Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Research and writing

I'm outlining and researching a new novel, set on the island and elsewhere in Britain in Jane Austen's time.  One of the characters is super-interested in fashion I'm having enormous fun looking at clothes from the period -- these are from Fashions in the Era of Jane Austen, available on Kindle for only $6!

But researching and reading  is a LOT easier than writing an exciting story, and I don't want to let the research become an excuse for not writing......so I'm limiting myself to looking at these (and other fascinating objects from the time, like candidates for the miniature the heroine wears) in the evening, outlining in the morning.

Or at least that is the plan. And I won't start actually writing until both are done -- that is, when the story has reached a satisfying conclusion and the world is solid and clear.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Other Meghan McCarthys

I was trying to explain to Libby what the deal was with the "other Meghans." I figure posting this will explain the whole thing!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Paintings from Chapter two: Emma

Here are a few of my favorite paintings from the second chapter of Sprout Street Neighbors (some chapter one paintings here), featuring a rambunctious squirrel named Emma:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014



Yes, that is Drew Barrymore -- the picture was taken on the steps of my building in Boston, while they were filming Feverpitch.  The pink hat is mine, but I (wisely, I think) cropped myself out of the picture.
Ordinary people rarely come off well when photographed with celebrities -- especially when the celebrities are young, beautiful movie stars.

She didn't just happen to be holding my book -- I asked her if she would, because I thought I could use the picture somehow in marketing. As it turned out, I didn't (unless posting it at the bottom of a Web page counts). It's not as though she'd read the book -- and even if she had, how many people would buy a book because Drew Barrymore liked it? So it's probably just as well that I didn't do anything with it.

But who knows what's going to work -- or even what DID work when it comes to marketing middlegrade books. All anyone can do is try lots of different things -- and I'm only going to do things I enjoy. Then it won't be time wasted no matter what.  And sometimes the things you do just for fun are the most interesting to other people: Of all the things I've ever posted here, the one about my shepherd's hut was read the most (4,000 and something times).

That wasn't even meant to be anything but fun for me to write about. And when it comes to other people's posts, there's no pattern either: what people read most and what they didn't seems completely random (and NOT related to even what readers said were their favorites, in the days when we asked).

The most visited posts on this blog have been (in this order): Elaine's about Valerie worth's  animal poems, that shepherd's hut post of mine, Grace's moon craft festival post (about how to make a lantern for a moon festival), Alvina's Day in the Life of an Editor, and a sneak peek of Anna's sketch of a girl. Probably these were read the most because (for random reasons), other people reposted them......and that was just chance.

That's probaby how a lot of marketing is: chance and timing. But it wasn't all chance that Drew Barrymore was holding my book. When they were leaving letters at every mailbox on Marlborough Street looking for her apartment in Feverpitch, I was the only person who responded!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Paintings from Sprout Street Neighbors

Here are a few of my favorites from the first chapter of Sprout Street Neighbors, the chapter book I've been working on. It's been a lot of fun painting without color, it sort of frees me up to think more about the values, textures, and patterns in a painting. I like spending time in this cozy black and white world.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Never finished, only abandoned?

Stephen King says that novels (or any work of art) are never finished, only abandoned -- but I think sometimes you DO feel done. People have asked me how you know when you are, and I've answered that question differently than I'm about to now  -- even here on this blog when no one was asking! Maybe the answer is different for each book.

The novel I sent to my agent last week (for the fourth time!) feels really and truly done because I've stopped thinking about it. Oh, I still wonder each time I check my email if I'll have heard back from her --but I would be surprised if she asked me to do anything else. And all the space in my head that was taken up imagining scenes or revising them has been wiped clean.

Sometimes after finishing something it feels like a loss, but now I'm glad to be able to concentrate on wherever I am and whatever I'm doing  -- like weeding my herb garden:

The mint is from last year, the window frame was given to me by someone here, so I can start seeds under glass. And maybe preparing the ground to sow seeds is where I am in my writing now, too: not ready to start a new novel yet but getting ready -- another way I know I'm done with this one!

Monday, March 17, 2014


I'm working on a "how to" and this is the sped up version...