I was born in Muskegon, Michigan, grew up in Detroit area around 11 mile and Coolidge, and have lived in the Lansing area since I came up here to attend MSU when I was 17. I have a Bachelors degree in English Literature and a Masters degree in Education, both from MSU (Go Green!). My career consists of working at Lansing Community College, teaching and as an administrator, for the past 30 years.
Married for 37 years to Loren, my daughter and son still live in Michigan (yeah). My dogs are Mackinac (Mac- naughtiest dog in the world) and Maggie and our cat is Hank.
My writing genre is Historical Fiction because our amazing state offers such historical richness with Indian and French influences, its waterways and beaches and so much more! Shaped like a Mitten? Only Michigan!! My 5 historical novels are Lilly’s Way (Muskegon), Charlie Boy (Detroit), Home to Mackinac (Mackinac Island), Tending Ben’s Garden (Grand Rapids) and Angels Grieve (digital only) Northern Michigan.
My life’s goal besides writing every day is to live on Mackinac Island with my own horse.
When I was your age did I like to read?
Actually, I came home from my first day of Kindergarten upset that I hadn’t been taught how to read that day as my older brother and sister could read! Since then I have been an avid reader. Our house holds a floor-to-ceiling stuffed bookshelf and four other brimming bookshelves. I loved mysteries and biographies in elementary school.
What was my favorite story?
A book titled, Mystery of the Green Cat was a favorite when I was in elementary school along with any book about horses. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis was also included among my many favorite reads. Magical!
How do I get my ideas?
My first book, Lilly’s Way, came about while I was researching my family history from Muskegon. In fact, the main character’s name, Lillian, was my great grandmother’s name. I found newspaper articles from the 1890s involving a city wide fire, buried treasure on the property where my grandmother eventually lived, and other exciting events that I decided would make a good book! I was commissioned (hired) to write Home to Mackinac by Mackinac State Historic Parks. It was a lot of hard work researching this book but fun too! Tending Ben’s Garden was inspired by my children. In fact, their photo as children is in the front of the book. I wondered what my daughter would do to bring her little brother home if he was sent away. This story is about 12 year old Kate and 5 year old Ben, set in Grand Rapids area during the Great Depression. So my ideas come from history and certainly from life itself!
Is it hard to write a book?
Yes, it is very hard to write a book. For me the hardest part is finding the time as I work full time at the college. I schedule a several day retreat in a small house in the country-called a hermitage- as often as possible where I am all by myself- no TV, no Internet, just my laptop and a couple horses in a corral. Here I am not distracted and can write to my heart’s content. I’ve come a long way from when I wrote Lilly’s Way by hand on legal pads at a MacDonald’s restaurant!
My books require a great deal of research which I enjoy, but can take months and months. I’ve learned how to stay organized when I write so this helps me use my notebooks filled with research more effectively.
How do I research my historical novels?
I prefer to use as many primary sources as possible when I research. These are newspaper articles, books or journals from the era I’m writing about, and other information that is from the era itself. I use books and Internet both, but I am careful about my Internet sources, of course! I may start my research by just reading books or journals and taking notes about the historical period. Then when my characters are clear to me, I integrate them into my historical setting. This is when the story starts to evolve. Combining the characters with the research creates my story line. For example, when I was writing Tending Ben’s Garden, I discovered from my research that during the Depression era, children jumped onto trains to run away from home and wore clothes made from chicken seed and flour sacks. These became part of Kate’s story. Everything I write is detailed and historically accurate. To be honest, I probably use only 20 percent or so of all my research in writing my final story. Lots of work!
Which is my favorite book?
Of my 5 historical novels, I would have to so say Tending Ben’s Garden is my favorite because it is based on my children and their close relationship with each other. I also found researching the Depression era fascinating.
What author do I like right now.
I love the classics. C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia never get old for me and I reread them almost every year. When I taught Children’s Literature at my college I used Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson and many other Newbery winning authors for my course.
Advice to children who want to write:
I started writing when I was in first grade. Since I shared a room with my evil older sister, I used an old chest in our attic as my desk so I could write in privacy. My advice is to write about what you love- in 3rd grade it was all horses for me- and what you know. If someone doesn’t like what you write, then they are not your intended audience – keep writing!! Keep a diary. Maintain a journal to jot down thoughts as they come to you which may become a story. You never know. So write and write and write and read and read and read. The more you read, the better you will write. That’s the truth!!!