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A few weeks ago I learned that I'd won the Chicago Tribune Young Adult LIterary Prize.  Of course, I was delighted, but it went deeper than that.  I'm from Chicago and I'd worked at the Chicago Tribune many, many years ago in their classified advertising department.  But the delight went deeper still, because my first… Read more »

My good friend gave me five peacock feathers and I have them in a vase in my office.  I'm always stunned when I look at them because the color and the design of each is distinctive.  I picture a peacock strutting around, tail open wide for all the world to see.  I've always felt these… Read more »


The other day I was making coconut cupcakes and they were taking longer to bake than I'd expected. I kept opening the oven, smiling at them, and saying things like, "Hi, guys. How's everybody doing in there?" I admit, it had been a long week, and I want to clearly state that I do not… Read more »

I can remember a cupcake materializing in the midst of a rotten day. A candle being lit despite the darkness. A birthday party planned even though it had been too tough a season to really think about that. My mother, sister, and I made Pilgrim dolls and decorated the house one Thanksgiving, even though our… Read more »

I bought them at a large box store that begins with the letter C.  They were by the men's socks — the kind my husband likes — near the motor oil and the big book table, which was directly across from the towering cans of tuna fish.  I didn't need them, I didn't even know… Read more »

Sometimes a chicken just has your name on it.  People like Frank Purdue and Murray Bresky of Murray's organic chickens know this.  But I hadn't known this until recently when I received an email from Wendy Thomas of New Hampshire asking if I would like to have a chicken named after me.  I can say… Read more »

I have a photograph of a baby duck that my daughter took a few years ago.  I was with Jean at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when she caught the magic moment of a duckling swimming past lily pads, leaving a ripple in the water behind her (I've decided the duck is a girl).  And this… Read more »

I had one of those moments the other day when past and present morph together.  We live in a house built in 1875, and the man who owned it before we did and restored it himself, was driving down our street.  I didn't recognize him at first. He looked at me and I looked at… Read more »

I have a shady garden and I've groused for years that I want one where I can grow peonies and roses and snapdragons.  You can't do that in the shade.  But there are wonderful plants that can only grow in the shade, like coral impatiens and ruby red begonias. I've learned these last years the… Read more »

Today is my mother's birthday and my mind is filled with memories of frosted angel food cakes and flowers and books — so many of those — and prayers and courage and kindness.  My mother, Marjorie Good, died this year on January 2nd.  Her two battles with cancer were the most intimate I have witnessed…. Read more »

"If you stop sucking your thumb…" I said to my daughter twenty-five years ago.  She sucked her thumb harder and held onto her koala puppet Qantas and another toy koala named Laurie.  Jean said they were engaged.  She looked at me knowingly.  I had to come up with a serious offer to get her to… Read more »

Sometimes we lose track of things we love and then a good soul comes along and helps us find them again. This happened to me yesterday when I received an email from a journalist who had just posted a review of my third novel, STICKS, published in 1996. The story centers around a 10-year-old boy… Read more »

I just read a book on being more energetic — actually, I didn't finish the book; I got a third of the way through it and put it down because the suggestions were making me tired. It used hyphenated words like full-engagement and full-throttle and I realized that I'm not interested in speeding across a… Read more »

I finished my new book last week at midnight. There was an energy to finishing that felt like I was completing a race. My daughter was visiting, my husband was fixing our Internet connection so I could send the novel to my editor who was probably asleep. I shouted, I'm done, leaned back in my… Read more »

I have it.  I'm finishing a book.   The symptoms:  Total focus, irritability, the need to close my door and do whatever it takes (which is a lot) to finish a novel, interspersed with excitement, joy, and obsession for detail.  Also, from my office certain sounds can be heard — laughing, crying, shouts directed at… Read more »

Years ago my daughter had a rock polishing set. We put the rocks in a canister, plugged it in, and it would turn them over and over, endlessly and loudly. The worst part was that the process took two weeks (not mentioned in the ad campaign) — two weeks of incessant grinding.  After a few… Read more »

When I was fifteen I had close to to the worst year of my life. In the midst of it, I can remember watching an ice skating competition and so wanting to be out there jumping and twirling with freedom. I didn't want to think about the hours, the days, the years of rigid practice; didn't… Read more »

One of the things I love about living in Brooklyn is the great stuff you can find on the stoops and steps — left there by people who just want to pass it on. Yesterday I found an old Bon Appetit magazine from 1999 celebrating "The Century in Food." It's hard for me to think that… Read more »

It occurred to me when I was having a chai latte with my editor, that in the new book I'm writing, I have too many bad guys. Actuallly, this had occurred to my agent a few days before, and when he told me, I decided he was wrong, because I really liked all these bad… Read more »

As a novelist, I'm often asked, How much of you is in your characters? I can answer honestly – a lot. I was a teenage waitress like Hope Yancey in Hope Was Here; I was in sales like Jenna in Rules of the Road and Best Foot Forward; I've struggled to grow a big dream… Read more »