"It is good people who make good places." Black Beauty
A long, long time ago in a pasture far away….
Awarded Best Young Reader of the year by IBPA
IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award
Even with a family heritage of poets and writers, I never thought I’d ever be one. I was too busy having fun raising three very active girls.
Born near Columbus Ohio, but raised on a remote farm in New Berlin, Wisconsin, my parents made a bold move by packing up our farmhouse and six kids (four brothers and sister) and leaving the mountainous snowdrifts in Wisconsin to towering palm trees in Largo, Florida. Talk about cultural shock. I grew up wearing cowboy hats and boots to …
… fake eyelashes and high-heels in the Miss Largo Pageant.
Children’s books have changed since the days of Black Beauty. As of mixed race, my girls had no books to read with characters they could relate to. I wanted to change that.
I found my first “voice” through a therapeutic program that brought music to the bedside of those healing. Poetry came next. As a member of the Florida State Poets Association, I served as Co-Editor for ten Anthologies.
I blended my music with poetry and produced several storybook CDs: The Gift of Songbird, Frog Songs, and The Elephant in my Dream.
Those short stories grew into novels. Wow. The voice I found for kids aged 7-13 was so different. It would take a lot of study to make it shine and, I was getting started late.
But, it’s never too late.
To prove it, I received SCBWI’s Karen and Phil Cushman Late Bloomer Award for a middle-grade novel close to my heart: Finding Moon Rabbit.
I’d accomplished what I’d set out to do: To offer a story my kids could relate to in a deep and meaningful way.
With growing violence against Asians, my daughter joined me in publishing Finding Moon Rabbit: A War. A Camp. A Girl. A Letter. Though fiction, our character, Koko, like many kids today, make the best of horrible circumstances not of their doing.
And we won the Gold for Moon Rabbit! IBPA honored us in May of 2023 with the Ben Franklin Award for Best Young Reader Novel of the year.
My work in writing for young readers continues. I’ve received SCBWI Florida Rising Kite Awards along the way, and a Gold (1st place) Royal Palm Award (FWA) for Three Horses for the Mikado: When Ulysses Grant Sailed to Japan, which is scheduled for publication in 2024.
I love writing about historical events where the outward differences of our cultures are not as important as our human similarities.
And remember, it’s never to late to raise your voice.
I live with my family in the Tampa Bay Area.
More from jc.
Why the horse theme?
After a tragic event when I was young, I began to believe I wasn’t a little girl, but a horse. It tried to escape from a bad thing that had happened to me.
My parents assured me I wasn’t crazy, just crazy about horses. That passion, though, gave my courage wings.
Anna Sewell proved to me that I wasn’t the only one who thought like a horse. Her book, Black Beauty raised awareness against society’s everyday acceptance of unjust acts against those who couldn’t speak for themselves.
I like to think my stories offer hope, courage, and dignity to those who have had to endure hardship like I did, and come out a better horse for it.
I traded in my imaginary four hooves for two feet a long time ago, but it didn’t stop me from visiting other pastures.
I’ve been corralled in six states (Ohio and Florida twice),
trotted across the U.S. from the Atlantic to Pacific,
jumped over the pond to Europe, the Azores,
and flown the Pacific to whinny Aloha!
from emerald Hawaiian peaks.
My imaginings took me to wondering about the people whose feet walked the ground before me. What were they like? What were their struggles? What were their triumphs?
I also like to think that knowing my fellow travelers, past and present, helps me to better understand, appreciate and honor them.