Some readers have a weird idea of what it means to be a writer. They think I’m locked away in a dingy room with only a computer to keep me company. Sure, I have calluses on my fingers from typing more than 30 fiction and nonfiction books on a plastic keypad. (Okay, so a few titles were tapped out on a typewriter.) But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a life away from my office.
As part of my research, I’ve ridden on horseback into Africa’s Maasailand, hiked through a leech-infested rain forest in Australia, shivered inside a dogsled for the first part of the famed 1,049 mile
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, road-the-foam on a long-board in Hawaii, and spun around dance floors in Havana, Cuba.
My YA verse novel PURPLE DAZE was inspired by my high school days in a suburb of Los Angeles. The entries written by the Phil, who was writing from the hell of Vietnam, were adapted from dozens of letters I received from him during the 60s. Amazingly, I kept his letters in a shoe box for nearly 50 years.
In PURPLE DAZE six high school friends share their experiences and feelings in interconnected free verse and traditional poems about war, riots, love, rock ’n’ roll, high school, and friendship.
My adventure novel DEATH MOUNTAIN (Peachtree) is based on something that really happened to me. While attempting to hike to the highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney in
California, my group was caught on an exposed ridge in a deadly electrical storm. The pack horse and mule were struck by lightning and killed. Three women in my party were airlifted off the mountain by helicopter and flown to a nearby hospital. Thankfully, they were released shortly after a doctor examined them.
For my middle-grade novel FROZEN STIFF (Random House), I spent a week kayaking to the largest tidewater glacier in North America, Hubbard Glacier in Alaska. Like my main character, I battled renegade icebergs and had a close encounter with a bear.
When I decided to write and photo-illustrate DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW: THE STORY OF THE JR. IDITAROD (Mondo), I stayed with a family of mushers in Alaska. Every day, I followed them with my camera while they trained their dogs.
You know that's a true story since "DASHING" is nonfiction.
When I’m not traveling around the world or dodging lightning bolts, I like to dance. Sometimes I even enter contests at dance conventions. Even though I’ve never won one -- at least not yet -- it’s fun to wear clothes that sparkle and glue on false eyelashes. True story.
Since I like to hang out with my readers, I’ve been part of the Kern Reading Assn. Young Author Fair, Author-Go-Round in Santa Barbara, StoryFest in Ventura, Eureka Author Festival and others in California. I teach an online writing course through UCLA and hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
I also like to meet teachers and librarians. I’ve been a speaker at many professional conferences, such as Colorado Council of International Reading Assn., Texas Library Assn., California Reading Assn., California School Library Assn., California Teachers of English Conference.
Okay, now it’s time to plop down in my writing chair....
Delacorte Press, Spring 2012
Running Press Teens, 2011
August House, 2008
That's Not How You Play Soccer, Daddy!
Peachtree Publishing, 2007
Peachtree Publishing, 2007
Hot Spicy Colors
August House Publishing, Inc., 2007
Reading is a Ball
Cool Cats Counting
August House Publishing, Inc., 2005
The Jazzy Alphabet
Philomel Books, 2002
Feeding Time at the Zoo
Random House Children's Books, 2000
Fountain of Weird
Trafalgar Square Books, 1999
Random House, 1999
Wait Until Dark: Seven Scary Sleepover Stories
Yearling Books, 1996