Michael focuses on funny picture books and middle-grade adventure. He is the author/illustrator of the SNOWMAN VS. picture book series and the author of the FUNNY SHORTS short story collection. Those are independent projects from his own Shorty Pants Books imprint. He is currently working on several new manuscripts, which include a variety of projects intended for traditional publishing.
Michael has a Master of Fine Arts in Children’s Writing (and Creative Nonfiction) from Chatham University. He is currently a stay-at-home dad, living near Chicago, IL with his awesome wife and children.
He grew up way out in the country near the small and wonderful town of St. James, MO. His first creative writing that he remembers was a 4th grade radio broadcast script assignment about whales. It starred Mr. Blue.
Michael has been a 1st & 2nd & 6th & 7th & 8th grade classroom teacher. He was trained in the Six Traits of writing as well as reading and writing workshop methods (he loves the work of Nancie Atwell).
He’s also traveled to schools as an outreach educator teaching nutrition and tobacco prevention. He’s an expert at bringing fun to educational lessons and presentations.
Seriously. Kids love him.
So do teachers. And principals. And custodians. And lunch ladies. And lunch gentlemen.
And… so on.
Michael believes children’s writing is serious fun. He strives to put fun and funny first, but also recognizes that his favorite stories have depth. He loves the revision process and values quality feedback. He compares his picture book writing to sculpting clay, starting with a glob of idea that is massaged and shaped into a final story. He has adopted a planner approach with middle-grade, believing that patience and homework during the prewriting process gives direction, yet freedom, to the characters’ voices. He loves to find new books on the writing craft but knows that the “Butt In Chair” secret (explained by Jane Yolen here) is the best writing advice he’s taken to heart.
AWARDS AND HONORS
Michael was the fastest runner in K-3rd grade (until Scott M. moved to town).
He won a teddy bear coloring contest in 3rd grade.
He won an environmental poster contest in 4th grade.
He took runner-up in a school greeting card competition in 6th grade.
He thinks it would be really nice to update this section with more recent stuff.