How do you forgive yourself — and the people you love — when a shocking discovery leads to a huge mistake? When Jorie wakes up in the loft bed of a college boy she doesn’t recognize, she’s instantly filled with regret. What happened the night before? What led her to this place? Was it her father’s infidelity? Her mother’s seemingly weak acceptance? Her recent breakup with Ian, the boy who loved her art and supported her through the hardest time of her life? As Jorie tries to reconstruct the events that led her to this point, free verse poems lead the reader through the current morning, as well as flashbacks to her relationships with her parents, her friends, her boyfriend, and the previous night.
It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve devoted my life to children’s literature. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of sitting beside my grandmother on the couch while she read me picture books for hours. Since receiving a masters degree in 1992 from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College, I’ve immersed myself in the field in a variety of roles:
- I’ve reviewed thousands of children’s and young adult titles—both fiction and nonfiction—for major publications such as The Horn Book Magazine, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the Chicago Tribune.
- I worked as a bookseller and backlist buyer at Wild Rumpus, an award-winning children’s bookstore in Minneapolis.
- For the past ten years, I’ve advised writers and facilitated critique groups at the Highlights Foundation’s popular “Writing the Unreal: The Whole Novel Workshop in Fantasy and Science Fiction.”
- When I decided it was time to get serious about writing books of my own, I enrolled in Hamline University’s prestigious MFA program in writing for children and young adults, and not long after graduating I was offered a contract from Houghton Mifflin for a manuscript I worked on at Hamline. City Chickens, a nonfiction picture book about a unique inner-city animal shelter, came out in 2012.
- I’ve published two acclaimed books for teens, Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty and the novel-in-verse Ask Me How I Got Here; and, with my friend Ron Koertge, the “Backyard Witch” series of chapter books for young readers (all with Greenwillow/HarperCollins). My novel-in-verse What Goes Up is forthcoming from Greenwillow in 2020.
How does my wealth of experience help you?
I understand how much your stories mean to you. I know what it’s like to work for years on a manuscript, doing all you can think of to get it “right.” It’s true writing can be a lonely business, but the reassuring part is, you aren’t alone! I’m here to give your project—be it fiction or nonfiction, for teens or emerging readers—the personalized attention it needs to advance along the road toward publication. I will work with you to create a comprehensive revision plan that allows you to bring your book to its full potential.
If you would like to discuss a project, please email me at email@example.com.
I’m happy to announce that a German translation of Ask Me How I Got Here was just published! Here’s the cover:
And here’s the first page:
From 1998 to 2003 I was lucky enough to be part of the Riverbank Review, a new quarterly publication about children’s literature. So much of the great writing and artwork featured in the magazine has been hard to find in the years since. But thanks to the dedication of former editor Martha Davis Beck, a new site just launched featuring the complete contents of every issue of the magazine.
There’s plenty of great content on the site. Personally I contributed author profiles, book reviews (as both Christine Heppermann and Renee Victor), and special features, including a personal favorite essay, “Reading for Pleasure.”
The new site is available at www.riverbankreview.org.
Did you know I’m related to the Potato Soup Killer? All is revealed in this Epic Author Facts video.
Italian writer Maria G. Di Rienzo published an Italian translation of “Nature Lesson,” a poem from Poisoned Apples, on her blog today:
“Una Lezione dalla Natura”
Il codice di abbigliamento dice
che dobbiamo coprirci
gonne che arrivino ben più in basso
delle nostre ginocchia lascive,
polo abbottonate sopra
l’orlo del burrone,
un barlume del quale può mandare un ragazzo
ad interrarsi in tali profondità
da non essere più in grado di risalire
se un escursionista devia
dal sentiero, incespica e finisce sciancato,
colpa del burrone?
I was recently interviewed by Hamline University to talk about their Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults (MFAC) program. Here are some of the things I had to say:
It set up my career by leaps and bounds. Not only would I have not devoted the concentrated time to my writing without it, it focused me and exposed me to faculty advisors who gave me permission to pursue avenues I wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
All of my best friends are people I met in the program. They take care of the whole person. You really feel part of something. The faculty are such gifted teachers and always accessible. It is the most nurturing place to be as a writer. It’s no wonder so many students tell me that the program completely changed their lives.
You can read the whole interview here. If you’ve ever thought about getting an MFA in writing with a focus on children’s and young adult literature Hamline is definitely a great option.