For Ruby, reading fuels the imagination. Reading junkies will agree—books make us laugh, take us to magical lands, give us superpowers. Through Ruby Starr’s pitch-perfect youthful voice, Deborah Lytton reminds us that no matter what our age, being able to read is a gift. So is Lytton’s book. I feel privileged to have met and spent time with Ruby Starr, and you will, too.

Snag a copy or catch up with Deborah Lytton online.


I’ve gotten into gardening the last couple of years. That, and cooking a more and eating far less meat. Every single time I’m out in the garden, I hear Ruth Gordon’s voice from HAROLD AND MAUDE (best movie of all time, by the way). Anyway, I hear that line she says somewhere in the middle (she and Harold are discussing, what flower they would most like to come back as): “I like to watch things grow. They grow and bloom and fade and die and come back as something else. Life!”

Each morning, I bring an armload of fresh tomatoes inside:


I see some fresh spaghetti sauce in my future…




I am a lifelong music nut. SERIOUS nut. Most of the time, I think I’d rather have music than food.


In fact, this picture offers a bit of proof—that’s me, in about 1992, with a member of Tesla (who’s in the midst of signing his autograph). Because in addition to seeing as many concerts as I possibly could, I also used to do my fair share of autograph hunting—anything to get just a little bit closer to my favorite musicians. As many of you already know, I even taught piano and guitar lessons as I was drafting my earliest manuscripts—and my students actually inspired me to write for younger readers.

As an old literature major, I’m also a poetry nut. I’ve hung out at as many poetry readings as I have concert doors—but for some reason, it never crossed my mind to get a shot taken with, say, Miller Williams (Clinton’s second inaugural poet) when I heard him read his work.

My latest release, a picture book for more advanced readers entitled NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID, combines my lifelong loves of music and poetry:



Saturday night just isn’t Saturday night without Katy Did and The Antennas. At least, until a rotten review leaves Katy’s bandmates thinking maybe they could do better with another singer.

What’s a Katy Did to do when she’s been dumped for a Songbird?
Featuring a main character who is both literally a katydid insect and the singer in her own band, NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID offers a story of perseverance and finding beauty in unexpected places as well as a fun, attention-grabbing way to introduce young readers to formal poetry. The book itself is a villanelle, a type of poetry that features refrains that repeat throughout—much like the chorus in a rock song. Great for classroom use and for readers in the fourth to sixth grade. Sheets in the back of the book walk budding poets through writing their own first villanelle.

Why a villanelle?

It’s not as frequently studied as some other poetic forms, especially in the elementary levels. I find it’s a form not usually discussed much until high school, actually, when students read Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night,” arguably the most famous or most recognizable villanelle ever written.

Don’t worry—it’s not too sophisticated.

Kids in this age group (about 9-12) are straddling the line between childhood and slightly more grown-up interests. That’s why this book (which is, from front to back, a single villanelle) is also a picture book, featuring both photographic and illustrative elements—and a katydid lead singer with bright red hair, no less!

The Importance of Poetry

I was so delighted to see Tracy K. Smith (our current poet laureate) on CBS This Morning, discussing the accessibility of poetry. I also believe that poetry is what our youngest readers naturally gravitate toward. And yet, somewhere along the way, readers become intimidated by it. It’s my hope that NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID helps to continue to make formal poetry both accessible and fun for your young readers.

Snag a Copy

NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback. For those who incorporate the book into their own classroom or library activities, I can always be reached at for Skype visits.

Sneak Peek:



katycover4As a lifelong music nut, this forthcoming book has truly been a passion project. NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is actually a “rock poem.” Not unlike the verse novels that have swelled in popularity over the past few years, NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID employs poetry rather than prose, telling a story of preservation and recognizing beauty in somewhat unexpected places using the form of the villanelle—a type of formal poetry.

NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is perfect for classroom use. The message is uplifting, the music theme attention-grabbing. (The book is also populated by an anthropomorphic rock band. At the 4th-6th grade level, I find kids are really straddling the line between not quite wanting to let go of their youthful interests—cartoons, comics, etc.—even as they’re adding a few older interests, like music, into the mix.) NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID also introduces young readers to a type of formal poetry not frequently addressed in elementary classrooms. The end of the book provides example worksheets for students to craft their own villanelle.

NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID will be releasing soon—be sure to sign up for my picture book and / or MG newsletters to get the official date. (I’ll be making the announcement through both, as this book is both short and illustrated.)

Picture Book Newsletter

MG Newsletter


My newsletters are a great place to get in touch.  It’s how I let my readers know about new releases, of course, but I also want to hear from you.  If you’re a teacher or librarian, I want to know about your students—what they’re interested in, what issues they’re facing. As a hybrid author, I can release work quickly, and can help you fill the holes on your classroom or library shelves in a timely manner.  I also want to hear from my adult or YA readers—and aim to make each specific newsletter as interactive as possible.  Sign up for the newsletter(s) of choice below:

Adult Fiction

Steamy Romance

Sweet Romance

YA News

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Picture Books


Okay, it’s not specifically for writers, but I often get asked what programs I’ve been using to create my illustrated works for young readers. Clip Studio Paint (formerly Manga Studio) has been a godsend. Here’s why:

It’s affordable. You honestly don’t have to break the bank with high-end art software. Clip Studio’s fifty bucks, one time download. No monthly subscription.

It’s not overwhelming. Well, not that overwhelming. The first time you do anything with digital art, it has a definite pat-your-belly-while-rubbing-your-head feel. But if you’ve ever used any kind of photo editing program (say, GIMP), you can pretty much hit the ground running with this one. Sidenote: I’ve been attending webinars hosted by professional artists, and I’ve been surprised to hear many admit they rely on a fairly limited number of features, even when they’re available. Most average about five brushes, and one artist whose webinar I attended confessed she never used more than a single layer in her digital art. (Even pros find what works best and they stick with it!)

It has functions that feel word processor-y. I use the lasso, cut, and paste tools in the same way I use highlight, cut, and paste when I’m writing.

It includes character models. These are posable 3D models that you can place underneath your drawing layer. These models don’t draw your characters for you, but they can help with the proportions of figures, in order to speed your workflow. If that’s clear as mud, you can view a tutorial here.

It has some great vector tools. Specifically, line correction tools and eraser tools. (The eraser tool is especially important.) You can see more at this tutorial.

Authors who have expanded into the illustrative arena: are you using a different program than Clip Studio? I’d love to hear about your own experiences. Comment or reach me directly: hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.