On Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to thank just some of the teachers and mentors who helped me on my way to becoming a published writer. I wrote my first “book,” a 20-page story titled “Tubby the Pig on the Moon,” when I was about 8 or 9, encouraged by my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Painter. In high school, Mr. Cressman read all of my poor attempts at emulating romantic poets such as Wordsworth and Blake, and Ms. Huddy encouraged my love of journalism.

At Ohio University, I had the privilege of taking creative writing classes with Daniel Keyes (Flowers for Algernon). and Walter Tevis (The Hustler and The Man Who Fell to Earth). Keys gave me a C+, the lowest grade I earned during my entire college career, showing me I was not nearly as good a writer as I thought I was and forcing me to hone my craft. Tevis taught me about characterization and strength of story.

At the International Reading Association, I thank Drew Cassidy, who hired me for my first professional writing job. I intended IRA to be a two-year stop on my way to other things and ended up staying more than 30 years! I also thank Lloyd Kline, who reminded me that sometimes writers need to set a project aside for a couple of days so they can “get their head around it”–advice I still heed today.

As I began my career as a children’s book author, I thank Bernice E. Cullinan, who encouraged me to collect and write beautiful poems about fathers into a book of Daddy Poems–and then challenged me to turn the concept into a series of family-oriented poetry books. And I thank Kent Brown of Boyds Mills Press, who took a chance on a new writer and published those poetry books, launching a career than now includes more than 25 children’s books.

There are many others who also contributed wisdom and/or encouragement along my “writer’s road.” My heartfelt thanks to all of you–and to all teachers who make a difference in so many lives every day!!

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