Born & raised in Virginia, I now call Texas my home. My husband and I are recent empty nesters as our two boys (my heart and my soul!) are up at college now and living their best lives, and gosh do I miss 'em. I love reading, antiquing, going on nature walks, and having long chats over cups of coffee with friends. My books tend to evoke a bit of nostalgia, written straight from the heart, each dear to me in their own special way:
For the past 20 years I've been jotting down little poems for, and about the boys. Anywhere from words of encouragement, or about an ordinary day spent together, or reflections I just felt needed putting into words. A compilation of moments that I finally sat down and put together in one place. An anthology of motherhood. Dedicated to my boys, this one's my heart, really, in a book.
I was inspired to write Maisie while on a bucket list trip to Ireland during the summer of 2019. On a day trip to the Slieve League Cliffs, our driver, Michael, got out of the car to open a wee gate, got back in the car, drove us through, then got back out to close the gate. I asked him why not just leave it open during the day? He said it was to keep the sheep in! I thought about what might occur should a sheep wander outside of a gate left open.
I wrote the outline for the book on the flight back home!
Illustrated by the immensely talented by Russian collage artist, Darya Beklemesheva, Maisie McGillicuddy's Sheep Got Muddy includes Ireland's most treasured, iconic spots, plus a beautiful map in the back to track the journey.
I wrote Sweet Tea around the time that a brand new store was being built in our little town and, thankfully, they left an old live oak tree that now watches over the parking lot. I look up at the branches and wonder what it may have seen during its lifetime, and think about the stories it could tell. I imagine who planted it, and who had tea parties in its shade. At the same time, my sons were suddenly becoming taller than me and, as a way of honoring the sentiment of the circle of life, Sweet Tea by the Live Oak Tree was born. The simple, pastel watercolor illustrations by Denise Muzzio bring this sweet story to life.
My first book, Mimosa, was written as I rocked my (now college aged) infant son, Jonah, back to sleep during a 2am feeding. I'd run out of songs to sing to him so I resorted to whispering in his little ear about a tree that I wanted to plant in the yard, and it seemed to lull him to sleep. After, I stayed up and wrote it all down.
The story remained tucked away for years before I finally began the journey of turning it into the book that it is today.
The perfect illustrator, Aisha Aamir's rich, watercolor creations compliment the soft poetic rhymes and, today, Underneath the Mimosa Tree is still probably the closest to my heart of all my books.
Written just weeks after a health scare of my own, I needed a way to move forward, as I found myself somewhat in a state of shock over what I'd just been through. A friend suggested that I write about my experience, and I decided to put it into a child's perspective. God Always Hears is about how I found myself tucked up close to God as I navigated my way, and the more I went through, the calmer I felt. I can't say enough about the amazing illustrator, Ukraine's Solomea Kalinichenko, as her style is both gorgeous and way ahead of her time. You'll be amazed to learn she was just 12 years old when she illustrated the book!
Back when my boys were just toddlers, I wrote this collection of books as a compilation of so many of the fun things they were seeing and doing during each of the seasons. I realized at the time that they had no idea what summer was, or winter, but they understood the concept of swimming pools and snowmen. Each book, whether Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, is packed full of the simple stuff we'd do each season that I look back on now and smile.
There really is something so magical about a Christmas Tree, especially to a child. We've got so many ornaments that we can barely see the branches by the time they're all hung. I particularly love the older ones made by hand, making the tree a sort of time capsule of stories and memories. It was this concept that inspired me to write about the special magic of our Marvelous, Much Loved Christmas Tree. I included many of our favorite traditions, even added some of our actual handmade ornaments in the illustrations. A real keepsake!
When I was little I had a "closet monster" and I'd sleep with the hall light on and the door open. This went on for years until one Christmas I received presents from him. My family really wrapped, and slapped tags on gifts "to Kelly from the Closet Monster!" This simple, silly act disarmed what I was afraid of and truly I think that was the end of him altogether. I came up with the idea for A Monster's Bad Rap as a way for kids to rethink the things that go bump in the night. Sometimes all it takes is a shift in perception. Illustrated by one of my sons' childhood friends, Nataly Cohn, who created such a sweetness in the monsters that have you instantly rooting for them!
This book was so much fun to write and is always a favorite of the kids when I read it at storytime events. My inspiration came from our son, Johnny, when I asked him one time what his oldest memory was. It was that time, he said, he was in his room for a nap and he wanted to look out his window, and accidentally pulled the curtains down from the wall. He was probably just 2 at the time. Soon after that conversation I wrote Not Nap Time- about a little boy that does just about everything he can think of to get out of taking his nap.