Selected Works

A Young Adult Novel, 2014
A Young Adult novel, 2012
Adults and Young Adults
A 2010 Green Earth Book Awards Honor Book
Younger Readers
A new twist to a very old story. Beautifully illustrated by Heather Solomon.
A tall tale from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Winner of the 2002 Charlotte Zolotow Award for best writing in a picture book. Available in hardcover and paperback.
Works in Progress
A new YA novel
A collection of essays about Fairy Tales

Quick Links

Transformations in Writing

My first customer review of FOUR SECRETS

August 29, 2012

Tags: Four Secret, reviews

Customer Review posted on AMAZON: By Pig_Weasley (USA) - This review is from: Four Secrets (Carolrhoda Ya) (Hardcover)
"This book explores the power that secrets have and the danger of sharing them with the wrong person. Katie, Nate, and Renata are all in juvenile detention for kidnapping the most popular boy in school, Chase Dobson. Their counselor wants to help them and prepare them for their upcoming trial, but the 3 friends have made a pact to never tell what really happened in the days that Chase was hidden in Renata's basement room. Through the journals that the counselor gives each teen, the true story emerges, as well as the secrets that each has been desperately trying to hide. The different perspectives of the teens, as well as the counselor, made the book seem more fleshed out. The reader gets multiple sides of the story. One character's contributions are almost entirely drawings, while another creates a fantasy life to distance himself from events in his life. Overall, a satisfying read that will hook teen readers from the start. "

The Me Who Wrote THE BIGGER BOOK OF LYDIA

August 24, 2012

Tags: writing life, writing process

Long ago...it must be...
More nostalgia. The jacket flap photo from my first novel. My daughter had just been born. Now she is expecting her first child, a girl. Beloved daughter. Expectant and full of new life and the same age I was when I had her. The baby will be named Beatrice, after Chloe's grandmother. And she will be very, very clever.

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Something I Realized About Journals

August 24, 2012

Tags: 4 secrets, writing life, writing process

The Bigger Book of Lydia
Today I realized something that brought a smile to my face. The very first novel I ever wrote, way back in the eighties, THE BIGGER BOOK OF LYDIA, had a crucial journal in it, a survival manifesto. Lydia's journal was about not fading away, not disappearing. In FOUR SECRETS, Renata also has a journal and it helps her to survive in Juvie. They are both artists and they both survive the trauma of their situations via their precious journals. It felt like a kind of full circle, an accidental one. I felt happy about this coincidence all day.

And also a little nostalgic for the early days of my chosen profession, before the internet, a time of innocence, a time of confidence.

From The Entertainment Report: Petrucelli Picks

August 13, 2012

Tags: 4 Secrets

Excerpt from Petrucelli Picks Review:

"In FOUR SECRETS, award-winning author Margaret Willey explores this hot-button topic (bullying) from a fresh perspective. Told through a series of journal entries by three outsider teens while locked up in juvenile detention and using graphic illustrations to depict key scenes, the relatable characters with their not-so-ordinary secrets will engage readers from the first page."

read the whole post here

Lovely Blog Review

August 10, 2012

Tags: 4 secrets, reviews

The setting of FOUR SECRETS
Very happy about this. Especially love this part:

"Each of the four major characters is hiding a secret (hence the title, obviously) and my favorite part is that I didn't guess any of the secrets. That's pretty rare and when a book can completely blindside me, I fall a little bit in love with it. There's a lot to love with this novel, too."

Highly recommended. --Kelly Hager

Read the review here

Kelly Hager's Blog

Illustration by Bill Hauser

The Social Worker

August 9, 2012

Tags: 4 Secrets, Summer of Silk Moths, Bullies

Mrs. Shield, The Great She
Katie's Journal: "I like Mrs. Sheild, Journal. I like that she doesn't seem upset or shocked that I'm actually in juvie. She doesn't treat me like a criminal, she just talks to me really straight, no feeling sorry for me, no tears."

Nate's Journal: "I am lost, Great She. I don't know how much longer I can last in here. I wish I could tell you everything, but there is danger all around me and it will be worse when I get out if I do not keep my promises."

(NOTE: Many thanks to editor Andrew Karre for helping me to remember that 4 Secrets is not about Greta Shield's secrets, not her story at all; the quest belongs to the three young "prisoners," despite her devotion to them.)

My dear friend Virginia Gordon, to whom FOUR SECRETS is dedicated, made me promise that I would not redeem the cruel and desperate bully, Chase Dobson, who is responsible for the chain of events that lead his 3 victims to juvenile detention. She knew me well, to make me promise that. She knew that I have an ongoing impulse in my work to transform/reform my characters, as I did with Nora in SUMMER OF SILK MOTHS. She was right on this one. Thank you, Ginny. I miss you.

Illustration by Bill Hauser

The Crows

August 6, 2012

Tags: Four Secrets

bad luck
The Social Worker to Renata: "I noticed that there is a crow in each of your drawings. Is the crow another totem?"

Renata: "Crows symbolize bad luck, Mrs. Shield. I have had some very bad luck lately."

The Girl

August 3, 2012

Tags: Renata, Four Secrets, Carolrhoda Lab

Renata, self-portrait
Renata to Mrs. Shield, the Social Worker: "I still dream about that hallway. I still see their terrible faces and still feel their angry thoughts around me. I feel how much they wanted to hurt me."

Renata to Nate: "Sometimes I see things that have already happpened. But it's kind of a jumble. It can be very noisy and confusing." She closed her eyes. "Please tell me that you believe me."

from FOUR SECRETS, Carolrhoda Lab, October 1


Illustrations by Bill Hauser