Founder & Editor
Writing stuff: I have an MFA from Columbia University, and some of my own writing can be found in “Guernica,” ” So To Speak,” “Ellipsis,” and “Poets and Writers.” I’ve been the recipient of the Carolyn Doty Memorial Scholarship to the Squaw Valley Writers Community, and for six years I was a writing professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. I may have written a novel or two, and I’m represented by Penn Whaling of the Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency. My YA writing memoir, “This is Not a Writing Manual,” is slated to come out in July of 2013. You can find out more about it at my website.
Personal stuff: While I’m still a California girl at heart, the fact is I’ve lived most of my life on the wrong coast. My parents whisked me away to Massachusetts right after I was born, so I spent the first 8 years of my life there, before the family moved back to California. After graduating from UC Berkeley, I moved to Brooklyn, NY, where I spent 6 years doing various jobs to support my writing habit (working as a nanny, bookstore clerk, personal assistant, manager of an olive oil shop…). While in grad school, I met my now-hubby Mike and we moved to Greenwich, CT, where we lived for six years. In the summer of 2010, we moved to Weston, MA and had a baby girl named Elena. When I’m not hanging with Elena, writing, or YARNing, I’m probably reading, cooking, or with friends. I might also be gardening, wasting time on Facebook, or watching something from the ol’ Netlflix queue.
I write YA novels featuring globetrotting teens, international intrigue, and more than a dash of mystery. My first novel, ”Tokyo Heist“ was published by Viking/Penguin in 2012, and I have two more novels coming out from Viking. I’ve been working in the word business for a long time, juggling various jobs to support my writing habit. I’ve been an editor in educational publishing, a textbook writer, a script writer for language instruction videos, an ESL teacher, a college writing instructor, a bookseller, and a comic book shop salesclerk. (Can you guess which was the most fun?) Despite my tendency to take on long projects, short stories are my real passion. I learned to write by reading and writing stories . . . . and I continue to do so. Over the years I’ve published stories for adults, kids, and teens, and I’m a former YARN contributor. I love how short fiction offers glimpses of different lives or new perspectives in just a few pages. And I love the potential for stories to surprise us—with language, with plot, or with meaning.
In my spare time, I enjoy hanging out with my husband and our young son. I love traveling and long-distance bike riding. And sometimes when I’m not slinging words, I can be found wielding large sticks—as a taiko drummer. I study taiko and occasionally perform with a group outside of Boston.
I started writing as soon as I knew I could get people to laugh. My first “publication” was when my letter to Santa was broadcast on my local radio station in Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania. I made some jokes about Mrs. Claus that I thought were hilarious. (I was eight.) I tried not to be an English major in college and majored first in art, but my drawing teacher pointed out that my sketchbook was filled up with poems instead of
pictures. (I hadn’t really noticed.) I switched majors four times in college. I kept writing even though I had my doubts (many doubts). ”Is POET even a job?” people would ask me, later, when I told them I was going to graduate school to get an MFA in Poetry. When I became a teacher (and that took up much of my time), and became a mother (that took up even more), I had trouble telling people I was a writer. ”What have you written lately?” they would ask. I would explain (actually, I would mumble) about works in progress and about 24-hours-in-a-day.
Along the way, some publications were kind enough to publish my poems and stories (Gettysburg Review, Missouri Review, Grey Sparrow, and Fiction are a few). And then in 2009 I had this idea for a story about a girl who accidentally steals Emily Dickinson’s dress from the museum in Amherst, where it was always kept. After many years of works in progress taking a long time, I finished that book in 6 weeks. (I should probably add that it was two years of rewriting after it was sold.) In 2012 “Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things,” a novel for young adults, was released into the world.
Daily, I am the Acting Director of the Writing Program at Boston University’s College of Communication. Miscellaneously, when people come to my house, I make them homemade pizza. Sadly, I secretly wish I could sing, but I have only one vocal chord that works. Another tragic thing about me and music is that I have never been able to whistle. On the upside, I did not abandon the visual artist deep inside me: When I have writer’s block I draw in my notebook.
YA Consultant & Reader
I am a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University with a B.A. in English Language and Literature and a minor in Spanish Language and Literature. I was an assistant editor, then co-editor, of the campus’s literary magazine Knightscapes, completed an honor’s thesis languidly entitled, “The Odyssey of the YA Label: From Ambiguity and Certainty,” and worked for three years as an Assistant to the Children’s Librarian at a public library.
Now, I live in Uruguay where “Fringe” lives on my computer screen and the ocean is only a park away. Reading YA, or anything really, is one of my absolute passions followed closely behind talking to myself out loud while fulfilling my day-to-day activities. You can imagine the stares I get now that I live in a predominatly Spanish speaking country. It is quite hilarious.
I began writing and editing professionally while I was still an undergraduate at San Francisco State University. Thus, for most of my adult life I have been putting words and punctuation in the proper order for publication. I’m not sure I have many other major talents, which makes my work as a university instructor and tutor quite appropriate. I’ve written and/or edited for Bedford-St. Martin’s, “McSweeney’s Internet Tendency,” “No Cover Magazine,” “GamerNode,” “Limbo,” “Knightscapes,” and “The Equinox,” in addition to several other publications and authors who don’t wish to tarnish their good names by associating with me publicly.
I received my B.A. in English from Fairleigh Dickinson University, which did not learn its lesson the first time and invited me back to teach. I live with my wife in New Jersey. My minor talents include making kickass cacio e pepe and finding better-than-average parking spots, sometimes in the same day.
Writing and YA: I have a Creative Writing M.F.A. from American University and am working on my Children’s Literature M.A. thesis for HollinsUniversity. The thesis is on the great, late Diana Wynne Jones. Work-wise, I’m an editor for University of Maryland’s National Foreign Language Center. I’m also an instructor with Writopia Lab DC and a tutor with American University’s Center for Business Communication. Previously, I have interned at a publishing house and a literary agency. My short stories have been published in online literary journals, and my WIP is a young adult science fiction novel.
Random Peeks: I like dogs. I like scarves. I’m terrified of spiders. Even the word—spider—sticks to my teeth the wrong way with its “ssss,” and then makes me swallow it with the “rrrr.” Then possibly “ssss” again, if there are more than one. Nasty. I play two songs on the guitar. By the time you’re reading this, I will have undoubtedly learned more. I play the piano. I like to play “The Lord of The Rings” theme songs.
Co-founder, Contributing Editor
My love of storytelling first took me down the path toward theater. I studied drama at the California State School of the Arts, San Joaquin Delta College, and Yale University prior to graduating from the University of California Los Angeles School for Theater, Film and Television. Then, I figured out that I would much rather write stories then act in them. So, I ditched theater to become a high school English teacher and married an astrophysicist/Math Dude. When I’m not reading, teaching, or traveling, I am writing. My recent screenplay, “Follow Me” placed in the semi-finals of the 2010 UCLA Screenwriting Competition.
Co-founding and co-editing YARN with Kerri in 2010/2011 was a dream come true! How many people get to work on a project they love, surrounded by literature they adore, with a person who has been a close friend for twenty years?! In August of 2011, I decided to enter the MFA in Creative Writing program at National University (while maintaining my job as a high school English teacher), forcing me to step back a bit from my YARN duties. (I’ve officially petitioned for more hours in the day–apparently, it’s a no-go.) I’m not leaving YARN entirely, however, I’ll be regularly blogging the ins-and-outs of an all-online MFA experience in the future!
I earned my B.F.A. in Writing for Film and Television from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA and my M.F.A. in Creative Writing from American University in Washington, DC. My essay, “Namesake,” a work of short Non Fiction, appeared in Wilderness House Literary Review’s Winter Edition. “Python Heart,” another short piece of Non Fiction I wrote, won Honorable Mention in American Writers and Poets Intro Journal Awards and will be published in the forthcoming issue of First Inkling Magazine. After graduating from American I pursued work in advertising–a perfect marriage of my love for the written word and my love for all things TV and glossy magazine-d. I’ve worked as a copywriter for ad agencies in Philadelphia and New York. If my life were an episode of Mad Men, I’d be a more fashionably dressed Peggy Olson. You can read my blog at tonimacattacks.com
The Leftovers: I have three younger siblings–one breeds snakes, one is a pastry chef, and the last one plays World of Warcraft. I’m a homegrown Philly girl. I have five tattoos. I watch entirely too much TV and have an unhealthy shoe-addiction. I’m a major fashion nerd (McQueen and DVF are my darlings). I’m currently learning how to make graffiti art (watch your back, Banksy!). And I have a black cat with big green eyes who looks like a piece of living Halloween clip art–her name is Lex.
I have a love affair with words—writing, editing, and turning a phrase or a line. I’m currently a junior at The University of Massachusetts at Lowell, where I’m an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing. Before I started college, I was a total teen fiction-writing nut, but through a fantastic professor, I discovered my inner poetry nerd. A great poem can make your arm hair stand on end. Recently, I’ve been interested in Hybrid Poetics (look it up—it’s really cool!)
In addition to a love of words, I have an obsession with horses, which has helped define my literary taste (I have about eight different editions of Black Beauty). I’ve competed on the hunter/jumper circuit, and spend my weekends riding ponies and writing poems.
Growing up, my family moved a ton—Manhattan to Maine, Atlanta to Boston. Along the way, I developed a love of lobster rolls, a habit of drinking Coca Cola for breakfast, and more importantly, a genuine interest and appreciation for many different cultures.
Fun fact: The random teen may recognize me from a short stint on a Disney Channel commercial. I was the redhead with the elephants!
Public Relations Interns, 2012 – 2013
When I turned thirty I thought I might go through an early mid-life crisis, but instead I picked up my laptop and turned to writing fiction, something I’d been ignoring since college. That was almost seven years ago and during this time, while raising my three children, I’ve been enrolled in an Associates of Fine Arts program where I was honored to be considered one of their Writers on the Rise. I’ve published work in Curious Parents Magazine, Ars Poetica literary journal, and had a young adult novel reach the Semi-finalist (Top 50) round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest in 2011. These tiny steps gave me the confidence I needed to be able to scream from the rooftops (or admit quietly) that “I am a writer!” Currently, I am enrolled at Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program and am seeking publication for my speculative YA novel. I have the desire to learn everything I can about this industry because both sides—writing and publishing—are thrilling to me. I’m so pleased to be part of the YARN team and am looking forward to working with other YA writers and readers. Outside of the writing world, I have long been involved in Community Theater, which I hope to return to after my MFA, and am an avid, albeit embarrassingly amateur, nature photographer.
Also, I love Jelly Belly jelly beans.
Assistant to the Editor Intern
I’m currently in my final semester as a Writing, Literature, and Publishing major at Emerson College. I live and breathe books, but children’s books, particularly young adult, are my passion. Having originally gone to Emerson with the plan to write the next best-selling young adult novel, I quickly realized that my true love actually lies in publishing. Since the exact area of publishing has yet to be determined, I’ve dedicated the past four years to dabbling in all things YA. I am also the co-founder of the Boston Teen Author Festival, the goal of which is to bring some much needed YA action to this fine literary city. Over the years, I’ve accumulated around 1100 young adult and middle grade books, and nothing makes me happier than browsing a bookstore and finding something unexpected.
Having been born in Syracuse, NY and attempting to escape the horrid amounts of snow, I moved to Boston for college only to discover the horrid amounts of wind. It’s a good thing the city makes up for it with its high levels of charm. When I’m not reading I love just hanging out, going to book signings, walking around Boston, befriending authors, thinking up my next literary tattoo, and spending far too much money seeing the same movie over and over in theaters.
Mike McDonnell: I am currently in my final year at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where I’m majoring in English and Education. Reading and writing have always been passions of mine, and I hope to inspire teenagers to develop such interests through a career as a high school English teacher. I mainly write short fiction, but also dabble in screenwriting and poetry. Some of my main influences include Maugham, Kafka, Hemingway, and Capote. I also enjoy long distance running and have an unhealthy obsession with French New Wave films.