Cook Until Done

My mom has passed away but one of the treasures I’ve held on to is her recipe box. You can tell how popular a dish was by how frayed and stained the card is. Some have notes to herself, reminders to bake on the middle rack or double the recipe to have enough for leftovers. And others contain Mom’s trademarked phrase: “Cook until done.”
Because Mom was a creative cook. She’d add ingredients she had in the fridge and wanted to use up. She’d substitute milk for sour cream. Or vice versa. She’d toss in some vegetables just to make it interesting. No two dinners were ever the same. But they were always delicious.
While writing this new novel, I have thought often of Mom’s phrase, Cook until done.
Because, for the first time ever, I have an editor interested in taking a gander at this work-in-progress when it’s finished. So of course, I want it done NOW.
But it can’t be ready
until it’s done.
And it can’t be done
until all the ingredients blend together
and gel
into something quite wonderful.
Like Mom’s concoctions, it can’t be rushed.
Cook until done.
Write until done. And done well.
 (But not well done;)


BEST FRIENDS FOREVER earns Starred Review!

It’s official – I have gleaned through extensive research and scientific methodology that:
Today is the official Launch day for my new middle grade book, 
BEST FRIENDS FOREVER: AWWII Scrapbook, published by the wonderful folks at Marshall Cavendish.

Here is what the reviewers are saying:

“This heartwarming tale of steadfast friendship makes a wonderful access point for learning more about World War II and Japanese internment.”
–School Library Journal, Starred Review

“Because this novel is written in the form of letters, artwork, and clippings for a scrapbook, readers will be in for a real treat with what feels like a firsthand perspective. Issues such as what does an American look like, racism, poverty, and more are encountered by these two best friends feeling their way through a complicated time.”

“Their account of wartime terror is made more poignant by their resolution to make their lives beautiful and meaningful. The faux-diary format is sure to appeal.”
Setting the intense personal story of friends and enemies against the big World War II events is a great way to tell the history.”

Check it out, people!


Going Backwards

Have you ever read a novel that started off one way and then somehow morphed into
something totally different mid-book? That kind of stuff throws me as a reader.
But as a writer, I can see how it happens.
You start out with a bunch of newbie characters, then you put them into difficult situations.
They react, and how they react shows what their true character is like. Before your eyes, your
little newbies are growing up (*sniff, sniff!) having opinions, growing a backbone (or not) and becoming
At least that’s the way it is for me.
Other writers might experience it differently. Maybe their characters come to them fully-formed but then the further they go along in the novel, the characters end up changing or going in directions the author did not anticipate.
This is why, when writing a novel, some ‘writing days’ are spent reading.
Today was a reading day. I hadn’t planned on it, but I’d gotten to a place where I needed
to be reminded of where my MC had been and how far he’d come.
Writers have to stop sometimes and read from the beginning –
to make sure Main Character in Chapter One matches Main Character in Chapter Twenty-One. And if he/she doesn’t, you have some ‘splainin to do, Lucy.