Sunday, September 29, 2013

Who's That Girl?

I’m not much into sports (and that’s an understatement), but early in my marriage, I wanted to show interest in the baseball my husband adores (just like he went with me to see art house movies and experimental theater). I found I liked it far better than soccer, for example, where the ball moved so quickly around the field, and all the commentators ever talked about was what was happening with the ball. But in baseball, the commentators have time to talk about the players and their lives. While a pitcher confers with his catcher, the commentators will tell us about how the pitcher’s wife is expecting a baby any moment, for example. Or how the catcher has a wonderful rags to riches story.

I like connecting to people’s stories.

When I’m researching agents or editors or other writers, I get inordinately excited about details that should have no bearing on whether I’d like their work, or they’d like mine. It doesn’t matter if an agent went to my alma mater, or traveled through the same Central American countries I did. And yet, I love finding these points of connection. I also love discovering the unique details that are completely removed from my own life. They speak Mandarin! They do Civil War reenactment!

So here are a few points of connection about me.

I grew up in San Diego, but I kind of hate the beach. (Also, the sun.)

Briefly, as a toddler, I lived in a castle in Scotland for two years. Honest.

I studied theater at Northwestern University. I went to school with Zach Braff and Seth Myers. They’re a tiny bit more famous than I am.

I lived in Guatemala for a year after college. Absolute best souvenir I brought home? My husband.

I live in the Seattle area now, with said Guatemalan souvenir, two crazy-awesome kids, and a mini-Australian Shepherd named Athena. (My Greek mythology-obsessed daughter named her. I was rooting for Luna.)

Mostly, I read and I write. Sometimes I sew. And I eat chocolate.

When a new friend was over at our house and asked for sugar for his coffee, I handed him the sugar bowl. Which contained coconut sugar, which is totally sugar. And he said, “You are so Seattle.” I really am. (When he asked if I had real, white sugar, I DID have some. I use it for making kombucha.)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bring on the Mayhem!!!

Super excited to announce that I've joined the team of marvelous middle grade writers over at the group blog PROJECT MAYHEM!!

I'll be posting about all things middle grade, once or twice a month, starting in November.

But while you're waiting on pins and needles for my posts, check out the others! There are some awesome authors there already, like Marissa Burt (Storybound), Hilary Wagner (Nightshade City), Caroline Starr Rose (May B), and Dee Garretson (Wildfire Run). So come join the mayhem!

Monday, September 23, 2013

PITCH WARS!!! (Or, I Brag About Myself a Little)

This week, the fabulous Brenda Drake will be announcing the mentors for Pitch Wars, a very cool contest in which aspiring writers are paired up with more experienced mentors to polish their queries and manuscripts for submission to agents. And this year, I’ll be on that mentor list!

This means that all the aspiring writers (or at least the ones who are research-fiends like myself) will scuttle off to the blogs of all the mentors to figure out who they’d like to work with.

But here’s the thing—I just started this blog. And while you can find me at my website and some other places, I want to do a few posts to let Pitch Wars participants know who I am and why I might be a great mentor for their middle grade manuscript.

I’ve been mentoring writers for fifteen years. In a previous life, I was a playwright (more on that later). As a playwright, I spent a ton of time doing classroom residencies teaching playwriting. Working mostly with 6th-12th graders, I helped kids find their voice and helped draw out the story they wanted to tell. I’ve also worked with adult writers, teaching workshops and evaluating scripts for the literary departments of several major regional theaters.

I’m a freelance editor and ghostwriter. As a ghostwriter, I’ve written fifteen middle grade novels (plus more picture books than I’ve counted, and some adult projects, too). I’ve edited a wide variety of manuscripts, but my favorites are always children’s projects. Past clients and critique partners say nice things about me here. I also work as a PR assistant to a NYT-bestselling middle grade author.

Speaking of critique partners… My critique partners all have amazing agents and deals with major publishers. I know my way around a query letter.

I write middle grade, aside from my ghostwriting. My manuscript FRAMED made the longlist for the Chicken House/Times of London International Prize for Children’s Fiction. I’m about to join one of the awesome MG group blogs (and will update this as soon as it’s official). I’ve been in the query trenches, myself and with my critique partners. I know the market.

About that playwright thing … Writing plays is very different from writing novels. No question. But in addition to teaching me how to be a disciplined writer, how to receive feedback and revise, how to manage submissions and deal with rejection (SO much rejection), being a playwright first gave me a kick-ass sense of pace, plotting, character, and DIALOGUE. (I’m super good with dialogue, y’all.)

So that’s all my bragging for now. (It sounded really braggy, didn’t it?) Trust me, I have a million insecurities. But one thing I’m confident I’m very good at is helping other people make their work the best it can be.

Next time I’ll post more about who I am on a more personal level …

Monday, September 16, 2013


I am not a blogger.

This is probably not a very auspicious way to start a blog.

But I never have before, and my reasons are threefold. 1) There are already so many great writing blogs that already exist with info and inspiration and statistics and analysis (and don’t judge by the blogs I follow list, because I don’t properly follow hardly any of the blogs I actually read). I’m not sure I have anything hugely unique to add, which leads me to 2) I don’t really want to talk into the void. I mean, I could. But I’d rather spend that time—which is precious as a stay at home mama who also juggles a freelance writing and editing career while (kinda sorta) homeschooling my kids—doing to the actual writing. The books and plays I mean.  And because of that, I’m afraid 3) I really won’t be able to keep up with the kind of steady posting that a good blog requires.

BUT I have recently found out I will be a mentor in a pitch-contest type thing that will be starting up in a few months, and it’s the sort of thing where prospective entrants will want to read up about the mentors when deciding who to pitch. So I decided to start this blog so there will be at least a few entries when someone comes along wanting to know who I am.

You can also check out my website.

Or this interview with me.

Or just use good old Google, because I have actually been getting mentioned around the interwebs and in newspapers (remember those?) for some time.  

Also I’m soon to join one of the well-established MG group blogs, which will totally be more my speed, since I’ll only need to post once a month or so. I’ll post a link to that when it’s official and newsworthy.

But I’m also going to try to make a few posts, at least before this contest starts. I know good blogs are focused, so this one should be about writing middle grade fiction. Except when I digress and write about plays. Or my kids. Or my sewing projects (which, to be fair, are often literature-related—I made an awesome Harry Potter quilt).

But mostly, I’ll try to stick to the kid lit.