I'm pretty sure the expectation for this question was that I'd talk about a teacher or librarian from my own schooling that influenced me. And I had some great ones—Gail Kirkland at Daviess County High School and Linda Tatum from Tamarack Elementary to name two—but the person who really got me started writing in the way I'm writing now is Cathy Belben.
Cathy is the librarian at the school where I taught for eight years, Burlington-Edison High. She was assigned as my mentor my first year, and I'm so lucky for it. Cathy is an amazing teacher, a passionate librarian, and absolutely one of the funniest people I know. But she is also a gifted writer. She's published hundreds of articles on all sorts of topics. From incorporating crafts in the library for professional magazines to her piece on donating her own remains to the body farm for Bust Magazine. She's published award winning fiction, spent a season living in Hollywood writing for Veronica Mars, and generally inspires everybody who comes into contact with her. She's the one who really got me hooked on great YA, and who invited me to join her writing group even though I didn't really write much at the time. She's just one of those people who make you want to join the party of words and story and craft, and we're so lucky to have her in our community.
She's also a great friend. Here we are on one of our homecoming dress up days at school. I think it was superhero day, and we came dressed as twin triathletes. Goggles, running pants, towel capes. We took our bike helmets off for the photo so we wouldn't, ahem, look dumb.
Here we come to saaave the day!
Cathy truly is a superhero. (But she might need to hire a new costumer.) Tomorrow we learn why some writing contests left Jennifer wondering if she'd ever get published.