Category: Stuff to Buy or Do

Travis Miller Releases “Livin Good” Music Video

Travis Miller 3

Southern California continues to be arguably the most important breeding ground for independent music careers. The sheer amount of talent here — from singers, songwriters, rappers, and dancers to filmmakers and music producers — makes it hard to keep up with all the releases and pick out favorites.

Up and coming artist Travis Miller’s new video for “Livin Good” definitely makes an impression. The spot covers a day in the life of a poor sap who suffers various indignities as he goes about his business (like having a girl beat on him for no apparent reason, and driving a car with a taped-up Target shopping bag in lieu of a window). All this while he ironically brags about how he is “Livin Good.” Throw in some krump dancing and other street styles, and it makes for an entertaining four minutes and 12 seconds.

Check out the video below, and peep Travis’ social media here:


New Clothing Brand “Girls Will Be” Aims to Break the “Girly” Mold

Main image - girls pyramidLaunching a business is hard enough. Launching a business which challenges long-ingrained gender fashion archetypes is even harder.

Girls Will Be is a clothing brand that aims to do just that, by producing clothing that avoids the stereotypical pink-and-glitter so common in girls’ clothing, while still remaining uniquely feminine.

We asked one of the founders, Sharon Burns Choksi, a few quick questions about the company and the inspiration behind it:

1. Why launch this clothing line in a market which is already glutted with brands — what makes you stand out?

The girls clothing market is glutted with brands that all pretty much look alike, especially if you are talking about the larger brands you find in the mall, catalogs, and online. Girls Will Be stands out because of our four style rules: colors beyond pink, no “girly” embellishments, imagery that break gender stereotypes, and styles that let girls be kids.

Finding clothes that do not break any of these rules is quite a challenge! Even when you can tell a retailer is trying to offer a “less girly” style, it’s as if they can’t quite bring themselves to eliminate all the “girly” at the same time. You’ve all seen the blue soccer shirt covered in hearts, the pink Spiderman t-shirt, or the jeans with rhinestones on the pockets, right? Those work for some girls, but not for all of them. We design clothes for those other girls!

2. Why are you countering the stereotypical girly look — what is wrong with that in your eyes?

There is nothing wrong with pink and sparkles and ruffles and bows. But there is a problem when that is the only option offered to girls. Girls who do not like the “stereotypical girly” look should not have to shop in the boys department to find clothes that reflect who they are and what they like. We want them to know it is also OK for girls to dress in a different style.

3. What challenges have you had to overcome in getting these products to market?

As a new, small business, the biggest challenge is getting the word out.

4. What is your background…have you successfully marketed other clothing products?

The clothing industry is new to all of us, but we bring a lot of other experience that has been extremely valuable in building this business. My background is strategy and business consulting, as well as marketing at Dell. My sister, Laura Burns, is an experience graphic designer and my brother, David Burns, is an architect and artist. Plus, as parents, we have spent countless hours shopping for our girls and know all too well the challenges faced by girls who do not want to wear the stereotypical “girly” styles. We want to make shopping easier for those girls!

laura and grace (hi res)
The founders of Girls Will Be

5. Where can people buy the products?

Our products are available on our website, Our clothes are currently available in sizes 4-12, and we will be adding a size 14 in late May.

6. What’s next for the brand/company?

We just finished a Kickstarter, which raised over $30,000 to add two styles of not-so-short shorts for girls to our line of t-shirts. So we are busy working to get those shorts made, as well as to introduce a few new t-shirt designs for summer. We know girls need more options in everything from pajamas to underwear to pants, so we will keep working to expand our line over time.

Be Awesome t-shirt

Get Beautiful, Camera-Ready Skin for Prom – 5 DIY Tips and Tricks

prom makeup tipsIt’s prom season, and we know how important it is to look your best on the big night. Dr. Vish Banthia, Founder and Chief Medical Officer of ZendyBeauty, provides some DIY solutions that will help your face radiate with a healthful glow without breaking the bank.

Note: Zendybeauty connects visitors with cosmetic procedure providers. We want to stress that while we appreciate the beauty tips below, most teens DO NOT need any kind of cosmetic procedure and are beautiful just the way they are!


Wash your face twice a day (no more) with warm water and a mild cleanser.  Always, remove your makeup before you go to sleep, and throw away any old makeup that smells or looks different from when you first bought it.


Resist the urge to pop pimples – this can push infected material further into the skin. Keep your hands away from your face – this can spread the bacteria that cause pores to become inflamed and irritated.

To keep bacteria at bay, wash your hands before applying anything to your face, such as treatment creams or makeup.


One of the most common skincare mistakes Dr. Banthia sees is an overabundance of products in one’s daily regimen. Using too many products may cause an inflammatory reaction or further irritation.

prom purse“TRY A DIY FACIAL

Steam your face! This is one of the simplest, most inexpensive treatments you can do at home – all you need is hot water, a pot or bowl and a towel. The steam does double duty by cleansing skin of impurities and hydrating it at the same time. It also boosts circulation and draws blood to the surface of the skin, giving the face a warm, healthy glow.  Just boil some water and put it in a pot or bowl.  Tie your hair back and use a towel as a tent for both the bowl and your head, and lean your face over the steam.  Do this carefully – give yourself about 12 inches of room – getting too close to hot steam can cause broken capillaries.  One minute of steaming is plenty – exposing skin to steam for too long can actually dry it out.

Afterwards, try ZendyBeauty’s signature yogurt mask: Take one teaspoon of yogurt; squeeze a lemon; and put a pinch of turmeric. Mix and apply to face for 10 minutes on a daily basis. Turmeric has high anti-oxidant potential; other ingredients within have lightening and brightening potential as a bonus.


Keratosis Pilaris – those pesky little bumps often found on the back of the upper arms and legs that are commonly referred to as “chicken skin” –  is a tough condition to treat and cure. The basic treatment concepts: exfoliate and moisturize.  When moisturizing, use something super emollient, like Vaseline to trap in moisture.

prom makeup

Austin Mahone to Debut “The Secret” & Tour with Fifth Harmony, Shawn Mendes, The Vamps

Courtesy Catherine Powell/Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy Catherine Powell/Wikimedia Commons

It’s teen superstar Austin Mahone’s 18th birthday today…and his FANS are the ones getting a present!

First, he has announced today that he is releasing his long-anticipated “The Secret” on May 27th.The 7 track release (plus bonus tracks) will feature the smash hit single “Mmm Yeah” with Pitbull, as well as collaborations with some of the top artists and producers in the industry including Red One.

This will be supported by a 26-city summer tour across North America. The MTV Presents Austin Mahone tour will kick off in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas on the 25th of July with special guests The Vamps (through August 21st). Following this, guests switch to the very popular Fifth Harmony, Shawn Mendes and Alex Angelo (starting August 26th).

According to the press release, concert goers will receive a download of “The Secret” on May 27th with purchase of tickets to the tour (One download code per order for online purchases only; does not apply to box office or outlet ticket purchases). Tickets go on sale April 11th at 10:00am with a fan club pre-sale beginning April 8th. Citi is Mahone’s sponsor, and cardmembers receive access to presale tickets beginning on Wednesday, April 9th at 10am local time through Thursday, April 10th at 10pm local time. Visit for more information.

In Austin’s own words:

“This is for my Mahomies. Thank you for supporting me and sticking with me all this time. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than to be able to announce new music and a huge tour for all you guys!”

In addition to his MTV Presents Austin Mahone tour, Austin is giving his “Mahomies” a once in a life time opportunity with MTV’s Ultimate Fan Experience. Beginning May 3, fans can enter at for a chance to win private dance lessons from Austin’s crew for the winner and three of their closest friends, a “Mahomie” makeover and the opportunity to perform ON STAGE with Austin and his dancers to his hit song “Mmm Yeah” at a select tour date. Entrants will submit a video of them and their three friends dancing to the song and MTV and Austin himself will choose a winner.

To keep up with Austin Mahone, visit or his TwitterInstagramVine, or Facebook and check out hashtag  #AUSTINMAHONETOUR

Here is the current list of dates, with more to be announced (As of April 4, 2014)

July 25, 2014
Freeman Coliseum
San Antonio, TX
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

July 26, 2014
NRG Arena (formerly Reliant Arena)
Houston, TX
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

July 27, 2014
Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
Grand Prairie, TX
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

July 29, 2014
Comerica Theatre
Phoenix, AZ
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

July 30, 2014
Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE
Los Angeles, CA
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

July 31, 2014
The Joint @ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, NV
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

August 2, 2014
Event Ctr. at San Jose State Univ.
San Jose, CA
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

August 4, 2014*
Marymoor Park Amphitheatre
Redmond, WA
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes
(*Tickets for this show go on sale April 18th)

August 6, 2014
Maverik Center
West Valley City, UT
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

August 7, 2014
1stBank Center
Broomfield, CO
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

August 9, 2014
Eagles Ballroom
Milwaukee, WI
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

August 10, 2014
U.S. Bank Theatre at Target Center
Minneapolis, MN
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

August 13, 2014
T.D. Echo Beach
Toronto, ON
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

August 16, 2014
Verizon Wireless Arena
Manchester, NH
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

August 19, 2014
Pier Six Pavilion
Baltimore, MD
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes

August 20, 2014
Izod Center
E. Rutherford, NJ
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony, and Shawn Mendes

August 21, 2014
The Mann
Philadelphia, PA
With The Vamps and Special Guests Fifth Harmony, and Shawn Mendes

August 26, 2014
Stage AE Outdoors
Pittsburgh, PA
With Special Guests Fifth Harmony Shawn Mendes and Alex Angelo

August 27, 2014
U.S. Bank Arena
Cincinnati, OH
With Special Guests Fifth Harmony Shawn Mendes and Alex Angelo

August 29, 2014
White Oak Amphitheatre
Greensboro, NC
With Special Guests Fifth Harmony Shawn Mendes and Alex Angelo

August 30, 2014
Family Circle Stadium
Charleston, SC
With Special Guests Fifth Harmony Shawn Mendes and Alex Angelo

August 31, 2014
Charter Amphitheatre
Simpsonville, SC
With Special Guests Fifth Harmony Shawn Mendes and Alex Angelo

September 2, 2014
Boutwell Auditorium
Birmingham, AL
With Special Guests Fifth Harmony Shawn Mendes and Alex Angelo

September 5, 2014
The Fabulous Fox Theatre
St. Louis MO
With Special Guests Fifth Harmony Shawn Mendes and Alex Angelo

September 6, 2014
The Woods at Fontanel
Whites Creek, TN
With Special Guests Fifth Harmony Shawn Mendes and Alex Angelo

September 9, 2014
Wolstein Center
Cleveland, OH
With Special Guests Fifth Harmony Shawn Mendes and Alex Angelo

Teens With Younger Siblings Can Help Teach Good Choices With “Healthy Choices Happy Kids”

healthy choices happy kids

Are you a teenager with a little bro or sis that needs a bit of guidance of making good choices? You know, like brushing their teeth before they all fall out or wilt the plants with their bad breath? How about going to sleep early instead of bugging you while you are trying to watch The Walking Dead?

Brightly illustrated and easy to understand, the affordable book “Healthy Choices, Happy Kids” by Foster W. CLine, M.D., Lisa C. Greene, and Gina L. May might help.

The book covers 12 common childhood scenarios, such as having to take a bath or take medicine, and shows a poor and good choice for each. The authors intend for caregivers and kids to sit together, explore the pages, and discuss the choices being made — all with the end of encouraging better behavior in kids too young to fully understand the repercussions their actions might have down the line.

In my opinion, the book is ideal for kids up to 1st grade. Beyond that, kids might find the pace a little slow and the lessons too basic. That being said, with bad choices by actors and musicians being displayed constantly in the media, it is nice to see a book which touches on personal responsibility and the consequences of choices directed to children of such a young age. We need more books like this in the marketplace.

And maybe some of you teens can learn a thing or two from reading the book as well!

The book is expected to be released in May 2014.

Virtual Style Pod by Engage Allows You to Try Clothes On Virtually in 3D

For those that like to try on new fashions, but dislike the drudgery of changing clothes repeatedly in a cramped, messy dressing room (with a 3 item limit), a new piece of technology just might to change the clothes buying experience for the better.

The Virtual Style Pod works by combining a “life-size screen mirror which overlays the user’s image with incredibly realistic 3D renders of clothing, the world’s first 3D cloth simulation. It enables users to quickly create outfits by mixing and matching a wide range of garments from the host’s inventory,” according to the maker Engage Production‘s Youtube channel.

As if Instagram selfies weren’t enough, this new technology allows users to share their virtual outfits with the world at large through social networks.

From the video preview which you can see below, the concept seems cool, although the graphics look a little shaky. A big part of buying clothing is how the fabric feels against the skin and how it moves when you walk and run, two things that this device doesn’t address.

Still, for a quick visual of what you look like in certain gear without having to get undressed, this thing cannot be beat. No word on when or if the Virtual Style Pod will be showing up in a mall near you.

Teen Author & Artist Cheryl Chan Publishes “The Thing About Things”

cheryl chan

Some teens spend countless hours posting narcissistic selfies or manipulating silly birds on their portable devices. Others spend their times flexing their creative muscles and building careers.

Cheryl Chan is a teenager who falls into the latter group, having just published a children’s book she has both written and illustrated called “The Thing About Things.” According to the synopsis:

“There is nothing worse than being ordinary. At least, according to seven-year-old Joey Jones. When Joey gets picked not first, not last, but right in the middle for playing dodgeball at school, he feels unspecial and unwanted. But through an encounter with a certain monster who has been hiding in his bedroom all along, Joey learns that everyone, every Thing, is special in their own way. With homespun illustrations, clever dialogue and unmistakable heart, “The Thing About Things” is a book that will be enjoyed by both children and adults.”

The seventeen-year-old Chan, born in Hong Kong, says she draws much of her inspiration from her home city and the contrast between its dense, multicultural residential and commercial zones and the scenic mountains and ocean which surrounds it. Here, exclusive to Teens Wanna Know, Chan reveals some of her other inspirations and shares advice to other teenagers wishing to get into the arts.

Why, in such a technological age, did you decide to write and illustrate a classic-style children’s book?

There’s such a magical quality to holding an actual book, rather than a tablet, in your hands. It’s like having something very current and very ancient all at once, since you can flip through the pages when you are a child and then flip through the same pages as an old man or woman and still feel awash in a fantasy land. Also, when I’m 80, I might not know how to press the buttons on whatever fancy holographic, smell-o-vision tablet emerges–but I’ll still be able to turn a page or two!

thing about things 2
Illustration by Cheryl Chan

Joey is a projection of my tendency to overthink.. He’s more afraid of the idea of something than the actual thing, but once he gets past his own mental barriers, he’s very quick to take apart a situation and adapt. I also created Joey as a different interpretation of what it means to be brave–very often children are just told not to be scared, but I’m trying to say that it’s okay to be scared, and only when you accept that can you truly find courage.

Where did you get inspiration for The Thing?

There’s a line from Big Fish that goes something like, “most things that look mean or scary are actually just lonely.” I knew I wanted The Thing to look like a nasty (but not unlovable) creature. I wanted him to be a good mix of cute and creepy. So I tried to think of a real life equivalent to that, and the vampire bat came to mind. Everything else: the green fur, the seven eyes–are all just my attempt to exaggerate things, because that’s what fiction is for, right?

How did you decide to become a writer?

I like having complete sovereignty over what I do, and writing is an exercise that demands that. I don’t have to follow convention to find what motivates me to create–contrary to the portrait popular culture might paint, I don’t spend my days reading classics and hammering away at a typewriter. I am actually inspired by a lot of TV (Doctor Who, Psych), and try to go out of my way to see and experience things as much as possible. It’s a great feeling; to be able to do what I love, exactly how I want to do it.

What is your dream job?

Before, I was completely set on writing children’s books. I still want to do that, but I also want to write scripts and novels, voice cartoons, work in animation…I’m just in pursuit of a good story, no matter what the medium. I want a career in which, on a daily basis, I can apply my imagination to and find humour in new projects. So my dream job would be to work at Pixar.

thing about things 1
Illustration by Cheryl Chan

Ask yourself why you’re doing this. If you feel a little crazy and unsure and terrified, yet at home–then I think that’s a good indicator. A support system is absolutely necessary for inspiration and sanity’s sake, so find one. Don’t be afraid of appearing self-indulgent or inexperienced. Cheer yourself on like you’re the first of your kind. And don’t rely on a single “lucky break”. It’s so much work. But it’s fun!

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m on the Speech and Debate team at school, I spend a lot of time on Yelp planning weekend food excursions, and I’ve started vlogging. Whenever I come across song lyrics, concept art, quotes, etc. that I like, I collect them in a folder. I chat online with my brother a lot, since he is away at university. Our personalities are very different; while he nerds out about video games and trial law, I prefer a day of doodling and daydreaming. He’s my best friend, even if he is a little embarrassed to admit it sometimes.

Buy “The Thing About Things” on Amazon

Dare to Dream Music Festival Announces Vocal Contest

The Dare to Dream Music Festival, a charity event to “empower the youth in their dreams and aspirations,” is hitting the Thousand Oaks Teen Center in Thousand Oaks, California on Saturday, April 26th 2014 at 5 p.m.

The event is being organized and promoted by entertainer Sade Champagne and is slated to feature “celebrity guest hosts, performers and appearances, community and special guest performers, inspirational speakers, audience games, vendors, raffle prizes and more.”

As part of the show, there is a call for video auditions from teen and preteen vocalists, two of whom who will be selected to perform on stage during the event. Interested parties should go to for more details

According to Champagne, proceeds will be donated to the Thousand Oaks Teen Center, and raffle ticket proceeds will be donated to the Los Angeles Dream Center’s Human Trafficking Shelter.

In addition, Sade Champagne and the Teen Center will be launching their Dare To Dream Online Vocal Contest where 2 teens will win the opportunity to perform live at the festival. The festival will also be honoring entertainers and performing artists in the industry who are living their dreams while making a positive impact in the world. Some of the honorees include Disney Channel’s Drew Seeley who starred in “Another Cinderella Story” with Selena Gomez, Tanya Chisholm who starred in Nickelodeon’s hit show “Big Time Rush” and Miss Lela Brown who was a contestant on last season’s “America’s Got Talent.” The name of the festival was inspired by honoree Adam Whittington’s hit song “Dare To Dream”.

More information from their press release:

“The Thousand Oaks Teen Center provides countless teens with recreational classes, workshops, camps and many other programs dedicated to empowering and supporting the youth.The Los Angeles Dream Center’s Human Trafficking Shelter works tirelessly to rescue women and children trapped in the slave-trade throughout the county, providing them with a home, food, clothing, counseling and more. Over 80 trafficking victims have been rescued in just eight months! Sade Champagne is a professional musical artist, performer, and inspirational speaker residing in Ventura County, CA. In fall 2009 she started an entertainment production company appropriately titled Sadé Champagne Presents to create, direct and executive produce unique benefit events to help raise money, relief and awareness for non-profit organizations all over the world. Since 2009 Sade Champagne Presents has raised several thousand dollars for charities like the Destined to Live the Good Life Children’s Orphanage, BrittiCares International, People of the Second Chance, and Thousand Oaks Teen Center. She is supported by multiple Celebrity entertainers, promoted and publicized all over the US, and Sade Champagne was appointed the Official Spokeswoman for the Destined to Live the Good Life Children’s Orphanage in Zambia, Africa! She is an in-demand public speaker and performer, and continues to mentor several youth in the community.”

Admission into the festival is $10. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Thousand Oaks Teen Center or at the door. 

For more details contact:

Thousand Oaks Teen Center: 805-494-5156

Sade Champagne:

TheFitExpo Returns to Los Angeles January 25-26


Teens and their families seeking the motivation and inspiration to meet their fitness goals this year need look no further than TheFitExpo, which returns to the Los Angeles Convention Center for the 11th year this weekend on January 25th and 26th.

Featuring over 400 exhibits and 20 free competitions, the West Coast’s largest and best-known fitness event is expected to host 37,000 attendees who will have the chance to meet top-tier fitness celebrities and get information, free samples and discounts from hundreds of vendors.

Some of the celebrities expected to attend:

  • Jillian Michaels (celebrity fitness expert, and wellness coach on “The Biggest Loser”)
  • Phil Heath (2 X and current Mr. Olympia Champion);
  • Jay Cutler (4x Mr. Olympia Champion);
  • Brian Shaw (World’s Strongest Man);
  • Grandmaster Walter Goode (Black Belt 10th Degree in Ninjitsu);
  • Lou Ferrigno (actor “The Incredible Hulk”, fitness trainer and retired pro bodybuilder)
  • Tito Ortiz (MMA Legend)

Some of the events and activities this year:

  • Extreme Tricking Challenge: California’s Team LoopKicks, the world famous martial arts tricking team, will host this event, performing their aesthetic blend of kicks, flips, twists and intricate groundwork.
  • Parkour/FreeRunning: Hosted by San Fernando Valley’s Tempest Freerunning Academy, Parkour is an ancient discipline, teaching participants how to flow through their environment by vaulting, rolling, running, climbing and jumping.
  • Fitness Career Center: For those seeking a job in the fitness industry.
  • TheFitExpo Jump Rope Championship
  • The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Nationals
  • IRON MAN Magazine Naturally Bodybuilding
  • Physique, Figure & Bikini Championships presented by Optimum Nutrition
  • MET-Rx Odd Haugen Strength Challenge
  • American Record Makers Olympic Weightlifting Competition
  • The Body Fortress USPLA American Cup Powerlifting Championships
  •’s BodySpace™ Spokesmodel Search
  • Free workouts demos and fitness challenges by Evolution Fitness Conference.
  • Tribute to Legends of Funk, Pop & Hip Hop: Live DJ Dance Concert where top dancers and EFC/TheFitExpo attendees join together to raise funds for the Challenged Athletes Foundation of America.
  • SoCal’s Best 4 Ca$h!: offering prize money and bragging rights to the most in shape attendees at the Expo. The guys can show off the best abs or biceps and the girls can compete for the best legs or abs.
  • Attendees can test their muscles at the MAXREPS 4 CASH ATTENDEE CONTESTS.  Open to all male attendees, these four contests — pull ups, push ups, dips and curl a 65 lb. barbell the most times – boast a total purse of $4,000 cash.
  • The Healthy Living Pavilion: features a variety of seminars with leading experts discussing specific dietary programs including macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan, Ayurveda and organic and raw diets. Live cooking presentations will serve up tips on how to shop for and cook healthy, quick and easy meals.  Bring your appetite as innovative products will be available to sample and purchase including Nut Burgers, Daiya Vegan Cheese, IPS Egg White Chips, Halo Top Creamery’s Protein-Rich Ice Cream, Perky Jerky, and much more.

When: Saturday and Sunday, January 25 and 26, 2014.. Show hours are Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Where: The Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 South Figueroa Street, South Halls G, H and J.

Tickets: Adult admission tickets are $20 per day or $30 for the full weekend. Children 12 years and under are $10 per day and children under 6 are free.

Plenty of parking is available. For full information on TheFitExpo ticketing, exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities call (818) 545-0290 or visit

Young Scribes – Determined Teen Authors Self-Publish “Tale Hunters,” Look to Greater Success

The Tale Hunters Paperback CoverWhat do you get when you combine a group of aspiring teen authors, one dedicated and caring English teacher, and a lot of determination and creativity? You get something like the Young Scribes.

This group of students from  Shelly High School in Shelly, Idaho has taken on an unusual project and turned it into a career-building, self-published book called The Tale HuntersThe students each wrote short stories and then, with the help of their teacher, created a wrap-around plot to tie everything together into one cohesive narrative.

According to Coach/Editor/Contributing Writer Eric DuPuis, “In these sad days when our legislature is studiously cutting opportunities for Idaho students, we wanted to do something special for our youth: provide them with a truly unique opportunity to acquire real world experience in the publishing field.

“As a team, we created a fiction project, and rigorously edited it to a publishable quality. The resulting manuscript is like nothing we’ve ever seen from high school students before. But we are not stopping there.  Our goal is to become agented writers.  Our students are busily crafting query letters and sending them to agents and publishers.  They are learning about publicity and participating in interviews.

“We’ve gained a whole new respect for writers, and for the hard work it takes to succeed in a highly competitive business.”

We got the chance to do a brief Q & A with this unique group of kids, and here is what they had to say:

Tell us about the Tale Hunters and how it came together.
Hard at WorkYoung Scribes: The Tale Hunters is a youth fantasy novel written by high school students.  Collaborating with their English teacher, ten young writers from Shelley High School in Idaho created and published a one-of-a-kind adventure – the story of a small town girl chosen to represent Earth in a high-stakes contest of tale-swapping before the throne of the terrifying Ifrit, king of the jinn.

We had a dedicated group of writers at SHS.  Many of us were serious about a future as novelists… you know… someday, when we’re older.  Everybody knows that teens don’t write novels – not old enough yet.

But, one day, we challenged that assumption!  Why can’t teens write novels?  We saw teen collections of essays (Chicken Soup for the Teen SoulFreedom Writers), even teen collections of short stories.  But could teens actually come together and write a novel?  We were just audacious enough to believe that we could!

It took a year to write the book, longer to edit it, and even longer to publish it.  But The Tale Hunters is a reality at last, a 292-page novel available in paperback or Kindle ebook at 

Can teens really write a novel?  If you’ll give us a chance, we’ll prove to you that we can!
What was the hardest part about working together?
L to R - Standing - Bobby Nelson, Nate Osburn, Calvin Boll, Brennan Taylor, Eric DuPuis - Sitting - Maryssa McLeish, Arielle Smith
L to R – Standing – Bobby Nelson, Nate Osburn, Calvin Boll, Brennan Taylor, Eric DuPuis – Sitting – Maryssa McLeish, Arielle Smith

We had a lot of meetings and discussions.  We had so many different styles, ideas, and genres.  We needed a way to put a little of everything together in one novel and make it a coherent story, not a confusing mess.  We thought of Queen Scheherazade telling stories to save her life, and The Arabian Nights became our inspiration. 

From that root grew the idea for our frame story, a magical palace in the sky where jinn would gather storytellers from a thousand worlds to compete for magical treasures and the granting of wishes.  In this way, we could each write our own stories – any style, any genre – and they would all make sense when we brought them together.

Nate Osburn: We had to have a lot of discipline.  There was no class time, no teacher to give us a grade or take away points for late work.  We had to manage our own schedules.  We had to learn self-discipline.  And that was what made it so rewarding when we finished our work.  We did this!  We had to work hard and stay motivated, and we did it.

What challenges did some of you face while writing and how did you overcome them?

Maryssa McLeish: We didn’t get the support we thought we were going to get.  This wasn’t like sports.  This was a bunch of kids who thought they could write!  Our friends were behind us, but the staff and administration… they wouldn’t even let us bring our lunches to meetings so we could have some time to work together at noon!  They just couldn’t catch the vision.

Darrow Felsted
Darrow Felsted
And even now that we’re published, some of us still have parents who don’t take us seriously.  They think this is cute but not headed anywhere!  It’s frustrating, but it just makes you all the more determined to succeed.  We’re going to show you that we have something to say.  We can do amazing things!
Are the stories heavily edited, or are they pretty much the way you kids wrote them? If heavily edited, what was the process like–and were there any conflicts? What part did Mr. DuPuis play in the creation of this project, and what role will he play in the future?
Eric DuPuis (English Teacher): The students were looking to me for coaching and organization.  They wanted help with proofreading, editing – the technical side of writing.  But we all felt strongly from the beginning, myself included, that the ideas, the tales, should be their own.  I made them work hard to perfect their craft, but the story – that was all them.
Darrow Felsted: Some stories were rewritten as many as ten times.  Each story really became a collaborative effort between all the people who edit and write.  In a way, all of us wrote every story.
Where do the funds from the book sales go?
Young Scribes: College, man!  Most of us are about to graduate and go on to college.  A few of us are already there.  This is about investing in our future in more ways than one.
Bobby Nelson: We’ve had our first few sales now.  It isn’t much.  When we divided it up, our first check was for 64¢.  That’s a couple packages of ramen noodles.  (Laughs)  It sounds like a joke, but it isn’t really.  I’m at Idaho State University now.  I’m $20,000 in debt. Ramen noodles come in handy!

We know we’re doing this the hard way.  We don’t have a big name publisher or agent.  We have to take this right to our audience, prove that teen writers have something to say before anyone is going to invest in us, and that’s fine.  We don’t mind working hard.  We believe in ourselves or we wouldn’t be doing this.
OK, now, give us a quick pitch about the book—why should anyone read it? Think “elevator speech” or that you just met a literary agent and you have 30 words or less to sell your novel to him or her.
L-Bobby Nelson, R-Brennan Taylor
L-Bobby Nelson, R-Brennan Taylor

Rachel Kotter: We haven’t found another group of students who’ve done this.  It’s absolutely unique.  It’s worth reading!

Maryssa McLeish: Don’t discount our book just because it was written by high schoolers.  Read it and discover what we have to offer, because it’s something good!
What was the most rewarding part of this project for each of you?
Calvin Boll: Writing is what I love!  I was able to take this passion and work together with my friends who share that same passion. We all pushed each other to reach our goal of getting this project published.  I’m serious about being a published writer, and this was the perfect way to get my feet on the ground.
Arielle Smith (Illustrator): As soon as I heard about this project, I was fascinated.  I couldn’t not be a part of something like that, something so different!
Brennan Taylor: Being a part of this novel taught me humility, because I devour books.  You read the Christopher Paolinis and the Rick Riordans, one after another, and you have no idea just how much work goes into a book like that!  Getting a chance to help write a novel gives me a completely different view.  I respect authors more for how much work they put in.
What is next for the Young Scribes?
Young Scribes: Publicity.  We wrote to a lot of agents.  Some of them were even interested, but they told us that they just didn’t want to take a chance on a bunch of new, young writers.  There was a time when that was what the publishing world was all about – the search for new talent.  But those days are nearly gone.  Music, books, any of the arts – nobody’s taking a risk.  You have to self-publish or sell your own CDs, build up a proven audience before anyone is going to take a look at you. 

That’s ironic, because everyone likes to say that our youth are our future.  We’re trying to show them that youth can be our today, if you’ll give us a chance, but no one is going to open the door for us. 

That’s all right.  We know it’s how today’s world works, and we don’t mind bringing our book straight to you, our readers; because we believe that when you hear what we have to say, you’ll ask for more!
What are your long term goals for the Young Scribes as a group, and each one of you as individuals?
L-Jessica Harrison, R-Rachel Kotter
L-Jessica Harrison, R-Rachel Kotter

Young Scribes: We’re all serious about college and our futures.  We’re all serious about writing – all kinds of writing: journalism, novels, verse.  You’ll be seeing more of us individually.

As a group?  That may be more up to you than it is to us.  We’re headed in a lot of different directions soon, and it takes a lot to keep a group like this together in today’s busy world.  We won’t be in high school together anymore.  We’ll need a team: editors, publishers (and some financial resources) to keep Young Scribes going.

We’d love to write other novels, maybe a sequel, a series – maybe all kinds of projects.  And we’d like to help other young writers launch their dreams too, take our success and use it to open doors for others.  But first, we need an audience.  We need you. 

What is the most valuable feedback you have gotten so far, and who was it from?
Young Scribes: In our community (the neighboring town of Blackfoot), we have a wonderful friend, a published author of youth fiction named Brenda Stanley, known in our region for years as the beloved news anchor, Brenda Baumgartner.  (Check out her books I am Nuchu,The Color of Snow, and others on 

Brenda has been an ally and inspiration to us.  She taught us that writing a novel, difficult as it is, is only the beginning of the work. Publicity, marketing, building an audience, attracting the attention of agents and publishers – all that is even harder than the writing.  But if you want to be a published writer, that’s your world.  Get used to it.
Anything else we should know?
Arielle Smith - The Sky's the LimitBrennan Taylor: The Tale Hunters offers a little something for everyone.  There’s everything from a sword-and-sorcery quest story, to a realistic medical drama, to a campfire-style spine-tingler.  (We call it a “Calvin”.)  So you should give us a try.  Even if fantasy isn’t your thing, we might have something for you.
Visit us on Facebook at!/talehunters for sample chapters of The Tale Hunters.  You’ll also see local media stories about our project including a TV interview.
And don’t forget to check out The Tale Hunters (paperback or Kindle e-book) on