Real Questions from Real Kids

"Can children write books?" asked Madison.

Absolutely! I encourage children to write stories of all kinds and make them into books, if they wish. But the most important thing for youngsters is exploring and becoming passionate about learning and doing, with no concern for physical reward. You might want to start an album to keep all the stories you write. This will be a treasure for you and your family. If you decide to become a writer when you're grown, you can share your early work with others! What fun!

If you really want to see your work in print, look at the magazine Stone Soup or the website This is a magazine that's written by young writers and artists.

Here's what to do while you're learning to write:

  1. Read the best books you can find. Read lots of them!
  2. Read your writing out loud. Read your favorite books out loud. This will help you feel the rhythm of words. The best writing has a flow to it, a rhythm, just like music.
  3. Stop what you are doing every so often and observe things around you. Usually, writers are very good observers. They pay attention to the details of life.
  4. Remember, when you write you learn about your subject and you learn about yourself. Learning about yourself and how unique you are is very important.

"What did you want to be besides an author?" Mary asked.

Actually, I was never sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. I'm still not sure! I studied in college to be a teacher. I've never taught full time, but I have worked in a variety of ways in schools. When I was younger, I had dreams of working with animals. I think I would have been very happy studying and photographing animals in the wild. Perhaps I'd be a documentary filmmaker or wildlife photographer. As a young woman, I volunteered at animal care centers that cared for injured wildlife. I helped feed sick elephant seals, owls, hawks, and mice.

How do you get your books famous?

This great question was asked by a young boy at one of my school visits. (I'm sorry I don't know your name!)

The answer to your question is, "Boy! I wish I knew!" 

There is so much that goes into getting a book well known. First, it helps a lot if your publisher tells bookstores and libraries and newspapers and other people about your book. 
It also helps for the author to visit libraries, bookstores, teacher and librarian conferences, and schools. Of course, it's important that the book is a good book—that it makes you laugh or cry or want to learn more about something. 
A little bit of luck is always nice too!

"When will you start writing a chapter book? I want to read it?" Ricky asks.

Thank you so much, Ricky. I'm delighted you want to read it. Truth be told, I'm writing one now – Mugwart and Abigail. Actually, it's been written and I'm revising it. If I'm lucky I'll have it finished this year (2011) and if I'm really lucky, I'll find a publisher for it too.

What makes you most proud?

I'm most proud of my two children. They are honorable, talented, and good. I was a stay-at-home mom and I like to think I had something to do with what wonderful people they've become. Of course, I suspect their very honorable dad had something to do with it too!

What are your hobbies?

I love my garden. I spend hours finding new heirloom roses and sweet peas and fruit trees to plant. I also love line dancing and yoga, walking and running, but I don't do any of them regularly enough. Travel is my passion. As a being on this planet, I feel it's my responsibility to see and appreciate as much of it as possible.


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