As Agatha Swanbourne Once Said...The Unseen Guest Blog Tour & Guest Post from Maryrose Wood

About the Incorrigible Blog Tour: Each stop features an exclusive excerpt and guest post from Maryrose Wood, offering a special look at the wise words of her heroine’s mentor, Agatha Swanburne.

"Whatever will do in a pinch will do." - The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, 
Book 3: The Unseen Guest

More than a decade ago I was invited to spend two weeks at a prestigious writers’ conference. My two kids were very young then, and I was a newly single parent, so the logistics were daunting. Still, I thought, it was summer, and the conference was walking distance from a beach, so why not just bring the little moppets with me? I ran the idea by the conference people, who were cautious at first, but in the end they said yes.

I’d be working fulltime for the duration, so I hired a babysitter to come with us. Her salary would be more than double my honorarium for attending (oh, the glamour of the writer’s life!), but the conference was kind enough to throw in housing and meals for her and my kids as part of the package, so I counted myself lucky and got out the suitcases.

Now, if you’ve ever dragged two small children along for a two-week stay in a place not particularly oriented towards kids, you know how easy it is to go overboard with the packing. What if they want to play Uno? Uno deck packed, plus a few board games just in case. What if they need goldfish crackers and there’s no place to buy them? Two weeks’ supply of goldfish, packed. What if they get bored (will twenty picture books and a case of art supplies be enough?) or homesick (should I bring their pillows from home?) or outgrow their shoes halfway through, or it rains the whole time…. what if what if what if?

What I really needed to pack was a cure for my neurotic worrying, but I’d need a moving van to carry that much baggage. So I stopped trying. It was summer, and there was a beach. Bathing suits, a few changes of shorts and t-shirts would suffice. A couple of books, a box of crayons and some paper for rainy days. We’d have to trust the sun and the waves and the sand and the fun of being in new place to provide the bulk of the entertainment. And I remember thinking, as I zipped up our one medium sized suitcase, slung my laptop case over my shoulder, strapped the toddler in the stroller and took my kindergartner by the hand: if the house disappears while we’re gone, we’ll be okay. I have my kids, a change of clothes, and all my work on the computer. We could go anywhere now and start over, and we’d be just fine.

I think about that moment from time to time. For most of us, what we actually need to survive is only a tiny fraction of the stuff we’ve accumulated in our lives. “Whatever will do in a pinch, will do,” said Agatha Swanburne. In a pinch, we can make do with very little. And that very little is a good reminder of how much we actually need.

What stuff do you think you really need in a pinch? What could you do without?

Thanks so much to Maryrose Wood for being our guest blogger today!

Maryrose Wood is the author of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series for middle-grade readers.  You can find her on-line at and on Twitter: @maryrose_wood

Don't forget to check out the next stop on the Incorrigible Blog Tour:
Hooked on Swanburnisms? On March 26th, visit for more pithy wisdom.

About the book:
Of especially naughty children it is sometimes said, "They must have been raised by wolves."

The Incorrigible children actually were.

Since returning from London, the three Incorrigible children and their plucky governess, Miss Penelope Lumley, have been exceedingly busy. When Lord Fredrick's long-absent mother arrives with the noted explorer Admiral Faucet, gruesome secrets tumble out of the Ashton family tree. And when the admiral's prized racing ostrich gets loose in the forest, it will take all the Incorrigibles' skills to find her. But once back in the wild, will the children forget about books and poetry and go back to their howling, wolfish ways?

Learn more about the series at