Please scroll down for: Biography - How I Write - Awards
I was born and raised on farms in southern Alberta, Canada. My family was kind and loving but, as the youngest by several years, I spent quite a bit of time on my own. For those times I invented two imaginary friends, Juty and Barrett. And I remember how excited I was to be a flower girl at my aunt's wedding!
I loved the many animals on the farm – cows, chickens, baby crows, rabbits, wild ducks (including one who took a swim in our bathtub!) and the burrowing owls we watched while lying in the prickly prairie grass. I think you can tell from the photo that I also loved my pony. Don't you like his long legs as a colt? That's my brother standing with us.
And I loved books. My mom read to us every night. My dad recited dramatic poetry. When I began to read on my own, some of my favourites were Just Mary Stories, Little House on the Prairies and The Dana Sisters Mysteries. Already I knew I wanted to be a writer.
That feeling took a huge leap forward in grade seven when I began to read all kinds of amazing literature written for adults. The words of those authors formed my sense of how truly wonderful the written word can be; how powerfully it can convey ideas, enlarge one's world and touch one's heart.
Ever since that time, I have always written stories of one kind or another. I've been interested in many other things too--science, history, psychology, drama. After a few years at University of Calgary, I moved to live with a wonderful husband in the mountains. We hiked, biked, skiied, canoed and enjoyed the outdoors in all kinds of ways. We also raised three great kids, now all adults with lives of their own.
More than a few years have passed. I still spend part of every day strolling along one trail or another, just because I enjoy being outside. I still find all kinds of amazing books to read, all kinds of subjects to research.
And I still love to write.
How I Write
Where do I get ideas? Everywhere! Out for a walk, visiting schools, hanging out with friends, reading interesting facts in a newspaper, listening to people talk or thinking about things that have happened to me – I'm always on the look-out for a good idea. I jot down ideas in a notebook so I don't forget.
When I feel I have an interesting story, I type it into the computer. At this point the long process of rewriting begins ... change the story, print it out, change the story, print it out ... until every line is as polished as I can make it.
My stories have won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, Writers Guild of Alberta Children's Literature Award and The Shining Willow Young Readers' Choice.
Short lists include Governor General's, Mr. Christie and Norma Fleck Awards. Many titles are Ontario Blue Spruce and Silver Birch Express reading selections and appear on The Canadian Children's Book Centre "Best Choice" lists.
A delightful number also turn up in translation - from Japanese to German to Arabic - in various corners of the world.