Pics & Peeks into my writing process!

Two of my favorite authors, ever - Eileen & Jerry Spinelli holding my newest book!  Getting to know both Eileen & Jerry has been a highlight in my writing career!  Maniac Magee is my all-time favorite book.  And If You Want to Find Golden is one of my favorite picturebooks!

I began painting illustrations for stories I am writing.  Now, not to have them be the illustrations in any book - I'm not a professional illustrator; instead, I started doing it for three reasons:
  • It gives me a chance to experience, in a small way, what illustrators deal with when illustrating my words.
  • It actually helps inspire me to write more vivid scenes in my story.
  • It's fun!!!! 
The illustration to your left is a peek at a scene in a new story I am writing about Theodore Roosevelt. I'm most proud of the reflection in the puddle!
The illustration to your right shows a scene from a story I'm writing about George Washington Carver. For all of these illustrations, I went out and bought a few brushes, watercolors, and watercolor paper. Just shopping for these supplies was fun! But the actual drawing and painting are way more fun!
My Writing - How I Do It!

Where do I find the ideas for my stories?  When it comes to writing about people in history I try to find hidden stories about famous people that aren’t widely known.  For example, my book Ben Franklin & the Magic Squares is dedicated to revealing his passion for creating little math puzzles.  Most people know about his experiments with lightning and electricity, but not many know about his experiments with magic squares.  So I read as many books and documents that I could find that discussed Ben’s experiences with magic squares!  Then I went about trying to craft and construct a fun, easy-to-read story about his life that spills into his experience with magic squares.  It was the same with George Washington and the General’s Dog.  A friend of mine (Liz Dobuski, the librarian at Newtown Elementary School in Bucks County, PA) showed me some old books that were filled with great stories.  These books (American Heritage) had been donated to the school library.  In one of them, I found a story about a little dog that George had found.  From there I researched George’s diaries and documents at the Library of Congress and read a lot of books about George.  Result: a cool story about George’s honesty, that is TRUE!  


Right now I am still searching for those unknown or little-known stories about famous people from the past.  But I am also focusing on finding lesser known people from the past who did really cool things that still impact all of us today!  I have a new book, Brave Clara Barton, coming out on February 27th, 2018.  And I am finishing up a great book about Frederick Douglass.  I am also working on a few more - one is about Marie Curie!