I used to be a kid.
I grew up in the suburbs, about an hour east of New York City. The 1950s and 1960s were an historic time to come of age. The moon landing, the terrible violence of 1968, Woodstock, the Beatles, the Civil Rights Movement, and on and on.
It made me who I am.
I wrote for my high school newspaper. Then I went to Harpur College in Binghamton, New York where I took a great creative writing class with Robert Pawlikowski. Sadly, he lost his life much too soon. But I’ve carried his words of support and encouragement in my heart all these years later. That's what great teachers do.
I transferred to San Francisco State University, where I continued to write poetry. San Francisco has a glorious history of writers and creative thinking, and I would often read my poetry in North Beach, a section of town made popular by the Beatnik poets, Allen Ginsberg and others. I even won a poetry award. I earned a B.A. in English in 1976.
After college, I returned to New York, and worked as a bartender, a taxi driver, and for a decade, a songwriter. One song, a pop/jazz composition called "Feel The Night" was recorded by Carl Anderson on GRP Records in 1994. It received airplay. You can still hear it on iTunes.
BUT WAIT! There’s more!
I learned Photoshop and worked with a documentary photographer on his book, and gallery exhibitions.
After that, I worked as a web editor and occasional writer for Major League Baseball. I interviewed many sports authors, reviewed books, and even a musuem exhibit on the Golden Age of New York City baseball (the 1950s!).
Then, AFTER THAT, I went back to college at the age of 58 to get a Masters in Childhood Education from Hunter College. I’m half the way there.
I also became an elementary school substitute teacher in NYC.
Talk about hard work. But also fun. The teachers and the students taught me so much. Each story I write is affected by that experience. How could it not?
Another stop along the journey that made me who I am.
But regardless of what job I had, I never stopped writing and learning as much as I could. I always knew I could get better, and I was driven until I did. I signed up for many online classes in creative nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, greeting cards, memoir, and picture books.
Then finally in 2017, my debut picture book, “Waiting for Pumpsie” was published.
In 2018, “The Boo-Boos That Changed The World” hit the bookshelves.
In 2019, two more nonfiction picture books will be published. One about Martin Luther King, Jr. The other is about jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins.
And, in 2020 an historical fiction picture book, ”Oscar’s American Dream” hits the stands.
What a long, strange, weird, wonderful trip it’s been!
A: Anywhere, and at all hours. Seriously. BUT, I do like to go to a coffee shop, sit down with my iced coffee and write. I like the background noise. Plus I listen to conversations. Sometimes I get ideas.
A: No! Writing is hard. I have to go through draft after draft to get to the final version. Or at least what I think is a final version. Each picture book takes about a year until I’m happy with the text.
A: Nope. Can’t draw. Not really. LOVE to doodle. Especially funny faces. But real drawing? No way. I focus on the words. That’s difficult enough for me.
A: Fughetaboutit! I learn everyday. There’s so much to know! But I love to find out what I don’t know. It’s the only way to get better.
A: Now, THAT is a great question. I like to work on a few different picture book stories at the same time. If I get stuck on one, I turn my attention to another. It prevents me from getting too frustrate. After a while, I might go back to that first story with fresh eyes.
A: Well, thank YOU very much for the kind words! The answer is, everywhere. By watching and reading about the news, and listening to people talking to each other. Sometimes it’s a memory of when I was a kid. ALSO, there’s many great stories that have been published for adults, but never put into picture books for kids. My story, “Waiting for Pumpsie” is one of those.