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I enjoy getting to know readers and writers, so I thought you might like to know the answers to some of my Frequently Asked Questions.
Were you always good at writing?
Nope! In school I was just average. My writing never stood out. No one ever suggested I write a book-not even me! I never enjoyed creative writing as a kid; however, I did enjoy writing notes and letters to friends and family members. In school I was a fairly good student, but I had to work harder than my classmates for (mostly) good grades.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized I enjoyed writing. After a few years of blogging, I took several writing classes to improve my skills. I also read a lot of books about writing and the publishing industry. (Of course I was reading a lot of nonfiction children's books, too.) I met my first editor at a writing conference!

How do I sign up for your newsletter?
Thanks for your interest? You can sign up here, but be sure to check your email and confirm you want to get the newsletter from me! For those interested, you can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Do you really like bugs? 
Yes, but I haven't always liked them. I have learned so much about insects in the past couple of years. I now find them fascinating! There are so many of them, and they have such cool features (armor, camouflage, lights...) and some are egg-laying machines! There is one insect I don't want to come near: the louse! 

I don't particularly like insects in my home, so when I find them I try to just pick them up (sometimes with a tissue for safety) and toss them out the door. If I'm outdoors, I remind myself I'm in their territory-even if ants are invading my picnic.
Will you write another book? 
I now have five books out and another contract. Want the updated list? Check this out. I'm not done writing yet.

Can you come to my school?
I would love to visit! Most of the schools I visit are Pennsylvania, Maryland, or Delaware. Tell your teachers, PTO, or librarian about me. Visiting schools and libraries thrill me! You can read about my workshops and presentations here.

What really happens in one of your programs?
I actually wrote a blog post discussing the "Bugs and Blooms" program. Read all about it at that link! UPDATED: Please check out this author visit FAQ, too.

What's the hardest part about getting a book published?
You have to be patient. Not only do you have to be a good writer, but you also need to understand the publishing industry. It takes time.

As a writer, you also need to be able to accept criticism and feedback about your manuscript. It truly makes it better. (Though it's your story, the professional editors really know what they're doing!) You can't take criticism personally. Oh, along with this, you also need to be able to accept rejection. Your first (or third) manuscript may never be published, but don't stop writing and learning if you have a story in you. 

Do I really need to revise my writing?
In this post, I talked about how revisions are similar to home renovations.

What's your favorite writing tool?
Sticky notes! I use multiple sticky notes daily. I also use them to highlight cool facts in books (especially when borrowed from the library, but my own, too). When I'm brainstorming a topic to write about, I add a single topic to a sticky note. Then, I group similar topics together. I move the groups around to determine the rough outline for my book (or article). Even nonfiction authors need to have the right structure for their book.

My second favorite tool is the Children's Writer's Word BookIt's great for children's writers. 

What time of day do you find most productive for writing?
Any time I don't allow myself to be distracted by other tasks (or even emails and Facebook). I do tend to write the most in the late morning and early afternoon. (Many authors wake up early to write. My children tend to come find me if they know I'm awake-even at 5 o'clock in the morning-so that doesn't work for me. On school days my children are up at 5:45, and that's early enough for me.)

Actually, I can't write when my family is around, so I try to make the most of it when my children are at school and my husband is at work. I try to get chores around the house and errands completed early, so I can have several hours to just work and not be bothered by the fourteen piles of laundry that need to be folded. (I'm exaggerating. Usually it's only three or four laundry piles.)

What are your favorite books for kids?
Great question! I have a lot of books I enjoy. For young children, I can't get enough of Mo Willems's Piggie and Gerald books. I also have a sweet spot in my for Salina Yoon's books, like Found and her Penguin series. 

Some of my favorites that older children will also enjoy are The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, The Mysterious Benedict Society (series), The Penderwicks (series), Narnia (series) and anything by Richard Peck and Gary D. Schmidt for some laugh-out-loud fun.

Though some may think they're old-fashioned and girly, I love the Betsy-Tacy series (and other books by Maud Hart Lovelace), Anne of Green Gables (and other books by L. M. Montgomery), and books by Louisa May Alcott (not just Little Women). I appreciate the history we can read about in Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. In fact, I started a blog called Little House Companion and provide workshops and presentations about pioneer living and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I do read a lot of nonfiction, too. I keep an eye out for several authors. Sarah Albee's Bugged book about history cracked me up. Jennifer Swanson makes hard science easy to understand. Jason Chin's books are just beautiful.

You can read a favorite book list here and another here

Can you give me a free book?
Kiwi Kitty
I'm sorry, but I can't. I have to buy them from my publisher, too. My book is available at Amazon, Rourke Educational Media, and Barnes and Noble(Amazon is an affiliate link.)

Do you have any pets?
Yes! Our family includes three children, my husband, and me, plus two cats. One is named Lucy and the other is Kiwi. Lucy was the runt of her litter at a farm before we brought her home. Kiwi was a foster kitten before we adopted her.

What inspires you to write? 

How did you land your first book contract?

How can kids and teens get published or enter writing contests? 

Thanks for all of the questions!

If you have another question for me, use an adult's email account to contact me. (Student emails from schools will not allow me to respond to you.)