SPALDING MFA’S WRITING FOR CHILDREN & YOUNG ADULTS ALUMNI: Publishing Success

by Edie Hemingway
Spalding MFA Faculty, Writing for Children and Young Adults

“Congratulations to all of these W4CYA past and present students for their multiple successes!”

As both an alumna and Writing for Children and Young Adults (W4CYA) faculty member in Spalding University’s Low Residency MFA in Writing program, I am proud to take this opportunity to celebrate the successes of our past and present W4CYA students.

One of the hallmarks of the Spalding MFA program is the opportunity for students to study in more than one of the concentrations offered: Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Playwriting, Screenwriting, and Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Since children’s and YA literature encompasses all of the genres, it is especially fortunate for our W4CYA students that they are not segregated in separate residencies, as is the practice in some MFA programs. On the contrary, they are actively involved with all the cross-genre assignments and events, and many choose to study in one of the other genres for a residency, a full semester, or return after graduation for an enrichment semester. In fact, a number of our students graduate with double concentrations.

Let’s begin with a graduate of our very first class in Spring of 2003, Stephanie Stuve Bodeen, who is one of our most prolific and nationally recognized alums. Since graduating, Stephanie has had three picture books published: Babu’s Song (Lee and Low Books, 2004), The Best Worst Brother (Woodbine House, 2005), and A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose (Little Brown, 2010). In 2008, she began her career as a YA and MG novelist under the name S. A. Bodeen and, at last count, has had eight novels published by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan. They include The Compound (2008), The Gardener (2010), The Raft (2012), The Fallout (2013), Shipwreck Island (2014), Lost (2015), The Detour (2015), and Trapped (2016).

stephanie-stuve-bodeen

Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

Stephanie’s honors and awards for both her picture books and novels are so numerous, it’s impossible to list them all in this limited space.  However, they include multiple wins in the YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers category as well as wins and finalist status in numerous state awards.  For a complete listing see writersabodeen.com/honors. In addition to this impressive list, translation rights have been sold to twelve countries, and film rights for The Detour have been optioned by Legendary. Congratulations, Stephanie, and may your list continue to grow!

Patti Zelch (Fall 2003) had her nonfiction picture book, Ready, Set Wait! published by Abordale Publishing (originally known as Sylvan Dell) in 2010. She continues to make school visits in both Florida and North Carolina.

Robin Heald’s (Fall 2006) picture book manuscript, Isadora’s Sandálias was the recipient of the 2014 Katherine Paterson Prize for Children’s Literature at Hunger Mountain. Pat, Roll, Pull was published by Hachai Publishing in 2012. Her picture book series, Jackson and Jillian, will be published by Fable Learning and Liberty’s Purpose will be published by Colonial Williamsburg Press, both in 2017. Robin is represented by Susan Cohen of Writer’s House. She continues to run the Pomegranate Preschool for the Arts in Ashland, OR.

Kelly Creagh (Spring 2008) has had a good share of success with her trilogy published by Atheneum: Nevermore (2010), Enshadowed (2012), and Oblivion (2015).

Joan Donaldson (Spring 2008) was one of our W4CYA students with a combined concentration in Creative Nonfiction and has achieved success in both fields. She reviews books for Michigan Public Radio, has had essays published by The Christian Science Monitor and TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), and freelances for A Simple Life Magazine. In the W4CYA field, On Viney’s Mountain, was published by Holiday House in 2009. The novel won the 2010 Friends of American Writers Award for Outstanding YA Novel, appeared on the Bank Street List of the Best Books of 2010, was a runner up for the 2011 Bronte Prize for Romantic Literature, and was reviewed and cited by the Rutgers University Econ for Kids Website as a good read for Women’s History Month.

Anna C. Morrison (Fall 2008) has three picture books published by Guardian Angel Publishing: Silly Moments; Green Gooey Goop (an Honorable Mention book at the Green Book Festival 2015); and Squirrel Superhighway, or It’s Good to be a Dog, due out in late 2016.

Sandra Havriluk’s (Fall 2009) YA historical romance, Treacherous Hearts, will be released by Hill High Press in 2017. She has been a finalist and winner in numerous writing contests.

Roland Mann (Spring 2011) has had success in the realm of graphic novels, short stories, and comics. His published material includes: The Remaining (a GN adaptation of the film), Kingstone Publishing, September 2014; The SadoMannequin (one shot comic), Silverline, 2015; Demon’s Tails Classic (graphic novel), Silverline, 2015; and Krey Classic (graphic novel), Silverline, 2015.

Marjetta Geerling (Spring 2011), already published before earning her MFA at Spalding, is now an Assistant Professor of English at Broward College in Davie, FL. She was named Professor of the Year in 2016. Congratulations, Marjetta! She also returns to Spalding on a frequent basis and will give a lecture at the upcoming Fall 2016 residency.

Leah Henderson (Summer 2011) has news breaking this very week—the cover reveal of her MG novel One Shadow On The Wall (to be released by Simon & Schuster/Atheneum in 2017)! Her novel began as part of her creative thesis at Spalding. Follow this link to Betsy Bird’s Fuse #8 blog and the beautiful artwork for Leah’s One Shadow On The Wall. Advertising doesn’t get any better than this!

Kat Shehata (Spring 2012) has had two novels published with Limitless Publishing and a third book on the way: Russian Tattoos (Obsession, book #1) and Russian Tattoos (Prisoner, book #2) The trilogy was originally planned as YA, but ultimately was too edgy. It is now listed in the NA/Adult category.

Corrine Jackson (Summer 2012) was a fiction student who has achieved success with four young adult novels: If I Lie (Simon Pulse, 2012), named to the YALSA 2014 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers List, the ALA 2014 Rainbow List, and the 2013 IRA Young Adults’ Choices Reading List; Touched (Sense Thieves #1), Pushed (Sense Thieves #2), and Ignited (Sense Thieves #3), all published by Kensington (KTeen Books).

Susan Arscott’s (Fall 2012) first YA novel, End of Normal, was published in 2014 by Champagne Book Groups. Her current projects included both YA and MG novels and screenplays.

Jim Wayne (Fall 2012) was another dual concentration student in both W4CYA and Fiction. Fleur de Lis Press released his first novel, The Unfinished Man, this past summer. Jim will be reading from his novel at the celebration of recently published books on Wednesday evening during the upcoming Fall 2016 residency.

Mary Knight’s (Spring 2013) debut middle grade novel Saving Wonder was published by Scholastic Press in February 2016. It was named to the Spring 2016 Indie Kids Next List and is this year’s “One School, One Book” selection for the FT Burns Middle School in Owensboro, KY to exemplify this year’s theme “Stand.” All 950 students and teachers will read the book.

Cheri Thomas Maxson’s (Summer 2013) play, “Murder at the Malt Shop,” was published by Pioneer Drama Service in April of this year. It won the Shubert Fendrich Memorial Playwriting Contest and has already been performed in the US, Australia, and Canada with more than 40 upcoming productions all over the US and Canada this year and next.

Kaitlyn Ballenger (Fall 2013) has had four adult paranormal romance novels published under the name Kait Ballenger by Harlequin (HQN): Twilight Hunter: Book #1 in the Execution Underground series (2014); Midnight Hunter: Book #3 in the Execution Underground series (2015); and After Dark: an anthology featuring an Execution Underground novella alongside NYT Bestselling Author Gena Showalter (2013).

Lisa McShane (Pires) (Summer 2015) had her YA novel Extension published by Cresent Moon Press in 2014. She has also had several short stories published. Lisa won a pitch contest called #FicFest and, as a result, was able to work with an amazing editor on her most recent novel, which is now on submission.

Jessica Love Kim (Summer 2016) has had two YA novels published: Push Girl by Jessica Love and Chelsie Hill (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014) and In Real Life (St. Martin’s Griffin 2016). Jessica notes that Push Girl was drafted while at residency in Ireland, and In Real Life was “workshopped” in Paris and was the subject of her first semester packets.

In addition to the publications listed above, our students, including current student Janelle Fila, publish poems, short stories, and essays on a regular basis.

Congratulations to all of these W4CYA past and present students for their multiple successes! While I’ve tried to be inclusive, this list is no doubt incomplete. We are proud of all our students and alums and celebrate their continuing success.


Edie Hemingway, the author of three MG novels, is a Spring 2004 graduate of Spalding University’s Low Residency MFA program. Road to Tater Hill began as her creative thesis and was later published by Delacorte Press/Random House.  It was awarded a Parent’s Choice Gold Award and was named to the Bank Street College List of the Best Books of 2010 and the North Carolina Battle of the Books list for two years. Edie has been on the Spalding W4CYA faculty since Fall 2012.


For more information about our program, students and faculty, please visit us at spalding.edu/mfa  or email us at MFA@spalding.edu.
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