Welcome to my website!
I write for young people and grownups who are young at heart.
Come on in and look around.
I grew up in Lockport, New York, a small town in the western part of the state, on the banks of the Erie Canal.
Many writers know they wanted to write early in their lives. I was not one of those people. As I was growing up, I wanted to be a teacher, a marine biologist, a U.N. interpreter and a book translator. I loved horses so much that, for a while, I even wanted to be a jockey, like the heroine of one of my favorite childhood books, National Velvet.
Alas, two things blocked my way to the Grand National: my height (I didn't stop growing until I reached 5'11") and the fact that my mother didn't think riding horses was a good idea.
I always loved to read. My mother and father were big readers, and we always had lots of books around the house. My idea of the perfect summer vacation was to go to the library once a week, check out as many books as I could fit into my bike basket, and spend the rest of the week sitting someplace cool, reading. And I always loved to play with words. I acquired a love of crossword puzzles from my mother and her mother. Even after I was out of college and living at home while I worked at my first job, I would go to my grandmother's house every Wednesday for lunch. We'd have her homemade vegetable soup, and work on the puzzle from the Sunday paper.
My first memorable (at least to me!) story was written for my eighth-grade composition class. Our teacher told us to write about a dangerous game. Mine was a lurid piece about some kids playing 'chicken' on the railroad tracks. It did not have a happy ending. When I finished reading it aloud in class, nobody said anything for a moment, then somebody said "wow." The teacher's response was something like, "very interesting. . ."
The year after I graduated from high school, I lived in Bruges, Belgium, as a Rotary International Exchange student. It was an unforgettable experience, and I still exchange Christmas letters with one of my "brothers."
My husband and I went to colleges that were about two hours apart. He was a year ahead of me, and we met at the breakfast table in January of my freshman year, while he was taking a course at my school.
We moved many times over the years, beginning in New York City. That was followed by Larchmont, NY; Clinton, NY; Ponca City, OK; McMurray, PA--a suburb of Pittsburgh; and Dumfries, in Northern Virginia. In 2014, we came full circle and moved back to my hometown of Lockport, NY, where we have a home on the banks of the Erie Canal. We have two grown children.
In 1981, when my daughter was two, I wanted to find a simple retelling of the Christmas story for her, and couldn't find anything I liked. That's when I uttered the fateful words, "I could do that." I began by taking a correspondence course from the Institute of Children's Literature. In 1986, a children's writer's group was begun at my local public library. I went to the first meeting and was a member until we moved away eighteen years later. Then, in 1997, I enrolled in the MFA in Writing for Children program at Vermont College, in Montpelier, VT. Midway through that program, in February 1998, I sold my first book, Snow Ponies.
Somebody once asked me if I could have my dream job, what would it be? My reply was that I have my dream job (although I would have loved to have been a backup singer for John Denver!). I love kids, I love books, I love writing--and while the words don't always come easily and there are days when I find myself looking for excuses not to sit down at my computer, there is really no other job I'd rather have.
I don't spend all my time writing, though. When I'm not writing or reading, I enjoy photography, art quilting, music of all kinds, especially Irish traditional, and watching movies and live theater.
Incidentally, it took me twenty-two years to get that Christmas book written! Its title is This Is The Stable, and it came out in 2006.
Old Man Winter lets his ponies out to play for a day.
Count the animals--and get a surprise!
Abbie is stitching her first needlework sampler--but she'd rather have books.
A young artist learns about loss and friendship.
The Christmas story, told in gentle rhyme.
Cuddle up with sleepy animals.
Kids get caught in a rain storm--and have a great time.
A boy in the 1820s works to earn a book from a floating library on the Erie Canal.
One stone house, seven stories, 164 years.
An old man's home becomes a special place for a community.
Poems about the emotions of war, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins.
Bedtime poems, edited by Jane Yolen.
Poems about all kinds of creepy-crawlies, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins.
21 poems inspired by Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man", selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins.
Poems inspired by art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins.
Poems celebrating the wonder of libraries, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins.
A set of 36 poems for each grade level, K-5 (a poem-a-week for the 9 months of the typical school year, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.
A poem a week for grades 6-8 for the school year plus curriculum connections for every poem, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.
Holiday poems for the whole year in English and Spanish, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.
Poems for the school year, integrating science,reading, and language arts, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.
BLOGS AND JOURNALS
A group blog of six children's authors who also teach writing. Educational, inspirational--one of my favorites!
Anita Silvey's Book-a-Day Almanac
Daily children's book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.
The blog of award-winning, NYT Best-Selling author, Cynthia Leitich Smith--in her words, "...a source for conversations, publishing information, writer resources and inspiration, bookseller-librarian-teacher appreciation, children's and young adult literature/publishing, and author outreach."
The blog of writer Bruce Black--great for information and thoughts on the writing process. One of the best online blogs of 2018.
The Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program.
I can't speak highly enough about this program. I'd been writing for eleven years when I entered it in July 1997. It's an incredible two-year program, in "low-residency" format, meaning students spend just ten days at the start of each semester on campus in Montpelier, VT, and work the rest of the time at home, via correspondence, one-on-one with a mentor/advisor. Some students are already published when they begin the program, many are not. Each of the faculty members is not only a wonderful writer, but a good teacher as well.
HAVING OUR SAY
Authors and Illustrators for Children
An organization of authors and illustrators of children's books and their friends) who are dedicated to enhancing the world for children.
The Society of Children's Bookwriters and Illustrators
The website of the national organization of children's writers. If you're serious about writing for children, join! In addition to publishing a great newsletter and other publications, offering grants, running conferences (national and regional) and providing opportunities for networking, they're a really nice group of people.
The Purple Crayon
Harold Underdown's terrific wrebsite about writing, illustrating, and publishing children's books. Lots of good stuff here!
Write 4 Kids
"The Children's Writing Supersite" of Children's Book Insider.
JUST FOR FUN
The Erie Canal
History, images, maps and so much more--a wealth of information on the ditch that opened the way to the American West.
The Internet Movie Database
If you want to know something--anything--about a movie, you'll find it here.
Looking for a rhyme? You'll find it here in this online rhyming dictionary.
One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
- Albert Camus
What would I do if I couldn't write? Where would my thoughts go?
- Robert Cormier
An artist reaches deep inside himself until he finds the music anew.
- Robert Downey, Jr.
One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.
- Annie Dillard
Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader--not the fact that it's raining, but the feel of being rained upon.
- E.L. Doctorow
One of the greatest delights of writing is in seeing words we never expected appear on the page.
- Madeleine L'Engle
If you want to send a message, use Western Union.
- Samuel Goldwyn
'...you must not come lightly to the blank page.
- Stephen King
The written word
Should be clean as bone,
Clear as light,
Firm as stone.
Two words are not
As good as one.
- Madeleine L'Engle
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
- Ernest Hemingway
As we write, each of us has to believe that our books are worth a tree.
- Jane Yolen