Thursday, December 13, 2007


...My latest YA written in collaboration with Mel Glenn-- YA poet/novelist who has published
14 titles, most recently SPLIT IMAGE, 2005. (

(As for Flatlanders' Vermont, Chris and I have decided to compile a Flatlander Questionnaire,
print and distribute 500 copies in Feb. 2008. If you're interested in participating in this literary project, send your email address to to get your copy!)

Eben Reilly
With poems by
Mel Glenn

Zombie Girl: a poetic YA novel set in a locked down facility for teenage girls is haunted by the ghost they call Charlie. Though his identity eludes them, the girls feel Charlie’s presence each time the spectral letters C H A appear, an unseen finger scratching them into the frost on a bedroom window, in the flour on the kitchen counter or in the scouring powder sprinkled in the tub. Always while one of the girl watches: clearly Charlie wants to be known.

But not until an unwitting night guard shows up, the handsome college dropout Dana Drum, who begins a poetry exchange with resident Shannon Larkin, compulsive writer, liar and cutter, does Charlie find a poetic channel into all their lives.

A story of friends coming together in life and from beyond the grave, Zombie Girl, offers mystery and romance through poetry and other out of body experiences.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Margot's Movie and the Necessity of Many Lives

Daily I am reminded of the major oversight of creation (evolution, whichever), but the single life per participant on earth is an ongoing problem.

Daily I'm faced with the talent of others and the amazing possibilities of collaboration.
Only to remind myself that I've already committed myself to this project w. Chris Brown,
completing WELLSPR?ING, a musical for children to submit to festivals w. composer Jeff Adler,
producing BLACK OUT with my students at ASA-- and taking the GRE's in Dec. to apply for
doctoral programs for 9.2009.

Anyway, reading the Flatlander responses byMargot Harrison, reviewer for SEVEN DAYS, Margot the Movie flashed before my eyes. What a great screenplay in her story of the city
kid transported with Prof. Mom to the North Country.

If the creater (ok evolution) had graced us with multiple lives, I'd finally sign up for that
Screen Play WRiting class at NYU and convince Margot-- also a novelist-- to recreate the story so we could bring Flatlanders to the big screen.

But with the few years we've got, we have to pass up on so much brilliance, those glinting neurons on the edge of consciousness that shimmer with promise, but then just fall like shooting stars between synapses.

Hey, what am I going on about-- hers will be a great story for Flatlanders' Vermont.

Thanks so much, Margot!
I enjoyed meeting you, and I'm glad you're running with this idea. Sorry it took so long for me to respond. Things get pretty busy around here!1. When, from where and why did you move to Vermont?I was 11 and living in Manhattan, W. 116th, when my mom started getting part-time gigs up at Johnson State College (she was a pro musician then and taught flute). After some commuting via Amtrak, she decided to buy a car and move us up here for real.2. If your Move to Vermont were a movie, describe the opening scenes and images as the credits flash across the screen.A highway in 1979. A U-Haul. A little girl romping on a hillside covered with white pines. Oh, and the opening credits of Battlestar Galactica (original series), because when we moved to VT, we also got our first TV, which was quite a milestone in my life!3. List 5 first impressions of Vermont.Uh... green stuff. Ten-cent ice cream cones. Fuzzy pines and lots of ferns. Tons of churches for such a small town (they've since become part of the Vermont Studio Center!). Bears (fear of).4. Describe the first problem you encountered and how you coped or overcame it.Junior high school was the problem. A huge problem. Particularly gym class. I tried to overcome this by buying the proper clothes (chamois-pronounced-chammy shirts from the Woolen Mill, hiking boots with red laces), but I would not say I overcame it. More like grew up and fled it forever. I vowed never again to be in a situation where my worth was determined by my prowess at soccer and b-ball.5. Tell the most compelling story of those first weeks in Vermont...Finding my mom sitting by the creek outside our apartment complex when it was totally dark outside. She said she was meditating-- which was nothing unusual, this being the '70s and all. But in the city, you don't meditate outdoors, at night! In fact, for the first few weeks, I was terrified of the thick country dark, especially because there was this movie called Prophecy out that summer, about a rampaging monster in the rural woods. I didn't see it, but the THOUGHT sufficed. Anyway, at the time, I was floored by my mom's courage! But soon I was roaming the woods after dark, too.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

First Flatlander Response

If you're new to this project please read: Flatlanders' Vermont, and if you'd like to participate, please respond to Flatlanders' Questionnaire 1 (both below).

Celia Schneider of Castleton, a woman whose vibrant personailty seems indicative of many who left more profitable and many ways more predictable lives to re-root their faimilies-- and their own creative selves-- in the lush, rough, but more rewarding world-- in all ways but monetarily-- of Vermont.

Here's her first impressions:

1. When, from where and why did you move to Vermont? We moved to VT because my husband was a Forester and there were not a lot of jobs in that field in NJ. He also knew this area from coming to Lake Dunmore in the summers as a child. His family was also moving here as well.
2. If your Move to Vermont were a movie, describe the opening scenes and images as the credits flash across the screen. The first scene would be of a young woman excited and then in the very next moment that look of wondering what she got herself into. The next scene would be her crying.
3. List 5 first impressions of Vermont. Beautiful, peaceful, quiet, scary and overwhelming.
4. Describe the first problem you encountered and how you coped or overcame it. When we first moved here we lived in Brandon and I did not have a job at the time. I had been married a year and we moved into my -in-laws house. That says it all. I don’t remember any first problem, it was more adjusting to a new way a life.
5. Tell the most compelling story of those first weeks in Vermont-- could be as simple aswatching your kids hunt for tadpoles, drawing your first landscape, being befriended orostracized... whatever comes to mind most boldly. I’ll think about this one!

Celia, I'd be curious to hear more of those first months with the in-laws: where (or more on the temperament of the town), why, how long. Can you recount one incident that conveys that living situation and the cast of characters.We all play different roles in our families at different times: what was yours?

Thanks for responding, look forward to reading more of those early years!!
----- Original Message -----

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Flatlanders' Questionnaire 1

Thanks to all of you fellow flatlanders who showed enthusiasm for the project. (If you're new to this project, you can read the previous entry Flatlanders' Vermont.) While most of us
are solid individualists, who seemed to be making a very singular choice to leave our city lives to homestead in Vermont, in retrospect I see we came in a wave, all pushing northward for a saner life. Many of us are artists and educators, many of us parents, all of us have had unique experiences which I'm eager to have us share.

Each week I will post between 3-5 questions to mull over. Answer any or all in any order, and you can post your initial responses as comments (click on comments below his blog entry) or if you prefer you can email them to me at

This is our first leisurely phase-- just sharing our perceptions. Based on our responses we will devise a Flatlander Questionnaire which we'll print and distribute to any individual or family who then feels they'd like to contribute to the book.

1. When, from where and why did you move to Vermont?
2. If your Move to Vermont were a movie, describe the opening scenes and images as the credits flash across the screen.
3. List 5 first impressions of Vermont.
4. Describe the first problem you encountered and how you coped or overcame it.
5. Tell the most compelling story of those first weeks in Vermont-- could be as simple as
watching your kids hunt for tadpoles, drawing your first landscape, being befriended or
ostracized... whatever comes to mind most boldly.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


On Saturday Moriah and I turned out of the driveway onto Route 30 North on our way to Burlington to meet Margot Harrison, the book/film reviewer for Seven Days, to be followed
by a stop in Waitsfield for a reading of Crosswords to be staged by the Valley Players of Waitsfield.

Following the curves in the road, enjoying the muted browns, greens and lackluster shades of yellow and orange-- a range of color I much prefer to the brash reds and golds of peak season-- I had a Vermont flashback of a hundred images of my own family's past decade in Vermont.

Coming when the twins were two and Ben five to literally escape the gun play in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn (and the screaming teachers at the woeful public school to which Ben had been assigned), we felt we had stepped back in time.

Our first stop was pancakes at the dimly lit and dusty cafe in Fairhaven, where back then all five of us fit into the narrow wooden booth. Later that morning we arrived at a friend's old farmhouse in Hubbardton, where Ben found his first salamander, and when a lightening storm burnt out our water pump, I bathed all three in the stream that ran outside our rickety bedroom windows.

And that was just the first clip of a full hour of Vermont footage in my brain.

Later speaking to Margot, whose mom had transplanted her own small family from Manhattan to Saint Johnsbury where she taught at the college, I became more convinced that there are
striking similarities to the experience of all Flatlanders. We came like immigrants set on changing our lives, and many of us raised our children-- making harsh financial compromises-- for the frugal, but better life we made here for our families.

So I told Margot about an idea for a book, which after compiling hundreds of interviews with friends and neighbors, would explore the similarities of our experiences, our Vermont.

Later when I spoke with my sister-in-law Julie Merwin, a writer herself, of my idea for the book, she had an idea of her own, a Flatlanders' Cookbook, to show the vast diversity of newcomers to this state. And then later in the day, when I ran the idea by my friend Chris Brown, artist/yoga teacher, she enthusiastically took up the challenge and will help design the questionnaire that by next week we will post on this blog and send off to our Flatlander friends and neighbors to begin our book: Flatlanders' Vermont.

I'm excited about the project and will write more of our literary adventure in coming weeks.
Hope you join us!


Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Dear Lotte,

In life as in publishing there is no luck-- only numbers. And for me it's 2%. If I send out 100 queries, I usually get 2 responses. Looking for an agent, I sent out 50, and got one fish on the hook: Sara of Harvey Klinger.

Two manuscripts later it's: I'm enthusiastic, but not that enthusiastic.

Guess I'd better send off the next 50 queries.

Or give up looking for an agent, and concentrate on setting up the non-profit. Here's my last 2 emails w. Trevor Lockwood of Braiswick Publishing. He's always given me good advice. The question now is to go non-profit or not to go non-profit-- and if the couple of writer/artists I've contacted would care to go with me??

To do it or not do it... that's the question.I've spent the month thinking, talking, planning, but now I have to decide whether or not to submit the application for The big concern: will I turn into an art beauracrat?Tell me what you think. (You would have a paid position, so read on.)

Briefly: collaborative writing/art projects in the community.

Reason for Being: rebuilding the city the only way that matters... from the inside out!

Mode of Operating: Each year the Executive Director (me) and 3 collaborative writers choose a target group (teens, seniors, hospital/hospice residents, prisoners, shelter residents, etc) and create a writing project with that group (fiction, autobiography, drama, poetry, documentary, etc.) Having completed the writing project, the group will perform their work (reading, writing workshop, performance) in the community.

At the end of the year, all collaborative writing projects will be published in the Journal.

Staff: Executive Director: grant writing, coordination of all projects, filing end of year reports, general dirty work plus two community based-collaborative writing projects

Publisher/Graphic Designer: brochures, postcards, web-design and final publication

3 Collaborative Writers: design and present collaborative writing project in the community production of collaborative writing in the community (So far Brian, another instructor here that I mentioned might want to do theater workshops and a dramatic production. A student, Carol Buckley, would do memoir writing with seniors. I would assist Ben in doing a documentary: Notes on the Lower East Side, and continue working with my composer, Jeff, on the children's musical.)

This is my question to you as a seasoned professional with tons more experience than I have, will this ruin my writing life? I need the extra income, and I feel confident in the people who have voiced a desire to be involved. I have enough experience with grant writing, connections in the school system, and I think credentials in the arts to get this off the ground... but if I get it off the ground, does that mean I fly away... What would you do? If I do it, what do you think of your position (if you want it)?le me know what's up with you... miss your missives... eileen

... As for 'job' - sounds just lovely - and I'm honored to be considered. I'd work hard to make it all work.

Never say 'No' to a dream. If you try and it fails, or doesn't meet your expectations - you will have learnt something. If it works - well, what's the IF - it will work.

Go for it - and if I can help - in any small way (website perhaps?) in the early days - just ask.

It seems like a potentially exciting project-- and I do so love to collaborate. However,
innercities. org will certainly depend on putting together a team of writers. If by the end of the month, I find enough commitment to warrant the time and effort of applying for funding,
I'll send in the application to NYFA for fiscal sponsorship.

If not, well, great ideas beget great ideas. I'm sure I'll come up with the next collaborative writing project. Will keep you posted!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

On the Verge of Seeking an Agent...

To blog or not to blog. That's been my ongoing question about this web page. Unlike most bloggers I feel no need to grab the mike to address the crowd. And although I sometimes glance down at the modest number of hits this page has had, and pretend that someone out there is listening, I am well aware that I'm singing in the shower.

But singing in the shower is the only place I dare to sing.

Except for once when Ben was little, barely three, sitting at the kitchen table across from me while I peeled carrots, closed my eyes and broke into a doleful Irish ballad. Having little kids gives one plenty of freedom to do things like sing out of the shower. Anyway, when I opened my eyes and returned to my peeling, Ben looked at me and said, "That was beautiful."

A moment never to be forgotten as I will never again in my life hear such a heartfelt ( and wrong) critique of my voice.

Right now I've decided to take a risk and sing out of the shower and send off two manuscripts
one YA Novel: End of an Irish War and one Middle Grade Reader : First Kiss at Mantis Cafe to prospective agents. I suppose that why I am reiminiscing about unconditional approval: bracing myself for the avalanche of rejections.

However, as I learned with WOLF, all it takes is one admirer. It's been a while since I put any work out into the field: wish me luck.