I grew up in Concord, California, a medium-sized town (back then) that sits between San Francisco and Sacramento. Most of the time my mom and I lived with my grandmother. I graduated from Mt. Diablo High School, class of 1976. (That’s a big hint if you are trying to figure out how old I am.) I went to the same high school that my mother and grandmother attended which I always thought was kind of cool.
I was an only child and since we lived in the neighborhood with all the other grandparents, there weren’t usually any kids around to play with, except when they came to visit THEIR grandparents. So books became my best friends. I don’t remember my family reading very much but they did indulge my passion for books. Going to the Concord library always meant a great big stack of books to read and then, in school, those wonderful book club editions of paperbacks let me create my own library in my room. I could almost always count on my uncle Fred to give me a book on my birthday, too.
As I got older and able to explore the neighborhood on my own one of my favorite places to go was the used bookstore downtown. I found the poetry section and would sprawl on the floor there for hours reading old books of poems. The older the better for me. I loved the way they had those thin pages of translucent velum in front that covered the author’s picture. As I carefully lifted the protective page to look at the poet’s face I tried to imagine the kinds of poems I might find inside the book.
I came to writing through poetry, first with love letters to boys I liked or animals I wished I had (horses!) or places I thought I wanted to go. Poetry became my way of communicating what I couldn’t say out loud. It still is.
I wrote my first book when I was thirteen-years-old. It was called A Slice of Life in Bite-Sized Pieces and was a collection of my poems. Thankfully, it was never published.
I learned to write by writing. I would write when I should have been doing my homework or cleaning my room. As I got older I wrote when my babies were taking naps or when I was sitting on the sidelines waiting for them to finish one of their many activities. I fit writing into whatever little pockets of time I had. I amassed a lot of words but I never tried to do anything with them.
Eventually, I joined California Writers Club and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and met other writers. (This would be in the pre-Internet days when it wasn’t as easy to connect with like-minded folks as it is today.) I got involved in the writing community, met my first agent, and sold my first book, a young adult romance novel.
My career has been scattered across many fields and genres. I have written for newspapers and magazine, sold picture books, easy readers, non-fiction books, verse novels, and ESL books for the educational market. I used to beat myself up because I felt like I was all over the place but now I realize how lucky I have been. I follow my interests and write. This is my wonderful life.
I’m working all the time. Just thinking is working if I am trying to work out a plot problem. My regular writing time though is usually in the mid to late afternoon. I’m not much of a morning person. While I have a beautiful home office and sometimes I DO write in it, I’m just as likely to take the laptop into our library where I can be surrounded by some of our 10,000 books. I also write a lot of poetry by hand and might sit in the garden or the courtyard to work on a poem. One place you WON’T find me writing is in a coffee shop. I can’t write with all that noise.
I’m asked a lot about where I find my ideas. You have to know that for a writer this is a funny question because I never have to go looking for ideas, they find me. Sometimes I’ll read something and not even realize that an idea has burrowed into my brain. It might not pop up for weeks or months or even years. Then one day I can be eating breakfast and BOOM, the idea will jump out and say, “Write about ME!”
I currently live in San Jose, California, the heart of the Silicon Valley, with my husband Erik Giberson and our white German Shepherd, Zoey. I have a grown son, Ryan and a grown daughter, Jennifer. I also have a grandson, Connor.
People often ask me if I always wanted to be a writer and I have to say, I don’t know. I never really understood that you could be “just” a writer and not anything else. I thought you had a regular job and then wrote on the side. As soon as I figured out that it was okay to be a full-time writer it was all I wanted to do. It still is.