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  1. When people hear I have six kids and 16 grandkids, they think, ‘Oh, boy, you must get a lot of stories from them.’ I don’t. It’s not like I’m behind the sofa in the living room taking notes while the grandkids carry on.
  2. I’m remembering one book that I wrote, ‘Fourth Grade Rats,’ that took a month to write, but most of them, full-length novels, I would say about a year.
  3. Once, I was out of the house 93 days in a year. I was missing grandparents’ days at schools and kids’ birthdays and Valentine’s Day, not to mention the fact that when you’re on the road, you can’t get anything done. I had to learn to say ‘No,’ cut back on travel.
  4. Even including myself, my favorite author is Eileen Spinelli, who I happen to live with. She’s a terrific writer and has written several of my all-time favorites.
  5. I was very naive, and I thought it was just a matter of writing my first book and sending it in, and for the rest of my life I would be writing books and collecting royalties. Nobody told me how hard it was going to be to get published.
  6. I became a children’s author by accident. As far as I’m concerned, I write for everybody.
  7. I would say if you want to write, write what you care about. I think that’s the most important thing. I think if you write what you care about, you stand a better chance of having the reader care about your story.
  8. In ‘Hokey Pokey,’ bikes are kind of more than bikes alone. They become mustangs; they become creatures that rip up the dust as they gallop across the Great Plains.
  9. I seem to have a natural tendency to want to share my own observations and feelings with other people, and writing seems to be the way I’m best equipped to do that.
  10. There are bits and pieces of me probably in every one of my 35 or so books.
  11. I have a curious background for someone who turns out to be a writer.
  12. I never became a cowboy or baseball player, and now I’m beginning to wonder if I ever really became a writer. I find that I hesitate to put that label on myself, to define myself by what I do for a living.
  13. I think I have a pretty goofy profile for a writer. It seems to me most writers were reading ‘Little Women’ when they were 6 months old. At the age of a lot of my readers, I wanted to be a major league baseball player. I didn’t read much.
  14. Now I don’t really write for adults or kids — I don’t write for kids, I write about them. I think you need to do that, otherwise you end up preaching down.
  15. Usually it takes me about nine to 12 months to write a book.
  16. More often than not, my reference point is not the kids or the grandkids but myself when I was that age. I remember the days at Hartranft Elementary and Stewart Junior High in Norristown.
  17. I don’t really write for adults or kids — I don’t write for kids, I write about them. I think you need to do that; otherwise, you end up preaching down. You need to listen not so much to the audience but to the story itself.
  18. I’ve been writing since I was sixteen. At first, I wrote mostly short stories and poetry. The first thing I ever had published was a poem about a football game. It was printed in my local newspaper.
  19. I played Little League in junior high and high school.
  20. Write about what you care about. If you do that, you’re probably going to do your best writing, reach off the page and touch the reader. How are you going to make the reader care if you don’t care yourself?

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