If you have a question for the author, e-mail it to her and she will post the answer on this page.
Q. What are you working on now?
A. I'm working on a number of picture books. Picture books = fun + hard work (lots). Most readers, and many writers, don't realize a picture book is the most difficult kind of book to write, because you have to tell a wonderful story, with fascinating characters and a complete plot, but must do so with very few words.The most difficult part is putting that little "twist" at the very end, that sentence that makes the reader chuckle, pause, or say, "Oh, yeah!" Plus, you have to use language that lends itself to illustration.
I'm also working on a middle grade historical fiction set in the late 1800s. The character is one of my favorites and I'd really like to have young readers meet her.
Q. Where do you get your ideas?
A. Book ideas are everywhere. Some books are inspired by a character, such as my Samantha Gill, Belly Dancer, who sprang from a fascinating young girl I saw in an airport.
Others come from my experiences, such as Beating Bully O'Brien. That book came about because one of my first grade classmates was a bully who picked on my best friend.
Newspapers and magazines suggest other books. I wrote Saving Casey because I read about animals who are sacrificed so that humans can lead better lives.
A photograph I saw in a National Geographic Magazine inspired Sarah On Her Own. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I had to learn as much as I could about the photograph and put what I learned into a book.
I wrote Woody Guthrie, America's Folksinger and Jackie Robinson, Baseball's Civil Rights Leader because I had always admired Woody and Jackie for the contributions they made to our world.
Woody lived during the days of the Dust Bowl, and Children of the Dust Days came out of the research I did for his biography.
I wrote Flush! Treating Wastewater because, when my son was very young, he accidentally flushed a toy car down the toilet and wanted to know if he could get it back. If he wanted to know what happened to his car after the flush, I decided a lot of other children wanted to know what happens after they flush the toilet, too.
I got the idea for the novel I'm working on now when I stumbled across the autobiography of a woman who had lived a fascinating life in western Colorado in the late 1800s. It was serendipity that I fould her memoir, because I was doing research on another, well-known woman of the west at the time.