I was born and raised in a small suburban town in New Jersey, the youngest of three children. It was always a thrill when we had “library day” in elementary school and I got to pick out another new book. Some of my favorite authors growing up were Judy Blume and O. Henry. I love the surprise, twist ending of O. Henry’s stories.
In high school, I was editor of the school newspaper, but my favorite class was creative writing. I loved making up characters and plots and writing them down into a story. One of my fondest memories was when my creative writing teacher, Ms. Earl, read one of my short stories aloud for the class and when she finished she told the class, “this is how a short story should be written.” Wow – I felt on top of the world! Ms. Earl was one of those very special teachers that fueled my love of writing.
At Arizona State University, I broadened my writing interests with classes in broadcasting and I interned at the local PBS station on campus. My first “real” job was an editorial assistant for a daily newspaper in Escondido, California. Part of my job was writing the obituaries (not much room for creativity there!) I eventually became a feature writer/reporter. After a few years, I moved back to the east coast and worked in New York as a copywriter for an advertising specialty firm.
After I had my first child, I took time off from work and concentrated on what I really wanted to write – children’s stories. But I was certainly not an overnight success – I wrote for several years before I got published. I look back at some of my stories I wrote when I first started out and I have to laugh – like the story about the “talking vegetables who sang in the supermarket.” But I kept writing and learning my craft.
My first published story was sold to a children’s pre-teen magazine and I was thrilled. I got a small (very small!) check in the mail and I ran around the house feeling like I finally made it! Then I sold more stories to other children’s magazines like Highlights For Children and Spider. My first picture book, Uncle Willy’s Tickles, came shortly afterward.
I now have several published picture books, beginning readers and chapter books for both the trade and educational market. My latest beginning reader, The Giant Jelly Bean Jar, is a fun story about a jelly bean riddle contest.
I love visiting schools and libraries and talking to the kids about writing. Their creativity knows no bounds. I’ll never forget the time I was talking to a particular class of 4th graders. There were three rough-and-tough boys sitting in the back of the classroom who were clearly not interested in hearing an author speak, but at the end of my presentation, they were excited and smiling and talking about all the stories they wanted to write. What a great feeling!
I live in New Jersey with my three children and am part of a “blended” family – my fiancée has two children. With our five active kids, there is no shortage of story material from which to draw upon.