More About the Author
I have always loved books. My mother and father valued, read, and purchased books. We lived near great public libraries, too. The bookmobile was a favorite of mine in Levittown, New York, where we lived until I was ten years old. Then we moved to Ballwin, Missouri, near St. Louis. I started writing while attending Parkway West High School but didn't think of pursuing a literary career. Because I earned high praise from my family for my cooking and baking, I enrolled in a cooking school. After attending a year at the Culinary Institute of America, I worked at a hotel restaurant for a year before enrolling at Memphis State and then at the University of Missouri, majoring in home economics.
I married and stayed at home after our daughter, Emily, was born, writing during her long afternoon naps. Soon after our second daughter, Sarah, was born, my husband and I divorced, and I continued to pursue my college degree. After marrying Steve Houts, a farmer, we both attended college. My father (who had great insight) recommended I try library science, which would marry my love for books with my writing life. Majoring in library science, I earned a B.S. degree from Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, and Steve earned a B.S. in education. Steve--the love of my life--has always supported my career choices first in the Office of Career Services on the Northwest Missouri State University campus, then as a children's librarian at the Maryville Public Library, and as a preschool teacher at Head Start. But I longed to be at home writing. Currently, I am doing just that! Freelance writing at home is a dream come true.
I am the author of over 60 books for children. My favorite target age group is three to seven, but I've written books for middle school and high school students. I write the text for leveled readers, both fiction and nonfiction, using Flesch-Kincaid and Lexile measures. Writing on assignment for educational publishers is a welcome challenge. I've worked with a variety of publishers. Compass Media and Korea Hermanhesse publish books to help children learn English. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and McGraw Hill (through the Bill Smith Group/QBS Learning) publish books for schools. David C. Cook publishes books for Christian education. I've written books on assignment for these publishers:
* Compass Media
* Korea Hermanhesse
* The Rosen Publishing Group
* Stone Arch (a division of Capstone)
* Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
* McGraw Hill
* Pearson Learning Group
* Learning Horizons
* Dalmatian Press
* David C. Cook
When our two daughters were growing up, we cooked together. I wrote about our experiences in a monthly column, "Preschooler in the Kitchen," for Parent & Preschooler Newsletter. After writing columns for a number of years, I wrote a cookbook, "Learning Through Cooking Activities," which taught children colors, shapes, cooperation, and more, through food. I love spending time in my kitchen, which is a bright and cheery room decorated with sunflowers. As years passed, I wrote two more cookbooks for children, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids: Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun, and Cooking Around the Country with Kids: USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities. Recently, I published a cookbook, Mealtime Magic: Delicious Dinners in Half the Time, the first from my own publishing company, Houts & Home Publications LLC.