1. Your newest book just came out. What can you tell about it without spoilers?
I went out to get a donut … and I came home with a muffin. That’s what the book is about – it’s a “mystery” book for kids! I try to have them figure out why I come home with a muffin instead of a donut. It is a lot of fun. I also SING the book … so kids start singing along and it is a BLAST!
2. How did you get started writing?
I have always written – when I was little I kept a journal … I used to write about all kinds of things. I have always told everyone that “someday I would have a book published” and now I have 3!
3. Do you have a favorite story about your career so far?
I have many stories – but I think my favorite is going to my hometown – Whiting, IN and speaking at my Grade School – St. John the Baptist … it was really cool to do that! While I was there I saw my high school English teacher who now admits that she should have given me a better grade in my creative writing class in high school. During this trip I also had a radio interview and was the Grand Marshall of the Easter Parade in my hometown. It was a crazy couple of days!
4. You use a small press. Why and or how did you choose them?
They accepted unsolicited manuscripts! I really like them. But I think they are now considered Large Press! Which is kind of neat … I’m part of a company that is growing!
5. Knowing what you do now about small press, would you be open to a mainstream publisher?
I really like my publisher because I can talk to anyone there and they know who I am. I have heard good and not so good things about mainstream publishers … but I love my publisher – I have a wonderful illustrator who works for them and he has done all of my illustrations – he is awesome – I never would have met him if I hadn’t gone with that publisher! He has done what my hands could never do!
6. How did you feel when you sold your first book to someone who was not a friend or family member?
My first book signing event for The Life of Bud was my daughter’s 16th birthday – we had a pre-release party. I sold 120 books that day … and some were to people I didn’t know! It was really cool that people came to the party to celebrate Ashley’s Birthday and to buy my book. It was surreal!!
7. Did you think your first book was a ‘one time wonder’ or the beginning of a prolific career?
Well – I’m not a one time wonder because I’m on my 3rd book! The first two have sold over 1200 copies each so far! I think that is pretty good. And – The Life of Bud won Best Children’s Book for 2010 at the North Texas Book Festival and was featured in Dallas Child Magazine in September of 2010. A Simpler Time was chosen as the Summer Reading Kickoff Book for a school district in Massachusetts for Summer 2010. It was also endorsed by Ted Kerasote who is an award winning author who wrote Merle’s Door and PUKKA. Went Out To Get a Donut … has been endorsed by many Rescue facilities all over the country. So I feel many people have validated my work which is very humbling!
8. Do you have an author or other person that you feel has been a mentor or staunch supporter?
As I stated in the last question – Ted Kerasote. He is one of my favorite authors. I took a chance and emailed him and asked him if he would read and possibly endorse A Simpler Time. He emailed me a couple days later and said that he normally doesn’t do something like that but that my book struck a chord with him. So he gave me his home address and I sent the book off. He gave me some editing advice which was SUPER nice of him. He has kept in touch with me ever since. When his book PUKKA came out and he was going to be in Austin for a book signing, he invited me to come … I got to meet him and it was very exciting! He did not have to take a chance on me but I feel honored that he put his name on one of my books!
9. How did you name your characters?
Easy … BUD is the bud of an oak tree
In A Simpler Time the main character is my daughter Ashley … I used her initials – A.J. and she is the main character in that book
And Muffin … is the name of my rescue dog and that is the main character in book number 3!
10. What makes your book(s) different from anyone else’s?
Hmmmmmm. My husband says I write from my heart and I don’t talk down to kids. My books can be read to children, but adults seem to enjoy them as well …
11. Do you have any hobbies? Do they influence your writing?
I love to read. I don’t think that has influenced my writing. I also love hanging out with MUFFIN.
12. How does your life influence your writing?
All of my books are about things that I love in my life.
13. What advice would you have for authors wanting to write a children's book?
Write books with a purpose and teach children something. A story can be fun and interesting and still teach them something.
14. What makes a good children’s story?
Kids have to be engaged! When you read it to children, if their faces light up, you know it’s a WINNER!