Whether developmental brainstorming to begin your book or surgical restructuring of a draft manuscript; whether feeding you and reading your daily pages during a week’s writing intensive; or as your mentor and companion through the long haul of completing a novel or memoir — my work with you & for you will be invested, insightful, generous, and nurturing.
“Kate, reaching into the beating heart of a story . . . that’s your superpower.”
— Shobha Rao, award-winning author of Girls Burn Brighter and An Unrestored Woman
KATE’S AREAS OF EXPERTISE
Genres: Literary Fiction including Novels, Novellas, Story Cycles. Creative Nonfiction including Memoir, Essays & Lyric Essays, Belles Lettres. Mixed Genre and Experimental Works (fiction/nonfiction/poetry).
Topical Interests: Literary History, Art History, Motherhood & Parenting, Food Writing, Travel Writing, History & Current Events, Subjects of Particular Interest to Women
Craft & Process: Uncovering Your Subconscious Story, Artistry & Neuroscience, Narrative Structure, The Emotional Arc, Precision & Lyricism of Language, Character Development, Tension, Imagery & Patterning, Pacing & Momentum
Please note: With the exception of literary historical fiction, Birds & Muses does not as yet offer services for works that could be wholly or primarily considered genre fiction, including science fiction, romance, suspense/thrillers, fantasy, horror, crime, and mysteries. We also do not as yet offer services for YA or children’s books, or for how-tos, self-help, or other forms of non-literary nonfiction. In the future we hope to add editorial partners who can provide expertise in these areas.
For thirty years Kate Moses has been passionate about guiding writers toward realizing the full potential of their literary projects. An internationally acclaimed novelist and a founding editor of Salon who began her career at legendary North Point Press, rising to senior acquisitions editor by age twenty-five, Kate has been helping writers fulfill their artistic visions ever since. She has worked with some of the most beloved writers of contemporary literary fiction and creative nonfiction, including Gina Berriault, Evan Connell, M. F. K. Fisher, Denis Johnson, Anne Lamott, Jayne Anne Phillips, James Salter, and Susan Straight. As a book, magazine, and online editor, nonprofit arts administrator, literary critic, publishing entrepreneur, author of four books, and teacher in academic and nonacademic settings, Kate has firsthand experience in nearly every aspect of the publishing process. Renowned for her generosity as a mentor and colleague, Kate launched Birds & Muses in early 2017 to offer sustained individual guidance to writers of book-length narrative works, knowing that it’s this stage of the writing process when writers often need the most support and guidance and yet have the fewest resources to call upon.
Kate’s award-winning first novel, Wintering, about Sylvia Plath’s assembly of her Ariel manuscript, was published to international accolades in 17 languages. Cakewalk: A Memoir was chosen by NPR as one of its favorite memoirs of the year; Kate’s brownies (with recipe) were immortalized in full color in The New York Times food section. Kate is also the coeditor of two bestselling anthologies of essays on motherhood, Mothers Who Think and Because I Said So. Kate and her books have received numerous commendations including an American Book Award, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, a Prix des Lectrices de Elle, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a Poets & Writers Debut Fiction selection, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship as well as fellowships from Djerassi Resident Artist Program, Hedgebrook, Karuna, The Lighthouse Works, and MacDowell Colony.
"Kate Moses is a GODSEND, a literary fairy godmother for your Cinderella project. She was my thesis/book advisor during my MFA program, and she shepherded me through my hybrid, genre-crossing family memoir. I had all these disparate stories and was struggling with how to put them together into a cohesive book; plus, I did not want this book to be a conventional, chronological memoir-narrative. Kate figured out the book’s scaffolding and structure, and placed the stories in a non-chronological order that still gave the book an overall arc. She transitioned from big-picture craft issues to smaller ones, such as tone, POV, and word choice, with ease. She also curated a selection of memoirs and novels for me to read that further enhanced what I wanted to happen with my book. Modified excerpts from my book have been published or will appear in The Washington Post, The Rumpus, Ninth Letter, and Fourth Genre. I have several agents interested in seeing my full-length memoir, the final version of which I am working through. So much of this is because of Kate's mentorship and editing prowess. My autographed copy of The Woman Warrior--which Kate procured from Maxine Hong Kingston herself because Kate thought I'd appreciate it--reminds me what a fantastic, warm, and caring person Kate is, and she remains one of my cherished friends today." – S. Isabel Choi, California
"I have been working privately with Kate Moses since August of 2016. She is the most endearing, tenacious, persistent writing teacher I have ever had. And she carries off her brilliance in the most gentle of ways. She takes a draft of something I have written and finds needles in hay stacks: she finds metaphoric connections between concepts that are powerful and real, but that I hadn't realized were there. Kate’s writing retreat in Essex was one of the most incredible learning experiences of my life. And since then, we skype regularly about my memoir and about writing contests for which I am writing. I mark down her every word on paper as we go along, because it all matters so much! Under her tutelage, I have recently won a major writing contest, and I could not have done it without her gentle, guiding force and brilliant spirit. If Kate could be my fairy godmother, or godsister, I would sign up in a heartbeat. I hope never to lose contact with her, as my writing is immeasurably enriched by her comments and her kind, kind heart." – Elizabeth Fortescue, Massachusetts
"I was fortunate enough to be one of Kate’s students when she taught in the writing program at the University of San Francisco. Her critiques were insightful, thorough, and always spot-on. She’s a kind editor and an incredible mentor. She’s also a gifted writer, with impeccable publishing credentials. I highly recommend Kate to any writer, editor, or publisher. You’d be lucky to have her." – Angela Knight, California
"Kate is organized, disciplined and knowledgeable about the editor’s role. Her experience as a book editor and at Salon helped me to trust her. . . she’s positive and encouraging and respectful." – Pari Chang, New Jersey
"When I worked with Kate she made me pistachio macarons. No pistachio macaron that I have tasted since has been able to match it. Kate also read my writing and drew out essential truths that I had previously been unable to see. No mentor since has been able to provide the clear counsel and direction that she gave me. She is fantastic." -- Marshall Comstock, Hawaii
"I had the pleasure of studying with Kate during my MFA, where thanks to her I learned to love the form I'd dreaded most -- the essay. In Kate's class I gained a new appreciation for writing as artistic expression, which invigorated my creativity and demanded my voice seize the page. Not only is she a gifted teacher, as an editor and mentor Kate has the rare ability to spot just what's needed to shepherd a piece from raw potential to completion. Thorough and encouraging, Kate is a champion of writers, the skilled literary angel I'd chose to bottle and place next to my laptop." -- Lorene V. Garrett, California
"It was my great fortune to have Kate's mentorship while writing my manuscript. Under her guidance, twelve disparate essays ripened and trellised their way into a unified book about language as homeland from childhood through motherhood. After our work together was through, Kate passed my manuscript to her literary agency and introduced me to a wide community of distinguished and connected authors. Kate embodies warmth, generosity and brilliance. I learned from her awesome woman-mother-artist self during a time when I was conceiving my own versions of these identities. Kate has the rare gift to truly see you, and with this vision help you become the whole version of yourself both on and off the page. It was over five years ago when Kate had me under her wing, and I still think of her when I write, when I mother. When I'm being my best self, Kate is with me." -- Cheng-Ling Chen, Founder of www.herliograph.com
"I began working with Kate after I'd hit a wall revising my novel and couldn't find a way to move forward. She came highly recommended, and so I decided to try a consultation. Just in that first conversation, she had so much insight into my characters and their histories that she actually helped solve several problems I'd been struggling with. I decided on a full developmental edit, and her feedback was revelatory: thorough, specific, concrete, encouraging, and completely spot-on, and she found all these layers and connections to unpack and deepen and propel the story. She also pointed out some ticks in my writing that I'd overlooked. It was like being handed a roadmap for revision; I knew exactly what the book needed and where to go next, which made me excited to get back to work on it every morning. I just can't stress enough how amazing that felt after being stuck for so long. I also want to add that in addition to her brilliance as a reader, and all her sincere care and generosity in giving feedback, Kate is also just a really lovely person. She has so much warmth and humor and kindness; talking with her was a genuine pleasure, and I would absolutely recommend her to anyone. She is a gift for writers, and I just wish I'd met her years ago. -- Autumn Watts, Turkey
"I met Kate Moses at the Key West Literary Seminar in January of 2017 when she was my workshop leader for “Imagining the Real: Transforming Fact into Fiction.” I came home with pages of rich, new material for a historical novel that had previously stymied me. Since then, I've worked with Kate individually as a mentor as I write the novel, which is currently at a length of 70,000 words. I'm delighted with how she has supported this writing project with clear, kind, and experienced feedback to help me produce a strong, compelling story! -- Debbie Merion, Michigan