About Me

The Short Version: Writer of things ranging from optical network switching white papers to genetic testing patient education materials to historical fiction set in an 1880s asylum.

More Details: Although in 2011 I converted to being a full-time novelist, there’s a part of me that will always think of myself as a freelance technical writer whose most marketable skill is my ability to translate product specifications from Engineer to English. I’m also a spouse and parent.

Like every other tech writer you will ever meet, I’ve been working on the next great American novel for several years (well, unless you happen to meet that one tech writer in Concord, Massachusetts who paints. I’ve also heard that there’s a technical writer in California who’s in a band, but I have yet to personally confirm this outrageous accusation).

When I’m not scratching my head over pesky characters who refuse to do things how I want them done or dreaming of my next book (which will of course be much easier to write and research than the current one), my writerly self can be found sifting through the stacks in my church’s archives looking for a few good stories to tell, blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old here at Caterpickles, or musing about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.

Why a blog on exploring the world with a (now) second grader?

Over the many years I’ve worked as a professional technical writer, people have paid me to explain how everything from genetic testing to networking security works (with a subset of people paying me to explain how to do things like manage an access point for a 3G wireless network or use a Christmas tree to regulate the flow from an oil well).

Then I had a child. And though she doesn’t really want me telling her (how) to do things, she does ask a lot of interesting questions. Really interesting questions. So I started this blog. She doesn’t pay me much for it, but that’s ok. When I started this, she couldn’t read (much) anyway.

8 Responses to About Me

  1. Nona Estrin says:

    Hi Shala, from East Montpelier, Vermont. Just happened upon your great review of our book, In Season, and thought your discription of exploring the world with a 4 year old was wonderful. Loved the picture of the grackle, with the yellow eye, black bill, irridesent blue and green head, black wings….that’s some observer you have there. A picture to be proud of…great world too, around the bird. Also nice how much you were enjoying our book…and not a word about my horrible spelling! Hope you and the young person are still enjoying the world beyond the door, and still reading and writing! Nona Estrin and Charles Johnson in Vermont


    • Shala Howell says:

      Thank you. What a gift your book has been to us. The Caterpickles Field guide got away from us over the summer (buried under the excitement of visiting all the bunnies in the Dedham Public Art Project), but it is a wonderful way to spend time with The now Five Year Old, so I think I will revive it in the morning. It’s spring break here-a perfect time for it.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  2. rayworth1973 says:

    Did you ever purchase Treasure Of The Umbrunna? If you did, did you read it and if so, what did you think?


    • Shala Howell says:

      Well, I managed to accomplish the purchasing of it. It’s sitting on my to read shelf. What I haven’t managed to accomplish is the reading of it, because I’ve been in the mood for mysteries lately, not fantasy. It’s first on the queue for fantasy, though.


  3. rayworth1973 says:

    Thank you so much! When you get around to it, would love to hear what you think. I go through spells like that also. Right now, I’m going through a bunch of icky bug (horror) novels that I had to special order off Amazon because the bookstores won’t carry them. One of those genres that the “big five” shun unless you’re Stephen King. Don’t get me started on him. Not a fan! Rock on!


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