Author & Artist's Corner: Author

Tim Myers

Tim Myers, author


Wow! I've ALWAYS wanted to say that in public! Why? Because Cricket and the other Carus magazines are AWESOME. I never even knew about Cricket when I was a kid, which kills me, because every month I would have eaten . . . it . . . up!

I grew up in the shadow of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the oldest of eleven children. I played football, basketball, and track in high school. I later earned a masters degree in literature and have been a teacher for a long time. I’ve taught overseas in Norway, London, and Tokyo. My wife, Priscilla, and I now both teach at Santa Clara University in California.
Tim as a baby (above) and in eighth grade with his little sister Martha

I write for young kids, older kids, teenagers, and adults. And I write all kinds of different things—picture books, poetry, short stories, longfiction, nonfiction, you name it. I'm also a professional storyteller; I love myths, legends, and folktales. I say all this because I think kids who love to write should write whatever they feel like writing.

When I was young, I just followed what fascinated me, and even though it didn't FEEL like I was working on writing, I actually was! Which is a very cool thing, if you ask me. In fact, if you're a writer, you can be "working" even when you're just reading, or thinking,or doing something—even when you're daydreaming! Some of my best writing ideas come from daydreams.

Right now I have three new books out—one for adults about fatherhood, one a book of adult poetry, and then a children's book called Down at the Dino Wash Deluxe, about kids who work at a huge carwash for dinosaurs.  Down at the Dino Wash Deluxe I got the idea partly from the way my sons and I were always looking at different kinds of cars and trucks—and, of course, from playing with toy dinosaurs. Right now I'm working on a fantasy novel series about three teenagers whose parents are murdered and who then must set out across a wild continent to find a home that may not even exist.

I’ve written a number of stories for Cricket, including “Three Aunties,” “Yao Bai and the Egg Pirates”,” and “The Peasant Prince,” as well as “Hannah’s First Story” and “The Christmas Stick” for Spider.Tim's Doodles

I’d love to answer any questions you have about how writers work or develop their ideas. Are you a writer, too? I’d love to hear from you! Post your comments or questions below and I will be happy to reply!


Hi Tim! I'm Teresa and one of my favorite classes is language arts (the other is math). I love to write almost anything, but my favorites are realistic fiction and historical fiction. Here are some questions for you...

*How old were you when you first started writing?

*Do you work at home or in an office?

*Where do you get your inspiration?

*How do you overcome writer's block?

*What is the hardest part of writing/publishing a book? 

submitted by Teresa, age 14, Michigan
(April 30, 2013 - 6:20 pm)

Hey, Teresa!  Great to hear from you!

Forgive me for taking a while to get back to you--I teach writing to college students, and I've been grading their papers.  I mention this because it's part of one of my answers to one of your questions.  Since one of the hardest parts of writing/publishing a book is simply that--it's work!  But I have a feeling you know that already.  And one of the things I love about writing is that I love the WORK of writing.

But back to your questions--in order!

I was actually 11 when I wrote my first poem--it's in the story about me, above.  I can't help wondering--how old were YOU?  BTW, I don't think it really matters. Some people seem to think that starting earlier means something, but holy cats--babies will scribble on a wall if you let them!  That doesn't mean they're really writing.  What matters for writers is to keep at it, no matter what age they started at.

Where do I work?  Mostly in my home office, where I have all my notes and plans for books, etc.

My inspiration comes from ANYWHERE.  I think one of the most important things a writer can do is to pay attention to everything.  You never know what might give you an idea.  Those cheerios floating in your milk--for a moment, might they be shipwreck victims floating on the white ocean of another world?  And that thing your friend said to you that made you laugh--why not put that into the mouth of a character?

Writer's block?  I don't really get it.  Partly because I'm constantly filling file folders with big and little ideas for books I plan to write, so I've usually got ideas waiting for me.  And also because when one project isn't working, I just turn to another one.

Finally, the hardest part of writing a book?  For me it's carving out the time to do it.  Most writers have jobs and families and lots of other things to keep them busy, so they have to plan their time carefully in order to get things written.  That's certainly how it is for me!  I sometimes find myself wishing I didn't need to sleep. But I do--and not getting enough sleep just messes up my writing!  So I do the best I can.

And finally-finally:  I love the question you added!  I have so many favorite words I can't keep track.  Crescent.  Luminous.  Hippopomonstrosesquipedalian.  Dark. West. Kablooey.  The list goes on.  What's cool about your question is that it's a writer's question.  Musicians love notes and chords--painters love lines and colors--and writers?  To us, every single word has a taste, good, bad, or indifferent.  And we can never get enough of them.

Great talking to you!


submitted by Tim M., age 59, Santa Clara CA
(May 2, 2013 - 2:03 am)

The first time I remember writing was in third grade. I always had extra class time so my teacher had me choose one special thing to do once I was done. My choice: poetry! Now that I look back at them, they weren't spectacular, but it was a start to writing more.

My favorite poem that I've ever written was about the taxes King George put on the colonists' tea. I remember having to read it out loud, even though it was 2 1/3 pages long! 

I agree that it doesn't matter how old you start writing, yet it is interesting to know.

One of my favorite words is zenzizenzizenzic! It means x to the 8th power. 

submitted by Teresa, age 14, Michigan
(May 2, 2013 - 2:17 pm)

I like hearing about your third-grade writing, Teresa--especially since, just like me, you began with poetry.  And boy, I know what you mean when you say "they weren't spectacular." I've re-read mine, and they weren't just non-spectacular--they were awful!  But like you said, it's the start that's important.  I learned from the famous writing expert Peter Elbow that "bad writing is necessary for good writing." When I was younger, seeing that I'd written something weak or unclear would really bother me--but now I know that that's exactly how a writer gets good.

I think it's hilarious and cool that you wrote about the tea tax!

I've never even imagined that such a word as "zenzizenzizenzic" exists--and I'm terrified to to try pronouncing it.  Maybe some day we'll meet and you can teach me by ear.  In the meantime, I think your messages are interesting to the 8th power. 




submitted by Tim M., age 59, Santa Clara CA
(May 3, 2013 - 1:28 pm)


I loved the "Christmas Stick" when I first got it, and really liked "Three Aunties" and "Yao Bai and the Egg Pirates".

I like to write, and am currently working on my first novel. What advice do you have for other authors?

submitted by True S.
(April 30, 2013 - 6:24 pm)

What's up, True?  Thanks for posting a message!

It's very kind of you to say nice things about my stories--that means a lot to me! And not just because it makes me feel good (which it does).  But also because writers want to be read.  The way I look at it, when I write something, I start a circle--and when you read it, you complete the circle.  That just feels right to me!

I'm delighted that you're working on your novel--keep it up!  I have some advice that I think pretty much applies to all writers.  It's not complicated, but it works:

Read, read, read.

Write, write, write.

Live, live, live.

My point is that writing is something we get better at gradually, over time--but only if we really work at it.  I don't mean that the "work" is painful or exhausting, though sometimes it can be.  But writers become good writers like a tree bears fruit--by growing every day in the sunshine of experience.

Best of luck with your book!




submitted by Tim M., age 59, Santa Clara CA
(May 2, 2013 - 2:10 am)

Oh, one more question. What is your favorite word?

submitted by Teresa, age 14, Michigan
(April 30, 2013 - 6:25 pm)

Hello, Tim!

I most definitely agree that Carus publishing is awesome.  I started getting Spider when I was in third grade, and switched to Cricket about two years ago.

I had actually heard of a story similar to The Three Aunties before reading your story.  The one I heard was about a girl who didn't like spinning, but when she was complaining to her mother about it, the queen was coming along in a carriage.  When the queen asked why the girl was crying, the mother replied that it was because she didn't have enough linen to spin!  So the queen took the girl to the castle, and asked her to spin a lot of linen.  Then three fairies came, one with a big foot, one with a huge lower lip, and another had an enormous thumb.  They would spin the cloth if the girl agreed to invite them to her wedding.  When the wedding came, and the prince asked how they became so ugly, the one with the foot said that her large foot came from pressing the pedal on the spinning wheel.  The one with the large lip said that her anomalie was from moistening the thread, and the one who had the large thumb said that it came from twisting the thread.  Then the prince was shocked and said that the girl was not allowed to spin anymore.

In the version I heard, there were no mention of trolls.  I did like that idea, though.  It's nice to actually have an explanation for the generosity of strangers in these fairy tales!

I write a lot of different kinds of fiction, and recently completed Camp NaNoWriMo!  Have you ever done NaNoWriMo or something related?


Violet B. (the name which you will see on a book cover... eventually)

submitted by Violet B.
(May 1, 2013 - 8:12 pm)

Wow, Violet!  I'm a storyteller, and I know LOTS of stories and variants of stories, as I'm sure you can imagine--but I never heard that one before.  And I love learning different versions of stories, especially ones I tell or have written up, so I'm very grateful!  I have to say, first, that I'll copy your re-telling, since I want to use some of its details--okay with you?  Second, the details I most like are the large foot, lip and thumb--since those make more sense that the deformities in the version I worked from.  Like I say--thank you!  Writers really appreciate learning about things they can USE IN WRITING!

I also really like your point about the trolls being an "explanation for the generosity of strangers" in fairy tales.  I believe that strangers sometimes are simply generous, giving for the sake of giving, and I think that's deeply beautiful. But I think you've got a writer's instinct for making the different parts of a story make sense.  That's a great instinct to have!

I wasn't sure what NaNoWriMo is, but I looked at the homepage and it seems cool to me.  I'm for anything that gets a writer writing.

And I love your sign-off! Keep at it!  It's a great name to have on a book cover!

Oh, and I'll try to follow your advice.  But I must confess--occasionally, I do forget to be awesome.

Have a great one!


submitted by Tim M., age 59, Santa Clara CA
(May 2, 2013 - 2:22 am)

Hi Tim!

First off, I simply and utterly LOVED Three Aunties! It was so creative! 

So, my questions. I'm writing a novel as well with Camp Nano. It's got parts that come together really well, but then, I run out of steam. I have plans for certain parts, but I have trouble making it all flow. And filler. I have great, large scenes, but I have nothing that can go in between.

Also, how do you revise, and decide what's good, what isn't, and what belongs where? I find I write something I love at the time, then I go back and can't stand it! Suggestions?

Third, who was your very first person to read you stories? Who was your first critic? I read in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, how family and friends would support her stories fully, but then, she got outside judement, and it was completely different. How do tell when something is really good? And how do you get people interested in reading what you wrote? I really can't find anyone who is willing.

Thanks so much! Keep on writing, and I can't wait to read your new novel!

The Free Writer

Blonde Heroines Rule

submitted by Blonde Heroines Rule, age ageless, Camp NanoWriMo
(May 2, 2013 - 2:10 pm)

Yo, Free Writer!  These are such EXCELLENT questions!  So the first thing I've got to say is--be sure to give yourself credit for your questions!  As a teacher I've realized that good questions are the crucial first step in learning.  Your questions show two wonderful things.  First, that you're elbow-deep in this novel, and that you're getting incredible experience by doing it.  Second, even better, that you're thinking about writing in specific ways.  Believe me:  THAT'S HOW PEOPLE GET BETTER!

Okay, let's talk shop a little.  (Oh, and thanks for that stuff about "Aunties"!). Your first question is about how a novelist keeps her novel consistently good.  One way is by doing exactly what you're doing--thinking about that as a particular challenge and working on it.  (You'd be surprised at how many people DON'T think about that). Some suggestions:

First, don't feel bad about running out of steam--we all do that!  Let yourself rest when you need to, but keep in mind that you still need to come up with something good for those other parts of the book.  Second, think about different possibilities for those parts; let your mind come up with even seemingly crazy ideas, and ask yourself if you'd like to read a part like that.  Remember, you already came up with parts you like--so you can come up with good new parts too! 

When it comes to revising, a writer has to work hard.  But deciding what to keep and what to cut?  It comes down to how you feel about it, and how honest you can be with yourself about your reactions.  I sometimes tell myself, "Hey, this part isn't so bad!..."--when I'm actually just reluctant to cut it.  But keep in mind that there's no black and white way to figure all this out.  You have to trust your own reactions.  That's important:  Be honest and be ready to cut or re-write, but trust your own reactions.

And that's really the answer to your third question too!  My teacher was the first to read my stuff, and her encouragement meant the world to me.  But to attract readers, you have to appeal to people who know nothing about you.  So it's fine to get friends and family to read your stuff.  Just realize that some might like your work because they like YOU (and BTW--don't let it get you down if they DISLIKE it either).  But at some point you need to let people who don't know you read it.

That day, however, can be far in the future.  The most important thing is to keep writing.  I have to add that I wrote for years and years before anyone read my work (with the exception of that teacher).  I didn't really try to get things published till I was in my late 30's.

And as far as finding someone to read your stuff, you might ask your teachers, your school librarian, someone like that.   

Keep on writing right backatcha!



submitted by Tim Myers, age 59, Santa Clara CA
(May 3, 2013 - 1:48 pm)

Wow! I never knew daydreaming was a good writing inspiration! I actually daydream constantly, but quite a lot, and it's always a very very very romantic story. Instead of just dialogue, though, like a movie, I always kinda do a voice-over in my head, and describe perfect love scenes, dig until I find the perfect words. it's super cool how my brain just comes up with touching sentences! 

I also want to say, that I write a number of stories based on random, everyday things in life. I picked up some legos, switched Batman's wings and Anakin's lightsaber, and wrote a story about how Anakin tried to steal Batman's wings. I've also started one about taco shells who eat people. 

You are a SUPER COOL author, who I was so happy and surprised to find that your writing ideas are like mine! I hope to read many, if not ALL, of your novels and have just contacted my local library with a suggestion to get your books, because they DO NOT ALREADY HAVE THEM!

I enjoyed your stories for Cricket very much, and I hope you write more!

Blackberry Elf-Glitter

submitted by Blackberry E., age 13
(May 3, 2013 - 1:34 pm)

Right off I have to thank you--simply because it's so much fun to write "Dear Blackberry Elf-Glitter"!

And I'm delighted that you like my daydreaming point!  The way you described your daydreams shows that they actually are a form of writing.  Of course sometimes we just daydream things that we want or that make us look wonderful.  But even doing that requires coming up with, as you said, scenes, dialogue, good wording, and, as in your case, even a voice-over--which, when you think about it, is just out-and-out writing!

I also like your point about your brain coming up with good sentences on its own.  I've learned that my brain isn't just one thing, and that it doesn't do its work in just one way.  Sometimes a writer has to push his or her brain in a very direct way, a fully conscious way.  But I've also learned to let my brain muse about things, just kind of float and "feel-think," if you know what I mean.  And often I find ideas or lines drifting up out of the depths.  Some are good, some are bad--but when that happens, I know my brain is thinking in a deeper, less conscious way, often more creatively.

I like your lego-idea-generator thing.  And I'd love to see tacos eating people--after all these years, it only seems fair.

Thanks for your kind words!  And thanks so much for asking your library to get my books!  I should add, though, that as of now I don't have any novels published.  I have picture books, but no novels.  I'm working on that! 


Later, Gator!


submitted by Tim M., age 59, Santa Clara CA
(May 3, 2013 - 3:57 pm)


I've subscribed to Cricket for a little more than four years now and I have four years of my older sister's old Cricket magazines, so I have read "The Peasant Prince"  and the "Meet your Author" that appeared in January 2006. I believe you also wrote "Fox Trapping", which appeared in May 2003?

What are your favorite genres to write and to read? What age group do you most often write for? Who are you favorite authors (besides yourself)?

I don't write much, myself, I prefer to edit things. I don't often get chances to edit other people's writing because they say I'm too ruthless or brutal. Most people I know tend to think of editing as catching grammatical errors. Sadly, this has lead to me getting banned on making comments on many of my friends' works. 

submitted by Ruby M., age 13, Somewhere
(May 5, 2013 - 3:20 pm)

Ruby, I loved your message!  It makes me feel great that you read my stuff.  And yes, "Fox Trapping" is mine too.  But there's a lot more that I liked in what you had to say.

First, I can't really say I have a favorite genre--I just seem to love them all.  Maybe it's because I'm the oldest of eleven kids and I can't imagine preferring any of my brothers or sisters to each other.  And maybe it's because, to put it simply, LIT ROCKS, in any form.  Sometimes I want to write something and it cries out for the musicality and rich language of poetry--sometimes it tells me quietly that it's meant to be a realistic piece of fiction.  The same thing applies to different age groups.  I LOVE writing for kids, LOVE writing for middle-school and high-school-age people, LOVE writing for adults.  Maybe it won't surprise you that, when I'm at a Chinese or Mexican restaurant, I almost always order the combination plates!

My favorite authors?  Way too long a list.  But right off the top of my head:  Ursula LeGuin, Garth Nix, Walt Whitman, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Butler Yeats, Maurice Sendak--oh, holy crow.  It makes my head hurt to try and think of all of them.  

But the best part of your message, to me, was actually the last paragraph.  I'm a writer--and that means I KNOW how precious good editing is, and how powerful.  So I think it's hecka great that you prefer editing--because the world needs great editors!  Writers need them too!  Maybe you can learn how to communicate more carefully with writers, so they won't see your edits as brutal.  But maybe some of them are banning you because they aren't ready to do what a writer needs to do, which is be tough with himself or herself in order to make the writing better.

In any case, be proud of your editing abilities, and keep developing them!  And maybe you can find a group of writers who are ready to listen.

All the best!



submitted by Tim M., age 59, Santa Clara CA
(May 6, 2013 - 1:13 pm)