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

From the Blog of Andrew Karre, Editor for Beetle Boy!

August 11, 2014

Tags: Beetle Boy, Carolrhoda Lab, Four Secrets, Writing Life

My editor at Carolrhoda Lab posted a wonderful blog last week about the special gifts of what he called "the long view," a nice way of commending older writers who continue bringing unique visions to their sometimes formulaic genres. He also commends The Horn Book Magazine for its historic reach and appreciation for good literature regardless of trends. The blog is here.

Thank you to Andrew Karre at Carolrhoda Lab Books.

Essay about Writing Four Secrets

April 1, 2014

Tags: Four Secrets, Bullying, Writing process

The Fall 2013 ALAN Review
I have posted a PDF of my Guest Column in the Fall 2013 ALAN Review on both the home page and the FOUR SECRETS page of my website. The essay traces the long and winding road that eventually led me to an illustrated novel for middle grade readers (a crime novel, some have said). It includes my own experience as the mother of a daughter who was bullied in high school and who didn't tell me what was happening (something awful) for a very long time.

"Why are they doing this to me, Mom. Is there something wrong with me?"

Proud of this essay & realizing that it feels in some ways like a goodbye to the process of writing FOUR SECRETS as I move into the territory of a different sort of bullying, the parental kind, and a very different novel. Beetles are coming.


June 28, 2013

Tags: writing life, new novel, Four Secrets

revising a new novel
I have been thinking a lot about conclusions and concluding chapters and final paragraphs and final sentences as I mentally prepare to revise and polish what will be my next novel, published by Carolrhoda Lab in 2014. I read a fine and feisty blog review of my novel FOUR SECRETS; the reviewer said, as many reviewers have said, "I could not put this one down." She also says in the review that "the ending wasn't 100% satisfying."

This got me to thinking about HOW MANY TIMES in my 30-year writing career I have heard this sort of remark about my novels. I would have to say that at least every one of my now nine novels has had a reviewer or a reader express reservations about the way I conclude a novel--saying that not every issue in the novel is clearly resolved. With this goes an assumption that I have somehow been careless about my ending(s). When in fact I obsess and revise and rework my final chapters to the word, making the story's ending EXACTLY as I want it--suggestive of resolution and transformation but not hard and fast. Not crystal clear. For some, not 100% satisfying. I find myself wondering if this will also be said about my new novel. It doesn't matter. My favorite novels always end mysteriously, suggestively, with subtle arrows pointing toward hope and new awareness. And this is the way I write them. This is they way I conclude them. This is how I roll.

Holiday Recommendation from the Connecticut Library Consortium

December 12, 2012

Tags: Four Secrets

The Connecticut Library Consortium has recommended FOUR SECRETS as a Book for Holiday Giving. Hooray! See all the CLC's TOP PICK recommendations here

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

Writing about FOUR SECRETS

June 22, 2012

Tags: Four Secrets, writing process

Here are various topics that I have been sketching essays for: 10 Things You Didn't Know about Juvenile Detention, The Bullied Child as Hero, Bullies in Classic Literature about Growing Up, and Facing Up to your Inner Bully. This last one is based on my belief that we all engage in bullying behavior sometimes in the process of becoming adults and learning compassion. What's scary is how rarely adults reflect on their own guilt and cowardice when faced with the subject of bullying. Everybody has tough school memories: being bullied, observing bullying, ignoring routine cruelty, refusing to intervene out of apathy or fear. All stuff I am so interested in. Great summer project, along with writing autobiographical essays on the theme of various fairy tales that comforted me and freaked me out as a child.

Discussion Guide

June 18, 2012

Tags: Four Secrets, Carolrhoda Lab

Discussion Guide recently created by Carolrhoda Lab for FOUR SECRETS:

see it here


June 11, 2012

Tags: Four Secrets, Carolrhoda Lab

Crows & Secrets
These came in the mail while I was at Mothfest in Indiana, surprising me. Glossy and stark and bundled--hundreds of bookmarks. I think they are beautiful. Can't wait to hand them out--take one! take one!

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

April 8, 2012

Tags: autobiographical short stories, Four Secrets, writing

This song is an anthem for one of the sisters in my short story collection, tentatively titled, HOW SHE LEFT. It is from my past, sung by the late great Sandy Denny in the 60's--I love it and my character loves it, plays it over and over--it (more…)

Digging In

January 11, 2012

Tags: writing process, Four Secrets, new novel

Currently I am awaiting the galleys for FOUR SECRETS, also awaiting a response to my novel THE BEETLE BOY and working steadily on the short stories that will comprise the novel HOW SHE LEFT. January is proving to be a month during which I can write every day, even it it is only for (more…)

Four Secrets

November 13, 2011

Tags: Four Secrets, autobiographical short stories.

Am I fifteen in this photo? Or thirty-five?
THE PACT is now FOUR SECRETS, a much better title I think. Today I am rewriting the final chapter for a more powerful ending. It is a little like working in a secret laboratory, trying to get a magic potion just right. I am so lucky to have a perceptive editor for this project. (more…)