I am so grateful for the excellent questions you send me every day. I wish I could answer them all personally, but if I did that, I wouldn't have time to write books!
No, I am not married and I don't have any children. But I take such good care of my best dog friend, Pal, he is my baby!
Yes, I have a great Bichon Frise dog named Parker. He is small and white and smart and affectionate. I also have two goldfish with no names. Do you want to help me name them? Contact me for consideration.
I love to read, hike, swim, cook for my friends, and work in my garden. I also love to travel and have been to many foreign countries.
Yes, writing is hard work. Good writers do research, they make outlines, they do many, many re-writes, they must consider characters, settings, story problem, solutions, etc. But the reward for all this hard work is writing a great story that kids will enjoy reading.
I think it's fun to make up clues and plots and bad guys. Kids love to read mysteries, and so do I. But I have also written many other books that were not mysteries. You can find a list of all my books in my website.
I eat a lot of fish, fruits and vegetables. I love chocolate and ice cream, but I save those for special occasions.
Most days, I write in the morning, then again later in the day. I don't write every day unless I am on a tight deadline.
I watch very little TV. I'd rather read a good book or work on my writing. But when I do watch television, I like shows that teach me something.
GREEN! The color of broccoli, which is my favorite vegetable.
No, my characters are made up. But sometimes I borrow a real person's name. For example, Officer Fallon was named for my uncle Joe Fallon.
Not so far. For now, I enjoy writing just for kids. I have fond memories of myself as a kid, reading a good book. I think it's so important for kids to read for pleasure, so I try to write the kinds of books that young people will love.
Usually it takes me three months to plan the story and understand all the scenes, clues and characters. Then it takes another month or so to write the book.
I spend a lot of my time thinking about my writing. I also read a lot, and talk to friends. Whenever a good idea comes to me, I write it down so I don't forget it. Some of my best ideas come from kids who email me. I event get ideas when I am asleep, in my dreams!
Most bookstores carry my books. If your favorite bookstore does not, they can usually order them for you. Online retailers, like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound always have a good supply.
1. Keep on writing. The more you write, the better you will become. You should practice your writing the same as you would practice playing a musical instrument or practice kicking soccer goals or shooting basketball hoops.
2. Read! It's a good idea to read a lot because that's how we learn. I have found that readers make good writers. Reading will make you smarter and give you a better vocabulary.
3. Finally, write what you love. If you like animals, write about animals. If you love sports, write about sports. That way, you'll be writing about things that you already know about. And you'll have fun at the same time.