Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes. Nearly as quickly as I learned to read and write, I began creating. I wrote stories and poems in elementary school. A few won local prizes or were published in local newspapers. I enjoyed the acclaim, but mostly I wrote because I enjoyed writing so much — taking a blank page and making it come to life with words. In high school, college, and beyond, I continued taking classes to improve my writing skills. After years working as a librarian, I decided I wanted to write full time.
Tell us about your children's books.
Gifts from God is a celebration of 12 simple but profound heavenly gifts. The book combines beginning reader sentences and Bible verses with breathtaking photo art. It is an inspiring read for young and old.
In Kitty Kerplunking, prepositions kerplunk all around Preppy the kitty in this beautifully illustrated picture book. Preppy's amusing antics provide young readers a fun introduction to prepositions. A study guide and six activity pages are also included.
Describe your working environment.
I am very fortunate to have a lovely wood-paneled office with bookshelves overflowing with books and mementoes to work in. I have a big desk which is usually rather cluttered looking, but when I do tidy it up, I often can't find where I've put things. 🙂 I know a librarian should be a better organizer.
But I do have many alphabetized drawers of files with clippings, and information, and all my writings. In fact, my files are also overflowing. I guess I am an information junky. But I recently received a new computer for my birthday, so at least I have tons of space on it to fill up. I have a nice view of the world through my office window — trees and grass and flowers (from spring through fall) and a busy street with vehicles zooming by to remind me that life goes fast so my fingers should be flying on the keyboard, completing another new story.
I also have my office crew — my two cats, Herman and Henry; and my dog, Holly. They usually assist me throughout the day. The cats nap on top of my printer or almost on top of my laptop as I type. And Holly meditates on my lap or close by. They always enjoy hearing first readings of works in progress and offer no end of revision suggestions. And they encourage me to expand my workspace environment to help keep my ideas fresh — which means we often work on the sunny, comfy love seat in my bedroom where they all can nap (I mean work) in even greater ease.
Are you a disciplined writer?
Yes. This is my job now, so I to to work every day. I try to have at least three days of the week in which I work a "regular" work day — 9 to 5 from my home office. Then my other two weekdays, I work at volunteer and other projects related to my writing — tutoring, Bible study, school visits. And often I do some work on weekends as well. I'm always reading — which is part of my work.
What is your working style?
I like to take care of emails and other must-do commitments first thing in the morning. I don't enjoy the business work of writing — researching the market, creating cover & query letters, mailing lists and promotional business stuff. So often I'll set aside a day just to do that boring work. Then on my other days, I can devote my brain cells strictly to my writing. My creative right brain doesn't like to be tied down on those business-oriented left brain days. 🙂
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?
Yes and Yes! I have a fun and informative website — so I've been told — for kids, parents and teachers, and writers, too. I'm always updating it with new activities, book lists, writing information and more. Under the what's new section you'll find my blog — which currently has a "Where in the World Am I" picture and clue puzzle going on to see if my readers can figure out where I've been on my last holiday.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I'm revising a realistic contemporary novel titled Promises Kept. In this story Berty and her father, Curtis, an auto mechanic, live in a rural community about an hour west of St. Louis. Her mom, May, moved to St. Louis less than a year ago after the divorce to pursue her fashion design dreams. Berty remains torn between her commitment to stay with her father and her guilt for her lonely mom, whose interests she doesn’t share.
Berty’s best friend is her neighbor, Randall, an African-American boy abandoned by his teen mother. He lives with his stoic grandmother, Gran Millcee. When Randall, the Trash King, an avid collector of odd items, begrudgingly gives Berty one of his finds, she promises to discover its origin as a means of paying Randall back. When their new widowed teacher, Mrs. Evans, leads their fifth grade class on a study of Missouri’s own famous son, George Washington Carver, Berty soon learns of his ties to Randall’s family.
In this story where many promises are made, it’s Berty’s dad who reminds her that, “Promises are easy to make, Berty. It’s the keeping them that’s hard." As Berty learns about her dad’s hidden addiction, her mom’s driving passion for design, Gran Millcee’s deteriorating health, Randall’s run-away mom, and her new teacher’s sad past, Berty unravels the mystery of Randall's trashed treasure and comes to understand the importance of promises–even though they can’t always be kept.
Plus, I've just finished the final editing of my short story, "The Emily Explosion," which is soon to be published in the anthology, The Girls, from Blooming Tree Press.
And another short story of mine, "BF's and Butterflies," will be in the April 2008 edition of Stories for Children online magazine. It's always exciting to finally see the stories in print and receive such wonderful reactions from the readers.
What is the best advice on writing you've ever received?
From Larry Brossler, the Editorial Director at Boyds Mills Press, at a writing conference when he said, "Believe!" Believe in your writing and make it happen — no matter the difficulties you face along the way. That's my motto and I'm sticking to it