Guest Post: Erin Cashman on The Role of Research in Writing Fantasy

Learn more about Erin Cashman

By Erin Cashman

Recently, someone commented to me that writing fantasy must be easy, since I can just make up what I need to fit my plot.

I wish! As Lloyd Alexander said,

“Once committed to his imaginary kingdom, the writer is not a monarch but a subject.” 

To me, world building is both the hardest and the most wonderful part of writing fantasy.

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Hearts Unbroken: Writing Stories “Loosely Inspired By” Your Real Life

On our way out to a high school winter dance.

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

The first in a series of four posts celebrating the Oct. 9 release of my realistic contemporary YA novel, Hearts Unbroken (Candlewick).

My senior year of high school, “Back to the Future” was a hot new release, Duran Duran was ruling the radio waves,

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New Voice: Dawn Quigley on Apple in the Middle

By Traci Sorell

This is a watershed year for the release of Native young adult novels.

From Eric Gansworth’s Give Me Some Truth (Scholastic, 2018), the followup to his If I Ever Get Out of Here (Scholastic, 2013), and Tim Tingle’s Trust Your Name (7th Generation, September 2018), the fourth in his No Name series, to the upcoming Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick,

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Guest Post: Carol Coven Grannick on Transitions: Lunging Forward, Leaning Back

By Carol Coven Grannick

I am leaving my day job at an extraordinary early childhood center on June 30.

Plenty of people think I am “retiring.”

But if you’re reading this, you probably could guess that I’m not retiring at all. I’m beginning my full-time career as a writer.

At last.

I’ve written and taught about transitions much of my life as a clinical social worker and still struggle with how to convey these vulnerable,

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Intern Insights: Kate Pentecost on Four Writing Tips from My Boy Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro
(image from The Shape of Water media kit)

by Kate Pentecost 

Academy Award winning director Guillermo del Toro has been My Boy for a long time, way before his monster romance The Shape of Water took home Best Picture and Best Director at the 90th annual Academy Awards ceremony and was nominated for scores of others.

He’s My Boy in that way that some musicians are Your Boy (or Girl,

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Guest Post: Michele Weber Hurwitz on Being Pushed to Persevere

By Michele Weber Hurwitz

We writers know well the lessons of perseverance.

Neil Gaiman said: “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy. And that hard.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe said: “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

And 

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Guest Post: Janni Lee Simner on Setbacks & The Writing Journey

By Janni Lee Simner

In writing, as in many professions, there’s a lot of emphasis on getting that one big break.

This is the story we tell about writers: that we slave away for months or years or decades and then—at last!—that first story or first novel sells. Our career is launched, and we ride off into the sunset, where we happily keep writing and selling our work forever.

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Author Interview: Clete Barrett Smith on Writing Challenging Stories & Mr. 60%

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Today we welcome author Clete Barrett Smith, discussing his new novel, Mr. 60% (Penguin Random House, 2017). 

I heard Clete read the opening chapter several years ago for his graduate reading at Vermont College of Fine Arts. It gave me chills, and I’m so happy the book is now out in the world.

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Author Interview: Jennifer Ziegler on Inspiration, Confidence & Revenge of the Happy Campers

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Today we welcome author Jennifer Ziegler to discuss the third book in her MG series featuring the Brewster triplets, Revenge of the Happy Campers (Scholastic, 2017). From the promotional copy:

Mother Nature Meets Sister Nature



Dawn, Darby, and Delaney Brewster are always up for an adventure, whether it’s ruining a wedding (for good reasons!) or turning a Christmas pageant tradition on its head.

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Guest Post: Jane Kurtz on Bringing Books Into the World

By Jane Kurtz

Giving birth to a book is hard. I know. I know. Whine whine whine. Anyway, labor pains are almost over. The new middle grade novel is almost out in the world.

On the verge of my book’s birthday, I returned to the Portland school where my brother and fellow author, Chris Kurtz, was teaching third grade the year I was revising Planet Jupiter (Greenwillow,

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