Posted by: jeannineatkins | December 11, 2015

Little Woman in Blue: Out and About

“How is your new book doing?” people sometimes ask. I tell them I don’t really know, beyond that some people are reading, buying, checking it out from libraries, and sometimes kindly posting nice reviews online. Sales records remain obscured for months, partly because books are a business in which stores can order, then return what isn’t sold: so what looks like a sale at first, isn’t really. It’s best not to think about it too much, or obsess about reviews. Once upon a time, back when I started writing, my editor would mail a few photocopies of reviews months after my book came out. It seems like a time of innocence, putting out a book, and writing the next one. I can see more reactions now, sometimes in a matter of minutes if I choose. It can be gratifying, or not.

Books. People like them. People hate them. People won’t pick up every one. As a teacher I know that people don’t read the same book even if the cover and every word inside is identical. But as a writer, I can still be surprised by what people find in what I spent a long time creating. Books and life are full of surprises, and that’s how it should be. The ups, downs, and crooked paths of reality are more interesting than dreams we’ve come up with ourselves, staging all the players and proper responses. Still, I’m grateful for good words in Foreword Review.


And it’s fun to get out and meet readers sometimes. I liked talking recently at Field Memorial Library in Conway. At the Jones Library in Amherst, I gave a talk with slides called Paintings in Parlors about May Alcott and artists she knew, such as her student Daniel Chester French and friend Mary Cassatt. Some artists were in the audience, including Laurie DeVault, who took my picture.


Among other things, I mentioned how May Alcott and women of her era painted on smooth stones, lamp bases, and fans. Afterword, a woman took a fan I offered as swag and told me she’d paint on it; I told her to take a few.

“So I can mess up?” she asked.

“That’s usually part of the process.”


I’ll be talking about Little Woman in Blue next week, Thursday December 17 at 6:30 at the Tilton Library in South Deerfield, MA.

And returning to my love for that short form, I’m teaching a class for MFA students at Pine Manor College in Brookline, MA on Jan. 7 called Using Detail to Structure Picture Books. Information about auditing the class is at this link.


  1. Love this post, Jeannine. Sane response to a world that isn’t always sane,

    • Thanks, Amy. I’m very lucky to have sane yet appreciative-of-fantasy friends. Thanks for being such a good one.

  2. Wonderful review, Jeannine, and I love the picture of you standing next to the projected image of your grandmother’s Parisian watercolors.

    Oh, and hey!!! When I hovered over the images, up popped the Pinterest symbol! 🙂

    • Thanks, Melodye. Pinterest is on my list — thank you for the kind and gentle pushes there!

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