Writing Space Within

The labyrinth at Hammonasset State Park, January 2018

I came upon a haiku I wrote while I was working on the Birthmarked trilogy, and it felt like a message to myself across time. It exactly captures the sense of my mind opening up with new space while I’m writing, and the doubleness I feel when my characters come alive.

Why I Write

Where Gaia calls one
side of me to the other
the wasteland opens

2nd Pass Pages for Keep of Ages

This weekend, I finished going over the 2nd Pass Pages of The Keep of Ages and sent them back to my editor. I thought I’d just be reading through the novel in its final perfect form, but I still found things that needed changing, and not just switching “west” to “south” and such. I few lines of dialogue needed finessing, and a distant relative in Calgary who remained as a mention from an earlier draft needed cutting. I don’t know if anyone else would ever notice such tiny things, but… Continue reading

Dressing Up

Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective, Exhibit at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, May 2016

Dressing up in real life is not something I find especially gratifying, but in my mind, I love it. I adore the idea of breezy blue dresses and guys in tuxedos. I can easily picture smooth, polished people swirling around a dance floor, confident and graceful, with a live band in the background and colored lights flitting over bare arms and white collars.

I can’t be alone. When I think of all the YA… Continue reading

Double Voices



Before I wrote Birthmarked, I worked on a novel that contained five points of view, all following different members of the same family in crisis. It was a worthy experiment, but I swore afterward that I’d never try it again. I couldn’t make all the perspectives equally compelling. I felt like I was shortchanging each character, and the collective honesty I was aiming for didn’t resonate enough.

Imagine, then, my surprise when I started writing The Rule of Mirrors and discovered I could not write it from only… Continue reading

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

Talking Dystopias with Eighth Graders

Photo credit: Hartford Public Schools

Photo credit: Hartford Public Schools

I had a great visit with 38 Eighth Graders at the Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School in Hartford this winter.  The students, in a unit on dystopian societies, had a choice of reading Birthmarked, The Hunger Games, or The Giver, and we tackled student questions like, “Do you think our society is becoming more dystopian, or less?”  (More, was the consensus, but we have no shortage of hope for the future.)

Each student wrote his or her name on… Continue reading

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