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Invite an Author

Every month, we highlight an author in an initiative called "BCCLS Invite an Author". Many of these authors are happy to visit BCCLS libraries to chat with your book clubs or present programs either in person or via Skype. You can email them directly for more information or to schedule a library visit.

Previous Authors

February 2017

Jade Chang

Photo © Lee Seidenberg.


Melanie Conklin


    melanie.conklin @



Letter of Introduction:

Dear Colleagues:

Our Invite an Author for February came to my attention because she was highly recommended by Kristen Anderson Churchill, Teen Librarian, Youth Services Department at the West Orange Public Library.

The author’s debut novel has received some great reviews including this from School Library Journal: “With just the right pace of character development and a believable voice for the shy, awkward Thyme, Conklin takes her protagonist through a journey of connecting to others and learning to articulate her own needs...VERDICT A slow and sweet book that will strum the heartstrings of readers…”

It is with great enthusiasm that I present Melanie Conklin as BCCLS Invite an Author for February 2017.

Melanie Conklin is a writer, reader, and life-long lover of books. She lives in South Orange, New Jersey with her husband and two small maniacs, who are thankfully booklovers, too. Melanie spent a decade as a product designer and approaches her writing with the same three-dimensional thinking and fastidious attention to detail. Counting Thyme (Penguin, April 2016) is her debut middle grade novel.

Melanie is available for writing workshops at libraries, suitable for ages 10 and up (both middle school and high school). Her requested honorarium is $150 for a one hour writing workshop with extra time as needed for Q&A and book signing. She is also available for free Skype visits with book clubs, schools, or libraries. For more information please visit her website at:

On Counting Thyme:

"Thyme's remarkable perseverance and resilience will inspire readers of Conklin's compassionate tale."

Kirkus Review

"When things begin to get complicated at school with new friends and a first crush, Thyme feels torn between two places her family and making her own way. Debut author Conklin writes with a pitch-perfect middle-grade voice, capturing Thyme's confusion and emotional struggle. The family dynamics are well developed and capture the dissonance that can happen during a family crisis. A nice choice for middle-grade readers who enjoy heartfelt and emotional novels."


"Conklin makes a strong debut with this moving family story narrated by 11-year-old Thyme, whose five-year-old brother, Val, has been fighting cancer for nine months. When he is accepted into a drug trial, the Owens family leaves San Diego for New York City, where Thyme focuses on her secret plan to return home early. Conklin realistically depicts Thyme's culture shock in Manhattan (apartment living, Laundromats, cold weather), homesickness for her grandmother and best friend, and the roller coaster of emotions that accompany a family member's serious illness; equally strong is the exploration of middle-school friendship difficulties and the beginnings of a first crush. While a few of the characters (such as Thyme's crush and the woman hired to cook and accompany her to and from school) are a little too good to be true, most develop in credible ways through their individual struggles. Conklin successfully weaves together the shifting dynamics of a loving family under crisis with the less dramatic but equally heartfelt turmoil of coming of age in a new environment."

Publishers Weekly

Click here for our Author-ized! Interview with Melanie Conklin.

Click here to see Melanie’s entry in

Take a look at her website at: Contact her directly at: melanie.conklin @ and follow her on Twitter at @MLConklin. And take a look at for our Author-ized! interview with Melanie.

Bring in a class for an author visit, have a writing workshop, have a Middle Grade/YA Book Club read Counting Thyme and Skype with Melanie! So many possibilities! I hope you’ll consider inviting Melanie in person or via Skype for a visit at your libraries.

Warmest regards,





What are you reading? What's on your nightstand?

I just finished Full of Beans, which is a great companion read for Turtle in Paradise. I’m also re-reading A Monster Calls because I like to cry. Next up is Labyrinth Lost because I also love young adult SFF.


Where do you go to get inspired?

When I need inspiration, I go out into the world. Life is the best fodder for fiction. For a jolt of motivation, I visit the library and read the first chapters of my favorite novels. Nothing makes me eager to write more than reading.


What's something that surprised you recently (in a good way)?

I’m surprised every time I hear from young readers who have read Thyme. I’ve been told it will take about three years to get accustomed to the idea!


Where do you write?

I write in lots of places that are terrible for my back: my couch, my bed, the floor. When I’m behaving, I write at the desk in my office. But even then, I’m usually in my robe.


What/who makes you laugh? Why?

My sons make me laugh every day. They see the humor in everyday life and allow it to consume them. I do my best to enjoy each day as much as they do.


Favorite fictional character ever?

This is a tough question! My favorite fictional character is probably Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. I loved those comics as a kid, and even more so now. Calvin is the brave, brash, exuberant, and passionate child in all of us.


What do you want readers to know about you and your books?

I’d like readers to know that my books are about growing up and finding your place in the world. They’re about surviving middle school while facing big life questions. They’re about family and friendships and food—and most of all, about being eleven.


What are you working on?

I’m working on my next novel for middle grade readers, which is about another family facing a difficult situation with humor, hope, and love.