I live in Chicago with my family – my husband, three kids, and noisy but wonderful Australian shepherd. I love Chicago for its tall buildings, friendly neighborhoods, and amazing food (Indian! Thai! Ethiopian! Guatemalan! Lebanese!). I'm all grown up now, but over there on the right is me in the fourth grade.
Most days you can find me taking walks with my dog along the lakeshore or amid the tree-lined streets around the University of Chicago campus. When our family really needs some outdoor time, we head off to Western Michigan, where there's plenty of fruit-picking–peaches, blueberries, cherries–along with fun times hiking, biking, and beach-going. You can probably guess why I set Cupcake Cousins there!
I haven't always lived in Chicago. I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I was able to ride my bike all over the neighborhood and play outside from morning to night. I've always liked words and stories, so I worked on school newspapers all the way to high school. Then I went off to college to study journalism.
My newspaper jobs took me to different parts of the country. I started in South Carolina on the East Coast but quickly moved to a newspaper on the West Coast – The Californian in Salinas. Then I went to Texas to work at The Dallas Morning News and back to California for The San Francisco Chronicle. Newspapers were exciting places, and I loved being so close to the news. I hope you read the news–either online or on paper–so you know what's going on too!
I still love research and writing, only instead of doing it for a newspaper, I do it for young readers. Besides the Cupcake Cousins books from Disney-Hyperion, I've written a historical novel for middle-grade readers called The Detective's Assistant. And I'm always working on other projects like picture books, biographies, and other novels for children.
Some of my favorite books:
Everything in the Junie B. Jones series
Zita the Spacegirl
Anything by Frances O'Rourke Dowell
One Crazy Summer
The Meaning of Maggie
Anything by Richard Peck, especially A Long Way From Chicago, A Year Down Yonder, and Here Lies the Librarian
Inside Out and Back Again
Anything by Gail Carson Levine
Our Only May Amelia
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Catherine, Called Birdy
Matt Phelan's graphic novels
Every single Babymouse
Jack Prelutsky poems
Moxie Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little
The Night Gardener
Anne of Green Gables
And that's just a start. . .