"There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you." – Zora Neale Hurston
Are you burning with a story you must tell, but don’t know how or where to begin? Has your MFA thesis been approved to meet your program’s academic requirements, but now it’s time to revise and refine it into the book you’d imagined it could be? Are you stuck in the middle of a book project—halfway through the manuscript, or four drafts in, but something’s still off—and you need someone to help you find the path to completion? Is this the year you’ve vowed to finally finish, or start, or restart your novel or memoir?
Despite the ubiquity of writing programs in the U.S. and the fact that most of them expect MFA candidates to produce a publishable manuscript in two to three years in their program, few of those programs are designed to support writers as they work on long-form narratives. Writers have been toiling away in solitude since the beginnings of literacy, but does that mean we cannot find ways to make it easier? After three decades helping writers to fulfill their artistic visions during a successful career as a senior-level editor in independent literary trade book publishing and content-driven internet publishing, an artistic director in nonprofit literary arts programming, a graduate-level teacher of creative writing at twenty-plus colleges and universities in the U.S., and as the author of four critically acclaimed, award-winning, best-selling books of her own, Kate decided to devote herself full time to mentoring writers.
Through Birds & Muses she offers sustained, bespoke mentorship to writers of literary fiction, nonfiction, and mixed genre works who are committed to their projects and to whom she believes she can be helpful, whether they are in the beginning stages of turning an idea into a book or far along in the completion of a multiply-drafted manuscript.
A mentor is more than an editor or a teacher: a mentor identifies, supports and guides your writing process & practice as much as she helps to refine the actual product of your effort. A mentor understands your vision and believes in your potential to fulfill it. A mentor offers expertise and honesty, and invests, with your open invitation, in your writing and in you as a writer.
Think of a mentor as more like a personal trainer or private athletic coach: you may have an immediate goal you’re reaching for, but your mentor (trainer, coach) understands your long-term goal and how today’s goal fits into tomorrow’s plan. As your mentor Kate will keep you accountable to your project while nurturing your broader growth as a writer. Like a midwife, she will encourage you, anticipate the next stage of your labor, and give you periodic updates on your progress—and she will also tell you when it’s time to push through the pain.
Together you and Kate will create a strategic plan for completing your writing project. Kate will promptly read & respond to your work in manuscript annotations and via phone, Skype, or Zoom. She will direct you toward readings, writers, and writing exercises chosen for your interests and challenges. And she will be available for advice, feedback, questions, and concerns.
Mentorship is available in 6-month, repeatable increments. How you proceed during those 6 months will be personalized to your goals and availability. The status of your project and your desired level of interaction—as intensive as a weekly, personalized MFA-level tutorial, as streamlined as a once-a-month conference, or anything between—will dictate the fee (sample fee schedule available by request).
A second option for those interested in individual mentorship but who desire the energy of a group to stay motivated is the year-long Bookgardan program, launched in 2018. Bookgardan is both an individual mentorship and a selective, master-class level course in developing or revising a book-length literary narrative with the support and camaraderie of an intimate cohort of peers. Running October to October, the Bookgardan year begins and ends with an intensive week at Craigardan, an interdisciplinary artists’ residency program in the majestic Adirondacks in upstate New York. In addition to the two weeks in group residency (the first to prepare for the year of writing ahead, the second devoted to the business of being a writer) and 11 monthly one-on-one manuscript conferences with Kate, Bookgardan includes monthly craft tutorials, group seminars, and interviews with guest writers and publishing professionals, as well as a culminating full manuscript review.