About me

I was born in Pittsburgh but grew up in the Seattle area. As the dream to become both Dorothy Hamill and Nadia Comaneci (both 1976 Olympic gold medalists) bloomed, a love for reading also blossomed. Early dog-eared titles included the Richard Scarry books and L. Frank Baum’s 14 original Oz titles. My earliest “career success” was the title of district spelling bee champion. Although my performance at the regional competition that followed was lackluster, I did receive a splendid parting gift of Morris’s Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (a fun book!).

At Middlebury College, I tinkered with theater, music, German, and science, finally settling on a major in English literature with a concentration on dramatic literature. After finishing college (magna cum laude, with high honors in my major), I returned to the Seattle area. In 1995 I landed on the Microsoft campus and spent the next 3 years working on their award-winning CD-ROM reference product, Encarta Encyclopedia. I also took several classes at the University of Washington to earn a certificate in nonfiction writing.

In 1998 I moved to the Chicago area. While working at Quintessence Publishing as manuscript editor, then managing editor, in the journals department, I also freelanced for several local publishers, continuing to build on my experience in reference publishing and adding Christian literature (both fiction and nonfiction) to my repertoire.

Since 2001 I’ve focused exclusively on the freelance market; now that I’m at home 24/7, my dogs enjoy the extra attention. In 2005, my family and I moved to northeastern Indiana (otherwise known as the Land of Time Zone Confusion). I earned my BELS certification in 2010. (For more about the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, click here.)

In my free time I enjoy activities with my family (husband, daughter, and two large dogs); reading (of course); baking (although it doesn’t help my waistline); church activities; classical music (I play the violin and a little piano; favorite composers include Bach, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Beethoven, and Schumann); ice skating; and contemplating (rather than completing) renovations on the house.

For more information, contact me at: editor@jpballinger.com