I live in Brazil! Yes, I do. We’ve been in Brazil since July 2018 and we love it. São Paulo is a really interesting city, and we are enjoying the life we are living here. Graded, The American School of São Paulo, is an exciting place to work, and I spend my days with hard-working educators and lovable, energetic students.
I have 3 children. You can probably hear them screaming in the grocery store from a continent away. It’s been a good experience to be on this journey as a family, even if it means sometimes the curse words fly and it takes us 3 loops around the block to find the right building.
Before São Paulo, we lived in Nashville, Tennessee. For seven years, we taught at Harpeth Hall, an amazing all-girls school. When we moved to there in 2011, we bought a cool 1935 bungalow in East Nashville. We built on to the house and made improvements over the years. During our years in Nashville, I kept bees, we had a little flock of backyard hens, and we grew vegetables. Our little backyard farm was a total labor of love that I thought I would never be able to leave. Funny thing is, feelings change, and in 2017, I just felt ready. After a few years of back and forth and not knowing if we were ready, I convinced my husband to at least apply for international teaching jobs and see what turned up. Graded came across our radar and it felt like a great fit.
We moved to Nashville from New York City in 2011. I lived in New York City for 6 years, 2 years at NYU getting my Master’s and 4 years teaching at a NYC DOE public school and then a charter school. It was during my second year of teaching that I met my husband, a teacher at another school in the same network. Teaching in New York City was an seminal experience. I learned a lot of really powerful lessons about teaching, learning, and school community. It was a vibrant, diverse place to work, and I worked with many smart, funny, resilient educators.
Before moving to New York, I got a BA in Theater and Spanish from Case Western Reserve University in the hidden gem that is Cleveland, Ohio. I have also done coursework at George Washington University and the University of New Hampshire. I did my junior year abroad at the British American Drama Academy in London, where I studied Shakespeare and classical acting technique, stage combat, period dance, and physical comedy.
Going back even farther, I’m a third culture kid. I lived in Cincinnati until age ten when I moved with my parents to Mexico City for my dad’s job at Procter & Gamble. I attended The American School Foundation (ASF). At age twelve, I moved from Mexico City to Caracas, Venezuela, and lived there until I graduated from high school at Escuela Campo Alegre (ECA). In my years abroad, I had the privilege of attending innovative international schools and traveling around the world. I’m fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. For those keeping track, that’s Cincinnati to Mexico City to Caracas to Cleveland to London to Cleveland to New York to Nashville to São Paulo.
My writing began in November 2012 I decided to join a few of my 9th grade students at Harpeth Hall and participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I started with an idea for one scene: a woman putting together a crib, but she isn’t pregnant. With just that one scene, and while parenting an 11 month-old and teaching full time, I wrote the first 50,000 words of IMPROBABLE GIRL in 30 days.
During that first NaNoWriMo, I was diagnosed with stage 1 papillary thyroid cancer. As many writers and artists know, no heartbreak or tragedy is ever a waste, and I incorporated my experience with cancer into the novel. After a total thyroidectomy in December 2012, I continued working on IMPROBABLE GIRL in the evenings after my kids went to bed. In the summer of 2016, I finished the manuscript and began querying agents.
In summer 2015 I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and attended my first SCBWI conference. I took feverish notes at every session and first page critique. I also found my wonderful Nashville writing group at that conference. As luck would have it, the members of my writing group were also writing across multiple genres, and we shared picture books, MG, YA and adult projects. I still swap manuscripts with that group, but we do it through email and video calls now.
In fall 2016, I started writing picture book biographies, centered around women in history. My experience teaching at an all-girls school and my writing converged and I’m always on the lookout for notable women whose stories need to be told. I have manuscripts about Elizabeth I, Hatshepsut, Cheng I Sao, and Nellie Bly.
In 2017, I began writing BASTARD PRINCESS, a YA historical novel about Elizabeth I from age 13-15, and the events of those years that almost got her executed for treason.
In 2018, I started NORMAL GIRL (RELUCTANTLY) SAVES THE DAY, a MG novel about a 6th grade girl desperate to fit in, but learns she’s far from normal: she’s from a matrilineal superhero family and her powers are beginning to surface.
Since moving to Brazil, I’ve had the chance to let these projects and others rest, and I’ve returned to them with fresh eyes.
When I’m not parenting, teaching, or writing, I’ve been running. I’m not fast, but I get where I’m going. I’ve completed a 5K and a 10K in São Paulo this school year.