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.
Becoming a Writer
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!
For many years, I wrote software manuals. I realized how much I loved children's books when I started reading to our two young sons. I found a poem I had written in college, revised it, and sent it to several publishers. That poem became Cats on Judy, my first published book.
To learn more about writing, I took every class I could find. I joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I went back to school to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Since then, I've written poetry, picture books, and nonfiction books for beginning readers. I worked as an editor for a publisher of educational books for children. I visit schools to help students write poetry, and I received the Barbara Juster Esbensen Poetry Teaching Award for my work with a third grade class. I also give talks for adult writers. And I keep writing as much as I can.
How I Write
I carry a little notebook in my pocket so I can write down any ideas that bump into me. Sometimes I gather those 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 buckle down and revise. I work on paper until my draft is pretty solid. I switch to the computer when I'm getting close to a final version.