news writers schools contact kid books teen books about


Since when does autumn start in August?

This is my backyard.

All those dots?


What do children know about past lives?

Yesterday my four year old said, "One day I will be 91 and then I will die and then it will be my next life."

It was so out of the blue it was hard not to feel like he was having some sort of prophetic moment. I'm not a big past life person either. I mean, I don't really know what happens after we die, and I don't rule it out, but it's certainly not something he's ever heard me talk about. I'm not sure where the idea came from at all. Unless...

"Do you remember your last life?" I asked him.

He put his hand on his chin and thought for a moment, eyes up in his head, really trying hard to recall. "That's the one where I wore glasses," he finally announced.

Wow. I thought. Wow. He's only four. It could be possible that he really still has a connection to what his soul did in other bodies. I started to feel all mystical. I could hear ethereal music playing at the edges of my mind.

My twelve year old piped in. "Do you remember what your name was?"

"Calvin," he answered. No hesitation.


Then my four year old looked at his big sister. "You're name was Malvin." At his big brother, "You're name was Dalvin."

Calvin, Malvin and Dalvin, huh?

I think I just got punked by a four year old.


Thoughts on Tattoos

Laurie Halse Anderson has an interesting post today. She received an email from a reader who plans to tattoo the word speak somewhere on her body, possibly neck, because of the tremendous impact Laurie's book Speak had on her. Laurie then described the tattoo she has, the first word of Beowulf, a powerful statement for a storyteller.

I've known for a long time that I'm not likely ever to get a tattoo. That's partly for religious reasons, but much more for personal ones. Now that sounds judgemental, but it's not how I mean it at all. I'm actually in awe and impressed by the above two examples. Women who have such a deep certainty about some aspect of themselves that they are ready to permanantly and publicly display it on their skin.

I'm not sure that I know myself all that well yet. Everytime I've contemplated a tattoo (or even a vanity license plate for that matter, though I know they are not the same) I cannot think of anything that so captures the essense of me that I know it will always be true. Not a word, not an image.

Now maybe I'm over thinking it.

Maybe I'm not.

Ink or no ink, however, I do look forward to the day when I feel as though I know something about myself that clearly.


How to make your writing flow

I'm taking a little break from writing 'til the kids go back to school. About a week and a half. That doesn't seem like a long time, but it will be for me. I get very antsy when I don't write. The writing process definitely acts as a release valve for me.

Why take a break from it, then you ask?

Well, that's a good question. Mostly it's because the kids are home with me all day long, and squeezing in that writing time is a bit more challenging. But it could be done, so I don't think that's the complete reason.

In order for my daily writing sessions to really flow, I think I also need a lot of thinking time. My mind likes to be rolling plot points and dialogue around at various times through out the day. This is why I sometimes can't read other books when I'm writing a first draft. Not because I'm afraid of being influenced, but because then I think about those ideas rather than my own.

With my kids home and getting ready for back to school, my thinking time is mostly on them.

I think realizing that writing takes thinking time as well as BIC is an important realization for me. In the past when life got really busy and my writing time felt pained, I didn't understand it was because of this missing thinknig time. It really helps get through the difficult writing sessions to know this.

So that's my tip for all you teachers, getting ready for back to school. I know your schedule is jam-packed, but try to give your writers a little thinking time in addition to their writing time. You might be surprised!


doing what you love

Recently I was on a panel of authors at the Deerfield Public Library (pics to come) and was asked why I love writing. The first thoughts that came to my head however were all the ways that writing is hard. The enormous mental energy it takes to get started some days. The recurring bouts of insecurity. The exhausting marathon that is revision. But even with those thoughts, there was never any doubt that I do love writing, so I've been wondering. How can that be? Well, I've come to realize that there are different ways we can love things. I love chocolate almonds. My feelings about chocolate almonds however are really different from writing. One is merely an immediate pleasure. It feels good in the moment but once I've finished the pleasure is gone. It doesn't sustain much longer than the time it takes to eat the snack. The pleasure from writing though, isn't always apparent in the moment, but the satisfaction of getting to know my characters, unknotting a tricky plot point or finishing a novel can stay with me for days or weeks. Writing isn't simply a pleasure. Its something much bigger than that.