(Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators)
Hello! Bet you’re wondering why I have become a children’s book author. Let’s go waaaaay back to my childhood in Queens, New York. I attended Public School 76, and my very favorite teacher was Mrs. Stella Rizzo for both 4th and 5th grade. Every week she sent home a newsletter for our families that was filled with stories that we students wrote, puzzles, and class news. I was one of the most prolific writers in my class. One of the moms sent me a note telling me how much she loved my stories and that she thought that one day I would be a famous author!
Fast forward to my adult years, as I was gearing up for retirement. I went back to school to get my Masters in Early Childhood Education. Due to changes in the retirement rules, I could not retire early, so I never finished the degree (but was sooo close!). Once I retired, I found lots of fun things to do, including writing a blog and reading to children at a local Head Start center.
Then I adopted a sweet little dog who I named Sugar, and real life events allowed me to use all those skills to find a new joy–writing children’s books! If you have read my first book, Can Sugar Come Out to Play? (check out the books page!), most of the details really are true: Just a week or two after I adopted her, Sugar and I were in the yard and my neighbor came over to chat over the fence. Sugar wandered off behind the trees and suddenly I heard squawking–she was going after a bird! I took her in the house, gave her a loving but stern lecture about the need to share and not scare the birds (yeah, I really did, and she dutifully and sweetly listened, LOL), and the next morning, it all began. In real life, it was a squirrel who literally scratched at the glass patio door as it was looking in to see what/who was inside. (I didn’t have a good squirrel photo, so had to rearrange things a bit in the final production!) Then for the next 5 out of 6 days, every morning or evening a new critter appeared: a cicada, bunnies, a frog, birds… it was amazing. I was telling a friend about it and jokingly said, “I don’t know if they are thanking me for keeping her in the house, or trying to ask if she can come out to play, but it’s weird!” That’s when I got the idea–this would make such a great children’s story!
And the rest is history! I decided early on that this would be a great way not only to educate people about kindness to animals and making a lifetime commitment to our pets, but also to donate in a fun and meaningful way to animal rescue organizations. All of my books will be based on real dogs and their antics–written from my heart, with lots of love. And I donate a portion of all my sales proceeds to animal rescue groups (and occasionally to those who help humans, too!)
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
I need to give credit, thanks, and huge virtual hugs to a few people without whom I could not have made Sugar’s book. First and biggest thanks and hugs go to my wonderful son, Austin Stahl, a graphic designer who helped me arrange my photos and text in a beautiful layout, and who helped me with this webpage. No words can express my gratitude!
Next is my friend, Dorothy David, who allowed me to use a few of her beautiful nature photographs (chipmunk, bird, and butterfly) when I did not have any of my own. She is a phenomenal photographer! Check out her webpage at www.dorothydavid.zenfolio.com for a real treat!
And last but not least, my pal Lisa Thomas, who took some photos of me and Sugar while she was visiting us on the 4th of July a couple of years ago. Hers is the photo at the very end of the book on the bio page.
My next book, Lucy the Amazing Wonder Dog, about my beloved poodle mix, was illustrated by a talented college student friend of mine, Katie Heady. Katie’s website can be found at http://katieheady.weebly.com/
Katie’s brother Chris will be illustrating my newest book, Sugar Goes to the Dentist. Talent runs in the Heady family for sure!
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who bought books in the month of September 2016, whether at Bark stores in the Central Maryland area, at New Hope Lutheran Church in Columbia, MD, or just because you are a cherished, compassionate friend. With record sales to support donations to help restore businesses in Ellicott City, MD after a damaging flood in July, I was able to make my largest donation to date, giving both to merchants in need of help and to agencies who are working on their behalf to help rebuild this sweet town. Words cannot express my gratitude (or the gratitude of the recipients!) Together, we did a great thing!