I knew from the time I was in the third grade that I wanted to be a writer. I wrote plays on the playground and assigned my friends parts, and then I directed. I, of course, usually carried the lead role. The others on the playground were coerced to become the audience when either we had polished the performance or some had grown tired of practicing (usually the latter). I was an avid reader devouring library books before the ink had dried on the checkout card. I was especially influenced by Walter Farley books. I read them all. Anything with horses I grabbed off the shelf. I wrote romantic fiction in high school but had a real interest in persuasive essays and speech writing because I was argumentative at that age (my husband says I still am). I graduated from Banquete High School in Texas where I fell in love with my future husband. I received my degree in English and Speech from Texas A&I University in Kingsville, Texas. I taught at Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, Texas, before moving to Healdton, Oklahoma. There I taught British Literature and found that I loved poetry more than I had thought. Poetry forces one to be concise. Tennyson remains my favorite English writer followed closely by Milton. I once read in a writer’s magazine that aspiring writers should never be teachers because after the demands of teaching they would not have the energy to write. But, I ignored that advice because teaching was as much in my blood as writing. I wanted my students to experience the same love of language that I had. Today I am especially proud of some of my students who are exceptional writers. The plague of a writer is that his head is always full of possible plots and characters that sometimes interfere with real life; it’s hard to focus on mundane, but necessary, tasks at hand when words are ganging together inside the brain. My suggestion to others if they can’t get the words out of their head, then they should put them on paper and find an audience. I received my Master’s degree and moved back to Texas teaching at Pampa High School. My family moved back to Oklahoma where I resumed my position at Healdton and gained National Board Teacher Certification. I taught composition for a number of years for Murray State College, but I knew I would never fulfill my dream of becoming a writer if I taught both day and night. I miss the college students, but slowing down has given me a new drive to fulfill my dream of writing books for children. I live happily with my husband Don, a school superintendent, and 16-year-old son Tyler. My four older children are married with families. Joni Atha, who illustrated WHO NEEDS GIRLS?, happens to be one of my two daughters. My advice to those who dream of writing is to hold on to the dream with both hands, and it will happen.
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