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Growing Up

I grew up in a big white house on a corner near Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I have six--yes, six!--sisters. One of them, Judy, is my identical twin.

My sisters and I sang together while we were growing up, especially while we did the dishes. When I was in college, some of us sang in a band. We called ourselves The Early Sisters. We had tons of fun.

The Early Sisters: Peggy, Judy, JoAnn, and Eileen

Becoming a Writer

I've always enjoyed writing, too. My mother saved a story I wrote in second grade about how much I loved walking our neighbor's dog, Zsa Zsa. I know my imagination was working when I wrote that story because that dog was mean!

I worked at lots of different jobs while I was growing up. Many of them involved writing of one kind or another. For many years, I wrote software manuals. After I got married and our kids were born, I started reading to them. That's when I realized how much I loved children's books. I found a poem I had written in college twenty years earlier. I sent it to many publishers, and after several revisions, one of them accepted it. That poem became Cats on Judy, my first published book.

I decided I needed to know more about writing, so I took every class I could find. I joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I went back to school for a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults degree from Vermont College. Mostly, I just kept writing.

I've written poetry, picture books, and nonfiction books for beginning readers. For two years, I worked as an editor for a publisher of educational books for children. Now I'm a freelance writer again. I visit schools to help students write poetry. I also give talks for adult writers. And I keep writing as much as I can.

Finding Ideas

I find some of my best ideas when I go for walks. This bench is one of my favorite places. When I walk to the lake, I often stop here and think.

How I Write

I always carry a little notebook in my pocket so I can write down any ideas that bump into me. Sometimes I gather those little slips of paper together to create a poem or a story. Sometimes just one word or phrase sparks a new writing project. The beginning of something new is always the most exciting part for me. Then I try to buckle down and revise and revise. And revise again.

I always work on paper until my draft is pretty solid. I write in spiral notebooks at my desk. I only go to the computer when I'm getting close to a final version.

I really like working in my pajamas!
Here I am on the Buffalo River!