|How long does it take
you to write a book?
Each of my books took more than two years to write, counting
the research time. Then it took another one or two years to get them published.
What about magazine articles?
They take about a month.
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere! Almost everything I learn I want to share with
young people. Things I wanted to know when I was a kid. When I travel anywhere,
you know what I need with me? My camera, binoculars, maps, and books –
books about wildflowers, birds, trees, and more. I am always discovering
something new and interesting!
How many magazine articles
have you written?
The ideas for my books stemmed from family connections. The spark for
started with stories my dad told about our family's logging operation.
The connection to Captain Mac and Ice Country is more roundabout.
Our family’s sled factory made special sledges for Arctic explorer, Donald
MacMillan. That led to my interest in his expeditions. While in Newfoundland
researching MacMillan, I visited a cable station, and became fascinated
by Cyrus Field and his amazing accomplishment of laying the first transatlantic
I have sold nearly 100 articles, stories, and activities, and
I have written some that have not sold. You can find my work in AppleSeeds,
Calliope, Cobblestone, Faces, Highlights for Children, and a few other
magazines. Several have been reprinted in textbooks, some are used for
school testing programs, and a few are online.
Have you sold any pictures?
Yes. Mostly nature photos. Five of my magazine articles have
one or more of my photos included with them, I took a few of the photographs
in Timberrr…, some in Captain Mac, and one in Cyrus Field's
When did you start
The day I got my first pair of glasses, in Kindergarten. I
was so excited to be able to see details, that I started writing out letters
as fast as I could – drawing them actually, I suppose.
What do you enjoy most about
When did I start really writing? I wrote a few poems when I was
7 or 8. I remember writing term papers by fourth grade. Unlike most of
my classmates, I had fun looking up stuff in big books at the library,
sorting material, and writing term papers. When given a choice, I chose
nature topics – I remember one about a Baltimore Oriole, another about
moose in Maine.
As an adult, I wrote some training manuals for youth leaders. My first
child was in college before I seriously started writing articles and books
for young readers.
That's hard to say. Research is fascinating for me. Plus, I
enjoy playing with words. I like fine-tuning my work, sort of molding it
until it sounds smooth when I read it aloud. Magazine articles have to
be short, so it is hard to fit in all the material! But I like that challenge.
Another favorite part of being a writer is visiting schools, when I can
share what I have written with young people, or help you learn to love
writing too. And, of course, I love using my computer!
What do you like least?
The fact that no one has figured out how to fit more than 24
hours in a day! Recordkeeping and marketing seem to take too much time.
And sometimes, believe it or not, the challenge I like of fine-tuning my
writing can be the very thing that frustrates me the most! Can you guess
why? Because when I research (which I love to do!), I learn so many interesting
facts that I can't fit them all into my finished work. And, of course,
sometimes I hate my computer!
Why do you write?
I enjoy introducing unusual and little-known topics to young
readers. And I have fun!