the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Author Blog

Paperback Party!

Posted by Adi Rule on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 @ 09:10 AM

It's a paperback party! Here's a peek at some recent and upcoming paperback releases from VCFA authors! Click the covers for more info.

Nomad-cover.jpgNomad by William Alexander


Owl Girl by Mary Atkinson


23866208.jpgThe Buccaneers' Code by Caroline Carlson


final-cover-Nearer-Moon.jpg     41g6Wa8HCL._SX325_BO1204203200_.jpg

A Nearer Moon and Audacity by Melanie Crowder



The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox


076369097X.jpgSmashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11 by N. Griffin, illustrated by Kate Hindley



Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen



Rosa, Sola by Carmela A. Martino


You Were Here by Cori McCarthy



The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow



How to Share with a Bear by Eric Pinder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin



All We Left Behind by Ingrid Sundberg



Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

Topics: eric pinder, N. Griffin, 2015 release, Cori McCarthy, paperback release, Micol Ostow, Michelle Knudsen, Melanie Crowder, Caroline Carlson, Meg Wiviott, Ingrid Sundberg, 2016 release, Janet Fox, Carmela A. Martino, William Alexander, Mary Atkinson


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

Michelle Knudsen and MARILYN'S MONSTER

Posted by Adi Rule on Tue, Mar 10, 2015 @ 14:03 PM

We are roaring with delight in welcoming Marilyn's Monster by Michelle Knudsen, which comes out today from Candlewick!

MMcover 648x591Some of the kids in Marilyn’s class have monsters. Marilyn doesn’t have hers yet, but she can’t just go out and look for one. Your monster has to find you. That’s just the way it works. Marilyn tries to be patient and the kind of girl no monster can resist, but her monster doesn’t come. Could she go out and search for him herself? Even if that’s not the way it works?

From favorite picture book creators Michelle Knudsen and Matt Phelan comes a story about one little girl and the perfect monster she knows is out there . . . and what happens when she decides she’s waited long enough.

Welcome, Michelle! We're thrilled you could pop by. We love your picture books (and middle grade, and YA, and -- wow, you're versatile!). So tell us . . . 

What was the spark that ignited this book?

I rarely know the answer to this question for my books. For Marilyn’s Monster, I remember the moment I started writing, but not what the actual spark was. I was at the wonderful Kindling Words conference in Essex, Vermont, listening to a guest illustrator speaker, and suddenly the beginning of the story just appeared in my head. I started quietly writing in my notebook right there in the audience and had finished the draft by the next day. It was one of those stories that just came out nearly complete, all at once, which hardly ever happens for me. (I think Library Lion was the only other time I had a similar experience.)

describe the imageDo you write in silence? If not, what’s your soundtrack?

For picture books, I generally do need silence. Or some kind of nonspecific background noise, like in a cafe or on a train. For novels I write with music. The playlist tends to vary depending on the book, although there are a lot of songs that overlap different projects. For my current novel in progress (a sequel to Evil Librarian), there’s a lot of My Chemical Romance and Muse and random songs by Tool and Evanescence and Janelle Monáe and Pink Floyd. Also a good dose of selected Broadway show tunes. (The book involves a lot of musical theater. And demons.)

That is one kickass playlist! :) Tell us about your writing community. Are you in a critique group? Is Twitter your bastion of support?

I’m very private about my early drafts. Usually no one sees anything before I feel ready to send the “first” draft (which of course is almost always far from being the actual first draft) to my editor. For picture books, I rarely ask anyone else to read later drafts in progress unless I’m struggling with a particular aspect and need some outside opinions. For novels, I usually ask one or two friends to read the second or third draft. One of my most valued and constant second-or-third-draft readers is a dear friend who loves a lot of the same things I do in stories but is not herself a writer or editor. She always sees things that both my editor and I may have overlooked. I do rely heavily on the writing community at large for general support, though. Author/illustrator drink nights in Brooklyn and online encouragement from Twitter and Facebook friends have helped me get through a lot of rough writing times.

describe the imageWho were your advisors at VCFA?

Uma Krishnaswami, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Tim Wynne-Jones, and Margaret Bechard.

How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?

I really think VCFA made me a better writer in pretty much every possible way. It also made me realize just how many pages I could get done in a day (thank you, packet deadlines!) and helped me come to understand the amazing power of the revision process (something I had severely underestimated before coming to VCFA).

Thanks so much for stopping by! Welcome, Marilyn's Monster!

Michelle's VCFA class is the Thunder Badgers. (Badgery hoorays from classmates/Launchpadders Adi & Robin!) Visit her online at, on Twitter (@michelleknudsen), and on Tumblr.

Michelle Knudsen is the author of more than 40 books for young readers, including the New York Times best-selling picture book Library Lion and the middle grade fantasy novels The Dragon of Trelian and The Princess of Trelian. Her first young adult novel, Evil Librarian, was recently announced as the winner of the 2015 Sid Fleischman Award for humor.

Topics: Candlewick Press, 2015 release, picture book, Michelle Knudsen

October Round-Up!

Posted by Adi Rule on Fri, Nov 07, 2014 @ 05:11 AM

awardsDeborah WilesRevolution (Scholastic) was shortlisted for the National Book Award. Wow!

Congratulations to Joyce Ray, who has won a 2014 Silver Moonbeam award for Feathers & Trumpets: A Story of Hildegard of Bingen (Apprentice Shop Books, illus. Lisa Greenleaf)!

Hooray for Linda Oatman High, who has won a 2014 Gold Moonbeam award for Teeny Little Grief Machines (Saddleback Educational Publishing)!

Brotherhood by Anne (A. B.) Westrick has won the inaugural Housatonic Book Award for Writing for Middle Grades and YA. Congratulations, Anne!

Congratulations to Kelly Bingham (Z is for Moose) and Julie Berry (All the Truth That's In Me) for their UKLA Award nominations!




It's here! The cover for Anne Bustard's Anywhere But Paradise (Egmont USA, 2015) has been revealed . . . and we love it!

Author/illustrator pj lyons has sold two board books to Zonderkidz. Wahoo!

The new collection EMINEM and Rap, Poetry, Race (McFarland) includes an essay by our own Stephen Bramucci!

We're having triple celebrations with Wendie Old, whose biographies The Wright Brothers, Aviation Pioneers and Inventors; The Life of Duke Ellington, Giant of Jazz; and The Life of Louis Armstrong, King of Jazz (Enslow), have been released in paperback and ebook.





Dana Walrath gave a brilliant TEDx talk on Comics, Medicine, and Memory. MediaBistro/Galleycat gave her a nice shout-out and so did Entertainment Weekly. Wow!

Publishers Weekly came out with their list of Best Children's Books of 2014, and it includes Deborah Wiles' Revolution, A. S. King's Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, and Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun!

The YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominations continue, and we're thrilled to see Caminar by Skila BrownGlory O'Brien's History of the Future by A. S. KingEvil Librarian by Michelle KnudsenHow It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, and Revolution by Deborah Wiles on the list!

The Los Angeles Times posted a great review of Kekla Magoon's How It Went Down.

The Huffington Post named Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond one of 5 Great Reads for Your Bookclub.

Buzzfeed listed Micol Ostow's Amity one of 13 Young Adult Novels to Spook You This Halloween

And for more spookiness, check out Michelle Knudsen's Evil Librarian on Mashable's 9 Scary YA Books for Halloween Fans Too Old to Trick-or-Treat! (If you need us, we'll be under the covers!)


Topics: Linda Oatman High, round-up, Saddleback Educational Publishing, Scholastic, Apprentice Shop Books, Joyce Ray, A. B. Westrick, Deborah Wiles, Skila Brown, Kekla Magoon, Kelly Bingham, Jandy Nelson, Dana Walrath, Wendie Old, McFarland, Enslow, congratulations, Julie Berry, Micol Ostow, A. S. King, Michelle Knudsen, Stephen Bramucci, pj lyons, Zonderkidz, Gwenda Bond

Happy Publication Day to Mikki Knudsen and EVIL LIBRARIAN

Posted by Tami Brown on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 @ 07:09 AM


September 9 was a double book birthday at VCFA! Congratulations to Michelle (Mikki) Knudsen and Evil Librarian published by Candlewick Press and in bookstores everywhere!

Topics: young adult, Candlewick Press, 2014 release, Michelle Knudsen

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