The author as a girl

Somehow, I still had time to skin my knees. This picture was taken on the first day of fifth grade, when I was eleven years old. My mother told me to kneel so my skirt would hide the huge scabs on my knees.

I was born in western Tennessee, the eldest of four children. My father was a lover of books who taught me to read even before I started school. My mother was (and still is!) the world’s best mom and a lover of music who sang in the kitchen as she taught me to cook.

I enjoyed playing games and riding bikes but my favorite activity was reading. Among my favorite authors were Lois Lenski, Louisa May Alcott and Harper Lee. I was in love with words and stories, with the feel of paper as I turned the pages, with the smell of ink.

Major, the golden retriever

Here’s Major, waiting for a game of fetch.

Our baby Jake. Isn’t he gorgeous?

In high school, and later, in college, I discovered newspaper writing and worked for the paper to help pay for my education. I became a teacher, and later, a school principal, and then a college professor, but I never forgot my dream of someday writing books. In 1989, I began writing full time, and in 1995 Holiday House published BESS’S LOG CABIN QUILT, my first novel for young readers.

Since then I have published a number of other books. Writing is still my full time job, though I spend a lot of time visiting schools, talking to students and teachers about my favorite subjects: books and reading!

Currently I’m back in Texas with my husband Ron and our two golden retrievers, Major and Jake.