I’ve been a writer for as long as I could hold a pencil and finally made the time to pursue an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts (Jan. 2015).
I decided to write for children and young adults because I remember how important books were to me as a child. They felt essential, like an oxygen tank is to a scuba diver. Then I had two kids and read to them constantly, so I finally gave in and went to school for it.
At VCFA we read widely, but the field is broad and growing, so now I work in a bookstore to make sure I stay up to date. It’s a great field!
I’ve worked as an editor in various capacities since 2005, but I began reading for literary agents in 2013. My role as a reader was to evaluate manuscripts both in consideration for agents’ acceptance and also to help prepare client manuscripts for sale. My job was to prepare an in-depth analysis of what worked and what needed improvement– which sometimes ran to 20 pages or more! I was asked to look at all aspects of story craft and to respond to the work with the respect that authors deserve as artists and creators.
During my time as a reader I was honored to work for several top-ranked literary agents, including Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Tricia Lawrence of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, and Linda Epstein of the Jennifer Di Chiara agency (now of Emerald City Literary Agency).
Now, as a reader and editor, I look deeply at the structure and theme of the story and ask probing questions about the characters—their desires, fears, choices and actions. I ask whether the story is moving forward or is stalled somehow. I ask if the dramatic tension is maintained or if I’ve stopped caring enough to turn the page. I look at whether the setting and exposition of the story are moving the plot forward and deepening the emotions, or getting in the way.
These guiding questions arise from engaging in an intense study of storytelling craft while pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts; a program created by some of the best writers in the field, all of them very generous with what they know. I’ve had my work critiqued by Printz award winners, Newbery award honorees and National Book Award Honorees. Part of the VCFA tradition is figuring out how to bring out the best in other people’s work, and I’ve learned how to do it from some of the best and most compassionate writers and teachers in the field.
Because of this, I take the teaching part of editing seriously. I’ve taught adults off and on for over twenty years and love working with people to help them understand things in a new way. If we work together, I’ll give your manuscript the deepest kind of analysis, and then we can talk on the phone if something I’ve said doesn’t make sense.
I’m also very involved in Improv theater, and have learned a TON from that culture about how to let go of fear and access your inner madman.
I get super excited about my clients’ manuscripts because I love what I do!