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What motivates you as a writer?

It would be a great privilege to be part of a child's life in the hours she spends reading my book. It's a sacred trust. Those hours should mean something, providing value and pleasure, and if I'm fortunate, the book becomes part of her for the rest of her life. I'm also awed and inspired by outstanding works of literature. When I'm at my computer, I feel a kinship with the thousands of authors through the ages who delighted in putting words together in a beautiful and meaningful way.

What types of books do you like to read?

The majority of the books I read in a year are realistic middle grade novels since that's what I write. Elements that draw me in include engaging characters, humor, unique fresh voice, a twist I didn't see coming, and an ending that wraps things up in a surprising and satisfying way. I also enjoy well executed devices like the harmonica in Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan and universal themes that speak to my heart. About one-fourth of my reading is a mix of adult fiction and non-fiction so I can keep up with books and ideas creating a buzz.

How has becoming a writer affected your own reading habits?

I often pick up a book intending to study an author's technique, perhaps how she creates emotion or tension, for example. Most of the time, I find myself a hundred pages into the story without paying any attention to writing craft because the story has swept me away. A well-written story has that power. But I read both to learn and for enjoyment.