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 . . .