About Phyllis


Born: Anderson, Indiana; January 4, 1933
Eyes: Green
Hair: Brown
Husband: Rex
Children: Jeffrey and Michael (now grown up)
Daughters-in-law: Julie and Jeanie
Grandchildren: Sophia, Tressa, Garrett, and Beckett
Siblings: an older sister, Norma; a younger brother, John
Pets: none now, but we grew up with a springer spaniel and lots of cats

Most fun thing to do: snorkel
Most hated: galley proofs

Color: green
Food: chocolate
Active Sport: snorkeling
Spectator Sport: basketball

Other Jobs: locker room attendant, clinical secretary, typist, teacher, editorial assistant, mother

Books written: over 130
Stories & articles written: about 2,000
Number of rejection slips from publishers: 10,337 (really!)

First Book Published: The Galloping Goat and Other Stories, Abingdon Press, 1965

Awards Won: Newbery Medal, Edgar Allan Poe Mystery Writers Award, Child Study Award, Kerlan Award, Christopher Award, Society of School Librarians International Award, Hedda Seisler Mason Award, Appalachian Medallion, about 25 state awards, and various ALA notables

Hobbies: playing the piano, singing, going to the theater, snorkeling, hiking, baking bread, baking Christmas cookies, wave running, water jogging, doing almost anything with my family

Favorite book as a child: Huckleberry Finn

Favorite book of my own: Unexpected Pleasures

Authors who are friends of mine: Almost all of my friends are authors or illustrators, Lois Lowry, Ashley Bryan, Katherine Paterson, Eve Bunting, and Jerry Spinelli among them

Authors in my critique group: Laura Melmed, Betsy Kraft, Peggy Thomson

How I got started writing: A former Sunday school teacher wrote to me and asked me to write a story for a magazine she was editing. It was a baseball story, and she sent me a check for $4.67.

Who most inspired me to write: My parents, because they read aloud to us every night until we were in our teens; my Sunday school teacher; and teachers at school who seemed to enjoy my stories

How long will I go on writing: As long as I can hold a pencil

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