About Us

The FIVE ORIGINAL MUSES attended the Big Sur Writing Workshop in 2009. Katherine, Veronica, Talia and Donna were all in the same breakout critique group, led by author Ellen Hopkins. After reading aloud pages from works in progress, and loving what they heard from each other, the group decided to stay in touch electronically. Soon the idea for the YA Muses blog was born and Bret, who also attended that same conference, was added to the group.

Within a year of that fateful meeting, the YA Muses had sold eleven books and shared their journey daily on the YA Muses blog. Now, several years later, the Muses are proud to welcome the Second Wave Muses. We're all happy they're here, and hope you'll join us as we blog about the writing process and our experiences in the publishing world.

BRET BALLOU is currently seeking representation. He's not an ancient Greek goddess, but is ecstatic to be a regular feature on this blog. When he's not writing or being a conference junkie, he pays for the addiction by designing medical devices to help treat Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms. His awesome (though sassy) wife, brand new son, wacky extended family, and red-devil dogs keep him on his toes. Some other addictions he enjoys: scuba diving, backpacking, skiiing, and going on trips which include any/all of those activities.  Bret's musings

AARON JON BERGH (new) is currently seeking representation for his debut novel, THE PROTECTORS, a fantasy for young adults, and is excited to be working on his second novel, THE GHOST. He is a full-time, single dad of three (yes, THREE) LOUD kids, which basically means he's a taxi driver with blown ear drums. (His kids are the best!) When they're not watching Harry Potter, they're on the lake. They eat Chipotle. They sing and dance to every song that comes on the radio while they drive. They laugh and laugh and laugh. Aaron does not sleep. During the day, Aaron develops legal education courses for attorneys and writes copy. His life goal is to take his kids to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If he can't obtain that, then he just wants to turn into a burrito. Or marry Jessica Alba.  Aaron's musings

DONNA COONER was born and raised in Texas. She is a three-time graduate of Texas A&M University. A former teacher and school administrator, she now teaches teachers and principals at Colorado State University where she is the director of the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her two labs and a cat named Stu. She's a big fan of chocolate and laughing (not necessarily in that order).
Donna is the author of over twenty picture books and was a founding member of the Brazos Valley Society of Children's Bookwriters and Illustrators. She has also written children's television shows for PBS and textbooks for future teachers. SKINNY is her debut novel for young adults.  Donna's musings

KRISTEN CROWLEY HELD (new) is represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Born and raised in California with stopovers in Honduras, Mexico, and France, she now resides in a Northern California town where bike riding and backyard chickens are de rigueur. Married to a track star turned science nerd, and mom to two wee bookworms, she holds an MFA in costume design and has worked as a freelance costumer in opera, theatre, film, and television. Kristen's musings

BETH HULL (new) lives in northern California with her artist/scientist husband, their two children, and a cat who thinks she's a dog. Beth writes young adult novels and the occasional short story, and co-edits her regional SCBWI newsletter, the ACORN. To learn more about Beth, her work, and the things that annoy her, you can visit her website or follow her on Twitter.  Beth's musings

JODI KENDALL (new) is a professional writer living in New York City with her husband, toddler son, and Shepherd mutt. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, and her work is represented on several National Geographic Channel websites, NBC Health, ABC News, iVillage, and the New York Daily News, and in Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine and Bare Essentials Magazine. When she's not writing for clients or chasing her son in Central Park, she's plugging away on several kidlit manuscripts. Right now Jodi is revising a YA contemporary thriller that she hopes to query with agents soon.  Jodi's musings

LIA KEYES (new) is represented by Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Lit. She studied Media & Communications at the University of the Arts, London, and volunteered as Development Strategist for author Ellen Hopkins' non-profit foundation, Ventana Sierra, which houses and trains at-risk youth.

A British expat, she's currently finishing a fantasy adventure for young adults. You can find links to her online haunts on her website.

Lia's musingsMuse News Roundup

KATHERINE LONGSHORE is the author of GILT (Viking, 2012), a story of friendship and betrayal in the court of Henry VIII, and TARNISH (2013), the story of a young Anne Boleyn. She grew up on the northern California coast, addicted to words--reading, writing and theater. At university, she created her own major in Cross-Cultural Studies and Communications, planning to travel and write. Forever. Four years, six continents and countless pairs of shoes later, she went to England for two weeks, stayed five years and discovered history. After working as a freelance travel writer, coffee shop barista, bookseller, ship's steward, and Montessori preschool teacher, she feels she has finally found her calling. She now lives in California with her husband, two children and a sun-worshiping dog.  Katherine's musings

ROBIN FITZSIMMONS MENG (new) has been writing for as long as she could hold a pen. Passionate about animals, she is the Development Manager for the SPCA of Westchester in New York. She shares her life with her husband and three rescued felines who are a constant source of entertainment. When Robin is not writing or reading, she can be found discouraging her cats from interfering with her knitting projects.  Robin's musings

VERONICA ROSSI is the author of post-apocalyptic fiction for young adults. Her debut novel, UNDER THE NEVER SKY, is the first in a trilogy. Released in January 2012, it was deemed one of the Best Books of Year by School Library Journal. The second book in the trilogy, THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT, debuted in January on the NY Times and USA Today Best Seller Lists. The final book in the series, INTO THE STILL BLUE, will publish January 2014.

Veronica completed undergraduate studies at UCLA and then went on to study fine art at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons. When not writing, she enjoys reading, painting, and counting down the minutes until she can get back to making up stories about imaginary people.  Veronica's musings

TALIA VANCE is a practicing litigation attorney living in Northern California with her real life love interest, two-point-five kids, and a needy Saint Bernard named Huckleberry. Talia has been writing since she could talk, making up stories for every doll, stuffed animal and action figure she could get her hands on. She grew up hoping to write the great American novel, but her life ran more along the lines of tortured romance and fast paced thrillers, so that's what she writes.  Talia's musings

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