When I was in high school, I lived alone in a cottage on Martha’s Vineyard for a summer while I worked part-time in an art gallery. Later, I had other summer jobs on the Island: waitress, chambermaid, store clerk, bakery assistant, cash-register reader (don’t ask) and babysitter.  Nowadays, I live with my family in Ohio but I have family on the Island and I visit whenever I can.

WASHASHORE is my first novel. I’ve published another book, A CITY YEAR, an account of a year I spent with a team in the nationally-known youth service program at their Boston location.DSC_0554

The story behind WASHASHORE:
One day when I was 11 years old, I was exploring the woods near my house in Concord, Massachusetts with some friends, and we found a dead bird near a creek. The bird had an I.D. band on its leg. We were curious about the band, but we didn’t know how to find out why it was there, or what the letters and numbers on the band meant.

If that happened today, one of us would whip out a cell phone, snap a shot of the band, and later we’d google around until we got some information about our bird. But it was a long time ago—and we didn’t have cell phones, or digital cameras, or the Internet. We left the bird where it was and went on our way.

But my questions stayed with me. What kind of bird was it? Why was it banded? How had it died? And shouldn’t we have reported what we found to somebody?

I think that’s how stories are born: with questions, and wondering, and sometimes with regrets. I wished I’d written down the number on that band. I wished I’d found out more about the bird.

It was decades before I began writing WASHASHORE, but it was the memory of that bird that planted the seed for the story. Along the way, I spent some summers on Martha’s Vineyard, working in restaurants and inns and an art gallery, and at some point I read an article about the Martha’s Vineyard ospreys and how they had been rescued from the brink of extinction. The place, and the questions, and the memories and the information simmered together in my mind—and one day, I found myself writing WASHASHORE.

Of course, it wasn’t that easy. I wrote the first draft in about six months, but I revised it over the course of six years before I finally found a publisher and sent Clem’s story out into the world.

WASHASHORE, coming out this summer from Lucky Marble Books, is my first novel. Before this, I wrote two books and many articles—under the names Goldsmith and Goldsmith-Hirsch—about teens and community service. A CITY YEAR recounts the story of twelve teenagers from very different backgrounds working together to improve the city they live in and improve their own lives as well. To write that book, I put on a uniform and went to work every day with the team—then went home each night and wrote down everything that happened. It was an amazing year, filled with high spirits, challenges, some very deep sorrows and a lot of sore muscles. A CITY YEAR is available in paperback and is used in many college classrooms.

JOURNAL REFLECTION is a teacher guide for those carrying out service learning projects, whether in schools, volunteer programs, youth corps or on your own. It offers strategies for combining service and reflective writing to convert volunteer work into a true learning experience. You will find links on this site to other articles I’ve published on the topic of service learning.

I’m also a freelance magazine writer. All of my reporting springs from a conviction that close observation will reveal true stories that are just as compelling as the ones we invent. In addition, I write all kinds of articles. Interested in hiring me? See some samples here. My resume is here.

Fun Fact: I spent the first half of 2010 living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with my husband and kids. My mother’s Dutch, so I spent a good deal of time digging for my roots. You can read my blog about our stay in Holland here.

I started writing fiction when my children were small. Reading aloud to my kids stirred in me memories of how much books meant to me as a child and young teenager. I wanted to see if I could write something that would resonate for kids the way my favorite books did for me.

I’m working on a second novel.