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Early Ideas

An old fashioned hand drill.I’ve spent the past few weeks testing out possible ideas for my next novel, and as of today, none of them is the right one. This doesn’t mean I have failed. I simply need to keep exploring.

I once had an art teacher who assigned 100 watercolor paintings of the same object to be done in a week. It seemed like a lot of paintings. I picked an old fashioned drill, the kind that works by spinning a crank. Accustomed to working slowly and deliberately, I started out that way,… Continue reading

The Leafless Time

A lone tree by the shore at Harkness Memorial State Park

Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, CT, March 2017

In case you haven’t noticed, we in New England spend half of each year without leaves. This allows for countless opportunities to appreciate the moody grace of our trees. Here’s one, for instance, overlooking the churlish waves of Long Island Sound. Note, too, how nicely it compliments the leaden sky and dingy, dormant grass.

Gloomy? Of course. But it’s the kind of gloom that inspires and transports. I’m reminded that Heathcliff’s name was a combination of heath (the habitat), and cliff (a… Continue reading

Open Paths

A shoveled path through the snow.When I turned in my manuscript of The Keep of Ages last Friday for it to go to copy edits, I was so elated with the book and so pleased to reach the milestone that I went out for hot chocolate with my husband to celebrate, and later in my chorus rehearsal, I sang exuberantly. It is amazing to reach a point with a story, after months and months of labor, when I’m deeply satisfied with the work and excited to see it moving onto the next stage. The energy… Continue reading

The Next Stage

Marginalia from my editor, in blue

I’m in a close editing stage now where I have marginal notes from my editor who has given me feedback at the sentence level for The Keep of Ages. It’s a shifting puzzle. If, for instance, my editor suggests that I move a greeting from the bottom of an airplane ramp to the top of the ramp, I may discover in the process that I have a character on stage too early, and I need to rework the passage to make it… Continue reading

Keeping Journals

Journal, 1975

Journal entry: New Year’s Day, 1975

Writing your thoughts down in private is a nifty way to discover what you think, especially if you’re puzzling through something complicated or emotionally charged. Recording events lets you relive them with a double ownership. Putting the words on paper or typing them letter by letter focuses your attention into concrete expression, and at the same time, it frees the mind to go racing ahead toward the next idea. It’s at once liberating and therapeutic.

By contrast, reading a journal can be a mixed… Continue reading

The Organized Writer: 8 Tips

writer tips for organizationMark Twain liked to write in bed.

I picture him there with his cigar ashes, his coffee, and his crumby sheets, and I know I couldn’t do that. I need a certain degree of order around me in order to be productive, and though I’m a seat-of-the-pantser in terms of plot, that doesn’t mean I’m without systems. If you’re a writer, too, you might find the following organizing tips helpful.

  1. Plan time to write. Many writers have a writing routine, like so many hours a day, or word counts. It… Continue reading

Caragh's Latest Favorite Reads

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Every Day
The Dog Stars
The Reinvention of Edison Thomas
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The Fault in Our Stars
Two of a Kind
Until It Hurts to Stop


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Audio Books

The audio books of BIRTHMARKED, PRIZED, PROMISED, and THE VAULT OF DREAMERS have been released by Tantor Audio. They're available through Tantor, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Audible.com.

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