Sunday, November 20, 2016


     It feels like eons ago since I last posted.  It WAS eons ago.  Aside from identifying my daughter's sketch the day after the election, I haven't been able to find words adequate to the task of expressing what I'm feeling.  I've derived some grim satisfaction since then from being Bitter on Twitter (@unpubYA, in case anyone's interested), expelling short and mostly vicious bursts of sarcasm to describe the betrayal I feel at the hands of this country I've called home my entire life.  But putting together a coherent paragraph seemed beyond my ability.
     I went to my doctor a week ago Friday for a long-scheduled annual physical.  He told me my blood pressure was up, and started questioning me to figure out why.  No, my diet hadn't changed, my salt consumption hadn't changed, nothing had changed except my lifelong belief that America could never become a fascist state.  He suggested I was overreacting.  "The environment will be irreparably harmed," I said, for starters.  He waved that away as a minor concern; what was really important right now, he said, was that the country have a leader who would grow the economy, bring back the  manufacturing sector.  I talked a little more about the global economic abyss of eight years ago and the extraordinary job Obama had done since then to lower unemployment and lift us out of deep recession, but I gave up after a little while.  My doctor clearly wasn't buying any of my arguments.  He was a kind, intelligent, educated man who had obviously voted for Donald Trump, the most profoundly ignorant person who will have ever held the job to which he will ascent in exactly two months.
     Meanwhile, David Duke publicly exults at Trump's staff picks, a swath of hate crimes erupts across the country, and Trump repeatedly takes to Twitter not to condemn either of these things, but to excoriate both the press and private citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.  Every pick he has named so far has been worse than appalling.  The only way the nomination of Sessions as Attorney General could get worse would be if the Senate rolls over and approves him, thus cynically declaring that the fox would do a bang-up job of guarding the henhouse.  This is a man who believes that the concept of civil rights for minorities is un-American.
     I've tried to do a few things.  I closed my Amazon and Macy's accounts, specifying that I was doing so because of their continued entanglement with Trump business interests.  I've contacted both of my senators.  I've signed onto my friend Julie's secret project which is going to be amazing and empowering.  But I've spent a lot more time feeling enraged and powerless and hopeless.
     But last night I had an idea.  I attended an SCBWI writing craft conference last weekend, and I came back knowing that I have a lot of work ahead of me to revise my current work-in-progress.  A lot of cutting.  Establishing more clearly right up front what the main character wants.  And as I was struggling last night to implement some of these changes, I started thinking about how crucial diverse books are to the kidlit world, especially in these dark times.  And I remembered everything I've read and heard from editors and agents about how much they'd love to see books that have diverse characters but that are not ABOUT diversity; the diversity is not a plot issue, it's simply part of the fabric of the story.
     I thought about all of this for a long time, and at the end I decided that I want my protagonist's best friend, whose ethnic identity is currently unspecified, to be Muslim.  I want him to be part of a somewhat secularized American-Muslim family, but otherwise to basically remain unchanged from the person he already is.  I don't plan to include any didactic lessons about inclusiveness.  He'll just be a regular American kid, which is of course what Muslim kids are.  But I'll know the difference.  And maybe someday if and when this book gets finished and published, it will make some middle-graders think about the world a little differently than they otherwise would.
     I'm a writer.  I am living in deep dread of the damage one hate-filled demagogue and his minions will be able to inflict on my country and on the world over the next four years.There aren't many things I can do single-handedly to change the outcome.  But I can, and I will, change my book. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2016


(I commissioned this drawing from my daughter the artist.  I knew she could execute what I was seeing in my mind's eye, and she did.)

Thursday, November 3, 2016


     Thanks to those who entered my giveaway contest for WRECKED!  My favorite comment came from Jess at DMS.  So Jess, email me your mailing address at muranosb(at)gmail(dot)com, and the book is yours!  Congrats!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016



     I haven't run a book giveaway contest  in quite a while, and given what this book is about, the timing seems right.  So read on!  A free book awaits you!
     Have I ever mentioned that my husband's hobby is entering contests?  He doesn't just do it for himself, either.  He enters contests to win tickets to events in Washington, D.C., where our son lives; tickets to events in New York, where our daughter lives; and, for me, he tries to win books he thinks might interest me, particularly young adult novels.  And I speak with authority when I say that if someone spends A LOT of time entering contests, they have a pretty fair shot at winning some of them.  A couple of weeks ago we went to a movie for free, as a matter of fact.  And now that you know about my husband's contest-entering fetish, it brings me to the subject of THIS contest.
     Through no action of my own, I am now the proud owner of a pristine copy of a newly-published YA novel entitled WRECKED, by Maria Padian (Algonquin Books, 2016).  To me, the timing seems right to run a giveaway of this book because the subject is an allegation of sexual assault between two students on a college campus.  A bookish freshman goes to a party one night, gets drunk, passes out, and wakes up to find herself being raped ... or does she?  The novel examines a range of divergent people and their viewpoints: Jenny, the alleged victim; Haley, her roommate; Jordan, the accused; Richard, a housemate of Jordan's; Jenny's controlling parents; the college dean assigned to investigate the incident; and a number of other students, including Carrie, a volunteer for the school's sexual assault response team, and someone who starts an anonymous online conversation thread about Jenny called "Lying Bitch."  According to the book's jacket flap, reading it "will leave you thinking about how memory, identity, and who sits in judgment shape what we all decide to believe about the truth."
     I flipped through the book but didn't read it, so I can't personally provide a recommendation.  But you can learn about the author here and look at reviews of the book here and here.  You can also read a Q & A with the author on the publisher's website,  And honestly - it's a giveaway!  As my husband might say: the price is right!!  So now that you're convinced that you want to enter this contest, let's proceed to the rules, shall we?
     The Rules: the contest will begin as soon as I publish this post, and will continue until next Wednesday, November 2nd, at midnight, U.S. eastern time.  In order to enter you have to do two things: (1) become a follower of this blog (or let me know in a way I can verify that you're already a follower), and (2) leave a comment on this post.  That's it.  How much simpler could it get?  I'll choose my favorite comment and send the book to that person.
     Let the games begin!  And may the odds be ever in your favor.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


     I haven't blogged directly about the presidential election until now.  I felt that there were many very smart people who were expressing my sentiments better than I ever could.  But I'm posting about the election now - not because I think I'm brilliant, not because I think I'm articulate, but because I'm haunted by fear and I just need to talk about it.
     Donald Trump is a serial abuser of women, and if that's what brings him down, I'm glad.  His attitudes and behavior towards women and girls are degenerate.  In his twisted mind, he has kingly authority over half the human race because he possesses wealth, power, and a penis.  The fact that we as a society have finally advanced to the point where such Stone Age views can actually cost someone an election is heartening, but even that result isn't a sure thing, and of course if it does happen it's pathetic to even count it as a triumph.  Still, no one will be happier than me to watch Trump crash and burn on November 8th because some diligent reporter discovered that 20-year-old videotape.
     But I am very frightened whenever I consider all the revelations about him that haven't, even potentially, brought him down.  When Trump was a young man, he and his father were charged by the government with racial discrimination in their hiring practices, and former employees have given statements indicating that the policies did indeed exist and that they were blatant and deliberate.  He has mocked a reporter with a physical disability, and reportedly referred to the actress Marlee Matlin as "retarded" because she is deaf.  He proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, and comes very close to equating all Muslims with - one of his favorite phrases - radical Islamic terrorists.  In a supreme irony, he calls Mexicans "rapists."  He is an outspoken fan of Vladimir Putin, whose critics in his country have disappeared with alarming regularity.  In fact, Trump has invited Russia to hack into Clinton's emails - an invitation Russia appears to have accepted.  He has threatened to jail Hilary Clinton, and makes no effort to silence his supporters when they speak of executing her.  His major theme is that, due to the machinations of a vast ring of conspirators, virtually everything is wrong with this country, and that he alone is strong enough to fix it.  In short, he is an ubermensch.
     Is it just me, or does this man remind you of anyone?  Trump is proud of his ignorance, which does not mean that the rest of us can forget history.  Have we learned nothing in this century about the dangers of following narcissistic, populist cult leaders/demagogues?  Is it a coincidence that white supremacists and neo-Nazis deem Trump the first mainstream politician to whom they can pledge wholehearted support?  Is it a coincidence that both Trump and his son have reposted items from white-supremacist websites?  IS ANYONE LISTENING??
     I don't believe that it can't happen here, in this bastion of democracy.  I believe that this country is in grave danger from Trump, his supporters, and the do-nothing bystanders in the Republican party.  And I can't remember ever having felt so afraid.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Give me your tired - your poor -

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free -

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore -

Send these - the homeless, tempest-tossed - to me.


     Official blurb:  Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a mysterious connection. When an eerie handprint appears on her mirror, she wonders if Dad’s warning her of danger as he did once before. Could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible? Or the grieving building superintendent? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her. Soon the evidence points to Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

                      *                                      *                                    *                             *

     Full disclosure: I'm very proud to say that Yvonne Ventresca is my friend.  We've known each other for years through attending SCBWI conferences.  Yvonne has been a big supporter of both me and my writing for a long time, and I hope I've done half as much for her.  But even so, I wouldn't lie about her book!  There won't even be white lies in my review  below!  (And I didn't lie in my review of her previous YA novel, PANDEMIC, either.)

     In keeping with its cover illustration, the novel opens in a cemetery.  Ella is visiting the grave of the father she's never met, and her sadness permeates the reader's introduction to her like a mist and lingers through the pages.  For the almost sixteen years of Ella's life, she's had only one utterly reliable person at her side: her mother.  But in a few days, their two-person team is about to be broken up.  Ella's mom is less than a week away from establishing her own new team; she's getting remarried.  And as much as Mom tells Ella that no matter what, her daughter will always be Number One to her, Ella knows that as soon as Mom marries Stanley, things are going to start changing.
     In fact, the wedding hasn't even happened yet, and things are starting to change already.  Ella and Mom have always talked to each other about Dad, but now when Ella brings up the subject, Mom seems impatient, as if she just wants to move on with her life.  Easy for her!  She's embarking on a new chapter, but Ella has never felt more alone or more vulnerable.  From her perspective, it's not the perfect time for Stanley's son Blake, the new 18-year-old stepbrother Ella's never met before, to arrive from California as a houseguest, just before Mom and Stanley get married and then fly off to Paris for their honeymoon. 
     It's not that Ella has no plans for the week.  She's going to sleep at her friend Grace's house every night, and during the day she'll be continuing with her regular summer activities: working at Mom's bookstore in town and volunteering at the local animal shelter.  And Blake seems friendly and con-siderate; he even seems to want to hang around with her sometimes while waiting for his freshman year to start at NYU.
     Everything is going okay until the night before the wedding, when Blake gets Ella alone and tells her that he wants the two of them to be completely honest with each other.  And to set that course, he reveals a secret that Stanley has told him.  Ella's dad didn't die in a car accident, as Ella's mom has always told her he did.  He died as a patient in a psychiatric hospital.
     Mom would never have lied to Ella about something so important - would she?  Why would Ella believe a stranger over her own mother?  It's ridiculous. But Blake produces proof. And once Mom and Stanley leave for Paris, inexplicable things start happening to and around Ella.  She's always believed in the supernatural to some extent, but these events are terrifying, and they leave her questioning not only Mom's truthfulness, but her own sanity.  After all, isn't mental illness often hereditary?
     Ella goes through what feel like a lifetime of changes during the roughly two-week period that this book covers, but she never for a moment stops being a believable teen character, and the plot never bogs down.  Your heart will be in your mouth as you gallop toward the conclusion, but you'll want to stay in the saddle every step of the way.


     YOU’RE INVITED! Yvonne is celebrating the release of Black Flowers, White Lies with a book launch party at Words Bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey, on Sunday, October 16th at 2 p.m.  Here's a link to the evite:    

      But because you won't want to wait until then to buy your own copy of Black Flowers, White Lies, here are the links: Indiebound | Amazon | BHYPERLINK ""&HYPERLINK ""N | AmazonUK | BAM

 You'll be reading in distinguished company! Black Flowers, White Lies was recently included at the top of BuzzFeed’s new "must read" books: 23 YA Books That, Without a Doubt, You’ll Want to Read This FallI quote: "This suspenseful psychological thriller definitely won't disappoint."


Yvonne's debut YA novel about a deadly bird flu outbreak, Pandemic (Sky Pony Press, 2014), won a regional Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her other credits include a short story in the YA dystopian anthology, Prep for Doom, and two nonfiction books.

To connect with Yvonne: Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

Monday, October 3, 2016


Because that's when I'll be participating in Yvonne Ventresca's blog hop to celebrate the release of her new psychological thriller,

... and it won't be the same without you there!!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016






     Any questions?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

I SPENT THREE DAYS AT A MAGIC LAKE HOUSE (and all you get is this lousy blog post...)

     My friend Julie the Nomad agreed to touch down long enough to spend three weeks house-and-dog-sitting for her family friends while they're traveling, and she invited me to visit her at the Magic Lake House for a few days for our own exclusive little writing retreat.
     You may ask: what made a lake house into a Magic Lake House?  The main requirement was for me and Julie to decide that it was, because both of us had hit snags in our writing and really needed some magic.  But there were other components too: remoteness, quiet, and beautiful surroundings.

and dogs.

and kayaks.


and a koi pond.

     Julie had already set up her writing station, which I call Still Life with Paint Cans, in the kitchen

and she graciously ceded the master bedroom to me for two nights and moved herself into the guest room downstairs.  And the Magical thing about the master bedroom was the attached sitting room.

That's where I wrote, and this was my view from the window as I wrote:

     And every bit of it was Magic.  We both wrote steadily.  I solved a major problem with my book that had been frustrating me for weeks.  And Julie and I talked about our books and our writing ambitions and a whole lot of other subjects too, and we cooked and swam and petted the dogs, but mostly we wrote and we helped each other write.
     And I took a lot of pictures because even though I'll probably never visit this MLH again,  I'm going to carry this visit with me in my mind and heart for a very long time.

Monday, August 22, 2016


   I signed up for author Stephanie Faris's blog tour to help promote the two first books in her new middle-grade Piper Morgan series, both of which were just released from Simon & Schuster a couple of weeks ago.


Aren't those great cover illustrations?  Piper looks like she's ready to charge (or get pushed!) right off the page!  What middle-grader would be able to resist buying the book to find out why Piper is riding an elephant or (evidently) running an office?  I'll give you a hint, since you're probably not a middle-schooler so this can't count as a spoiler:  Piper and her mom make up a two-member family.  They move around a lot, and Piper's mom keeps getting interesting new jobs in each new place.  But although Piper has to deal with the same difficulties all kids do when their families relocate often, she also gets a lot of opportunities to get in on the action in each new setting.

I e-met Stephanie when we both participated in the Blogging From A to Z blog tour over the last few Aprils.  This is Stephanie: 

And here's her bio:

     Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing. 
     Stephanie is the Simon & Schuster author of  30 DAYS OF NO GOSSIP and 25 ROSES. When she isn't crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of nonfiction online websites.  She lives in Nashville with her husband.

And here is my interview with her!

 1. Hi Stephanie! So, in real life you write articles about information technology, and in unreal life you write middle-grade fiction.  Is that how you manage your left brain/right brain split?


Good question! Maybe so. I do feel that the variety keeps things interesting. If I was just doing one or the other all day, every day, I don’t think I’d appreciate my “fun writing” as much. (Fun writing is the fiction stuff, in case you’re wondering!)


2. Piper Morgan is a little girl whose mom sounds like a free spirit, flitting from place to place and having adventures everywhere she goes.  I read on your blog one recent Mother’s Day that your own beloved mom sounded a lot like Piper’s.   How much of the Piper series is a love letter to your   mom, and how much of it is something else entirely?


I think being raised by a single mom definitely gave me a background to pull from as I wrote Piper’s story. We didn’t move around as much, but we did move a couple of times when I was younger. It was interesting that no matter where we lived, my mom made it “home.” I’ve realized, as I’ve gotten further into writing this, that this is really what the series is about. Piper is always longing for a place she can call home, but over time, she’ll come to realize that “home” has little to do with where a person lives.


3. Which comes first for you in writing a story: characters or plot?  Can you give a thumbnail sketch of your typical book-inventing process (if you have one)?   Ditto for your typical writing day (if you have one)?


I’m one of those “pantsers” you hear about, who flies by the seat of my pants when I’m writing. I wish I could be more of an outliner. However, once you’re published, your agent needs a partial to pitch your book to your editor. So I’ve developed a habit of writing three chapters, then writing the synopsis. That synopsis can then serve as an outline if they buy my book and I get to write the rest of it.


I wish I said I had a daily routine. I usually have every intention of writing 1,000 words or so in the morning, but I end up responding to emails and doing blog sorts of things until around lunchtime, when I go to the gym. When I get back, I realize I’m behind on my word count for the day and I write my butt off until bedtime! I always have writing assignments, and I try to do three to four a day, which means writing around 2,000 words a day, not including my book writing.


4.  Piper starts out with a bang by joining the circus!  Any hints about future exciting situations in which she might find herself?


She gets to work in the circus and a principal’s office in these first two books. In the third book, coming out in November, she works with puppies at a rescue shelter. The one that’s scheduled for next spring is set in a pool and spa shop and includes a TV commercial shoot. We’re still working on ideas for book number five, but I’m thinking it will be event-planner themed.

                                   *                       *                      *                     *

     If you'd like to find out more about Stephanie and her Piper Morgan series (and why wouldn't you?), you can check out any of the following links:







And make sure you enter Stephanie's Rafflecopter giveaway!!

The Olympics might be over, but for Piper Morgan, the fun is just beginning!





Sunday, August 7, 2016



     Here's a heads-up: on August 9th - in two days, to be exact - middle-grade author Stephanie Faris (via Simon and Schuster/Aladdin) is going to be releasing the first two books of her Piper Morgan series, PIPER MORGAN JOINS THE CIRCUS and PIPER MORGAN IN CHARGE.  Piper is eight years old, she and her mom do a lot of relocating, and according to the description on Stephanie's website, the series "follows the sassy Piper Morgan and the messes she makes as she tries to help her mom with a series of new jobs."  And from what I can tell, it looks like Mom isn't the only one getting new jobs in different places - Piper seems to always find a way to get in on the action.
     Stephanie is a creative and fun blogger who, despite sticking to a three-times-a-week schedule, somehow always manages to find something interesting to talk about in her posts, so I'm sure Piper and her adventures will be anything but boring.  Please make sure to check out the "sassy" Piper Morgan (if you order from Stephanie's website, you can even get an autographed copy!) , and please stop back here on August 22nd, when I'll be posting my interview with the author!

Thursday, August 4, 2016



     When starting to plan our summer vacation this year, my husband and I agreed that our actual destination was less important to us than that it be close to Washington, D.C.  My son and his girlfriend live there and although we knew they wouldn't be able to join us for a whole week, we hoped at least they'd be able to come for part of it.  My husband went to grad school in Virginia many moons ago and remembered that there was a big manmade lake called Lake Anna in the middle of the state, so that's where we began our VRBO search for a dog-friendly house to rent.
     Some of the Lake Anna house listings casually mentioned that there was a "cold" side of the lake and a "warm" side, but we didn't give this much thought.  We found and rented a house for the last week in July, paid up, and that was pretty much that.
      When we arrived, the friendly owner showed us around the property, including his little boat dock and the canoe stored in his shed which we were free to use.  That evening, my husband and I took the short walk down the road to what was advertised as a "sandy beach."  What we hadn't been told was that the beach was so miniaturized that perhaps five people could have shared it comfortably.  Overcrowding didn't seem to be a problem, however.  There was no one on the sand, or, as far as the eye could see, anywhere in the lake, even though the air temperature was in the mid-90s.  Boats, yes; swimmers, no.  I waded into the murky water up to my ankles and found that it was approximately the same temperature as the air.  Ah - we must be on the "warm" side!  So much for the prospect of refreshing swims!
     We took day trips over the next few days.  Charlottesville on Monday (about 97 degrees out), Richmond on Tuesday (roughly the same), and an extremely boring afternoon in Fredericksburg on Wednesday (a balmy 95) as we prepared to meet my son's 7 p.m. train.  Really no attempts to use the lake at any point during those days.
     I don't remember at what point I was in the house, idly leafing through local brochures, when I finally learned the delightful reason why the lake had a cold side and a warm side.  BECAUSE THERE IS A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT ON LAKE ANNA, THAT'S WHY!!!  The cold water is pulled up to cool the centrifuges, and the hot water is discharged right back into the lake!  And we didn't even have to visit the friendly nearby Nuclear Information Center to find that out!  Welcome to Vacationland!!

     It wasn't until we got home that I googled Lake Anna and learned that, in fact, the lake only exists because of the power plant.  That's the purpose for which it was built - providing water to cool things off.  But once it was built, vacation communities sprang up everywhere along the lakeshore.  We saw one development in the process of being built that advertised lakefront homes "starting in the low 500 thousands."  This was in rural Virginia, mind you, where I would have to assume that similarly-sized non-lakefront homes probably cost less than half of that.
     So here is my question.  Yes, we were idiots for not learning more about Lake Anna before we went there, but it was only for a week.  Who in their right mind chooses to buy a vacation home on a lake whose water is circulated through a nuclear power facility???  Are these people so confident that there could never ever be, say, a highly toxic - okay, deadly - leak into the water?

     Had we done our homework before we left and learned the history of Lake Anna, I can assure you this would have been our reaction:

As opposed to: "Hey, we love it here! Beautiful scenery, and the power plant adds that little frisson of excitement so necessary to our adventuresome spirits!  Let's plunk down our life savings and build our dream house right in this very spot!"
     Oh well.  To each his own, I suppose.  I will say that we had a pleasant land-based vacation week, and we came back rested, healthy and happy.  In fact, you might even say that we're... glowing.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


     Julie is not a chemically altered mouse or person.  (And if you're too young to get the FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON reference, I have no use for you.)  Julie is my crazy nomad writing friend, and this week she gave me an awesome idea for raising the stakes in the book I've been working on, and I'll be trying to implement said idea this coming week while I'm away on vacation (in Virginia, because God knows it isn't going to be hot enough here in New Jersey!).  So this post is a big fat THANK YOU to Julie, whom I love and slightly fear and follow vicariously as she hopscotches her way around the planet.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


     Yes, I know that the real dog days arrive in August, but last weekend my husband and I had our own.  We went - with our dogs - to a B & B in Vermont.  And by the way, here's a link - my guest post from May on my friend Guilie Castillo's wonderful blog, which I don't think I ever remembered to re-post on my own blog - to explain why we once again have two dogs after our irreplaceable Murphy died in February.
     The B & B was The PawHouse Inn in West Rutland, and its hook is that it caters to "dogs and their owners."  To be honest, I'm not recommending the place.  Neither the bed nor the breakfast was anything to write home about.  But the dogs liked taking a road trip

and the inn did have a big fenced-in area for them to play

and they got to go offsite to the Vermont Country Store

and share the humans' bed, which they don't get to do at home.

     So, all in all, despite the rainy weather, it was a nice little getaway.

Thursday, June 30, 2016


Let's see if I can copy my whole previous post, plus comments, so you can scroll to the bottom of the comments and see what I mean:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


 Yesterday I was browsing through my new SCBWI newsletter and Deborah Brodie's name caught my eye, as it always does.  But this time, the news was that she passed away at the end of June, after a long struggle with cancer.  She was only 67.
     I first met Deborah about 21 years ago.  My son Nathan was 2, I was working on a long rhyming picture book featuring him, and I was desperate to take a class I'd read about at the New School on writing for children.  I was a single parent, and my dear friend Sonia gave me the best birthday present of all time: an offer to watch Nathan for me each week, for the duration of the class session.
     The instructor was a woman with a jolly voice and twinkling eyes named Deborah Brodie, and the first thing I learned was to ditch my dreams of having "Nathan and the Urch," or just about any rhyming picture book, published.  "Dr. Seuss is dead," Deborah told us crisply.
     I learned a lot more than that from her, but the main thing I learned is that children's book publishing is an industry and that children's book writing is a profession; neither one existed only in some magical realm.  And I also learned of the existence of SCBWI, a haven for people who want to learn to write for children and get their work published.
     When the class ended, I didn't know how to thank Deborah for opening up a new world for me, so I brought her a rose.  A few days later, I got a thank-you note at home from her.
     I followed Deborah over the years.  After over 20 years as an editor with Viking Children's Books,  most of that time as executive editor, she left in 2001 to co-found Roaring Brook Press.  In 2007 she left there to become a freelance editor, writing instructor, and "book doctor."  All along, she did her teaching on the side.
     When I read that "book doctor" announcement in an SCBWI publication, I contacted her and ended up sending her a manuscript for doctoring.  She did a very thorough and enormously helpful job, and after that we occasionally stayed in touch by email.  Yesterday, after reading her death announcement, I went back and saw that, as I'd thought, I still had a saved email from her, sent in late 2009, responding to an email I'd sent her about her new website and saying, "I'm still hoping to see your name in my 'good news' column one of these days!"
     I've been reading Deborah's obituaries.  I don't know whether anyone can count how many new authors she's discovered, how many new careers she's launched, or how many still unpublished writers there are like me that she just kindly and graciously helped to move forward.  I do know that she was a beloved figure to many, both inside and outside the publishing and writing worlds.  I read this today, from her son: when Deborah learned she did not have long to live, she said, "Why me?"  But, unlike other people who ask that question, she went on to ask, "Why have I been so blessed, with such wonderful children, grandchildren, and my life?"
     Today is Yom Kippur, a day of remembrance, and along with other people I have lost in my life, I remember Deborah.  But, of course, she was only human, and although she knew a lot, she wasn't always right.  Dr. Seuss isn't really dead.  And neither is she.


  1. Sweet! That's all a person can hope for in life - To make a difference.


    1. Well said. Thanks, Genevieve!

  2. Deborah, that was beautifully written, and if you know how to contact any of her family or friends, I think you should send them the link to this page.

    I didn't know her at all, but after reading this, I feel like I know "the essence" of her and it seems she was a wonderful person.
  3. Thank you, Donna. I appreciate your thoughts. I don't know how to contact her family or friends, but I'm sure they've received a lot of other tributes to her. She was a special person.
  4. On Monday, exactly 4 years after Deborah Brodie died (6.27.12) I did a Google search to see what came up when I typed in her name. This post appeared, as well as the exchange above.

    I'm Deborah's daughter, Rachel and I hadn't seen this before and while you were right, we did receive a lot of other tributes, I was particularly moved, delighted and grateful to read this one. Your anecdote about Dr. Seuss is classic Deborah Brodie, and so was her email rooting you on....

    Thank you so much for publicly sharing your memories both because your post is a beautiful addition to her legacy and, more personally, because it meant that I could stumble across it so many years later and feel the rare pleasure of having a new and as-yet-unheard Deborah story to share with the rest of my family.

    Thank you!


    1. Rachel, I'm so grateful that you found this post and were thoughtful enough to respond to it. Like mother, like daughter, apparently. Deborah made a lasting impact on many people, and she will always hold a place in my heart. Very best wishes to you and your family.