Word Wanderer's Corner

It All Began with Penguins and Mexico…

Okay, I obviously don’t mean there were penguins in Mexico. Just hear me out, okay. I’ll explain. I grew up by the banks of a lake in rural Louisiana. We’re talking the country—no red lights or restaurants. I went to a school with about 100 students total in Pre-K to 12th grade, and I was the only student in fourth grade, the only one!

Can you imagine that?!

AND my mom was my teacher. Double yikes! (Just kiddin.’ I love my mom.)

Growing up, I read books about faraway places filled with amazing buildings and natural structures as well as interesting clothing and languages.

I longed to see the world and write all about my travels, and when I grew up, I had the opportunity to do just that.

But you don’t have to start when you grow up…I started by writing on the pages of my first notebook with a smiling Hello Kitty on its front. I’d scratch out notes and little stories in my six-year-old handwriting. These scribblings switched to diary entries, short stories and my first novel when I was 12.

The first spark of my dream to become an author stems from when my fifth-grade teacher assigned me to read the book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater.

I love that book. It has humor and adventure and tells me that all things are possible—even having penguins as pets—although that was never part of my dream. This book and my teacher’s encouragement did spark my dream to write and become an author one day. Enter my next spark—travel. I’d traveled around the U.S. a bit by the time I was in high school, but I was eager for my first international adventure. It was that summer I had the opportunity to help others in Mexico and work at an orphanage and in the surrounding villages. And that was just the start of my travels.

While I was studying Journalism at university, I volunteered to teach English in the country of Serbia, studied Spanish in Costa Rica, explored Egypt and Jordan from a camel’s back, rode trains, planes and boats around the United Kingdom, went scuba diving in Puerto Rico and much more.

All these experiences offered inspiration for my books and little bits of true life are sprinkled within their pages.

Through my writing, I hope you, Readers, can explore the globe and go on your very own adventures from wherever you are in the world.


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