As a child I never dreamed about growing up to be an author. I was busy dreaming about playing professional baseball. In between sports practices, my mom always found time to take my sister and I to the library. I loved checking out books by Richard Scarry, Eric Carle, and Remy Charlip.  I would describe myself as a pretty intense kid.  I played hard with friends and at sports and I worked tirelessly at -- and worried a lot about -- school. 

I was lucky to have many elementary teachers that embraced reading, writing and making books. I remember my second grade teacher, Mrs. Dudenhofer, reading my class The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. In fourth grade, my teacher Mrs. Busam taught me the writing process. She had me keep a creative writing folder where I stored ideas and story drafts. I remember writing my first book THE KIDS WHO ONLY ATE PIZZA. I remember this because Mrs. Busam took the time to laminate the cover that I drew, type the text on a typewriter, and bind all the pages together with brads.
Evidence - 1984

In middle school and high school I was a very successful student but have very few good memories of reading and writing except for reading tons Choose-Your-Own Adventure books. Most of my writing was taking excessive notes in all of my classes, and writing papers for assignments. In high school I became very frustrated with reading. The books I was assigned to read became longer and more complex and I struggled with comprehension. I needed to read paragraphs over and over again to understand. Eventually, my brain would just shut down and I would fall asleep during most of my assigned reading. Then, I would be in a panic the next day because I didn't get all of the reading complete. It left me with no desire to read for pleasure.

In college, I rediscovered my love of children's books while studying to be an elementary and special education teacher. I attended Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio, a small liberal arts college with around 500 students living on campus. One of my favorite courses was CHILDREN'S LITERATURE. My professor was an expert in multicultural literature which I was never exposed to before. I fell in love with books by Ezra Jack Keats and Faith Ringgold. I found myself reading children's books more and more because I loved the illustrations and the succinct storytelling. I started to buy children's books to fill what would become my classroom library. (I now buy them to fill my home library! I am happy to have tons of books by Keats and Ringgold!)

About half of my collection of children's books!

I graduated from Walsh University with a degree in Elementary and Special Education in 2000. I got my first job as a special education teacher working with fourth grade students with reading disabilities at Turkeyfoot Elementary in Akron, Ohio.  It was there that I started celebrating children's author and illustrator birthdays with my students to expose them to a variety of books. We celebrated an author each week by making a special bulletin board in their honor. I also incorporated the author's books into my lessons as much as I could. It was such a joy to explore new authors and illustrators with my students.

Another book, Dad!
In 2005, after teaching five years, I decided to stop teaching to become a stay-at-home dad when my wife, Lisa and I had our first baby girl. When my daughter was only a few months old, I made a decision that I was going to read to her as much as I could. We went to library programs and read books in the morning, at naptime and at bedtime. I thought I loved reading children's books on my own in college and as a teacher, but I found that I could love children's books even more when I was reading them with my own child.  

In 2007, I started writing for fun for the first time. I started a blog called Happy Birthday Author where I planned to write about my experiences in the classroom celebrating children's author and illustrator birthdays. I only wrote about eight posts before life got to crazy with the birth of my first son. (I was overwhelmed having two children!)

In January 2010, my son, who was then two years old, loved the book I Stink by Kate and Jim McMullan. I had just found out that Kate McMullan's birthday was January 16. To celebrate we baked and decorated a cake to look like the garbage truck from I Stink. Since that day my family has celebrated over 225 children's author and illustrator birthdays. All of these celebrations have been shared on Happy Birthday Author.

Writing Happy Birthday Author has taught me so many things about children's books. I have studied, read, listened, and learned how authors and illustrators create their books. I have been lucky enough to meet many of my favorite authors and illustrators at conferences too.

In 2011, I started dreaming about becoming an author. I told myself and a few people that I knew would support me in my dream that I wanted to celebrate my own birthday on my Happy Birthday Author blog one day.

I joined SCBWI, found a writing critique group, and started writing stories. In 2012, I self-published my first book, Three Ghost Friends: Learn About Colors. (This "About Me" page is already long enough.  If you want to read the story about how my third child inspired me to write the book, click here.) I published Three Ghost Friends originally as an eBook, but many people asked, "When will there be paperback copies?"  Before I explored publishing in paperback, I wrote 3 more Three Ghost Friends eBooks. Then, I published the whole series in paperback.

My experience with Three Ghost Friends has been inspiring. I have visited schools, presented at local retail shops around Halloween time, and felt like a REAL author for the first time. My goal was to sell 100 copies of the Three Ghost Friends books and I am now approaching 1,000 copies in print! (Thanks to the supportive communities of Aurora and Streetsboro, Ohio! Plus, local businesses Yogurt Plus and Earth Fare!)

I am the happy father to four children. I read to them every night before bed and we still celebrate author and illustrator birthdays. I am busy coordinating 5 Little Free Libraries in our community to get books in the hands of children in our neighborhoods and parks. With all this going on, I still find time to work on my own books and writing. I love it! I hope my books and my blog will inspire children and families to love children's books as much as I do!

I started writing my latest book, Baby Beards! in April 2013 when my fourth child was one year old. Once the text started to take shape I started to believe that I could illustrate the book myself. I felt like I had learned enough about the process of making books. Over a year later, at the end of June 2014, I held Baby Beards! in my hands. This was a book that started as something our family said to each other to describe our messy faces and it became a book I could share with everyone!  All the hard work was worth it! 

Thank you very much for reading all the way to the end of this very long "About Me" page. And since you did...here is an embarassing picture of me from elementary school. Have a good laugh! Ha ha ha!

Click here to read an author interview 

Click here to read the FRONT PAGE article in the Aurora Advocate about Eric

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