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Much like a gardener planting seeds in the ground, authors' story ideas germinate from many sources, from the intentional mixing of ideas or seeds, if you will, that are first researched, experimented, and finally, with a deep breath, planted within a story, careful to make certain that, with a little luck and a lot of perseverance, something close to a miracle will happen. And not only will readers revel in the painstaking cultivation of the story, but the author, the gardener, will sit back and take a look at what they've created, at last hoping to be able to do it again next season. As with gardening, it's a risk. The soil could have changed, the weather completely unpredictable, but probably most never will the gardener, the writer, pass up a season to create something even a small degree more miraculous -- at least for them.

My YA-novel, HONEYSUCKLE HOLIDAY, began twenty years ago with a seed, an idea. It was a chant that even when I first heard it as a young girl, I knew was derogatory -- nothing short of vicious; and yet, I couldn't get the words or the cadence of that chant out of my mind. And before I knew it, a story began to form, with the chant at its core.

And my MG-novel, MARBLE TOWN, was another story that simply became part of who I was -- another moment in time that was so defining that I had to tell the story. And after nearly a lifetime of telling stories or listening to stories or making sense of the world through storytelling I, like the sower of seeds, have finally come to the point where I can say, "I am an author." And that admission -- that glorious, yet incredibly humbling admission -- took more than one season's gardening to cultivate.

When my first children's book, PLEASE CLOSE IT!, was recently released, that seed too came from a moment in time that has remained steadfast for more than a few decades. When John and I began to date, he would arrive at my parents' house. And as we left, he never closed completely the front door -- ever. Invariably, our five-year-old neighbor, Vincent (who ended up being the ring-bearer in our wedding) would remark every single time, "Boy, for a big guy he sure doesn't know how to close a door!" And, he still doesn't, or drawers for that matter. So, PLEASE CLOSE IT! was always growing in my mind, until I sat down and wrote it out. And now, John thinks he's off the hook for life, as a way to be loyal to the young readers of PLEASE CLOSE IT!

Like the gardener who contemplates his plot of land and his choices of seed, authors' sources for stories are as plentiful as the stories that evolve from the stroke of a pen, the stroke of a key on a simple keyboard, the planting of one seed at a time


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