Angela Howes ’15
The best word I can think of to define my time at Brandeis would be growth. Enrolled as an English and Creative Writing double-major, I spent a lot of time around books. I also spent a lot of time in tears, agonizing over criticism I received from classmates during Creative Writing workshops and wondering why on earth I had ever wanted to be an author in the first place. That all changed once I met Liz Bradfield. As my Creative Writing professor for two semesters, Liz taught me to harness the pain and the vulnerability inside of me and let it pour out into my writing. And more importantly, she taught me to be unabashedly proud of those words on the page. In my senior year, I came to Liz with an idea for a multimedia Honors Project involving poetry, prose, song, and video, and rather than call me crazy like most professors would have done, she leapt at the chance to mentor me. I can’t imagine ever having the guts to tackle such an involved project prior to my time at Brandeis, and I have Liz to thank for believing in me enough that I learned to believe in myself a little, too.
After graduation, I started working part time at my hometown library, where I would spend the next four years. Per Liz’s advice, I also reached out to Lauren Wolk at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod to see about possibly getting an internship there, and was floored when Lauren asked me to head up a brand new enterprise that she’d been envisioning for years but had never gotten around to starting. Together, Lauren and I launched Bass River Press, a poetry press for local poets from Cape Cod & the Islands. As Editor and Co-Founder of the press, I immersed myself in every stage of the publication process, from reading submissions and selecting finalists to designing the interior layout of the manuscript, performing multiple edits, and eventually, sending it off to the printer. Around the same time, Lauren released Wolf Hollow, a children’s book that has since earned her numerous awards, including a Newbery Honor. Watching her rise to literary stardom inspired me, and motivated me to keep pursuing my own dream of becoming a published author.
In 2018, I started my own freelance editing business, Fine Tuned Editing. Since its inception, I have had the pleasure of editing everything from young adult fantasy novels to self-help and memoirs. Later that same year, I made the terrifying decision to self-publish a novel of my very own, Assignment, which I had actually begun writing while enrolled at Brandeis. That leap led to the self-publication of two more novels to round out the trilogy. While at first my readership was limited to friends and family members, with a little effort and marketing, I was able to get my books into various local bookstores and libraries (of course, the fact that I worked at a library didn’t hurt, either). I still get that anxious pit in my stomach every time someone tells me they’ve read my work, but it’s been well worth it just to see the excitement on the faces of teens when they discover that the author of their new favorite book is seated just across the desk from them.
These days, I now work as Young Adult Librarian at the East Bridgewater Public Library, using my spare moments to edit for clients, work on my writing, and read as much as I humanly can. After experiencing the highs and lows of self-publishing with my first series, I’m giving the traditional publishing route a try, and have been actively submitting queries to literary agents regarding my latest book. It’s been quite the ride, but I look forward to continuing to grow and inch closer to my dreams while also appreciating the little moments of wonder along the way.