I belong to a writers’ group on Facebook and one day the topic was “Google Alerts.” I had noticed that my alerts seemed to have gotten less and less effective. Someone mentioned Mention.com. I tried it out for free and found all sorts of things I’d missed about myself. This lovely site is called Women You Should know and it thinks everyone should get to know me!
I’ll be at this year’s National Council of Teachers of English conference in November at National Harbor in Maryland. Here’s my schedule:
Friday November 21st
1:30pm- Anderson’s Bookshop Book Signing Booth # 153
2:00pm- BOOK SIGNING for THE REVELATION OF LOUISA MAY Chronicle Booth #629
7:00pm Author & Educator Dinner with fellow Chronicle authors Beth Kephart, Michaela MacColl, K.E. Ormsbee
Saturday November 22nd
10:00am- Boyds Mill Press signing Rory’s Promise, Booth #312
12:30pm- Books for Children Luncheon
Hope to see you there!
Please join me in welcoming Rory’s Promise to the world!
Rory’s Promise is based on a real story that happened in Arizona in 1904. A trainload of young Irish-American orphans came to Clifton AZ to be adopted. It’s quite a story involving kidnapping, tarring and feathering and more than one mob. Here’s a picture of the kids setting off from Grand Central Station:
I wrote a guest blog post for Acting Up With Books about the books I loved as a child. Please visit Joli’s blog and while you’re there, enter to win a free copy of Always Emily.
Always Emily had some good news the past few days. Two STARRED reviews from VOYA and School Library Journal. And a great review from Booklist. As a writer, we never know if people will like the next book as much as the last one — and I don’t think that this anxious feeling ever goes away. When the reviews come in, it’s humbling and wonderful that the most important people in my industry enjoyed the novel.
Check them out!
•“MacColl has crafted a fictional tale of suspense and romance that is guaranteed to bring new readership to MacColl, as well as to the classic tales by both Brontë sisters.”—VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, starred review, April 2014
Inspired by the real-life Brontë sisters, MacColl has crafted a fictional tale of suspense and romance that is guaranteed to bring new readership to MacColl, as well as to the classic tales by both Brontë sisters. Weaving fact and fiction, MacColl begins this tale with the death of Elizabeth Brontë, sister to Emily, Charlotte, Anne, and Branwell. It is within these first few pages that we catch a glimpse of the personalities and contradictions among this family. The narrative jumps ten years in the first chapter—Charlotte and Emily are off to boarding school, where Emily will attend, much to her dismay, and Charlotte will be teaching. While Emily seems to get into calamity after calamity at school, Charlotte herself is not innocent and is reprimanded for retreating to her fictional world that she is writing while she should be teaching. After both sisters are sent home for different reasons, the story plunges into the mystery of burglaries taking place near the parsonage and a madwoman running the outskirts of the village desperate for an escape. Emily’s adventurous personality and Charlotte’s need to control all situations bring these sisters together to solve this mystery of the moors, where romance and sinister forces are abundant.
A brief snippet from both Charlotte and Emily’s books sets the foundation for each chapter and is enough to draw the reader to the classic Brontë tales. MacColl includes a very informative author’s note giving information about how much of the tale is told from fictional and factual events and brings the reader to a greater understanding of how the lives of both sisters affected their writing and influenced this novel as well.
• “Readers will be satisfied with the ending, and their curiosities will be piqued to read more about the Brontë family”—School Library Journal, starred review, May 2014
Based on the Brontë family of writers, MacColl’s story is filled with life and death, mystery, and witty humor. The main premise involves Emily and Charlotte uncovering Branwell’s nefarious activities and exposing a local mill owner, Master Heaton. The strong-willed sisters join forces to uncover Branwell and Heaton’s secrets and to reunite a family. Charlotte and Emily are the most richly drawn characters, and their often-contentious relationship is engaging. Their personalities are balanced by the supporting characters, including their father, the house manager, and a young man Emily finds on the moor. The two-dimensional Heaton has no redeeming qualities, save charm, and Branwell, who falls under his spell, is also thinly drawn. However, the effects of alcohol, mental, and physical abuse are realistically conveyed. MacColl succeeds in creating a vivid sense of place with her intricate details about Masonic rituals and the lush descriptions of the moors, Emily’s place of sanctuary. Readers will be satisfied with the ending, and their curiosities will be piqued to read more about the Brontë family. A lengthy author’s note tells more about the Brontës.
“There’s lots to like here: mystery, adventure, and a snippet of romance.”—Booklist, April 15, 2014
Although it’s Emily Brontë who gets the title mention, Charlotte is an equal part of this historical adventure that finds the older teens striding across the moors trying to learn the identities of a mysterious camper and a hysterical woman, as well as the reason for their brother’s suspicious behavior. Each chapter heading features a snippet of Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre, and certain plot elements here mirror those stories. But this Emily and Charlotte, though incorporating some of the real Brontës’ personal characteristics, seem much more modern. Emily, the opinionated, fearless one, is determined to follow where the clues lead, personal safety be damned; the more conservative Charlotte nevertheless uses her caution to make sure things don’t go completely off the rails. The afterword explains how other elements of the Brontës’ life figure into the story and setting. There’s lots to like here: mystery, adventure, and a snippet of romance, and as MacColl asks readers, if they haven’t read the originals, “What are you waiting for?”
I was honored to be invited to speak as part of the Connecticut Author’s Trail. Last Tuesday I spoke at the Booth and Dimock library in Coventry, CT. It was a lot of fun — with a varied audience of teens, librarians, writers and readers.
I’ve been on the Highlights Foundation mailing list for years and I’ve always been tempted by their Whole Novel Workshops with some of the top names in our business. But last week I had the opportunity to go to Highlights as a guest speaker for Carolyn Yoder’s Alumni Workshop. Carolyn is the editor for Calkins Creek, the American History imprint at Boyd’s Mill. She and I are working on a project and she invited me to speak to her group who are all working on non-fiction or historical fiction. The group was great — fun and engaged — and I enjoyed meeting all of them. And I finally got to taste the Highlights magic!
Join me and 90 (yes 90!) other authors at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival on Saturday from 10 – 4. For more information check out their website.
Jennifer Brown, editor at Shelf Awareness, did an interview with me a few months ago about Nobody’s Secret. Her questions were so smart that she made me feel smart for writing a book that inspired such clever questions! The review just came out and Nobody’s Secret has another star. I’m so pleased. This novel was a departure for me. It was my first mystery and I knew I was playing with fire by borrowing Emily Dickinson as my “detective.” Jennifer got the concept and liked it. Call me grateful and humble today!
For the month of April, Chronicle is making Prisoners in the Palace one of their “Eye Candy” deals. Get a great price on Prisoners in the Palace ebook and a lot of other terrific books from my publisher. Click here!