Jon Etter

Writer, Teacher, Resident of the October Country

A month or two ago, a Language Arts teacher asked me and some other writers to record our answers to the question “What do you love about reading and writing?” for his students. Below is mine.

If there are any other teachers or librarians out there interested in having me record something like this or who would like to set up an online reading, book talk, or Q&A, I’m always happy to oblige! Just go to my contact page, and we’ll see what we can do!


For National Tell a Story Day a little bit ago, my publisher, Amberjack/Chicago Review Press, asked me if I would be willing to record a reading from Another Dreadful Fairy Book, and I immediately agreed. So if you have ever wondered what I sound like, what my living room looks like, or how bad my hair looks when I’m over a month overdue on a haircut (and it’s only getting worse), check it out:


One of the most common questions I’ve gotten at school visits, book talks, and readings has been, “What advice do you have for young writers?” I’ve never been fully satisfied with the answers I’ve given, but now I think I’ve got it: “Be like Ada and Cynthia.”

Back in January of 2019 (which feels like a lifetime ago as I write this in our fourth week of safer-at-home semi-quarantine), after doing a couple school visits one of the school librarians emailed me and let me know that there was a pair of 4th graders, Ada and Cynthia, who had written a story and would love to share it with me if that was okay. I said, “Of course! I’d love to read it” The next day those young ladies sent me the first draft of their story “Once Upon a Time Is Overrated” (and included their librarian on the email because kids should always make sure that a parent and/or teacher knows about any communication they have with adults) and asked if I would read it and let them know if there was anything they could do to make it better.

Impressed by that extremely brave and mature request, I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) their delightful story and then wrote back telling them everything I loved about their story and gave them a few ways I thought they could make an already good story even better, the main one being, “I’d love for there to be even more adventures for your main character.”

And then they did the really hard work that a lot of adult writers don’t bother doing: they sat down and started revising. Over the course of the next year, they sent me three or four more drafts, each one better and more polished than the last. It was amazing to watch these two young writers toil at their project with such passion, dedication, and determination. And then, when they were finally satisfied and felt the story was done, they let it go and shared it with other people, another terribly brave act that many adult writers blanch at. First, they let family and friends read it. Then they shared it with everyone in their grade at school (which, honestly, 5th grade me never would have had the nerve to do). And now they’ve made it available as an ebook on Amazon for anyone in the world to read! If you’ve got three dollars and the time for a cracking good read (and let’s be honest, we all have the time while in quarantine), you can get a copy by clicking on the title here: Once Upon a Time Is Overrated.

So let’s take a clear look at everything these young ladies did that is so exemplary for aspiring writers, young and old:

  1. They read a lot (their story is inspired by many of the fairy tales they read growing up).
  2. They write a lot.
  3. They finished their story–a lot of writers quit before they finish a story due to frustration, boredom, or enthusiasm for some other idea that they pursue instead, but not these two.
  4. They asked for and were open to honest suggestions for improvement.
  5. They went back and revised multiple times to make sure they had written the best story they could.
  6. They knew when to let the story go–some writers keep working a thing over and over and never really stop.
  7. They shared it with others.

Because Ada and Cynthia did all that, there’s one more great story out in the world for people to enjoyand the world needs as many stories as possibleand, almost as importantly, I finally have a good answer to a question I’m likely to get asked again. Plus, the next time I personally get stuck or frustrated with my own writing, I’ve got something to tell myself to help get through it: “Be like Ada and Cynthia!”

Thanks, Ada and Cynthia, for writing such a great story and letting me be part of your literary journey (and for the shout-out you gave me in both the acknowledgments and in the story). I can’t wait for your next story!

Once Upon a Time...


Hey everyone,

Well, while the family and I have been on spring break this year (woo… sigh…), I’ve been hard at work putting together a study guide with project options for Another Dreadful Fairy Book, and I’m happy to report that it’s done! Just go to the “Teaching Materials” section of this website and you can download it, the study guide for A Dreadful Fairy Book, and the short story “Somebody’s Favorite Knight,” which also has study questions and extension activities at the end, all for free! I hope that you find some of this useful, especially now as we all stay in and stay safe.

Thanks and happy reading and learning!



This time it’s not just the study guide and projects that are free–this time, you don’t even have to pay for the story! In my continuing efforts to help out my fellow homebound parents & teachers, I’ve decided to post “Somebody’s Favorite Knight,” a middle grade comedy/fantasy short story that originally appeared in the 2017 anthology Tales of the Once and Future King, for free download. At the end of the story, I’ve put together a study guide with multiple levels of questioning and creative project and research opportunities. Feel free to use and share as you see fit. Hope it helps you more easily get through our current but temporary difficulties.

Take care, be safe, and stay healthy!


Somebody’s Favorite Knight with Study Questions

medieval art

Hey everybody,

First I hope you and all in your family are well and taking measures to remain so.

As we teachers and parents all hunker down and try to come up with meaningful learning activities for our kids, I thought I’d let all of you know that I’ve personally created a complete study guide, including chapter-by-chapter study/discussion questions covering multiple levels of questioning and a variety of final projects, for A Dreadful Fairy Book. The study guide is free to download right here: just click the link below or on my “Teaching Materials” page. I also hope to have a study guide for Another Dreadful Fairy Book completed and available for free download sometime this week (you know, during all that time I have when I’m not providing/monitoring virtual learning for my students or tending to the educational/emotional/physical needs of my two homebound children). Both books are available in print and ebook formats from a variety of online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores.

Take care and be well!


A Dreadful Fairy Book Study Guide


We have an official release date for Another Dreadful Fairy Book!

On January 7th, join Shade, Ginch, and the Professor as they search the fairy land of Elfame for members of a secret society of book guardians and a treasure trove of lost books while fighting to keep the Grand Library from being shut down by the villainous bugbear Norwell Drabbury, Grand Scrutinizer for the Ministry of Ordinariness, Averageness, and Normalcy (M.O.A.N.).

Preorder now at brick and mortar stores on online retailers!




Sorry for the extended radio silence. Turns out teaching full-time, writing books, promoting said books, and raising two kids takes up a fair amount of time, and little things like keeping up on the ol’ website kind of fall by the wayside. Anyway, the second of Those Dreadful Fairy Books, name Another Dreadful Fairy Book, will be coming out in a few months. Woo-hoo! Since I last checked in, Amberjack Publishing has been acquired by and is now an imprint of Chicago Review Press, which is fantastic news–CRP puts out amazing books and has the potential to get my silly little fairies into even more bookstores to cause who know what sorts of shenanigans. Unfortunately, because of a little hiccup in the transition, the next book will not be coming out in November as originally announced but sometime in either December or January. As soon as we have a hard release date, I’ll post it. In the meantime, check out the fantastic cover created by the amazing Adam Horsepool!


As if winning a First Horizon Award from the Eric Hoffer Awards for Small, Independent, and Academic Press Books wasn’t enough, yesterday I found out they’ve named A Dreadful Fairy Book the winner of their Middle Reader Award for 2019! I’m so honored, humbled, and grateful. That plus finishing copy edits on the second book in the Those Dreadful Fairy Books series has made this a pretty darn good week!