Who I Am

I’m a middle and high school teacher turned author. I began my publishing career in 2010, when I signed with Cedar Fort Industries. Since that time, I have written YA contemporary novels for Entangled/Macmillan, Albert Whitman Teen, and Simon Pulse. I’ve also independently published a handful of novels and novellas for both young adults and adults. I’m a three-time Whitney Award finalist. I began teaching writing in 2011. I’ve mentored workshops at The Storymakers Conference, taught on panels at Association for Writing and Writing Professionals (AWP), taught breakout sessions at Alaska Writer’s Guild, Alaska SCBWI, American Night Writer’s Association (ANWA), as well been a special guest at several writing retreats. I’ve worked as a freelance editor, helping writers find agents, actors/community advocates find their writing voice, and strengthening projects for USA Today and NYT bestselling authors. I’m a former Author in Residence at Alaska Pacific University. And if you care about my formal education: I graduated with a degree in Political Science and French, with an International Relations certification, specializing in Middle East Studies, as well as a secondary Ed certificate. I used this degree to teach middle school math before joining the publishing world. I’m an Alaskan living in Colorado with my husband, two children, giant cat, and tiny dog.

Twitter @JRV_Perry

Instagram @JRV_Perry (YA and editors self)  & @_mj_perry_ (Social issue/Women’s Fiction self)

Thanks! Jo

The long version:

I grew up with the kind of dad who used a lighter to detect possible gas leaks in gas lines. A dad who said things like, “They let electricians do it! Of course you can wire your house!”

Because of this line of thinking, and my mother’s ENDLESS patience and support, I competitively show-jumped, I went to college, I became a teacher, I tried new things. Every year. At least one. Because of this dad, I drew plans for a house, because hey, they let architects do it! And then twice (because much like childbirth, you forget the pain) we built two houses starting with the plans, all the way to the final bits of paint on the walls. And there is nothing like building your own home.

But when it came to thing that I wanted to do more than anything else, that thing that felt so unattainable, I put off trying. I put it off by switching away from an English major in college. By keeping only a moderate journal. By quashing the idea as soon as it formed.

And then blogging became a thing. A big thing. Everyone had a blog! Even stay at home mom’s like me! And it was a struggle learning to stay home with the same single, small person every day after herding classrooms of middle and high school students. So I began to blog. The first ones were clunky, but they got better, more succinct. The writing came easier. Sharing small stories about our day became easier. That brilliant part of storytelling where some tidbit from the beginning, comes back around in the end… That got easier too.

So, one day I’m playing my guitar (guitarists do it!) and I had this idea for a story. We were feeling particularly broke at the time (student loans – almost everyone does it!) and driving up the road when I mentioned having this idea for a scene or story, and my husband said, “Why don’t you write that down? Just for fun?”

He had no idea what he would start with those few words.

I’ve been seriously writing close to ten years, worked with five publishers, done literary internships, switched agents, seen a few successes and many failures. Over thirty novels later, I’ve written a few stories.

This site is dedicated to the things I’ve learned along the way…