My Top 10 YA Fantasy Books of All Time

Ready to enrich your reading list? I recently presented at the Writer’s Resources Meetup on my top 10 YA fantasy books of all time. Read on for some books that might surprise you!

Top Ten YA Fantasy Books of All Time! Video from the January Writer’s Resources Meetup

List of Top 10 YA Fantasy Books Not to Miss:

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley is one of my all time favorite books!

The Hero and the Crown (Damar, #2)The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my favorite book when I was 12, and it remains my favorite book of all time! I must have re-read it at least 10 or 20 times throughout my life, and it’s awesome every time 🙂

View all my reviews
  1. The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley. Newberry Winner: My #1 fav book of all time! I reread this book almost every year.
  2. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle: Classic.
  3. The Earthsea series (especially #2, The Tombs of Atuan), Ursula Le Guin: Masterful storytelling at its best.
  4. The Hobbit + Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien: Old school classic.
  5. Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling: Modern Classic
  6. The Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix, starting with Sabriel: One of the most original YA fantasy series. I’m surprised more folks haven’t read it. On par with Harry Potter in my opinion.
  7. The Valdemar Series by Mercedes Lackey (start with By the Sword): One of my favorites as a kid. Not all the books in the series hold up to the test of time, but By the Sword is one of the best!
  8. The Wheel of Time Series, Robert Jordan: Not strictly YA but loved by many a teen and adult. Weighing in with 14 books well over a thousand pages each, the series is a commitment but well worth it.
  9. Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor: a contemporary soon to be classic. One of the best of the latest YA fantasy novels I’ve stumbled across.
  10. City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty (The Daevabad Trilogy #1): Not strictly YA but it could be considered in the category. A historical fantasy with rich world building, political intrigue, and character development that can’t be beat!

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1)The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished all the sweet sweet 20 hours of the audiobook production of City of Brass, and I literally can’t stop freaking out. This book is right up there with my favorites like Strange the Dreamer. Fantastic character development, exquisite world building, and insane plot twists to the max! This is probably my favorite book of the year. Can’t wait to read the next one!

View all my reviews
Sabriel by Garth Nix is one of my favorite YA Fantasy books of all time!

With all the chaos of the world, it was delightful to take a break and share my favorite books of all time with friends. Are any of these titles on your bookshelves? What YA Fantasy books would you put on your list? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

Also, stay tuned! I have some good publishing news coming your way soon 🙂

New Mom-Approved (but NSFW!) Poem Published!

A screenshot of my poem from "Current," which you can read on page 15 here:

New wacky poem up at Current, a project of The Union, which is my local newspaper. I thought for sure this would get rejected—after all, so many F bombs! But while this piece of literary goodness might not be safe for work, my mom loves it.

In fact, I wrote this one about four years ago and have been trying to get it published for ages. But it turns out most literary journals don’t appreciate curse words like my mom does, haha!

This acceptance comes at a wonderful time for me, actually. I’ve been sending out short stories and my poetry chapbooks like a mad woman, but so far, I just have a big old pile of rejections 😦 To top it off, with the stress of everything, I haven’t been writing every day (though I have been getting in a little here and there).  I hope this marks a turn for the awesome for my writing.

So, at long last, my ode to my bargain-shopping, swears-like-a-sailor mama is up for the world to enjoy. Check out the full magazine for free at Current 2020. I’m on page 15.

Thanks for reading, and let us know how your creative adventures are going in the comments below ❤ 

Publishing Workshop + Hanging with Grant Faulkner @ the Sierra Writers Conference <3

Introducing my hero Grant Faulkner at the writing conference!


Why come to a writing conference? To light a fire under your desk chair, meet amazing people—and most of all, give back to the writing community. I was invited to teach a workshop on publishing this past weekend at the Sierra Writer’s Conference, and I got back so much more than I gave.



For me, a major highlight was introducing keynote speaker Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo—while wearing my 2019 winner’s t-shirt and an incandescent Viking hat. Huzzah!

I’ve been obsessed with NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, since 2012, and have been a volunteer for years. I’ve written over 145,000 words over the course of many crazy Novembers!

Without NaNoWriMo, I would not be the writer I am today. Connecting with Grant and thanking him for everything he’s done for me and the NaNoWriMo community was amazing.





It was also totally rad to get my yearly pep talk at Kim Culbertson’s workshop on scene work, and I couldn’t believe it when Kim attended my workshop afterward! I’ve been going to Kim’s classes for years because she’s so inspiring, and she wrote one of my favorite books of all time, “The Possibility of Now.” I don’t even have words to say it all cool was, which is saying something 🙂


My workshop on publishing short stories and poems was totally packed, and those who participated said they got a lot out of it. I was TOTALLY NERVOUS, but it was a great crowd, and once I got into it, we had a lot of fun. I was so happy to give back to a community that has given me so much. I hope everyone who took my class gets published, and soon!

I overcame some editing blocks I was having during Sands Hall’s workshop on scene, and then became a fashion designer for aliens during a humor workshop with Kimberly Bateman.


Fashion show of humor! Best Workshop EVER!

For an after-party, I went to a mind-blowing reading with Pam Houston and her student, Kate Wisel, both of whom knocked my socks off.


NEW BOOKS by Pam Houston and Kate Wisel




Incredible, inspiring, amazing weekend. If you’ve never gone to a writing conference, I can’t recommend it enough. It will give you the spark of inspiration you need to defeat your inner critic. I never thought I would be here, helping other writers to realize their dreams. I couldn’t have done it without all the other writers who have and continue to inspire me to kick butt and write my novel ❤ ❤ ❤

Did you go to the conference? Let us know how you liked it in the comments below—and if you’d like to do a social share, let us know your platforms and handles, and we’ll all follow you back! #writingcommunity #4ever


A Serious Poem and a Wacky Short Story Published—Read by the Author

I’m in this year’s issue of Current on page 21!

Hey friends, I’ve got some great news this month!

Nature Poem Published in Ecological Literary Magazine

My poem, “Rain on Dry Leaves,” was just published by Canary Lit Magazine. What’s really special about this event is that my poem appears right next to Gene Burson’s poem, “Geese.” Gene is my poetry mentor and guru, so it means a lot to be next to him in this issue:-)

You can listen to me read my poem here:



Flash Fictions About Aliens and Prom

Also this month, my ridiculous piece of flash fiction, “Prom,” was published in Current, which is the literary magazine that comes out once a year from my local newspaper, the Union.

You can listen to me reading this ridiculous story here:



NaNoWriMo 2019 is Coming!

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month!

And in other news, I have been preparing for NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month! As you may know, I am a municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo for the California:: Elsewhere region. I also organize live the events in my area, Nevada City!

I’ve been working hard with the other liaisons to organize the group, and prepare for the November extravaganza of writing a novel in one month.

This November, I will continue to edit my YA fantasy novel. Instead of counting words, I will be counting hours. So I’ll be trying to aim for 50 hours instead of 50,000 words. My goal: to edit at least 20 hours!

Of course, I’ll be working on my novel in October as well and hoping to finish chapter four. I’m also working on a poetry chapbook and a few short stories. So I’ll be sure to keep you posted about how things go!

How is your writing going? Do you plan on writing 50,000 words this November for NaNoWriMo? Let us know in the comments below!

[Writing is Political] Stories that Will Rock the World

I came to the public events at the Squaw Valley Community of Writer’s Fiction Conference this July with the big question:

How can creative writing remain relevant in a world that is self-imploding?

I mean, my little human brain honestly can’t comprehend the amount of suffering crisis and destruction happening right now on the planet.

In light of the crisis that surrounds us, does storytelling really matter?

Answer: a resounding yes.



The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley: Creativity and Politics

At the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley Conference, many of the authors touched on the political. I was thankful to know that I was not the only one grappling this question, and I received a lot of confirmation, comfort, and the fire to keep on going. I want to share that with you now!


Joyce Carol Oates and the Jerusalem Prize




Joyce Carol Oates was one of the headliners for the conference, and she has just won the Jerusalem Prize. She spoke a lot about the commonweal, how we are all connected, and how our stories can help us bring morality, understanding, and solutions. As she said in her acceptance speech for the Jerusalem Prize,


“The Jerusalem prize crystallizes these obligations for me even as it celebrates the enduring art of literature. To speak for those who cannot speak for themselves; those who have been silenced, out of poverty, fear, intimidation; those who have lost their birthrights, and perhaps their lives, through no fault of their own.”

–Joyce Carol Oates, from the Jerusalem International Book Forum


Oates has been one of my favorite writers since I was a teenager, so it was especially powerful to hear her read and share her thoughts.

Amy Tan and Relevant Writing

Amy Tan also spoke about her work and the political climate. She shared that she had a fully fleshed out idea for a novel, but when the 2016 elections hit, she had to put it aside. It just didn’t feel right to her at that time. Instead, she decided to take another angle and write a different book that felt more politically relevant to her.



Tan’s writing hit home for me when she read at the Saturday night event. Her story was about a Chinese immigrant, how she felt other and unique, and I was struck how the personal can be so political from that reading.

I just started reading Tan’s new memoir. Spoiler alert: it’s fantastic.

Hector Tobar on “The Assassin Next Door”

I also became acquainted with a new author, Hector Tobar, professor of English and Latino studies at the University of California, Irvine. It was incredible to hear him read from “The Assassin Next Door” about how his life as an immigrant was intertwined with that of his neighbor James Earl Ray, Martin Luther King’s assassin:


My parents hovered over me, their only child, telling me stories about our heritage and their courtship in Guatemala City. I did not know that my father was having an affair with the woman he called on the phone in the afternoons, or that my mother would soon bring her new boyfriend home to meet me. I did not see that the brick and stucco apartment blocks around me were a magnet for American drifters, like those Jack Kerouac describes in “On the Road,” recently arrived in what he called “the loneliest and most brutal of American cities.” I had no idea that one of them, a hard man named James Earl Ray, lived on the other side of our back-yard fence.

–Hector Tobar, The New Yorker


Though the author never met the man, he makes compelling parallels between the life of poor immigrants and the life of an outcast, angry white man who ends up committing the unspeakable.

Hector closes by saying that he has sought to understand the white society he lives in as a means of survival. “Like many other Latino residents of this country,” Tobar writes, “I derive a sense of power from observing the lives of people who cannot see the full measure of my humanity.” His piece awed me, and I highly recommend reading it!

Poetry Can Transform the World

All of these ideas were swimming in my head while I had dinner with my friend and poetry mentor Eugene Burson. We talked about writing, the state of the world, and why poetry and the written word can be so powerful and transformative.

He demonstrated it by sharing a powerful poem with me, written by Robert Haas, from his book, Time & Materials:


Ezra Pound’s Proposition

Beauty is sexual, and sexuality
Is the fertility of the earth and the fertility
Of the earth is economics. Though he is no recommendation
For poets on the subject of finance,
I thought of him in the thick heat
Of the Bangkok night. Not more than fourteen, she saunters up to you
Outside the Shangri-la Hotel
And says, in plausible English,
“How about a party, big guy?”

Here is more or less how it works:
The World Bank arranges the credit and the dam
Floods three hundred villages, and the villagers find their way
To the city where their daughters melt into the teeming streets,
And the dam’s great turbines, beautifully tooled
in Lund or Dresden or Detroit, financed
By Lazard Frères in Paris or the Morgan Bank in New York,
Enabled by judicious gifts from Bechtel of San Francisco
Or Halliburton of Houston to the local political elite,
Spun by the force of rushing water,
Have become hives of shimmering silver
And, downriver, they throw that bluish throb of light
Across her cheekbones and her lovely skin.

—Robert Haas, from Time & Materials


The poem gave me shivers, and I began to have hope that writing is still increasingly relevant. Our stories, our words, have the power to rock the world! And I firmly believe that.


Having a great time at the squaw writers conference! Here's a little update about how the afternoon went. So inspiring to hear some of my favorite authors share their wisdom! #writerslife #writer #writersofinstagram #writerscommunity #write #squawvalleywriters #squawvalleywritersconference #joycecaroloates #amytan


Lighting a Fire Under My Fingers: Writing Check-In

In my work, I have set aside my romantic comedies in favor of a young adult fantasy novel that’s about healing family trauma. It just felt more relevant and more satisfying. I’m sure I’ll come back to the romantic comedy. But for right now, I want to work on something a little closer to my heart and something I think the world needs.

In my professional work, I’ve been writing PR pieces for community colleges, many of which feature underrepresented students. Many are immigrants, the first in their families to attend college, and veterans. It’s inspiring to use the craft of writing to tell stories of every-day heroes.

How do you use writing to rock the world?
Let us know in the comments below!

Art and Poetry Published: Tishman Review and Subterranean Blue Poetry

Crazy awesome picture by Monika Kozub on Unsplash. Someone dressed up as lady liberty with crazy glasses, I don't know, just because :)

Holy smokes, Batman! I have some excellent publishing news for you all.

Art in the Tishman Review

Writing is my jam, but I also have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, and it’s nice to share my artwork in literary journals—especially ones as fantastic as The Tishman Review, which accepted two of my latest drawings on canvas— check it out in their latest issue. There are no anchored links on this one, so do a “cmd + f” and search for Rachel Teferet. Or read the whole thing. You won’t be disappointed.

A lot of my artwork deals with patterns from ancient art, faces within faces, and psychological themes. I’m honored to be included in this issue—it has some fantastic poetry and short stories as well. I was gifted with a printed copy, which is always lovely for a contributor.

Poetry in Subterranean Blue Poetry

I really dig Subterranean Blue Poetry. Their whole vibe is just so lovely. My poem, “Willow and Hawthorn,” is about a nature-based, surreal dream. Read the poem in their latest now!

More Good Writing (and a Book!) Coming Soon 🙂

I recently took a fantastic novel workshop with the incredible Rachel Howard, author of The Risk of Us, and so I’ve been busy working on my YA Fantasy book. However, I also have some poetry projects in the works, including a couple ideas for chapbooks, so please stay tuned! And thanks for your support on my literary and artistic ramblings 🙂