Anyone who’s climbed the slippery mountainside to publication has stood on the shoulders of an army of cheerleaders and helpmates. Here are a few of the people I'm especially grateful for:
I’m grateful for my mother Roberta and her mother Eva who taught me to love reading by example. Our house was filled with books that they passed back and forth to each other and then on to Eva’s sisters. They never said, “Reading is fun,” or “You should read.” They simply took joy from reading, and so did I.
My parents’ work ethic was off the charts. Whether my dad was building an addition to our house, repairing his car, or sharpening the lawnmower blades, he didn’t quit until the result was perfect. Mom was the queen of organization. Her checkbook was always balanced, her office files were in order, and she knew where to find that receipt from two years ago. When my first seven novel manuscripts fell flat, their models of hard work and perseverance kept me from giving up. I regret that neither of them were here when I finally succeeded.
My eighth grade English teacher Mrs. Russell shared her passion for literature and good writing with me. In high school, Mr. Meis was the gatekeeper for all things grammar and punctuation. (He’d hate that sentence!) My college speech teachers, Mrs. Noyse and Mrs. Smith encouraged my fascination with expressive language. Their inspiration was priceless.
I’m grateful to every author who wrote a book I couldn’t put down, who set the bar for excellence higher than I can ever hope to reach. Thank you for your imagination and knowledge of your craft. When I’m stuck on a plot point or tempted to call a revision “good enough,” the quality of your writing drives me to do better.
My writing group is at the top of my gratitude list for the thousand and one ways they’ve helped me pre- and post-publication. The young adult writing community—and children’s writers in general—is a welcoming and supportive group. When I joined the original MTV blog, Jenn Echols patiently answered all my naïve rookie questions. If she was rolling her eyes, she didn’t let on, and I couldn’t see it. Thanks, Jenn!
I’m endlessly grateful to my agent, Rosemary Stimola, for taking a chance on an unknown from Iowa. And thank you to my editors Jennifer Heddle and Ruth Katcher whose comments—positive and not-so—helped me become a better writer.
Last and first on my list are all the teens and adults who’ve read my books, recommended them, and handed them to their sisters, friends, and cousins. You make me smile!!!