Thanks again for coming to my website. I’ll give you a little more information here than on the front page of this site, but really—if you want to know about me, the best place to look is my book, This is Not a Writing Manual, since it’s a memoir of my writing life, starting in middle school. There are loads of stories in there about me and writing, like how much I learned from eavesdropping and watching soap operas, how I was inspired by SARK and Dead Poets Society, and how I used to hate my writer friends who were more successful that I was (don’t worry, I learned to get over that—and myself). And of course I tell you how I came to find my wonderful agent Penn Whaling, and get published. And start YARN, my award-winning YA literary journal.
So I won’t bore you with all of that here.
What I will tell you here is that, like James Joyce (and I am like him in this way ONLY), I left the place where I am from only to write about it ever since I left (he left Dublin; I left California). My husband Mike is fond of pointing out that although I always identify myself as a California girl, I have actually lived more of my life on the East Coast, which is still partly my parents’ fault for living the first eight years of my life in Dover, MA. Ironically, I returned to Massachusetts recently and settled down in a town just twenty minutes away from Dover. I also lived six years in Brooklyn, NY, where I ate really well, and cheaply, and shopped at awesome thrift shops (sigh; I still miss it sometimes). During those New York years, I also got my MFA at Columbia, and my first teaching gig as a grad student instructor in the Undergraduate Writing Program there.
I love teaching writing, which I did as a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University for six years before Mike and I and soon-to-be-born Elena moved north. Up here in MA, I haven’t taught in a classroom; instead, I’ve focused on YARN and my writing–hence This is Not a Writing Manual (TINAWM); however, much of what I learned as a teacher about how to explain the process of writing is right there in the book. And I’ll be sharing a few more lessons in downloadable tutorials and webinars over at Writer’s Digest.
I’ve also published a few things in addition to the book. Some of my faves are a short story about an art copier in Vietnam, an essay about my struggles with reading and advertising, and another about how I proposed to my husband (no link for that one, sorry, it was only published in a print journal, So to Speak).
Hm. What else would you like to know about me?
Here’s a juicy tidbit: I got into the YA business because of Twilight. My good friend and YARN co-founder Shannon Marshall, and another close writer-friend Laura White, kept telling me how great the teen vampire saga was in a guilty pleasure kind of way. I succumbed. Big time. I knew it was soda pop as I guzzled it—sugary and potentially teeth-rotting, but I couldn’t stop myself, and I loved every drop of it. Then I moved on to John Green, Barry Lyga, Alisa Libby, Susan Beth Pfeffer, and Jennifer Donnelly—and I thought, WOW. This is not the YA of my youth. Though I had loved the children’s and middle grade books available to me back then (William Sleator and Cynthia Voight stand out in my memory), I had more or less stopped reading from that section by high school because they weren’t giving me the depth and breadth that’s available now.
I like to think that YARN is contributing to that depth and breadth by rescuing short-form YA (short stories, essays, and poetry) from the dreaded realm of the textbook, where even I thought such forms only existed until college. After all, before YARN, there were only a handful of places publishing short-form YA, and even fewer online, and even fewer publishing teens and adults side by side. Now there are more venues, and I’m proud to be part of that change.
TINAWM is also a first of its kind, and I hope it’ll fill as great a need in the YA community (okay, maybe now I should send you to the Book page. Here you go!)
Thanks again for coming here—and if you want to know more about me, like me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter!