About Us

Through the Tollbooth is a group blog of alumni from Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children & Young Adults. We discuss writing craft and craft books, the writing life, business and publishing, building a career as a writer, art, inspiration and just about everything else in the Children and YA book world. We interview authors, profile booksellers and their stores, and present information about workshops, retreats, classes and other bookish events. We do not review fiction or nonfiction published for young readers.

The Tollbooth opened for business in October, 2007 (on LiveJournal!) You can still read early posts there. Founding Tollbooth members included

Over the years we’ve been joined by Teresa Harris, Clete Smith, Michelle Knudsen, Caroline Carlson, Jennifer White, Jim Hill and many VCFA guest posters. 

Who’s in the Tollbooth now?



Tami Lewis Brown lives in a one of the oldest houses in Washington, DC. It is (mostly) ghost-free. She escaped from a career as a trial lawyer to obtain an MFA in Writing For Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She’s the author of SOAR, ELINOR!, THE MAP OF ME, and the forthcoming RADIANT MAN published by Farrar Straus and Giroux Books for Young Reader and with co-author Debbie Dunn WANTED: WOMEN MATHEMATICIANS, to be published by Disney. Tami serves on the Board of Trustees of VCFA.

Catherine Linka almost got thrown out of boarding school for being “too verbal.” She grew up backpacking in the High Sierras, and has traveled to such out of the way places as Iceland, Svalbard, the Amazon, and Antarctica. After earning her MFA, she spent 7 years as a bookseller in LA. Her series, A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS & A GIRL UNDONE, was an ABA Indie Next Pick and winner of the 2014 SCIBA Young Adult Novel Award.

Sarah Aronson. Sarah Aronson has been an aerobics instructor, physical therapist, religious school director, and bookseller. She earned her MFA from VCFA and is the author of Head Case, a 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Beyond Lucky, a VOYA Top Shelf Pick for  Middle Grade Readers, 2011 and Believe, a story of faith and fame. Co-founder of the Novel Writing Retreat at VCFA, she teaches classes and seminars with writers.com as well as the Highlights Foundation. When not writing or teaching, she’s doing hot yoga, hiking, or biking with her family. Like writing tips? Sign up for her weekly newsletter at her website,  www.saraharonson.com

Cori McCarthy  is the author of YA books Breaking SkyThe Color of Rain, and You Were Here (2016). She studied poetry and screenwriting before earning an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. In 2014, she won the Middle Grade category of the Katherine Paterson Prize for her novel in verse, Name Me America. Cori lives in Michigan with her family, and you can learn more at CoriMcCarthy.com




Zu Vincent  holds an MFA  from VCFA, where she was awarded Harcourt’s post-graduate semester. She is Associate Faculty at Butte Community College, and holds Yoga and Mindfulness Workshops at VCFA each January and July. She visits schools around the country and speaks at conferences for writers and educators including the Associated Writers Program’s National Conference.  Along with her novel THE LUCKY PLACE, Zu has written the non-fiction books CATHERINE THE GREAT; THE EMPRESS OF RUSSIA, and STRANGER IN HIS OWN LAND: A JAPANESE AMERICAN IN WORLD WAR II.

Sarah Blake Johnson. writes novels, picture books, and nonfiction. She received her MFA from VCFA, and her writing is influenced by her real life adventures as an expat. She has lived in Brazil, Finland, Iceland, southern China, Germany, and Nigeria. She currently lives in Egypt. When she isn’t writing or spending time with family, she can be found roaming with her camera She is the author of the novel CROSSINGS.


Helen Pyne P1030803has rappelled down cliffs in Alaska, traveled in a hot air balloon in Africa, and eaten scorpions-on-a-stick in China, but she thinks writing is the greatest adventure of all.  A freelance writer, editor, and mother of four, Helen teaches creative writing classes to elementary through high school-age students. With an M.F.A. from VCFA, she is the author of two YA mystery novels and writes for Appleseeds Magazine. Helen lives in the San Francisco Bay area.


Sarah Tomp is the author of MY BEST EVERYTHING, a YA contemporary love story steeped in moonshine. Although she has never actually made moonshine, she has tasted it. She is also the author of a picture book, RED, WHITE AND BLUE GOODBYE and has a MFA in writing for children and young adults from VCFA. She currently lives, writes, and teaches in San Diego.


Meg wiviott

Meg Wiviott grew up in New Jersey, but went to college in Wisconsin and swore she’d never return to the Garden State. But after living in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and London, Meg now lives in NJ with her husband and a ridiculously friendly cat. The author of the award winning picture book BENNO AND THE NIGHT OF BROKEN GLASS (Kar-Ben 2010), her debut historical fiction novel in verse PAPER HEARTS will be published in September 2015. Meg earned her MFA from VCFA. When not writing or reading, she’s doing something with yarn — needlepoint, weaving, or knitting. Visit her webpage at megwiviott.com.

More recent members!

Jennifer White
 ‘s debut novel SURVIVAL STRATEGIES OF THE ALMOST BRAVE was born from the real experience of Jen being accidentally forgotten at a gas station with her younger sister and cousin.  Jen currently tries not to boss around her five children and husband in San Clemente, California. www.jenwhitebooks.com



Linden McNeilly is the co-author of Map Art Lab: 52 Art Explorations in Mapmaking, Imagination and Travel (Quarto Group, 2014), she also has written books about kinetic energy, insects you can eat, and bugs that work for science and medicine, and a short novel about the Vietnam War era. She loves middle grade novels with a touch of magic and has a strange fascination with twins, who keep ending up in her novels.

Caroline Carlson is the author of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates trilogy for young readers (HarperCollins). When she isn’t writing or reading, she’s probably taking walks in the Pennsylvania woods, trying to grow plants without killing them, or baking cookies.  An MFA grad from Vermont College of Fine Arts, she’s also the children’s fiction editor at the lit journal Hunger Mountain. For more about her and her books at carolinecarlsonbooks.com.


N. Griffin is the author of the YA novel The Whole Stupid Way We Are (Atheneum) as well as Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11.  She lives outside of Boston with her beau and their dogs.

Gretchen Géser is the author of  One Bright Ring. 


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