write resilience stories about contemporary, unconventional families. My second novel, The Orphan Daughter, explores whether prickly Jane McArdle will do better at motherhood her second time around, after her orphaned niece Lucy Ortiz moves from New York City to Jane’s Michigan farm. It’s set in my hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, which made it a lot of fun to write.
Resilience in a theme in my author journey as well. After failing to finish two different novels, I finally completed my debut, Sparrow Migrations, during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2010. It becames a semi-finalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, with Publishers Weekly describing the manuscript as “brimming with humanity and grace.” Sparrow’s protagonist, Robby Palmer, a 12-year-old boy with autism, and his parents, Sam and Linda, embody many experiences my husband and I have had as parents to a son with autism. I self-published it in 2013 and 18 months later was lucky enough to receive an acquisition offer from Lake Union Publishing. an imprint of Amazon Publishing, which specializes in book club fiction. Sparrow was re-released in paperback, digital, and audio formats in June 2015. It was nominated for the Great Michigan Read, a statewide reading project, in 2015-16. A five-part small-screen miniseries adaptation is now available – producers wanted!
Like Sparrow, the first draft of The Orphan Daughter was written during NaNoWriMo (2013) — and refined over three more years of revision. It, too, focuses on relationships – how they can be messy and uncomfortable but ultimately vital to our human nature. If you’re in a book club, I’d be honored to have you read it, and join the discussion in person if possible, or via Skype. Check out pictures of past clubs and discussion questions here.
For both books I relied on skills and habits I cultivated during ten years as a newspaper reporter– being curious, tapping authoritative sources for research, observing people closely and setting deadlines. I also have a day job in public relations and two elementary school-age kids. A busy schedule forces me to be efficient with my writing time.
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