Dad was a hobby photographer. He turned our downstairs bathroom into a darkroom so he could develop his photos. Here are some pictures he took of our family.--Darleen Bailey Beard
Like most kids, I started out bald and funny looking. Mom says I didn't smell very nice either!
This is my big sister, Sherrie. She's five years older than me. Growing up, she used to say, "I'll always be older than you, smarter than you, and bigger than you." She was right. She is older than me, bigger than me, and way smarter, but that's okay. I still love her anyway!
Sherrie and I - all dressed up on Easter Sunday, 1962. Our mom sewed those matching dresses. Weren't we just too cute?
Here we are on Christmas with our dog, Ginger. Shhh, don't tell my mom she's on this web site in curlers,she'd just die. I'm sitting by Mom. I was only 4 years-old. My sister is sitting by Dad. She was 9 years-old.
Mother's Day 1966 - Me, Sherrie, & Mom. (Left to right)
I was raised in Levittown, PA, in the 1960's. All us neighbor kids used to play flashlight tag, stickball, go sledding, and catch crawdads & frogs in pop bottles at the creek. In 1971, I had an amazing, life-changing experience--I met my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Jacqui Schickling. Her classroom was filled with words and writing. She created a school newspaper called the "Hoover Hotline" and we all became reporters, columnists, and editors. We wrote book reports, stories with our spelling words, and wrote and illustrated our very own books.
One day, Mrs. Shickling put her arm around me and said, "If you work hard at this, I think you can write a real book when you grow up." And that's just what I've done. My first book, The Pumpkin Man from Piney Creek, (Simon & Schuster, 1995) is dedicated to my teacher.
My old house. The circled window was my bedroom window. I used to crawl out onto the garage roof & sunbathe!
Here's our class picture: I'm in the second row of girls, third from the left. I was very skinny and the tallest girl in my class. My nickname was "Chicken Legs." My best friend was Kathy Dyer, she's sitting in the front row to the left of our sign. She's now a registered nurse, married, has two kids, and even a granddaughter.
In 1973, we moved to Salem, Arkansas, and in 1974 we moved to Noble, Oklahoma.
When I was 15 years old, a twister went over my home. Dad, my dog Brutus, and I ran to our cellar, but Mom wouldn't step out of the house because she had just had her hair styled at the beauty parlor and didn't want it to get all wind-blown. Little did I know then, that twenty years later, I'd recall that memory and turn it into a picture book called Twister. (Published 1999, Farrar Straus Giroux, Inc.) Just to ease your mind, we made it through the twister just fine and Mom's hair wasn't messed up a bit. She was still pretty as ever.
Me & Brutus, my wonderful border collie. He died when I was 28 years old. I was about 20 years-old here.
This is Mom and me in 1986, when I received my bachelor's degree in Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma. I tried to convince my sister, Sherrie, that now I was smarter than her, but she wouldn't agree. Some things never change.
Here's Mom, me, Sherrie, and Dad in January, 1996. Sherrie had just turned forty and I'd just turned thirty-five. I was five months pregnant with my daughter, Karalee.
Here are my two pumpkins, Spencer and Karalee. When they were little, they used to fight and argue same as my sister and I used to do, except Spencer didn't learn the art of stuffing his dirty socks into Karalee's mouth, like Sherrie used to do to me. I got her back though. But to hear those stories, you'll have to see her web site. Lucky for me, she doesn't have one!
Being an author is the job of my dreams. I spend a lot of time doing my favorite things -- writing, editing, researching, interviewing people, and reading.
I also have a lot of fun teaching others how to write for children, doing school author visits, and speaking at conferences, libraries and bookstores all over the U.S. This is me at my very first book signing. I was excited & nervous. I autographed 80 books that day!
The best part about being an author is creating believable characters. To think I can invent characters in my mind and then bring them to life with words, is just amazing to me. When people ask me if my characters are real, I take that as one of the highest compliments an author can receive. Sometimes I dress up as my book characters to surprise students.
The second best part about being an author is doing school author visits and visiting with students. They always give me lots of hugs and hand-drawn notes and the energy I need to go back home and write another book.
When students ask me how long I've been an author, I say, "I've been an author since I was ten-years-old. The only difference is, now I'm a published author. So if you're serious about writing, and you love to write, you're an author, too."
Here are our wonderful foreign students that we used to host.
Tony is from China and Jarek is from Czech Republic. Here they are acting very silly with Karalee, my daughter. Tony now lives in Rhode Island with his wife, Maggie. Jarek now lives in Prague, Czech Republic and teaches mathmatics in a college for the deaf and blind. Tony and Jarek are both featured in Annie Glover is NOT a Tree Lover! Tony plays the part of the journalist who works for Channel 8 News. And Jarek plays the part of one of the three flying Elvises. We will stay in touch.
On June 2nd, 2011, I married the most wonderful man in the world! His name is David Riffle. Our wedding was at sunset, on top of a mountain, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Talk about romantic!
My little pumpkins are growing up! Spencer is now 27 and working as a Park Ranger at Capulin National Volcano Park in N.M. Karalee (center) is now 20 and going to Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) and working as a Smoothie Specialist in Moore. Joedi (bottom) is my new step-daughter. She is 29 and working at the University of Oklahoma. Joedi is married to Richard. He works as an editor and writer for News9OK.com.
Along with my 13 year-old poodle named "Baby Ballerina", I also have a new puppy! His name is Django. We named him after the movie "Django Unchained"... it fits him very well since he is full of energy and excitement, and never likes to be chained up!