Selected Works

A Rather Adult 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 middle grade novel
A collection of essays about Fairy Tales

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Transformations in Writing

Another Emotional Boy with a Story to Tell

February 21, 2013

Tags: Beetle Boy, Writing Life, Boy Narrators

Manuscript for Beetle Boy
I have sold Beetle Boy to Carolrhoda Lab and I am so happy about it. It is another novel narrated by a sensitive boy--like Nate Wilson, tortured but noble in his integrity and his compassion. It has set me to thinking about why I am now so much more comfortable writing in the voice of such a boy--Pete Shelton, Nate Wilson and now Charlie--especially considering that my earlier novels were so girl-centered (a good example: The Melinda Zone). Perhaps it is the adolescent boys I have known since I first started writing for teenagers and my appreciation for their struggle. Somehow I believe in a wellspring of romanticism and emotional innocence in boys that no longer seems possible for girls, given what society asks of girls in the 21st century. Girls need to be harder, more wary, more defensive, more angry. With a boy, I can create a reluctant warrior, a sweeter creature torn by sexual longings and sexual ignorance. An adolescent confused about manhood and yet wanting to be manly in the best sense of the word. That is Charlie. I am so fortunate to have a manly editor to keep me in line regarding Charlie's voice and Charlie's dilemma. Think there is another essay in here somewhere.

February is best for Deep Writing

February 9, 2013

Tags: Writing Life

A recent discovery: January is still too post-holiday hectic. Withdrawal from family is impossible and unwanted. But February. Everything slows and whitens and stills in the February cold. The new novel hums. Writing about 3 new pages a day. I know, not very much, but A LOT of writing for the tortoise of a writer that is me.

Return to Juvie

February 4, 2013

Tags: 4 Secrets, Writing Life

Talking to residents about how I wrote FOUR SECRETS
One of the highlights of a quiet January was spending an afternoon at the Ottawa County Juvenile Detention Center, the facility that I used as the setting for my novel. The experience was, from beginning to end, almost unbearably meaningful. 30 kids at the JVC had read the novel and had questions for me about plotting and characters. Most of the questions were WHY questions; WHY did I write Nate's journal in the language I chose; WHY did I make Renata an artist. It was a perfect opportunity to talk about decision-making in writing. We talked a lot about the illustrations. At the end of my presentation, each student gave me a thank you note in the shape of a crow. A few girls lingered at the end of the afternoon, wanting their picture taken with me. They were just girls. They were just kids. My heart sang with gratitude for the rest of the day. Special thanks to Carmen Dahlhoff for all her good work to make this happen.