WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
When I was teaching fifth-grade, we read Newbery honor books. Seeing how much my students enjoyed the stories, what great reports they did, sometimes even dressing like the main character, I started wondering what it would be like to write stories young people loved. So, I took a writing course and discovered that writing a novel was even better than reading one. That was almost 20 years ago, and I'm still writing.
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP? A ballerina or an opera singer.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE? One day, a girl (I hear voices a lot) whispered in my ear that her mother criticized everything she did and all she wanted was her mother and father to love her. So, Eden's story was born, the story of a broken family and their struggles to find that elusive word: love.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
"Who's to argue with the butterfly?"
It's hard to choose just one line but this one is a theme throughout the story about butterflies granting wishes.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
Josh is most like me. He keeps his troubles to himself, not wanting to bother others.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I hope teen readers will see from the story that they are not alone in their troubles. They can get help, from friends and from school counselors. Others do care.
TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I laugh about it now, but was rather annoyed when it happened. My first book signing at a bookstore, they forgot I was coming. They apologized, of course, and hurried about setting up a table. In the meantime, I wandered through the store and decided to talk to customers. So, I pushed some popular author's books to one side of a table, put my book beside them and gave out my freebies to people that passed by. A lot of them talked to me. We had fun. Finally, my table was ready and I even sold a few books.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
Gone With The Wind
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
One of them is winning the Children's Literary Classics Award. Five of my books have been honored with other awards. My historical fiction for teens also won or was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Awards, Next Generation Indie Publishing Awards, Sharp Writ Awards, and Reader's Favorites.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS?
No. I just write better in the mornings.
HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED?
I got published the hard way, without an agent. I sent lots of queries to publishers and agents.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE COMPLETION OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I smiled, said, "Finished," and searched for a publisher to submit it to. No special celebration. Then the acceptance letter arrived in my mail. I was happy.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? I have 14 other books published and short stories in 3 Chicken Soup for the Soul Anthologies.
These are the latest:
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS?
I started writing articles for children's magazine and they were published in Humpty Dumpty, Ladybug, Clubhouse Jr. and others. My accomplishments in the magazines gave me the confidence to submit to book publishers. I received a lot of "no thanks" letters, but I never gave up. I learned from the editors' comments what wasn't working and studied to improve my writing. All I can say to aspiring others is "Never give up. Be tough. Learn what the publisher wants. And send it."
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
Promotion is tough for me. I'm very shy and hate to seem "pushy." So I hesitate when talking about my stories. I'm working on doing better. I have two blogs, belong to Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, Book Bub, Lit Pick and Library Thing. I watch what other authors do to promote their books. I love contests. Helping my writer friends promote their work goes both ways; they help me in return. I read their books and write reviews. There's so much to do.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
Just hang in there. Take it one day at a time. If a former non-reader like me became a reader and a writer, you can do it too. A prayer helps.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Three other stories are in various stages, mostly rough drafts.