The Music That Made THE LOST GIRLS

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Music is critical to my writing process. When I sat down to work on THE LOST GIRLS, I’d turn on Pandora and hit the playlist I’d — unoriginally — named “The Lost Girls.” Out flowed a brooding soundtrack of melancholy, loss, helpless faith, and forlorn love that shivered all along my nerve endings to my fingertips. (Doesn’t that just make you want to race out and preorder the book right…


The Two Kinds of Story

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

John Gardner, the author of one of the greatest craft books of all time, THE ART OF FICTION, once said there are only two kinds of stories in the world: “a person goes on an adventure” or “a stranger comes to town.” I thought this was a gross generalization when I heard it quoted at a writer’s workshop, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized he…


Feeding the Muse a Cookie

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

This week I’m confronted by a topic that doesn’t bear much relationship to what I write: food. Unlike Jennifer’s MODERN GIRLS, with its evocative descriptions of traditional shabbat meals, or the baked goods Louise’s protagonist makes that are so rich you can taste them if you lick the page, THE LOST GIRLS doesn’t feature food in its storytelling. At all. I agree it’s a powerful tool, but it’s one I…


Hell, Yes, I Have Regrets

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I confess: I’m jealous of Louise and Jenny, with their nonexistent and paltry lists of regrets. Because I do have regrets. Not so much on the real life side of the equation, where I share their look-forward-not-back attitude, but on the authorial side. And, being as how one of our missions here on the Ball is to offer guidance by reverse example, I am going to list them all right here…


A Woman of Letters

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When I was a young lawyer fresh out of law school, I was one of ten women in a class of forty incoming associates at a large law firm. On weekends, the male associates got invited for golf outings with the partners at their private clubs. Naturally, they were also assigned to the “best” partner mentors — the ones who represented the most lucrative clients and worked on the highest-profile…


The Memory of Water

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

THE LOST GIRLS was born of water. Not just any water, but the very particular lake water of my childhood. I first saw the ocean as a teenager, and its grandeur made me so dizzy it knocked me off my feet. But the water of White Earth Lake – fecund and drawn close with mystery – was a part of my life before I could walk, and it always seemed…


Owning What My Book Says About Me, and Denying What it Does Not

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I’ve heard it said that all writing is autobiographical. Even if you’re not writing the true story of your own life, the assumption goes, you’re inflicting your life experiences on the people you make up, or writing their relationships to mirror your own. One way or another, your purportedly fictional story is really a blueprint of your own darkest desires, fears, and memories. It’s true that many fiction writers do…


The Five Things I Can’t Stop Talking About

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

This week’s topic is “favorite things”, but since Louise and Jennifer already wrote clever lists of favorite things, I’m not going to do that. I hate to compete in games I know I’m going to lose. It’s a character flaw, and I’ll never change. So instead,I spent the past two days listening to my own endless blather and coming up with a list of my favorite things to talk about….


Who’s Your Role Model? A Long Overdue Homework Assignment

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

When my kids were in elementary school, every couple of years they’d get an assignment that asked, “Who’s your role model?” I always wanted them to pick me. Me, their mother. You know, the one who wiped their noses and packed their lunches and drove them to soccer practice and found their cleats at the bottom of the laundry bin. They never picked me. They always picked their dad. Well,…


Bad Metaphors and Other Musings on Being Halfway to Publication

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It’s halftime in the Big Game and I’m taking a moment to chill in the locker room and reflect on the touchdowns and fumbles of the first half in what is possibly the worst football metaphor ever. Although — bear with me here — there is something to the “halftime” analogy, because I’m learning that the period from four to five months before a book comes out is a period…