Friday, February 27, 2009

The Writer's Life Updated

February 27, 2008

I don't check the Writers Almanac site every day, but I did this morning and wanted to share the birthdays of this famous American poet and two of my favorite authors. Click on the URL: Enjoy!

I had a wonderful school visit on Wednesday, and, hopefully, I'll be able to post a photo of the event. Great bunch of young writers!

I'm gearing up for a double workshop tomorrow for the Wayne County Arts Alliance. Jeanne Arnold and Cherie Matthews have done a tremendous job promoting the event. My name seems to be popping up everywhere. Hope to see some of you writers there. It's going to be intense, but fun. I'm looking forward to sharing some new things that I've learned just over the past couple of years. I love it when I learn new things. How cool is that?

My next post will be a writing prompt. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Letter Writing -- Day 3

February 25, 2009

Today is opposite day. Instead of writing a letter to yourself at a younger age, have your teenage self write a letter to you as an adult. Who are you now? Which road did you end up taking in life? What does your younger self think about the choices you've made? Where did your younger self hope to end up, expect to end up that might be different from where you are? What dreams or goals were changed? When you sit down to write today, write from the viewpoint of a teenager or younger not from your viewpoint looking back. Don't try to pull a lesson from this. Simply be the teen. Say and think what you would have as a teen. Be honest. Do not judge. I think you may just discover a couple of good characters to write about.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Writing Letters -- Day 2

Febraury 24, 2009 Time Travel

Have I mentioned that I'm working on a young adult novel? It's contemporary, so it's something completely out of the norm for me. Anyway, as I've been working on this, I've naturally been thinking a lot about myself as a teenager, all the angst, the fears, the insecurities, but good things too. In a way, writing this book may be a way of writing a letter to my younger self at least in my mind if not in the actual narrative. So today think about yourself as a younger person--a teenager or younger--and write a letter to your younger self. What would you like to tell yourself? Maybe, "Keep up the good work." Or, "You're headed in the wrong direction!" Be honest. Be compassionate. Write from your heart. Keep the letter or throw it away; whatever feels right to you. Have fun.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Writing Prompts - Letter Writing

Febraury 23, 2009

This week we're going to write letters. It's not something that we do a lot of anymore. We send e-mail, text messages, chat on-line, and talk on the phone. Instant communication is how we live now. When I was nine years old, we moved to Florida and the letters we received from "back Home" in Pennsylvania were treasures. Often I would walk to the post office after school to check for letters from older siblings, friends, our Grandmother. . . No mail, especially no letters, made the walk home very long. Letters were shared and read over and over and saved.

Today I want you to write a letter to someone you miss. It's not a letter to be mailed; it's a letter to write whatever you want to that person; maybe why they were special to you, or about a special time(s) you spent together or what you miss most about them. You might write to someone who has died, a mother or father, grandparents, or it might be a good friend that you've lost touch with. As always, use specific details and use your senses. What would be the first thing you would say to them?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Weekend prompt for creativity

February 19, 2009 Afternoon

1.I'm going to be away for a few days, but I'll be back on Monday. Over the weekend do something that you loved to do as a child--maybe it's taking a saucer ride down hill or making a snowman, coloring in a child's coloring book or putting a puzzle together. Savor the moments. Write about it.

2. I took a short walk in the snow this afternoon and listened to the way my boots sounded packing down the fresh snow, the sound of wet snow plinking on the hood of my coat, the far away caw of a crow. Pay attention to the everyday sounds. Listen, then write it all down. Maybe you'll hear some surprising things.

Writing Prompt

February 19, 2009 Recalling lies we told

February is President's month and we're fast approaching our first President's birthday, the Father of our Country, who as a boy, we were taught in school, never told a lie. We drew pictures of young George, gleaming ax in hand, getting ready to chop down a skinny cherry tree. Purportedly, he said, "I cannot tell a lie." I didn't know about George when I told my first lie. I knew that telling lies was just as bad, maybe worse, than biting my sister, for example, but there was also a better chance that I might not get caught. The lie I told and how it escalated and the surprising and moving resolution are still vivid in my mind. It would take up too much space to relate it here, but if you're interested, I'll be happy to share it when we meet.

So now the writing prompt: Today write about the first lie that you recall telling. Jot down as many specific details as you can remember, and use your senses. We use our "sight" sense so often, but today add in a touch word, a smell, a sound, and taste as well, if it happens to go along with your lie in some way.

If you happen to have a copy of my new book, Secrets of Greymoor you'll know that Hattie tells a lie and one lie leads to another until they are out of control. She soon has a string of fanciful lies, but each one makes Hattie feel worse. How did your lie make you feel? How did you feel when you were writing about it?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Writing Prompt

February 18, 2009

Thanks, Sue, for joining in for the writing prompts. Here's one I think you and the other writers out there will have fun exploring. Let's write about doors. Today pay attention to all the doors you see at home or work. Think about them. What metaphors lie behind doors? Doors open onto new worlds, new opportunities. Locked doors keep secrets hidden--you all know the old saying, "Skeleton in the closet." Study the doors of other people and decide what it tells you about them. What doors do you like? What doors frighten you? Think backward now, back to your childhood: What doors welcomed you in the past? Did you have a scary experience that involved a door? Think about it. Brainstorm a series of sensory details about your door(s), and then write about what you saw in any way you want. Have fun. No one has to see this but you! You can keep it behind closed doors, under lock & key. What did you discover?

If you need a little inspiration, take out your copy of Hattie On Her Way and leaf through it. Hattie discovers a lot of locked doors and drawers and hidden things at her grandmother's house. What does this tell you about her grandmother? Shhh! Secrets are waiting to be discovered.

Okay, now I'm off to write a poem--It's poetry day, and then off to a school visit to do writing workshops! They might be writing about doors today, too! Catch you tomorrow. Anyone want to share about your door?

Border's Book Signing -- Valentine's Day

What cute twins, all dressed up in their Valentine jackets! Sweet!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Border's Book Signing -- Valentine's Day

How about these cute Valentine boys?

Border's Bookstore -- Valentine's Day 2009

A big thank you to everyone who joined me at Border's on Saturday! It was a very successful signing, and I've been invited back to be the author for Educator's Night in March. A special thank you to Margaret, Leann, Eileen and Carl for coming such a long way to attend! More photos coming. Keep checking; you may see a photo of yourself!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Wish me luck on the launch of my new book. I'll be available for autographing from 1-3 p.m. at Borders Book Store in Stroudsburg, PA. Hope to see you!

Friday, February 13, 2009

February 13, 2009 Thought for the day.

Here's a good quote from the poet John Keats:
"I looked out the window and saw a sparrow and I became the sparrow. I saw a piece of straw and I became the straw."

Today become something other than yourself. Here in Northeast Pennsylvania it's a windy March day. Today I will watch how the wind blows and listen for its voice. What does the wind say? In my book, Hill Hawk Hattie, she hears the wind in March: "Outside [their cabin in the hemlock woods] it started to snow, the wind swirling clouds of white stuff against the cabin window, howling that winter was not about to leave any too soon."

Today, I, the wind, bluster around houses and shake the boughs of spruce trees, Wake up! Wake up! I shout. My breath scatters the clouds across the blue winter sky, but beneath my howl, I whisper of spring, of daffodils in labor, pushing out new green life from the womb of earth, of new life coming. Listen!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 12, 2009 Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln

Thinking about our best loved president always brings with it memories of second grade at Stourbridge Elementary, the two-story, red-brick sturdy square of a building that housed grades one through five, the hissing radiators, drafty windows, scuffed wooden floors, smell of chalk and drying wool, the thick white paste, the black and manila construction paper we used to turn Lincoln and his tall hat into a silhouette that would get hung up along the top of the blackboard, a long row of nearly identical Lincolns with our names printed on the back, hidden from view. We loved Lincoln watching over our classroom. We loved the proud way he made us feel about our country. He made us believe in goodness. And, somehow, he still does that for me. He might be the familiar face on our humble copper penny, but his value to all of us, the American people, is so much more than flimsy paper bills with large denominations, more than silver, more than gold; for us, his value is immeasurable. Today do one thing in keeping with who he was, something that would make him proud to call you his friend and fellow American.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February 10, 2009 Writing Prompt!

Often when we're with family or old friends, we begin to reminisce. "Remember the time. . ." someone says, and then everyone jumps on the memory train. We pick up speed as we go along. We remember things that had been long since forgotten. Everyone remembers it differently. That's what makes it all so interesting and individual. Every memory is private. No one experiences the same thing exactly the same way.

Today I want you to think about your childhood, a time when what was real and what was make believe was sometimes hard to tell apart. Close your eyes and recall a magical person from your childhood. Now grab a notebook or your journal and jot down a few words about that person who may be real or make believe. Use specific words: e.g. Old woman. Eyes like wrinkled raisins stuck in doughy cheeks. Tattered sweater. Sells pint baskets of huckleberries door to door. Shakes a cane when she sees children. Begin to see more things and write those down. Have fun!

Monday, February 9, 2009

February 9, 2009 Writing prompt!

Instead of making the usual list of things to do, make a list of things you don't have to do. You can make it a list of things that are real--like today I do not have to grocery shop or do laundry; you could write the opposite of your "to do" list; or have some fun tickling your funny bone and make a silly list of nonsense things. The only necessary ingredient is to have fun and smile while you think about how nice it is that you don't have to do . . . .and write yourself into a poem, essay or story.

List of things I don't have to do:
1. Sweep the sky
2. Empty the ocean
3. Race an ostrich
4. Eat elephant stew (Hmm. . .what would an elephant put in a stew?)

February 10, 2009 Celebrate the release of my new book with me! Available on-line:

Friday, February 6, 2009

February 6, 2009 Weekend writing prompt!

Here's a writing/drawing prompt that is fun for all ages:

Trace an outline of your hand. . .

. . .inside this tracing, write about those things you hold dear. Or use your imagination and write what you wish to hold, wish to touch. Get your crayons out and add some color to your dreams and wishes.
February 6, 2009 Thought for the morning

A quote from Mark Twain:
"The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

It's easy enough to laugh at his hyperbole, but what he says is true. So many times I find myself struggling for the right word and end up leaving a blank on the page. If the right word doesn't come after several attempts to tease it out of my brain, then there is nothing to be done but leave a blank and keep going. The word will pop into my head at a later time. Or I may write in the margin: "say better" marking a place in the text that doesn't have the right sound or the right words. I trust my sub-conscious to give me something better once the draft has cooled and I go back to it with a fresh eye.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

February 5, 2009 News on book signings and events!

Valentine's Day--I'll be in Stroudsburg at the Borders bookstore signing from 1-3 p.m. I've also planned a special "secret code" activity for kids, something they can take home. I'm providing all the materials they need.

February 18th--School visit at Lake Wallenpaupack Intermediate School--writing workshops

February 28th--If you live in the area, you'll want to watch the newspapers for this one day, two part writing workshop for the Wayne County Arts Alliance.

Yesterday, I stopped in the charming book & gift shop, La Shed Du Fred, in nearby Callicoon, N.Y. to purchase beeswax candles and our favorite olives from Provence. Michelle, the owner, had been to NYC to a book/gift show, and has pre-ordered copies Secrets of Greymoor for her store, which should be arriving soon. I will be doing a booksigning/reading at her store in the near future, but if you can't wait, be sure to stop in for a copy. She's open every day. But I will let you know as soon as we've set a date!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

February 4, 2009 The book is on it's way!

My sister Lela phoned this morning all excited because she had just been notified from that the copies she ordered of Secrets of Greymoor are on their way to her house!

Today is also my poetry day, and here's a short poem I wrote, while I looked out across my frozen pond.

Snow Poem

Snow falls like lace curtains
swept up by wind and spread
across the frozen pond and fields
like a rich damask tablecloth
set with tall, dark-stemmed
maples and cherrys and yellow birch;
the fir trees bowing like waiters
in white jackets, arms weighted down
with trays of sparkling ice in frosted

What does winter look like to you? How is the scene from my window different from yours? Write a short poem or a sentence that describes what you see. Don't be afraid. It's just for fun, and you never have to share it if you don't want to.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February 3, 2009

Today I'm beginning my official countdown of one week until Book day! Secrets of Greymoor will be released for sale on Feb 10th!

I wonder if any of you out there are beginning a new book, story, essay and what writing that first line is like for you. Is it something that simply dropped into your head when you were doing something else? I know that for me, it's often when I am out walking or driving or in the shower that those best thoughts come. The first page of Hill Hawk Hattie came to me when I was out walking and I ran home to write it down. That moment is still so precious to me when I first heard Hattie's voice: "Ma died in November. Now it's just me and Pa." I felt a crackle of electricity tingling along the wires of my body to my heart. But more often, the first line doesn't come so effortlessly. It's more like John Steinbeck's description of how he felt getting ready to write that first line. "I suffer as always from the fear of putting down the first line. It is amazing the terrors, the magics, the straightening shyness that assails one."

What is writing the first line like for you?