Margaret Meacham isn't nearly as concerned about her critics as she is about another group of ruthlessly honest readers: her own kids.
For this children's book author, the opinions of 11-year-old Peter, 8-year-old Jenny and 5-year-old Katy often matter more than what adult reviewers may have to say about her three novels -- the latest of which, "The Secret of Heron Creek," is due out next month.
"Children really look for truth," says Ms. Meacham, 38, who lives in Brooklandville. "You can't write down to them. They really demand an honest view of the world."
Today, she'll be reading from her new novel at the Cloisters Children's Museum at 2 p.m. The book, a fantasy-adventure about an 11-year-old boy's encounter with Chessie the Sea Monster, is set on the Eastern Shore.
While she always loved writing, the former librarian, who received her master's in library science from the University of Maryland, didn't get up the nerve to have her fiction published until 1981 when her first story appeared in Highlights for Children magazine.
There's one person, however, who still never gets a glimpse of her work in progress: her husband John. "He never sees a manuscript until I'm done," she says. "And then he's careful ZTC never to criticize it."
The way Elizabeth Murphy Moss sees it, she had no choice but to become a newspaper woman. Not when her grandfather had founded the Afro-American and her father had been a legendary publisher and editor of that paper.
"Newspapers have always been a part of my life," says Ms. Moss, a columnist for the paper since 1938. "I wouldn't want it any other way."
She grew up in the business, often spending her afternoons and weekends watching senior editors at work. During her tenure, she has filled such positions as World War II correspondent, managing editor and a job she still holds today -- author of the popular weekly column, "If You Ask Me."
On any given Saturday, she might write about anything from an (( ill senior citizen to a prominent engagement party to a coat-check woman.
"My mama said, 'Write the good things about people.' And 'If You Ask Me' has reflected those good things," says Ms. Moss, who's in her 70s and lives in Forest Park. While her three children also dabbled in the news business, they now have gone on to other careers.
As for her own future, she simply plans to continue writing columns on her trusty typewriter. "I'm still getting used to the computer," she confesses. "It's a blessing, but you have to have more patience with it."
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