If I had the choice when I was six years old, I would have lived inside the pages of Henry and Martha's One Fine Day. The husband and wife hippo couple pulled pranks on each other and lived in the cutest cottage. I must have filled up the library card on that book solely by myself!
     But it wasn't my only favorite book. I loved them all. Luckily, my parents indulged me when I brought book order forms home from school. I belonged to the Nancy Drew Book Club, getting a lavender-colored hardback in the mail each month (I still have them!). Jack and Jill and Ranger Rick magazines arrived each month in our mailbox, too.
     My love of reading inspired me to try writing. I wrote for my high school newspaper and literary magazine and eventually earned a degree in journalism from Illinois State University. After working as a newspaper reporter in Madison, Wisconsin, my family moved back to Illinois, our home state.
Even though I had been writing practically my entire life and still enjoyed it, I began to struggle with what I wanted to write. As my daughter grew and began to sit still long enough for me to read her stories, I realized that I enjoyed the picture books almost as much as she did. Like many children's writers just starting out, I read those books and thought, I can do this! After all, how hard can writing a 500-word manuscript be? HA! The joke was on me. Writing (and publishing) takes time, talent, and above all, perseverance.
Surrounded by young authors during YA Day in Peoria, IL
    I joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustators (SCBWI) soon thereafter, and started traveling to writing conferences around the country. As soon as I began meeting like-minded people who shared the same passion for writing, I knew I'd found my niche.
      My work has appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Highlights for Children, Pockets, and other magazines and newspapers. My middle-grade novel and recipient of an SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant, BINGO SUMMER, was published in 2014. My second middle-grade, THE UPSIDE OF DOWN, came out in Spring 2016.
     When I'm not writing, I substitute teach and lead writing workshops for teens through community education classes. I also love the outdoors, either biking, hiking (when someone else carries my backpack!), or just walking my dog.

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