To Alexis O'Neill, her greatest good fortune was having a dad of Irish and mom of Scottish/Irish/Canadian heritage who would just as soon sing and tell tales as to eat and breathe. Born in Boston and later raised in Wakefield, Massachusetts, she grew up with a hunger for good stories and a love of sharing them.
Today, Alexis is the author of a seafaring picture book, Loud Emily (Simon & Schuster), a rollicking book about bullies, The Recess Queen (Scholastic) and a book about unselfish giving, Estela's Swap (Lee & Low). Alexis also writes fiction and nonfiction for children's magazines including Cobblestone, Calliope, Faces, and Cricket.
A founding member of the Children's Authors Network (CAN!), Alexis also serves as Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in the Ventura/Santa Barbara Region, and teaches writing for the UCLA Extension Writers' Program.
After earning a degree from Skidmore College, Alexis taught elementary school. She holds an M.S. in Instructional Technology and a Ph.D. in Teacher Education from Syracuse University. In addition to writing, she consults for museums and leads workshops for teachers on linking literacy, museums and the visual and performing arts. She lives in Ventura County, California with her husband, David, and three naughty cats.
About Being a Writer
I used to think that being a good writer meant having really good penmanship. In fifth grade, I copied articles from our Wonderbook of Knowledge for my report on the State of Georgia (please don't tell anyone!) If I made a mistake (and I made many mistakes), I had to rewrite the whole page (Yikes!). I think that I might have become a writer sooner if schools had had computers with spellcheckers back then.
Then in sixth grade I had to do a report on Ireland. I wrote it as if I were on a pretend trip. The teacher made me read it out loud and my classmates laughed in all the right spots. It was then that I realized that writing for a real, live audience was fun. From then on, I wrote with my classmates in mind. Today, I always picture faces of readers or story listeners when I shape my tales or write games or articles for magazines.
From the time I was born, my parents invented stories to tell my brother, sister and me, my father sang songs at family gatherings, my mother created funny letters to send far away to my grandparents in Florida, and our friends recited poems at parties. Oh! And our house had books in every single room.
If, when you grow up, you want to be a writer — or an artist or an actor a singer — here's my advice: read, write, paint, perform, and sing every chance you get — and spend lots of time with others who love to do these things, too!