Patricia has written dozens of nonfiction books for young readers. She said, "I'm a retired elementary school teacher, writer and photographer. My stories, articles, quizzes, puzzles, and photos have appeared in many magazines for both children and adults. Children's magazines where I've been published include Highlights for Children, Cricket, Children's Digest," and more. "My hobbies include birdwatching, hiking, camping, photography, and travel."

What drove/inspired you to get started?

I decided when I was a little girl and learned to read that I wanted to write books some day. It took me a LONG time to get started!

Do you have any specialized training?

I have training as a teacher, plus I've taken many workshops and seminars, including Highlights Workshops at Chautauqua, Children's Writer's Workshops at Wildacres, seminars at University of Iowa, and the Anitoch College Writer's Workshops in Yellow Springs, Ohio. I also took classes and seminars in photography.

Has this been something you've always wanted to do?


Have there been any obstacles along the way?

Rejections! And having time to get everything done.

Before you got the all important contract, how did your friends and family react to your goals? Were they supportive?

Most were supportive.

Now that you have a book (s) in print, do you get different reactions from friends and family?

Most of them like to tell people that they have a friend who writes real books.

How did you land that very first book deal?

I queried Enslow on a biography of Annie Oakley, who is from my hometown. The editor wrote back that she had just assigned a book on Annie to someone else, but to call her if I were interested in other topics. I did, and she assigned the Daniel Boone book. Of course, I had to write a complete outline and the first chapter before I got a contract. After that, I just had to write an outline for each book.

Did you have any misconceptions in the beginning about the whole book process?

Not really. I'd read dozens of books and magazines on writing, so it was pretty much as I expected.

How would you describe your work? What's the most important thing you'd like others to get out of it?

Since my books have all been nonfiction, of course I'm trying to inform kids about the topics I write about, but I try to write in an interesting way that will hold their interest. I'd like to have kids read my books because they enjoy them, not because they have to read them for book reports!

Do you have an agent? If yes, please explain how you acquired your agent and how you think having one has helped you. If you don't have an agent, would you consider getting one?

No, I don't have an agent. If I finish a couple of MG novels I'm working on, I might look for an agent. I don't think I need one for nonfiction.Describe your relationship with your editor(s) (art > director if applicable). All very different. The first editor and I clicked right away, and I loved working with her. She left Enslow after my third book, and I had many problems with the editor who replaced her. It was a relief to find that almost everyone else had the same reaction. Then I worked with another editor who was pleasant to work with, but after I did four books for her, she said she didn't have any titles available for this year. I've worked with two different editors for Baseline Development, but since they have such a fast turnaround time, you don't work with them for long. They've both been very helpful about answering my questions, though.

How do you most often communicate with your publisher--e-mail, phone, or snail mail?

Have done all three. Probably more e-mail than anything else, followed by phone calls.

What books do you have in the works now?

I'm working right now on the Revolutionary War book, but it's a short book and will be done in a week or so. Am working on a couple of novels, a book for adults on my mother's struggle with Alzheimer's, and have a couple of other nonfiction books in mind.

Is there anything you'd do differently with your new projects?

I'd like to do some books on nature and more biographies, as well as MG novels. Do you do any author events? If so, please describe what they generally consist of.I've taught workshops both online and in person, been a breakout speaker for a SCBWI conference, done school visits and booksignings.

How important do you think author appearances are for you and your book(s)?

Not very, because most of my books are not bought by the general public, but by schools and libraries. Besides, the books are so expensive with the library binding, that it's hard to sell them. If I sell a novel or a picture book, then I think author appearances would be important.

What's the best thing about publishing a book? What's the worst?

A feeling of accomplishment and knowing you have a chance to influence young readers is the best. Not sure I can think of anything bad about it.

Any last words of encouragement for beginners?

Hang in there! For years I sent out one or two things a year and when they were rejected, never sent them out again. When I was almost ready to retire and decided I really wanted to do this as a second career, I started writing and sending out lots of stuff. Within a year, I was selling to magazines. Also read loads of children's books, and it wouldn't hurt to take a course from ICL. I teach for them, so of course I'd say that, but in the basic course, I could have learned everything it took me ten years to learn from reading.