The art of book covers: Recreating the jacket for IN MY MOTHER’S HOUSE

That old saying, “you can’t tell a book by its cover,” hits home especially with authors who have little or no control over the images that the marketing department in a publishing house chooses to sell your book.

When I decided to make In My Mother’s House available as an e-book, I had Read More…

Lewis Hine’s Children

Read about the work Joe Manning has done to find the descendants of the children in Lewis Hine’s child labor photographs here.

My Uncle’s “Kompromat”

From 1946 to 1958, Joseph Alsop, my uncle,

and his younger brother Stewart, my father,

wrote a syndicated political column for the New York Herald Tribune. At its height, “Matter of Fact” appeared in more than 250 newspapers. Today, decades later, an incident involving Joe Alsop, Russian intelligence, and a so-called “honey trap” Read More…

I’ve found my inner rabble-rouser…

I’ve never been a confrontational person., but suddenly I can’t stand it anymore. I grew up in Washington, D.C. surrounded by politicians and newsmakers, but fled the city the moment I came of age because I wanted to write fiction. Inside the Beltway, truth is more often stranger than fiction so I felt I could Read More…

Familiarity Breeds Acceptance

Waiting to Vote on Election Day

This week more than any other time since 9/11, I’m so grateful that I live in New York where I am forced to rub up against people who are not like me. On the subway, I sit next to people of all ages and Read More…

Harriet The Spy Turns 50

I was thrilled when Random House asked me to contribute to the 50th anniversary edition of Harriet the Spy. 

Harriet M. Welsch is a girl who says what she wants (in her spy book) and defies all the dictums of her time.  She wears black, high topped sneakers and speaks the truth. I first Read More…

We need the Authors Guild now more than ever….

Dear Friends and Fellow Writers:

Please read this letter from Richard Russo.

If you’re a working writer, you need to join the Authors Guild. The support they have given me over the years in reviewing my children’s book contracts and answering my royalty questions has made an enormous difference. They taught me what I needed Read More…

Me and the NSA

I’m amused by the way everybody is freaked out about the NSA watching when we send an email and who we’re writing. I grew up in Washington, D.C., during the 1950s, the child of a political journalist.

We always assumed we were being watched, our phones tapped, our conversations recorded, our mail opened. My father  Read More…

How I wrote an essay and lived to tell the tale…

I’ve never been very good at essays.  I prefer to write stories with characters in them instead of essays where I feel I ought to come to some important conclusion. Even blog posts like this throw me. They don’t come easily. Perhaps it’s because my father, Stewart Alsop, was a columnist who wrote three 1,000 Read More…

The First of Three Mothers

I am losing three mothers this year.

My own mother died in November.  One of my best “book mothers”, Nina Ignatowicz, the editor I’d worked with for forty years, died in January. And my other “book mother,” Margery Cuyler,  a friend from college days and my other primary editor (The Castle Read More…

Waiting to Hear #2

I heard.

I received an intelligent, thoughtful, incisive first read on my new book, a memoir about my mother’s early life and her meeting my father in England during World War II.

Here’s what my first reader said.

I read this with great pleasure.

Hooray.

I would like more of you in the book, more Read More…

Blog Tour # 2

The blog tour continues.  What’s a blog tour? A blog tour gives those on the tour a chance to meet different authors by way of their blogs. The Next Big Thing began in Australia. Each week a different author answers specific questions about his or her upcoming book. The answers are posted on author’s blogs. Read More…

Waiting to hear…

So I’m waiting for my first reader to get back to me about my new manuscript. This is the book I’ve been working on for years. I didn’t weigh it when I turned it in to her, but it’s 312 pages, about 90,000 words. That’s a lot of words. Does anybody care as much as Read More…

A Blog Tour!

The Next Big Thing Blog Tour

The Next Big Thing is an author blog tour. What’s a blog tour? A blog tour gives those on the tour a chance to meet different authors by way of their blogs. The Next Big Thing began in Australia. Each week a different author answers specific questions about his Read More…

Do You Love the Story or the Physical Book? Or both?

Here’s a provocative article by Joe Queenan about his 6,128 favorite books.

As for me, I love books in all forms. Even though my bookshelves       hold some memorabilia and knick knacks, in general, they are filled with books and for a relatively small apartment, I have many bookshelves.  I fought the idea of a Read More…

A Wonderful Interview

I love it when interviewers ask me fun and silly and serious questions.  Brittney Breakey has made herself a name on the web with her author interviews at Author Turf.

Here are some highlights:

What is your worst personality characteristic? Impatience. How did you learn to ride a bicycle? With two of my five brothers Read More…

My Favorite Memoirs

So since I’ve been working on memoir pieces for the last four years and since I recently read this blog post on the impossibility of listing your favorite memoirs, I thought it was time to come up with my own list. After all, it’s the end of the year, the time of the BEST of Read More…

Where I Work

This morning, when I arrive at my “office”, which is a particular desk facing the windows in my favorite public library, Milne Public Library, someone else is sitting in my chair. (I sound like the baby bear in Goldilocks.) He’s wearing spotted jeans, grey sneakers and glasses. I try not to glare. He looks furtive, Read More…

I Put Up An Ebook!

Trust me, this is a big deal for me.  If technology is a train, I’m running along the tracks trying to catch hold of the caboose.  But I was sad when my novel ISLAND JUSTICE went out of print, and much as I love used bookstores, it is galling to see my books sold online Read More…

Putting Together The Jigsaw Puzzle

Sometimes in assembling a history, be it fiction or memoir, you stumble upon delightful details that can enliven and enrich your story whether you use them in the manuscript or not.

Research On The Web

Sometimes I bemoan how much time the Web and the Internet seem to steal from my real work which is putting one sentence down after another.  Other times, I’m grateful. Today I’m grateful.

I knew that even though my mother had qualified to take the exams for Oxford University in 1942, because it was wartime Read More…

What Keeps Us Writing?

How does a writer keep writing especially considering all the dire news these days about the publishing world?

Monday Morning Blues

Getting the writer brain moving on a Monday morning.

Do Writers Go On Vacation?

When is a writer really on vacation or simply avoiding the tough moment of the empty screen?

Setting and Character

As a fiction writer, I’ve always like to visit the setting where my story takes place. For example,  in my recent novel, Counting on Grace, the book really came to life when I found the site of the mill where my character had doffed bobbins in 1910.  Many times I went back there to listen Read More…

Digging Deeper

I’ve just finished a section of my new book. It tells the story of my father’s experience at the Groton School and I’m calling it SLACK AND WITHOUT FORM, a phrase lifted from one of the Headmaster’s reports to my grandparents about their son’s lackluster academic performance.   Most of this essay is based on letters Read More…

The Perfect Readers

The blessings of a trusted reader

Looking Over a Writer’s Shoulder

I’m deep into a new long project this time, a personal history for adult readers.  Although I’ve published two novels for adults (ISLAND JUSTICE, IN MY MOTHER’S HOUSE), this is the first time I’ve attempted a non-fiction memoir form.  It tells the story of my parents’ love affair during WWII which includes sailing through the Read More…