Saturday, January 16, 2010


Putting things in perspective and reflecting on what is important is common this time of year, but with the news of the tragic earthquake in Haiti, it takes on even more significance. I feel grateful for what I have and try to live my life by squeezing in everything I possibly can. I know that love and family are essential pieces to a happy life and have been given a second chance to make it work. For this, I feel blessed. I view my friends as emotional sounding boards and my true life lines. Without friends, who would we have to share secrets with or to act fiercely crazy with?

There are perspectives to think about in writing, as well. Who is telling your story? Which character can best relay the story you want to tell? Several years ago, I read a book with a very unique perspective, The Lovely Bones. It was told through the point of view of a young girl, Suzie, who had been brutally murdered by her neighbor as she looked down upon her friends and family from above. She told the story of her family's unraveling with grace and beauty. It's one of my favorite books. It would have been a completely different story had it been told from the dad or sister's perspective. When I watched the movie based on this story, on the big screen, I wasn't sure what to expect. I mean how do you show a girl in the after world watching life unfold below her? Not an easy task. But somehow it worked.

Another book with a fascinating perspective is The Book Thief. This story is told from the point of view of Death in Germany during WW ll. As morbid as this premise may sound, it's a poignant story. The language...poetic. The characters...genuine. It follows the life of a young girl, Liesel, whose little brother has died and whose mother has given her up to a foster family. She discovers books and begins stealing them whenever the opportunity presents itself. This is truly a book about the power of words; how words can feed a soul.

What is your perspective? Have you read any books lately with a unique point of view?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Writing like snowflakes...

It's fascinating how stories are written, or conceived, or imagined, or created. For each writer, there is a unique process. It seems no two writers write the same. We are as diverse as snowflakes, in this regard. Some use outlines. Some wait for inspiration to strike, tapping into the wire. Some let the story unfold in front of them, allowing the characters to lead them onward. I think I'm the latter...I love to see where the characters will go, what they will say, how they react to each other in the situation of the moment. I love when a story takes a turn and I have no idea where it's going. Well, I shouldn't say that. I have a vague idea of where it's going and how it will end but the meanderings in the middle can be random and adventurous. I love when a character says something that surprises me. It's like my fingers are flowing over the keys like a river and I have no control over the current. It carries me far away from the shore. To me, it's the best thing about writing; the surprises that happen when I'm not looking. Like soft snowflakes drifting from the clouds at the onset of a storm, landing on the frozen ground like jewels.

While working on my latest story, this happened. And it wasn't what the character said or did, exactly, it was something she didn't do. I was writing away when suddenly my main character, Tess, decided she wasn't going to eat her dinner. Instead she pushed it around her plate. Now this may not sound significant but it made me pause and wonder. Why wasn't she eating? She had made a wonderful salad with greens and tofu but, no matter, she wasn't eating and this was quite telling to me. This was her way of feeling in control of her somewhat, out of control, situation. And I didn't plan it. I didn't foresee it coming. No, not at all. Tess, had made up her mind at the dinner table that she was going to find a way to feel empowered. I have no idea how this will affect Tess and her story, but I'm eager to find out.

I'd love to hear about your meandering snowflakes...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Becoming a reader...

I wasn't a big reader as a child. No, that was my older sister, not me. I was too busy climbing trees, making forts in the woods, playing pick-up baseball games at the field down the road. I couldn't sit still long enough to read a book. I hate admitting that, but it's true. My sister, Robin, read enough books for both of us. She could be found curled up in the corner of the couch reading at any given moment. I didn't really understand her love for books or maybe I envied her or perhaps I wanted to be her opposite. Who really understands the dynamics of siblings? From my experience with my own three children, it seems they seek the attention of their parents and are willing to do just about anything to their brothers and sisters to get it.

My love for books came much later, when my first child was born. I bundled up Justin and strolled him to the small town library in Whitinsville, MA, for our weekly book fix. I had discovered the children's book room and, with Justin in tow, devoured most of them. Quickly it was apparent that this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to write for children. Starting with some very bad made-up stories, I began to write off and on as my kids were growing up. It wasn't until I met my mentor, Anita Riggio, at a writer's retreat and took her workshop, that I began to write the story I was meant to write. More about that in a later blog.

Now, I read mostly young adult books with a sprinkling of adult books mixed in. At the moment, I'm reading "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie. It's an honestly brutal, yet hilariously funny, coming-of-age story of a Native American teen trying to rise above his sad circumstances on an Indian reservation. Arnold Spirit Jr. is an intelligent misfit born with physical problems, who wants more out of life than what the reservation can offer him. Clearly, Sherman Alexie is painting a picture of the struggles American Indians face in this country, and does it with a very poignant and original story. If you are looking for a book that is hard to put down and will keep you giggling, then this one is not to miss.

On my bedside table, I have about four books waiting to be read. Have you read any good books lately?

Friday, January 1, 2010


This is my first blog and my first random post so I suppose I should begin at the beginning. I am a writer. There, I said it. Not so scary as I thought it would be. I come from a family of writers. My mom was a nursery school teacher before she had kids (my two sisters, my brother and me) and once she did, she began to write childcare articles for mothering/housewife type magazines. My dad started out writing ideas for cartoonists for The New Yorker Magazine. That's what he was doing when my parents met. They lived in neighboring towns in New Jersey and met in their twenties. Later he worked as a copy editor once my mom and dad got married, after six months as forest rangers in California atop a mountain for their honeymoon. Eventually he was a high school English teacher at a private school for girls on the Cape and, finally, an antiquarian book dealer. All the while, though, my parents were writing. Dad wrote mostly articles for notable papers such as The New York Times and The Boston Globe and, in later years, short humor pieces. Mom worked on short column pieces for newspapers and magazines and, in later years, romance novels.

I grew up surrounded by books, magazines, maps, pamplets, and antiques of all sorts with price tags on them. For, you see, when we moved to Orleans, MA, on Cape Cod, when I was a little girl, my mom started an antique shop with a woman she met on the beach who had similiar interests, which turned out to be very old collectibles. We moved into an old sea captain's house near Rock Harbor and thus began our life on Cape Cod, giving us many adventures to write about.

My siblings are writers, as well, though we all write in different genres. I write young adult novels. My sister, Cindy, writes romance novels. My brother, Dell, writes contemporary adult novels. And my sister, Robin, is a poet but is beginning to write for young adults.

Now you have a little snapshot into my life and how it all began. My beginnings...