The Copy Cat

Coming March 2020

World Building

I am in the middle of writing a Young Adult Fantasy. This is a stretch for me – well everything is a stretch for me when it comes to writing – but one I am working hard to master.

While most of my novel takes place in the contemporary world, there are a couple of forays elsewhere, in other worlds. And the sequel will mostly take place elsewhere. And those ‘elsewheres’ needed rules, geography, and history.  Not easy, but I am learning.

The Queen of World Building in my mind is J.K. Rowling, but Philip Pullman is a close second. Both created worlds that felt as real or more real than the one in which we live.

Let me add a third: S.E. Grove.

Golden Specific

I just finished reading the second book in The MapMakers Trilogy and it is stunning. The detail is amazing and you truly feel that this is another world that you’ve discovered.  S.E. Grove, a trained historian, deftly weaves mundane details with political, historical and geographical details that make the book come alive. This book, and the one before, The Glass Sentence, are must-reads, especially for writers who are interested in learning how to be master world-builders. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Of course, now I must go back to do ANOTHER revision because she has inspired me so much…. Of course, that’s what good writers do, don’t they?



I have a dirty secret: I hate grammar!

Somehow, despite being an avid reader, and probably one of the best English students in whatever school I was in, I somehow managed to sneak through the system without truly learning what a gerund was, a dangling participle, a clause. Am I the only one?

To remedy the situation, I have turned to Lynn Truss and E.B White.

Eats Shoots & Leaves


Truss is particularly helpful, being the newer book, and thus perhaps more relevant to today’s writer, but E.B. has his place.

For example, it is hard not to love a teacher who, when discussing -ize says “Do not coin verbs by adding this tempting suffix.”

And really, one does have to trust the author of Charlotte’s Web, who wrote in such a glorious, albeit Spartan, shed overlooking the ocean and without the benefit of being able to check the internet to see what one’s friends ate for lunch  or discover the latest cat video. Really, he had it tough, right?


E_B_ WHITE-240

Hmm.  It’s tempting to want to writerize in just the same way….

How about you? Any grammar horror stories?


Listening to the muse, even when you don’t want to…

When I first began to write, I often rushed through my work. In fact, I am embarrassed at how quick I was to believe that my work was done and that to revise and revise was simply denying my soon-to-be discovered fans the opportunity to see my work as soon as possible.

I learned. I am not embarrassed to say that It’s a Mystery, Pig-Face! went through 11 drafts, at least 4 of which were major revisions. I would read something helpful in a book or online and I would realize what I didn’t know and then go back and fix it.  I had an editor look at the book and give me suggestions. My wonderful agent Lauren had other changes. When I start working with my editor at Sky Pony Press, Alison Weiss, the book will get better again.

Revision Cartoon


But here’s the thing: I KNEW the book wasn’t 100% the best work I could do when I sent it out. Early on, I could blame that on complete lack of experience; now I would be mortified to send it before I felt I had done everything I could do.

I am currently finishing draft 6 of my YA fantasy. I finally feel that I am ready for my beta readers to read it and give me feedback. Had I sent it earlier I would have been insulting them by wasting their time because I knew it still needed work. And while I am sure that there will be more changes/suggestions from them, I am at a place where I feel I am getting close to the end and I can really use their help.

Early on, I couldn’t understand why my writing wasn’t up to par with other writing in my genre.  As I have matured as a writer, and written almost full-time for the last year and half, I have realized that it is in the revisions, it is through killing my darlings and wonderful overly-long paragraphs of no use to the plot, that the book begins to form itself.

I listen to the muse. And I think of the children who will buy my book.  They deserve my best efforts. For me, I guess, that means a LOT of revision and rethinking!  When the muse tells me to dig a little deeper, I dig!

The Night Gardener

From time to time, I want to share some really good books I’ve been reading.  Today is one of those days.  The Night Gardener, by Jonathan Auxier, is a spine-tingling suspense story for kids. Part horror story, part fairy tale, this is a real page-turner that cannot be put down – we MUST discover what’s going to happen to Molly and Kip and we have to find out the truth about The Night Gardener.

Picture of the Night Gardener's cover

Auxier, who was a finalist for a Govenor General’s Award for this book, builds a complete and wonderful world full of characters we come to love!  A real gem and I agree that it is destined to become a classic! I highly recommend it to all parents and teachers!

Book Deal Announcement and Why Teachers Matter

I promise not to talk much about my book for a long while, but can’t help but be excited about the announcement yesterday about my book.

I got lots of nice congratulatory messages, but you know which one meant the most? The one from my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Garnett.

I literally assaulted Mrs. Garnett with my poetry and my stories when I was in her class.  I think of how excited I was about writing and how she always seemed so excited about it, too.  If you don’t think a teacher can make all the difference in someone’s life, I would have to beg to differ.  Mrs. Garnett’s enthusiasm for me and all her students changed my life.

I kind of think all the congratulatory love I got yesterday belongs to her, too… Thank you Mrs. Garnett!


Why you should dare to dream

Three years ago, if someone had told me that I would

  • quit my job
  • begin writing full-time after having not written at all for many years
  • actually land my first book deal

I would have been convinced they were mad.

All three of those things have happened.

For many years I tended the flame of my dream to write for children and young adults. I was pretty certain it would be a dream unfulfilled. But the universe has a way of shouting in your ear in strange and wonderful ways and when you don’t listen, sometimes it knocks you upside the head.P1000524

But here’s the thing: I actually did those three things, though I’m not recommending you quit your job (and you certainly don’t have to in order to be published!)

In the coming months, I’ll take you on my journey to publication. And I’ll share all of the good information I’ve learned along the way so you can take the same journey if you wish to.

We’ll talk about books and writing and fear and happiness and anything else you want to talk about.

Mostly, I want to provide followers to this website with a slice of my life and a great big dollop of hope.

Let’s do this thing!

Author of Children's Literature