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The success of the magazine Merlyn's Pen points to a wave of interest in the writings of young people. The Market Guide for Young Writers includes contests and magazines, interviews with writers and editors, and advice on getting started. It's published by Shoe Tree Press, P.O. Box 356 Belvidere, NJ 07823. Among the competitions are next month's Cricket magazine ``Year of the Young Reader'' essay contest. Two different essay topics are planned: one for children in the 5-to-9 age bracket and another for 10-to-14-year-olds. The 350-word contest is not limited to Cricket subscribers. For more information, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Cricket, 315 Fifth St., Peru, IL 61354. The deadline is April 25.

The Young Writer's Contest Foundation holds an annual competition for elementary and junior high school students. Although the deadline has passed for this year's entries, for information about the 1990 contest send a stamped, self-addressed business envelope in late summer to P.O. Box 6092, McLean, VA 22106. Entries must be received between Oct. 15 and Nov. 30. This year's winners will be published in the 1989 Rainbow Collection: Stories and Poetry by Young People.

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Scholastic Inc., which publishes classroom and literary magazines, holds an annual Scholastic Awards contest. For additional information, write Scholastic Writing Awards, 730 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, or call (212) 505-3566. Write before Dec. 15 to make the mid-January deadline.

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