About Me

I’ve tried so many things to avoid actually writing books while still spending most of my time with them. Story of my life.

Here are a few more details:

What I look like:

Usually pretty close to this, though the length of my hair varies. Sometimes I grow it out, and sometimes I chop it off.


Where I’m From:

I was born in Greenville, South Carolina and grew up in the Golden Strip, a string of three little towns (Mauldin, Simpsonville, and Fountain Inn) in southern Greenville County. Last time I checked, about half the population of the United States was trying to move there, so the Golden Strip must have something going for it.

Where I Went to College:

I earned a B.A. in History with a minor in French at the South Carolina Honors College at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. I went to grad school twice. First, I got a Master of Library and Information Science at USC, and I became a youth services librarian. Then, I studied children’s and young adult literature and American literature at Illinois State University, graduating with an M.A. in English  and a Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies.

Where I’ve Lived:

I’ve lived in four states. I was born and grew up in South Carolina, I lived in New Jersey for a year, I lived in Illinois for eleven years, and now I live in Pennsylvania.

What I Like to Do:

The thing I love to do most in the world is read. I also love traveling whenever I can. I’ve been to six countries outside the United States (Canada, Brazil, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, and Scotland) and over half the states. I especially love visiting national parks and historic sites. One of my favorite places to visit is Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.

Jobs I Have Had:

I was an in-demand babysitter in high school. In college, I worked as a hostess at a restaurant and did office work at an HR firm. Since then, I’ve been a youth services librarian, a college English instructor, a writing consultant/coach, and a freelance writer.

What I Write:

I focus my book-length work on historical fiction and nonfiction, but I like to write other short pieces.

In addition to my books, I’ve published essays and poetry with Chicken Soup for the Soul, Highlights HELLO!, and Mothers Always Write.

What I’m Working On:

I am rediscovering my joy in the sound of words by writing poetry for young children. So far, I’ve had several pieces accepted for publication in the Highlights group of magazines.

I am also working on an adult historical novel set in the eastern United States in the mid-19th century.

I am taking lots of time to read and hone my craft. I don’t want to be a fast writer as much as I want to be a good writer.


Why My Name is So Long (The most FAQ!):

My last name was “McKinney.” My husband’s was “Whitaker.” Neither name was short to begin with, and then we put them together, so now it’s “McKinney-Whitaker.” It doesn’t fit on anything, but we like it.

On top of that, my parents decided to call me by my middle name (Courtney), but sometimes I need to put my first name on documents. So then it gets really, really long!




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