These are a few of my favorite things:
2. Calvin and Hobbes
4. The color green
5. Warm chocolate chip cookies
And stories. I also happen to like stories. Here’s mine…
Once upon a time, I was born. But I never lived in a kingdom far, far away and no one ever mistook me for a princess. I lived in Chandler, Arizona, and I remember writing my first story when I was seven or eight. It was a picture book titled “What If We Let All Gravity into Space?” I thought we could somehow siphon all of the world’s gravity supply into outer space, and then people would be able to fly and ride magic carpets.
One day not too long after I started writing stories, I visited my grandma. I remember sitting on one of the stools at her kitchen counter, eating M&Ms. She had just finished reading one of my homemade picture books, and she said: “Mary Bee, when you grow up, you should be an author.”
“No,” I said. “I’m going to be a teacher.”
“You can do both.”
And Grandma, it turned out, was right.
I attended Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia where I majored in English with minors in history and education. In 2006, I took a job teaching junior high English at a charter school in Tempe, Arizona. Somewhere in the middle of my second year as a teacher, I had an idea for a story about middle school students who form a coup and take over their student government. So I decided to try writing a novel.
Then I wrote another.
None of my novels turned out quite right, and eventually I realized it was time to seek professional help. I started participating in workshops and conferences…which eventually led me to Vermont College of Fine Arts where I earned an M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults in 2014. Shortly after graduation, I signed with my agent, the lovely Linda Camacho, and one day a few months later, my phone rang in the middle of second hour. I rushed over to silence it, but when I saw Linda’s name on the screen, I answered the call instead. My students were taken aback when their teacher suddenly broke into a happy dance.
My first novel had just sold.
This memory is another one of my favorite things.