SCBWI Mid-Atlantic Annual Fall Conference: Children's Publishing in 2014

Sterling, Virginia
Friday, October 24, 2014

Keynote Speaker: Linda Urban


Linda Urban
is the award -winning author of three novels -- A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT, HOUND DOG TRUE, and THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING -- and one picture book -- MOUSE WAS MAD.  In a prior life, she was Marketing Director for a large independent bookstore in Southern California, and before that did graduate work at UCLA's School of Film and Television, and long before that wrote poems that earned smiley faces from her several of her teachers, including Mrs. Olson who was a hard sell.
Conference Faculty

Mike Artell is a multi-award-winning children’s book author, illustrator and TV cartoonist. Mike’s body of work includes more than 35 nationally-recognized picture books, wordplay books, how-to books and non-fiction books. Many of Mike’s books have been award-winners. Most recently, Mike’s book, PETITE ROUGE – A Cajun Red Riding Hood was named by the National Association of Elementary School Principals as its 2009 Read Aloud Book of the Year.


Ellen R. Braaf
, columnist and feature writer for ASK magazine, has published fiction, nonfiction, and humor for children and adults. Her six book Science Detectives series, written under the name Ellen René, was published by PowerKids Press. Ellen teaches for The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, and serves as SCBWI Mid-Atlantic Regional Advisor.

Henry Cole
is the celebrated illustrator of many books for children, including the Bad Boys series by Margie Palatini, and is also the author and illustrator of the novel A NEST FOR CELESTE.

Pat Cummings is the author and/or illustrator of over 35 books for young readers.  She also edited the award-winning series, TALKING WITH ARTISTS, which profiles prominent children's book illustrators.

Her Children's Book classes at Parsons and Pratt list a growing number of notable illustrator/authors among their graduates.  Along with visiting schools, universities and organizations to speak about children's books, she conducts a summer Children's Book Boot Camp that brings writers and illustrators together with top editors and art directors from major publishing houses.

Pat serves on the boards of The Authors Guild, The Authors League Fund, The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  She is also a member of The Writers Guild of America, East.

Her latest book, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (HarperCollins, 2014), was translated from the original French and retold by her husband Chuku Lee.

Moira Rose Donohue
has written two biography series: an 8-book series about explorers and a 6-book series about Virginia civil rights leaders. Most recently, she has written two chapter books about real-life animal stars for National Geographic--PARROT GENIUS (Summer, 2014) and KANGAROO TO THE RESCUE (expected publication February, 2015).  She has also written two picture books about animated punctuation marks, and although they seem very real to her, the books are considered fiction.

Kate Fletcher
is an editor at Candlewick Press, one of the largest independent children's book publishers in the world, and a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course. She works on everything from young picture books to YA novels—with authors such as Gigi Amateau, Jennifer K. Mann, Meg Medina, Bethanie Murguia, Liz Kessler, and Peter Reynolds. She prefers picture books with a sense of humor and is often drawn to author/illustrators. For middle-grade and YA, voice is everything. Right now she’s especially looking for novels that are both scary and literary, and character-driven realistic contemporary fiction. She is particularly drawn to stories about female friendships. When not editing, she’s riding horses or compulsively organizing.

Christa Heschke graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children's Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively looking for picture books, middle grade, and young adult projects and is currently building her list. She is a fan of young adult novels with a romantic angle, and strong, quirky protagonists and is especially interested in contemporary fiction, horror and thrillers/mysteries. As for middle grade, Christa enjoys humorous contemporary, adventure and magical realism for boys and girls. For picture books, she’s drawn to cute, character driven stories.

Marie Lamba joined the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency ( as an Associate Agent in 2011.  

She is also the author ( of the young adult novels What I Meant… (Random House), Over My Head and Drawn. Her work appears in the short story anthology Liar Liar (Mendacity Press), the anthology Call Me Okaasan: Adventures in Multicultural Mothering (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing), and her articles appear in more than 100 publications including national magazines such as Writer’s Digest, Garden Design and RWR.  She has worked as an editor, an award-winning public relations writer, and a book publicist, has taught classes on novel writing and on author promotion, and belongs to The Liars Club.

As an agent, Marie is currently looking for young adult and middle grade fiction, along with general and women’s fiction and some memoir.  She is also open to submissions from picture book authors or illustrators who are already established, or whose work she has requested through conferences.  Overall, books that are moving and/or hilarious are especially welcome. She is NOT interested in science fiction or high fantasy (though she is open to speculative elements and loves a good ghost story), category romance (though romantic elements are welcomed), non-fiction, or in books that feature graphic violence. 

Sarah LaPolla joined Bradford Literary Agency in May 2013. Prior to joining forces with Laura and Natalie, Sarah worked for five years in the foreign rights department at Curtis Brown, Ltd., and became an associate agent there in 2010. She received her MFA in CreativeWriting (Nonfiction) from The New School in 2008 and has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Ithaca College.

Sarah represents mostly YA and adult fiction, and has recently become interested in MG. For YA, she is interested in contemporary/realistic fiction that doesn’t shy away from the darker side of adolescence. YA sci-fi, horror, mystery, and magical realism are also welcome. For MG, she loves character-focused, contemporary stories akin to Judy Blume, R. J. Palacio, and Rebecca Stead. She loves timeless voices that will resonate with modern readers that will continue to speak to future generations. No matter the genre, Sarah is drawn to layered/strong characters, engaging narrators, and a story that’s impossible to put down.

Sarah is not looking for: picture books or children’s chapter books.


Twitter: @sarahlapolla

 Jeannette Larson is senior executive editor of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, the marriage of historic publishing imprints Harcourt Children’s Books and Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. She joined the company more than twenty-five years ago (not long ago at all in light of HMH’s 150 years of children’s book publishing!) and is currently based in New York City. Jeannette acquires and edits books for young children through teens, with a particular love of books for kids twelve and under. Her manuscript wish list includes pitch-perfect picture books, fiction with great characters and voice, narrative biography/nonfiction with a twist, a touch of magical realism, a little-known slice of history in story form, and humor with heart and depth. Authors she has published recently include Linda Urban (THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING), Jasper Fforde (THE LAST DRAGONSLAYER), Brian Won (HOORAY FOR HAT!, a debut), sister team Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel (THE LITTLE RED PEN), Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry (LITTLE BLUE TRUCK’S CHRISTMAS, coming soon!), Kathleen Krull (innovative picture book biographies), and many other longtime and emerging talents on the HMH list.


Meg Medina is an award-winning Latino author of picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction whose work examines how cultures intersect through the eyes of young people. Her novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass earned the 2014 Pura Belpré medal, the 2013 CYBILS fiction award, and the International Latino Book Award 2014. Meg is also the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers medal winner for her picture book TIA ISA WANTS A CAR.

Meg’s other books are THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND, a 2012 Bank Street Best Book and CBI Recommended Read in the UK; and MILAGROS: GIRL FROM AWAY.

In March 2014, she was recognized as one of the CNN 10 Visionary Women in America.

When she is not writing, Meg works on community projects that support girls, Latino youth and/or diversity in children’s literature.

Stephen Mooser
is the author of more than 60 books for children from picture book titles such as THE GHOST WITH THE HALLOWEEN HICCUPS, to nonfiction, LIGHTS! CAMERA! SCREAM!, series and chapter books, The ALL-STAR MEATBALLS, THE TREASURE HOUNDS, THE CREEPY CREATURE CLUB, GOOFBALL MALONE, and novels such as THE HITCHHIKING VAMPIRE and IT’S A WEIRD, WEIRD SCHOOL. His most recent title is Class Clown Academy which accompanies his interactive online virtual school at A former filmmaker and treasure hunter many of his adventures have found their way into his books.  Among his awards is The Christopher Medal for The New York Kids Book and a 2010 Eric Carle Honor Award as a Mentor. He is co-founder, with Lin Oliver, of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and currently serves as the organization’s President.  He feels fortunate to be a part of an organization that has become such a crucial contributor to the excellence found in children’s books today.

Kim Norman is the author of more than a dozen picture books (10 in print, 4 in production) published by Sterling, Scholastic and two Penguin imprints. Among them is TEN ON THE SLED, (Sterling) which spent weeks on Barnes and Noble’s Top Ten bestseller list and has been released in Korean and German. I KNOW A WEE PIGGY, illustrated by Henry Cole, was reviewed in the New York Times, and is listed on the Texas “2x2 Reading List,” as well being offered by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. She met the editor of her first book (Penguin/Dutton) right here at our conference! Kim enjoys visiting schools, spreading the gospel of reading at bedtime. She maintains the popular school visit website, which lists more than 700 authors and illustrators who visit schools in the US and Canada. Kim is represented by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

 Jennifer O’Connell loves the challenge of combining words with illustrations to create a world within a picture book. Her fascination with interspecies communication inspired her to create THE EYE OF THE WHALE, a true story about a whale rescue and the humpback’s extraordinary behavior toward the divers who freed her.

In addition to being shortlisted for the upcoming 2014 Green Earth Book Award, THE EYE OF THE WHALE received a Moonbeam Gold Award and was named a Maryland Blue Crab Honor Book, a Society of School Librarians International Honor Book, and a Maine Literary Award finalist. It has also been selected for Reading Is Fundamental’s 2013-2014 STEAM Multicultural Booklist.

Jennifer created The New York Times bestseller, TEN TIMID GHOSTS, and is a two-time winner of the Christopher Award. A Bethesda, Maryland resident, Jennifer speaks frequently about her books and bookmaking process and is known for her engaging, interactive presentations.

Visit her online at


Valerie O. Patterson’s second novel for young readers, OPERATION OLEANDER, was published by Clarion, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in March of this year. It is a Junior Library Guild selection for 2013. Her first novel for teens, THE OTHER SIDE OF BLUE, was published by Clarion in 2009 and was nominated for an Agatha Award. Valerie has an MFA from Hollins University and is a former recipient of an SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant. She grew up in Florida near the Gulf of Mexico and now lives in northern Virginia where she writes and practices law.

Candice Ransom is the author of more than 120 books for children and young adults, including 70 novels.  Her most recent novels are IVA HONEYSUCKLE MEETS HER MATCH (2013)

REBEL MCKENZIE (2012, 2013 Children's Choice)

IVA HONEYSUCKLE DISCOVERS THE WORLD (2012).  Candice teaches in the MA/MFA program in Writing for Children at Hollins University.

Susan Stockdale is the author and illustrator of picture books including StRIPES OF ALL TYPES, BRING ON THE BIRDS, FABULOUS FISHES and CARRY ME! ANIMAL BABIES ON THE MOVE. Her books celebrate nature with charm and exuberance and have received awards from the American Library Association, Parents’ Choice, the National Science Teachers Association, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center and Bank Street College of Education.

 Susan’s vibrant book illustrations and engaging rhymes elicit praise. The Washington Post exclaimed, “If the paintings are the feast, Stockdale’s words are the dessert.” Her distinctive artwork is also featured on puzzles, calendars and other products sold worldwide.

Susan presented at the National Book Festival this year and served as the ambassador for Pennsylvania’s 2014 One Book, Every Young Child Program, which distributed 70,000 copies of STRIPES OF ALL TYPES across the state.

A resident of Chevy Chase, Maryland, she is the 2014-15 President of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C. Her next book, Spectacular Spots, will be published in March 2015. Learn more at

Shadra Strickland studied, design, writing, and illustration at Syracuse University and later went on to complete her M.F.A. at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2009 for her work in her first picturebook, BIRD, written by Zetta Elliott. Strickland co-illustrated OUR CHILDREN CAN SOAR, winner of a 2010 NAACP Image Award. Shadra is also the illustrator of A PLACE WHERE HURRICANES HAPPEN (Random House, 2010), written by Renee Watson: a story of four children in New Orleans before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. Publishers Weekly called Strickland’s illustrations “quietly powerful,” and Booklist said, “In vibrant, mixed-media images, award-winning illustrator Strickland extends the drama, feeling, and individual stories.”

Shadra travels the country conducting workshops and sharing her work with children, teachers, and librarians. She currently works and teaches illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland.

Joan Waites has been illustrating for the Children's market for over twenty years, publishing more than 45 titles for the trade and educational markets. Illustrated works have won the following awards: Teacher's Choice Award, IRA/CBC Children's Choice Award, IRA/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book, Honor Title, Storytelling World Awards, Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award Ballot, and a Benjamin Franklin Award. A former adjunct faculty member of the Corcoran Museum School of Art and Design, Joan now operates her own art teaching studio for children, (Purple Crayon Studio). She has served as the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator for the past 13 years, is a member of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington D.C., The Picture Book Artist’s Association, and The National Association of Art Educators.

Alison Weiss has been at Egmont for 6 years and works on chapter books through YA. She loves everything from heartwarming middle grade to edge-of-your seat thrillers. She has worked with New York Times best-selling author Jessica Verday, Agatha Award winner Penny Warner, Tony Abbott, Micol Ostow, Mike A. Lancaster, Kristina McBride, Virginia-based author Kristen Lippert-Martin, Kristi Helvig, and Sasha Dawn, among others. She also assisted on Christopher Myers’s H.O.R.S.E., which won a 2013 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award. Follow her on Twitter @EgmontUSA

*Faculty is subject to change without notice.


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