My Words Fly Up

Writing a Mystery

I have always loved mysteries. Maybe it’s because my favorite book when I was ten or so was Harriet the Spy. Actually, Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels, which a friend of my mother’s introduced me to when I was in my teens, were what really hooked me. I clearly recall walking to my local bookstore

Read More »


In the August 30, 2015, issue of the New York Times, an essay in the Magazine section caught my attention. Called “Standstill,” by Sam Anderson, it is an essay about “the political world’s obsession with the moment.” Acknowledging that modern humans weren’t the first to consider “the moment,” Anderson looks back to the Greeks to

Read More »

Editors and Authors

A writer I know complained to me about the editing on her latest book. “Too much!” she said. “The editor changed my style!” I commiserated. As H. G. Wells noted, the urge to rewrite someone else’s words can be irresistible. I always remember the advice my first boss in publishing, the woman who taught me

Read More »
Living Room Floor Technique for Revions

The Living-Room-Floor Technique for Revisions

Several writers I know have employed a style of revising that I call the living-room-floor technique for revisions. It’s simple enough—take your printed manuscript and spread it out on the living room floor (or any room with enough space) and start rearranging. Move chapter five to the beginning; take a slow-moving scene and put it

Read More »
from short story to screenplay

From Short Story to Screenplay

I got an email from one of my students last week. A short story she brought to class earlier this year is now a screenplay. Not only that, it is going to become a film. There’s a director, a cast, props, probably even coffee and doughnuts. A little backstory, though, to explain how Pam went

Read More »
dreams of a writing career

While Working for a Publishing Company…

I grew up with the New York Times. Even though we lived in Philadelphia, my parents both read the Sunday Times. Naturally, when I lived in New York after college, the Sunday Times was sacrosanct. When I moved to New Hampshire, I would stroll up to the local corner store early Sunday mornings to buy

Read More »

Be Social


In which I blog about the days I write and the days I don’t write; about teaching about writing; about reading (which is never enough); and occasionally about music, because sometimes a three-minute song can tell as good a story as a novel.

Keep Informed