Frequently Asked Questions

1. I own your first book, Second Sight. Since this is a revision of it, should I get this one too?

If you liked Second Sight, then yes. Some key ideas and a few talks appear again in The Magic Words, but as you can see from the table of contents, the two books are very different—about 75% different, in my estimation. (And I think this one is better.)

2. I write picture books. Will The Magic Words be useful to me?

The philosophy about writing and publishing in general will be useful to you, but The Magic Words focuses on novels, and thus does not offer any specific guidelines for writing or revising picture books. For that, I recommend Second Sight for as long as it's on sale, and then Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz, Picture This:  How Pictures Work by Molly Bang, Picture Writing by Anastasia Suen, and Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, edited by Leonard Marcus. 

3. Second Sight won't be for sale anymore? When will that happen?

November 1, 2016, or when I run out of my current stock of copies, whichever happens first. Until then, you can purchase it via here or by e-mailing me at

4. I teach writing for children and young adults. How can I get a desk copy of this for use in my class?

Email me at with your affiliation and address, and I will see that a copy gets sent to you.