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Circumstance and Plot

I can’t remember how my fascination with trains began. My brothers and I used to watch for smoke from the steam engine that pulled train cars along tracks that made their way just beyond the hills to the southeast of our farm. On a clear day, you could hear the train chugging its way between

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THE LAST CRYSTAL: Behind the Scenes

The Last Crystal Trilogy is complete at last. In the next few posts, I will be reflecting on the process of writing the Trilogy, beginning with The Last Crystal because I wrote it first. I had no idea I was going to write a trilogy. It started with an idea that swam around in my head for years before

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Writing as Conversation

I have been really fortunate to have some wonderful experiences with people who are interested in The Last Crystal Trilogy. Meeting people is rewarding–especially the kids. People who’ve read my books have been encouraging. I’ve had some great reviews, too–not all of them from family, either! At the same time, I am keenly aware that The

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The Making of an Egyptologist?

My granddaughter wants to be an Egyptologist. At fourteen, she has been teaching herself to read hieroglyphics, using the classic, Hieroglyphics for Beginners, by E. A. Wallis Budge. This all began in third grade when a teacher introduced her to myths from various cultures. She was intrigued by Egyptian mythology. Intrigue turned to the desire

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Mist, Children, Poetry and Times Past

  Last week I was in a beautiful old farmhouse on the Choptank River where I focused entirely on writing. The first few days were rainy. The river ran high. I loved the wet mornings, watching the mist rise from the river. Carl Sandburg talks about how mist moving across the valley carries everything with

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Every Fall

It’s that unmistakable time of year when school has started. After a miserably hot, humid summer in Baltimore, we suddenly had a few crisp days in late August. Now that September is over, leaves are turning. Mornings have that cool, approaching autumn feel to them. I love this time of year. I remember my Grandma

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“You Can’t Do That!” More about Death of Characters

The Beautiful Hills, Chapter 27 of The Black Alabaster Box is a chapter my granddaughter insisted on. She’d been my junior editor all along, listening to various iterations and offering suggestions. Sometimes I followed her suggestions faithfully. Other times I had to follow my own light. This was especially true when it came to death

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When Favorite Characters Die

After one of my friends finished reading The Black Alabaster Box, she e-mailed me.“I loved it. . . I must say that you are very brave, because I couldn’t kill off some of my favorite characters.” It’s true. Some of my favorite characters experience the harsh reality of life on the Santa Fe Trail. Two die

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A Purple Iris for Teachers

When I finished my Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education at George Peabody College for Teachers, now part of Vanderbilt University, I was given an iris along with my diploma. Campus had been a riot of iris blooms the weeks before graduation. As we gathered on campus in our caps and gowns, we stood

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