L.B.’s my pen name, originating ever so creatively from my first name, Lisa, and my middle name, Beth. I was born in Tallahassee, Florida in that decade when every other baby girl seemed to be named Lisa. Today, there are a lot of writers who share my name, and so, to avoid confusion, I turned to some cool-looking initials. I have to admit, having a pseudonym makes me feel rather (pronounced rawther, a la Mary Poppins) distinguished, two qualities not normally associated with me. I am more goofy and theatrical, and I’m known for sticking my foot in my mouth. But at least now I’m a self-appointed Masterful Monikers Club member.
Pop quiz! How many notable authors’ last names can you guess? Here are some first name initials to help. Answer key at the bottom of the page.
I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland. As you can see on the left, we had our own sailboat we called “Tana.” I began writing when I was eight, on one of those typewriters that now go for obscene prices in antique shops. Almost all my short stories were based on Brady Bunch plots. In high school, I took a creative writing class, receiving an A on a satirical essay about the hot new trend of colored mascaras. That’s where I created my first real metaphor, comparing green mascara (which I had in my makeup drawer because, hey, it was the 80s) to wilted lettuce. I still didn’t know I wanted to be a writer though. All I knew was that I wanted to be famous.
So I entered the University of Maryland as a theater major, which I was forced to abandon when I discovered a minor problem: lack of talent. I graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in film screenwriting. It wasn’t until I had my first daughter, and couldn’t bear to go back to work, that I reached out to my author grandfather, Darrell Huff, who generously offered me a temporary salary to help him edit his next book. This gave me much needed time to launch a career writing articles for family websites. After a hundred or so of those, I moved on to fiction and started my first young adult novel, LEAGUE OF STRAYS, published in 2012. Before you roll your eyes at my easy time of publication, you should know that I revised that novel so many times I lost track. It took ten years to turn it into something my agent could sell.
Now I’m excited to publish my second young adult novel, STOLEN SECRETS, which comes out on 9/19/17. I’ve had the idea for, gulp, twenty years. It was a BIG idea and it took many years to feel courageous enough to write it. I finally regurgitated it onto paper during NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month). Fifty thousand words in thirty days—about nearly killed me. What I had on December 1st was a mess of tangled words that demanded more years to sort out. Thanks to Boyds Mills Press and editor Mary Colgan for helping it see the light.
I now live in California with my husband, two daughters, and a couple of rescue mutts, Madaket and Miso.
Quiz Key: T.S. Eliot, J.K. Rowling, D.H. Lawrence, J.D. Salinger, A.A. Milne, and me. (Okay, slipped that last one in. I know I am not famous, alas.) If you got a perfect score, write me and brag. Who knows? Maybe I will send you an L.B. Literati award.