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Kate Penndorf


Valerie Heller



Story time had always been Kate Penndorf’s favorite ‘subject’ in school. But when her second grade teacher opted to read from a tattered old diary, Kate’s view on books changed forever. Books were now alive, with adventures, dilemmas, far away locations, heroes, villains, drama, and quite frankly, story. Everything was so real, well at least in her imagination at any rate. She wanted to live in those stories… and she has.


In her senior year of high school Kate interned at CBS three days a week, making sure to keep her grades up or the gig would be off. By sheer nature of the job, stories surrounded her there. In college, she spent a semester abroad living with her sister and brother-in-law in Denmark – where, yes, one can only imagine the crazy stories conjured up! Then after college, she moved to Germany and at the age of 25 she opened her own company – a language school, full of (you guessed it) stories abound. At 29 she moved back to the States, bringing home with her the greatest story and souvenir ever – her husband.


On a train ride into NYC, a vision came to Kate’s sleepy commuter mind: a girl finding a dragon egg in the middle of a Viking graveyard. Presto! The premise for her debut novel was born. A tale, which Kate hopes, will change a child’s view on books forever.


As a developmental editor, Kate loves helping other writers hone their craft and polishing their manuscript. Inspired by the edits she has given, the idea for her new adventure, Much Ado About Writing, was born.


You can also find Kate coaching writers, giving workshops, contributing articles to the magazine Children's Book Insider, and serving at the state level as an event coordinator for her state's SCBWI chapter. 


Join the MuchAdoers and write with Kate!


Valerie traces her squiggly path to becoming a writer back to Mrs. Hodges’ first and second grade classroom, where she wrote and illustrated her very first books. Two decades later, she rediscovered her passion for children’s literature as a middle and high school English and creative writing teacher. An NCTE member and Teacher-Consultant with the National Writing Project, she transformed her classroom into a reading and writing workshop, where she read and wrote alongside her students.


Since leaving behind full-time teaching to devote more time to writing, Valerie has taught composition at the college level and continues to work in the classroom with pre-service secondary English teachers. As a lead writing coach for the Bloomberg Arts Institute (Baltimore) program, she mentors young artists and writers. A recent graduate of Young Audiences of Maryland’s Teaching Artist Institute, she looks forward to returning to middle and high school classrooms as a writer-in-residence.


A long-time member of SCBWI, Valerie has participated in numerous writing seminars and intensive workshops, learning the craft firsthand from leading kidlit authors, including Meg Medina, Kate Messner, Linda Urban, Gary D. Schmidt, and Linda Sue Park. She was recently selected to participate in the Whole Novel Retreat at the Highlights Foundation, where she worked closely with Crystal Allen and Nora Shalaway Carter on revising and re-vision-ing her current work-in-progress.


When not working on her latest middle grade or young adult novel, she can be found contributing articles to the magazine Children's Book Insiderplaying violin in a tango orchestra, practicing the energy healing art of chakra balancing, or solving a crossword puzzle. 

Join the MuchAdoers and write with Valerie!

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