Ever since I was a little girl I have enjoyed reading and writing stories. My first stories were about the barn cats who lived on the dairy farm where I grew up. I remember taking one of those stories into school to show my first grade teacher who put flower stickers on the cover.
No one person inspired me to become an author. As I said, it was a love that I had since I was little. But along the way, many people, especially some of my teachers, inspired me to be a better writer, and to consider writing as a profession.
I have been a published author of books since 1986 when my first picture book, CHADWICK THE CRAB, was published. Prior to being an author, I was a journalist for thirteen years and had many nonfiction articles published for both newspapers and magazines.
My favorite book of all time is CHARLOTTE'S WEB by E.B. White. I have loved the book since I was in the second grade because it is a heartwarming story about life, and is so beautifully written.
As of 2012, I have written twenty- one books. Fourteen of them were picture books and seven were novels for children.
I always say the best ideas come from just looking around you at everyday life and thinking about things you see or hear. Sometimes I get ideas by observing family or friends, and sometimes from reading newspapers.
I write best on a computer in my office at home. I'm a morning person so my best writing is done in the mornings. I need quiet, and lots of back-to-back hours to write. On a good writing day, I'll write for five or six hours and then do editing or research in the afternoon.
Each person writes at a different speed. It takes me at least a year to a year and a half to write a novel. That doesn't include the time I spend thinking about the idea, or the research I may do before I begin to write.
Research may involve reading books, or going online to research certain topics. It might involve learning a new skill such as CPR, or driving a tractor trailer rig. It could mean visiting special places like a burn unit or a homeless shelter. It might involve talking to people such as doctors, nurses, hunters, teachers, paramedics, watermen, truck drivers, police officers, fire fighters, judges, blind and deaf teenagers, kids in middle school or boys at a juvenile detention center.
There is a lot of hard work involved in writing a book. But when I'm doing research, I'm always learning something new and meeting interesting people. When I'm writing - and rewriting - AND REWRITING -- I love the challenge of creating believable characters and creating a story that maintains my readers' interest with the right amount of tension and suspense. When I'm finished, I can celebrate! Plus I get to visit schools and talk to my readers, which is always incredibly rewarding, and often inspiring. In short, it's hard work, but it's the work I love.
I live in Annapolis, Maryland. I grew up in Granby, Massachusetts.
I graduated from the University of New Hampshire where I majored in English literature.
Yes. I have a husband, John, who is also a writer, a former journalist and is now retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. I also have two children, William and Hannah, who are young adults living in New York City now. William works for a bank and Hannah designs childrens books!
My family has two cats: Romeo, who is a Maine coon cat, and Mr. Charles Bingley (Mr. B. for short), a buff tabby. Both were adopted from the SPCA.
I love to read, watch movies, take walks, travel and spend time with my family.
First, you should be reading all the time because good writers are big readers. Second, I would encourage you to be writing different kinds of things: stories, journal entries, letters (does anyone writer letters anymore?), poems, essays -- and maybe join your school newspaper staff and write some articles.
I am going to refer you to a web site sponsored by The Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) which has lots of good information for people who want to be published. SCBWI also sponsors regional writers' workshops which are open to the public. http://www.scbwi-illinois.org/FAQ.html