I’ve been an elementary and middle school language arts teacher for 25 years. Reading middle grade and young adult novels is my passion, and I love talking about books with my students! I have two daughters, a fifteen-year-old and one who is in her second year of college at UNC-Asheville. I coached my oldest daughter’s Odyssey of the Mind team through middle school and high school, which has inspired me to always look for creative unexpected solutions. I enjoy figure skating, playing with my cats, cooking vegetarian meals, reading whenever I get a chance, and spending time with my family.
I began writing stories in elementary school and will never forget my early teachers who encouraged me. I didn’t write much through middle and high school, but during my last year of college I took a creative writing class and wrote my first young adult novel. I won the Leggett Blythe Creative Writing Award while at UNC-C, and once I graduated I continued to write novels, mostly during summer vacations. I joined SCBWI and received an encouraging critique from an author who asked me to send my manuscript to her. At the time, I felt hopeful about receiving a publishing contract but it was many years and six novels later before I received an offer from an agent. She offered great feedback and we revised numerous times while on submission. But after almost 3 years, we decided to part ways while I still had a couple of subs out. A few days after parting ways with my agent, she received an email saying the book was going to acquisitions! A week later I had a publishing contract. I have since signed with another agent and published two more books with the same publisher. My publishing journey has been longer than most, but I learned the most important lesson along the way: You never know what will happen if you QUIT.
I have been lucky to have published authors who have taken an interest in my writing before I found an agent, and I want to pass the same support and encouragement on to other writers. Just hearing from others who had faith in my writing was enough to keep me going during those difficult days when I received yet another rejection. I have also had critique partners in the same place on their journey, and their constructive feedback helped strengthen my stories and provided support when writing can be a very lonely pursuit. I have learned a lot from my critique partners about what is most helpful in tackling a revision or rewrite. As a published author, I am a member of a middle grade critique group so my beta readers continue to be an important part of the process. I was also a PitchWars Mentor in 2017 and my mentee signed with an agent, hooray!
I want to help another writer on his/her publishing journey the way others have helped me. The writing community is a wonderful place and we all need to be here to lift each other up and support those who are getting ready to enter the query trenches. I’ve been studying craft, learning about the publishing world, and practicing my writing and critiquing skills for many years and I’m happy to share what I’ve learned with others.
I would love to read a character-driven middle grade with a narrator who leaps off the page and into your heart. I want a story that will make me laugh and cry; one that will make me root for the main character from the first page and follow that character right to the last page without wanting to put the book down. I want real life shown through the eyes of an authentic character who shows courage and a positive outlook to get through his/her challenges.
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
I love contemporary middle grade best: stories of family and friendship, overcoming academic/physical/social challenges and fears that are all part of the human experience. I’m not interested in reading graphic violence or horror. I like a balance of humor and serious issues. I want to read something with an uplifting ending. (And if you have an animal story, please do not send me any where the animal dies at the end!) As for fantasy, I prefer magical elements to high fantasy taking place in other worlds.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- I’m happy to answer questions and clarify any feedback by email or chatting on Facebook
I like to write an edit letter on the full manuscript that focuses on the big picture issues, but I’ve found it’s most hopeful to have notes directly in the text. I will make comments to let you know when something is working well and when I have questions about what I’m reading. I will also point out where more (or less) elaboration is needed. After I send my feedback, I’ll be glad to answer any questions to clarify. I will be glad to read a revision and continue to offer feedback. I will also give feedback on the query letter and will share from my experiences when you are ready to sub to agents.
* someone open to constructive feedback
* someone who can’t wait to jump back in and revise and do whatever it takes to improve his/her manuscript
* someone who shares questions and concerns with me throughout the process.
A main character fighting for the environment, human rights, or animal rights
A main character who goes to a school of the arts
A main character who has an unusual hobby
A story with a message of kindness
A story about an unusual friendship
A story featuring kids in an academic competition of some sort
Historical fiction set in the 1960s -1980s
DO NOT SEND ME:
A story focusing on bullying
A story with graphic violence
Favorite Books: BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE, LOUISIANA’S WAY HOME- Kate diCamillo
THE BEST MAN- Richard Peck
WEDNESDAY WARS, OKAY FOR NOW- Gary Schmidt
FLIPPED- Wendelin Van Draanen
THE MEMORY OF THINGS- Gae Polisner
THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE- Jandy Nelson
SHE LOVES YOU by Ann Hood
ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia
Favorite Movies: SOUND OF MUSIC, HAROLD & MAUDE, DEAD POETS SOCIETY, GOOD WILL HUNTING
Favorite TV Shows: THIS IS US (up until the 2019 season!), DANCE ACADEMY
Past favorite TV shows: MY SO-CALLED LIFE, FREAKS AND GEEKS