This is the page wherein I share things that inspire me. On the sidebar you'll see links for my music playlists, fave YA books, and other fun things. Don't forget to check out my Pinterest boards, because that's possibly the best way to see what gets my fingers itching to write.

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. --Picasso


This is, hands down, my biggest inspiration. Even if my experiences don't always make it into my books, they are a huge part of shaping the way I look at the world and my commitment to exploring it more. I have been to twenty-five countries and counting. I've gone to most of these with my husband. I've lived abroad twice and had some pretty long trips that felt like living abroad. Seeing the world is, hands down, one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Bookish Inspiration

Right now, I'm really into poetry and trying to get better at my micro-level writing tools. I'm really digging Mary Oliver and Rilke right now, but I'm a Walt Whitman gal all the way. To see what I'm currently reading, check out my Goodreads page.

The Books That Made Me Want To Be A Writer

Everything by L.M. Montgomery

Little Women

The Diary of Anne Frank

Books that help me a.k.a If I Had A Writer's Bible

Bird By Bird(Anne Lamott): Hands down the best book I’ve read about writing. I’m a huge Anne Lamott fan and her characteristic wit and irreverence makes this a laugh-out-loud read. She really gets into all our little writer neurosis and the ugly fears that try to take us over. If this is the only book you ever read on writing, you won’t be disappointed. I could underline the whole thing, it’s that good.

The Artist’s Way(Julia Cameron): I can’t recommend this enough. It takes a commitment on your part, but it opened me up as an artist and strengthened my belief in myself as a writer. And every time I’m stuck in a writing rut, I go back to doing my morning pages (you’ll see what these are when you get the book) and within a few days I’m back on track. It is life changing.

On Writing(Stephen King): He just has a great way of talking about craft and what it means to live life as a writer. It’s a great read and inspiring. It’s also a kick in the pants.

Art and Fear(David Bayles and Ted Orland): This is a phenomenal book on the challenges (and joys) of making art. Perceptive, insightful, and hopeful, this is a must read for all artists!

The Art of Fiction(John Gardner): Gardner is the man. He'll teach you almost everything you need to know. Absolutely required reading!

Just Kids(Patti Smith): You will see your own desire to create in these pages. A gorgeous memoir and a treatise on living out your dream, despite the hardships.

For Fantasy Writers:

Fantasists on Fantasy(Robert H. Boyer and Kenneth J. Zahorski): A collection of amazing essays on craft for writers, by writers.

Touch Magic(Jane Yolen): An inspiring read for anyone writing in the genre. It's like taking a warm bath at the end of a long day.

The Wand in the Word(ed. by Leonard Marcus): A wonderful collection of interviews with leading fantasy authors.

An Encyclopedia of Faeries(Katharine Briggs): An amazing collection of faerie lore that will inspire any writer of fantasy, regardless of whether or not you write about the folk. It's a fantastic resource.


So, I'm not a visual artist, but I love collaging. I started doing it when I was living in South Korea, homesick and feeling like I didn't fit in at all. Korea has gorgeous paper, so I'd stock up on that, then cut up magazines or use other materials and make a collage. It's not a big part of my process, what I do when I am well and truly stuck. It can help me get to the emotional heart of my characters or help me understand what the story is really about. Plus, it's really tactile in a way writing isn't. You get your hands dirty. Bonus: you get to feel super arty. Here are three collages I made for my second realism from Holt, which comes out Winter 2015. My VCFA advisor who I worked on this novel with, Rita Williams-Garcia, suggested I collage from my proto's perspective. We'll call it "method collaging." It really helped me understand my character on a deeper level.

Skylar, my protagonist, is an artist and collage is her medium. This worked out well for me, since I love it. This collage represents Creek View, her go-nowhere town and how she is trying to keep her passion alive despite some pretty difficult circumstances.

These stickers came from a scrapbook collection. Skylar wants to see all the world's great art museums and study art abroad someday.

This was Skylar collaging the creek in her town. Wherever she is, she's collaging, even if she doesn't have paper. After I made this, I realized she's always collaging on top of the landscape in her imagination. Here, she's looking at the creek and imagining this mythical Erte goddess coming out of it.


So, so huge! See the sidebar for all things music-related. I make playlists for all of my books, which is super helpful. I don't usually write to music, although I've definitely written to music for EXQUISITE CAPTIVE (lots of Ravi Shankar and Susheela Raman). One really helpful thing I've done in the past is spend some time just lying down and listening to music that seems to speak to me about the book. Scenes will just start up in my head and that can often be enormously helpful for plot.

Other Artists

I'm inspired by all kinds of artists. Right now, I'm obsessed with Patti Smith. I read Just Kids over the summer and it blew my mind.

My family

My second Holt book features a young Marine who returns home from Afghanistan after having lost a leg. I'm pretty sure I connected so much to him because of my parents:

Street Art

I love street art. Here is one of my favorite pieces, which I saw on a wall in Los Angeles when I was living in Hollywood. It makes me think of how artists are Architects of the Imagination. I love all this energy emanating from her forehead.


I Dream of Jeannie