SDM's Top 25 Features of 2008
By Stephanie Lynn, age 23, Massachusetts
In 2008 our teen and young adult writers submitted 317 publishable articles, up from just 140 in 2007, our first year. After much heated debate (between my right brain and left brain) I have selected my Editor's Choices for best articles, poems, and other features in 2008.
But first the ground rules. I am excluding my own work. And I'm limiting each winning writer to her single best submission (IMO) so that more of our great staff can be included. (Some of our gals had more than one article worthy of inclusion.)
And finally, the listing order below is purely random, because picking a number 1, a number 2, and so on would be more than this editor could bear! :D
So if you've missed any of these articles, be sure to click on the links and check them out!! And feel free to send along your own picks, faves, and opinions using the submission form below.
To my writers: There were 317 articles, poems, etc., to consider, and only 25 to select. (Yeah, if you count, there's actually just over 25, because after I thought I'd finished I decided I couldn't overlook a few of our 13-14 year olds whose work is worthy if you factor in their age.) Real Life was the toughest category, where there were soo many great articles this year. There were easily another 25 or 30 I could have just as easily included. Thank you for writing excellence from the heart, and I look forward to the same and better in 2009.
"My Picture Perfect Prom" (April '08)Lauren, 19, California
I always get excited when I receive something from Lauren. I never know what it's going to be. From a feature on water polo to a book review, it's always great. With more than one worthy article, a tough choice, but I'm going with "My Picture Perfect Prom". I love stories where the author makes mistakes, but instead of blaming or making excuses, learns something about herself and passes it on.
"I Love You" (Nov '08)Mayra, 18, California
Double Gold Star writer Mayra leaves her family in South Central L.A. to become the first in her family to go off to college. A great story - one of my faves.
"Adenye" (Jan '08)Christina, 18, Louisiana
I love Christina's photography features, but decided to spotlight her original short story. I hope she continues to write and photograph, and share the results with us.
"An American Tragedy" (May '08)Rebecca, 20, Wisconsin
Jealousies, alcohol, drama, violence, and for one group of girls, tragedy, death, and imprisonment. These were Rebecca's high school friends. A riveting true story.
"He Loves Her ... He Loves Her Not ... He Hits Her ..." (Aug '08)Soraya, 17, Texas
Now this is a gal who can write. Real Life stories from her school, family, and Mexican heritage. I hope Soraya pursues a future that features her writing talent.
"'Sup Doc?" (Jan '08)Cassondra Lynn, 16, California
With a bold, adventurous spirit, Cassondra is never afraid to expose her flaws and openly discuss her experiences for our benefit. Also read her follow-up article "Bipolar" (Feb '08).
"Raped" (April '08)Sarah, 18, Pennsylvania
This was a tough pick, but not because it wasn't worthy. Thing is, I pretty much equally liked another of Sarah's many excellent articles, "Daddy's Little Girl" (Sep '08).
"How to Deal with Backstabbing Friends" (March '08)Kate, 17, New Hampshire
Same situation here. I highly recommend Kate's look at summer employment (June '08), but it was barely edged out by her article about how to deal with backstabbing friends.
"Stupid Jerk Boy" (Nov '08)Natalie, 18, Ohio
Guys can be such jerks sometimes. It's a wonder we put up with them. Sometimes we put up with them way too long, which is what this well-told true tale is all about.
"Disordered Eating" (May '08)Emily, 19, Newfoundland
Em would have made the Top 25 with her July article about OCD, but I chose her feature on disordered eating. A must read if you've struggled with your body image and eating habits.
"My Unforgettable Past" (June '08)Elaura, 17, California
Drugs, alcohol, bad company, a cheating bf. Elaura walked away from it all, changed her life direction, and tells her Top 25 story.
"Love Actually" (Aug '08)Tess, 15, Florida
What is love ... actually? Tess, who often contributes poetry, explores the subject of love. Is it just a chemical reaction ... or is there more? Tess' writing skills continue to grow.
"So You Want to Be a Model?" (July '08)Chelsea, 14, Virginia
Many girls dream of being a model, but 2x SDM cover girl Chelsea comes through with tips for those who, like herself, are motivated to stop dreaming and starting doing.
"Abusive Relationships" (May '08)Brittany, 15, North Carolina
This is Brittany's story of how she summoned the courage to break off an abusive relationship, and her advice for how you can do the same. Very well written.
"Surrendered to Fashion" (June '08)Carly, 16, Ohio
"Smart and passionate" describe Carly's work. I could have chosen "The Idiot Box" (July '08), but decided to go with "Surrendered to Fashion," a critical look at why we as teens wear what advertisers tell us, and why she's not buying.
"Ditching School - A Christmas Story" (Dec '08)Shanna, 17, California
Shanna's a sweet girl, but this little bit of naughtiness costs her big time in this cute, fun story.
"I Never Knew Happiness" (July '08)Sierra, 15, California
I loved Sierra's nostalgic look at One Tree Hill (June '08), and recommend it to all OTH fans, but I chose this realistic and well written look at a normal girl's battle with depression for Top 25 honors.
"The Lost Road to Happiness" (June '08)Yorkelis, 18, Florida/New York
Yorkelis is a U.S. student who originally hails from the Dominican Republic. "Thoughtful, intelligent college writing" perhaps best describes her submissions.
"I May Be Dying, Yet I Live" (Nov '08)Nikki, 18, Pennsylvania
The willingness to bare one's soul is a mark of a good writer. One thing I really appreciate about Nikki, you know she's real ... and this is one really powerful article. I also recommend "A Teen Girl's Mental Health: Coping with Mental Illness" (May '08).
"Sparkle" (Nov '08)April, 25, New Jersey
The next three represent the best of 2008 in the poetry department. "Sparkle" was my personal favorite of April's many excellent contributions.
"Dreams of Lilli" (Oct '08)Anne, 18, Florida
I also really liked "Coffeeshop Bookstore" (Nov '08), but sentiment pulled me toward this excellent piece, based on Anne's experience losing a true friend.
"Flames of Hope" (Nov '08)Gia, 16, Florida
I gotta tell you - Gia is one very talented young poet. My faves include "Gifted" (Nov '08) and my Top 25 choice, "Flames of Hope".
"My Passion - Pole Vaulting" (Nov '08)Karalynn, 17, Washington
Hobby, sports, and special interest articles can open us to consider something completely new and different. Features which were especially interesting in 2008 included Kate's "Mass Fifth, Fall In!" (Aug '08), Lauren's "Soccer with a Splash" (Aug '08), and Karalynn's contribution, about a way to reach for the clouds most of us have never experienced - pole vaulting.
I close with a few of our many rising young writers. Here are just 5 of our bright younger writers, all writing their 2008 articles at age 13 or 14. (Ariel recently turned 15.)
"The Girl with the Broken Smile" (May '08)Priscilla, 14, California
At age 14, Priscilla has a lot of potential. I liked this story - simple, moody, and unpretentious. I haven't heard much from her lately, but I'm hoping for more.
"Diet, Not Die" (May '08)Seema, 14, California
A health conscious dieter, Seema offers sound advice and a couple cool recipes in this well written health article which discusses eating disorders.
"Who Knew?" (July '08)Ariel, 15, Hawaii
By her own admission, Ariel has seen more pain and loss than most people twice her age. When she wrote this article in July, she did not know that even more would come.
"Green = Sexy" (June '08)Goeun, 14, Virginia
Writing on various topics from entertainment to the environment, Goeun exhibits great promise for the future. We're soo glad she's on our team.
Entertainment ReviewsLibby, 14, Wisconsin
"Twilight: Reviewed by Libby"
Entertainment reviewer Libby merits inclusion not so much due to any single outstanding article as the fact that she consistently finds and reviews worthy books, and occasionally movies and TV. Want a good read? Check in with Libby. I recently picked up one of her recommendations for my own reading pleasure.
Choosing a Top 25 was a very difficult (and somewhat subjective) task. There were so many other worthy articles and writers, but after attempting to include representation by all ages and magazine categories, some worthy articles and writers were indeed omitted. For that I'm, on the one hand, apologetic, and on the other, ecstatic that we had some 60 or 70 articles worthy of inclusion. I encourage you all in the hopes of making the list for 2009, should I decide to do it again, but more importantly, I encourage you to just express yourselves. The real reward is not in making a Top 25 list, but in communicating to others what matters to you and being amazed as your writing skills develop and grow.
Ladies, keep up the good work!!! You're some of the brightest young writing talents in North America and the world! Keep writing!!
♥ Stephanie Lynn