I write, edit, and review literature for adults and for kids. After earning an MFA in poetry from the University of New Orleans, I served as the poetry editor for Literary Mama and as a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews for several years. My writing has appeared in journals such as Calyx, The Oxford American, Rattle, Stinkwaves, Women’s Review of Books, and the Louisiana Poetry Project, as well as the anthologies Of Bars and Barrooms: Stories and Poems and Birth Writes: A Collection of Real Life Birth Stories. (Please see my Published work for links and a more complete listing.) I live in New Orleans with my family.
Ever since I was a kid in Wisconsin, I knew what I wanted to be. I wrote my first novel at 9 years old, and my wonderful 5th grade teacher, Ms. Wilson, “published” it. I’m working on the remake now.
Poetry has always been a special friend, and I wrote lots of it through elementary, middle, and high school. I remember freaking out my junior English class when, dressed all in black with Skinny Puppy blaring on cassette behind me, I intoned my antiwar poem. (Did I mention I was also active in theatre?)
As a freshman at Northwestern University, my writing workshops were unnecessarily brutal. Students seemed to revel in tearing each other to pieces. A professor even told me, “You’ll never understand what’s good about this,” about my own poem! I switched my emphasis from writing to reading literature from around the world. Books have always carried me through challenging times. Generous writers share poetry and stories that connect people, offering broader understanding of the world and ourselves, and I sought that connection.
After moving to San Francisco years later, I found supportive (though still challenging) writers and teachers and earned a BA in poetry from San Francisco State University. Although proud of my degree, I didn’t see teaching in my future, so I studied copyediting through Media Alliance. Since 1998, I have enjoyed editing magazines, websites, newspapers, and tech manuals both in-house (CNET) and freelance (SF Weekly, Microsoft, KID smART, New Orleans Arts Education Alliance).
But what I really wanted to do was write.
With my spouse, I moved cross-country again, this time choosing New Orleans for its laissez-faire, kaleidoscopic atmosphere. In 2005, I gave birth to my first child while in exile from Hurricane Katrina (the subject of my essay in Birth Writes: A Collection of Real Life Birth Stories). In 2007, I earned an MFA in poetry from the University of New Orleans among talented, enthusiastic colleagues, cementing my belief in the powerful communities that writers and editors can build.
As I continued to write, edit, and publish my poetry and book reviews for grownups, I read children’s books with my kids (my second was born in 2010). When volunteering with beginning readers at my children’s school, I commiserated with kids, teachers, and other parents about a lack of freshness and diversity in their books. How could we excite kids about reading if the books weren’t fun and reflective of the children reading them?
“Aren’t you a writer?” a teacher asked me. And I thought, well, am I?
In all my years in writing programs at three different universities (and various post-school workshops), I never encountered a children’s literature class. Kidlit wasn’t considered “real” literature. I dug deeper, discovering old favorites that still felt fresh and new titles with lyrical texts and exquisite artwork. I found that a revolution in children’s literature is underway. Writers, artists, editors, and publishers are redefining the genre, broadening its definitions, and producing works of art designed to be loved by all ages and all backgrounds, the way I felt about books when I was a kid. (OK, still do.)
Now I’m exploring every category of children’s literature, delighted to sink into books of artistry and conscience. I write and review, critique and edit, finding and sharing inspiration. (Check out my Resources for Writers page for a sample of writing books and blogs I love.) I’m an enthusiastic member of my local Louisiana/Mississippi SCBWI group and have attended writing workshops and conferences through SCBWI and Rhyme Revolution. In 2017 was grateful to be selected for mentorship at the RUCCL One on One Plus Conference. Occasionally I volunteer with the Waldorf School of New Orleans, reading with kids, working on crafts, and helping in the school library. I’m currently writing a few novels of my own, while sharing great books I’ve read recently. Welcome to my website, and enjoy!
(Oh yeah, and sometimes I dance in the streets in a wig and tutu.)