A Closed Bottle

I just went to the sink and refilled my water bottle, then, unthinkingly screwed the lid back on and lifted the bottle to my lips. Duh! It’s hard to drink from a closed bottle, I chided myself. Impossible, really, I thought as I wandered back toward the twin bed here in Cabin 20 at the…

Dear Eva, Thanks for All the Aunts!

One of my favorite children’s book authors, Eva Ibbotson, has passed away at age 85. In reading an interview she gave not long before her death, I found this quote about the publication of her first book (which I hope will encourage all the yet-to-publish):¬†“I must have been nearly 50 before it was published. I…

Breaking into Highlights

If you’re looking to break into¬†Highlights, one of the best tips I know is to analyze the magazine’s mission and make sure that your submission relates directly to something in the mission statement. The Highlights mission statement can be found on page 4 of every issue, and this is what it says: This magazine of…

“Chill”ing at My Cabin

A frigid wind has been blowing for the last two days, plummeting down the hills and dipping into the valleys like a kid on a snowboard who hasn’t yet noticed it’s summer, not winter. I’ve had to close the windows in my cabin and take long walks and hot soaks to keep my joints from…

Phoenix Airport Blues

You never know what’s going to start that old writing hunger growling in your belly. Tonight, it’s a two-hour layover in the Phoenix airport. The pilot said it’s 100 degrees outside (at 9:00 p.m.), but in here it’s just stuffy, as if the thick rose-brown air we cut through in our descent into the valley…

Experiential Writing

I’m writing this post from the midpoint of the Morrison Bridge, hunkered down beneath a narrow metal shelter hoping the storm will pass quickly. The hills behind Portland have grayed beyond recognition. Wind drives the rain toward the Willamette’s gunmetal surface like switchblades thrown from the glowering clouds. Fresh from the summit of the Coast…

Learn to Recognize Voice

I teach a whole workshop on “Finding Your Voice.” Beginning writers usually don’t think much about voice. When they do, they’re not quite sure what it is. But somewhere along the path to publication, most writers discover that voice is something editors say they look for. That it is–in fact–a critical element of great writing….

Portland Mellow

One thing I really enjoy about working remotely as an editor is mobility, especially since moving back to my favorite city–Portland, Oregon–late last summer. At least once a week, I make an excursion to the UPS Store on Third Avenue to mail my decisions on the latest week’s submissions back to the home office. On…