Facebook, Amigas, and a Foreign Rights Deal

Thanks to the Internet, I’ve become friends with Eva Rubio, a university student in Salamanca, Spain, who blogged enthusiastically about Birthmarked last summer.  Eva was determined for Birthmarked to be translated into Spanish, so she and her friend Rocío Muñoz started a Facebook page aptly named Queremos que Birthmarked de Caragh M. O’Brien sea publicado en España and started collecting followers.  I thought they were unbelievably nice, but I didn’t hold out much hope.

When my family made plans to visit Salamanca last summer, Eva and I… Continue reading

French Dreams

Birthmarked in France, February 11

J’ai oublié presque tous ce que j’ai appris quand j’étais une étudiante à Paris il y a plusieurs décennies, mais parfois même maintenant je rêve en français et sens le mélange de l’échappement d’autobus, du pain, et des arbres d’eucalyptus sous la pluie. Maintenant, ma fille est une étudiante à Rennes, la même ville où Helène Bury la traductrice de Birthmarked vit. Nous allons prendre le café ensemble, nous trois, quand je visite la France en mars.

L’édition de mon livre en français sera publiée… Continue reading


More than a few readers have written to tell me they’re surprised by the vocabulary in Birthmarked, enough so that I was unsurprised to be in another conversation about “avuncular” last Friday.  We love our words, don’t we?  Especially the fun and pithy ones.

My bookmarks for Birthmarked list favorite words from the novel.

When I’m writing and revising, I consult a couple of dictionaries and a thesaurus regularly.  Often I have the meaning of something in mind but the first word that surfaces doesn’t have… Continue reading

Slush Pile Part Deux

Birthmarked wasn’t in the slush pile for long—two months—but that’s where it started.  What I knew about the process of trying to sell a novel was based on my failures with my literary novels (see previous post: Slush Pile Code) and my success with six romances I’d published (agentless) before I became a teacher.  I had no experience with children’s publishing whatsoever and no contacts, but there’s a way in for unknown people like me: through the slush pile.

I knew one thing for certain: the only… 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

Hidden Danger: Point of View (POV)

My happiest discovery about point of view (POV) happened back in college, when my professor assigned Lorrie Moore’s “How To Be an Other Woman” and I fell in love with 2nd person.  Moore’s irresistible story begins with the directive “Meet in expensive beige raincoats, on a pea-soupy night” and has a neglected, lovelorn protagonist who reminds herself: “You don’t have to put up with this: you were second runner-up at the Junior Prom.”

Some of us are not Lorrie Moore and cannot pull off 2nd person… Continue reading