About children’s book editor and ghostwriter Marya Jansen-Gruber

Books provide children with a wonderful means to make journeys to countries and places that lie far beyond their home shores. I have authored many stories for www.storytimeforme.com. I have written and directed the artwork for the three digital book series about the characters of Ben, Fern and Flame.

Travel has played a big role in my life from my childhood to the present day. My parents’ lifestyles, and my adventures as an adult, have afforded me the opportunity to visit many countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Cyprus, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Kenya, Pakistan, India, and parts of Europe. Each place and journey gave me rich experiences and memories that have widened my horizons.

Other influences in my life have been the love of history that I inherited from my father, and my love of animals, which has taken me from studying elephants participating in the holy festivals in southern India, to working alongside the founder of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust Zoo.

Like many writers, I have also had the benefit of having had jobs of various kinds. After getting my degree in zoology from Oxford University, my work life took me through the positions of being a research assistant; the head of an education program; a desktop publisher for a children’s book author/illustrator; a media coordinator and executive assistant to a vice president at the Center for Marine Conservation in Washington, D.C.; a sub-editor at the home desk and foreign news desk at the Irish Times in Dublin; a veterinary assistant at a veterinary hospital in Virginia; and an assistant zookeeper at the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust Zoo.

A few years ago I found myself becoming more and more involved in the children’s book world, and began reviewing books for Children’s Literature, Kidsreads.com, and Midwest Book Review. In the autumn of 2002 I decided to strike out on my own and began my own online children’s book review journal, Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Review. It has been an exciting and very rewarding process.

As I have read so many children’s books of all kinds, I find that I have a very clear idea of what does and what does not work when it come to children’s literature. I now offer to share what I have learned with children’s book authors who need someone to look at and evaluate their work. You can see my reviewing work on the Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Review website.

I now live and work in Ashland, Oregon sharing my life with my husband, my daughter, three dogs and three cats.

I was recently planning to attend an SCBWI conference in NYC and wanted to polish my manuscript before leaving. I had only two days before I would leave for the conference. I called Marya in a panic and explained my situation and she agreed to review my book. Later that afternoon, I had her corrections in my Email inbox. The editorial advice she provided was enlightening and really improved the overall flow and lucidity of my story. I was very impressed with her professionalism, encouragement, and candor. I will absolutely utilize her services again in the future. I would highly recommend her to anyone needing similar help.
—Jimi Smith, Mount Vernon Ohio USA

“The best criticism, I’ve found, is that which quickly zeroes in on a writer’s weaknesses, yet is supportively positive. With her keen perception and sensitivity, combined with an understanding of what an author is trying to accomplish, I’ve found Marya Jansen-Gruber’s feedback to be beyond excellent. Discovering avenues to explore in my work that I hadn’t even seen, her critiques have quickly helped open the doors of agents and publishers” —Dan Bessie, France