Every manuscript seems to have its own distinct journey, but every story I write begins with an awful lot of daydreaming, staring into space, jotting a phrase or two onto a sticky note, and coming up with a working title.

“I love that when I have a question, I can reach out and pick the brilliant brains of other talented kidlit writers. I’m always amazed at how quickly plot or character problems can be solved when you get out of your own head. I also love how willing people are to share great examples of kidlit to use as mentor texts.”

With contemporary fantasy, it doesn’t take such a stretch of the imagination for the reader to follow along when you blend the familiar with the unfamiliar.

If you’re a writer then you likely have feelings about sidewriting. You know, all that extra writing you do (or wonder if you should do) in order to figure out and enhance your story. Sidewriting can be anything from doing a story spine to free form writing to letters from your characters to hand writing a scene to word associations to writing from a new POV to plot graphs to–well, you get the idea. Sidewriting is any writing you do that (generally) doesn’t go into your actual manuscript.

I love exploring what it’s like to be twelve years old, an age where you’re not quite a kid or a teenager. It’s such a transitional time, and can be full of so much drama. (My middle school days certainly were!)

Learning craft will always set writers off on the strongest foot.

“Craft study has helped me tremendously to make better books, and to hone my ear so that I know when something is working or not. I’ve become so much better at writing stronger characters with more compelling arcs, I can tell when my language is pitch-perfect and when it’s falling flat, I can revise more quickly than ever before, I can look at comp titles when I get stuck, I can pull from a wider range of craft techniques when I’m struggling to convey something . . . the list goes on and on. Learning craft has helped me become a better writer in countless ways.”

Ignore trends entirely, and write the book that truly calls to you.

I love the deep sense of wonder writers of children’s books possess, and how we all—deep down—still believe in magic. The world is so often dark and stormy, but kidlit writers relentlessly gather around the flickering candles in the darkness.