I grew up in Highland Park, Illinois, the third of four children. My dad is a doctor, and my mom is an artist. Even though our family had its share of fights, I thought it was the greatest family in the world. I always felt loved and knew I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to. My mom says I was a natural born leader, but my brother and sisters say I liked to boss people around. I guess it goes to show you how important point of view can be!
I’m close with all my siblings, but my younger sister, Micky, and I are best friends. We look so much alike that people often ask us if we’re twins. Sometimes we say yes! When we were kids, Micky and I shared a bedroom, and I used to make up stories for her at bedtime. I was never very good at figuring out the endings to my stories, so I’d tell Micky to go to sleep and dream the end. When I wasn’t making up stories, I was reading to Micky or to myself. I didn’t always have my nose in a book, though. I played with friends (four-square and anything make-believe were my favorite games), went to Hebrew school, took tennis lessons and theater classes, wrote in my diary, and, best of all, went to summer camp in northern Wisconsin.
When I reached my teens, my dreams of becoming an author drifted away. I focused my energy instead of fitting in with the crowd. Who had time to write stories when there were parties, sleepovers, homework, tests, report cards, permanent records, SATs, and such? And an even bigger question: Who was I to think I had the talent to become an author? The confident part of me had gone into hiding.
Thankfully, I rediscovered my confidence and happiness at the University of Michigan, even though I kept my author dream safely filed under “Outlandish childhood aspirations that will come true only if all the planets align properly, I find a four-leaf clover, and a guardian angel puts in a good word for me.” I loved everything about college, from the classes to the people to the football team. I made lifelong friends, and best of all, I met Alan, this cute, smart, funny guy who eventually became my husband.
After graduation, Alan and I moved to Chicago. I worked at an advertising agency but quit when I gave birth to twins. A year and a half later, we had a third child. I was up to my eyeballs in diapers and babies who all needed my attention. Not quite the perfect time to write, but being around kids and books reignited my old writing fantasy. I was determined to give it a shot no matter how bad the odds of success were. I hired a babysitter for three hours each week, and that became my writing time. It wasn’t’ much, but it was wonderful, refreshing, and mine.
I started out writing stories that were accepted by Ladybug magazine. I also wrote several picture book manuscripts that collected 130 rejection letter s over the course of three years! I immersed myself in children’s fiction at our library. Wow! What amazing authors I found . . . Kate DiCamillo, Sharon Creech, Patricia MacLachlan, Linda Sue Park, Jack Gantos, Lois Lowry . . . I wanted to do what they did. I wanted to write novels that could touch a child’s heart and soul. Eventually I found the courage to try.
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