More About the Author
I guess I've been writing for about as long as I can remember. Telling stories, anyway, if not writing them down. I had my first short story published when I was sixteen, and wrote stories to help put myself through college, planning to become a clinical psychologist. By the time I graduated with a BA degree, however, I decided that writing was really my first love, so I gave up plans for graduate school and began writing full time.
I'm not happy unless I spend some time writing every day. It's as though pressure builds up inside me, and writing even a little helps to release it. On a hard-writing day, I write about six hours. Tending to other writing business, answering mail, and just thinking about a book takes another four hours. I spend from three months to a year on a children's book, depending on how well I know the characters before I begin and how much research I need to do. A novel for adults, because it's longer, takes a year or more. When my work is going well, I wake early in the mornings, hoping it's time to get up. When the writing is hard and the words are flat, I'm not very pleasant to be around.
Getting an idea for a book is the easy part. Keeping other ideas away while I'm working on one story is what's difficult. My books are based on things that have happened to me, things I have heard or read about, all mixed up with imaginings. The best part about writing is the moment a character comes alive on paper, or when a place that existed only in my head becomes real. There are no bands playing at this moment, no audience applauding--a very solitary time, actually--but it's what I like most. I've now had more than 120 books published, and about 2000 short stories, articles and poems.
I live in Bethesda, Maryland, with my husband, Rex, a speech pathologist, who's the first person to read my manuscripts when they're finished. Our sons, Jeff and Michael, are grown now, but along with their wives and children, we often enjoy vacations together in the mountains or at the ocean. When I'm not writing, I like to hike, swim, play the piano and attend the theater.
I'm lucky to have my family, because they have contributed a great deal to my books. But I'm also lucky to have the troop of noisy, chattering characters who travel with me inside my head. As long as they are poking, prodding, demanding a place in a book, I have things to do and stories to tell.