Colleen Markley grew up in New Jersey, which she thought was generally terrible luck, since she is not a fan of the cold. She decided to double down on winter and went to Boston University. While it snowed September through May, Colleen began college as an English major, until a professor assigned a fabulous paper which asked her to read Beowulf and describe how she would adapt it for the screen. In an instant, Colleen was hooked on the translation of great books to great adaptations and applied to transfer to BU’s College of Communications to study screenwriting. She wrote two original screenplays before graduating cum laude, and won the Screenwriting Achievement Award, as well as the college’s most prestigious honor – the Blue Chip Award. When Colleen wasn’t writing, she was reading, including the summer she spent traversing Los Angeles via public transportation so she could intern at Jim Henson Pictures. Reading and providing coverage on scripts while sitting next to Muppets was one of her all-time favorite jobs. It sure beat her gig in high school dressing up as Chuck E. Cheese and dancing for kids’ birthday parties.
After college, Colleen moved back to New Jersey to live at home while paying off buckets of student loans. She managed to become debt-free the month before she married her high school sweetheart and moved to Manhattan, so life was good on many fronts. Colleen worked at Thirteen/WNET, the public television affiliate in New York City. Colleen loved the programs, the people, the writing she was paid to do in various forms, and health insurance. She was sad to leave when she started her next big adventure – raising children. Her son and daughter are – in addition to being responsible for a ten-year gap in Colleen’s paid work resume – her greatest joy and accomplishment. No pressure, kids.
While nurturing the small ones back in New Jersey, Colleen turned to volunteering in her community. When the local library wanted to add space for a proper children’s section, Colleen helped organize a fundraising event through the Newcomer’s Club, of which she later became president. When the school districts in New Jersey were faced with slashed funding, Colleen joined the Chatham Education Foundation board of trustees to help raise private funds for public education. She later became president of CEF and went on to found their annual Trivia Night, a friend-raiser and a fundraiser. When Colleen wanted to enhance her skills and learn more about nonprofit board training, she joined the Junior League of Summit, later becoming president of the JLS, Chair of the Junior Leagues of New Jersey, and president of the Small Leagues Big Impact national affinity group. When Colleen learned that each year hundreds of new nonprofits are created, and that each of those organizations needed help and support, Colleen founded a nonprofit training program called Get On Board, gathering experts from around the country to share with others who want to make the world a better place.
In the midst of all the do-gooder work, Colleen needed an outlet and turned to writing again. She launched a blog in 2013 called YesItReallyHappened.com. Her tagline was “because life is nutty enough without needing to make anything up.” The readership was loyal and the connections people had to her stories made her feel warm and fuzzy. Colleen had a couple posts go viral and loved watching stats climb into the tens of thousands. It was always when Colleen was writing that she felt most passionate.
Once the kids became sassy teenagers, Colleen decided it was time to remind them that she was not only a wife, mom, and volunteer, but also a writer. Colleen announced that she was “going back to work,” bought some fresh office supplies and a new mug for tea, and claimed a room of her own. She wrote some pieces for freelance and whooped and hollered when she got her first check. She drafted a book, a humorous memoir styled after her blogs, and shared it with a friend of a friend who was an actual big shot for a Big Five publisher. The big shot wrote back: “Colleen, your writing is very, very good and you are extremely funny! There isn't a book market for short essays like this, however. I think you should put your focus on a novel. I'm so glad J. put me in touch with your work. Please feel free to stay in touch.”
After Colleen picked herself up off the floor from the compliment from someone “in the industry,” she decided to try writing a novel, which is where Lilith Land was born. She’s now working on the prequel/sequel to include some of the side characters who sit around her office, asking for their stories to be written too. Colleen is seeking representation from a literary agent who can help bring her to the next step with the Big Five.
When she’s not writing, attempting to make the world a better place, or coaching her teens to be decent humans, Colleen enjoys reading, traveling, hiking with her Bernese Mountain Dogs, and seeing a great play on stage.