SOME THINGS ABOUT ME
I was born in St. Louis, Missouri. I went to catholic school until 4th grade when we moved to New York.
This is my kindergarten school photo. My mom gave me a bad perm the night before. I cried. I still wasn’t entirely over it by the next day for this picture, except I was promised a piece of candy. You can see my inner conflict between crabbiness and smiling for candy.
This was my favorite toy during my Catholic school years. All my primary school teachers were nuns and I loved them—one especially, who was a cat lady, or I guess you would say, a cat nun. It was the beginning of my admiration for teachers.
I loved to read and was a huge fan of all mysteries. I devoured Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, the Dana Girls, and eventually the works of Agatha Christie and a long list of other adult mystery writers.
I wrote my first mystery in third grade. It featured twin sisters who found a clue in a pencil box. It was pretty bad, but that didn’t stop me.
We moved to New York after I finished fourth grade. Every weekend my family would get in the station wagon and go to Jones Beach on Long Island. In the summers we also went to Maine, to the towns of Fortunes Rocks and Biddeford Pool. On Jones Beach and the rocky beaches of Maine, my mom made us wear squishy plastic shoes because of the razor clams and horseshoe crabs. We called the shoes jellies.
The Maine water was so cold that our legs turned red. We didn’t care. We loved it. After sailing and swimming, we got French fries, blueberry pie, whoopie pies and Moxie from Hattie’s café, and we got lobster from the pound. There was an old convent on the point that we made up stories about. It was called the Marie-Joseph Academy.
When I was in sixth grade, we moved from New York to near Princeton, New Jersey. The biggest attraction was a bowling alley and many of the kids were on Saturday leagues. I got a red bowling ball that Christmas and it was my favorite thing.
In high school, I wrote a column in the school newspaper about things to do on the weekend. It included concerts, sporting events, and art gallery shows. We had moved to Minnesota by that time. There was no ocean but there were many, many lakes. It was also the home of Betty Crocker, and you could visit the test kitchens and get free cake.
When we arrived in Minnesota it was ‑27 degrees and people talked a lot about the Viking Football team and quarterback Fran Tarkenton.
I also loved drawing. I would take packs of paper and draw house plans on them and fill in the furniture and small people. Then I’d make up a story about the people in that house. This may have been the precursor to my work in drama in high school and college. I liked set design, playwriting, and flamboyant characters. I acted in several plays including Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood.
The student actor on the left is Sam Anderson. Since college he has had a long and significant career in TV and Movies—Airplane, Star Trek, Forest Gump … I think they call this a “brush” with celebrity.
After college, I went to law school and practiced law for 25+ years. During that time we lived in Minnesota, Hawaii, North Carolina and again back to Minnesota. The whole time I practiced law, I fiddled around writing children’s books.
In Hawaii, I became involved in the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators (SCBWI) This organization is a rich resource for children’s book writers.
I served in a leadership role along with Tammy Yee who is a brilliant, award-winning, Hawaiian author and illustrator.
I’ve always loved art. I haven’t studied it but I’ve admired it greatly and tried various media over the years. I even bought shoes with art on them, Klimt’s Girlfriends.
After Hawaii, we moved to North Carolina. All of us, including Milo and Sunny and Harry the cat. Milo and Sunny had been raised in Hawaii and they’d never seen squirrels.
Below you’ll find a photo of their first day in Squirrel-land. They were shocked. Maybe a little overwhelmed.
After a few years of meeting good friends and eating Carolina barbecue, we moved back to Minnesota where Sunny and Milo grew elderly and we sadly said goodbye to them. We were so grief-stricken that we thought we would never have another dog ever again, but along came Rue. Who is wonderful and lovable, and he’s won some dog shows!
Rue joined our family when the “cat boys” were just starting to rule the house. Cosmo and Casper came to live with us from a farm in Iowa. Cosmo gets his own drink from the faucet. Casper is regal and expects the water bowl served on a tray.
I also like all things Viking. I have studied Viking archaeology and literature. I have been to Alexandria, MN to see the Kensington Rune stone and of course the statue of a Viking.
I have written middle grade mystery novels, middle grade contemporary novels, picture books, adult mystery short stories, and Young adult non-fiction. Some authors stick to one genre, but my brain jumps all over the place to follow the diverse things that interest me.
I like to support artists and acquire their works, too. One of my favorite pieces is a photograph of a goat. The name of the piece Bliss. I think it is a perfect name. It makes me so happy when I look at it.
When I am not working on new books, I love reading, playing games with friends, cooking and baking, watching movies and TV, taking walks in the woods, dancing, looking at art, and going to performances. I rarely do only one thing at a time for very long. I read while I’m watching TV, play games with music on, and … you get the idea.
Here are a couple pictures of my group the Game Knights. We laugh, tell stories, play games and we are all writer and players in the kidlit community. And yes, we are competitive!
As to creating books, some writers like to have a plot outline before they start writing, others like to start writing and see what happens. I do a little bit of both, except when I’m writing a mystery, I know who did it before I type Chapter 1.
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