Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

Book News Pileup: UntitledTown Book Festival, New Poetry Collection, and ARCs!

April 7, 2018    Tags: , , , , , , , ,   

First things first.

In two weeks, I get to be part of something incredibly cool: UntitledTown Book and Author Festival, a four-day literary event held annually (this year, it will be April 19 – 22) in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This year, the lineup of guests includes R.L. Stine, Christopher Moore, and ROXANE GAY (!!!!), among others. Including me. Oh–and the whole amazing thing is FREE.

My schedule, if you’re in the area (or if you’ve been planning a trip to Packerland and feel like dropping in on a lit festival while you’re at it), looks like this:

Saturday, April 21:
12:00 – Creating Characters: Writing Workshop for Kids (and adults!), Brown County Library
2:00 – Kid Lit Panel: How to Write for a Young Audience, KI Convention Center Room 6AB

Sunday, April 22:
10:00 – Dark Magic (Panel): Writing Fantasy for YA and Adults, St. Brendan’s Inn, Waterford Room
2:00 – Wisconsin Writers Invitational (Group Reading), Brown County Library Auditorium

Here’s a very handy FAQ page that will help you register for my (and other instructors’) writing workshop:

And here’s the entire schedule. You can sign up/bookmark favorites (although you don’t need to) that you’d like to attend and sync them to your phone, if you’re techy like that.


Next, a moment of poetry promotion:

It’s National Poetry Month! And my brand new poetry collection, Candle and Pins: Poems on Superstitions, is now available from Alban Lake Publishing for only $1.99 in e-book format and $6.00 in paperback. Bargain, right? You can also find/order signed copies at my lovely local bookshops, Rivertown Comics and Games and Fair Trade Books of Red Wing, MN.

A little description: The poems of “Candle and Pins” are inspired by familiar—and some unfamiliar—superstitions, ranging from love charms to burial practices, parsley seeds to the evil eye. Like superstitions themselves, these poems explore the terrain where magic and everyday life intertwine, and where beauty, horror, fear, and belief combine in ways both new and ageless.

I’ve been at work on this collection for what seems like ages. Some of the poems appeared in fantasy/horror/scifi journals like Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, and Mythic Delirium almost ten years ago, and one was nominated for a Rhysling Award, but most of them had never ventured out in public until now. Having all of these pieces, new and old, published and unpublished, finally put together behind this gorgeous cover with art by Marge Simon is the coolest feeling.

So if you’re into dark magic and creepy poetry — or poetry in general — you could make me super-happy by reading it.

If all of this wasn’t great enough, I also just received my box of ARCs (advance reading copies) of The Collectors.

(Photographic proof!!!)

Stay tuned for a giveaway of a special sneak peek copy or two… Not sure yet if I’ll use this blog, Instagram (where you’ll find me most frequently these days), Facebook, or all of the above, but I’ll do my best to spread the word everywhere.

See you in Green Bay. 🙂


Summer of the Workshops

May 4, 2016    Tags: , , , , ,   

Hello, hello, hello.

I can’t believe it, but DREAMERS OFTEN LIE has been out in the world for nearly a month now. (Haven’t read it yet? You can enter to win a signed hardcover over at Bookhounds YA — or you can make me extra happy, and ask for it at your local library or bookshop. And if you have already read it, please consider writing a review on Goodreads and/or Amazon. Especially if you actually liked it.)

Dreamers cover and petals

April and all of its attendant Shakespeare celebrations is over, but fun things are still turning up — like this piece from the New York Daily News, which includes DREAMERS in its list of new Bard-inspired books, and this article on Bustle, featuring 13 Shakespeare-inspired YA novels. It’s been a busy month online, but a strangely quiet one for real-life events. However, during this month and the next, things are REALLY going to kick into gear: Three school visits, two radio shows/podcasts, a book club visit, four writing workshops, a library festival, and–finally–some more bookstore events. Which are, of course, free and open to the public. Which means all of you are invited. Which means please come.

Upcoming public events (more info can be found on my appearance calendar, as always):

  • May 20: Authors After Hours, Valley Bookseller, Stillwater, MN. 6:45 p.m.
  • May 21: Reading, chatting, and signing DREAMERS OFTEN LIE, Fair Trade Books, Red Wing, MN. 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
  • June 4: Hudson Area Library Summer Reading Kickoff, Hudson, WI. 9:00 – 12:00. MG/YA panel at 11:00 a.m.
  • June 11: First Annual “B-Fest” Teen Reading Festival: Barnes and Noble Galleria, Edina, MN. 1:00 p.m.
  • June 14 – 16: Minneapolis Young Writers Workshop (evening keynote speeches and book signings are open to the public; visit for more)

And if you are a young writer in MN/western WI and you’d like to study with me, this summer is your chance. Upcoming workshops include:

  • June 14 – 16: Minneapolis Young Writers Workshop
  • June 23: Teen Writers Workshop, Fox Den Books, River Falls, WI. 3:00 – 5:00. Contact the store for details/to register.
  • June 28: Teen Writers Workshop, Dakota County Heritage Library, Lakeville, MN. 10:30 – 12:30.

I’ll also be visiting with the young writers in Red Wing Public Library’s Summer Writer’s Camp on June 29th. The Writer’s Camp is a two week program for grades 5 – 8 (sessions run from June 13 – 29), and I know past attendees have LOVED it. If you’re in the Red Wing area, check it out:



Happy Birth-and-Death-Day, Shakespeare (and Hello, DREAMERS OFTEN LIE)

April 21, 2016    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

So, DREAMERS OFTEN LIE was officially released two weeks ago, and the intervening time has been so packed, I haven’t had the chance to put up a blog post. Thanks again to everyone who came to Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul to celebrate, and double thanks to everyone who is already reading/has read the book. Finally seeing this book in the hands of actual readers is like a crazy dream (pun only partially intended). DREAMERS OFTEN LIE release party 1

If you missed the release party but want to catch me in person sometime this spring–and if you live in/will be visiting the upper Midwest–you’ve got several chances. Currently in the lineup:

May 20 – Valley Bookseller, Stillwater, MN. 6:45 p.m. “Authors After Hours” chat with Heather Anastasiu, Anne Greenwood Brown, and me. Plus great coffee! What more could you want?
May 21 – Fair Trade Books, Red Wing, MN. 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. Speaking, reading, and signing books.
June 4 – Hudson Area Library (with Chapter2Books), Hudson WI. 11:00 a.m. Summer Reading Kickoff Celebration! Crafts, snacks, and bookish fun of all kinds. Panel with S.A. Bodeen, Shelley Tougas, and me at 11:00.
June 11 – Barnes & Noble Galleria, Edina, MN. 1:00 p.m. First inaugural B-Fest Teen event! (More info to come…)
June 14 – 16 – Minneapolis Young Writers Conference (See for all the amazing details)
June 23 – Fox Den Books, River Falls, WI. 3:00 – 5:00. Teen writing group discussion and workshop. (Call or visit the store for specifics…)

More are being added all the time, so check my events calendar if you’re curious.

Ooh — and Adventures in YA Publishing hosted me for an interview on release week. If you’d like to know more about the process behind DREAMERS OFTEN LIE, please go forth and read.


This weekend marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare — April 23rd, 1616. April 23rd is probably his birthday too. Nobody knows his exact birth date, but church records show that he was baptized on April 26th, so historians estimate that he was born just a few days before that (they got babies baptized ASAP in those days…). A not-so-little life rounded with a sleep.

There are all kinds of bookish online celebrations in Shakespeare’s honor this week. Goodreads is hosting a special “Ask the Author” event, and I’m one of the happy participants. Visit us here to learn more or to start peppering us with questions.

I could write for pages and pages (or even a whole novel! Ha!) without summing up everything that Shakespeare’s work has meant to me, but I wrote a post for Nerdy Book Club trying to describe how it impacted me as a kid. Comments there are very welcome.

…And, for those of you who haven’t already seen it, here is my middle school obsession, as mentioned in the Nerdy Book Club piece: the brilliant Reduced Shakespeare Company, performing Hamlet in 30 seconds. Backward.






One Day More

April 4, 2016    Tags: , , , , , ,   

(Yes, that’s a Les Mis reference for all my fellow theatre nerds out there.)

You can preorder it right now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or better yet, you can request it at your favorite indie bookstore. Best of all, if you’re in the Twin Cities area, you can come to the release party at the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul (6:30 p.m., Friday, April 8) and eat cake, play Shakespearean Mad Libs, listen to the baby’s animal sounds, and get a signed and personalized copy of your very own.

If you can’t make it to the release but want to know where I’ll be next, keep an eye on my events calendar; new things are being added all the time.

Speaking of new things: Reviews! Giveaways! Interviews! Guest posts! Lists! A battalion of links and blurbs to share…

  • The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books has reviewed DREAMERS, saying
    “West’s use of quotes from Shakespeare’s various plays is restrained but perfectly timed, and her allowance for the characters to go off script offers both moving and humorous moments… Shakespeare’s characters really shine as they come to life in the twenty-first century.” Thank you, BCCB.
  • The Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a review in their Sunday book section; you can read the whole thing here.
  • The blogs Book Stop Corner, Log Cabin Library, and Sharing Stories have all posted early reviews. (Thanks, everyone. If you’re a book blogger who has reviewed DREAMERS, feel free to send me a note pointing me in your direction.)
  • Teen Vogue has selected DREAMERS OFTEN LIE as one of its “Best YA Books of April”; check out the whole beautiful list here.
  • Adventures in YA Publishing is offering a giveaway of one signed hardcover copy. Read more and enter, and stay tuned for a full-length interview later this week…
  • Brenda of Log Cabin Library was also kind enough to host me last week. Read my guest post about moving between middle grade and YA here.

Now I shall say good night ’til it be morrow.


Springing Ahead

March 16, 2016    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

It shouldn’t feel like spring yet. It’s too early. It’s eerily early. But here we are in mid-March in Minnesota, and it’s sixty degrees and drizzly, and the hostas and lilies are starting to send up little green nubs all around our house, and book events are piling up faster than I can post about them. All signs that spring is definitely here.

And, because this tends to happen when you don’t manage to write a blog post for more than a month, I have a slew of things to share.

First, more lovely reviews for DREAMERS OFTEN LIE have come in. Here are a few of them, in flashy poster format:


(That Booklist line made me glow all day.)

Second, event news:

On Saturday, March 26, at Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, I’ll be moderating a Penguin Teen panel featuring Sabaa Tahir (AN EMBER IN THE ASHES), Alison Goodman (THE DARK DAYS CLUB), April Genevieve Tucholke (WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT), Rachel Hawkins (REBEL BELLE and MISS MAYHEM), Karen Bao (DOVE ARISING and DOVE EXILED), and Alwyn Hamilton (REBEL SANDS). I can hardly believe how amazing this lineup is. (If you’re an avid YA reader, your jaw has probably already dropped to the floor, and you’ll have to pick it up with both hands.) This is a ticketed event, and space a Red Balloon is limited, so reserve your spot now.

Then, at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 8th, Red Balloon is having me back for the official DREAMERS OFTEN LIE release party (!!!!). There will be Shakespearean Mad Libs, treats, books galore, and at least one baby making loud animal noises in the background (Beren’s repertoire expands daily). Please come and join in! Here’s the event link at Red Balloon’s site.

If you can’t make it to the release party, or if you’d like an even more intimate, in-depth writing chat, come to Stillwater, MN for May 20th’s “Authors After Hours.” I’ll be there with my writing group cohorts Anne Greenwood Brown and Heather Anastasiu, whose new YA collaboration, GIRL LAST SEEN, was called ‘a sexy, fascinating, fast-paced, and darkly dynamic mystery for teens’ by School Library Journal. This is another ticketed event, so make your reservations pronto. I can’t wait for this one myself.

And from June 14 – 16, I’ll be teaching at the first ever Minneapolis Young Writers’ Workshop. This three-day event includes workshop sessions with writers like Ally Condie, Jeffier Nielsen, Jay Asher (…and me), offers tracks for writers of fantasy, speculative, and realistic fiction, and provides critique opportunities with professional authors and editors. The evening speeches and signings are free and open to the public–with registration–but the workshop itself is only open to registered writers from ages 13 – 19. (I practically rub my hands together with glee whenever I think of meeting a classroom full of enthusiastic young writers…) The workshop is sure to fill up fast, so reserve your place now.

More things are in the works, events-wise; I’ll post again when things solidify. As always, you can keep an eye on my appearance calendar to see which schools/stores/libraries I’ll be visiting. (And teachers/librarians/bookstore people: spring always seems to be crazy-wild-chaos time for me, but fall is a lot quieter. If you’d like to book me for the ’16 fall and winter season, now is the perfect time to get in touch.)





Podcast! (And Kirkus! And a familiar cat!)

January 19, 2016    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

Meant to post this weeks ago: over New Year’s, we got to visit the original Horatio (and his marvelous people) in Madison. I shared a more dignified portrait of him on Instagram (you can find me — and said portrait — here, if you’re interested), but this picture is my favorite.

Horatio photobomb


And, as promised, I’ve returned with the link to the first-ever podcast of “Voices in the Valley”! You can listen to the interview — it’s all about the writing process, getting started and keeping going, and DREAMERS OFTEN LIE — here:

Speaking of DREAMERS OFTEN LIE, the first official, full-book review has come in. It’s from Kirkus, who are notoriously tough, but they had some lovely things to say: “Jaye’s personal drama [still] sets an engrossing stage… A dizzying new twist on one of the Bard’s most famous plays.” You can find the whole shebang here.

Events are starting to solidify. It looks like the official release party will be at the stalwart Red Balloon Bookshop of St. Paul, on Friday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. More info, links, and confirmation to come, but you can mark your calendars/spread the word/ignore me completely now!


Getting ready for DREAMERS OFTEN LIE

December 6, 2015    Tags: , , , ,   

So much stuff to quickly and excitedly share:

    • Last month, I attended the NCTE convention in Minneapolis, where I signed advance copies of DREAMERS OFTEN LIE, had fun at the Penguin/Nerdy Book Club cocktail party, and talked all things YA with teachers, librarians, and my amazing editor (Hi, Jess!). Here I am with the big DREAMERS poster that now lives in my home library and reminds me that this is all actually finally happening.


  • My husband/home tech support/web designer/human firewall has been busy designing a page for DREAMERS on my website. It’s got preordering info, Shakespearean links and references (including a list of all the quotes used within the book), a theatrical glossary, and more. And it’s pretty. Go look.
  • Jaye Stuart, the protagonist/star (she’d prefer that) of DREAMERS, is starting an Instagram account of her own. You can follow her at bluejaye.dramaqueen.
  • My spring calendar is quickly filling with more events, including the much loved and recently revived Books & Breakfast (Saturday, February 13th, from 9:00 – 12:00). Visit the site for a complete list of attending authors, registration info, and more.

There. Now off to make a fresh pot of coffee and decorate a Christmas tree.


Glad to live in a world where there are Octobers

October 15, 2015    Tags: , , , , ,   

Anne Shirley Octobers
(Anne Shirley and I are kindred spirits.)

It’s my favorite month. Blustery days. The light that falls through red and gold leaves. Jack-o’-lanterns and cider and eerie stories read while wrapped up in a blanket. Beren highly recommends BabyLit’s Dracula; he’s been practicing counting wolves and castles and rats and garlic blossoms, and occasionally howling like a true little child of the night. I highly recommend Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll — twisted, brilliant, beautiful, and terrifying comics that take folk and fairy tales to even darker places — and Get in Trouble, Kelly Link‘s latest collection of gobsmackingly good short stories. Or, of course, you could read The Books of Elsewhere. I hear they’re perfect for Halloween season. Especially Volume Four. (And if you liked them, you could recommend them to other readers, which is the best possible Halloween gift you could possibly give an author. Just saying.)

Bear and Dracula

October is also the month of the Twin Cities Book Festival. If you’re anywhere in the area, come to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Saturday the 17th for a truly incredible day of readings, signings, panels, talks, and bookish fun. I’ll be moderating a Middle Grade Adventures panel featuring Lynne Jonell (The Sign of the Cat), D.J. MacHale (Voyagers: Project Alpha), and Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis (The Map to Everywhere), and in true middle grade style, we’re going to play Truth or Dare. Come join the fun: 12:15 p.m., 10/17, Middle Grade Headquarters. (And the whole incredible day is FREE!) Lots more info here:

Along with the leaves, events for the next school year are beginning to pile up… Keep an eye on my appearance calendar if you’d like to know where I’ll be.

And for even more autumnal richness, The Books of Elsewhere, Volume Five: Still Life is a finalist for this year’s Silver Falchion Award, as well as being up for the Reader’s Choice Award — go and vote, if you’re so inclined.

Happy October to all you kindred spirits out there.


Now entering the October Country

October 7, 2014    Tags: , , ,   

…one of my favorite places to be.  (And here’s something great to read while you’re there.)

With October in Minnesota comes the Twin Cities Book Festival: a big, free, day-long event at the State Fairgrounds on Saturday, October 11.  All the info you possibly want is here.  The lineup of authors is incredible, and I’m honored to be included.  Here’s what’s going on at Middle Grade HQ:


I’ll be telling lies (and some truths) with Margi Preus and S.A. Bodeen from 12:00 – 12:45, and you can find me at the signing tables afterward.  Then be sure to head over to the Teen Tent and/or the Children’s Pavilion, where you won’t be able to swing a book bag without hitting an amazing author. (This is not one of my lies.)

Reviews of STILL LIFE are still coming in — including a recent one in Newsday that concludes, “This exciting book will have you on the edge of your seat.”  Nice to hear, and a nice place to hear it from.


Roald Dahl, Revision, and Vanilla Fudge

September 8, 2014    Tags: , , , ,   

Event news/reminder: One week from tomorrow (in other words, on Tuesday, September 16th) I’ll be at the public library in New Ulm, MN at 6:00 p.m. to read, talk about The Books of Elsewhere, and answer questions.  Books will be available for sale, and I’ll happily sign anything readers buy or bring.

On to the actual blog.

Last month, the Guardian featured this: A Previously Unpublished Chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Roald Dahl is one of the reasons that I write for young readers. I had coincidentally just finished rereading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when my husband sent me this link, and I’m approximately halfway through the first draft of a new middle grade novel of my own.  Reading this was just what I needed, and not just because the chapter is full of fudge.  It was what I needed because the chapter isn’t “previously unpublished” in the way of those “bonus scenes” that appear on DVD menus — like something finished and polished and fully-formed but that just didn’t make the final cut.  It’s from an early draft.  Maybe even the very first draft.

Quentin Blake Charlie main illo

And the final draft is so DIFFERENT.

– First of all, the Vanilla Fudge Room doesn’t even get a whole chapter in the final book.  It’s cut/combined with another room in the factory where there is indeed a fudge mountain, and pickaxe-wielding Oompa-Loompas are scaling it.
– Second, the chapter starts out by telling us about ‘the remaining eight children,’ when anybody who’s read the book or seen the movie knows that there are only five golden ticket-winning kids to begin with.  Who are these Wilbur Rice and Tommy Troutbeck anyway, and what is up with their boring names? (Also, Augustus Pottle eventually became Augustus Gloop, which is a really good thing.)
– In this draft, it’s Charlie’s mother who accompanies him on the factory tour, not scrawny, elderly, adorable Grandpa Joe.
– THERE ARE NO OOMPA LOOMPAS.  The factory workers are just ‘men.’ And they don’t chant any long and scathing rhymes about the children’s flaws.  All we get is one measly couplet.
– Then there’s the writing itself.  It doesn’t read or sound or feel like Roald Dahl yet.  It’s a little…well…bare-bones and bland.

This chapter is proof that all of the Dahl-ian magic–the vivid names, the wordplay, the oddity, the tone–came later.  Maybe in the second draft.  Or the fifth draft.  Or the thirty-third.

At school visits and writing workshops, I try to emphasize the importance of revision.  That revision isn’t just about misspellings and grammar mistakes and word choice and sentence structure, or any of those little tweaks that happen at sentence level.  That it’s the magic that happens between the first draft and the final one.  I explain that, in fact, your very first draft might seem to you like a pile of flaming poo (although I usually don’t use those words).  I say that every writer I know of is or was unsatisfied with their first drafts, and that even great writers make massive changes in plot, characterization, style, you name it, between the very first version and the final one.  Even though I’ve repeated these ideas to other people hundreds of times, I sometimes need to be reminded of them myself.  Especially when I’m halfway through another flaming pile of a first draft.


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