The short version:
I was born and raised in Connecticut. After receiving my Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, I worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and at Scholastic Press, and via my own creative consulting firm, Bluebird Works. Among other celebrated titles, I edited Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie (winner of a Newbery Honor), The Tiger Rising (finalist for the National Book Award), The Tale of Despereaux (winner of the Newbery Medal), The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (winner of the Boston Globe Horn Book Award), and the Mercy Watson series.
Be sure to check out my three series — The Infamous Ratsos, chapter books illustrated by Matt Myers; The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, a middle grade trilogy illustrated by Jen Hill; and The ZomBert Chronicles, a middle grade trilogy illustrated by Ryan Andrews. I am also the author of silly and subversive picture books, like UGLY FISH, illustrated by Scott Magoon; NO SLURPING, NO BURPING! A Tale of Table Manners, illustrated by Lorelay Bové; Good Night Little Monsters, illustrated by Brian Won, and BABY CLOWN, illustrated by Matthew Cordell. I live in Providence, Rhode Island with my husband, our son, and our cat.
The semi-long version (trust me, it could be even longer):
I was born in the 1970s, and raised by an extended family of loud, dysfunctional, well-meaning characters. I wore polyester and bell bottom hand-me-downs donated by a distant teenage relative named “Dawn.” My favorite color was pink, my favorite TV shows were “Donny & Marie” and “The Carol Burnett Show,” and I carried a desperate torch for Shaun Cassidy. If I was particularly well-behaved (which wasn’t very often), my parents would give me twenty-five cents, which I would immediately blow on a pack of Bubble Yum (Original Flavor) at the convenience store up our street, which was just about as far as I was allowed to ride my bike by myself.
When I was in junior high in the 1980s, I tried to be cool by feathering my hair, but I also wore a headgear, which cramped any vestige of style I might have had. Despite all the orthodontia, I had a big mouth, and it often got me into trouble. I was lucky to make a few friends willing to put up with my snarky attitude, though, not surprisingly, I managed to remain invisible to boys. I was very proud when I could finally wear my very own (non-hand-me-down) clothes, which included Jordache jeans and Izod shirts and a fake Members Only jacket. I thought I was hot stuff. I was painfully mistaken.
I discovered I had talent for singing and acting in high school, and that I had little interest in studying, or even attending certain classes. I possessed a master key to the school (don’t ask how I got it) and became an expert at forging certain parents’ and teachers’ signatures, in order to spend time in the school theater, away from Gym class. (To this day, I maintain a pathological fear of being hit in the face with a volleyball.) Eventually one of my friends got me involved with the school paper, which led to many late nights spent laying out each issue (by hand) and eating a lot of Domino’s pizza. The life of a writer began to intrigue me.
College introduced me to a series of unfulfilling romantic relationships, an ill-advised spiral perm, more Domino’s pizza (this time, with beer), and an angelic creative writing professor who took me under her wing and inspired me, for the first time, to push myself. I started writing all manner of terrible poetry, and enjoying every minute of it. This passion carried through to graduate school, where I enrolled in every available workshop, and ultimately wrote a screenplay for my MFA thesis about a female serial killer possessed by a 16th century mad Hungarian countess. (FYI, the rights are still available, should any Hollywood types out there be interested.)
Somehow, I managed to segue into editing children’s books, a career I enjoyed for more than ten years, until I didn’t. My need to move away from traditional publishing and follow my however-corny-sounding bliss led me to start a freelance editing business. I began to enjoy some success on my own terms, both as a published author and as an editor, until I was diagnosed in early 2010 with a rare form of cancer — and then, in 2011, with ANOTHER rare form of cancer. These revelations led to two complicated surgeries, lengthy bouts of radiation and chemotherapy, physical therapy, phototherapy, and a LOT of downtime, during which I decided to make some lemonade from the big ole pile of lemons I’d been given. I became a writing fiend, and while much of what I penned was ultimately not for public consumption, I now have lots of fun projects in the world and in the works, including picture books, chapter books, and middle grade novels.
I now maintain a very high threshold for pain, and a low tolerance for wasted time, whiners, and unnecessary stress. I enjoy laughing in the face of adversity; being healthy; cooking; drinking Champagne; spending time with my husband, our son, and our cat; visiting with friends and select family members; and of course, writing.
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Nice to meet you!
What made you to become a author
I’ve always loved hearing and telling stories!
I checked one of your books (No Slurping, No Burping) out at our local library before it shut down due to COVID-19. Tonight we sat down to open it to read. The first page caught me by surprise. Not only is the calendar right (April) the right day- today is April 6th- it is the right day of the week. The reason I even noticed it is because tomorrow is my son’s third birthday. So now I am so curious to why that date was picked? Such a bizarre coincidence. I feel like I should go buy a lottery ticket! Maybe I’ve had too much time on my hands to think about this since I’ve been home on Quarantine like the rest of the country. Lol