I was named after my great grandmother, Rebecca Burford. Everyone called her Becky, too. She lived as a slave until she was 12 years old. Although she lived to be 103 years old, I was still a baby when she died and I never met her.
Like Sarah Marie in my book Grandmama’s Pride, I have a Mom, a Dad, and one sister. But in real life, I was the younger sister. Our family lived in Hampton, Virginia, then in Salisbury, Maryland, and finally moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when I was 4. That’s where I grew up.
I was lucky enough to have four grandparents and to know them all. My mother’s mother is the one that Grandmama is based on in Grandmama’s Pride. My father’s mother was the inspiration for Ma in Lucky Beans.
I always liked to write stories and poems. When I was in 5th grade, my school had a poetry contest and I won first prize with a poem about my teacher. The prize was a silver dollar. I still have it.
My mom and dad gave me a lot of help and encouragement. My dad liked to tell funny family stories. My mom went back to school and became a children’s librarian. So there were always lots of good books at our house. Some of my favorite books were the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and magic books by Edith Nesbit and Edward Eager. My all-time favorite was A Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson Burnett.
Our family pets were a collie named Rudolphe and later a cocker spaniel named Inky. We also had a black cat named Tinkerbell. Now I have a cat named Orlando.
When I graduated from high school, I went to college. I also worked, traveled, and took time off, so it took me a while to graduate from college. After I graduated, I worked at different kinds of jobs. I was a camp counselor and, later, a day care worker and a preschool teacher. I also worked in a library and in book stores, and taught writing at colleges. For many years I worked for an adoption organization. Our work was finding families to adopt kids who needed families. I wrote articles and stories for adoption websites. For a few years after that, I worked at a Quaker conference, study and retreat center.
Somehow, between these things, I managed to go back to school to study writing fiction and get a master’s degree, at the school that is now Vermont College of Fine Arts. I am a long time member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
Along with writing, I love to read. I still read lots of children’s books. Two other hobbies are folk dancing and playing the hammered dulcimer. I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.
I live in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, with my partner, Nancy, and daughter, Tasha. I have written three books for grownups. I have also won some awards and fellowships for my writing for grownups and children. Grandmama’s Pride is my first book for children. Lucky Beans is my second. And I am working on writing more.