My early childhood was spent in the tiny Appalachian community of Dailyville, Ohio, where home was a turquoise and white trailer on the bank of Pee Pee Creek. (Yep, there really is a Pee Pee Creek. Don’t believe me? Google it!) I could often be found outside, along with my younger sister, wading in that funny named creek while looking for salamanders and crawdads under rocks or exploring the dense woods out back. Later, we moved up the hill to an old farmhouse that had once belonged to my great-grandparents and my family grew to include my baby brother. There was always a menagerie of animals around as I was growing up —dogs, cats, chickens, chinchillas, cows, horses, and pigs. I adored spending time with them all!
From Reluctant Reader to Book Lover
My relationship with books had a rocky start. When I was in first grade, I was placed in remedial reading (a group for kids who had problems learning to read). My teacher told my parents I daydreamed too much and that was why I had so much trouble. Which was probably true. I mean, why bother with all those letters that didn’t make sense, when my imagination kept me entertained? It wasn’t until my second grade teacher introduced me to the Nancy Drew mysteries that I finally understood what it was like to be swept away by a book. I devoured those books and soon began reading other titles and authors. By the time I was in third grade, I developed into a full-fledged bookworm and was rarely seen without a book in my hands.
Hey, I Think I Want to be an Author!
When I was in fourth grade, my teacher passed out pictures she had clipped from magazines and instructed us to write stories about them. I had a picture of a barn and wrote about a girl who saved a horse from a barn fire. My teacher made a big deal about that story. She read it out loud and gave it a place of honor on the bulletin board. From that moment on, any time I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I proudly said, “An author!” But it took me a very long time to realize my dream.
From Dreaming to Doing
My teenage years included a move to the Circleville, Ohio, area. I still claimed I wanted to be an author and always had my nose stuck in a book, but did very little writing unless a class assignment called for it. Once I became an adult, I married my high school sweetheart, graduated college, and began a job adjusting mortgage loan rates. For a couple of years, I punched numbers into a calculator, all while dreaming about becoming a children’s author. Later, I became a mom. I took my little ones to the library often, and daydreamed about what it would be like to see a book I wrote on the library shelves. Unfortunately, that’s all I did for a few years. Dream! Finally, it dawned on me that nothing would ever happen unless I started to buckle down and write. So write I did! After 14 years of writing, revising, submitting manuscripts, and receiving tons of rejections, my first book, Me and the Pumpkin Queen, was published in 2007. I think my husband and children were just as excited as I was. They saw how hard and long I worked to make it happen.
I live in Wooster, Ohio, with my husband and daughter, and happily write full time. I have two sons who are all grown up and on their own. I don’t have as many animals as I did during my childhood, but we do have two dogs, a cat, and a couple of cute gerbils. I love to travel and I enjoy watching my daughter in her activities—figure skating, ballet, and musical theater. Sometimes I think back to my days as that freckle-faced bookworm with pigtails and I have to resist the urge to pinch myself. It’s amazing to think there are kids out there getting swept away by my books, just as I once got swept away by all the wonderful books I read as a kid. I still can’t quite believe the little girl who lived on the bank of Pee Pee Creek grew up to be a children’s author. I’m glad she dreamed big. But most of all, I’m glad she finally tried and never gave up. Because to me, creating stories happens to be the best job in the world.