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One of my favorite characters from the upcoming Impyrium series is Sigga Fenn, newest member of the Red Branch and a native of the savage Grislands which lie beyond the empire's borders. No longer mystic knights, the Red Branch have become cold-blooded assassins who report only to the Divine Empress. When enemies infiltrate the palace, Sigga is assigned to protect Hazel Faeregine, the youngest member of the royal family.
Posted on Dec 22, 2015                         
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Building Worlds at SCBWI

On February 6th the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) kicked off 2015 with its winter conference in New York City. This was the third conference I’ve attended, and my first as a member of the faculty.

If you’re interested in writing or illustrating children’s books, I really can’t recommend the SCBWI more highly. Writing can be a very solitary career, and it’s wonderful to come together now and again with like-minded people to discuss your shared pursuits and passion. The SCBWI brings together writers, illustrators, agents, editors, and other publishing professionals to provide what is really an unrivaled collection of talent and experience. At any given conference you’re likely to fi [...]
Posted on Feb 28, 2015                         
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Hazel Faeregine would like to trade places with you. She would like to trade places with just about anyone. Life is complicated enough at twelve without being born a Faeregine. The very name is synonymous with power, a dynasty of “Divine Empresses” that have ruled Impyrium for over 3,000 years. Faeregine magic is strongest, their coffers deepest, and they alone possess the Lirlander Seals and Otherland Gates, which allows them to control travel across this world...and even into others. Whenever Faeregines enter a room, all eyes turn to them...
Which is why Hazel would like to swap places. Everyone expects a Faeregine to be beautiful and commanding, whereas Hazel is pale as milk, sh [...]
Posted on Dec 02, 2014                         
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BIG News!!!

I can officially share the news via Publisher's Weekly

HC Nabs Neff’s New Middle-Grade Fantasy

Henry H. Neff, author/illustrator of the bestselling fantasy series the Tapestry (Random House), sold a new middle-grade fantasy, called Impyrium, to HarperCollins Children’s Books. Antonia Markiet bought North American rights to the novel, in a three-book pre-empt, from Josh Adams at Adams Literary. The book, the first in a planned series [...]
Posted on Aug 18, 2014                         
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My Favorite Holiday Reads

The holidays are a particularly magical time of year — a stretch of quiet, lazy days with frost on the windowpanes. Perfect reading conditions. For me, the holidays are a period when I like to revisit some favorite books and stories. Here are some of my seasonal favorites:

1. The Wind and the Willows by Kenneth Grahame - the perfect blend of coziness, humor, and adventure with snippets of lyrical, soul-stirring philosophy. Really, a perfect book and one that has influenced so many other authors (Tolkien not the least of them). Toad is one of literature's all-time great characters and the scene where Rat is comforting Mole and making him feel important will have you dabbing your eyes.

2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien - I've always felt that [...]
Posted on Dec 18, 2013                         
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Getting Published

I receive many emails from fellow writers who want to get their work published. I’m often asked how this process works and what “secrets” I can share. While I’m short on trade secrets, I’ll address the topic as best I can. Keep in mind that my take is simply that — my limited and imperfect perspective on an involved and ever-changing process. I’m hardly an expert and I would strongly encourage you to explore what reputable sources like the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ( have to say on the subject. Also, the advice below is limited to getting your work published via a traditional publisher. I know very little about self-publishing other than that itâ [...]
Posted on Sep 30, 2013                         
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Mad Scientist

If you've been following the blog, you know I've been doing a lot of drawing experimentation — using different papers, tools, old techniques, new techniques, sketching on the computer, sketching by hand, combining the two, etc.

Here's a practice project I just did using a combination of techniques that I'm starting to really enjoy. Using a pencil on rough paper, I created a random character sketch, scanned the drawing, edited it in Photoshop, and then integrated it with a loose background that I roughed out on the computer. I'm fond of this approach because it's still a handmade drawing but also leverages the speed and flexibility of a computer. I find the look and feel very compelling.

Lots of fun trying out these techniques. While The Red Winter's illustrations will [...]
Posted on Jan 26, 2013                         
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New Year, New Aspirations

Happy New Year! The beginning of a new year is always interesting. It's a time to reflect, plan, eye one's holiday paunch, and join a gym(!) 2013 promises to be an interesting year for yours truly as I conclude The Tapestry and move on to new projects.

As I write The Red Winter, it's a bittersweet feeling. I'm both excited to bring the tale to a satisfying close and sad to say goodbye to Max, David, Mum, Bob, Cooper, Hannah, and the innumerable other personalities that populate the little world I've created. Max has come a long way since his trip to a Chicago museum and the end of his tale will also conclude a significant chapter of my life.

But life is about moving forward, isn't it? Even as The Tapestry comes to a close, I've been busy developing some new projects. T [...]
Posted on Jan 02, 2013                         
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The Maelstrom is here!

I'm heading to California for a week of school visits and events related to the launch of The Maelstrom. It's a homecoming of sorts — I lived in San Francisco for nine years and really came to love the Bay Area. The trip is not only an opportunity to launch the book, but also to reconnect with old friends, former students, and favorite haunts.

A book launch always triggers some funny emotions and nerves: excitement, anxiety, pride, fear, you name it. I'm always intensely curious what my readers will think — whether they'll enjoy the story, appreciate new developments, get what I was trying to do, etc. The Tapestry's a little bit of a crap shoot on this front as I try not to repeat the tone or structure of previous books — the settings, situations, and cha [...]
Posted on Oct 19, 2012                         
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The Boy Turns One!

People often ask what I do when I'm not writing. For the past year, the answer has been "chase after Charlie." Hard to believe, but our baby turned one a week ago and is ready to take his first steps any day.

The Maelstrom is Charlie's book — dedicated to him. While I'd thought of the title before we ever knew we'd be having a new addition, it would be hard to pick one that's more apropo for a baby. Whether it's changing diapers, midnight feedings, or frantically shooing him away from outlets, Charlie IS a little maelstrom. And we wouldn't have it any other way.
Posted on Jun 28, 2012                         
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