craft review by LA Biscay In his craft book Plot and Structure, author James Scott Bell challenges writers to find the strongest hook for scene openers: “The hook is what grabs the reader’s attention from the start and gets him pulled into the narrative. And here is where many a writer stumbles. “Feeling there needs […]

craft review by Jen Jobart Writing a character readers love is the holy grail. In her book The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults, Cheryl Klein writes, “Even more than an exciting story, compelling characters make the reader turn the pages, because they offer the intimacy of a relationship, the unpredictability of real […]

craft review by Kate O’Shaughnessy In my childhood bedroom, there was an air-conditioning vent in the far corner of the room. One day I noticed it was loose, so I pried it off. To my great delight, I discovered there was a little nook in there, a perfect hiding spot for small, treasured things. After […]

craft review by Danielle Sunshine Beetle Boy, by M.G. Leonard, tells the story of Darkus Cuttle, whose father, a former entomologist, has disappeared. As Darkus attempts to find his father, his two new friends, Virginia and Bertolt, assist him. They not only help with his plot to foil his antagonists’ plans and save his father, […]

We are delighted to have Lois Sepahban, author of Paper Wishes, stop by to answer some of our questions. (See our craft review here.) Below you’ll find Lois’s thoughtful responses, which give insight into her writing process and research process, as well as the story itself. Lois hails from Minnesota and has written non-fiction for children. […]

We had the pleasure of having Kate Hannigan, author of The Detective’s Assistant, join our group by Skype from Chicago for our April in-person middle grade discussion. We got to ask all our pressing questions about her writing process and incorporating research–and even how she keeps all her research organized! She graciously agreed to share […]

craft review by Beth Mitchell The Wild Robot by Peter Brown is a charming tale of a robot who is washed ashore on an island inhabited only by animals. ROZZUM unit 7134, or Roz, is not designed for the wilderness, but she is programmed with survival instincts and the ability to learn. At first, the […]

Craft Review by Lindsay Lackey Rules, glorious rules. If there is one thing writers know well, it’s the rules. Write what you know. Show don’t tell. Start with action. You know the drill. They aren’t all bad, really. Rules are lane markers. They protect us and can even empower us. But rules, as they say, […]

After years ghost writing and writing the Animorphs series, Katherine Applegate set out to write what she called a “real novel”–what turned out to be Home of the Brave. We were lucky enough to have Katherine visit our group in person to share her wisdom and insight and stories. We’ve collected some highlights from the […]

craft review by Anne-Marie Strohman Katherine Applegate’s novel-in-verse, Home of the Brave, is an intricate story. Kek, a ten-year-old refugee from Sudan, lands in Minnesota in the middle of winter and has to make sense of his new world. It is at once a story of leaving a life behind, engaging with a new world, […]