the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Author Blog

Sarah Johnson and CROSSINGS!

Posted by Tami Brown on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 @ 08:01 AM

Welcome Sarah Johnson to the Launch Pad! Sarah moves every couple years to a different foreign country and she wrote Crossings while living in Finland. She enjoys spending time with her family, music, travel, and chocolate. She's not just an alum of the WCYA program- she's part of the Launch Pad team. So twice the cheers for Sarah's debut novel CROSSINGS!

Crossings Johnson Cover small size.jpg 

Eliinka, a young, orphaned harp player, was born with the gift of influencing people around her with her music. But in her home country of Pelto, she’s forced to hide this ability to avoid persecution from government authorities. When she contracts to work for Jereni, a woman from the neighboring country with whom Pelto has been at war, she soon finds herself trying to reconcile the two countries. Can Eliinka use her musical gift to bring peace to Pelto and Viru while protecting the people she loves?

Welcome, Sarah and congratulations! Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Jereni was my favorite character to write. She is a multi-faceted, strong character and held back secrets. It took several revisions and writing many extra scenes to get to know her.

What was the spark that ignited this book?

A dream. I rarely have dreams, but one dark Finnish morning, the two main characters of Crossings woke me up. They propelled me out of bed to the computer, and I wrote so I could find out what would happen.  

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

I love so many authors!

Martine Leavitt and Kathi Appelt craft such beautiful sentences. I often read their books more than once; the first time for the story and the second time to savor the sentences.

A good story and an engaging plot is what keeps me in the pages of a book. Meghan Whalen Turner and Kimberly Loth are two authors who craft plots I love.

A list of authors who write characters I love would need to include E. B. White and J. K. Rowling.

What was it like watching the illustrations/cover come together?

A super talented designer created the cover of Crossings. Priscilla sent me some initial image ideas, asking me about the direction she was going. We corresponded and she designed a cover that really captures the atmosphere of the story and introduces the main character.

Who were your advisors at VCFA?

My advisors were Margaret Bechard, Uma Krishnaswami with the picture book semester, Shelley Tanaka, Kathi Appelt, and Martine Leavitt.

Johnson, Sarah 2016 author small size.jpg

What is your favorite VCFA memory?

It’s impossible to pinpoint a favorite memory, but I loved the discussions about books and writing craft—both in workshops and in casual conversation.

Thanks so much for visiting us at the Launch Pad, Sarah. It's great to celebrate your new novel. CROSSINGS is published January 10 by Cedar Fort. You can learn more about Sarah, her writing and her travels on her website at and her blog at 



Topics: young adult, Sarah Blake Johnson, 2017 release, YA, Sarah Johnson, Cedar Fort

Meet the Launchpad!

Posted by Adi Rule on Sat, Mar 07, 2015 @ 09:03 AM


The Launchpad has been blasting away for about a year now (can you believe it?), celebrating the release of over 70 books by students, faculty and alumni. Wow!

So we thought it was time to introduce ourselves. Hi, all! 


rocket icon 2

Tami Lewis Brown

describe the image

Tami lives in a creaky old house in Washington, DC with her husband and a pack of wild spaniels. Her picture book biography Soar, Elinor! and middle-grade novel The Map of Me were published by Farrar Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers. Tami graduated in January '06 (the class with no name) and serves on the VCFA Board of Trustees. Visit her at


describe the image

Lisa Doan 

author photo cropped II

Lisa is the author of the Berenson Schemes series – Jack the Castaway, Jack and the Wildlife, and Jack at the Helm. She has been a headhunter, scuba diving instructor, owner of a sort of Chinese-like restaurant,  Deputy Prothonotary of a county court and international vagabond.  Her hobbies include: writing middle grade fiction, and wine. She has high standards for middle grade fiction, but sadly low standards for wine.  Buy her a cheap drink at


describe the image

Robin Herrera

942316 560646832894 441389178 n

Robin is an aspiring cat lady and also sometimes writer. Her first novel, Hope is a Ferris Wheel, was published in 2014, and she's hard at work on her second. Robin is a member of the Thunder Badgers (VCFA Summer '10) and misses those NECI cookies like no one's business. Luckily, she lives in Portland, and can find weird, tasty food on every corner. Visit her at  


describe the image

Sarah Blake Johnson

Sarah Johnson 2015 Al Azhar Park

Sarah writes for teens and children. As a global nomad, she has lived on five continents, where she has adventures such as stepping in quicksand (yikes!), cooking dinner in a geyser (yum!), getting lost (sometimes on purpose), and exploring ancient ruins. Currently she lives in Egypt, where she can visit the pyramids and be back home before lunch. Sarah graduated from VCFA in 2011. Join her adventures at


describe the image

Adi Rule

describe the image
Adi is the proud owner of a rare original Robostrux T-Rex. Her YA novel Strange Sweet Song is out now from St. Martin's Press, with Redwing coming soon. When she's not writing, she sings in the chorus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra/Boston Pops and gives tours of a lonely seaside mansion with an undetermined number of rooms. On her last trip to VCFA, she worried about where the portrait of Mr. Noble had got to. Adi's website is and she blogs at Three Tassels and a Top Hat.



describe the image

Pop by our websites, say hey on social media, or meet us at Café Anna. :) 

We want to hear your launch news!

* * * Fill out the "Share Your News" form at the bottom of the righthand column! * * *

* * * Tweet us! @VCFALaunchpad * * *

* * * Email us! vcfalaunchpad AT gmail DOT com * * *

* * * Drop any of us a line on social media! * * *

Topics: Lisa Doan, Tami Lewis Brown, Robin Herrera, Adi Rule, Sarah Blake Johnson

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