International Literary Fellowship Award

I have never been afraid of hard work and have always been a determined sort. Pretty consistently throughout my life, that work ethic has paid off. That includes my being awarded an international fellowship this year. I have applied to the Hawthornden Literary Retreat three times in the past decade and finally, I was chosen! This spring I will be spending four weeks in a 15th-century castle along with 4-5 other writers from around the world just outside Edinburgh in Scotland. There is no internet or cell service there, so I won’t be able to update as I go, but I will be working on my first book for adult readers titled Silent Nights, along with dabbling in a couple of picture books that have been nagging me to be written. This is such an honor and I am thrilled and excited and, okay yes,  a little bit scared, too. The whole flying over the Atlantic Ocean part – with any luck I will sleep the whole time. You can have a look at the castle and learn about the fellowship here: Hawthornden Literary Retreat

Another exciting part of the adventure is that my Scottish ancestors hail from Rosslyn Castle, the ruins of which are a mile away from where I will be staying. But the chapel is still thriving and I will get to go to Easter services there, in the same place where my ancestors did prior to the late 1700’s. Rosslyn Chapel history.

Almost Authors Free Kids Writing Camps 2022

Registration for Jackson Hole Writers  Almost Authors FREE writing conference for kids is open and we have some exceptional authors coming to mentor and inspire the kids again this year.

September 17 and 18 ~ Native author Christine Day will join John Schu for the Almost Authors day and a half kids-only writers conference on Saturday, September 17th from 10:am to 3:30pm and Sunday, September 18th from 9:am to 12:pm. The full day Saturday will be held in Hansen Hall at St. John’s Church and the half day Sunday brunch will be held under the tent behind the Center for the Arts. Free healthy snacks and lunch on Saturday, free brunch on Sunday morning with the opportunity to get one-on-one critiques and photos with the authors.

Click here to register: Almost Authors Kids Only Writers Conference 2022

Please contact Nanci Turner Steveson with any questions:



What We Did This Summer!

June 22nd, 2022 ~ Kathi Appelt is the author of more than 30 books. She writes novels, picture books, poetry, and nonfiction for children and young adults. Her books have been translated into Spanish, Chinese, French, and Swedish. Her first novel was The Underneath, illustrated by David Small and published by Simon & Schuster in 2008. For that work she received the annual Children‘s Literature award from PEN Center USA . She was also a runner-up for the National Book Award (National Book Award for Young People’s Literature finalist) and the American Library Association Newbery Medal (Newbery Honor Book).

July 20th, 2022 ~ Fantasy author Kelly Cole is coming back to Jackson! Kelly earned a scholarship to the Jackson Hole Writers Conference as a high school student. She went on to graduate from the University of Wyoming where she studied English and Creative Writing. She is working on a self-publishing career, beginning with her debut novel Daughter of War. Kelly still lives in Wyoming with her two crested geckos and her dog, Maya.

August 17th, 2022 ~ Russian author Eugene Yelchin’s middle grade novel, The Genius Under the Table, won the American Library Association’s Sydney Taylor Book Award in 2022 and tells the story of his life growing up in Cold War Russia as a boy. Eugene is both the author and the illustrator and will be teaching the kids how he uses drawings and words to create amazing books. Eugene’s books have been named Best Books of the Year by the New York Times, Amazon, National Public Radio, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, USA Today, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book, BookPage, NY Bank Street College, Booklist, Junior Library GuildNew York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and more.


Midnight at the Shelter Cover Reveal!

Finally I can share the cover of my next middle grade book, Midnight at the Shelter, coming from HarperCollins/Quill Tree Books on November 1st, 2022. I absolutely LOVE this cover! It says everything. I mean look at those adorable characters coming at you — you can tell they are on a Very Important Mission, right? And they are. They have a shelter full of dogs to save and it’s the middle of the night. What could possibly be happening? So many questions, but this illustration makes me want to jump right into the scene and go with them.

From the jacket cover:

“After a hard life on the streets, rescue dog MahDi is content to help his owner, a veterinarian he knows as “MomDoc,” with her important work at the local animal shelter. The two of them make a good team, protecting the dogs in the neighborhood, and finding perfect homes for all of the animals who need them. Though lately, more animals have come through the shelter than usual—and MomDoc is getting worried that things are getting too crowded.

When they are suddenly down a staff member, the shelter has to deal with Huck, an unpleasant man who clearly doesn’t like animals.  Which is fine; MahDi doesn’t like him either. Except that Huck seems to have no problem threatening the creatures he’s supposed to care for. And if MomDoc isn’t around, who knows what Huck might do?

With three perfectly good legs, the heart of a true leader, and his fellow pets Ozzie and Domino by his side, MahDi is determined to do whatever it takes to keep his pack safe.”


“Oh, if only we could see it all from a dogs’-eye view. Maybe we’d understand more fully the importance of kindness, a full plate of kibble, and a loving human to seal the deal.  By the end, I wanted to adopt all of the dogs in this story. I’d put them in charge of the world, whereupon they’d make us take long walks together and pay better attention to those around us. It’s that kind of book: a game changer for any creature who’s ever been lost or found or both.” ~ Kathi Appelt author of Newbery Honor book The Underneath

“Nanci Turner Steveson sagely delivers all the feels through well-crafted, cinematic scenes. From hard losses to the triumphs of finding home again, each creature—canine and human—takes their unique journey to the ultimate gift of unconditional love. Truly unforgettable!” ~Leslie Connor, author of National Book Award Finalist, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle and Anybody Here Seen Frenchie? 


Special Occasion Baklava Recipe

You will need:

  • 13X9” non-stick pan (I have a pan I use only for baklava)
  • Pastry brush
  • Food processor or plastic bag and hammer or rolling pin
  • Sharp knife
  • Cupcake papers
  • 1 box – 16 oz phyllo dough thawed (in fridge for 1-2 days) 


  • 2+ cups butter, melted
  • 1 lb mix of walnuts and pecans, finely chopped (1 lb = 4 cups, I tend to use more)
  • 1 TBL Saigon cinnamon 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 TBL fresh squeezed lemon (I use one large lemon)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup honey (better quality makes a difference)
  • 1 hefty teaspoon real vanilla extract


  • Thaw phyllo in fridge at least overnight, then put box on counter for 1 hour before starting to bring it to room temperature. Each box should have two separate rolls with a total of about 40 sheets. These will be wrapped in wax paper inside the box.
  • Crush your walnuts and pecans. You can use a food processor, or if you are like me, I don’t have one of those so I put them 1 cup at a time in a plastic or paper bag, then I hit it on the counter using a rolling pin or a hammer until they are mostly fine ground. The plastic bag will rip so you can put it in between layers of newspaper to keep that from happening if you want. Put crushed nuts into a bowl and mix with the Saigon cinnamon. 
  • Put butter into a medium pan on low heat to melt slowly.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Start With Honey Sauce:

  • In medium saucepan combine sugar, honey, water, lemon juice and vanilla. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, on medium-high heat. Once it is boiling, keep stirring until the sugar is melted. Then reduce heat to medium-low and gently boil an additional 4 minutes *without stirring*. Remove from heat and let it cool without touching it. 


  • Wet a kitchen towel and lay on the counter. Unroll the first roll of phyllo and trim to fit your pan. (You do not have to trim this, I just fold over the ends that are too long for the pan, but some people prefer it to be neat and tidy. If you trim, you can use the excess in places where the phyllo might rip).
  • Cover the stack of phyllo with the damp towel or it will dry out right away. Best to leave the wax paper between the towel and the phyllo in case the towel is too damp. Each time you use a sheet of the phyllo, you will cover the rest with the towel while you are working with the other sheet.
  • Brush the bottom and sides of your 13X9” pan with some melted butter.
  • Lay one piece of phyllo on bottom of the pan (be sure you cover the stack with the wet towel while working). Brush the first sheet with butter before adding the next. You will butter each piece of phyllo individually. (Place phyllo sheet into pan, cover the stack with damp towel, brush the sheet in the pan with butter, and repeat until you have ten sheets layered).  Don’t worry if a piece breaks or ends up crooked in the pan. Any that clings to the side of the pan you can just fold over onto the top – phyllo is tricky but in the end it doesn’t matter if it is perfectly laid out.   
  • After you have ten sheets buttered in the pan, spread about 1/5 the nut mixture on top of these layers. Scatter about. It won’t cover the entire pan fully. 
  • Add five more sheets of phyllo, buttering each one before adding the next, then add another layer of the nut/cinnamon mixture. 
  • Do this a total of 4 times and the nut mixture will be gone. 
  • Finish layering and buttering the last 10 sheets of phyllo. Brush the top generously with butter. (I always end up using a lot more butter than the recipe calls for but that is a personal preference).
  • With a very sharp knife, cut through the pastry to the bottom of the pan in 1 1/2” strips. You’ll need to hold the phyllo down as you cut so this process is a little slow, but take your time. After cutting into strips, then cut diagonally across the pan to form diamond shapes. 
  • Bake on middle rack in oven at 325 for about 1 hour 15 minutes. I always have ovens that aren’t perfect so I start checking at about 45 minutes. You want the top to be a nice golden brown. Too pale and it will be chewy. 
  • Remove from the oven and immediately spoon the cooled honey mixture evenly over the hot baklava. You will hear it sizzle – this ensures it stays crisp rather than soggy. Be sure you let some drizzle down into the cut lines.
  • Let the baklava cool completely uncovered at room temperature so the syrup can penetrate and soften the layers – 6 hours or overnight. 
  • Once completely cool, run your knife through where you already cut in between each piece to be sure they are severed from each other. Lift out gently and place into cupcake papers, OR leave in the pan at room temperature covered with a dry tea towel for up to two weeks. 

When I know I am going to freeze the baklava, I use extra honey-liquor because freezing dries it out a little. 


  • 10 sheets buttered individually then 3/4 cup (ish) nut/cinnamon mixture
  • 5 sheets buttered individually then 3/4 cup (ish) nut/cinnamon mixture
  • 5 sheets buttered individually then 3/4 cup (ish) nut/cinnamon mixture
  • 5 sheets buttered individually then 3/4 cup (ish) nut/cinnamon mixture
  • 5 sheets buttered individually then 3/4 cup (ish) nut/cinnamon mixture
  • 10 buttered sheets and butter the top

Class at the Writing Barn

I will be teaching an online class through the Writing Barn, called “Making it Through the Middle: Getting Your Story Unstuck.” I can help you tackle those pages and pages in the middle of your novel where you lose readers because the energy dropped out of your story.

Learn more about the class and register here!

Horses I Have Loved

Before I was an author, before almost anything else in my life, I was a horse-girl. Still am. My kitchen has halters on the counter, my shirts have horses on them, my boots are dusty from the paddock, and I probably have a bit of hay in my hair. These are a few of the horses I have loved. Send me an email and tell me about yours!


My dad bought LoreLei for me when we first moved to Texas. I was thirteen and she was three. This horse and I cantered down the streets of Houston in the dark of night and I never once questioned her ability to take care of me. I had her for seventeen years until she passed away from one of the first cases of Potomac Horse Fever in Texas.


This rascal was one of the most beloved ponies I have ever had the honor of knowing. He came to be a school pony at a horse farm I managed in Maryland, but he was fresh and untrained and when the back of the trailer opened, he bolted from within and ran for the woods. Fortunately, he ended up in a paddock near the edge of the woods where he lived for three weeks before I could get my hands on him. Tugboat was the inspiration for Fire in Lizzie Flying Solo. He will always be the pony of my heart.


In the early 1980’s I managed an Arabian horse breeding farm in TX. Twenty-two years later, a granddaughter of the horses I handled was born in New Jersey. Two years after that, I came across this filly on an equine for sale site on the internet and knew I had to go see her. She was too young for the type of horse I wanted at the time, but when she turned around in the stall and looked at me, I knew I wasn’t going to leave that farm without her. We have been partners ever since. Our favorite ride is up this mountain where she is standing in the photo, full of aspen groves, lodgepole forests, and miles of a mountainside heavy with fragrant sage. I am so lucky to have both my beloved Dallas and this beautiful place I call home.


Sonnet lived in the wild outside Burns, Oregon until she was close to seven years old when she was “gathered” and brought to live in pens at the BLM facility. The first time I saw her photo, I fell in love with that face and drove fourteen hours to Oregon to get her, to let her come live a quiet life in my fields.

My Love for Animals

When my mother gave me a doll for Christmas one year, I cut off its blond hair and glued it to the neck of my plastic horse so it would be warm over the chilly winter. I was an animal lover from birth and have had literally thousands of different pets over the years – horses, ponies, dogs, cats, bunnies, fish, birds, you name it. Right now my horse, Dallas, an Arabian I have had fifteen years since she was a baby, lives in the barn at my house. I am ruled by a fluffy white Akbash dog named Sufi, and a cat I adore. Strangely, cats are the one animal I have never been extremely fond of until Kitty came into my life two years ago. I also have a mountainside full of birds, raptors, elk, moose, bear, coyotes, foxes (both a red fox and a silver fox), bald eagles, Great Grey Owls, mountain lions, and wolves out the back door.

My Inspirations

Robert Frost said, “A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a homesickness or a love sickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment.” This is exactly how I feel and where I find inspiration — a memory that keeps rising up in my heart; a place that offered me a wonderful sensory experience; words overheard that resonated with me; a facial expression; a beautiful moment, a sad moment, an exhilarating moment. I am very inspired by nature and often by characters in other books who I love.

Turning Points of My Life

  • When I was three I went on vacation to Donegal, Ireland where I rode a pony for the first time. Ask me anything about that experience, I remember every detail and have been a horse-girl ever since.
  • At age nine, I read Black Beauty. When I closed the book I knew I would become an author, and I would write books for kids. It took me longer than I planned, but here I am! I still have my worn copy of that book.
  • I was twenty-four years old when my first son, Parker, was born. My second son, James, was born when I was twenty-nine. Being a mother is the best and most important job I have ever had. Writing books for children is a close second.
  • In 2009 my family experienced a life-altering event when one of my son’s had a critical illness that required life support. After he was out of the hospital six months later, I was so grateful for his life that I started the Literacy for Hope Project which is dedicated to getting books into the hands of homeless people.
  • Even though people told me I was crazy, I was fifty-five years young when the mountains in western Wyoming called to me. I moved across the country by myself to live near them. It was only after I moved that I realized this was truly home and I probably should have been living near these mountains my whole life.
  • I signed my first publishing contract with HarperCollins when I was fifty-six years old. My first book, Swing Sideways, was published two years later at the ripe age of fifty-eight. So don’t ever let anyone say it is too late to do what you always dreamed of doing. It just isn’t true.