On My Mind

Audiobook Adventures

Audiobook Adventures

I've been making some courageous decisions about my books lately. The most recent of them was deciding to get a good audiobook made of my forthcoming novel, The Portraitist: a Novel of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard. She Writes Press will publish the paperback and ebook on...

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Medieval Measurement: Time

Medieval Measurement: Time

I pride myself on doing my research thoroughly and efficiently—as my course, Rein in Your Research attests. Yet the one topic I always have to investigate again and again when I write novels set before the 17th century concerns measurement. Many of the units and types...

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The Long Road to VOICES IN THE MIST

The Long Road to VOICES IN THE MIST

The first two volumes of my trilogy, The Orphans of Tolosa, came out within a year of each other in 2019. My original plan was to publish the final volume, Voices in the Mist, in 2020. That turned out to be wishful thinking. I had no idea of the long road I would have...

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Of reading, writing, and coaching

Of reading, writing, and coaching

It has been a long time since I've posted here. Yes, I've been busy. But it's more than that. A lot going on both personally and professionally. Right now I should be rehearsing the live webinar I'm giving on Tuesday that's related to my coaching, but somehow I want...

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Music and Wintering

Music and Wintering

It's been far too long since I wrote a blog post. Every time I decided I should start one over the last few months, I found an excuse not to. I can't really explain my recent relative silence. Yes, the flurry of promotion for The Paris Affair sapped me a bit. And with...

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Publication Day for THE PARIS AFFAIR!

Publication Day for THE PARIS AFFAIR!

Yes, it's finally the day! The book is available everywhere books are sold. This is the third in my Theresa Schurman historical mystery series. That makes it an actual series (a first for me). Here's what it's about: Apparently, false rumors are all the fashion in...

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On Re-Discovering A Room of One’s Own

On Re-Discovering A Room of One’s Own

There it was. A lovely, brand new edition, lying on the shelf of the first bookshop I’d been able to browse since the beginning of the pandemic. I’d just ambled up from an outdoor brunch, iPad in tow to do a little writing, reveling in the glorious early fall day and...

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Publication Day for THE PARIS AFFAIR!

One Month to the Launch of THE PARIS AFFAIR

These days, I'm so busy it hardly seems possible that I'll be able to launch The Paris Affair on September 29th. I was thinking I would reflect today on what it means to launch a book in this strange time of COVID-19. For, even though I was already working from home,...

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Podcasting is fun. Who knew?

Podcasting is fun. Who knew?

I've been thinking about podcasting for many months. I haven't done anything about it until recently because I've been so busy with other things, and I wasn't up for another learning curve. That all changed when I attended Jenny Blake's 3-hour webinar, The (HE)art of...

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Interview with Donna Russo Morin, author of GILDED DREAMS

Interview with Donna Russo Morin, author of GILDED DREAMS

So many wonderful books have come out during this time of pandemic. There have been heroic efforts to salvage book tours and help get the word out, most notably by Caroline Leavitt and Jenna Blum's A Mighty Blaze. I'm doing my own small effort to lift up some of my...

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Thoughts on writing about an 18th-century black violinist

Thoughts on writing about an 18th-century black violinist

These days are tough, no question about it. It's a time to raise the voices of people of color, hear their stories and listen to their pain. I fervently believe that #blacklivesmatter. But as much as I empathize with those who face personal and systemic racism every...

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Low-flying Planes and Memory

Low-flying Planes and Memory

My mother died on December 15, 2000. That's a long time ago. So why do I find myself thinking of her more during this bizarre period of isolation and fear? We were never close. I never referred to her as my best friend, as so many do in their Mother's Day Facebook...

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Why I Write Young Adult Historical Fiction

Why I Write Young Adult Historical Fiction

I'll be honest: my young adult historical fiction has mostly had lackluster sales. In fact, after my editor left my YA publisher, no one seemed very interested in continuing to work with me. So at that point I returned to writing adult historical fiction—which I still...

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It’s been a while…And now I’m full-time with writing!

It’s been a while…And now I’m full-time with writing!

Yes, I've been very, very busy with bookish things. Full-time busy. And I'm all over the place. Literally. But you can find me! And I'm still here too. Find information about my latest books here. See more about my 13th-century trilogy here. Want to come to one of the...

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Mother Goose and Show Don’t Tell

Mother Goose and Show Don’t Tell

Many books and blog posts have been written about "show don't tell." I'm not going to pontificate about it here. As most writers understand, there's a place for both in a novel. What I want to talk about here is what that phrase actually means. I want to illustrate...

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My answer to “The Article”

My answer to “The Article”

By now most writers who follow articles about writing on Medium.com (and many who don't) have read and freaked out about "The Article:" "How to Lose a Third of a Million Dollars without Really Trying." I waited to read it because I was afraid. Would it caution against...

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Trilogy and Series Craft Notes

Trilogy and Series Craft Notes

There's no denying the appeal to readers of a series or a trilogy. When I think about it, I realize that I truly fell in love with reading because of a series—Nancy Drew, of course! As a young reader, I loved getting to know Nancy and her friends, watching her get...

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I’m Open for Business as an Editor

I’m Open for Business as an Editor

Sometimes life pushes you onto a path you didn't expect. Writing full time and hanging out a shingle as a freelance editor and ghostwriter isn't what I thought I'd be doing at the moment. I thought that would be about six years off for me. But... My editor site is...

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What I learned by attending BookCon

What I learned by attending BookCon

I'd never been to BookCon before. The book conferences I've attended only include BookExpo America (about 10 years ago), which is really a trade conference, and a few Historical Novel Society conferences. At the latter, I sat on panels and hobnobbed with my amazing...

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The Publishing Rollercoaster

The Publishing Rollercoaster

I see on quick glance that my blog is saturated with images of Listen to the Wind, my book that just came out. So I'll give you a different image, one that feels very much the way I feel right now: as if I'm on a perpetual rollercoaster. It's not just the usual highs...

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Release Day for LISTEN TO THE WIND!

Release Day for LISTEN TO THE WIND!

It's been seven years since I had a book published. Fourteen years since I started writing Listen to the Wind. It makes me so happy to have a book coming out again, and so far, the pre-release reception has been great. Here's hoping release day goes well too! It's...

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Publishing Trials, Tribulations, and Thrills

Publishing Trials, Tribulations, and Thrills

What strikes me first is how much the publishing process has changed since 2012, when my last book was published. Granted, that was with a mainstream publisher (Bloomsbury USA Children's), with all the support and systems in place an author could expect. What I'm...

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Listen to the Wind blog tour!

Listen to the Wind blog tour!

It's all getting very real. I've been doing the kinds of things I probably should have done with my books published by big publishers. But who really knew then? For instance, I'll have a blog tour for Listen to the Wind in May. Because that's what's hardest for an...

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So, how’s it going with the publishing?

So, how’s it going with the publishing?

It occurs to me that people out there might be interested in reading about my journey as an author whose books are being published by a small press So I thought I'd give a quick run-down concerning this method of publishing—a middle ground between self-publishing and...

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Listen to the Wind blog tour!

Big news!

Something great will happen in a couple of months. Something I honestly didn't think I'd ever see. The first volume of my medieval trilogy will be published by Bellastoria Press! That is big news for me. This is a project I've worked on (with breaks) for thirteen...

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Happy New Year to All!

Happy New Year to All!

A little late, but at least it's still January! Why is it that turning the page on the calendar feels so significant? For me, a new year is an invitation to new beginnings. I suppose that's obvious, but the symbolism of it is very powerful. It's a challenge to adjust...

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The Importance of Connecting

The Importance of Connecting

It's been a while since I've written one of these posts, mostly because I've been head down writing my new WIP. This project is all absorbing, because I am very excited about it and very scared that I can't do it justice. But I haven't just been writing. I've also...

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Books I’m reading

Books I’m reading

Yes, that's right. Books. Because, you know, reading one book at a time just isn't cutting it these days. I need books to make me think, to read before bed (so short snippets at a time because...sleep), research books, craft books. You get the picture. A good book is...

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The important writing stuff

The important writing stuff

Why do I write? Why is it important for me? Is it important to anyone else? Is it IMPORTANT WRITING? I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I embark on research and start writing another historical novel. Historical novels aren't selling all that well these...

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The lies of memoir

The lies of memoir

Writers of historical fiction consult many sources to try to get as complete a picture as possible of the time, place, customs, and characters in their novels. And primary sources are the gold standard when it comes to research. But there is a caveat, and that has to...

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Treasures of the Internet

Treasures of the Internet

It seems every day, even when I've thoroughly researched a subject or a person and am in the middle of writing about it or her, a simple session of Internet research turns up new sources and resources that at the very least enrich, at the most reinterpret what I'm...

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Rewriting vs. editing—the painful difference

Rewriting vs. editing—the painful difference

I wonder how many readers think that writers just sit down and pour out a story onto the page, that maybe with a few little edits and tweaks the story that first goes on the page is the one that ends up in the published book. Sometimes that's the case. I've been...

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Art and Story

Art and Story

I haven't been to an art museum in quite a while. I used to go all the time. The only reason I went today was because there was such a long line at the Smith bulb show (my original destination). It's not the Met or the MFA, but the Smith art museum—half a mile from my...

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Ruminations about structure

Ruminations about structure

No two ways about it: I'm struggling with the structure of my WIP. It's as if I've spent months making what I hoped would be a beautiful garment, something I could see so clearly in my imagination, only to discover that I put a piece in upside down, and to fix it I...

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Where does the art of writing come from?

Where does the art of writing come from?

I firmly believe that 90% of writing is craft rather than art. But that ineffable 10%, the part that elevates a well-constructed, readable story to something more—where does that come from? Knowing how is just the beginning On an intellectual level, I know how a story...

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How do you know when you’re finished?

How do you know when you’re finished?

How do you know when you’re finished? How do you know when it’s time to let go of your manuscript and send it out, either to beta readers or to your agent or to querying agents? Because let’s face it: every time you look at it you will find something you want to...

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Truth and Fiction

Truth and Fiction

I've had a remarkable week or so, the land of both truth and fiction. First, the fiction, because in many ways that's easier and more predictable. My manuscript is going out to beta readers. Yay! Working title: The Adored. In some ways this novel has very quickly made...

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Writing a Novel Beginning

Writing a Novel Beginning

One of the greatest challenges in writing any story is figuring out where it begins and where it ends—most writers know that all too well. What seems like the obvious beginning may not be, and the tidy ending might end up having to come unraveled in order to make the...

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On finishing a draft

On finishing a draft

It's 6:39am. I'm at my laptop in perfect writing position, just as I've been every morning since November 1 (that's 55 days) as I struggled to put together my first draft of this new WIP. I realized at about 2pm yesterday that I'd actually done it. I got from the...

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Failures and Triumphs

Failures and Triumphs

It's been an interesting time for me in the world of writing and writer friends. I'm so pleased that two of my favorite authors—Kris Waldherr and Nancy Bilyeau—have sold historical novels to publishers in the last few weeks. I'm hoping this may be a sign that things...

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Story vs. History

Story vs. History

I was at a writing workshop a couple of months ago, and one of the participants commented that writing historical fiction is easy, because the story is already there. I didn't say anything at the time, but it's been bugging me ever since how to articulate why that is...

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Me and NaNoWriMo

Me and NaNoWriMo

Yes, I have done (and am doing) NaNoWriMo. So are many of my serious, well-published author friends. Why? Isn't NaNoWriMo just a gimmick to make everyone believe they can write a novel (and there's nothing bad about that, IMO)? That depends. On why you're...

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Process

Process

I never really used to think about "process" in relation to writing. You have an idea. You research, You plan—at least a little. Then you write. Is that a process? But lately, as I've been swimming back into actively writing and trying to get published again (I was...

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Rejection dreams

Rejection dreams

Whatever your theory about dreams—that they clear out the garbage in your mind, that they foretell the future, that they reveal great mystical secrets of your psyche—dreams have power. For me, their greatest potency is in helping me identify what's really going on...

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Scraping off burnt toast

Scraping off burnt toast

That was a phrase from Jamie Ford's advice to writers, which I linked to in an earlier post. The metaphor—meaning going back to something you wrote long ago and revising it and shining it up thinking even though it didn't sell then, it might sell now—I found very apt....

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Self-Doubt

Self-Doubt

I thought about just leaving it at that. You all know exactly what I'm talking about, don't you? It goes hand-in-hand with wanting validation, feeling unappreciated, and that pesky cousin: imposter syndrome. It's especially powerful for me when I have a manuscript out...

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Pet Peeves

Pet Peeves

I try to be tolerant and not too pedantic when it comes to the way people use the English language. Colloquialisms are totally fine, weird punctuation, etc.—especially in quickly dashed off social media posts. But when I see something repeated misused in mainstream...

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Jane Yolen’s Advice

Jane Yolen’s Advice

I'm fortunate to live in a great community where there are many serious writers. One of them is Jane Yolen, inspiring, hard-working, award-winning author of books for children and young adults. She posted the following on Facebook this morning, and it is such a true...

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“Why do you write?”

“Why do you write?”

I rarely get asked that particular question, although I'm often asked "Why did you write this book?" I think the answers to the first question partly answer the second: I write because if I didn't I wouldn't know what to do. I write because stories. I write because it...

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Woman power, 1903

Woman power, 1903

I did it again. Started writing and got caught up in a wonderful line of research. My heroine of the WIP in real life loved to play basketball. This started me looking for what she might have been wearing while she was playing, and I found treasures, treasures,...

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Avoidance

Avoidance

Yes, I've been avoiding writing. My mind is so caught up with a million different things. Such as building and tinkering with this Web site. That's constructive, right? Here are a few of my favorite things to do instead of write: Research Ride my bicycle Fix my Web...

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The dreaded pitch

The dreaded pitch

So, you have a finished manuscript. You've polished and prodded and written and rewritten and finally you think it's ready to find a home in the world. Congratulations! Not everyone can do that, sustain a story over 80k or more words so that there's a coherent...

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“Why don’t you self-publish?”

“Why don’t you self-publish?”

It's a question I get frequently when I bemoan the fact that I haven't had a book published in five years, despite writing several that I (and my agent) think are good and worth publishing. [Full disclosure: I did put two e-books of unpublished manuscripts up on...

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Linear Writing

Linear Writing

I've often thought about writing out random scenes, things that I see my characters doing, or events I know my characters will interact with at some point in the story. It's pretty easy, in fact, to make a list of those scenes, and soon it becomes obvious which ones...

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The Coronation of Edward VII

The Coronation of Edward VII

Originally scheduled for June, 1902, it was postponed because the Prince of Wales had acute appendicitis, and had to have surgery. The heroine of my WIP attended the coronation when it eventually took place on August 23, 1902. Remarkable to have film records of the...

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I thought I knew about early cinema

I thought I knew about early cinema

I was never a true aficionado, but I'd watched my share of silents: D.W. Griffith, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin etc. While doing research for my two existing (unpublished) novels that take place around 1910 in New York, I was astonished to see just how much...

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Of Corkboards and Thinking

Of Corkboards and Thinking

I'm circling around the new WIP. I've populated Scrivener with index cards of random scenes, and written one of them (sort of). Still not sure where the story begins, although I think I know where it ends. This one's conflict is tough, because it's mostly internal....

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Editorial sticker shock?

Editorial sticker shock?

If you're an aspiring writer and you've explored options for working with a developmental editor, or a story coach, or any of the other titles people give someone who is going to help you scrub and polish and tweak and twist your story into decent shape, you've...

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Story vs. Plot

Story vs. Plot

In my constant reading about and studying the craft of writing, I had an epiphany sometime over the summer. I can't remember where it occurred, what I was reading, but I finally understood the difference between STORY and PLOT. STORY: Essentially, what happens, and...

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Taking the leap

Taking the leap

As promised, here's the scoop on the workshop with Randy Susan Myers Saturday: I came in thinking all I had was a jumble of research that would never amount to anything. I left thinking there's a story in there after all. I don't know how much was the sensible ideas...

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Memory and learning

Memory and learning

Last time I participated in a workshop with Randy Susan Myers, I was struggling with the novel that is now awaiting its fate in the hands of a publisher. It was also only days before my father died. My phone rang in the middle of someone's reading. I answered it,...

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Writing dreams

Writing dreams

They just. won't. let me. alone. All those thoughts about writing that get translated into bizarre dreams. Last night I dreamt that I was in a house where I'd invited some very unlikely people to live with me. I discovered it was a bad idea, so I decided to move to an...

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Structure

Structure

The idea of structure in a novel used to scare me. I had images of an ossified underpinning that hampered creativity, interrupted the flow of prose and character development. In the past few years, I've decided to overcome that fear. I realized that it's not always...

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Finding the narrative

Finding the narrative

I've discovered I can't start writing a novel—even if I know how it should begin and end—until I find the narrative thread. Characters can develop on the page as I write, even plot to a certain extent, but I have to have a basic idea of what's going to tie everything...

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Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.

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Why?

Why?

Why is the world the way it is? Why are people incapable of just letting each other live in peace? Why do good people sometimes do bad things? Those are some of the whys I've been pondering lately. But the biggest one, perhaps because it's personal, is why do I write?...

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Research!

Research!

OK, that's kind of a nerdy thing to get excited about, but my historical novelist friends probably know the feeling. I'm digging around, reading, making a timeline, trying to connect the dots, looking for the story, and every time I stumble on another fact that gets...

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What characters look like

What characters look like

One of the magical parts of being a writer of fiction is that you get to create characters. Even historical figures, where there might be an image to base the externals on and some letters and historical accounts, leave a lot of room for interpretation. But it struck...

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Why I will never write like Virginia Woolf—and why I love her

Why I will never write like Virginia Woolf—and why I love her

At a time when life was difficult and confusing—more difficult and confusing than it normally is—I discovered Virginia Woolf. I was in my twenties, living in London in the days before connecting with friends and family far away was easy and cheap, before the Internet,...

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Work Spaces

Work Spaces

I've just come home from a week in one of my favorite places in the world: Damariscotta, Maine. The serenity, the fresh air, the occasional swim in the river—it's all good for my soul and washes me clean of the daily pressures of work and life, at least for a little...

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Thought for the day

Thought for the day

  Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. George Orwell

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New York, 1909

Just a little of the research I did for my WIP! I love the research part...  Recent Posts Thought for the day New York, 1909 On finishing…for now Tagsediting fiction orwell writing

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On finishing…for now

On finishing…for now

I just finished the fourth complete rewrite of what I hope will be my next published novel. It's taken a long time, because I've been reexamining everything about my craft, about structure, about what I hope readers will take away from my books. This was a true labor...

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