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I'm older than you think. Kids tell me they expect me to arrive at their school in a flak jacket and black lipstick, or at least to have some visible body piercings. But I'm just somebody's chubby mom, and even some people's grandmother. Don't hold that against me, because I made a promise to myself long ago never to grow up totally. My children, who did grow up, can attest to that vow.

Guess how dull my childhood was. As a very small kid I lived in the Dominican Republic one year, but otherwise, I stayed pretty close to my hometown of San Francisco. Imagine a time when TV flickered only three hours a day - black and white, on a screen smaller than your monitor. Of course, there were no computers or video games or cell phones, so what's an only child to do? Well, every Saturday morning I walked 12 blocks to the nearest San Francisco Public Library branch and checked out a stack of books which I began reading on the walk home, dodging motorcycles and cars with blaring horns. Saturday afternoons I went to the movies. That cost 20, plus a nickel for a Licorice Twist.

All those years I made up stories, too. In seventh grade I won an essay contest on the topic, "Use Your Garbage Can." It's safe to say that essay stunk. As a sophomore I wrote a satire on the most popular kids in my school, firing off every snide observation I could. It was pretty cold, but somehow it got published in Teen magazine, which certainly didn't help my popularity. If you could go back and find that story (which I hope you can't), you'd see that I understood and lived the awkwardness and mixed feelings that define being a teenager. I've never forgotten.

Determined to be an adventurous bachelor girl who had exotic romances all over the world, I met my future husband, Tom Ruby, the very first day of college at the University of California, Berkeley, during the tumultuous '60s. Five years later we were married, and we still are. Meanwhile, I finished my degree in English and a master's in library science. That's how I got to know books for teens - as a Young Adult librarian for the Dallas Public Library. What I read way back then was so poor that I figured it would be a cinch to write books for young people. Boy, was I wrong!

Our sons were born while their dad was working on his Ph.D. in psychology. Can you beat this? - a husband that I've grown up with over the last 40+ years, three sons who have never been in trouble, a couple of amazing, strong-willed, creative daughters-in-law, and a bunch of grandchildren, all of whom are brilliant and highly photogenic. My sippy cup runneth over.

David, our oldest son, is a lawyer and financial analyst preparing for a new career as a teacher and a consultant to non-profit projects. His beautiful redheaded daughter is Jocelyn, born in 1998.

Kenn, whose curse is to be the "middle child," is a software quality assurance analyst in Cincinnati. He knows more than you'd ever want to know about movies and sports, and is a professional contributor to numerous online fantasy sports websites. His wife, Julie, has carved time out of her busy HR career to be a full-time mom to Jacob, born in 2006, and Evan, born in 2011.

Jeff is the chief dining critic at Chicago magazine and the author of Everybody Loves Pizza, numerous magazine articles, and a bundle of stories and scripts ripe for publication. His wife, Sarah, is the brains and brawn behind Jeff's writing. She's an inspired teacher and the mother of Hannah, born in 2005, Max in 2007, and Abigail in 2012. Their dog is Easy, but I don't fully claim her as a grandchild.

These twelve people are the ones I love most in the world. They give me both the roots I need to stay grounded and the wings I covet to soar.

I've had lots of jobs. I've been . . . a waitress in a truck stop restaurant, a statistical typist, the director of a summer day camp and a Hebrew school, an art and music librarian, and a full-time mother, community volunteer, and office manager for a psychologist. I don't relish any of those jobs as well as my real job, which is writing, visiting schools to talk about writing, and teaching writing. You see the trend, here?

Anything else you'd need to know about me you'll find in my books. So, read on!
Lois Ruby

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