Joan is a Massachusetts native who loves creating novels, essays, dance choreography, academic programs, and people. She is the Lead Faculty of Creative Writing for Southern New Hampshire University’s Global Campus.
Joan has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College, and two B.A. degrees (English and Social Science) from Providence College. She loves dance, exercise, baking, documentaries, and podcasts. She has creative nonfiction, poetry, academic papers, and fiction published in outlets like THE WASHINGTON POST, JOURNAL OF THE OXFORD UNIVERISTY HISTORY SOCIETY, and BOSTON LITERARY MAGAZINE. Joan lives with her husband and two small children just south of Boston.
After grieving my dad’s death through thesis-writing in my MFA program, I took a break from long-form fiction. I got married, had my first child, and drifted back toward novel writing in 2014, followed by a few years of starting and shelving manuscripts. Then in 2016, I began writing THE TRUTH BETWEEN DEATH AND DAFFODILS, a novel about a girl who goes to grief camp after her father commits suicide, only to fall in love with a boy who is not who he claims to be. I finished it in December of 2016 then revised on and off throughout 2017. The novel was in a few contests and did fairly well in them, but after 4 months of querying, I was accepted into Author Mentor Match (R4). Together with my mentor, Rebecca Phillips, I paused my fulls, revised and polished the manuscript, sent it back out with more queries, and had my first offer! I signed with Kerry D’Agostino of Curtis Brown, LTD in June 2018, and I’m now on submission for the first time.
I have a full-time role as a professor of creative writing at SNHU’s Global Campus. I began teaching at the college level when I was 22 years old (midway through my MFA). I used to be the sort of professor who would leap on desks and throw chalk, but now I teach online – so I leap on desks and throw chalk either via video or text. I also design creative writing programs and curriculum, and I’m on the editorial board of one literary journal, The Penmen Review, and was the co-editor of another (The Alembic). As a result, I am skilled at delivering the critical feedback my students (mentees) need to improve. My CPs are all agented/on sub/have book deals, and to give some insight, they call my critiquing “Joan Level.” They even created a meme for me.
I know the feeling of looking at your work, knowing you’ve done your due diligence with it, and having the benefit of a mentor or critique partner work their magic to help you level up. I want to pay that feeling forward. Helping others is a positive thing all around, and I’m invested in lifting other writers up. I treasure my mentor/mentee relationships and being a part of such a vibrant community.
I’m drawn to characters making the most difficult choices of their life. In contemporary YA, I love coming-of-age, engaging and/or unique premises/problems, and unforgettable voices. I love to laugh. In contemporary with a speculative bent or magical realism, I want to be immersed in the rules of the world you’ve penned. If they’re compelling, then I am here for your issue book, too. I am down with books with a strong romantic element (of any kind), but it’s not required – friendship stories are also so needed. I also love to learn – if you have a cool angle where you’ll educate me about the world, then I’m your mentor. In any genre, I want something well-told – so immersive that it makes me want to give my kids screen time so I can finish it.
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
Nothing is a must-have to me. Please don’t self-reject – if you think we’re a good fit, then send it along. That said:
- Enemies to lovers
- Love triangles
- Smart and witty heroines
- Unique structures/timelines or storytelling practices
- Convenient plot points
- Implausible reasons why parents are not present
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Freestyle in chat
I provide high-level and line-edit feedback via both an edit letter and a manuscript line edit. If you’re comfortable with it, we can talk about everything from food to music to movies to plot problems via DM or text. As a next step, I’ll ask you to do a little bit of homework (sorry not sorry) and develop what I call a Revision Action Plan, where you take my critique and decide how/if you’ll implement the notes. As soon as we’re matched up and beyond, I’ll be available to touch base by text or chat, too – I prefer written methods to phone. To close, I’m a dance coach/instructor and I spent a season as a cheerleading captain (long story), and I’m fiercely loyal, so I will soften my critical feedback with a shower of positive praise, too. If I adore your story and your voice, I hope we can keep our partnership going beyond Round 6!
You’re willing to tackle your manuscript, tear it apart, try new things, and work hard with a great attitude. People grow when they’re uncomfortable, and you’re willing to take a hard look at what you’ve got, where you’re at, and be willing to rise up to what you can become as a writer. You have a sense of humor.You are well-read in your genre. Your manuscript is the best it can be, and if you’re being very real and honest with yourself, you’ve really polished it. You are eager to learn, willing to work, excited, and communicative about your questions and needs.
- Writing that strikes the happy place between commercial and literary (or wants to)
- Immersive settings, sensory description, new comparisons
- Funny. All the funny. I am fluent in sarcasm.
- Characters making the most difficult decision of their lives
- Coming of age
- Unique structures
DO NOT SEND ME:
- All-white cishet casts
- Glorification of suicide
- Romance-only plots
Recent Books I’ve Loved / Books I’ve Reread:
- WE ARE OKAY by Nina LaCour
- LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng
- LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green
- THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas
- THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
- THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END by Adam Silvera
- THE GIVER by Lois Lowry
- A VERY LARGE EXPANSE OF SEA by Tahereh Mafi
- ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell
- RAMONA BLUE by Julie Murphy
- A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith
- OUR YEAR OF MAYBE by Rachel Lynn Solomon
- SAINTS FOR ALL OCCASIONS by J. Courtney Sullivan
- TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE by Jenny Han
- SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli
Movies: Forrest Gump, Get Out, Shawshank Redemption, Forgetting Sarah Marshall
TV Shows: Breaking Bad, Westworld, The Good Place, Ozark, Grey’s, This Is Us, The Office, Buffy, Stranger Things
World Products: Coffee, wine, dance studios, podcasts, running sneakers