the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Author Blog

Dean Gloster and DESSERT FIRST!

Posted by Adi Rule on Sun, Sep 18, 2016 @ 08:09 AM

Today, we're celebrating the release of Dessert First, Dean Gloster's new young adult novel (Merit Press). Sweet!


Upbeat--that's Kat, the girl in the family who everyone turns to when things get difficult. Especially now, when her beloved younger brother Beep is in his second leukemia relapse, and a bone marrow transplant from Kat may be his only chance.
But Kat's worried that she and her bone marrow may not be up to the job: She can't even complete homework, and she's facing other rejection--lost friendships, a lost spot on the soccer team, and lots of heartache from her crush on her former best friend, Evan. Kat doesn't know if her bone marrow will save Beep, or whether she can save herself, let alone keep her promise to Beep that she'll enjoy life and always eat dessert first.

Dessert First is a funny, moving story about coping, appreciating sweetness, and learning to forgive.

Welcome, Dean! So, tell us . . .

Who was your favorite character to write? The main character, smart, funny 16-year-old Kat Monroe was the most fun character I've ever written, because she's funny and hurt and perceptive, but only a semi-reliable narrator--there is a lot she doesn't really get at the start of the novel. Her voice came really easily, because she reminds me of how I was at 16. She's a parentified child who's taking care of other people, but underneath she's got some anger, which comes out in her humor and her world view. 

What spark ignited the book for you? The two sparks that ignited this book were my wife, who for years worked as a pediatric intensive care nurse at UCSF hospital, where part of the book takes place, and who now works at a children's hospice and respite care facility, the George Mark Children's House in San Leandro, and my daughter, who found the then-only scene of the novel on the family computer when she was a teenager and said it was really good and that I should finish whatever it was part of. 

What was it like when you found out you'd sold the book and it was being published? Amazingly wonderful, but it's kind of a funny story. The email that Merit Press wanted to publish Dessert First came while I was at residency. (Yes, really good things do happen at VCFA.) Unfortunately, with all the intensity of residency, my constantly emailing documents to myself to print out in the library, and my mostly using my VCFA email address, I actually missed the message from the editor saying they were buying my book, and only saw it a week later when I got back home and my agent also emailed me. My editor was great about it, because she understood what an MFA residency is like.

What a testament to the intensity of residency! I'm glad you finally got your email.

sniff.jpgWhat's your idea of the coolest swag to go with the book? I have the coolest swag to hand out at book readings already. Late in the story, one of my characters gives the protagonist a tissue, one of "those cute ones called Sniffs that have a cartoon cat on them." After Kirkus Reviews said about my book, "This deeply moving tragedy vastly outpaces typical tissue use," the wonderful people who run the company that makes Sniffs--PaperProducts Design--sent me several cases of them with cat art. I like to joke that Dessert First has such tear-jerking scenes, that it's the only novel in the world with an official tissue sponsor.

How did attending VCFA affect your writing life? I've learned so much, including the habit of being a critical reader of fiction for craft, so I can keep learning. I feel like I have such a better understanding of different ways to write a scene and why. Even more important, I finally found my tribe--other writers passionate about writing for young people. My unbelievably talented classmates are some of my favorite people in the world.

What advice would you give a prospective VCFA student? Do everything you can to get as good as you can and learn as much as you can before you show up, so you can get that much more out of the program. More important than that, if you're passionate about writing for young people, do everything you can to come to the Writing for Children and Young Adults program. I don't know how many places in the world are actually magical, but this is one of them.

Hear, hear! Thanks so much for stopping by, Dean, and welcome to the world, Dessert First!


Dean Gloster is a former stand-up comic, former law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court, and former attorney who gave up writing briefs to write fiction. His hobby is downhill ski racing.

Dean is a member of The Dead Post-It Society class of July 2017.

Visit him online at his website,, and stop by Kat's blog. Follow him on Twitter @deangloster.

Topics: young adult, 2016 release, Dean Gloster, Merit Press

Eric Pinder and How to Build a Snow Bear!

Posted by Sarah Johnson on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 @ 02:09 AM


 Winter is coming early with How to Build a Snow Bear, a picture book by Eric Pinder.

Thomas wants to build the biggest and best snowman ever. Since he can’t do it alone, he’ll need a helping paw. But bears love to hibernate. How do you wake up a snoozing bear? By tickling him? Singing to him? Maybe making his favorite snack? How to Build a Snow Bear is a story about two siblings sharing a wondrous wintry day.

How to Build a Snow Bear cover

Tell us about how you sold this book. What was it like when you found out? Were there a lot of revisions along the way?

Writing this book was a new experience, because it was part of a two-book deal, along with the already written How to Share with a Bear. Finding out was an exciting surprise (“Woohoo, two books at once!”) but also a little scary, because I had no idea what the second book would be about, except that it needed to have a winter setting and, of course, a bear. For the first time, I had a contract, an advance, and (gulp) a deadline before I’d written a single word. I didn’t even have a clue what the title would be yet. In the contract it was simply called “Untitled Bear Book,” and it stayed that way for the longest time. That added to the pressure. What if I couldn’t think of a good sequel?

Revisions for the first book kept me busy and distracted for a while, though possibilities for a follow-up story started to percolate in the back of my mind. I jotted down a few notes, but the deadline seemed safely in the far-off future, the way a December packet deadline does in August—until suddenly it was almost due, and I still had a mostly blank page.

The working title of my first presentable draft was How to Share with a Polar Bear. I sent it off to my editor, exhaled a “whew, done!” and anxiously, eagerly awaited her reaction. Again, it felt a lot like sending off a packet. A few days later she replied. The good news was that she only wanted me to fix three things. The bad news was, those three things were the plot, the title character, and the inciting incident. 

(Book Fort: If there’s no snow, you can always build a book fort instead.)

Panic, woe, despair! Visions of tossing my computer in the dumpster and fleeing in shame from the literary community to go become llama shepherd or a rutabaga farmer. That’s what I felt, for the first hour. Or maybe the first day. Then I got back to work. I scrapped the polar bear storyline and started from scratch. Soon enough I had a new brainstorm, and a new, much better draft. This one clicked, and eventually it became How to Build a Snow Bear.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled for your writing?

The other day I had a legitimate business reason to Google “vampire onomatopoeia.” I’m sure there have been weirder things. I wonder how often FBI agents get all excited at seemingly nefarious Googling, only to look closer and go, “Aw, crap. It’s just another one of those darn writers. 

Tell us about your writing community

I teach creative writing at the New Hampshire Institute of Art (even though, deep down, I still really want to be an astronaut). It’s definitely inspiring to be part of a community where everyone loves books. Every day, you can walk into a room and immediately get drawn into a conversation about slam poets and stage fright, a debate about the “whiteness of the whale” chapter in Moby Dick, or a constructive critique of someone’s newest creative work. We all learn a lot from each other, just by talking about our passions and interests.

Teaching is exhausting but rewarding. I love it when students turn in stories or poems that make me go, “Wow! I wish I’d written that,” and it’s a thrill to see them get their first publications in literary journals. A couple of former students have gone on to pursue their MFAs at VCFA, and I can’t wait to see what they produce in the years ahead. I’ve saved a shelf for students’ future books.

What was the spark that ignited this book?

Driving to school in the winter, I see fantastic snow sculptures in people’s yards. Snow is like sand at the beach, or Play-Doh, just colder. You can build almost anything with a little snow and a lot of imagination. 

Who were your advisors at VCFA?

Uma Krishnaswami, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Ellen Howard, and Tim Wynne-Jones, all of whom have influenced every children’s story I’ve since published. I started with the picture book semester, which was eye-opening. I like picture books because of how much they’re like poetry: each word, each syllable, each nuance has a purpose. The sound and shape of words matters. There’s a lot going on in every line. In fact, I learned so much on the very first day of my first residency at VCFA that I immediately wanted to rewrite parts of what was about to become my first picture book, Cat in the Clouds. The only problem was that the final galleys were already at the printer. I sent a panicked message to my editor, who let me rewrite a couple lines at the eleventh hour, right before the printing presses rolled. That was day one. Four equally inspiring semesters followed.

Eric Pinder What advice would you give to a prospective VCFA student?
The same advice I’d give to undergraduates: You have to know about the world to write about it. Always keep learning new things, whether it’s in Noble Hall during a graduate lecture (which often are just as mind-expanding as the faculty lectures; don’t skip them, even on the ninth day of a busy residency when you really want a nap!) or by literary eavesdropping or reading or exploring a new town, or even by helping your local rutabaga farmer. Everything a writer does counts as “research,” as long as we’re paying close attention.

 Eric is the author of eight books. 

You can find Eric at You can also follow him on Twitter at and find him on Facebook at







Topics: eric pinder, Farrar Straus and Giroux, picture book, Stephanie Graegin, 2016 release

Carrie Jones and FLYING!

Posted by Adi Rule on Mon, Sep 05, 2016 @ 11:09 AM
We're flying high with excitement about Carrie Jones's new young adult novel Flying, out now from Tor! And for an extra surprise, we have two special guests on the blog today -- Carrie and her interviewer, SPARTACUS! *wags tail*
New York Times bestselling author Carrie Jones introduces sassy alien-hunting cheerleader Mana in Flying, the launch of a sparkling new YA Science Fiction series.
People have always treated seventeen-year-old Mana as someone in need of protection. She's used to being coddled, being an only child, but it's hard to imagine anything could ever happen in her small-town, normal life. As her mother's babying gets more stifling than ever, she's looking forward to cheering at the big game and getting out of the house for a while.
But that night, Mana's life goes haywire.
First, the hot guy she's been crushing on at school randomly flips out and starts spitting acid during the game. Then they get into a knockdown, drag-out fight in the locker room, during which Mana finds herself leaping around like a kangaroo on steroids. As a flyer on the cheerleading squad, she's always been a good jumper, but this is a bit much. By the time she gets home and finds her house trashed and an alien in the garage, Mana starts to wonder if her mother had her reasons for being overprotective.
It turns out, Mana's frumpy, timid mom is actually an alien hunter, and now she's missing--taking a piece of technology with her that everyone wants their hands on, both human and alien. Now her supposed partner, a guy that Mana has never met or heard of (and who seems way too young and way too arrogant to be hunting aliens), has shown up, ordering Mana to come with him. Now, on her own for the first time, Mana will have to find a way to save her mother--and maybe the world--and hope she's up to the challenge.

Because dogs are an integral part of her writing process, Carrie’s dog, Spartacus, has decided that he should be in charge of this interview. Since Carrie is super conflict averse, she agreed. She apologizes in advance for the quality of her answers. 


Sparty the Dog: Dear Carrie, we in your canine family have noticed that you write about… Well, you write about weird things when you write for young adults.

Carrie the Human: I have no idea what you mean, Sparty.

Sparty the Dog: Let me flip through my notes. Yes. Here we go. Human-sized pixies, possession, alien hunting cheerleaders, another upcoming book about Big Foot  

Carrie the Human: That one isn’t actually about Big Foot… It’s something scarier.



Sparty: I worry that you are my human.

Carrie: I give you bacon though. 

Sparty: It’s the only reason I stay around. Anyway, I have questions for you, human! This is an interview. Are you ready?

Carrie: Yes.

Sparty: What nugget of craft advice has been especially helpful to you?

Carrie: Don’t be afraid to be weird. 



Sparty: Really? That’s it?

Carrie: Everyone can be normal, or pretend to be. But when you embrace your weird? That’s when improvisation happens, that’s when creativity and production and craft meet to make something magical.

Sparty: Did Tim Wynne-Jones tell you that?

Carrie: Actually, I think it was Rita Williams-Garcia. 

Sparty: Well, at least I got the three-name thing down. Moving on… What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled as research for your writing?

Carrie: What to do when you’re being interviewed by a dog.

Sparty: Did it say, “Bribe him with bacon?”

Carrie: It did! How did you know that?

Sparty: I wrote that Buzzfeed article. So, tell us something special you keep on your desk as you work.

Carrie: Bacon. You know that. You’re always trying to knock it off the desk.

Sparty: No comment. What advice would you give to a prospective VCFA student? Whew. That’s a giant word. Prospective. You VCFA people like those multisyllabic words, don’t you?

Carrie: You just said one.

Sparty: Said what?

Carrie: Multisyllabic.


Carrie: You’re a talking dog who writes blog posts and BuzzFeed articles. I know you’re smart, buddy. You can’t hide it.

Sparty: Just answer the question. So this can be done and I can go on a walk.

Carrie: I would tell them to be unafraid, to try everything you can try (genre, style, point of view), to write like the house was on fire and you have to get your chapter done because there may never be time to write again. 

Sparty: Violent.

Carrie: I shrug.

Sparty: You do shrug. A lot. You also sigh. They teach you not to do that all the time at Vermont, don’t they? And yet, you still do it…

Carrie: You know what they say about old dogs.

Sparty: That they are awesome?

Carrie: That too.

Sparty: Final question so we can take a walk! What do you wish you had known before stepping onto the VCFA campus?

Carrie: I wish I had known how important the cookies were to overall health and writing sustainability. Those cookies in the cafeteria are absolutely imbued with magical properties. You can practically see the Printz Award glitter and Caldecott bling flying off of them, giving all the students a bit more writing enchantment. I know! I know! It sounds totally unreal. IT IS REAL! THE MAGIC IS REAL! Go forth and eat cookies, prospective students. 



Sparty: So the cookies are like bacon?

CarriePretty much.

Carrie JonesCARRIE JONES is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Need series, as well as After Obsession with Steven E. Wedel. She is a distinguished alum of Vermont College's MFA Program, and an on call firefighter in Maine because … um… firefighting!  In her spare time, she likes to pet dogs, fight polio, and make literacy festivals.

Visit Carrie online at, follow her on Twitter @carriejonesbook (, on Facebook at, and on Instagram at

Watch the Flying trailer here!


Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook here!




Topics: young adult, 2016 release, Carrie Jones, Tor


Posted by Adi Rule on Mon, Jul 04, 2016 @ 11:07 AM

We're shouting a magical welcome to the third book in Michelle Knudsen's Trelian middle grade series, The Mage of Trelian!

The reviewers are just as excited as we are! 

  • "An exemplary middle-grade fantasy trilogy concludes with a blast." —Kirkus
  • "Begun in 2009 with The Dragon of Trelian, this excellent fantasy trilogy finally receives a worthy ending." —Booklist
  • "[A] Harry Potter meets Game of Thrones mash-up ... Recommended." —School Library Connections 
Visit Michelle online at

Topics: Candlewick Press, middle grade, Michelle Knudsen, 2016 release


Posted by Tami Brown on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 @ 06:06 AM

We're welcoming Jenn Bishop, a member 2014's M.A.G.I.C. I.F.s  class to the LaunchPad today! Jenn is also a  graduate of the University of Chicago, where she studied English. Along with her husband and cat, Jenn lives just outside of Boston, where she roots for the Red Sox. The Distance To Home is her first novel.

cover.pngLast summer, Quinnen was the star pitcher of her baseball team, the Panthers. They were headed for the championship, and her loudest supporter at every game was her best friend and older sister, Haley.
This summer, everything is different. Haley’s death, at the end of last summer, has left Quinnen and her parents reeling. Without Haley in the stands, Quinnen doesn’t want to play baseball. It seems like nothing can fill the Haley-sized hole in her world. The one glimmer of happiness comes from the Bandits, the local minor-league baseball team. For the first time, Quinnen and her family are hosting one of the players for the season. Without Haley, Quinnen’s not sure it will be any fun, but soon she befriends a few players. With their help, can she make peace with the past and return to the pitcher’s mound?

Welcome, Jenn! Tell us about your writing community. Are you in a critique group? Does a family member read your early drafts? Is Twitter your bastion of support?

While plenty of writers I know can write in coffee shops or with friends, for me the act of writing is a solitary pursuit. But when I'm not actually writing, I find it completely rejuvenating to spend time with other writers. I belong to a critique group with several of my VCFA classmates, where we take turns each month sharing sections of our work and videochatting (since we're spread across the country). Once I have a full manuscript that I've taken as far as I can by myself, I'd be lost without my critique buddies. (It's truly amazing what other people can notice in your work that you'd never see; and vice versa!) And let's not forget the all-important wisdom of the hive mind. I've been known to call out to Facebook friends from time to time with all kinds of small queries. Writing a book definitely takes a village! (And a lot of Twitter breaks.)


What was the most difficult element to cut/change during the revision process and why?

The biggest revision The Distance To Home underwent was with my agent, Katie Grimm. When I queried the book, I had some chapters set in the past (leading up to Haley's death), but it wasn't half of the book. Katie saw the potential in this construct, spurring two large scale revisions as I worked to incorporate essentially two full stories into one book (the arc of last summer, and the arc of this summer). While I loved the potential she saw in the project, it also meant I had to fully realize last summer -- i.e. back to the drawing board! Making sure the alternating pieces worked perfectly was a little like constructing a puzzle, and just as satisfying when it finally locked into place.

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Hector holds such a dear spot in my heart. I'm so inspired by baseball, and in particular, players that leave their home countries and families behind to follow their dreams. Much of my research for this book is hidden beneath the surface, but I spent a lot of time thinking about Hector and his back story, even though much of it never made it into the final book on the page. Maybe it was my excuse to read a bunch of non-fiction about minor league baseball life!

Tell us about something special you keep on your desk/wall as you work.

On the wall in my office is a shabby chic chalkboard left over from my wedding, which I refresh with inspiring writing quotes, depending on what project I'm working on at the moment -- and in particular, what stage of writing it's in. Since I'm drafting right now, I need a reminder to see the big picture and trust the process. 


What's your writing superpower?

I think it's that I don't get in my own way. I refuse to believe in writer's block and feel very comfortable plowing through messy first drafts. You can't work on making something better if it doesn't exist, so might as well make a big mess on the page, right? 

Who were your advisors at VCFA?

I worked with Elizabeth Partridge, Rita Williams-Garcia, Sarah Ellis, and A.S. King. I spent half of my time at VCFA working on two middle grade projects and the other half on a young adult novel, and all of them taught me so much. I'm so grateful for their mentorship and inspired by their careers.
What is your favorite VCFA memory?
There's so many to choose from! What will stick with me most, though, were the workshops my first summer. Mark Karlins and Louise Hawes were the workshop advisors, and when it was your day to be workshopped, you got to decide if you wanted to be workshopped outdoors or inside. There's a special creative energy to being outdoors -- at least, it's a place where I feel inspired. As a kid, any time a teacher took you outside for class was a good day, and that's how that summer workshop felt. Like the kindest teachers, taking the class outdoors. I had so many aha moments in workshop over my two years at VCFA, but that workshop was a time when I felt like I really started to understand what the reader needed from a story, and what I'd need to do to achieve that experience.
Thanks for dropping by, Jenn!  The Distance To Home is published by Alfred A. Knopf / Random House and it's available in bookstores everywhere. You can learn more about Jenn at her website


Topics: Knopf Books for Young Readers, middle grade, Jenn Bishop

Final ShoutOut For The Inkredibles' VOICES

Posted by Tami Brown on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 @ 06:06 AM

The Inkredibles, who graduated from VCFA in January 2016, have published a new anthology of classmember's work. Today we hear from the final four Inkredible authors.


Laurie Wallmark

Passion and Reason

Passion and Reason is a YA novel-in-verse based on the life of Ada Byron Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer.

Why did you choose to write a novel-in-verse about the same person in your picture book biography?

I thought it would be interesting to examine someone’s life from very different perspectives: picture book vs. young adult novel, prose vs. poetry, nonfiction vs. fiction. Writing for an older audience allowed me to delve into the more mature aspects of Ada Byron Lovelace’s life, like her drug addiction, gambling problems, and sexual indiscretions. Through the use of free verse instead of prose, I could better illustrate Ada’s struggles between two conflicting lifestyles: irresponsible, like her father Lord Byron, and proper, like her mother. Finally, by fictionalizing Ada’s story, I could use dialogue in scenes, which gave more insight into Ada’s character.  


Margaret Turner White

 Try Again Summer

After Willa’s best friend abandons her for camp, she befriends Charlie, who teaches her sign language...and helps hunt for ghosts.

What was the spark that ignited this book?

Answer: There were two sparks, actually! At my first VCFA residency, visiting author Lucy Christopher challenged us to begin a project from setting. I knew right away that I would write about the island in North Carolina where I spent summers growing up. I’d also been studying American Sign Language, and wanted to tell a story that reflected my experience of getting to know Deaf culture. Those two elements came together and eventually became Try Again Summer.  


A. C. Williard

 Across the Wall

Sickly Jims crosses the Wall between life and death. Should his sister Merry and bestie Tama follow him? Can they?

What do you wish you had known before you first set foot on the VCFA campus?

I wish I had known superficial things: starting in January means Yak Traks and an extra blanket are survival necessities. But I also wish I had known how amazing this place is, and how warm and open the students and faculty are. Melissa tells everyone: “You belong here” and it took me longer than it should have to really believe it.


Mary-Walker Wright

Lucky Minus the K

Lucky Minus the K is a race-against-the-clock, supernatural mystery about a young girl’s quest to keep her horseback riding dreams alive after losing her long-time trainer.

Tell us about your writing community. Are you in a critique group? Does a family member read your early drafts?

Finding my writing community has been a process of trial and error. My critique group formed about five years ago when I stopped trying so hard to find trusted readers! I took a one-semester course at the Westport Writer’s Workshop and the group never said goodbye. In January 2014, I became part of the VCFA family and am grateful to have several “go to” trusted readers, depending on the project. My eighteen-year-old son, Billy, is my at-home reader and toughest critic. His superpower? Spotting plot holes. Like all relationships, writing relationships work when there’s mutual trust, respect, and stick-with-it-ness.

Print copies of the anthology have been sent to select editors and agents. A pdf version may be obtained by emailing The Inkredibles will be hosting a celebration of the anthology for editors and agents in Manhattan on July 20th, to be followed by an after-party, which is open to the VCFA and literary communities at large. Please contact for details on the events. 

Topics: WCYA, Anthology, Inkredibles

Let's Hear It For The Inkredibles' VOICES

Posted by Tami Brown on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 @ 06:06 AM

The Class of January 2016's new anthology VOICES launches into the publishing world this week. Today we hear from three more class members.


Alexis Karas

Like a Ghost in the Silence

Kyler thought she was crazy, but what if the voices she’s heard all of her life are real? 

Do you write in silence? If not, what’s your soundtrack?

I have to have music on when I’m writing. The music varies depending on what I’m writing at the time. I make playlists to go along with specific characters/scenes/emotions I’m trying to capture in my writing. Both of my main characters, Kyler and Haze, have their own playlists. Sometimes, if a certain song is really striking me in a scene, I’ll keep it on repeat until I’m done with that scene.


Courtney Tuckman

Lit up

This is a story about the pain of loving someone struggling with mental illness and the healing journey that follows.

 Tell us about something special you keep on your desk/wall as you work.

When I sit down at my desk, I want to feel like I’m in a cocoon of inspiration, ideas and love.  My walls are covered with a colorful splattering of images and words.  I have about thirty rainbow colored post-it notes with ideas about the writing process and the story I’m writing.  Surrounding the words are pictures that make me feel inspired.  There are also notes and pictures from my loved ones.  


Katie Van Ark

Kiss and Cry 

Already overshadowed by their gold medal friends, ice dancers Katelyn and Chris find their lives spinning with an unexpected pregnancy.

What authors do you love for their sentences? How about plot? Character?

I'm a librarian, so I fall in love with new authors all the time. Recent reads that I've loved include Emma Mills's First & Then for its sentences, Jessica Love's In Real Life for plot, and Jennifer Mathieu's Devoted for character. But the books I fall hardest for slam all three out of the park, like Miranda Kenneally's Catching Jordan. I'll also forever love Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light—I wrote an essay for my VCFA coursework on her multitasking sentences!

Print copies of the anthology have been sent to select editors and agents. A pdf version may be obtained by emailing The Inkredibles will be hosting a celebration of the anthology for editors and agents in Manhattan on July 20th, to be followed by an after-party, which is open to the VCFA and literary communities at large. Please contact for details on the events.


Topics: WCYA, Anthology, Inkredibles

More Inkredible VOICES!

Posted by Tami Brown on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 @ 09:06 AM

The Inkredibles, Class of January 2016 new anthology VOICES publishes this week. Today we hear from three more class members.


Heather Hughes

Inner Sunset 

Seventeen year-old Xavier Keen is a self-proclaimed monk wandering San Francisco because he wants to fix something... maybe himself.  

What unusual swag do you wish you could make for this book?

If the day contained just 25 hours, I would use that last hour to make Voices of the Inkredibles quill pens.  I'd use many from our distinction of birds, pull some decorative tail feather, clip it diagonally for a needle-sharp point and invite all of VCFA to play with Ink with us. 


Shelley Ann Jackson

Covering the World with Color: The Story of Sonia Delaunay

A picture book biography of 19th century artist Sonia Delaunay, who conquered barriers to pioneer an abstract art style. 

What was the most difficult element to cut or change during the revision process and why? 

I was particularly intrigued by Delaunay's childhood—her poor Ukrainian parents gave her to a wealthy aunt and uncle in Russia when she was around seven years old. Her mother refused to give up parental rights, so the relatives never officially adopted her, though they did change her name from Sarah to Sonia. Originally, I began the narrative at the train station as she moved to Russia. Though this event surely effected her sense of self and belonging throughout her lifetime, ultimately it didn't serve the story line and was cut. Luckily, I was able to mention her early life in the author's note.


Karen Kane

Charlie and Frog: A Castle-on-the-Hudson Mystery

Castle-on-the-Hudson may not have cell phone or Internet service, but it does have murder, intrigue, and a school for the Deaf.

What nugget of craft advice has been especially helpful to you?

Avoidance of writing is always about fear. Fear that what I put on the page will never be as good as the story inside my head. And it never will be as good, but it will be real. And real is always better, even when imperfect (and its always imperfect), because I trust myself that I can revise and make it better.


A pdf version may be obtained by emailing The Inkredibles will be hosting a celebration of the anthology for editors and agents in Manhattan on July 20th, to be followed by an after-party, which is open to the VCFA and literary communities at large. Please contact for details on the events.


Topics: WCYA, Anthology, Inkredibles

More Inkredible- The INKREDIBLE ANTHOLOGY, Post 2

Posted by Tami Brown on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 @ 06:06 AM

The Class of January 2016's anthology VOICES releases this week. Today we meet three more members of the class.


Kate Buckley  


Love, violence, emotional turbulence: one teen boy’s bumpy ride to unwind his troubled heart, and find the courage to change.

What advice would you give to a prospective VCFA student? 

Get ready to be inspired, work hard, stretch and grow your craft in ways you never imagined and become part of an amazing community of writers!


Cheryl Dishon

Matoaka Born

When the last person Willie could rely on gets ripped out of his life, he must determine which way to proceed.

How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?

In addition to the exemplary quality of guidance from faculty advisors, I never imagined I'd have such a network of supportive people for a traditionally solitary exercise. I now know fellow writers in New Zealand, Hong Kong, and my backyard who would give generously of their time and hard-won knowledge to help me noodle through a tough writing challenge.   


Katherine B. Ferguson

Sylvie’s Moon

When her father leaves for World War II, twelve-year-old Sylvie takes charge of her family’s Massachusetts dairy farm.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever googled for your writing?

The weirdest thing I googled for my novel is "video of cows giving birth". And yes, I watched them….

Come back tomorrow for more about this INKREDIBLE anthology, VOICES.  A pdf version may be obtained by emailing The Inkredibles will be hosting a celebration of the anthology for editors and agents in Manhattan on July 20th, to be followed by an after-party, which is open to the VCFA and literary communities at large. Please contact for details on the events.

Topics: WCYA, Anthology, Inkredibles

It's INKREDIBLE-- VOICES, VCFA Writing For Children & Young Adults Class of January 2016 Anthology!

Posted by Tami Brown on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 @ 06:06 AM

How cool is this?

The Inkredibles (Jan '16) joined together after graduation to produce an anthology celebrating their MFA work. VOICES releases today, with a gala launch party in New York.


Each of the 16 students submitted a biography, an introduction, and ten pages of creative work. Included in the volume are a variety of picture books, middle grade, young adult, and poetry, plus a foreword by faculty member Tim Wynne-Jones and an introduction by alumna Cori McCarthy '11. The Inkredibles did everything themselves—from copy-editing to design.

Print copies of the anthology have been sent to select editors and agents. A pdf version may be obtained by emailing The Inkredibles will be hosting a celebration of the anthology for editors and agents in Manhattan on July 20th, to be followed by an after-party, which is open to the VCFA and literary communities at large. Please contact for details on the events.

Welcome the Inkredibles and their incredible publishing project to the LaunchPad.  All week we'll meet members of the class,  sampling their work and the work that's gone into the creation of this compilation.



Laura Atkins

Luci and Sage

From dirt juice to fairyland names, shy Luci and exuberant Sage learn they need each other to look and leap.

What’s your writing superpower?

My writing superpower is a single-minded adherence to deadlines. However, this power can also be my kryptonite weakness. When someone gives me a deadline, I am able to meet it in a single bound, leaping over other time commitments, inertia and procrastination. VCFA was great for me that way. Oh those deadlines! But post-graduation, I find the lack of a due date stymies my motivation. And those things that are tied to deadlines (paying work, sigh) will grab my attention. Hopefully I can develop a parallel superpower: discipline!


Beth Bacon

 Almost Impossible

10-year-old Vivian Harlan uncovers the secrets of a small town’s history and her father’s past in this heartwarming coming-of-age story.

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

My middle grade work, Almost Impossible, has a large cast of characters: the crew of the Daniel C. Glickmeyer Traveling Demolition Derby, a country music duo, and several quirky small-town citizens. The story’s main theme is finding one’s true voice. Every character struggles with this except one: fourteen-year-old Elvis Tupelo Glickmeyer. Elvis always speaks the truth of his heart. Many chapters were a challenge to write, but whenever Elvis showed up, the scenes flowed effortlessly. 


Tom Brennan


BOYS is the true story of what I did after losing my virginity and fathering a child at the same time.

What is your favorite VCFA memory.

 My favorite VCFA memory happened early on. I was still green and scared. I didn’t know that being on time to the dance was a thing. As I walked into the lobby -- late – 4th semester students were “guarding” the entry. The door was covered with craft paper. A sign above read: “Platform 9 ¾.”

A ha! This is a test,” I thought, and without hesitation I strode forward. The lobby was filled with the unmistakable DWOCK sound of skull hitting wood, followed by a “YIPE!” (which may have come from me).Without missing a beat, a guard announced gleefully, “Muggle!”

Visit the LaunchPad tomorrow-- and the rest of this week-- to meet more of the INKREDIBLES and to learn more about this incredible anthology and their stories behind their stories.

Topics: WCYA, Anthology, Inkredibles

Posts by category

Subscribe to the Blog


  • Purple Nails and Puppy Tails
    Purple Nails and Puppy Tails
  • Petal and Poppy
    Petal and Poppy
  • Mumbet's Declaration of Independence
    Mumbet's Declaration of Independence
  • Mogie: The Heart of the House
    Mogie: The Heart of the House
  • Map Art Lab
    Map Art Lab
  • Makeover Magic
    Makeover Magic
  • The Life of Ty
    The Life of Ty
  • Jubilee!
  • Jack the Castaway
    Jack the Castaway
  • Hope Is a Ferris Wheel
    Hope Is a Ferris Wheel
  • Tap Tap Boom Boom
    Tap Tap Boom Boom
  • Skin and Bones
    Skin and Bones
  • Signed, Skype Harper
    Signed, Skype Harper
  • Revolution
  • Read, Write, and Recite Free Verse Poetry
    Read, Write, and Recite Free Verse Poetry
  • A Girl Called Fearless
    A Girl Called Fearless
  • All That Glitters
    All That Glitters
  • The Art of Goodbye
    The Art of Goodbye
  • Blue Iguana
    Blue Iguana
  • Caminar
  • Chasing the Milky Way
    Chasing the Milky Way
  • The Devil's Temptation
    The Devil's Temptation
  • Divided We Fall
    Divided We Fall
  • Follow Your Heart
    Follow Your Heart
  • Grandfather Gandhi
    Grandfather Gandhi
  • Strange Sweet Song
    Strange Sweet Song

Share your news


Follow us