Coming from a long line of educators, I always knew I’d be a teacher. I didn’t always know I’d be a writer, but somehow it turned out that way. I kept a diary since the age of nine, and I won the Edith Bird Bass Essay Contest as a senior in high school in my hometown of Peterborough, NH.
While an undergrad at Lesley College, I took a course in children’s literature and fell in love with the genre. I tinkered with writing while teaching, holding administrative positions, and getting my masters, but it wasn’t until I moved to Maine and returned to the classroom as a first-grade teacher, that I became determined to write a children’s book. I told my students we were going to write up a storm that year. I was going to teach them everything I knew about writing, and they, in turn, would help me to become a better writer. And they did.
I consider the children’s novel I wrote that year to be “practice” and although it will never be published, it kept me on the path, kept me writing. When my daughter was born, I decided to try my hand at a writing career. I wrote articles, books for parents and teachers, teacher guides and emergent readers for first-grade reading programs – anything that would give me the time and space to continue trying to break into the children’s field.
No writing is ever wasted. Freelance jobs taught me the craft and cadence of a writing life. I learned that the most important thing about writing is this: you must sit down and write. But it was one particular job I credit for giving me the understanding I needed to finally sell a children’s book.
The mother of two young children, I accepted the challenge of reading and reviewing 400 picture books for an educational company in the process of creating reading anthologies. My children thought I was the greatest. I stayed in my pajamas and read to them all day long. Soon after this gig ended, I went on a writing retreat and wrote my first saleable book, A Net of Stars. By reading all of these wonderful new books, I was able to recognize the pattern of story, the power of voice, and the tone of modern literature. Three years later I had my first signing and a few of those children from my first-grade class came to say hello.
They were seniors in high school.