Writing is a solitary pursuit--the imagination guiding the hand moving the pen. I'm pretty old-school, valuing the work of good editors and the revisions process before letting my words go public. But life is short, right? And sometimes, just sometimes, we need to spout off.

About me...

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A writer, mother, teacher, friend, I love books, blizzards and beaches, music from Hildegard von Bingen to the Beatles to Bonnie Raitt to The Brood; I love medieval churches, red wine, creme caramel, and roasted beets, and walking the woods and coastlines of home. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

These Good Hands is in bookstores now. Based on the life of French sculptor Camille Claudel, it's a story about misogyny and mental illness--and in equal measure, about compassion and the power of art, and of writing itself.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A long time coming...

A few mementos from the Vichy era in France--WW2-issue coins, a Nazi pin--and a key from a house once dear to my heart. Keys figure large in the novel, set in the asylum for the insane at Montdevergues, France.

These Good Hands--my fourth novel, a decade in the making--is due out this April. Can't wait to see the book in print. The past month has been like house arrest, doing the edits--but all good, all satisfying and great working with a fantastic editor. His toughness and keen eye have helped bring out the story's best. A whole lotta darling-slaying has been going on, the process that separates the good from the dross. Funny how we writers write a lot of stuff for ourselves--stuff we may need to know while telling ourselves the story, but stuff our readers can happily do without. It takes a really good editor to point this out and to help us cut the stuff that, in one famous writer's set of rules, is what nobody reads. Onwards.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Under wraps

Say the subconscious is an ironstone edifice
with a few rocks loose, a terrifying iron
staircase inside that starts off circular, then climbs
calcified walls in an Escher-like zigzag.
this particular image is called.
In any case going up is easier than
descending, the most heart-stopping part
looking down. The foreshortened end of
the circular stairs
a dot.
So you put off leaving, and stay
at the summit as long as possible,
the view from the top quite splendid--the stuff
of dreams, if you have x-ray eyes
that can see to the very bottom of the
arm below. Bottles, golf balls, no doubt
a dead rowboat or two.
And all those dares, double dares, triple,
stories, kids' bragging, tales of scaling the flagpoles
at the very top,
just to show off...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Nothing great was ever done without much enduring.

So said St. Catherine of Siena. Enduring surely applies to most things to do with words, with writing, with waiting, with finding time for writing, with persevering through the present state of publishing, etc etc etc. Catherine also said Love, and speak the truth.
Words to boost us on these bleak rainy days that are so short on daylight. The greyness and bareness plotting, surely. All the natural world in wait. Snow, some snow would be good. A healthy bit of blizzarding (once school is over, marking finished, grades submitted, DONE) and that hunkering down that means winter. That hallowed season for word nerds: the best kind of hibernation, with no temptations of bee balm, hummingbirds, grass. Tho I'm not sure how Catherine would interpret this, kneeling in Tuscany six hundred years ago. Hang in, hang in. It's what we do, along with being honest, even when the truth hurts.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Oh, that day again, that comes around faster than we can prepare ourselves. The heartbreak lurking just under the skin. Stoicism. Reserve. That is how my dad, a veteran of D-Day, would have it. No sentimentality, no glorifying war. My dad, dead three years now, almost to the day. He influenced me more than I can know; his influence on me grows more profound every day, every year. An example of trying to Do the Right Thing. Of not complaining, or wearing your heart on your sleeve too much--but by living, making a statement. That war is evil, that nobody wins, that people are people, and life is always, always, to be treasured--regardless of whose it is.

Two years ago I wandered along Juno Beach--the very strand on which my dad landed with his company, his brigade. My little dad, driving a tank. Blood shit and corruption, was how he quoted a buddy describing the war. Burnt flesh. The stench, the utter, utter waste of death.

The very worst thing for me, when he died, was knowing how his youth, his best years were spent on this. Knowing how he had been shortchanged. And knowing, now, how all who do battle--whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, wherever--are being shortchanged, swindled of life.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reduce, reuse and recycle...

"Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!"
So far at the door we've had a Viking, a computer, a banana, Bo Peep, a raisin, the Cat in the Hat, a boy-woman, a pint-size pirate, a pimp (maybe) and a vampire with an uncanny resemblance to Grampa Munster--to name a few, these among many other versions of Dracula and broods of witches. You gotta love it, this night of letting alter-egos out to play! Which takes me back to Halloweens when my kids were small (Zorro, bat, pirate, clown, Robin Hood, ghost, witch, crusader, hunchback...) and back, way back to trick or treating before Sobeys invented plastic bags. The days of big brown paper ones, useless in a steady Haligonian rain (when didn't it rain on Halloween?)when only the spoilt kids got pillow cases. Now those plasticized reusable "bags for life" make perfect totes for sugary loot: more expandable than plastic pumpkins, and just about guaranteed not to give out, let go, and spill a cache of hard-won candy in the middle of the mushy-leaved road. So long, soggy brown bags, bruised apples and teeth-gripping candy kisses! But maybe, just maybe, those days were more atmospheric?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The day before All Hallows Eve....

Nothing like slow, careful looking; a walk through the woods. Pine needled path, splashes of orange oak; diehard green flares between naked branches. A fallen log is an armoured alligator, pieces of sky mirrored in black water. Blood red huckleberry; bare-boned granite. Everything puts in time before bed: November's coal-blue sleep.