Five Frequently Asked Questions
At school visits, I get so many great questions. And sometimes I hear the same questions at different visits — here are some of them:
Q: Did you always want to be a writer?
A: I have a book I wrote in 2nd or 3rd grade, so I have written books at least that far back. And I have always done some type of writing no matter what kind of “job” I had. I often found myself volunteering for my company newsletter or writing pages for websites or doing other similar things to keep writing because I love to write. I was also the yearbook editor in college and a reporter for my college newspaper.
Q: Do you illustrate your own books?
A: Not usually. Of the books I have published right now, all have been illustrated by someone else who was hired to do the artwork, a professional illustrator. Each artist is listed on the front cover of the book or inside on the copyright page.
Q: How long does it take to write a book?
A: This varies. It can take many years to write a book. However, some of my books are ones I was hired to write, and those books have very short and strict deadlines. Other books, my middle grade novels, I have written over many years.
Q: Which of your books is your favorite?
A: This is a tricky question. I love each book as if it were a child. Each book has things I love about it. I do have a special place in my heart, though, for “firsts” in a series. The Endurance Expedition was the first research book I wrote and published for young adults. I love this book because writing is about having ENDURANCE and that story is about Ernest Shackleton having endurance.
My first book in the “Day of Disaster” series for middle graders was Black Blizzard, about teens who get stuck in a dust storm when their school bus breaks down. That was the first of three climate fiction books I wrote for that series.
Q: How do you write a book?
A: I write a little every day. That is the only way I get anything done. I usually give myself a goal of writing 500 to 1,000 words a day. Focusing on a word count like that allows the creative side of my brain to work more easily because I’m not focusing on trying to making the writing perfect. Instead, I’ve given myself a task of meeting a word count goal. A double-spaced page of paper generally holds 250 words at 12 point, Times New Roman font. So that means I am trying to write two to four pages a day. I find this goal do-able for me. Every person who wants to write needs to find out what works best for them.