Melanie Conklin

Writing Coach

Children’s Fiction


The Award-Winning Author

Winner of the International Literacy Association Teacher’s Choice Award

Melanie Conklin grew up in North Carolina and worked as a product designer before she began her writing career. Her debut middle grade novel, Counting Thyme, is a Nerdy Book Award winner, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book, winner of the International Literacy Association Teacher’s Choice Award, and a finalist for the Missouri Mark Twain Book Award, the Iowa Children’s Choice Award, the Illinois Bluestem Award, and the Arkansas Charlie May Simon Award. She is also the author of Every Missing Piece (Nebraska Golden Sower Award Nominee), A Perfect Mistake (Utah CLAU Beehive Book Award Nominee), the forthcoming Crushed (2024), and her debut picture book, When You Have to Wait (2024). Her work has been translated into German, Dutch, Farsi, and Romanian.

Melanie speaks at national literacy events regularly, including the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention, The American Library Association Midwinter Conference, Book Expo America (BEA), and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. She has been a mentor for aspiring writers for 6+ years and her mentees have gone on to sign with agents and publish over a dozen novels at Big Five publishers.



In 2020, when the world was in pandemic lockdown, Melanie co-directed the Everywhere Book Festival, a virtual gathering of kidlit authors, illustrators, and books reaching more than 43,000 unique viewers from around the world. In addition to directing online sales to 60 independent bookstores that were affected by the coronavirus crisis, the festival also partnered with We Need Diverse Books to distribute books to schools, libraries, and literacy programs in need across the U.S.For her work on the festival, Melanie was one of forty publishing professionals named as honorees for the Publisher’s Weekly Star Watch 2020.

When she’s not writing, Melanie spends her time doodling and dreaming up new ways to be creative. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

If youre writing for children, you will find Melanie an experienced, careful and motivating mentor.


Children’s books are not just stories written for young readers—they are an expression of their realities, their hopes, and their dreams. Never forget that as children’s writers, we are charged with this great duty.

—Melanie Conklin

Counting Thyme

When eleven-year-old Thyme Owen’s little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.

After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours and the days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.


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Every Missing Piece

Maddy Gaines sees danger everywhere she looks: at the bus stop, around the roller rink, in the woods, and (especially) by the ocean. When Maddy meets a mysterious boy setting booby traps in the North Carolina woods, she suspects the worst.

Maddy is certain shes found Billy Holcomb – the boy who went missing in the fall. Except, maybe its not him. Its been six months since he disappeared. And who will believe her anyway? Definitely not her mom or her stepdad . . . or the chief of police.

As Maddy tries to uncover the truth about Billy Holcomb, ghosts from her own past surface, her best friend starts to slip away, and Maddys world tilts once again. Can she put the pieces of her life back together, even if some of them are lost forever?


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A Perfect Mistake

Max wishes he could go back in time: to before he was diagnosed with ADHD, before he grew to be the tallest kid in his class, and before he and his best friends went into the woods in the middle of the night. Max doesn’t remember what happened after he left his friends Will and Joey and the older kids who took them there. He’s not sure if he wants to remember. Knowing isn’t going to make Joey talk to him again or bring Will out of his coma.

When the local authorities run out of leads, Max realizes that without his help, they may never know what really happened to Will. Charged by the idea that he may be the key to uncovering the truth, Max pairs up with classmate and aspiring journalist Sam to investigate what really happened that night. But not everyone in the community wants that night to be remembered.


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When You Have to Wait

Sometimes, you have to wait. 

In line at the public pool on a hot summer day. 

For Mama to come home after being away. 

For your legs to grow just a bit longer to ride a new big-kid bike. 

The seconds drag on . . . each one feels like forever. Why can’t you have it now

But while you wait, you might notice things: a possible new friend who is also in line, why homecoming hugs are extra special, and how beautiful the world is when you’re not racing by. 

Sometimes, when you have to wait, you find the good in the moments between now and later


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Sophie Valentine would rather be at home, doing school virtually. Instead, she’s waiting in a crowded middle school building for her best friend, Eve, who’s finally back at school after an extended absence, which only Sophie knows the truth about 

But when Eve returns, things aren’t the same. First, she stops walking to school with Sophie in the morning. Then, she’s ditching her to hang out with the Crash Crew, a group of popular kids notorious for their social media dares. Eve seems to fit right in, but Sophie is devastated: Did she just lose her best friend? 

When rumors surface that Eve is hiding a painful secret she didn’t share with Sophie, Sophie is spurred on an investigation to discover what—or who—caused the incident behind Eve’s sudden change...and why all clues lead back to the Crash Crew. Using lessons from her forensics class and the help of a new friend, Sophie will have to uncover the truth before more harm is done. 


Little, Brown (July 1, 2024)


‘Conklin writes with a pitch-perfect middle-grade voice.’



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