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writing

When No One’s Watching

Strawberry plantSince I finished the third book in the Vault of Dreamers series three years ago, I’ve been writing on my own, not under contract. I’ve been free, in other words, to write whatever I want, without deadlines or expectations to pressure me. Of course, I haven’t had a significant income, either, which is not sustainable indefinitely. I’ve been writing on the speculative, eventual payment plan, working with the firm intention of completing a book that can go on submission. This is very different, however, from writing under contract, when,… Continue reading

Over the Mountain

Winter road from Mount Snow, Vermont.

Leaving Mount Snow, VT

I’m in a good place.

When I spoke to my agent a couple weeks ago, Kirby told me my latest draft has transformed my novel. The characters, he said, now leap off the page, and everything about the novel—the pacing, the world, and the plot—are all working. Certain scenes moved him deeply. In short, he loved it, and he wanted to know how I’d done what I’d done. As we talked and I explained how I’d rewritten the entire thing, taking out certain plot constraints so… Continue reading

Measuring Progress

I was thinking about the way business partners schedule monthly meetings to check up on goals and progress, and I felt a twinge of envy, wondering if I’d be more accountable to myself if I had such a meeting. A business meeting. It isn’t practical for me at all, but I realized I do want a clearer way to see my progress.

So I started a progress bar on my website, over in the right column. It doesn’t really capture total progress because it only records progress through my latest… Continue reading

Why Writing Matters

Two toddlers with bubble wandsRecently, I was invited to join the Writers Council of the National Writing Project, and for this I was asked to state why I believe writing is important. It’s a worthy question, and I chewed it over.

As I see it, three facets of writing matter: the original act of getting down a first draft, the revising puzzle, and the chance that a final result might move a reader. They’re intertwined, of course, but the real power lies in those first two stages. When we create and deepen our… Continue reading

Revisiting Tiburon

Eleven years ago, when my family was on sabbatical in Tiburon, California, I wrote Birthmarked, my first young adult novel. I would often take walks in the afternoon while my children were at school, and my path led me into the grassy hills, past Old St. Hilary’s and copious poppies. Sometimes, when I was stuck in a plot snag, the walking would loosen up a new idea for me to try, and to this day, I feel grateful to those hills.

Anchor and PoppiesI returned to the same trail for… Continue reading

Leaves

As I drove across Connecticut yesterday, the leaves west of Hartford had all just come out, making pale yellow, lacy crowns on the treetops. For mile after mile, they graced the side of the road, bright and bridal. Further east, as the road climbed, the season retreated again to bare branches, as if spring had clutched back its favors. But not for long. If you watch carefully here, you can observe a maple going green in a single day, and it spreads in wild contagion as the neighboring species catch… Continue reading

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