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 two new series — The Infamous Ratsos, chapter books illustrated by Matt Myers, and The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, a middle grade trilogy illustrated by Jen Hill. I am also the author of UGLY FISH, and OTTO: The Boy Who Loved Cars, both illustrated by Scott Magoon; and NO SLURPING, NO BURPING! A Tale of Table Manners, illustrated by Lorelay Bové. 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 two new (chapter book and middle grade) series launching in August 2016 and January 2017.
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.