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Ideas are everywhere! Like many writers, I get my ideas from paying close attention to the world around me. A seemingly ordinary event or situation, coupled with a little imagination, can become a story. For example, a walk with a friend became my historical fiction piece, True Colors. And A Name of Honor is based on my own family history. My family inspires me every day. I've kept journals for each of my daughters; sometimes, those memories come in handy when I'm developing a character. But that's our little secret!

I grew up in Rochester, New York, and except for living in Boston, Massachusetts, for 5 years, I still live there today. One of the things of which I'm most proud is my large family. As one of seven children and the only girl, life was interesting and fun. Some might shudder at the thought of having six brothers, but I must admit, it wasn’t nearly as bad as one might think. My brothers challenged me and taught me all kinds of things (much to my parents’ dismay).

Reading has always been one of my favorite activities. How wonderful that as a writer, I get to read a lot! Even before I could do so independently, I loved when someone read to me. My brother, Michael, used to share books with me. To this day, we are both book worms. I have to read for my job, as a writer, as reading is the workout for the writer brain. When I'm writing historical fiction, I read more than I write! Reading for pleasure is something I do every day. I'd much rather get lost in a good book than watch television or a movie.

I began to see myself as a writer when I wrote a poem in fourth grade, and my teacher told me it was good. After that, I wrote any chance I had, mostly in secret. One of my favorite pieces is a poem I wrote for my father for his 50th birthday (called "Daddy's Little Girl"). In college, I had to let many people see my work, which at first was difficult for me. I'm glad I did, though, because all that sharing helped me become a better writer.

Today, I continue to rely on others to help me grow as a writer. In my critique group, we read each other’s work and discuss what works and what could be improved. I also belong to a large local writers' and illustrators' group called Rochester Area Children's Writers & Illustrators (RACWI) and a national organization: Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). These organizations offer workshops and conferences; when it comes to writing, there’s always room for improvement!