Category Archives: Writing process

The Hat

People often ask me if I am a part of the illustration process for my books. That’s not typical. Authors and illustrators usually don’t talk to each other until the book is done. Sometimes there are details in the writing that must be translated into an illustration. What did the author have in mind? Here’s… Read More


What does a ballroom look like?

When you need to describe a setting so thoroughly that your readers feel as though they’re walking inside that space, it’s helpful to have a “model.” The family gathering in the ballroom at Eastcliff-by-the-Sea is pivotal for the book, so I wanted to get everything just right. I used my impressions of the ballroom at… Read More


Dalvay-by-the-Sea

Is Eastcliff-by-the-Sea a Real Place?

Eastcliff-by-the-Sea, the manor house and estate where Annaliese Easterling’s family lived, was inspired by an operating inn with a similar name — Dalvay-by-the-Sea — located on Prince Edward Island. On each of my many visits to Prince Edward Island, I made a special point to “do lunch” at Dalvay, always ordering the same thing: steamed… Read More


Miss Chickadee Finch

True-to-Life Details Woven into a Manuscript

I recently received a couple of questions about Olivia, a character in The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea, and the music that she sings. If you haven’t read the book yet (and you really should), this won’t give away too much. Maybe it will even entice you to read this book about two families (one human, one… Read More


Welcome to My Writing Studio!

My writing studio is a place set apart; a space separate from the phone calls, doorbells, dog barks, dirty dishes, clean laundry in need of folding, meals in need of making, and all the rest of the many ins, outs, and interruptions of daily living. My studio is part of a former attic on the… Read More


Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea

No Monkey, No Money

When you’re writing a story, it’s important to have a problem that your characters can solve. In The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea, one of the problems I introduce is “no monkey, no money.” The family believes they are due to inherit money from their Grandmama … but only if they’ve taken good care of the sock… Read More


From the Mailbag No. 2

Dear Jolie, The Publicity Department at Simon & Schuster has forwarded your letter of March, 2016 to me. Thank you so much for writing. I was delighted to hear from you! I am also happy to answer your insightful questions. Regarding your first question, at the story’s end, Tango did not actually find his mother… Read More


Crafting

From the Mailbag

Grace C., in second grade, wrote a letter to ask these thoughtful questions: Q: What makes you want to write/what inspires you? I wanted to learn how to write because I have always loved to read. I wanted to discover for myself what combination of talent and craft and imagination authors used to create a… Read More


Thirteen Promises to Keep

It seemed only fair that Sir Rudyard S. Monkey should accompany me to the 43rd Annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) summer conference held August 1 – 4 in Los Angeles. In The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea, Throckmorton tells the reader that his cousin, Sir Rudyard, is “considered the smartest in the long… Read More


The Story Behind the Story

If an adoring fan hadn’t given indie-rock star Andrew Bird and each of his three band members a hand-sewn sock monkey fashioned in their likenesses, The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea might never have been written. At the time, my son-in-law Martin Dosh, an instrumental electronic hip-hop performer, was touring extensively with Andrew Bird, whose best-selling album… Read More