About Me

About Me

Three sisters

Mary, Rose, and Ann O’Brien

I grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, on a busy street not far from the Mississippi River. I am the youngest of three girls, all two years apart in age. My dad was a clerk for 33 years at the Minneapolis post office. His second job was stuffing the Sunday Star Tribune newspaper on Saturday nights. We called it The Star. He brought home a Sunday newspaper each weekend, wrapped in a large sheet of brown paper. My sisters and I all loved that big sheet of paper and fought to claim it to draw pictures or write on. That’s when I first started to tell stories.

My mother, an excellent seamstress, often made us matching dresses. Sometimes out of very scratchy material. I would typically wear “my” dress one year, and then she would lengthen the generous hem and let out the seams the next year. When I finally outgrew it well and truly, Mom moved me into my sister Rose’s identical dress for a season, then the hem lengthening, and letting out. Two or three years later I began wearing my oldest sister Mary’s dress, and, well, you get the picture about the clever re-hemming and letting out. It looks in pictures like my clothes grew with me.

We are growing and so are the dresses

We are growing and so are the dresses!

Happily, that scenario applied mostly to Sundays as I wore uniforms to elementary and high school. This was before uniform-free days were invented, and so for twelve years I never once had to think about what to wear!

It left me lots of time to play night games on my block, and practice writing.
There were herds of children in my neighborhood and I babysat every weekend.

Little known facts about me and about writing:
My last name is pronounced “Tracy.”

When not composing on the computer I think it’s fun to write with a pencil—in cursive in a notebook. Not a mechanical pencil, but one that must be sharpened!

My guiding principle is: Your reader is smart. Especially kids, I believe they want to “get” things about the story and not have everything spelled out.

I never use impact as a verb. And impactful is just so wrong.

My favorite color is Olive Drab. And that’s another thing—I love to knit. If you think Olive drab sounds like a weird favorite color just remember this: it goes with everything! Try Olive the next time you’re knitting, drawing or coloring. Or even putting together an outfit. It blends. The drabber the better!

I took four years of Latin in high school. Arma virumque cano

My home is in Duluth MN where my yard is frequently visited by marten, deer, raccoons, the occasional moose and many black bears. The best wildlife show I’ve witnessed through my kitchen window was two deer fighting with interlocked antlers. A recent family of flying squirrels living in the attic was less welcome.

heart-rocksI love to hike and have a talent for finding heart-shaped rocks! Once I had trained my eyes to see heart rocks, I started seeing hearts everywhere in nature.

heart-cactus