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Ragweed & Poppy

Story Behind the Story #71: Ragweed & Poppy

The origins of Poppy, and the Poppy series can be found on this blog in a post dated June 13, 2017. If you read that post and the other posts about the sequential books, you’ll note that I never intended to write a series, that even as they appeared they were not written in sequence. Moreover, that first poppy book

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Don't You Know There's a War On?

Writing about War

The earliest historical record of warfare took place in Mesopotamia in 2700 BC. It was between the kingdoms of Sumer and Elam. If you read European history you learn about something called the “Hundred Years War.” Wikipedia gives a succinct summary; “The Hundred Years War was a series of conflicts from 1337 to 1453, waged between the House of Plantagenet,

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Devil's Race

Becoming a Reader

A reader recently posted this message on my Facebook page. I remember checking out Devil’s Race from the school library when I was in sixth grade. That book is what made me a book lover. I just recently found it again, after searching for over 20 years. I finished it again today and even at 39 years old, it’s still

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fan mail

Why Write for Kids and Not Adults?

Now and again I am asked “Why do you write kids’ books? Why not for adults?” I can’t speak for writers of adult books—because I don’t write them. But kids share their thoughts about the books they read in direct, and touching ways. The following are excerpts from letters an elementary teacher sent to me. Her class (I don’t know

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True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Reading Charlotte Again

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle was published thirty years ago. That’s hard for me to absorb. Or accept. And because it is once again being considered for film (will it happen or not is anybody’s guess, including mine) after many years, I read it again. What struck me first was the nautical knowledge it contained, very little of which

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Crispin: Cross of Lead

“May I have a digital copy of your book?”

In this time of distance teaching, any number of teachers have contacted me (and I’ve heard other writers) with a request: “May I have a copy of your book—which I assume you have in digital format—so I can post the text online for my students so they can read it.” The short blunt answer is “No. It’s impossible.” But you

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Writers don't write writing. They write reading.


A reader writes: “You’ve shared that you revise many, many times. Is there an order to that revision?” It was said (I paraphrase) that Shakespeare’s mind and hand went so well together that there was scarce a blot on his papers. To which Ben Jonson famously replied, “Would he had blotted a thousand!” I suspect that whereas all writers revise

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editing a manuscript

The kindest cut of all

The goal of every writer is to write well, well enough to attract and hold readers. But whereas the goal is generally the same, the method, the process of writing will vary (to at least some degree) with every writer. Writer A rises early, and writes best in the morning. Writer B is a night-owl and does best in the

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Subway riders in Manhattan

Who is reading?

When I grew up in New York City I rode the Subway almost every day. I recall how many people were reading as they rode along: newspapers (in different languages) books, magazines, Bibles, pamphlets. I vividly remember one day when it seemed that half the passengers in the car I was on were reading The Godfather. It was a city

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In isolation, my wife and I sit in our 630 square foot house—two rooms—in Denver, Colorado. She is recovering from surgery—very nicely thank you—and I am, as always, writing a book. The novel is a work of historical fiction and it has absolutely nothing to do with what is happening in the world, and what is happening to the world—you

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