Get to Know our Writer - Teri Vitters


Meet Our Writer – Teri Vitters

I've been a member of SCBWI for about ten years. Although I could list a dozen or more impactful things I've learned from being a member of SCBWI, probably the most important has been to learn to take criticism.

Currently, I am working on a MG manuscript, however I've just finished a YA novel and have several chapter and picture book manuscripts as well. My favorite time to write is first thing in the morning when my mind is fresh. I set trinkets of inspiration around me on the table. For example, my YA novel has pigeons in it. I bought a pigeon tchotchke from HomeGoods and a pigeon brooch on eBay. They sit beside me as I write.

I began writing lyrics with my country music friends back in my early twenties. Some of them made it big. I didn't. I fell back on my teaching, which at the time worked better for me. (Although I didn't think so at the time.) Throughout the years, I'd jot down ideas for books. I'd write down recurring questions and themes that my students and my own children brought up. At the time, I couldn't write. I had too much brain clutter. I had three kids at home and worked full time. So I packed my ideas away in a folder and slipped it into my desk drawer. Now I'm retired from teaching and can write full-time.

After I retired from teaching, I took several courses from the Children's Book Academy. I started with picture books, then moved on to chapter books, then MG and YA. That gave me a good start. Even though I taught elementary school for thirty years, I had a lot to learn. Still do. I've also taken several courses from Writing Pad LA and continue to do so.

Although I have a dedicated home office, I prefer to write outside in my backyard. I love the sound of the birds chirping in our many trees and the peaceful calming water of my pool. It's the next best thing to being by the ocean. Besides, my office is cluttered--packed with towers of books. Yes, I like the hard copies. 

The dream book I’ve written is called Pigeons on the Roof. Several of you may recognize the title since I have workshopped it the past few years at Tahquitz. It's inspired by my husband, Warren's, childhood in the 1960's and is a historical thriller. Writing this manuscript truly saved me because it gave me a world to disappear into as I struggled to care for my invalid mother the last few years of her life. Right now I'm working on a MG ghost story--and yes! My ghostly tchotchkes surround me. I'm not an illustrator, but I wish I was. I believe that we're never too old to learn. So maybe that will be the next class that I take.

As the mother of two former professional baseball players, the best tip I can give you is to practice, practice, practice! But first, have the proper skills--and that means to know what you're doing first. You don't want to reinforce poor habits. So take classes, READ, and be part of a good critique group that has writers with a proven track record. And never give up. NEVER. EVER.

Although I don't have an agent, I am on the lookout for one and would appreciate any referrals. I've been honored with two awards. One for my YA novel, "Pigeons on the Roof," (Tahquitz Retreat 2021), and for my MG work-in-progress "Message from a Ghost," (2nd place, SoCal Authors and Illustrator's Day 2023). I don’t have any books published yet. I'm a lazy querier. And now that I see this in writing, it's disturbing.

Here are some interesting facts about me. 

1) I sailed twice, as a child, on the RMS Queen Mary, which is currently an attraction in Long Beach Harbor. 

2) My mother was British and I spent many long summers there as a child growing up. 

3) I worked for Garden Grove Unified School District for thirty years as an elementary school teacher.

4) I sang country music. 

5) I was on ESPN the first time the MLB Baseball Draft was televised (2007) when my son was chosen 3rd overall by the Chicago Cubs Baseball Team (Yep. My kids are way cooler than me!) 

On social media you can find me at:

Facebook: Teri Durck Vitters, instagram: tdvitt, X: TeriDVitters