Fun Facts

    • I’m the oldest of three children. My younger brothers used to call me “sarge.”
    • Those same younger brothers once chased me around the house with a kitchen knife. This was after they realized they didn’t have to do everything I told them and stopped being my personal slaves.
    • One of my brothers threw an empty beer can at me splitting my eyebrow and requiring stitches. I think I might have been yelling up the attic stairs at him. And, no, he hadn’t been drinking. It was the 70’s when kids started beer can collections of craft beers across the country. You couldn’t get them at any grocery or liquor store like you can now.
    • I once took a personality test for a job and the test scorer told my prospective boss that I could give a drill Sargent a run for his money. (I got the job!)
    • Another personality test I took said that I am ‘results oriented.’
    • My twenty-something son told me a few years ago to stop ‘trying to manage’ him. ~ ~ Do you see a pattern emerging?!?! Now that he’s on his own we don’t have that problem anymore. I’ve really tried to squelch this tendency in myself over the years, but it doesn’t seem to be working!! ūüôā If you want someone to boss you around, I’m your girl! (Although I choose to see this as a sign of my leadership skills and not inherent bossiness!!)
    • I like to make things. Especially using textiles – I sew, knit, felt – I love upcycling things from Goodwill into pillows, scarves, mittens, purses, etc.
    • I held the indoor record for the 220 yard dash – so long ago it was before metrics – at my high school for several years.
    • If I suddenly had ¬†free day I would plan out what I wanted to do so I would be sure to do everything I wanted. I would even plan out my relaxation time.
    • I speak a little French from high school and whenever I travel to another country with a different language, no matter what the language is, I have an irresistible urge to speak French.
    • When I was in France years ago I gave a man helping us with a broken down car the okay sign…and he looked at me oddly. Apparently, in French it means ‘you suck’ or better yet ‘you’re an a-hole’. Nice way for me to thank him!
    • I don’t like to sit still and do nothing, so I often bring knitting with me.
    • I have boy/girl twins and when they were little people would ask me if they were identical…nooooo, one’s a boy and one’s a girl. Remember high school biology?
    • My freshman high school biology teacher told me I should be a nurse because I was doing so well in the class. When I came home and told my mom she said “You should be a doctor.” I have her to thank for always believing I could be anything I wanted to be. ūüôā That was the beginning of my love of science.
    • My senior high school Advance Placement biology teacher was what we used to call a ‘male chauvinist pig’. Another girl and I were doing extremely well in the class and he couldn’t deal with it, so he barely acknowledged us. We both scored 5’s on the AP exam. I still remember his face when we told him. Winning is the best revenge.

Here is the Real Bio

I haven’t always been a writer. Many writers kept journals when they were young and wrote stories and dreamed of becoming a writer. That wasn’t me. I don’t journal, I make lists. Lists of things to do, grocery lists, lists of ideas or topics, you name it. I keep a spiral notebook for each project. I also like pretty office supplies, like notebooks, pens and pencils and stickers and file folders. You’d think I’d be very organized, but it’s just a futile attempt to control the chaos!

I’ve always been a voracious reader. I’ve started getting books on tape to listen to while I’m driving – I drive A LOT! I also read books on my iPad, my iphone (in a pinch – its not my first choice) and of course REAL books. So many books, so little time!

I have a degree in biology and thought I would be a doctor at one point. My path didn’t lead that way, but science plays a big role in my writing. I think the author who influenced my writing the most is Madeline L’Engle who’s writing combined elements of science fiction and the spiritual/metaphyscial. All of my novels have an environmental theme and incorporate true science in addition to science fiction.¬† INDIAN SUMMER has an archeological and historical theme, and also an environmental conservation element. THE FIELD also has the environmental theme and delves into quantum physics and The Universal Energy Field (as well as high school soccer). I know, sounds thick, but it’s a good read! The third book, CATALYST, carries on with the environmental theme as it deals with fracking.

I started writing when my kids began reading and I rediscovered all the books I loved as a child and new books I’d yet to discover. I found myself developing stories of my own so I began writing novels for children and young adults. Images from my childhood growing up on Lake Michigan and the landscape of Indiana feature prominently in my novels.

I live in Indianapolis in a eclectic part of town called Broad Ripple. Lots of shops and restaurants, coffee shops and a few bars. I like traveling, gardening, reading YA novels, knitting, sewing, felting – anything to do with fiber arts – rummaging through junk shops, cooking, spending time outdoors and dancing!

Edited_Headshot_02 - Copy

Summer Fun in Indiana

 

This year Father’s Day and our children’s 18th birthday fell on the same day. We decided to go kayaking on the White River. Even though it was overcast and a bit drizzly, we had a great time! I took the pictures with my phone from my kayak, while trying not to drop the phone in the water, so they are a bit blurry, but you get the idea. It was very peaceful and beautiful. We saw several Blue Herons fishing and a lot of turtles.

Katie and Alex G.

 

Xander

View from my kayak

 
I also got to go horse back riding in Brown County with my cousin, Kathy and her niece. We drove her horses to the horseman’s camp in the State Park and then rode to the Story Inn for lunch where we met the rest of the family who had spent several days in the park geode hunting. They found over 100 geodes! The Story Inn is 150 years old and reported to be haunted by the Blue Lady. We also saw some murals that had¬† been painted at the Inn by Kathy’s uncle George. The day was great, but I’m still saddle sore!
 

Sherman and Spartacus at The Story Inn

 

Jesse and Sherman

 

Alex

School Visits and Summer Writing

Snacks Crossing Pizza Party

 
 

Muffins for Moms

 

Deer Run 4th & 5th graders

I had a busy month of May with school visits. Visiting the schools and talking with kids about reading and writing is really a joy! At Snacks Elementary, a group of students read Indian Summer as part of a reading group and had a pizza party during my visit. They asked a lot of great questions and everyone wants a sequel. I do have the beginnings of the sequel forming in my imagination, but it will have to wait until I get The Field, my next novel, down on paper (or into the computer). At Stephen Decatur Elementary, I did a presentation on ‘Reading for Literacy’ to the Muffins for Moms program and almost 400 people attended. They were very excited to buy books for summer reading. I spoke with 200 4th and 5th graders at Eagle Creek Elementary about ‘Bringing Characters to Life’. They were a great audience.

I’m getting a lot of great writing done on The Field¬† this summer. I like to write outside when I can where I can look at my garden and take breaks to play fetch with Ernie.

Reading for Literacy

I am doing an Author Visit to Stephen Decatur Elementary School on Friday, May 6th for 400 students and parents at Moms and Muffins. Yes, you read that right – 400! That will be my largest group so far. I am very excited. Okay, I’m a bit nervous, too. My topic is Reading for Literacy and I am, of course, trying to make¬†my talk¬†both fun and informative. The ultimate goal is to get the kids exicted about reading. Here’s something interesting I learned in doing my research:

“The single most important activity for building the skills to be a successful reader is reading aloud to children.”¬† ~ 1983 National Commission on Reading

Reading aloud to children improves reading skills, writing skills, speaking skills, listening skills, attitudes about reading and even math skills! And we shouldn’t stop reading to our kids when they get into middle school. We should read to them up to eighth grade and even beyond. Share funny or interesting excerpts of what you are reading with your teens. I know you might have to wrestle them to the ground first to get them to listen, but it’s for their own good. The Read~Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease is a fantastic guide for parents interested in learning more.

Reading = Knowledge

Spring Fever

Every spring I get this surge of energy as the weather starts warming up and nature gets busy. This year I really need it because it’s crazy busy at our house! All four of us have work (or school), writing and publishing plus just getting on with the usual things. My children are¬†both juniors in high school this year, so we’ve begun the college search this spring and have visited several places. I am a little bit jealous. I want to go off to college and have adventures, too! My son’s band is going to the recording studio to lay down some songs and is planning a midwest tour this summer. My daughter is working on developing a senior picture business as her summer job. I hover over them offering support, advice (solicited or not) and make phone calls. My brother and sister in-law just had their second child, a beautiful girl, so I’m planning a trip to visit them, and this year is my 25th anniversary with my wonderful husband! Whew! I also have several school author visits that I’m looking forward to in May. Lots going on!

Favorite Things and Places

My writing space

 

Here’s a picture of my writing space. I try to fill my home and office with things that I love and have collected over the years and lots of COLOR! I love the color of this room. It is makes me feel energized and focused. The pictures on the wall are framed hankerchief’s of my grandmother’s. She lived in at time when ladies carried beautiful hankercheifs instead of tissues. My dad still carries a hankerchief. The Effiel Tower sculpture reminds me of my various trip to Paris. The framed photos at the back of the desk are from our lake cottage (the inspiration for Indian Summer). They remind me of many wonderful summers spent with family and friends at the lake. My family started a tradition of collecting little figurines from the different places we’ve been on vacation. I have the Chrysler Building from New York City, Big Ben from London, the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, the Coliseum from Rome, the Acropolis from Athens,¬†and many others. They have a spot of their own as they take up too much room on my desk.¬† Here are two quotes I like about life and travel.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” — St. Augustine

San Diego

Courtyard of the Del Coronado

 

Sea Lions

I recently got to spend a few days on Coronado Island in San Diego at the Del Coronado Hotel. The hotel is a victorian beauty over 120 years old and is said to be haunted! Unlike Marcie in Indian Summer, I wasn’t visited by any spirits, but it wasn’t for lack of wishing. Although the temperature¬†was only in the 60’s (way better than Indianapolis) it was sunny and the area is beautiful. We drove up to La Jolla to see the seals and sea lions lolling on the rocks by the shore.¬†You can tell them apart because sea lions have large front¬†flippers and make a barking noise. We even saw some humans swimming in the VERY cold water without wet suits. Yikes! Then it was back to the midwest for cold, rainy weather and a book signing at Barnes & Noble with other members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).¬† Lots of great books!

Me, Laurie Gray and Margaret McMullan

Inspiration – Spicy Chicken

I’ve really been getting into the writing groove on my next novel, tentatively titled “The Field”. This one’s targeted at an older audience and my teenage children and their friends are a HUGE source of inspiration and source material. A recent dinnertime conversation is definately going to be crafted into a scene. My son had posted on Facebook that the next day was ‘spicy chicken sandwich Tuesday’ and we got to talking about the chuck wagon meat cycle in the dorm cafeteria from when my husband and I were in college. The meat would first appear as a hamburger patty and be fairly edible. The next day it would arrive as salisbury steak covered in gravy and on the third day it would be converted into chuck wagon stew which we were afraid to eat. They also served yogurt as an entree alternative – yogurt was fairly new on the culinary scene at that time – which is what I went with most of the time (and gained the freshman 10 pounds). At my kids’ high school, the spicy chicken¬†next shows up as an oriental spicy chicken dish and then later as spicy chicken balls. Amazing how history repeats! Except that my son loves all¬†the variations of¬†spicy chicken! Look for the spicy chicken sandwich evolution in “The Field”.

Snowpocalypse

What I love – Snow Days! Tomorrow will be the third snow day for my kids – a new record I think. I will have to venture out tomorrow, but I’ve had two ‘gift’ days at home. I’ve made the most of those days, too! My girlfriend and I spent time each afternoon knitting, drinking tea and talking. A rare treat. Getting to each other’s house was a bit of an adventure, though. My house sits on a little rise and I slid from my door down to the sidewalk – at least I was still on my feet and not on my rear. My friend wiped out right on her front stoop, but was fortunatley unhurt. Of course, I’ve also been reading. At any given time I am in the middle of reading three or four (or five or six!) books. I started using Audible on my Kindle to listen to books as I do a lot of driving, so my capacity to devour books has increased. Right now I am listening to MOCKINGBIRD by Katheryn Erskine and read by Angela Jayne Rogers. It is a middle grade book about a girl with Asperger’s dealing with her brother’s death. It is a¬†stunning book and Angela Jayne Rogers gets the ‘voice’ of 10-year old Caitlin so exactly right! I also recently finished MARCELO in the REAL WORLD by Francisco X. Stork which is for high schoolers and is about a boy with something like Asperger’s, although it is never clearly defined in the book. It, too, is¬†an excellent book and both give a voice to children with learning disabilities. I found it very interesting to get into the head’s of Marcelo and Caitlin as they navigate the ‘real world’ without grasping many of the emotions and nuances that the rest of us feel. I’m almost finished with MOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool, this year’s Newbery winner. I love the supernatural aspect of the gypsy ‘Diviner’ and that it deals with the first World War and the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918. A little history lesson as we enjoy a terrific tale.¬† For adult titles, I just finished HALF BROKE HORSES by Jeannette Walls, a ‘true-life novel’ about her grandmother’s remarkable life in Arizona, which I really enjoyed and now have to read her other book THE GLASS CASTLE. In the que are THE GIRLS FROM AMES, for my bookgroup and AN OBJECT OF BEAUTY: A NOVEL by Steve Martin¬†as an¬†audio books on my Kindle. So many books to get to! What are you reading?

Ernie in a jaunty jacket from Lands' End

Signs of Spring?

Cardinal

Robins under the feeder

I took these pictures on Sunday afternoon after I came back from a long walk with the dog. It was cold, but sunny and the birds were out in force singing. The cardinal is in the tree I see outside my office window and the robins are in the backyard under the feeder. Do robins fly south for the spring? I’m not sure, but there were at least a dozen in the yard and it gave me hope that Spring is on the way. The crazy Indiana weather had me fooled, however. Tonight, Monday, we are in the middle of an ice storm! They’ve already canceled school for tomorrow – my kids are very happy about that – and my dentist called earlier today to cancel my appointment for tomorrow as the office is closed. Perhaps I’ll have some beautiful pictures of ice covered trees to share tomorrow. I wonder where the rabbit I saw in the yard this morning will be tonight?

Young Hoosier Book Awards

My first ever blog post is about something very exciting РIndian Summer is under consideration for the Young Hoosier Book Awards program for the 2012-2013 school year! Being selected would be a great honor and would get Indian Summer into the hands of students all across Indiana. I attended the YHBA Banquet last November and was fortunate to get to hear Nick Bruel, author and illustrator of Bad Kitty, which won in the picture book category for 2009-2010, speak about writing and illustrating. Not only can he craft a delightful and engaging tale and create lively and appealing characters, he is also a terrific speaker. The authors of the winners in the intermediate and middle-grade categories could not attend, so Nick had the podium all to himself. I was so impressed that I bought several of his books for my two nephews. If  you would like to submit a recommendation to the YHBA committee for Indian Summer, you can download a form here http://www.ilfonline.org/clientuploads/YHBA/BookNominationForm.pdf

2011 is off to a great start!