Monthly Archives: November 2014

Writing a mystery is hard. Writing the perfect mystery is impossible–at least for me (spoken from abject experience.) But the great P.D. James  performed this feat of magic again and again, and no one made it look simpler or did it with more elegance.

I was just reading her obituary in the New York Times, and was startled by this comment she made on her work: “Almost always the idea for a book comes to me as a reaction to a particular place.  I like to create in books some kind of opposition between places and characters.”

I’ve never seen that idea put into words before, and yet I immediately recognize myself in it.  A particular sense of place is where I always start, and  my novels can only take place where they do. My very good friend, who reads widely and teaches lit,  cringes at the notion that setting can “be a character”, but hey. For me, it’s an essential catalyst, a force for my characters to respond to or against. Witness:

Fox Street–the title says it all

Moonpenny Island–ditto

Just A Second , my work in progress, is set in a neighborhood that clings to the side of a hill, with two very different worlds bordering it on top and at the foot. Nella, my hero, is waiting for the landslide that will change everything–and it comes.

In these stories, the settings nurture or squash, cradle or imprison, and they supply much of the friction. It’s something I’ve been aware of, but because I think of my work as character-driven, I guess I didn’t really look at how important that “opposition between places and characters”  is to me. Thank you, Baroness James, for all those perfect mysteries, and for giving me yet another thing to think about.

I just finished a draft of the third book in my new CODY series. The working title is “Trust Cody”, but since I’m known for clunky titles, that will probably change.  It’s about 500 words too long, rough around the edges, etc. etc., but woot! It’s got a solid backbone (got backbones on the brain, as Cody is currently into invertebrates).

So…it seems like a nice time to share a bit of the advanced praise “Cody and the Fountain of Happiness”, publishing in April, has gotten, like this unbelievably generous quote from Sarah Pennypacker, creator of “Clementine”:

“Cody is perfectly charming and charmingly imperfect. I’m already hoping for more…”

And from Megan McDonald, who gave the world Judy Moody and Stink:

“Every First Day of Summer should start with Cody. Whether communing with ants, spouting science, or curing a case of the whim-whams, Cody’s story is witty, heart-warming and wise.”

Two masters of the early middle grade novel–never in a million years did I hope to keep company with them.

Finding a corner to sit in and count my blessings…


February 10, 2015

MOONPENNY has its first review, a star from Kirkus. Let me say that when a reviewer (or any reader)  really gets what you were trying to do,  it’s a wondrous thing.

When one of an inseparable pair of friends is sent away, the other’s life turns upside down. Lake Erie’s Moonpenny Island is a tourist destination in summer and a small enclave of familiar weirdness the rest of the year. Flor loves it, riding her bike like a trusty steed, imagining the infinite possibilities of her world. Flor can hardly believe it when Sylvie, whose family is practically royalty on Moonpenny Island, announces that she’s being sent away to attend private school on the mainland. Further rocking Flor’s unsteady world, her parents are fighting more than ever, using ugly words that twist daggers of fear into Flor, her little brother, Thomas, and older sister, Cecilia. When the unthinkable happens and Flor’s Latina mother leaves the island too, Flor begins feeling less audacious and more uncertain. However, when she meets quirky new girl Jasper and her unconventional father, Dr. Fife, Flor learns what it means to really see the world around her as it is and not just the way she imagines it. Springstubb delivers a beautiful tale of friendship, family, loss and renewal. Her third-person narration is razor-sharp.The author delicately parallels Flor’s emotional minefield with the stark absolutes of Dr. Fife’s scientific study of trilobites. Poetic and poignant, Springstubb’s tale of friendship, loss, hope and heartache is so fresh and honest it will resonate widely.

I know it’s fall…

…but it feels a lot like spring around here.

My new books are starting to push their way into the light. This Thursday, November 13, there will be A Cover Reveal  for Moonpenny Island over on the wonderful blog  It includes a giveaway of a signed ARC which I really hope you win.

And the cover for Cody and the Fountain of Happiness is almost ready to poke its way into the  sunshine too. I’ll keep you posted on that.

For now, I did a short post about my recent visit to Kansas  at (who can resist being a member of that family?)

Hope you’ve got  spring in your heart and step today!

October 25, 2014

Our girl got married to the man of her dreams. Here she is dancing with him and with the other man in her life, her father. A week and a half later, and I am still discombobulated with joy.