In The Beginning...
Ask me about my first memories of home, and you might hear all about an old, red
barn in South Dakota, the cats, dogs, and cows living there, a grove of trees that
dangled exquisitely sour apples just out of reach, and a hand painted, prized wooden
swing that hung from a giant branch overlooking my tractor-tire sandbox. You
might not hear much about the actual house. (There was a house, though, promise!)
All that is to say, I really loved the outdoors, right from the start. When I was seven,
my mom, dad, brother, and I moved from South Dakota to central Texas. I missed
the barn, the animals, and my grand adventures traversing the acreage with
assorted animals in tow. I did not miss the cold.
Growing up in Texas, I had new loves: horses, barbecue, trips to the beach,
and mild winters, to name a few. I discovered Marguerite Henry and Walter Farley
and devoured their books about the wild Chincoteague ponies and the magnificent black stallion. Over the course of my teen years, I learned to ride, competed in many horse shows, gave riding lessons, and trained horses for others. It was an amazing experience, and most likely one I would not have had were it not for Henry’s and Farley’s books melding my love of reading and horses into a passion for learning everything I could about horses and riding.
After high school, I attended Texas State University, where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, fell in love with writing poetry, and discovered a whole host of new—and old—authors to adore. I continued to love reading and creative writing after college, but it didn’t occur to me to try writing for publication.
Since graduating, I have held several different jobs…the most rewarding and most recent has been teaching preschool. I love, love, love sharing books and ideas and (fun!) life lessons with kids. They are the most awesome, perfect people! Which brings me to my writing…and why I’m so passionate about writing for children and teens. I consider it an honor to have the chance to impact kids with my stories and poems. I know from years of reading to my own children, as well as those in my classrooms, that sharing a book with a child on a regular basis is one of the most powerful tools for making emotional connections.
Books are springboards that can launch empowering, enlightening, magical moments with kids. Books are conversation- starting, cozy-bedtime-hugging, creativity-sparking, giggle-inducing, thought-provoking windows to the world, and I am blessed to be part of cultivating lifelong lovers of books!
Jessica recently moved from the Texas Hill Country to the Kansas City area with her husband, three children, their dog, Duncan, and cat, Katy. They are all avid readers (well, the dog is still learning) but they listen, dutifully, every time she has a new story to read to them. She has written a passel of picture book manuscripts, a few non-fiction books and test passages, a contemporary middle-grade novel, and poems and stories that have appeared in magazines such as Highlights, Highlights High Five, and Ladybug. Since moving to Kansas City, Jessica is, once again, concerned about the cold. Send warm thoughts her way this winter, will you?