The Official Short Version
I grew up and taught in the suburbs where subdivisions are named for the trees cleared away to build them and college acceptances are broadcasts across the chests of fleece-lined sweatshirts. I am obsessed with the very real stories underneath the very perfect façade.
Though he worked every bit as hard as I did, there was no end to the trouble our American Lit. teacher made for the boy who sat in front of me with his winged hair and eyeliner. That was the beginning of how I became frustrated with the veneer, which erases and silences young people.
I am drawn by the stories young people know to be real, stories from which our manicured communities politely glance away. There was always something voyeuristic about good writing to me. I think that’s why George Orwell said, “Good writing is like a window pane.”
The Easy to Scan Version
More Chinese, short story, Mei Magazine, 2011
Dark Room, play, Paul Green Playwrights National Competition Finalist, 2000
NCTE Database of Rationales for Challenged Books, 1998
M.A. Educational Theatre, New York University, New York
August 1998, GPA 4.0/4.0
B.S. Communications Education, Miami UNiversity, Oxford, OH
May 1994, GPA 3.9/4.0
English, Speech, Communications (7-12), Reading (K-12), Gifted-Talented (K-12)
Young Adult Novels: THE HOUSE ON HAWTHORN, DARK ROOM
Short Stories: THE LISTENER, CHINATOWN
Workshops & Conferences
Highlights Whole Novel Workshop with Sarah Aronson, August 2015
Fire in Fiction with Donald Maass, January 2013
Children's Book Writing Intensive with Laurie Halse Anderson, October 2012
Highlights Founders Workshop with Patti Lee Gauch, October 2010
Revision 911 Workshop with Cynthea Liu, April 2010
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, January 2010
Columbus Writers' Conference, August 2007
Starting a Writing Group with Nita Sweeney, January 2007
Gifted & Talented Integrated Studies, Grades 2-5, 2012-2013
Greensview Elementary School, Upper Arlington, OH
Language Arts, Grades 6-7, 2001-2003
Columbus Jewish Day School, Columbus, OH
AP Language & Composition, Grades 9-12, 1998-2001
Worthington Kilbourne High School, Worthington, OH
Gifted & Talented Language Arts, Grades 7-8, 1995-1998
McCord Middle School, Worthington, OH
Writing-Reading Workshop, Grade 8, 1994-1995
Norwood Middle School, Norwood, OH
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, 2009-present
Families with Children from China, 2005-present
The Long Version: Me As a Writer
Remember first grade with the green, sort of newsprint, lined paper and the big fat pencils? Those were my favorite things about the old, brick, Long Island, school building where I churned out five-sentence stories. I thought of myself as just another writer on the pastel-colored globe my teacher kept on her desk, right in there with Beverly Cleary and Shakespeare. I mean, Mrs. Binder did have me recopy my poem, Books Can Take You Away, onto a giant piece of pink construction paper which she hung on the wall.
By the time my family moved to Ohio, I graduated from high school, and I arrived on campus at Miami University, I could write a mean five-paragraph essay. I was very good at writing about other people’s writing. I was horrified, however, to find I’d been closed out of The Art of the Essay and put in Creative Writing! Thank God my professor, Steven Bauer, reintroduced me to the creative girl I’d left back in first grade.
However, by then I was convinced my calling was teaching. I slapped a giant pencil up on my classroom wall that said: Everyone Has Something To Say. I poured somewhat voyeuristically over the stories my students put down on paper. I wrote with my students and instead of describing their writing back to them with phrases like awkward and vivid, I made up ways to teach them how to write. I spent my summers studying Educational Theatre at NYU only to discover what I really loved about theatre was making up the stories.
I soon found myself with a husband who kept saying, “Just write!” and a daughter adopted from China who taught me about my own neglected inner child (whose fat yellow pencils hadn’t been sharpened in years). I landed in the middle of a delayed adolescence and had a teenage rebellion about a decade too late which for me meant I wrote. I went back to New York City every chance I got for conferences, classes, and inspiration. I cried the whole first day my daughter went to kindergarten, then looked up, and realized I had a second chance to follow my creative dreams.
Maybe because I didn’t test myself until later in life, I started writing about young people finding their voices. Maybe because of the ways my daughter reopened me to the world, I learned to take good care of the creative young person inside myself –in essence I adopted her, and adoption began weaving itself through my stories. I found other actually good, young adult writers within a two-block radius of my house, and I had my first story, More Chinese, published in the January 2011 issue of Mei Magazine! (I still carry it with me everywhere.)
In between classes, like Highlights Founders Workshops, and conferences like SCBWI’s –which give me a chance to sneak back to NYC, I spend a lot of time studying writing, tearing YA books apart to understand how the stories are built or how the voices come alive. Then I sit down at my laptop and try to do it myself.