmire is a senior at Casco Bay High School in Portland and alum of Telling Room camps and our Writers Block program. Her novel-in-progress is about the summer teenager Emma Robinson and her siblings realize their seemingly idyllic childhood was actually marred by an unspeakable incident that forever changed Emma’s younger brother, Sage.

Sofie Matson, a senior at Falmouth High School, is writing a sharp social-political satire of the modern obsession with social media. When the CIA recruits a teen girl to produce content on video-sharing platform ClickClock in an effort to catch foreign data miners, it becomes clear adults know as little as teenagers about how to navigate this new world. Ultimately, a story about finding one’s place in a time when technological and social changes are not only constant but accelerating.

Leigh Ellis, a TR Publishing Workshop alum and eleventh-grader at Windham High School from Raymond, is working on a YA novel about thirteen-year-old Macy, a resident of “Potato Country” who discovers the family cow has given birth to a grotesque but lovable alien creature. Finally, Macy has someone to confide in about her growing feelings for the golden-eyed new girl at school and her mother’s unexplained death, about which Macy has been less than honest.

Lerman Abdoulkader Waiss is in tenth-grade at Yarmouth High School. Her book is a work of fiction about a Muslim woman facing her childhood experiences with religion, family, sexuality, education, abuse, and trauma as a young girl growing up in Djibouti. Through evocative flashbacks and conversations with her deceased mother, the woman, now an adult, reexamines her relationship with God and past.


Check out our 2019-20 titles, available through Print: A Bookstore and as ebooks


Truth Be Cold, short stories by Alexa Barstow

The Weight of Objects, poems by Emma Dawson-Webb

The Unraveling, a dystopian thriller from Devin Gifford

Boy in Bloom, contemporary YA from Nina Powers


The 2020-2021 YEA Program

** We will be running the Young Emerging Authors program through the 2020-2021 school year, but meetings will be online. Please note the program is for Maine residents.**


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 middle and high school applicants ages 12-19. The selected cohort will meet for the first time in the fall and continue to meet weekly via Zoom, on Tuesdays from 3:00-4:00pm. We will meet through the book launches in late August.


Application Requirements

Do you have a novel you want to publish, or a collection of flash fiction? A book of poetry? A graphic novel to write and illustrate? A memoir or series of personal essays? If you are a resident of Maine between the ages of 12-19, 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 2020-2021 YEA fellowship will be due by noon on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. 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. If you have applied before, you do not have to submit a letter of recommendation again.

All materials should be contained in one document titled with your full name and attached to your email as a Word document, a Google Doc, or a PDF. Please use “YEA APPLICATION” as a subject line for your email. There is no application fee. You will receive confirmation by email that we received your application.

Applicants will be notified of their acceptance status on Wednesday, October 7. Please check email and/or the website on that date for the names of the 2020-2021 fellows. We will begin the program on Tuesday, October 20.

For more information, please email Kathryn at


Frequently Asked Questions

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 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.