Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snow in Maine

Almost wordless Sunday:

Snow in Maine



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Faces: Father, Daughter

My father

one of the youngest photos of him I've seen

At first I didn't recognize him
because I knew him, of course,
when he was older.

Perhaps this is a high school photo.

Something about it seemed
so eerily familiar.

And then I remembered this photo:

Me, at twelve.

In-ter-est-ing, mm?

(With thanks to Cousin Harry for my father's photo.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Great Unexpected: Idea? Fear?

It is not easy to answer the question: "Where did you get the idea for this [or any] book?"  A book is not one idea. It is thousands.

But: What was that very first spark? 

Recently–prior to the Sandy Hook tragedy–I attempted to answer that question for an interview about The Great Unexpected:

    Aware that so many children are more fearful now than when I was young, I hoped to create a story in which the unexpected could be something great instead of something to be feared.  Two other notions wrapped themselves around this idea. One was how closely the 'real' merges with the imaginary in the lives of young people. Another notion was the intricate connections between people–some obvious and some not. . .  
   And so evolved this story of two young girls: in whom the real and imaginary merge; who discover intricate connections between people and places; and who learn that the unexpected can be great.

Now, post-Sandy-Hook-tragedy, I am especially mindful of the fear so many of those students and teachers must have felt, and of the fear which the survivors continue to feel.  I wish I could ease it. I hope that 'intricate connections' in their lives will sustain them; I hope that the living and the dead will unite in their minds and hearts; and I hope that one day the survivors will again be able to look forward to the unexpected. 

Monday, December 17, 2012


out of the water
for the winter

on the fence


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Once I Was Young

Recently received this pic from my sister
(via a cousin):
me, with three of my four siblings.

Which one am I?

Third from left
with pigtails, bangs
and squirt gun.

Uh huh.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Vagabonding . . .

I'll be here December 9.

Where will you be?



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bag Head

Seen in Rockland, Maine, recently.

Did not get close enough to read
writing on the bag.

Appeared to be a lure
for petitioner/interviewer
with clipboard.

(She'd already snared
seated woman.)

My husband said
if he had to choose
between being the bag guy
and the petitioner
he'd choose to be



Wednesday, November 21, 2012


High on a hill
between Camden and Rockport, Maine
stands this non-denominational
Children's Chapel

a coveted site
for weddings, gatherings

From here:
wishing you all a
Happeeeee Thanksgiving.

How will you spend the day?


Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Lightness of Becoming

There is a point
in the writing of a story
when ideas and images
burst open
and fling themselves
here and there
and you scurry
before they fly

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wrapped Schooners

like giant white caterpillars
wrapped for the winter

Camden Harbor, Maine

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ms. Millay and Moi

It is good to look
through the eyes of another writer
to see what she sees
to know her terrain

(Me and Edna St. Vincent Millay, Camden, Maine)


Monday, November 12, 2012

Meeting Ms. Millay

Today outside the Camden Public Library
I came upon 
Edna St. Vincent Millay - 
head turned toward Camden Harbor

I followed her gaze

(I tried to post a third photo here,
of me beside Ms. Millay
but it does not want to upload.
Maybe tomorrow . . .)


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Settling In

Beginning to feel 'official':
have license plates and driver's license!

Zipping down the 'to do' list, changing:
health/auto/home insurance
doctor, dentist
internet server
utility companies
yada yada

(half of those to be done again
in the spring when we move
to more permanent quarters
but still here in Maine)

But in the midst of to-doing
have the chance to
bake a pie with granddaughter

and that is yummmmmm.

You bake anything this week?
With anyone?


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Maine Move, continued

The main reason we moved
to Maine

was to follow
the beloved grandchildren

who also recently moved
to Maine

and another good reason

a seemingly endless
endless beauty.

I think we're going to

Have you moved lately?
Do you want to?
Are you already where you most want to be?


Monday, October 29, 2012

Welcome to Maine


We made it
our new turf.

Having a little challenge
updating emails
so if your comment has not yet been posted
that is why.

My blog is not yet talking to me.
Maybe it didn't want to move.

I will convince it.
Stay tuned.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Fullness of Emptiness

We thought our home
emptied of its contents
would feel hollow

it feels open and inviting

we feel like dancing
in its rooms

we wonder:

why do we need
any "stuff"
at all


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Move, continued

Yesterday, the moving van arrived

Today, it was loaded



Bye, bye, stuff!


Friday, October 19, 2012

The Impending Move

Where have I been?  What have I been doing?

See last post for book tour hopping details.

The tour for The Great Unexpected was mostly awesome:  amazing students and librarians and teachers and independent bookstores.  I mean:  a-maz-ing! I'm so full of all that book love and wish that those who want to cut school library budgets would step into these schools and see the beauty of what can happen with a great librarian, a 'real' library, and 'real' books.

The hardest part of the tour is always the travel - the airport and airplane slog - the sneezing, coughing crowds; the long lines; the delays; the wait, wait, waiting.  My body revolts.  It takes weeks to recover.

But now I'm home and here is what is happening:

We are packing, packing, packing!  It's crazyville here.  We've sold our house in western New York state and are moving to Maine.


We are following the grandchildren, who have recently moved there.  (With their parents, yes.)

Here are three things we have discovered:

1.  We have way too many books.
2.  Boxes of books are very heavy.
3.  We have a hard time getting rid of any books.

You, too?  Too many books?  Hard time letting them go?


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Tour

Tour schedule for The Great Unexpected

September 19     Wellesley, MA: school and library
September 20     Dedham, MA:    Blue Bunny Books
September 21     Dedham, MA:    school 

September 30     Downers Grove, IL: Anderson's
October 1           Naperville, IL:    school event
October 2           San Jose, CA:     Hicklebees
                                               + school event
October 3           Petaluma, CA:    Copperfield's
                                                        2 schools
October 4           Irvine, CA:          Whale of a Tale 
                                                         + school event
October 5           Los Angeles:       Children's 
                                                         Book World 
                                                         2 school events

October 12         Nashville, TN:     Parnassus Books 
                                                          school event
October 13         Nashville, TN:     Southern Festiva
                                                 of Books

December 9       Pittsburgh, PA:     Black, White 
                                                           and Read

Saturday, September 8, 2012



it looks like we are



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Judy Blume

A pause today
to salute
the one and only


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Step Into My Garden . . .

Step into the garden
of the book
and see what lies within . . .

I really love looking at the beginnings of books (and this is not the first time on this blog), fascinated by the variety of styles and tones that greet you there. Some entice, some frighten, some bore, some beckon, some puzzle . . .

Here are a few beginnings pulled from books at hand, chosen randomly:

"I thought I'd been to Africa. Told all my class I had."
     --Small Island, Andrea Levy

"Our house is old, and noisy, and full."
     --Life Among the Savages, Shirley Jackson

"When the MS Irish Oak sailed from Cork in October 1949, we expected to be in New York City in a week."
     --'Tis, Frank McCourt

"On a time there lived a king and a queen in Erin, and they had an only son."
     --Myths and Folk Tales of Ireland, Jeremiah Curtin

"The candleflame and the image of the candleflame caught in the pierglass twisted and righted when he entered the hall and again when he shut the door."
    --All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy

"The old bus is a city reject. After shaking in it for twelve hours on the potholed highway since early morning, you arrive in this mountain county town in the South."
     --Soul Mountain, Gao Xingjian

Would any of these entice you in? Are you able to choose a favorite and a least-favorite among them?


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Other Writers Websites

On this Thursday late in August, I offer you the inspiration of two other writers.  (Clicking on their names takes you to their websites.) 

Lois Lowry:
Her newest book, Son, extends The Giver trilogy to a quartet.

Eoin Colfer:
Colfer's latest book is Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian. Although I have not yet read Colfer's books, I've been on two panels with him and am completely charmed by his wit.

Any author websites you particularly enjoy?


Monday, August 27, 2012


I am fascinated by connections
by seeming coincidences
by intricate design
and serendipity

You pass a window and see
two silhouetted figures

You don't know that they grew up in
the house you now live in

You watch a young girl climb a tower
and admire her dexterity

You don't know that she is the daughter
of the woman who will be your boss

In a diner you see four men on stools

You don't know that
one was  your high school math teacher
who advised you to hang out with
a better crowd

You see boats bobbing in a harbor

You don't know that one of them
belongs to the boy (or girl)
you had a crush on in third grade

You stop and photograph a jewel box of a house

You don't know that the owner is
the grandson of a famous painter
and that one day
he will marry your granddaughter

As the narrator of The Great Unexpected asks:

"Did a delicate cobweb link us all, 
silky lines trailing through the air?"


Friday, August 24, 2012

Real or Not Real?

Usually a book begs to be written when several ideas clump together. Yes, I wanted to write a story about how the unexpected could be great (see earlier post), but also I'd been thinking a lot about the importance of story and imagination and the beautiful wildness and freedom of children's imaginations.

I thought about two conversations I'd overheard between my grandchildren and their parents (these are also reprinted in the preface to The Great Unexpected):

Father:  Did you brush your teeth?
Son:  Yes.
Father:  Really?
Son:  Yes.
Father: Tell me the truth.
Son:  What is 'truth'?

-and -

Daughter:  I'm going to be a dolphin.
Mother:  Is that so?
Daughter:  Yes. I will live in the ocean.
Mother:  For real?
Daughter:  What is 'real'?

I loved those conversations. I loved being reminded that 'truth' and 'reality' are learned labels.  When we are young – or when we are writing a story – characters are as vivid as 'real' people. Reality and fantasy, past and present and future all dwell easily together. 

I wanted to explore those blurred regions.  Maybe I dance around the edges of these regions in many of my books (Fishing in the Air and  Replay come first to mind here), but in The Great Unexpected, I took these notions up (or down?) one more level.

(One young reader diving in . . .)


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Something Great and Unexpected

In a school a few years ago, when I was introducing The Unfinished Angel, I asked the students to imagine discovering "something unexpected."  I was going to refer to the character in that book who discovers an angel living in a tower.

But as soon as I said the word unexpected, the audience collectively shrank back in their seats. They looked fearful and anxious. That surprised and bothered me.  When had the unexpected become something to be feared?

I thought about this for some time. I wanted to write a story in which the unexpected was something great, something that might alter someone's feelings about the unexpected. Perhaps, then, that person's whole view of the future might also be altered.

That was the central impetus for this newest book, The Great Unexpected:

I've had my own great and unexpected event:  a call one cold, gray February day in 1995 when I was home alone in England, ready to throw a manuscript-in-progress out the window.

The phone rang.  "Walk Two Moons has received the Newbery Medal."

"Cut it out, Tom,"  I said. (I thought it was my brother playing a joke.)

Shortly thereafter, my publisher phoned. I asked her how many of these medals were awarded each year?  "500? 300? 100?"

There was a long pause while she, no doubt, considered my ignorance.  At last, she said, "One, Sharon. One."

I can assure you that this was completely unexpected–and very, very great. . . and it took me a long, long while to believe that it was okay to accept this good fortune.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Other Writers' Blogs and Websites

I love to hear what other writers have to say on their blogs and websites.  Every now and then I'll highlight some here.

For today, here are three writers whose works I admire and who offer thoughtful, interesting, insightful posts on writing and life. (Click on their names for links.)

Karen Hesse's blog is new. She and I both like to offer you photos with our words . . . or words with our photos. . .  Safekeeping is her newest book, due out mid-September, and it's another Hesse gem.

Clicking on her name above leads you to Kate's official Facebook page, containing touching bloggish posts. She has another lively Bink & Golly book out, Two for One. Try her website, too.

Clicking on her name (above) leads you to her website, but also check out her Facebook page, with its nice bloggish posts. Her newest book, Will Sparrow's Road, will be published in November.

Love these writers!


Thursday, August 16, 2012


three years of work
six drafts
of one book:
The Great Unexpected

(due out 4 September)

By the time
I reach this phase
it's a bit like having been pregnant
for ten months
maybe eleven

and I am thinking
I did the best I could do
I love it


Monday, August 13, 2012

Still Got It

Purging bookshelves
I came across a keeper:

Honey, I Love and other love poems
by Eloise Greenfield
(HarperCollins, 1978)

In it is one of my favorite poems:


Went to the corner
Walked in the store
Bought me some candy
Ain't got it no more
Ain't got it no more

Went to the beach
Played on the shore
Built me a sandhouse
Ain't got it no more
Ain't got it no more

Went to the kitchen
Lay down on the floor
Made me a poem
Still got it
Still got it


Saturday, August 11, 2012


(see last post for the 'before' pic)

After all the mess
after all the ripping
and shredding
and wondering
and worry
and planning
more ripping and shredding

ta da!

The ending:
so smooth
so seamless
so satisfying
and pleasing

you have to sit back
and marvel.



Thursday, August 9, 2012


you have to rip out
big chunks
of the story

in order to
lumpy, bumpy bits.

(Meanwhile, this is what our driveway looks like today.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Until you turn on the faucet
the bowl is empty

Until you read the first line
the story is empty

Here is a first line I like:

On a continent of many songs, in a country shaped like the arm of a tall guitarrista, the rain drummed down on the town of Temuco.

--from The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan

Do you have a favorite first line?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Great Unexpected

Some people fear the unexpected



the unexpected

can be


For some time, I've been wondering if we adults are passing along too many of our own post-911 fears to children, making them too wary of the unexpected, diminishing much of the joy in childhood.

That was one of the seeds for this book . . . 

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.