Young Emerging Authors Fellowship

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 of YEA fellows meets for the first time in the fall, and continues to meet weekly, on Tuesdays, 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.


Meet the 2016-17 Young Emerging Authors Fellows:

Mary McColley, Olivia Peelen, Aidan Trotter, and Oliver Curtis

We're thrilled to introduce you to the 2016-2017 YEA cohort:

MARY MCCOLLEY, a senior at Marshwood High School, South Berwick, will be putting together a lovely book of poetry and poetic prose. Those of us who have been at the TR for a few years know Mary well. She’s that dedicated writer who a few years ago asked that her birthday party be a workshop at The Telling Room. She’s published poems with us in four anthologies, each successively better than the last. She’s finally able to commute to the TR each week and we’re thrilled!

OLIVIA PEELEN, a senior at Falmouth High School, will be writing our first-ever mystery, as a novella. Olivia is already well underway, and her sample pages were right in the heart of the story: “About the Bones” is the story of Elliot Collins, a devoted, headstrong seventeen-year-old who is forced to re-evaluate his relationships with his friends and his home after the bodies of children not native to his town are found. Elliot does not understand how the people of Hulls Cove are unbothered by the murders and takes it upon himself to discover who the kids were and what happened to them.

AIDAN TROTTER, a senior at Stanford University's Online High School (OHS), is writing a science fiction thriller about personality traits. Aidan has been on our radar for a long time. He has applied for YEA in the past, but this time everything really came together in his application. This past spring we watched Aidan deliver a reading of his fascinating short story, on which this novel is to be based, at the Scholastic Awards ceremony at USM where he won a Gold Key and was selected as an American Voices nominee.

OLIVER CURTIS, a junior at Baxter Academy, Portland, will be writing and sketching a cookbook of invasive species. We are SO excited about this book project! The book will be packed with scientific information, but it will also be tons of fun, as Oliver writes in a humorous and personal manner about these species and his recipes. He has his commercial green crab fisherman’s license, and he and his mother are testing recipes for Green Crab, Japanese Knotweed, and other invasives in their kitchen.


Application Requirements

Do you have a novel or novella or flash fiction collection you want to publish? A batch of poetry? A graphic novel to write and illustrate? A narrative personal essay? 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

The application deadline for the 2016-2017 YEA fellowship is 9:00 am on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Applications will be read and considered on a rolling basis.

Please include:

1) A one-page book project pitch that answers these three questions:

  • What is your book about?
  • Why this book by you?
  • Why this book right now?

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. Please contact us if you do not receive confirmation to ensure that we have received your application.

2) A writing sample in double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font. Ten (10) pages of prose or five (5) poems of poetry. Please include sample art with any graphic novel submission. The writing should be related to your chosen book topic, and in your voice and style.

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.

We strongly encourage students to apply as early as possible. 

Applicants will be notified of their acceptance status by Tuesday, October 11, 2016. Please check email or the website on that date for the names of the 2016-2017 fellows.

The 2016-17 fellows will begin the program on Tuesday, October 25, 2016. 

For more information or for technical questions, please email Molly McGrath at


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does the idea for the book have to be recently thought up? I have several ideas I have come up with over the last couple of years and worked on, producing work from a few pages to fifty, that I would be interested in continuing to write.

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 before you begin the program.

Q: What should the content rating be? My writing is a far cry from explicit, but sometimes content that may not be appropriate for younger readers may pop up. I understand that there will be participants as young as thirteen years old, and I want to keep my writing appropriate for the program.

A: You need to write for an audience outside of our tiny cohort, and if you feel there's an audience for your content then you should write for that audience.

However, it's enormously important to the success of all participants in the program that the fellows trust and feel respected by each other. When we consider applications and subject matter we keep this in mind—some subject matter may be red flagged if we perceive it may be too tough for our group to handle.

Q: Is it necessary to have a set title for our story when we apply? When I am not sure what to name my work, I usually save a document under the main character's name, especially if the idea is not well developed.

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. This year, one student already had a title in place when she joined us, and she had to rename hers, as during the year the content of her book changed enough that the old title didn't fit the final draft. We will work with you throughout the year to develop a blurb about your book for its cover and for promotional purposes, and so you will learn a way to talk about your book with others. Once your first draft is submitted in late spring, we will work on titling it.

Q: Is the book required to be a standalone? The program goal is for each fellow to write one book in a year, but some ideas I have would involve a sequel. I have ideas for both series and standalone books.

A: In the book publishing industry, if you are a new author querying a literary agent, editor, or publisher about your work, it is usually taboo to mention other possible books you may want to write or have written as well. Here is why—you have not yet proven that you can do one book well, let alone multiple books, and series work is often guided as much by the publisher as by the author because the future books in a series depend upon the successes of the first book (which are based on the publisher's market research that is conducted after the first book has been released).

Q: How long will my book need to be?

A: This program, though a full year from application deadline to book launch, is incredibly short in terms of book writing. It is rare that any authors are able to plan, write, edit, and publish a book within a single calendar year. We anticipate that we'll publish shorter works through this program: a novella more often than a novel, a satchel of gorgeous poetry rather than a tome of hundreds of verses, a comic book in contrast to a thick (unless they are 3-D pop-ups!) graphic novel, or slim book containing a few lovely essays instead of a collection of dozens.

Q: I have a really busy year of school coming up, 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 critically important for you to consider how much time you have to give as an aspiring author before applying for this program. It will take up a TON of your time. You will only be with us 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: 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. We love imagery and scene-based writing. We look for the stories within the stories or poems. We are big fans of poetry, short fiction, and narrative nonfiction. We also love children’s books, and realistic fiction for a YA audience.

We would consider comic or illustrated chapter books, too. We are not huge fans of sweeping fantasy, but love realistic fiction with fantasy elements. We love ghost stories. If it’s a story you want to tell, we are ready to listen.

Still have questions? Email for answers.