word craft


Blog Posts from the Beginning

Is it real? Is it fiction? 

Megan of Pom­pano Beach wrote me and asked, “Do you incor­po­rate real events into your writ­ing?” The answer is, yes and no. The about to be pub­lished Sophia’s War is full of things that real­ly hap­pened dur­ing the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, but the main char­ac­ter, Sophia Calder­wood, is fic­tion­al. Yet, I tell the sto­ry as if

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Starting a new book 

What’s it like to start a new book? Some­times I think it’s like a maze, one that has many entrances, many pas­sages, and many out­comes, none known (though you think you know the entrance). The maze also has many dead ends. It cer­tain­ly doesn’t have a known exit.  I, the writer, poke along through this

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A singular connection 

Last week, when at a con­fer­ence at Shenan­doah Uni­ver­si­ty, I was asked to sign a copy of The Secret School. First, how­ev­er, I was told a sto­ry. The book belonged to a girl, and her father, a US sol­dier in Afghanistan, had tak­en a copy with him. Via Skype, he read the book to his daughter,

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What happened after the book ends? 

Jax­on, of Acme, Wash­ing­ton, wrote to ask, “What hap­pened to Crispin and Owen after they got on the ship to Ice­land?” Ques­tions like that, what hap­pened after the book ends? are not uncom­mon. You can con­sid­er them in a num­ber of ways: that I have not com­plete­ly sat­is­fied my read­er; that the sto­ry (and characters)

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Can writing change the world? 

Daya­nara, of Quin­cy, Illi­nois, wrote:  “… my dream is to become an author some­day. My dad would nev­er approve of it though. He wants me to become some­one who can change the world, but he doesn’t under­stand writ­ing can change the world.” Go Daya­nara! But … can writ­ing change the world? Hav­ing just been emerged in

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A complex and mysterious relationship 

Just as “No man is an island, Entire of itself,” no writer writes a book alone. Beyond the author, the edi­tor is the oth­er major fac­tor in the cre­ation of a book. At his or her best, the edi­tor has the tal­ent for guid­ing, goad­ing, and grilling so that the author’s vision and text is fully

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Solitary in my head 

Where and when do I get my best ideas? Solve plot prob­lems? Decide what direc­tion a cur­rent project should take? It’s when I am out walk­ing or jog­ging by myself. I have no cell phone. No food. No music. No dog. No lap counter. No dead­lines. No time con­straints. No par­tic­u­lar noise. Noth­ing that I

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I was recent­ly doing a Skype vis­it with a library group when one of the young peo­ple asked, “How do you go about choos­ing names for your char­ac­ters?” There are all kinds of con­sid­er­a­tions. First, boy/girl. Then, the time peri­od in which the sto­ry takes place because names become more or less pop­u­lar. I was

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Where did the idea for Poppy come from? 

Thomas, from West New­bury, Mass­a­chu­setts, wrote to me and asked, “How did you come up with the idea for Pop­py?” Well, Thomas, I was liv­ing in Ore­gon, in the town of Cor­val­lis. Wan­der­ing into a book­store, some­thing I like to do, I went to the bar­gain sec­tion, some­thing I like to do even more.There I

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A very fine editor/publisher, and a very fine friend, sent me an e‑mail: “I have a huge favor to ask—huge not because of the labor involved, but because I know how you feel about blurb­ing.” She was ask­ing me if I would write a blurb for one of her forth­com­ing books, and she knows I

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