Birthmarked Turns Five

BirthMarked Novel Book CoverBirthmarked was released five years ago this week, on March 30th, 2010, when I was on a leave from teaching and trying to decide whether I should resign for good. My agent, Kirby Kim, told me to have faith in myself and my writing, but I was concerned that my novel wouldn’t sell and my writing career would be over with my first YA novel. “Don’t worry,” he said. “Birthmarked will have a long tail.”

He meant that Gaia’s story might not start with a flash, but it would keep… Continue reading

The Brave People

A young female Washington Grey cadet prepares to rappel down a cliff

Washington GREYS on Breakneck Ridge Trail, Memorial Day 2014

A group of Washington GREYS military cadets was preparing to rappel down the face of a cliff at Breakneck Ridge in the Hudson Highlands State Park on Memorial Day. I cringed with vicarious fear and watched to be inspired. Then I remembered the military men and women of my family who have trained and served.

Why are some people brave? How can I be more like them?

When I write about courageous people like Gaia and Rosie, I test my own… Continue reading

Spotlight on Gaia Stone: Teen, Midwife, Idealist, Rebel, Leader

It’s impossible to sort out my thoughts about Gaia from my feelings about her to write anything objective on her as a character. I thought I could do a profile about her, but that feels too detached, too clinical. It involves seeing her from the outside like a reporter, which I can’t do because I only know her from the inside out. I thought of doing an interview with her. After all, I once asked Chardo Will a few questions while he was working on his barn, but even Will… Continue reading

Telling Time

One of my worst memories of third grade was when Sr. Mary Frances asked me to go check what time it was for her.  A small clock was on the counter near the sink, so I went over to look, but I couldn’t read what the hands were telling me.  I didn’t yet know how to tell time.  Sister sent over my friend Leslie to help me, and Leslie knew right away what time it was.  She told me, I told the teacher, we went back… 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

Tackling the Romance

Oops. Cliche.

Someone asked me recently how far my characters would go.  It made me laugh.  Gaia’s sixteen, and there are two more books in the trilogy, so theoretically, where she could go romantically and physically is pretty wide open.  I was thinking of ninth graders when I first wrote Birthmarked, so I was surprised when it was published for age group 12+ because I knew that meant that avid ten-year-old readers would find their way to my book, and they have.  Then again,… Continue reading