It seems like I’ve always been reading. Even before my first birthday, I loved turning the pages of a book. This was likely an early sign that I’d be passionate about the written language and might have some interest in becoming a children’s book author.
My reading in elementary school sometimes got me into trouble. I often preferred finishing a book, more than doing my homework. If I thought about being a writer as a child. That dream was quickly squashed, because I had terrible handwriting as you can see here in the first story I ever wrote. I never got good grades on my stories, so I assumed I didn’t have the talent to be a writer.
Being discouraged about writing, did not stop me from reading.
But I didn’t think about being a children’s book author in middle school or high school or when I studied sociology at Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin, and earned a master’s degree in social work at Columbia university. I worked as a social worker until my children were born. I was still reading books, only now to my children. We had three sons and one daughter, so our house was always crazy busy and noisy. One child needed a peanut butter sandwich, another asked for help with spelling words, another longed for comfort for a skinned knee and another couldn’t turn on the bathtub water, often all at the same time!
The only quiet moments came after supper when darkness wrapped, like a comforting quilt around our house and everyone headed for bed. Then we would sit so close our skins touched and read together. Those peaceful, cozy times inspired me to write books that other adults and children could share.
Deciding to be a children’s book author and becoming one is not something one accomplishes over night. It takes many years of learning one’s craft, writing and rewriting and lots more reading. I belong to three different book clubs that each meet once a month. That’s a lot of books!
When I’m not reading, or writing books, I can most often be found outside taking a long walk or inside cooking in the kitchen. Or you might find me quilting, or knitting, or putting together a puzzle. Other things I love to do include watching a spider spin her web, or a snail paint its trail, or a hummingbird hover over a blossom. I especially love to sit quietly and listen to my cat’s soft, rumbling purr.
MY FAVORITE THINGS
Food—pasta and home-made potato chips
Cats—My pet Mr. Darcy, so smart he blogs about writing.
Dog—My pet Molly who loves to huddle here under my desk while I’m writing.
Song—I Whistle a Happy Song from THE KING AND I even though I can’t whistle I love to sing this song (not anywhere on tune) whenever I feel afraid.
Adult book—Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (A very romantic story without any kissing.)
Kid’s book—The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, drawings by Robert Lawson because it reminds me to be true to myself.
Bird—bright red cardinal, because I rarely get to see one where I live in southern California
Movie—La La Land (A lot of it was filmed near where I live.)
TV Show—The West Wing (Great writing and my brother, Bradley Whitford, acted in it.) Here we are together, both much younger.
Holiday—I have two—Christmas and Thanksgiving because they both mean getting together with the people I love best—family. Check out my book, “TWAS THE LATE NIGHT OF CHRISTMAS.”