Where were you born? How long have you been living in New York’s Hudson Valley?
First, hello, and thanks for this opportunity to connect! I grew up in a wonderful spot between the peaceful New Jersey shoreline and the bustle of Philadelphia. It was inspiring to spend summer days on the beach, jumping in waves, collecting shells and gobbling vanilla custard cones and also have the opportunity to take many trips into the city and experience various social and cultural events. I moved to the Hudson Valley with its majestic views of the river and mountains about 25 years ago. It was another spot that inspired me and feel is conducive to my writing career.
What inspired you to begin playing with words, rhythms, and sounds since before Kindergarten?
I’ve always loved words – their sounds and even the very act of writing them. That was something I enjoyed without anyone or anything prompting me. For me, stories and poetry are rhythmic, sing-songs, expressions – such joys!
Why did you choose to write children's books?
I find children’s books and children’s text in general to be the place where I can most readily express my whimsical spirit.
Do you remember the first poem you wrote for Highlights for Children?
I believe it was a poem about the letter “S”, titled S is for Snake. I can’t even seem to find it in my files – it was many, many years ago! Ha!
What inspired the Amazon chart-topping book, Shimmer, Songs of Night?
I had been looking through my poetry files, and discovered a whole bunch of poems had the theme of “nighttime”. I narrowed down the favorites and worked on the flow from one poem to another, a little like starting at twilight and ending at dawn, a journey through the night.
I responded to a submissions call from Clear Fork Publishing and Shimmer, Songs of Night was accepted for publication!
What was your reaction when your book received The Royal Dragonfly award?
A family and friend celebration of home-baked vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting were in order! Oh, and a celebratory candle!
How long have you been a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators?
I’ve been a member of the SCBWI just about 20 years now! I’ve always enjoyed the opportunities with this incredibly supportive organization for creative people.
How would you describe your experience of working at various NYC record companies before getting into children’s writing full time?
I would describe my time working in the music industry as fun, engaging, and a place I garnered pertinent experience beneficial to my career focused on not only children’s book writing but the publishing and contractual side of it.
How did your father, who himself was a successful poet in his own right, review your poetry?
First, he was proud of my accomplishments in general. However, he and I were not afraid to be honest with each other when it came to poetry, whether is was critiquing our own poems or someone else’s. So, he would have his favorites of mine, and I would let him know what words of his had the strongest impact for me. In general, he remains my best poetry pal!
What are some things children can learn from Jack and the Lean Stalk?
Jack and the Lean Stalk is my best selling book to date. It teaches children about embracing differences, bullying issues, and the success of teamwork!
How did you grab the opportunity to meet and work with artists such as Snoop Dogg, ACDC, and Jewel?
The opportunities were there simply by my position at the record company. I handled artists’ publishing and songwriting administration as far as their recordings, performing, royalties and contracts were concerned.
How much did you research pet care while writing your book, So You Want a Puppy?
My family has owned puppies and dogs since childhood, so first, I had personal experience as a starting point, but our own local family vet (whom I consider “Dr. Doolittle”) provided key facts, and was a big asset to working with me on the “Pet Tips” on the page at the end of the book.
Which is the best place to grab some warm butterscotch chip cookies?
My kitchen! I’m a good baker and enjoy being creative with cooking and baking. (Always add an extra teaspoon of vanilla to your cookie dough!)
What is the next book you are writing? When is it due to be released?
My next book is scheduled to be released around Thanksgiving, this coming November. It’s completed and slowly getting early reviews. The title is A Cheer for the Year! It’s an upbeat children’s poetry compilation commemorating holidays and celebrations published by Spork Books. The artwork is amazing – the illustrator, Meredith Fern, uses paper cutting. It’s unique and the artwork is something you want to look at again and again.
What are some websites you like to use for your book promotions and how do you think AllAuthor measures up?
AllAuthor is a wonderful platform to help fill the many gaps authors may have in getting their book noticed not only by the book reading community, but by anyone. I also find it’s pleasant to connect with other authors and follow each other’s work and new releases.