A BIT ABOUT ME
A childhood snapshot: I was born in the tiny town (the borough) of Alpha, New Jersey. All the kids went to one school from kindergarten through eighth-grade. When we graduated, everyone was bussed into the city of Phillipsburg for highschool.
My best friends were Tracy, who lived a few houses away, and Timmy, who lived in the apartments behind my house. Tracy and I played all sorts of games and drank Pepsi Cola (which I never got at home). Timmy and I read Mad Magazine, played chess (He always cried “Isabelle!” if his queen was in danger), and hit balls against the school wall in our own version of tennis (at least one ball per game got stuck on the roof. Every now and then, the janitor would go up and toss them back down to us).
Sometimes, on hot summer days, Mom would drive us kids (there were 4 of us) to a creek to cool off. When we were older, we’d walk the mile or so to the new public pool. If my friends weren’t around, I’d read and read and read. Mom would tell me to “put that book down and go outside.” I’d go outside—and find a shady spot to read
My family: I grew up in what is now considered a large family. I have 2 sisters and 1 brother. I married my best friend in 1984 and we have 4 grown children (we had 3 daughters and then a son, just like my mom and dad did).
I didn’t have a pet growing up—unless the fish tank counts. But I did get a hand-me-down rabbit from my daughter Abigail. We called him Edmund- and I just thought he was the best pet on the planet.
Where I live: While my childhood was spent in New Jersey, near the Delaware River, my adult life has criss-crossed the nation. In order, I’ve lived in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Indiana, Texas, New York and Mississippi.
Why I Write: I write because words can change how we think about the world. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, or Wonder by Raquel J. Palacio, or A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park are all books that changed readers’ lives. For me, Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki was life-changing.
I write because books give us the power to find ourselves after we lose ourselves in them. Books can teach us that with perseverance (and maybe a little humor) we can all find our way, even when the world is unkind.
I write because when we read, we learn empathy. And empathy leads to action. And action, well that’s the stuff that changes the world!
And it all starts with reading.
My education: After highschool I went to Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. I also spent a summer at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. After working and raising a family, I studied with the Institute of Children’s Literature under authors Michael Cooper and Nancy Butts.
I’ve participated in online classes, webinars and other writer challenges with the Children’s Books Academy, Jodell Sadler’s KidLit College, Angie Karcher’s RhyPIBoMo, Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge, KidLit Writing School, West Texas A&M University Writers Academy, and over a dozen conferences and workshops.