Slush Pile Code

Warning.  This is not an inspirational post for the faint of heart.

I believe in the slush pile.  It’s one of the purest forms of meritocracy left to us.  You don’t get credit for effort.  It doesn’t count that your work shows promise.  It doesn’t matter that your teacher gave it an A or that you earned your MFA. The slush pile makes no apologies and accepts no excuses: if your manuscript isn’t good enough, it doesn’t get out of the pile.

The clear simplicity… Continue reading

Beast and the Beauty

No one prepared me for the day strangers would be unfriendly to me, and it happened when I most needed a smile.  I was a young mom, haggard, sleep-deprived, and hauling my newborn in an awkward child-seat-carrier that looked like a piece of space-age armor.  It happened in some innocuous, anonymous setting like a bank or a grocery store, when I needed to make some uneventful transaction.  The person behind the counter was not especially rude—I’d certainly encountered bluntly rude people before and I knew what that… Continue reading

Note to Self

When you keep erasing as many pages as you write each day, and you keep going in wrong directions, don’t think that you’re not making progress, because you are.  It’s just thinking progress, not pages progress, and when you eventually identify that you’ve put your main character in a position of power and influence where her problems are global rather than personal, then add in some guards and get someone arrested, preferably her.

You might think you would know by now the absolute basic rule of fiction: make things… Continue reading

The Potters’ Daughter: Emily at Twelve

This is a bit story about characters from the world of Birthmarked.  I wrote this “new beginnings” story in honor of Eve’s Fan Garden, which is celebrating its one year anniversary this week.  I’m also joining their live chat on Thursday, January 20, at 8:30 EST if you’d like to drop by.  Happy Birthday, Eve’s Fan Garden!

As Emily braced her palm against the pottery wheel and started it spinning, her foot picked up the rhythm of pressure on the treadle to keep it going. … Continue reading

Tenners Library Giveaway

Librarians! Public and school librarians are invited to enter a giveaway of 55 novels by the Tenners, middle grade and young adult writers whose debuts were published in 2010. The contest is free and open until February 15, 2011.  Details are on the Tenners site.

As one of the Tenners, I’m extremely grateful to librarians who have been so supportive of teen reading and new authors. Best of luck!

Books included in the giveaway are:

The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff
All Unquiet Things by… Continue reading


I am absolutely delighted that Birthmarked has been chosen for the Amelia Bloomer Project 2011 and the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adult 2011 lists.

Alice M. O'Brien

Alice M. O'Brien, my great aunt, (with her dough-messed hands hidden) served in the Red Cross in France during WWI. A feminist to the core, she would be proud about the Bloomer list.

The Amelia Bloomer Project recommends feminist literature for readers from birth to age 18, and I’m particularly happy that Gaia’s story, where a girl is strong because of her midwifery and her… 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

Caragh's books »

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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
Book Trailer for Promised