Your Best Book Staff: Brenda Windberg

YOUR BEST BOOK is just around the corner, and we'd like to introduce you to our awesome staff and this year's guest speakers!

Brenda Windberg - Editor, Free Expressions


BRENDA WINDBERG has been on the staff of Free Expressions since 2002. In addition to her work as staff editor and speaker at the  Breakout Novel Intensive Workshops, Brenda has worked in publishing  for more than a dozen years—both as editor and as an accomplished  freelance writer, whose articles have won numerous awards. Her work has been featured in such publications as PARENT GUIDE, HARTFORD TIMES PRESS, FLORIDA HEALTHCARE NEWS and many others. Her fiction is represented by Matt Bialer of The Sanford Greenburger Agency


Q: What was your favorite book growing up?

A. I'm so horrible at picking a favorite anything, as if I worry that the things not picked will somehow feel less important, and when it comes to books, SO many were incredibly important. If pressed, I guess I would narrow it down to two, though one is actually a whole series, so I guess I'm really pretty sucky at this! :) My two favorites would have to be the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Q. Share a favorite memory of your time with Free Expressions

A. Oy, again with the favorite! I guess I should consider myself lucky to have so many amazing memories with Free Expressions, but it makes these questions really tough! A few incredible times in my career, however, I've had the privilege of meeting with writers who were struggling to find or hold onto their voice, to stand up for the story they felt compelled to tell or the manner in which they chose to tell it. Because this has been a personal struggle in my own writing life, helping others work through it is an especially profound experience. I'm so very grateful that I get to do this work.

Q: Aside from reading, other mediums do you draw inspiration from?

A. I draw inspiration from all art, honestly, anything that moves the creative spirit, and, in particular, anything collaborative. I believe humans are at their finest when they come together for an artistic purpose, and the way their efforts lift us all up is pure magic. I love music and sculpture, painting and weaving. I also consider cooking and baking to be art, and I'm proud to say I have some skills in those areas! 

Q: What grabs you when reading a YA/MG manuscript? 

A. Strong characters and compelling, mesmerizing worlds are what I love best in YA manuscripts. While these things are extremely important in all genres, there's an immediacy necessary when writing for younger readers, and that immediacy combined with great characters and environments simply sets the story on fire.

Q: What is a common area for improvement in YA/MG manuscripts you've worked on?

A. I think emotion is a big one. Though, again, this is not just an important element for YA authors, I think the job is a little harder because of the need to strike just the right balance. The emotion must be authentic but not overwhelming, and that's just not easy. When an author nails it, however, the result is simply enthralling, and I love finding books that make me feel like young lives will literally be changed.