I BEGAN MY CAREER as an elementary school teacher, teaching second grade for seven years at a progressive public school in Montana. It was there that I met and fell in love with children's picture books. It was a natural process: I was reading them at school to my second graders and at home to my two daughters. What attracted me was the artwork; it was fresh, colorful, even spunky; and then there was the writing, which seemed to jump off the page.
As a writer at the beginning of my career, I was mesmeried and wanted nothing more than to write and publish my own books—just like the ones that I was reading. Like many writers, I taught during the day and wrote at night, hoping to interest an editor in my work. Several years later, I did, selling my first manuscript, Night Is Coming, to Donna Brooks at E. P. Dutton Children's Books. I had cracked open the door; little did I know that it would remain open for the next thirty years with books being published by some of the top publishing houses in New York.
By the time Night Is Coming was published in the early 1990s, however, I had moved on: with a doctorate in curriculum and instruction in hand, I accepted a tenure-track position at National-Louis University in Chicago, where I taught in a progressive, off-campus graduate program for teachers. Over the next twenty-five years, I taught, wrote (academic articles and books), attended professional conferences, and started to travel to schools around the Midwest as a published author.
Of all of these activities, I've always enjoyed visiting schools to share my stories and writing experiences with primary and intermediate-aged students. My author visit approach was simple: tell some jokes, share some personal stories, read some books, and infuse everything with rhythm and music. It was a winning combination that kept me busy for a number of years.
I'm older now, retired from teaching, and no longer going out the door to visit schools. Now, I spend most of my time writing, designing, and publishing books as an independent author/publisher, and I do so on a wide variety of topics and for a wide variety of age/grade levels, all under the publishing moniker Gyroscope Books, guided by the motto "Beautiful Books for Curious People."