I grew up in California, about half an hour north of San Francisco. One of my earliest memories is walking with my mom and my younger sister to the bookmobile. There was no library where we lived, so once a week a van filled with books would park outside of the local market. It was like a little library on wheels, with just enough room inside for us and the driver. I loved choosing my books for the week; sometimes I’d pick out a brand-new book, but other times I’d choose an old favorite that I’d read many times before. Knowing how much I loved books when I was young, I guess it’s not surprising that I grew up to write them.

As a child, I was very shy and spent a lot of time by myself, reading and daydreaming. My friends were characters in books and in my own imagination. I began writing poems and stories when I was about six, and I haven’t stopped since. When I got older I discovered that writing stories—like reading them—made me feel like I was living someone else’s life. It’s one of the things I still love about writing.

When I was in fourth grade, I wrote a 30-page book which I sent to a publishing house. I got back a letter from an editor, which was very nice, except for the fact that he told me he couldn’t publish my story. This was my first rejection letter—the first of many!

If anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d say an astronaut, an actress, or a teacher; I never thought much about being a writer. Writing was just something I did, like breathing or eating.

Although I never became an astronaut or an actress, I did become a teacher. I was still writing stories and poems, and even got a few of them published. Strangely enough, although I read hundreds of books to my students, I never thought about writing for children.

During this time I met my husband and we had twin girls. It was while I was reading picture book after picture book to my daughters that I began to come up with ideas for my own children’s books.

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My first attempts at writing picture books resulted in rejection letters, but I didn’t give up. I kept writing and rewriting, and after a lot of hard work (and even more rejections) I finally sold a book.

I’m always working on a book, sometimes two at once. “Working on a book” can look a lot like daydreaming; I often work out details in my head while I’m swimming or walking, or just staring out the window!

I still like to make notes and write my rough drafts on paper; I even wrote a 150-page rough draft of a novel in a notebook. Once I’ve completed the rough draft, I type the story into my computer, rewriting as I go. Then I print it out, revise it, and type in the revisions. I keep doing this until the book is the very best I can make it.

When I get stuck, or if I want another opinion, I show my story to the people in my writing group. They are all professional children’s authors, and we meet at a local café to drink tea and help each other with our writing projects.

I’m often asked what it feels like to be a writer. It can be exciting, exhausting, frustrating, and fun—sometimes all in the same day. But I wouldn’t trade being a writer for any other job in the world!

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