About

 About Tara  

The Short Bio:

I hold a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, where I specialized in writing for children and young adults. My middle grade novel, Unwritten, will be published by Jolly Fish Press in October 2018. I teach creative writing in San Diego Community College’s Continuing Education Program and for the PEN Writers in Prisons Program. I have also worked as a writing mentor through the program Booming Ground and served on the editorial board of PRISM International. I do freelance editing for the company Narrative Ink, and I am the former fiction editor of Straylight Literary Magazine. My work has appeared in Word Riot, the Beloit Fiction Journal, Cricket, and other publications. I live in San Diego.

The Longer Version:

I grew up in Wisconsin, so that will always be home for me, but I have lived in many other places along the way including California, Illinois, Minnesota, and Virginia. I write for both children and adults— short fiction, nonfiction, and novels— but my favorite thing in the world is reading and writing middle grade novels. These are the books that turned me into a reader in the first place, and they are the stories that have stuck with me over the years and made me realize I wanted to be an author.

My first published story, in the 2010 issue of the Beloit Fiction Journal.

I wrote my first novel when I was in second grade. It was about a pioneer girl named Martha, her pet chicken, Slowy, and her family’s adventure west in a covered wagon. You can read more about that story here. Around that time, I also wrote a letter to Pleasant T. Rowland, founder of American Girl, asking if I could write books for her company. (Apparently my parents never mailed it.)

This is the letter I wrote to Pleasant T. Rowland, founder of American Girl, when I was eight, asking if I could write books for her company. I love my confidence back then! I told her I was "very good at writing stories myself." :) (And that's me, age 8, in the photo!)

This is the letter I wrote to Pleasant T. Rowland, founder of American Girl, when I was eight, asking if I could write books for her company. I love my confidence back then! I told her I was “very good at writing stories myself.” 🙂 (And that’s me, age 8, in the photo!)

For a while in college, I thought I would be a high school English teacher because it seemed like a much more practical (and attainable!) job than writer, but the more I studied, the more I realized I wanted to be writing my own books, not writing papers about the books others had written. Thankfully, I had some great mentors who encouraged me to follow my dreams, and in 2014, I completed my MFA in creative writing at the University of British Columbia.

I’ve worked a lot of jobs, both related and unrelated to writing. I’ve been a substitute teacher, salesperson, and waitress as well as a writer and editor. Right now, I edit books for a company called Narrative Ink and teach writing for San Diego Community College’s Continuing Education program, as well as through my website and PEN America’s Writers in Prisons Program. I formerly served on the editorial board of PRISM International and as the fiction editor of Straylight Literary Magazine. My work has appeared in publications like Word Riot, the Beloit Fiction Journal, and Cricket.

I’m married to my high school sweetheart. He’s in the US Navy now, which means his job takes us on all kinds of adventures, and I have a teenage daughter who is a wonderful source of inspiration for all my writing. I have a dog named Biscuit who is very naughty

This is Biscuit. On my laptop. She likes to write too.

This is Biscuit. On my laptop. She likes to write too.

but so sweet that she gets spoiled all the time. I love to cook, travel, and read all the middle grade books I can get my hands on. My favorite foods are pasta and pizza, and my favorite book changes all the time but right now is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I feel very lucky to be doing the work I love.

 

And this is me now, goofing around during "Bicycle Fever" at Old World Wisconsin. Maybe I didn't outgrow that whole pioneer thing.

And this is me now, goofing around during “Bicycle Fever” at Old World Wisconsin. Maybe I didn’t outgrow that whole pioneer thing. 🙂