What is your education?
- B.A. in Music Education, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN.
- Elementary Education Certification, University of Houston, Houston, TX.
- Post Baccalaureate and graduate work at Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA; Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL; Saint Leo University, Saint Leo, FL; and Florida International University, Miami, FL.
- Computer Technology Certification from Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, VA.
- Continuing Education/Inservice Classes at School District of Hillsborough County, Tampa, FL.
How do you take time to create?
My first books were an outgrowth of teaching music in elementary school. I developed dozens of worksheets in various formats that reinforced concepts and skills for my music students. When I was on maternity leave I began to sort through the numerous activities. After my first baby was born, I developed seven manuscripts from my music activity pages that would go hand in hand with the music curriculum standards set forth by the MENC (Music Education National Conference). Iíd work for hours every night after my daughter fell asleep, and while she napped, I napped.
Now that my children are grown and I no longer teach, my time is my own for the most part. However, one challenging thing for me has always been to protect my writing time. There are so many other demands on my time that I have to fiercely guard the hours I set aside to write and compose. That requires a bit of juggling to spend time with my family and friends, to play tennis and to travel. Once I begin I get totally absorbed in my music and writing and can easily work for hours. I really need to ask Alexa to set the alarm clock every hour so that I get up and move around!
What are some highlights of your
My Ready-to-Use Music Activities Kit was the first of its kind, and it was an all-time best seller of the Music Educators Book Club with Parker Publisher. The 'Ready-to-Use' expression that originated with my book is still a popular phrase for book titles by other authors.
What do you like to read?
Books about health and nutrition are my favorites. Iíve read a number of winners, and one of my favorites is Eat to Beat Disease by Dr. William Li. Iím also a huge fan of how-to books, and my recent favorite is The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story by Marie Kondo.
What were your favorite stories as
Heidi and Charlotteís Web were my favorites. Although, I wasnít much of a reader when I was a child, having to take time to practice piano and flute, and then spending every free moment helping on the farm or in the kitchen.
Do you ever work on more than one book at a time?
Rarely do I write more than one book at a time. Generally I work on a project to completion. However, I do stop my current project if I need to proof or edit other finalized works.
How did you come up with the idea to create activity books?
My road to becoming an author began when I started writing music activities to reinforce concepts and skills for my students. When I first began teaching there were no such materials on the market to provide a well-balanced curriculum, which prompted me to develop my own single page worksheets in a variety of formats. Realizing how successful these written exercises were for my music students, I knew that other music teachers could benefit using them, too. With hopes of finding a publisher I compiled over two hundred of my reproducible activities into specific areas of music education in seven manuscripts. From there, my Ready-to-Use Music Activities Kit was created.
How did you first get published?
I wrote a query letter to an individual whose name was on a flyer for a music book advertisement that was mailed to the music department at the school where I was teaching. Tom Power replied, and he became my first editor at Parker Publishing Company, the professional division for Prentice Hall, now named Pearson Learning.
Can you describe your writing environment?
Currently I write at my desk in my office, which also serves as a music studio, recording studio, library, and dining room. My comfy chair faces a window where I can see the birds come and go at the feeder. If the weather is warm I like to sit out on my patio and write. Then at times Iíll walk to the local coffee
shop and enjoy the different environment to spend some time writing.
What is your next book and when will it come out?
My next book is a manual that stems from being a life-long pet owner and pet-sitter. Seeing a need for firsthand resources for pet owners, two years ago, I began writing My Pet Sitter: An Essential Guide for the Pet Owner with Hands-on Resources for the Pet Sitter. I am in the process of creating downloadable, fillable forms for the user, hoping to release this book in the spring of 2021.
What is your next songbook and when will it come out?
Iím working on a compilation of vocal solos called Sacred Songs for Special Days, which I plan to launch this year.
Whatís the hardest part & the best part of writing?
Previously, the most difficult aspect of writing is moving forth to find an agent or publisher! Iím a great promoter for other people, but for me to promote my own work is a different story. Although, I have the determination and discipline to finish writing projects and compositions, Iím always eager to move on to the next project when the current one is complete. Truth be known, I love every aspect of writing, from exploring that first idea to the end.
Where do you get your inspiration for composing?
Thinking of a phrase, a word, a title, or listening to how a piece of music begins gives me inspiration to create my own.
How do you accept criticism?
Iíve learned to trust the judgment of other musicians when they critique my songs and have greatly benefited. By belonging to SAW (Song Writersí Association of Washington) and NSAI (Nashville Song Writers Association International), Iíve had the unique opportunity to master my skills by having my songs critiqued on a regular basis. As Iíve cultivated my relationship with fellow musicians who support my songwriting, Iíve been blessed to receive feedback that improves my songwriting, whether to change a word or two or revise a phrase. When I implement their suggestions, I improve my songs. Likewise, Iíve become a better songwriter by being able to listen to others and critique their music. When I hear comments on another performerís song, my songwriting skills are reinforced, and what is said helps me improve, too.
What distracts you the most when you are to trying write or compose?
Pesky CNN pop-up news alerts are bothersome when Iím working with Finale. I know I should turn off the pop-ups.
Did being a music teacher drain your creativity?
In a sense, my teaching enhanced my creativity. When I was teaching students to listen to music, for example, where theyíd identify pitch direction, dynamics, or duration of notes, I discovered that I could make up tunes on the spot. That was when I first knew I could compose songs. Thereís rarely a time when I donít have a tune in my head.
What is your next song and when will it come out?
I am always working on another song. Actually, I have several EZ-PZ Duets for soprano recorders in the makings, along with duet books for the flute.
Where do you perform your music?
During the pandemic, I perform interactive music performances for people with disabilities at MVLE on Zoom. I also sing and play ukulele on Zoom open mic for the Reston-Herndon Folk Club. Because the pandemic has limited ways to perform, I share audio files with a group of participants from a church retreat I attended last summer. For this group, each week, my goal is to email an audio file and score of a sacred song that Iíve written and recorded.
How do you go about writing a song?
Sometimes I get on a roll, like last summer when I wrote 24 bedtime songs for wee ones. I got inspired to compose my own songs after singing the same old nursery rhymes to my grandbabies. If I think of a phrase, the music just comes to me. Iíve been known to take out my staff paper and jot down one tune after the other while riding the METRO. When Iím in my music studio I use Finale to compose on a keyboard. Then I just type the lyrics onto the staff lines on my computer, or if Iím composing a duet, I can easily add the second part and transpose it to a better key, if necessary. Having a pen and manuscript paper by my bed has been magical. For example, in the middle of the night during the summer when I first retired from teaching music to students with disabilities, I composed dozens of songs about life skills and other themes that applied to SWD. In the not too distant future I plan to get those tunes published, along with my collection of bedtime songs.