Like all fiction writers, I strive to create characters readers will care about. But  that only works if I care about the life experiences that have shaped them. To do that, I’ve found it essential to delve deeply into their backgrounds. Much of what I learn will never appear in my novels, but my characters’…

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It all started after I finished my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill back in 2016. Despondent over the demise of my local SCBWI critique group, a  former member told me about her other writer’s group. “These women are serious,” she said. “They’re all multi-published, and they take turns critiquing each other’s work…

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Since 2001, I’ve been a member of a terrific organization for writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). While I’ve attended wonderful regional conferences, I’ve never attended the international conference. Not this year. Unable to hold their usual in-person summer conference in Los Angeles, SCBWI decided to hold an on-line conference. Instead…

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When I look back at my years as a professional dancer, I remember so much joy, and a lot of struggle. I was never the most talented, the most flexible, or the quickest learner. And yet, I was known as a strong performer—musical and expressive. You’d think that years of being referred to as “that…

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Unable to sleep last night, I got up and watched a rerun of an old Murder She Wrote episode. After six best-sellers, the protagonist Jessica is being heralded as the new “Queen of Mystery,” and the old mystery-writing queen doesn’t like it. She travels to Cabot Cove, Maine to steal Jessica’s latest work-in-progress and attempt…

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The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of writing activity for me. Having my life more or less canceled meant that I suddenly had lots more time to work on my writing. I finished up the first draft of a new YA novel, followed by taking an intensive three-week online writing class taught by…

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On discussion boards, I’ve noticed three different reactions to the pandemic among writers: -I am way too anxious (and/or too  busy with children/grandchildren at home) to possibly get any writing done. -I’m writing, but I’m so distracted that it’s really tough. -I’m getting more writing done than usual because the rest of my life is…

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Years ago, when I was in dance and working on choreography, I would arrive at the studio having a general idea of some things I wanted to try. But it was only in the act of moving that specific ideas, bits of movement, and whole phrases, often ones I hadn’t even contemplated, would emerge. On…

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I’m in a writing group where we regularly give each other feedback on our novels-in-progress. In addition, we’ve been working our way through one of the classic books on craft, Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway. We’re now up to Chapter Four in the 10th edition, “The Flesh Made Word,” on indirect methods of character presentation.…

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