I'm a New York Times Bestselling novelist with 11 critically acclaimed novels. I review books for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe and People, and I teach writing online for Stanford and for UCLA, as well as working with private clients on their manuscripts to get them in shape for agents and/or publication. Being a writer, I know what it's like to be in the trenches and to sometimes feel lost. Being a critic, I know how to find the bones of the novel, how to distinguish what works and what doesn't and why. And being a award-winning writer professor (I won UCLA Writers Program Extension first award for online teaching), I know how to fix the things that aren't working.
I myself have written across the genres. Though I am known for my critically acclaimed novels, I have written middle-grade books, including the popular Wishbone books that were based on the award-winning PBS TV series of the same name. I've written books for kids about healthy eating, and my book, THE KIDS' FAMILY TREE BOOK was featured on the PBS series, Reading Rainbow, and is still selling.
I also write scripts and have won prestigious prizes for them, and am represented by both a Hollywood agent and manager, who is currently shopping a pilot I wrote.
I'm passionate about the work I do and the writers I work with. We all have stories to tell. Let me help you tell yours.
"Caroline Leavitt is more than a gifted author and a talented editor...she is the champion, creative confidant, and literary magician that every writer dreams of having in their corner. When my first novel, The Memory Thief, was still in draft form, she spotted its potential and helped me work through thorny issues of plot and character with an incisive red pen and a kind heart. That novel went on to become a Target Emerging Authors Pick and a New York Times bestseller--and I am convinced that a large part of its success is due to Caroline's encouragement. I recommend her editorial services to emerging writers every chance I get."
Emily Colin, New York Times Bestselling Author and Targets Emerging Authors Pick of the Memory Thief
"Caroline Leavitt has been a fabulous reader and editor for my work. She has always given me thoughtful, insightful criticism while at the same time being a real cheerleader and helping me stay positive about my work. When some chapters were cut out of my new novel, Gateway to the Moon, that was just published by Knopf Doubleday Caroline told me to pull those chapters together into a short story and that they were brilliant. I would never have done so without her advice. I didn't "see" it. But Caroline did and the story just appeared in a national magazine, "Narrative," as their Story-of-The-Week. I wouldn't hesitate to ask Caroline to read anything I needed help with and also she is extremely fast, always reliable, and supportive of writers in their work. She has my highest recommendation,"
Mary Morris - receipt of Rome Prize in Literature and Ainsfield-Wolf Award in fiction 2016. Author of Gateway to the Moon (Knopf Doubleday)
"My then-new agent, Marly Rusoff, sent my manuscript for The Wednesday Sisters to Caroline, for her advice on getting the story started a little faster. Caroline was not only amazingly helpful, but also absolutely delightful. A manuscript that had been passed on by the publisher of my first novel, Saint Martin’s Press, before Caroline helped me, went on to sell at auction to Random House/Ballantine for a generous advance; it became a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, and was named by Entertainment Weekly as one of the twenty-five best friendship novels of all time, on a list that included Harry Potter, The Three Musketeers, The Group, and Crossing to Safety. Being able to take a manuscript and make it stronger while at the same time honoring the author’s voice and idea of the book is a rare talent, and Caroline has it. I would recommend her to anyone looking for help editing help.
Meg Waite Clayton, New York Times Bestselling author of The Wednesday Sisters and the Race for Paris
"Caroline Leavitt is the penultimate writer’s writer. In the more than ten years I’ve known her as a colleague, I have benefited from her insights and brilliant edits—to my debut novel, which became a national bestseller, and current novel, Strangers in Budapest, which was selected as a best new book in November 2017 by Entertainment Weekly. I’ve recommended Caroline to scores of authors at all stages of their career—from beginner to expert—to help them with manuscript development. polishing of drafts, and strategy. As both an editor and writer, she brings enormous talent and insights to other people’s work, able to see the larger picture and determine what is best for the work—whether fiction, non-fiction, or memoir. As a New York Time bestselling author, a reviewer of books for national magazines (People magazine, for example) and social media platforms, she is a prodigious producer of novels, essays, interviews, and reviews. Caroline also flawlessly delivers on time—if not before. She is a mentor supreme—offering guidance to well-published authors and first-timers as they negotiate the complex landscape of drafting, revising, submitting to agents, working with editors and publicists, dealing with social media writing, and speaking to audiences large and small. Caroline’s talent and depth of experience is inspiring and produces outstanding results for all who enlist her professional help. Her work ethic is second to none."
Jessica Keener, national bestselling author of Strangers in Budapest, Algonquin Books
“Caroline’s insights and advice proved invaluable in helping me put together a query letter that not only generated interest in my manuscript, but also helped me land an agent. And… bonus… she’s a delight to work with.”
James King, Author, Bill Warrington’s Last Chance
"I've been in the writing business for over 30 years as a magazine editor, a manuscript editor, and a novelist. If I had to say what has been the most helpful thing in my career, my answer, without hesitation, would be meeting Caroline Leavitt. Caroline is the kind of brilliant editor who makes suggestions that change the trajectory of your career, and she does this quickly, without ever crushing your soul. She has been instrumental in shaping up my manuscripts, connecting me with a top agent, helping me write the query letter that sealed the deal with my agent, and later with HarperCollins, as well as attention from Hollywood producers. Caroline is brilliant, careful, honest, deeply compassionate, and all at breakneck speed. To say I recommend her highly doesn't let you know I have tears in my eyes. She has changed my life. She has made it possible for me to call what I do a career. "
Susan Henderson, Pushcart Prize winner and author of THE FLICKER OF OLD DREAMS, Harper Perennial
"Working with Caroline Leavitt changed my life. I first met Caroline Leavitt as a student at UCLA. From the very beginning Caroline encouraged me and pushed me to take myself seriously as a writer and to take my work to the next level. She helped me with story and structure, all the while working with my own style and voice, honing it to be the best it could be. After graduating from The Writers' Program, I continued to work one-on-one with Caroline, and thanks to her incredible eye, passion for writing and amazing support, not only did I get a Top NYC agent, but I got a publishing deal with the prize-winning, acclaimed Prospect Park Books. I can not recommend working with Caroline enough, and I will continue to do so. "
Gina Sorell, author of Mothers and Other Strangers, Prospect Park Books, May 2017
I do developmental editing of manuscripts for UCLA, Stanford, and private clients and agents. I work to make sure a manuscript has character arcs, narrative drive, storyworld, moral choices, reveals, revelations and more. I'm fast and reasonable and my work always includes a one hour video conversation when I am finished, which usually takes about 3 weeks tops.
"My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted."Thus begins this riveting story of a woman's quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that she suspects are com... read more
In the face of her husband's failing business and her daughter's estrangement, modern Long Island housewife Miriam considers going public with her psychic abilities in order to heal the family's financial woes, but finds her situation and abilities to be beyond her control
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERFive women, one passion, and the unbreakable bond of friendship When five young mothers—Frankie, Linda, Kath, Ally, and Brett—first meet in a neighborhood park in the late 1960s, their conversations center on marriage, raising children, and a shared love of books. Then one evening, as they gather to watch the Miss America Pageant, Linda admits that she aspires to write... read more
"If you haven’t read Mary Morris yet, start here. Now. Immediately."—Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great ThingsFrom award-winning novelist Mary Morris comes the remarkable story of a remote New Mexican town coming to grips with a dark history it never imagined. In 1492, the Jewish and Muslim populations of Spain were expelled, and Columbus set sail for America. Luis ... read more
If a story is going to fail, it will do so first at the premise level. Anatomy of a Premise Line: How to Master Premise and Story Development for Writing Success is the only book of its kind to identify a seven-step development process that can be repeated and applied to any story idea. This process will save you time, money, and potentially months of wasted writing. So whether you are trying ... read more
London—Today—Guys named “Jack” are being killed across the city by a female serial killer with an almost supernatural ability to stay hidden. When Jack Tate, an emotionally bleak detective sergeant, is called in to investigate the brutal killings, he teams with Mae, an intellectual wannabe-detective, and Albert, Mae’s packrat psychic father, to unravel the killer’s taunting clues, until the de... read more
The most successful and influential rock band to emerge from San Francisco during the 1960s, Jefferson Airplane created the sound of a generation. Their smash hits "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" virtually invented the era's signature pulsating psychedelic music and, during one of the most tumultuous times in American history, came to personify the decade's radical counterculture. In thi... read more
The story of a girl of fourteen brought abruptly from a comfortable suburban Westchester to the harsh terrain of a young State of Israel. The girl is caught in the maelstrom of political claims between Israel and a West Bank, still part of the Kingdom of Jordan. Skolkin-Smith's gift for identifying with both mother and daughter, Arab and Jew, gives the novel a unique sense of balance and bring... read more
It's summer, 1963. Fourteen-year-old Liana travels to Jerusalem, accompanied by her older sister and larger-than-life mother. The trip takes her from a sheltered life in Westchester County, NY to the hot, bustling, and thoroughly confusing landscape of the Middle East, where Jewish and Arab cultures exist side by side in an uneasy truce. She soon drifts away from her colorful family and their ... read more
Set in the turbulent 1970s when Patty Hearst became Tanya the Revolutionary, HYSTERA is a timeless story of madness, yearning, and identity. After a fatal accident takes her father away, Lillian Weill blames herself for the family tragedy. Tripping through failed love affairs with men and doomed friendships, all Lilly wants is to be sheltered from reality. She retreats from the outside world i... read more
In Emily Colin’s exquisite debut novel, perfect for the fans of Kristin Hannah, one man’s vow to his wife sparks a remarkable journey that tests the pull of memory and reaffirms the bonds of love. Before Madeleine Kimble’s mountaineer husband, Aidan, climbs Mount McKinley’s south face, he makes her a solemn vow: I will come back to you. But late one night, Maddie gets the devastating news that... read more
Apron Bramhall has come unmoored. Fortunately, she's about to be saved by Jesus. Not that Jesus-the actor who plays him in Jesus Christ Superstar. Apron is desperate to avoid the look-alike Mike, who's suddenly everywhere, until she's stuck in church with him one day. Then something happens-Apron's broken teenage heart blinks on for the first time since she's been adrift. Mike and his boyfrien... read more
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YA and MG editor who's worked with HarperCollins, Marvel, and bestsellers. Let's geek out over your story and make it even better!
Expert critique and fearless consulting for authors in pursuit of publication. I specialize in story critique and novel development.