Many of us were lucky enough to transition into “Young Adults” with the help of books by authors like Judy Blume. I think M.I.S.S. Randi summed it up best in our March 2009 Women Who Made History feature on Judy Blume: “I was too young to truly understand what was really going on. But at least I had a better idea about what to expect for myself when my time came along.”
Now that we’re—this is always hard for me to say—adults (Ack! I think I just grew a grey hair!) and trying to deal with daily life, is there someone out there giving today’s young adults a better idea of what to expect when their time comes along? Cause, let me tell you, I’d love to do it but I can barely make jello using a mold, let alone mold the minds of today’s youth!
Enter Melissa Walker; today’s Women Making History honoree.
Melissa is a writer whose work we’ve seen in ELLEgirl, Self, & Glamour magazines. She runs a site called I Heart Daily and she has gracefully taken the torch from Judy Blume, having written a series of books for today’s young ladies with a modern day twist.
The official bio tells us more:
Melissa Walker is a writer who has worked as ELLEgirl Features Editor and Seventeen Prom Editor. All in the name of journalism, she has spent 24 hours with male models and attended an elite finishing school for girls in New Zealand, among other hardships.
In late 2008, she launched I Heart Daily with fellow ex-ELLEgirl Anne Ichikawa. It’s a daily newsletter about likable stuff.
Melissa lives in Brooklyn and has a BA in English from Vassar College. She would tell you her SAT scores too, but, you know, the math part was hard.
She loves meeting teenagers, and is game to speak at your library or school about writing, books, fashion, magazines or pop culture (but, you know, in a smart way).
Violet on the Runway, Violet by Design and Violet in Private (Penguin), are books in a trilogy. Look for Lovestruck Summer (HarperTeen) too!
Get a little more familiar with Melissa by checking out the M.I.S.S. survey she hand-wrote below:
A little more about I Heart Daily from Melissa & Anne:
I Heart Daily is a free newsletter of stuff we like. Each day, you’ll find out about one thing: The band you should hear, the girl who’s kicking ass in the world, the lipstick color that looks good on everyone, the designer who doesn’t have a fashion show yet but is completely amazing… you get the idea.
You’ll never hear about stuff we hate, just stuff we heart. We’re nice that way.
M.I.S.S. gets into some Q&A with Melissa:
M.I.S.S.: What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?
There are lots of answers for this, but I’m pretty fond of Katherine Hepburn. She was tough and feminine at the same time–not to mention whip smart.
M.I.S.S.: How did you get your start?
I truly believe that writing for my high school yearbook started it all. It was fun and I didn’t get paid for it. When I started working in magazines, I couldn’t believe people really paid me to do what I loved–writing.
M.I.S.S.: What’s your favorite article/book you’ve written, or assignment you’ve worked on?
I had a ton of fun on this Tanning Pageant story, which both horrified and amused my inner feminist.
M.I.S.S.: Who do you want to work or collaborate with?
If Judy Blume called me up and said, “Are you there, Melissa? It’s me Judy,” I think I’d just about die. I’d love to write something with her. And yes, thank you, I WILL keep dreaming.
M.I.S.S.: What part of your writing process is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?
First drafts. They’re often crappy, but they have to be written so I can fix them.
Any advice for ladies who are just starting out in a career path similar to yours?
Finish the first draft. It’s 90% of the work.
Before checking out some of Melissa’s books, below she tells us about the first story she ever wrote:
The very first story I ever wrote was called “The Very Vain Cloud.”
I had just learned the word “vain,” thought it was amazing, and wanted to use it over and over. The story was a paragraph long, typed on my parents’ old typewriter.
Now I write other things.
Violet on the Runway: A wallflower in the spotlight can do two things: wilt-or blossom…
On the day my life changed, the lady in giant Chanel shades stared me up and down…
“Gorgeous, I’ve got fall castings coming up and I think you could be IT. And I mean IT. Are you busy next weekend? I can have you on a flight to New York Friday night. If it’s up to me, Violet Greenfield, I’d say you’re the next Kate Moss-but, you know, taller and without the PR problems…I hope!” Then she threw her perfectly highlighted hair back and laughed, which gave me a good look at her straight, white veneers.
So that’s how I happen to have this business card in the front pocket of my jeans as I start my senior year of high school. The card of Angela Blythe from Tryst Models in New York City, who wants to put me on a plane this weekend and whisk me into her world of high-heeled boots and oversized sunglasses. Me, Violet, who’s been P-L-A-I-N practically forever.
And you wanna know a secret? I’m going…
Read the first few pages from Violet on the Runway!
Violet by Design: The girl next door is going places…
I was going to get out of the modeling business for good.
But now I’m having trouble sticking with my decision. After all, if it weren’t for modeling, I might still be the invisible wallflower. Hot guys like Paulo wouldn’t be interested in me. And I’d never have seen Brazil or Spain–and now France! On the other hand…
I also wouldn’t have to choose between my best friend from home and my agent’s shrill demands. Or anguish over my body the way only runway models do. Not to mention all this trouble I’m getting into for speaking out in the press about eating disorders.
Maybe the life of an international model isn’t for me. But if I quit for good, I might always wonder… What if?
Read an excerpt at Fresh Fiction.
Violet in Private: Is there life off the runway?
Violet Greenfield knows she’s supposed to be a super-confident nineteen-year-old because she’s done runway shows in New York and internationally.
But now that she’s finally headed to college, she’s afraid she’ll turn back into that girl who blended into the walls in high school. Vassar is just two hours away from New York City–her friends in fashion think she’s crazy to stop modeling now. And her old friend Roger is there… but things have been weird ever since they kissed.
The real question is if she’s not going to be ‘Violet on the Runway’ anymore… who is she?
Read the Cover Story: Violet in Private
Lovestruck Summer: Sunny days, late nights and a vacation full of possibilities…
This is the story of Quinn, an indie rock girl who came out to Austin, Texas for a music internship.
She also plans to spend long, lazy days in the sun at outdoor concerts–and to meet a hot musician or two. Instead, she’s stuck rooming with her sorority brainwashed cousin, who now willingly goes by the name ‘Party Penny.’ Their personalities clash, big time.
But Sebastian, a gorgeous DJ, definitely makes up for it. Sebastian has it all: looks, charm, and great taste in music. So why can’t Quinn keep her mind off Penny’s friend cute, All-American Russ and his Texas twang?
One thing’s certain: Quinn’s in for a summer she’ll never forget!
Order Lovestruck Summer
For more on Melissa Walker, you can find her at one of the follow sites:
- Reads: Violet By Design
- Women Who Made History: Judy Blume
- Summer Reads
- Art HERstory Homework: Inspired by Keri Smith
- Women Making History: Melissa Liebling-Goldberg