Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Trees appear in most of my books
from the 'singing tree' 
in Walk Two Moons
to the blackbird trees
in The Great Unexpected

My characters, like me,
climb them
hide in them
hug them
kiss them
swing from them
leap from them
on one occasion
(do you know which book?)
chop one down


Tall ones
short ones
skinny ones
fat ones
young and old
green and yellow
flowery and plain

Love those trees!

From every writing corner or room
I've ever worked in
at least one tree
has stood outside 
my window.

Last week in Maine
I entered the most beautiful gallery showing:
Joyce Tenneson's
Trees and the Alchemy of Light

Mixed media pieces:
photographs transformed 
with gold leaf

About thirty in all
at the Dowling-Walsh Gallery*
in Rockland, Maine

*Although the show has ended, some pieces remain in the gallery;
you can also learn more about Joyce Tenneson here 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Camden Harbor

Camden Harbor, Maine

Who owns these boats?
Who travels on them?
Families, friends?
Where do they go?
How did they learn to sail?

Each boat has so many stories
and if you are curious about them
you might be a writer.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Maine Refills

you need to tilt your head back
and breathe in 
clean air
and see
blue sky
and touch
clear water.

I'm in Maine
all of this
all of you.


Monday, July 16, 2012

My Father's Garden

We're coming to the end
of the peas and beans:
they ripened early
in a grand fanfare
so perfectly perfect
crisp and sweet.

My father liked to garden:
our yard was lush with peonies and roses
corn, tomatoes, beans, peas and cucumbers.

He liked to lean down and smell a yellow rose
on his way to weed the rows
He liked to lift a tomato to his nose
and smell its warm ripeness.

My small garden honors him
just as the homemade pasta sauce
I ladle into my mother's bowl honors her.

Is there something you make or do
that owes its origins to your parents?


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Creech Week

We're winding down from
Creech Week
here at the lake

an annual 'normal chaos' gathering
of family

smaller in number of people this year
more dog guests.

We laughed a very lot.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Names (and Fan Mail, continued)

Amid this latest batch of mail are
handmade postcards:
on one side a scene from one of my books
and on the back a note to me.

Love these
 glimpses into the head of a reader
to see what he or she sees.

In this mail pile
are hundreds of signatures:
the expected Sarahs and Mikes and Davids
and Kates and Johns and Jills and Abbys

With spelling variations:
Natalie, Natalee, Nataley
Rachel, Rachael, Raychil,
Kaitlin, Kaitlyn, Caitlin, Katelyn

And these more rare, but beautiful names:
Alaina, Alondra, Amiya, Angelica, Abraham, Ameer, Ariel, Aristan, Arda, Alaura, Alouette, Ariana, Aejah,
Brooklyn, Chaun, Camden, Cole, Caleb,
Delia, Della, Delaney, Devron,
Emmanuel, Eunice, Eva, Estefania,
Gabriella, Gianni, Hadia, Haley, Hunter, Isela, Izzy,
Jade, Jayden, Jazzmyn, Jerred, Jesse, Joman, Jevarius, 
Kara, Kadamma, Kazuma, Kaleb, Karlee, Kei, Keani, Khyrea, Kira, Kori,
Leighton, Lariah, Lily,
Mei, Maximillian, Marika, Mallory, Morgan, Mackenzie, Macalistair,
Nellie, Nile, Nora, Oshen, Olivia, Paris, Peyton, Paige,
Rainey, Roya, Radhika, Rose, Reeve, Rahul, Rocene,
Sydney, Sofia, Sierra, Sami, Shayna, Shareka, Serena, Sidalie,
Trinity, Tristan, Tatem, Tate
Uziel, Vega, Veronica, Whitney, 
Xavier, Yzsabella,

I've long been intrigued by the ways in which
we are shaped by
or perceived by
our names
cannot move forward 
with the writing of a story
without names.

I've already chosen two from the above
for a future book.
Those names will not only shape
the character
but also suggest
the plot.

So if you're ever stuck
in beginning a story
try choosing two random names
and let them
(the characters with those names)
go at it.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fan Mail

Sometimes mail becomes stuck in the cogs
of the mighty publishing wheel.
Sometimes it falls off a desk
or sticks to someone else's mail.
Sometimes the handwriting on the envelope
is illegible
and it has to wait for a code-breaker to decipher it:
Is this for Ms. Cleary or Ms. Cushman or Ms. Creech?

How else to explain that the most recent box of mail
forwarded from the publisher
(a small portion of which is shown above)
contains letters written as far back as 
September, 2011?

I feel badly that readers have had to wait so long for a reply.

I need fortification as I tackle the pile:

This batch comes from these countries:

USA, Belgium, Canada, England, Israel, Japan, Taiwan

and 38 states 
from Alabama to West Virginia

and from towns with such great names as
Big Spring, Eagle, Minnetonka, Washougal, White Salmon
 Little Chalfont, Brussels, Coquitlam, Taipei

and these streets
King Albert Avenue, Cokes Lane, Ivy Flower Loop
Grassy Lick Road, St. Pippin Road, Sugar Avenue

In my next post, I'll treat you to
wonderful names
of readers 
a beautiful