musings & newsy things

Off to a starry start!

  Galleys of AUDACITY are out in the world, and the first two trade reviews are in! * Readers hear Clara’s strong, clear voice in action-packed verses that convey with intense emotion her conflicts and conviction, her deepest thoughts and her doubts and triumphs. Crowder breathes life […]

Book Release!

  The last time you all heard from me, I was busy planning. Planning my blog tour, planning my book release, planning my launch party. I was so busy with promotion and all that, well, planning, that I stopped even trying to write. More on […]

Sea Glass


I visited family on the Oregon coast over the holidays. For those of you who’ve never been there, it’s a rugged, beautiful place. In the winter, storms hammer the beaches, uprooting seaweeds, ripping buoys from their moorings and crushing it all against the rocks.

I went for a walk early one morning. There was no one on the beach; the water had retreated from the cliffs and laid bare a long stretch of sand. December is not the time to go beachcombing for sand dollars or scallop shells, so you’ll understand my amazement when I found a light bulb as big as a basketball lying like a beached jellyfish in the sand.

Where had it come from? Did it fall from the cabin of a passing trawler? Or from a bayside cannery warehouse? Wreckage from the tsunami in Japan has been washing up on Oregon beaches for months—but a light bulb? How could such a delicate thing separate from its fittings, travel across the great expanse of the Pacific, and somehow dodge the watery minefield of coastal rocks to perch safely in the sand?

Because I knew the tide was on its way back in, I picked up the light bulb and tucked it behind a tuft of beach grass, thinking that I’d finish my walk, then take it up off the beach. If it had made it all this way, the least I could do was keep it safe from the incoming tide. But by the time I finished my walk, it was gone. Someone else must have found it, and, struck by the absurdity of a giant light bulb in a patch of beach grass, carried it away.

It was just trash, really. Flotsam. But it was beautiful, too, in a sad sort of way.

I’m writing a novel in verse right now. Poems are fragile, particular things, while novels are unruly and unpredictable. It isn’t easy getting the two to work together.

Of course, writers see metaphor in everything, but I like to think there was a message for me in that glass bulb finding its way onto the sand.


The Next Big Thing…

  I’ve been tagged! Chain letter style, that is, by the lovely A.B. Westrick, author of the forthcoming novel Brotherhood (I have heard the author read from this novel, and it is amazing!) So it’s my turn now, to answer a few questions, and tag […]

Out of My Hands

  There is nothing even keel or humdrum about this whole “write a book and send it out into the world” thing. It’s thrilling! And it’s terrifying. Think about it: you write a book. You pour your soul into it. You show it to a […]

Fire Season


The writing is done. Revisions, line edits, copy edits—all done! So while the editorial team at HMH is working really hard to bring the book to print, I have moved on to my next project.

My new novel is very different from PARCHED, and this is intentional. I hope to have a long and varied writing career, where I am free to follow the characters and stories as they come to me; free to work across genres and markets. I don’t want to get stuck writing the same kind of book over and over again. But actually doing that, trying something new, is sort of terrifying.

What if all my best attempts go up in flames?

Where I live, wildfire is just a part of summer. Some years are worse than others, and this season has been nothing short of devastating. But fire is a natural part of a healthy forest. In order to make way for new growth, the forest has to burn.

I began this summer with a plan. This wasn’t just going to be a vacation. It was going to be a working vacation. And I have worked—really hard. I finished a draft of the new novel, and then turned immediately to revisions. I planned marketing strategies for PARCHED and connected with writers and readers who share a love for stories and a commitment to getting them into children’s hands. But somewhere along the way, this summer stopped being a working vacation and became work.

I sat myself down in early July and asked why I was so irritable, why I was virtually crackling with stress. Here I was, living my dream, but the pressure of promoting the first book and writing the second had sucked the joy out of the process. And where was this pressure coming from? Not from my editor; not from my agent. No, it was all me. The combination of self-imposed deadlines and self-doubt knocked me off balance.

I camped this past Friday night along the Poudre River in northern Colorado. Two weeks ago, the canyon and forest all around was burning in a fire so intense it melted rock and devoured almost 90,000 acres and 259 homes.


The first thing I did when we got to our campsite was go down to the river, shuck my shoes and wade into the water. The damage to the forest was easy to see, but it took a moment for me to notice what it had done to the river. The ripples of sand in the riverbed were coated with black char, sediment that had washed down the burned hillsides when the rains finally put out the fire. That sediment altered the pH of the river, putting the ecosystem at risk. But even as I stood there, the river flowed, washing itself clean, finding its balance again.

For writers, there will always be stress and doubts and deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise. I have a month left until school starts again, until the bulk of my time and energy belongs to my students. A month until the first ARCs go out into the world and it’s time for reviewers and readers to have their say. The pressure will only build from here.

So I choose to view this fire season as an early warning. A chance to dig my fire lines wide and long. To create a protected space where I can write, where no doubts or pressures or negative reviews can reach. A chance to find my balance so I can keep it when the next fire season comes around.