How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
learner teacher wife mom grammy writer encourager inspirer
What is your motto or maxim?
I learned to dream through reading, learned to create dreams through writing, and learned to develop dreamers through teaching. I shall always be a dreamer. Come dream with me.
How would you describe perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It's the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps.
What's your greatest fear?
Water. Deep water. I can't swim. Yet I love the beach. I like to LOOK at the water, not get in it!
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
With whom in history do you most identify?
I'm not sure if identify is the right word, but I have a great deal of respect for Zora Neale Hurston whose writing is brilliant and whose path was difficult.
Which living person do you most admire?
My parents. And Barack Obama.
What are your most overused words or phrases?
Actually, I use actually too much.
What do you regret most?
I let my kids watch too much television when they were little.
If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
I'd love to dance with grace and style, to move as easily as I write.
What is your greatest achievement?
I'm still working on that. Every day is a new opportunity to reach another goal.
What's your greatest flaw?
I'm very picky and often impatient.
What's your best quality?
I believe in hope and possibility. I'm a powerfully positive person.
If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
I'd like to be able to fly like a bird and swim like a fish, but I wouldn't want to BE either one of those.
What trait is most noticeable about you?
I smile often. I like people. I'm friendly.
Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Beowulf. What a man!
If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
I'd like to sit down and have a conversation with women like Mary McLeod Bethune and Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman--women who fought for civil rights and women's rights. I like to thank their for their courage and leadership and they them know they made a difference.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
People who don't think before they speak or act really annoy me. Rude people. Mean people.
What is your favorite occupation, when you're not writing?
I'm addicted to several word games on my iphone. I play them for hours, sometimes when I'm supposed to be sleeping, or even writing!
What's your fantasy profession?
I want to be Oprah. I'd be great as a talk show personality.
What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
Honesty. Positive rather than negative attitude. Genuine, not fake. I appreciate smiles and hugs.
If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
Chicken. Many chickens have already given their lives for me.
What are your 5 favorite songs?
What a wonderful World sung by Louis Armstrong. The Rainbow Connection sung by Kermit the Frog. Sunshine on my Shoulders sung by John Denver. Bumpin by Wes Montgomery. Brown Baby sung by Oscar Brown, Jr. Lots of others.
On Books and Writing
Who are your favorite authors?
Any writer who can make a word sound as sweet as syrup or a brittle as glass. I like Diane McKinney-Whetstone and Alice Hoffman. I like Toni Morrison, but she requires thoughtful concentration. Geraldine Brooks is amazing.
What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
Since I've read thousands of books, that's hard to answer. Two from childhood: Caddie Woodlawn by Brink. Behold your Queen by Gladys Malvern. In college I loved The Stand by Stephen King. Best Biography? Wrapped in Rainbows by Valerie Boyd. Best book I've read recently? The Secret Life of Bees by Sure Monk Kidd.
Is there a book you love to reread?
No. There are too many unread books out there. I'm always thirsty for new ones.
Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
Read a thousand books, and write every single day.