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  • 01/03/12--09:00: Batman and Our Psyche
  • Wattpad brings you a guest post originally published in Teen Ink:

    Batman and Our Psyche

    By Lucas R., Parkdale, OR

    I’m not going to lie. I saw “The Dark Knight” five times over the course of four weeks, and still I was not entirely satisfied with my ­intake of Bat-o-rama. Something about the most recent incarnation of the series made my skin tingle as if I was witnessing something great – a long-awaited event, a momentous culmination. The film made $158 million its opening weekend, selling out in venues across the country and breaking many records, so I’m guessing one or two people agreed with me.

    Batman’s long-running status as an American superhero has had its ups and downs, but at select moments (like this one) the true magnificence of this character shines. “The Dark Knight” was the culmination of years of Bat-lore; a long-traveling genre finally coming together in a perfect combination of gritty realism, good writing, and a flair for the substantial and ­stylish. Audiences loved it. 

    [Photo via Photoria]
    The initial concept of the Caped Crusader remains intact today. He still carries the burden of warding off the ghouls of the night, still embodies the modern-day Robin Hood, and continues to be a vigilante. His message remains solid: maintaining ethics in a chaotic world, standards in a lawless city. His ­image and his humanity, however, have drastically changed over time.

    When Batman first came to life in the 1940s, his simplistic style and lack of character depth was due in part to the cartoon. Adam West’s Batman was a direct translation from the newspaper funnies, and this showed in the costumes and screenwriting. Simplistic, easy-to-follow, lacking developed characters – the films were essentially the cartoons ­rehashed, and thus worked on the same childlike level. 

    His conception as a new kind of ­superhero was attributed to his antihero format: a vigilante who sometimes crossed the law to deliver justice. This reflected the public’s need for an iconic character, a sort of Robin Hood for the 1940s. It was a daring personality for the day, and introduced a new complexity to the superhero genre. Still, this format was very dry, and the character itself just a template from which many later versions would be built. 

    In his reintroduction to TV in the 1990s, Batman’s character and image developed. As audiences became more attached to the idea of fleshing out Batman’s personal history, the realism of the series grew. The idea of blurring the line between fantasy and reality was introduced by the films of the ’90s when people suddenly wanted to see their favorite superheroes portrayed as real, emotionally complex ­humans, not just corny caricatures. In “Batman” of 1989, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, for the first time a Batman film offered distinguished, nontraditional characters and a cast of top actors. Despite some lagging screenwriting, the film was heralded as a critical success; audiences loved the idea of a superhero film that embraced the humanity of its protagonist. 

    The superhero films released after 2001 achingly wished to portray ­superheroes as real. The events of 9/11, and the frightened American ­culture that followed, increasingly ­reflected our desire to indulge in ­fantasy and nostalgia, making the ­classical Marvel superheroes a perfect cache for the executives at Universal and Warner Brothers. What has ­become most popular is the idea of ­superhero realism; characters and ­situations mimic life to a degree ­unheard of in past generations. 

    “The Dark Knight” is a perfect ­example. Heath Ledger’s Joker is sneering, unfathomable, chaotic, and all around undefeatable. The Joker is the apotheosis of contemporary American fears: a madman who cannot be caught, defined, or killed, he stands as isolated and impenetrable as a disguised terrorist in the New York populace. 

    Likewise, Batman has become increasingly human. He has abandoned the stage makeup and cheesy leotards and adorned himself in battle-gear and bulletproof vests. His code of ethics has grown only more stringent and bold, a necessary defense in a world that becomes more chaotic by the day. He reflects the degree to which the American public fear for their lives; he is that great protector who is necessary in times of peril. 

    His necessity, then, defines the ­degree to which we, as an audience, humanize him. He is a reflection of our own desire to be safe. Seeking ­patterns in the forms Batman takes, the public need look no further than their own fear.

    This piece has been published in Teen Ink's monthly print magazine.This piece has also been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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  • 01/03/12--14:15: Fighters & Heroes
  • Want more action, adventure, and excitement? Read these Watty Awards finalists and vote for your favorites!

    Burn Into Me (Most Popular - Paranormal): Emelie is the top street fighter of the Underground. Read more!

    He Saved Me (Most Popular - Mystery): Isobel Davis will never forget the night she was snatched into an alley and brutally raped while a knife was pressed against her throat. She will also never forget the boy who saved her. Read more!

    Dangerous Love (Most Popular - Action): Rose Montgomery, 18, is thrust into the dangerous life of gangs after she catches the eye of the most dangerous gang leader in Brooklyn, NY. Read more!

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    Glide, The Novel


    …also known as “The Captain,” is a legendary inventor and recluse; equal parts Albert Einstein and Don Quixóte. In GLIDE, the doctor must confront his own shadowy destiny when two adventurous teens disrupt the status quo of his covert lab on Isla de Tiempo Muerto.

    Magigate’s nemesis is The Prophet, who once held an iron grip over much of the world’s commerce. When The Prophet escapes her island prison and takes one of the teens hostage, Dr. Magigate must face not only his long-time foe and erstwhile lover, but also the ethically ambiguous legacy of his inventions.

    GLIDE is a dark and cautionary tale of what happens when we turn to invention and technology to compensate for the shortcomings of heart and soul.

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    Happy Wattpad Wednesday! This week, writer Leah Crichton is giving away 3 copies of her paranormal YA novel “Amaranthine”!

    To enter today’s Wattpad Wednesday giveaway:

    Tweet us @Wattpad: Which “Amaranthine” quote do you find most intriguing - 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5?

    1. “Yeah, Luke, but what Pocahontas and John Smith up there failed to take into consideration is anyone else’s feelings.”- Ireland 

    3. “You can’t die from a broken heart love, even if you wish you could.” – Damien

    4. “Don’t apologize. It’s my fault. I practically handed you to him in gift wrap.” - Orion
    5. “I looked at the floor thinking my life was like that lamp. It too was momentarily suspended in time and fell, smashing into hundreds of unrecognizable tiny pieces.” – Ireland 

    6. “You seem to think I have limitless restraint, and I happen to know that’s a very daft assumption.” – Orion

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  • 01/05/12--06:00: Mirror, Mirror

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    Wattpad brings you a guest post originally from Teen Ink magazine:

    Author, R. L. Stine

    By Devon W., NJ & Vicky S., Randolph, NJ

    The number-one best-selling children’s author of all time, R. L. Stine is most famous for the creepy Goosebumps series, and now The Nightmare Room series. Born in Ohio, Mr. Stine lives in New York City. Teen Ink thanks him for being part of the Interview Contest.

    We’ve heard you get thousands of fan letters a week. What’s the weirdest, or funniest, fan mail you’ve received?

    Well, some of it’s hilarious, but I’ve gotten horrible, sad letters.

    My favorite is a weird one, from a girl early on in my career. She said, ‘Dear R. L. Stine, I loved The Babysitter. The same thing happened to me, only it was my uncle who tried to kill me. Keep up the good work. ‘

    That was pretty scary. I actually notified her teacher and said, ‘You should look into this. ’ I never heard back.

    My all-time favorite letter was from a boy who wrote, ‘Dear R. L. Stine, I’ve read 40 of your books and I think they’re really boring. ’ Isn’t that perfect?

    At one point, I was getting 2, 000 letter a week. My mailman hated me. One day he took the big canvas mailbag and just threw it in the apartment.

    Photo credit: R.L. Stine

    Do you answer all your mail?

    In the early days, I could; I think every kid deserves an answer, because it’s hard for kids to write letters.

    I make sure everyone gets an answer; at one point I had a staff of five answering mail. I try to read as much of it as I can.

    Your books require a lot of imagination. Do you think people are born with imagination, or do you think they develop it through reading?

    I think everyone has imagination, but at the same time, it’s a very mysterious process. When I was nine, I was drawn to scary programs and would listen to science fiction shows on the radio. I really can’t explain why I found that stuff so interesting. I think I absorbed all those and the many Ray Bradbury stories I read growing up.

    People think they lose their imagination as they age (obviously you’re an exception). Why do people believe that?

    I think that most people don’t have the luxury of sitting at home and writing stories. They have to find other ways to earn a living which might not demand as much imagination.

    There are lots of ways to express your imagination through writing. One is poetry, almost all teenagers love to do that. Have you ever written any poetry you’d want to share or publish?

    No, I’m horrible at it.

    Back in my hometown I sponsor R. L. Stine Writing Workshops in the public schools. We have professional writers come for two weeks every year and work with kids who are really interested in being writers, but not poets. The world has enough bad poets. I try to discourage everyone from writing poetry.

    Yet, every once in a while a kid writes a poem that is really good, and you sit there and think, Oh, wow, this kid can write.

    Since you’re an author of horror novels, you probably expect this question: what has been your most frightening personal experience?

    I don’t like that question; there’s no way anything frightening can happen when I’m in the house all the time. They don’t let me out of here.

    I haven’t had a scary life, aside from real personal things.

    I do have a phobia that my nephews think is just insane: I cannot jump into water. I have to step into swimming pools. It’s a real phobia, but my nephews think it’s hilarious that this scary guy is so terrified of jumping into water.

    Why do you think people like to be scared?

    I think everyone likes a good scare, and I think everyone likes to be able to have creepy adventures and face monsters when they know they’re safe at the same time.

    When kids read my books, they’re facing a lot of their real fears in these books but know that they’re not in any real danger.

    What do you respond when a little kid writes you and says one of your books gave him nightmares?

    I hate that, I just hate that. You don’t want to give kids nightmares; luckily, it doesn’t happen often.

    A woman wrote to me once, ‘I like your books because they give my kids shivers but not nightmares. ‘

    This was perfect because that’s what I try to do; I don’t want to terrify kids.

    Have you ever written something that was really scary and then had to make it less frightening?

    It’s usually the opposite; my editors tell me to make it scarier. I tend to pull back and they’re always saying, ‘You have to make it scarier. ‘

    Except once. The Girl Who Cried Monster is about a girl who discovers the librarian is a monster when she sees him eat a kid. The editors thought that was a little much, so instead I gave him a tray of snails on his desk, and every once in a while he chews one up.

    Do you have a whole bunch of ideas in your head, or when you start to write do they just come?

    It’s usually one at a time; it’s gotten harder because I’ve written so many books.

    I need a new idea every month since I do a book a month. They usually come from a title; I don’t really have ideas in advance, but almost all my ideas come from thinking of a really good title and seeing where that leads.

    I work backwards from every other author; most authors get an idea for a story and think of a title later.

    Is there a reason you think of a title first?

    It just works for me. One day I was walking down the street and the title Brain Juice popped into my head. Then I started to think, what would happen if kids could drink brain juice? Maybe they would get really smart. Maybe they’d get so smart, no one could stand them. It would ruin their lives. That turned out to be one of my favorite Goosebumps books.

    Do you ever get ideas from readers?

    That’s never worked out; it’s a shame.

    And I’ve never gotten any ideas from my dreams. I have the most boring dreams. One night I dreamed I was making a bologna sandwich.

    Most of your writing is fictional and crazy. Do you ever put little autobiographical events in?

    I was a very fearful child, and I can remember that feeling of panic. I use that feeling a lot - that’s from real life.

    The only other thing I use is - I grew up in a little suburb of Columbus, Ohio and I use that setting a lot.

    I’ve never written a book about New York City, where I’ve lived for years. It’s sort of a superstition of mine. The settings are all suburban, from my childhood.

    Every once in a while there will be an incident that sparks an idea. I was at an airport watching a family say goodbye to their little boy -he was flying by himself, and they were hugging him - and the parents were totally nervous.

    I saw the mother hand the boy a note as he boarded the plane. I watched and thought, What if he gets on the plane and he opens the note and it says, ‘We’re not your parents?’

    What’s the one element of your writing that you believe makes you different from other writers?

    I really like kids. I think I’m really good at talking with and writing for them, because that’s my level, basically.

    Another thing I do that many writers don’t value as much, is I want a lot of surprises in my writing. I don’t want to be able to predict what’s going to happen. I work really hard at putting surprise after surprise in each book.

    I try to shock readers and tease them and lead them off in the wrong direction.

    We read that your son hasn’t read any of your books.

    Sad to say. And he’s in one of the books, too. He just wouldn’t read them.

    Have you ever tried to get him to?

    Oh, always. It did make me nuts, but if you’re an author, your kid is basically going to be a non-reader; that goes without saying.

    Every writer I know, their kids don’t read their stuff. It’s a natural way for kids to get their parents.

    Kurt Vonnegut’s daughter was a big Goosebumps fan. When she was 12 she told her father, ‘Oh, he’s a much better writer than you, Dad. ‘

    This was Kurt Vonnegut, for goodness sake; I was so embarrassed. She wouldn’t read his books for anything.

    Do you believe in ghosts?

    No, I don’t believe in any of the stuff I write.

    What do you think is the biggest problem facing teenagers today?

    I hate questions like that.

    People are going to want to know.

    Well, when I was a kid we had childhoods; we didn’t have to be sophisticated and cool. We could just be kids. We weren’t exposed to as much stuff, and every sitcom on TV wasn’t just about sex.

    I think the biggest problem is that kids are growing up too fast and not having fun just being a kid. It’s a very tough job to be a kid.

    Is it a hard job to be a writer?

    It’s never been hard for me; it’s the only thing I do well. Ask my wife; it’s the only thing I’m competent at.

    I came from Ohio and moved to New York to be a writer. I got magazine jobs right away and wrote for all these fan magazines. Then I worked at Scholastic for many years doing educational magazines.

    My goal in life was to have my own humor magazine, all I wanted was to have my own Mad Magazine. When I was 28 I got it. I did a funny magazine for ten years called Bananas. That was my life’s ambition and I reached it. And then Bananas folded; it wasn’t popular anymore.

    I had no idea what was coming, it’s been very exciting and I feel very lucky.

    Is the success of your books one of your greatest surprises?

    The success of the Goosebumps stories was a total surprise to everybody. You can’t ever plan on having that kind of a success; I’m in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest-selling children’s author in history.

    To me that’s amazing, because I wrote for 20 years and nobody noticed.

    When I was a kid there were a lot of horror books for adults, but other than Goosebumps, I don’t remember seeing any for kids.

    No one had done it. I did Fear Street first. When I started, they said, you can’t do horror as a series, no one would buy it.

    Someone once asked Agatha Christie, ‘Why do you think your books are so popular?’

    And she said, ‘I just stumbled onto something people wanted to read. ’ And I think that’s what happened with me.

    How many books have you sold?

    Well, Goosebumps has sold 220 million in this country. It’s just huge all over the world, it’s incredible. Altogether I’ve sold over 300 million books.

    Are the Harry Potter books in the hundreds of millions?

    No, they’ve sold 35-40 million. They get a lot more media attention, though.

    At one point I was doing a Fear Street and a Goosebumps every month, so I did it by doing 24 books a year; J. K. Rowling does one a year. She’s smart, she has a life.

    Have you had any significant disappointments?

    Yes, I did a book series before Goosebumps that I loved. I always wanted to write funny stuff, and I did a series called Space Cadet about the five dumbest cadets in the Space Academy. It was just slapstick humor. I loved these books; they were my favorites. I thought they were really funny. No one bought them, they were a total flop.

    A lot of people say scary books, movies and TV shows are a big reason for teen violence. What do you think?

    Well, I think they’re totally wrong. I think my books are really healthy, and I think they help kids deal with a lot of anger.

    Also, I don’t really think mass killers read these books; I’ve never heard of somebody reading one and then running out and doing something horrible.

    And I think violence in movies and on television is very healthy. Everybody has these pent-up feelings, and I think it’s good relief to be able to sit and watch it.

    People who say kids are going to be influenced don’t realize that kids are very smart; it’s insulting to kids. Whenever there’s some horrible tragedy they start saying, ‘Well, let’s make sure kids don’t go to these movies, ’ or ‘Let’s censor the lyrics in their music, and give them a curfew. ’ Every solution is a punishment, not a solution.

    There are a lot of people who don’t like young people and resent them. They are the ones who try to solve serious problems by punishing kids.

    What do you think is leading to the violence?

    I wouldn’t even venture a guess; there are a lot of serious social problems. People have these natural tendencies and they shouldn’t be repressed.

    My brother has a son and they didn’t want any violence in the house; my nephew wasn’t even allowed to watch the Muppets. They never allowed him to have toy guns. One day he was visiting us, and I gave him a slice of American cheese. He bit it into the shape of a gun. He was obsessed.

    Back to writing, are there any jobs or internships you’d suggest for a young person who really wants to be a writer?

    Well, I would suggest they try to get some kind of magazine job. I came to New York and started getting publishing jobs. I didn’t stay home and send in manuscripts from 500 miles away.

    I was working in a publishing company and got to know a lot of editors, and they would leave to go to other companies, and then I would know someone at all those other publishing houses.

    Being in the business gave me a real head start to being a writer.

    How did you start getting publishing jobs?

    I came to New York - I didn’t know a single person - and started answering ads in the papers.

    My very first job was with a fan magazine, making up stories, interviews with the stars. I learned to write really fast, you learn to write fast and to make up stuff. It was very good training; you think it’s horrible at the time, but it’s good training.

    Then I answered an ad and got a job working for Junior Scholastic Magazine; I ended up staying there for 16 years.

    What about college, did you major in writing?

    I was an English major at Ohio State. Back then every college had a humor magazine, and that’s all I was interested in. Three of my four years in college I was editor of the humor magazine.

    How does writing for TV compare with writing novels?

    It’s totally different, and in some ways it’s irritating, because it’s collaborative. I sit here by myself all day writing books. But when I wrote for television I’d write a script and then I’d go in and all the puppeteers and producers and the director and writer would sit around a table and rip your script apart and suggest other things.

    You have to collaborate every step of the way; everyone is an expert.

    So, there would be three or four versions for these little five-minute puppet segments. Then you’d come in and they would shoot the segment, and the puppeteers would say whatever they wanted in front of the cameras. And every once in a while you’d recognize a word of yours, but that was the process.

    What is your new TV series, “The Nightmare Room”?

    Most of the episodes are based on the Nightmare Room books, but other people write them.

    How do these books differ from Goosebumps?

    Goosebumps was sort of a roller-coaster ride, with monsters jumping out or hiding under the bed, and running from werewolves, and becoming invisible.

    The Nightmare Room series is quiet, darker; I’m trying to do “Twilight Zone” for kids, where you step into a place you’ve been a hundred times but suddenly something isn’t quite right. There are no monsters; it’s more psychological.

    One, Liar, Liar, is about a boy who never tells the truth, he even lies to the reader. He lies about the color of his eyes when he’s describing himself. He tells so many lies that he lies himself into a parallel world.

    I needed to do something different from Goosebumps. I wrote 87 of those, and I needed a new little twist that would give me story ideas.

    What keeps you motivated after you’ve sold so many books?

    I just love it. I still enjoy it. It’s a real challenge not to repeat myself.

    I get up in the morning and still enjoy getting to the computer at 10 o’clock each morning and writing my pages; I do 15 pages a day.

    Do you edit yourself as you go along?

    Yes, except my secret is that I do a chapter-by-chapter outline first; I never wanted to do it, but my editors forced me to.

    The outline has everything that happens in the book. That’s the real work. It has all the chapter endings - every chapter has to end with a cliffhanger - and it includes all the action of the book.

    So, when I sit down to write, I’ve done all the thinking and I can enjoy the writing.

    Most people hate outlines, and I hated them at first, mainly because my editors always made me revise and revise the outline, so by the time I’d done three outlines, I’d be sick of the book. But now I can’t work without one.

    Do you think writing is lonely?

    Yes. But I think too often teachers present writing as something that is very serious. I hate it when people tell kids, ‘Write what you know. Write from your heart. ‘

    That’s terrifying; I’ve never written a word from my heart, never. I’ve been writing for 30 years, and I’ve never written a single word from my heart, and I never write about what I know. I think that makes writing sound too hard, it makes it sound like work.

    What do you tell kids to write?

    I tell kids to write to entertain yourself, write to be entertained. Writing should be fun. I tell them about all the insane things I’ve written just because I love to write.

    You don’t have to write serious literature, you don’t have to be an artist to be a writer. I’ve written GI Joe books, coloring books, even bubble gum cards.

    What’s your most favorite book that you’ve written?

    I have to divide it up; there’s a funny novel I wrote called Phone Calls that is about teenagers calling each other. It’s really funny, very twisted.

    There’s another funny one, How I Broke Up with Ernie. I’m really proud of those.

    And there are a couple of Goosebumps I’m really proud of; Brain Juice is a perfect combination of scary and funny, I think.

    Do you ever have a hard time letting go of something you wrote that your editors say you have to change?

    Oh, always. I hate to revise, I hate it, and I have a lot of editors. You think, Oh, by now you’ve done all this stuff, it will be easy, but sometimes I have to do three versions of a book, and I complain about it all the time.

    It’s very hard to get the same energy for revising as for writing.

    How do you work up that energy?

    This is my major failure as a writer. I always think that if it’s typed, it’s finished and is a masterpiece. I consider it done and I’m on to the next one.

    And that’s a real problem; many writers are the opposite. I don’t know which is healthier.

    What do you do if you don’t respect the editor?

    I don’t have that choice; my wife is my editor.

    You said you have lots of editors.

    My wife has a company called Parachute Press, which is a children’s book packager. My books go through her company. In addition to my wife, two other editors in her company read everything. Plus I have two editors at my publisher, Harper-Collins, so there are five editors for every book.

    But you must respect them all enough that when they throw your book back at you …

    Well, I argue all the time. I don’t win very often. Sometimes they agree with me, but they’re usually right; it’s easier for others to see what’s wrong with writing, especially when you’re as self-satisfied as I am.

    And my wife is very smart, she’s always right. We’ve been married 32 years and in that time I’ve never been right.

    This piece has been published in Teen Ink's monthly print magazine.This piece has also been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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    Who is the most interactive writer on Wattpad? Who maintains a warm and friendly Wattpad spirit while interacting with his/her fans?

    Check out the finalists for Most Interactive Writer in the Watty Awards 2011. Vote now to support your favorite writer. Hurry before the competition ends on Jan. 31st!



    • StorySpinner (This Cinderella is a Player, Starcrossed, The Players Society)
    • kirsty1000 (Enjoying the Chase, Fighting To Be Free, Nothing Left To Lose)
    • cold_lady19 (Eternal Silence, Pureblood Vampires Series, My Hopeless Choice)
    • Kissmyoops3 (A Mistaken Kiss, Superman Stole My Panties, War of the Sexes)
    • princessharley (The Cellar, Silence, Save Me)
    • racingheart (The Billion Dollar Girl, Thirteen Letters to Cupid, Bad Girl vs. The Player)
    • greenwriter (The Bachelor, His Lovely Ward, The Transient Wife)
    • CompulsiveWriter (A Knight To Remember, The Watchers Wake, Don’t Catch Me)

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    (I’ll vote back?)


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  • 01/05/12--12:04: Pursue Your Passions
  • Wattpad brings you a guest post originally published in Teen Ink magazine:

    Pursue Your Passions

    By Abbie M., Brea, CA

    (Photo via)

    Someone once told me, “You’re wasting your time on a career that will only lead to starvation.”

    Ouch, right? But before I go on, let me give you some background on the career in question.

    I want to be a journalist for a newspaper or magazine. After years of exploring my interests, this is what I have decided on. But I’m still affected by what others say, which led me to consider the other side of the argument.

    As technology continues to advance with unbelievable speed, print publications are steadily being replaced by websites that update their content practically every time you refresh the browser. Even on my own campus, few seem to care about newspapers anymore; sections of the school paper lie in puddles, and muddy shoe prints soil the pages that took the editors weeks to complete.

    More disturbingly, the country is in the midst of an economic downturn, which is leaving people in a perpetual state of uncertainty. And by the time my generation graduates from college, we will be part of a workforce that is highly competitive and incredibly unstable.

    But I stand firm in my decision to be a writer. Why? For the idealistic, simple, yet powerful reason that it makes me happy in a way that no amount of money ever could.

    Rarely have I found others who think this way, and it always disheartens me to hear students trying to map out their lives based on factors other than pursuing their passions.

    Factor number one: parents.

    Parents definitely have a right to be involved in their children’s lives, but sometimes their words create more stress than encouragement. Instead of trying to make their children happy, as they may have intended, parents can end up squeezing their children’s hopes and desires until nothing remains but the hard, coarse seeds of a cruel reality. True, being realistic is important, but everyone needs the chance to dream in order to find happiness, and parents should understand this.

    Factor number two: money.

    A conversation I had with my college friend one afternoon illustrates this point.

    “What happened?” I asked after hearing he had switched majors. “I thought you wanted to be a photographer.”

    “I do,” he said. “But there’s no money in it. Don’t worry,” he added, probably sensing my concern. “I’m happy where I am.”

    I really wanted to believe that, but as we continued talking, he constantly interrupted me to point out the beauty of this view and that view, saying he wished he had his camera with him. I didn’t know what to think anymore.

    Naturally, there’s no way to predict where our paths will lead us. In fact, our ideas and plans could very well change down the road. However, at this stage in our lives when so many voices are telling us who we should be, we need to nurture our individual dreams, not stifle them, because they may be the only things left that define us.

    Of course, listen to your parents and consider the financial implications of your choices. But keep in mind, too, that you, and no one else, will ultimately have to live with the results of your decisions.

    And who knows – maybe that person is right, and I will starve because of my choice to major in journalism. But after witnessing the unhappiness of those who didn’t pursue their passion, I am convinced that the worst suffering of all is to not allow yourself to do what you truly love.

    This piece has been published in Teen Ink's monthly print magazine.This piece has also been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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    Find out the Top 10 finalists of our Wattpad - Simon & Schuster “Write Your Own Manifesto” contest on Ellen Hopkins’ blog! Congratulations to all the lucky winners!

    Plus, check out Ellen’s Wattpad profile to read some of her poetry and an extended excerpt of her latest novel, Perfect.

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    Cover-Off: “Drive” by James Sallis

    “Drive” is now a major-motion picture starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. Which version of the book cover do you like better - left or right?

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    Wattpad brings you a guest post originally published in Teen Ink magazine:

    A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

    By Stephanie S., Prosser, WA

    (Photo via Fanpop)

    Set in Beaufort, North Carolina, in the 1950s, A Walk to Remember tells the story of 17-year-old Landon Carter, who learns to live life differently after meeting Jamie Sullivan. Initially, Landon is the kind of guy who cares too much about what people think of him. But when Jamie comes into the picture, he only cares about being with her.

    Things are looking up for Landon, until Jamie drops a bomb that changes their lives forever.

    In A Walk to Remember, the characters take time to get to know each other and end up falling in love. Like other novelists of realistic fiction, Nicholas Sparks emotionally engages the reader. A Walk to Remember ­reminded me of all of Lurlene McDaniel’s novels, because both authors use themes of love and death.

    A Walk to Remember is a book that you will not want to put down until you’ve reached the last page, because Sparks draws the reader in with emotions, descriptions, love, and death. For those who enjoy novels that touch your heart and make you think about real life, A Walk to Remember is perfect for you.

    This piece has also been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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    Heyyyyy… It’s just me joining the wattpad contest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    “I loved this story! Normally I don’t like when stories switch point of views, but I thought it was very well done in this story. Funny and lighthearted with a dark undertone.”

    Every Friday, we bring you an undiscovered gem to read on Wattpad. This week, our secret Wattpad Talent Hunters recommend The Monroe Girls, a fantasy teen fiction:

    The Monroe Girls by Jordy_Marie

    Book 1: Mia and Sophia Monroe are: cousins, smart, stubborn, charismatic, and, oh yeah, witches. It runs in the family. These cousins are polar opposites. Mia loves magic and Sophia refuses to give into the temptation. As much as they argue, cousins are family and if you mess with a Monroe you’ll get a spell cast on you…or you’ll end up dead…

    Book 2: The Monroe Girls are back in action! They’re stronger, smarter, and wiser. So what’s worse than an angry, double-crossed witch? How about two angry teenage witches? Maybe it’s the obstacles Mia and Sophia will have to face this time in their Wiccan Summer.

    Mobile Wattcode 1250716

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