NESCBWI 2012 Conference: Keeping it Real

Springfield, Massachusetts
Friday, April 20, 2012

Keynote Speakers

Sara Zarr, Author

Keynote address: “The Meaning is in the Mess: A Case for Writing Life As It Is, Not How We Wish It”

Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of four novels for young adults: Story of a Girl (National Book Award Finalist), Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009, Utah Book Award winner, INSPY winner) and How to Save a Life (Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and L.A. Public Library Best Book of 2011). Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Image, Hunger Mountain online, and Response. She's also a regular contributor to Image's Good Letters blog on faith, life, and culture. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband. (

Harry Bliss, Author/Illustrator

Keynote Address: “Laughing Between the Lines: Harry Bliss on Pictures and Humor”

Harry Bliss is an internationally syndicated cartoonist and cover artist for The New Yorker magazine. Growing up in upstate New York amidst a family of successful painters and illustrators, Bliss went on to study painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Illustration at The University of the Arts (BFA) and Syracuse University (MA). Bliss’ first children’s book, A Fine, Fine School by Newbery-award-winning author, Sharon Creech, was a New York Times bestseller. Bliss has also created the pictures for Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Spider, and Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin, all New York Times bestsellers. Bliss’ first cartoon collection, Death by Laughter, with an introduction by Christopher Guest, was published by Abrams in the spring of 2008. Luke on the Loose, Bliss’ debut award-winning comic book for early readers (edited by Francoise Mouly) was published by Toon Books in spring 2009. Recently published by Harper Collins is Invisible Inkling by Emily Jenkins with pictures by Harry Bliss. Bliss’ new picture book, Bailey (A Parents’ Magazine award-winner) was just published by Scholastic in 2011. Harry Bliss lives in Vermont. (

Kate Messner, Author

TED Talk: "The Power of What-If”

Kate Messner is an award-winning author whose books include The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z., Sugar and Ice, Eye of the Storm, the Marty McGuire series, Sea Monster’s First Day, Over and Under the Snow, and Real Revision, a resource for teachers and writers. Kate is a former middle school English teacher who gives frequent presentations in classrooms and libraries, both in person and via Skype. This past March she gave a TED talk on world-building and imagination. She lives on Lake Champlain with her husband and two kids. (

Workshop and Critique Faculty

Sarah Albee, Author

Sarah's latest nonfiction book is entitled Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up. A follow-up book, tentatively titled Bugged: How Insects Have Affected Human History, is scheduled for next year (Walker). She also writes fiction, and has four middle grade series titles due out in 2012. She has been an editor at Sesame Street and a freelance newspaper illustrator. (

Sarah Aronson, Author

Sarah earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College in 2006. She teaches online classes for children’s writers at She contributes reviews to Jewish Book World. Head Case, her first novel, was a 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Beyond Lucky will be published by Dial Books in 2011. (

Kristine Carlson Asselin, Author

Kristine Carlson Asselin writes contemporary young adult and middle grade fiction and nonfiction for the elementary school library market. She has published five nonfiction books with Capstone Press, including Our Sun and Who Really Discovered America. Her YA and middle grade fiction is represented by Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Literary Management. (

Joan Axelrod-Contrada, Author

Joan (Axelrod) Contrada is the author of over a dozen books for young people. She has researched everything from the infamous Lizzie Borden case to drug abuse in America. She used her research skills extensively in writing her forthcoming young-adult novel, Sizzle (HIP Books, 2012). She lives in Western Massachusetts and is a member of the NESCBWI.

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Author

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is the author of over thirty books for children, including fourteen picture books and over a dozen nonfiction books for young readers. Her picture books include Hampire!, Chicks Run Wild, Quackenstein Hatches a Family and Pirate Princess. She lives in New Jersey with her three children and an imaginary pony named Penny.

Mary Brigid Barrett, Author/Illustrator

Mary Brigid Barrett is the President of The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. She is the editor of NCBLA publications Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out and The Exquisite Corpse Adventure. Formerly, Barrett taught writing and illustrating children's books, and professional practices for illustrators, at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her latest book is Shoebox Sam.

Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Author

Susan Campbell Bartoletti's Newbery Honor/YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction/Sibert Medal/SCBWI Golden Kite/Jane Addams award-winning nonfiction includes Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow (Scholastic) and They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of An American Terrorist Group (Houghton Mifflin). Her latest book is Naamah and the Ark at Night (Candlewick 2011), illustrated by the amzing Holly Meade.

J. L. Bell, Author/Editor

After a decade as an acquiring editor for the trade division of Addison-Wesley, J. L. Bell has spent a decade as a specialized consultant to publishers, literary agents, and authors. Among the books he has worked on are two New York Times bestsellers, a title featured on the cover of Fortune, and a National Book Award winner. John has also published his own fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. He compiles the "Market News" column in each issue of SCBWI New England's newsletter, and maintains a near-daily blog at

Lionel Bender, Editorial Director, Bender Richardson White

Lionel Bender is Co-Founder and Editorial Partner of a UK-based book packager producing illustrated information books and educational materials for publishers in North America and Britain. He has edited 1,200 information books and is the author of 70+ children's information books. His company has contracted many US SCBWI authors and gives professional advice on aspects of publishing. ( Lionel is also Co-Founder of MJL Digital Publishing, producing downloadable self-guided historical walks in London. (

Chris Brodien-Jones, Author

Christine Brodien-Jones is the author of The Owl Keeper (2010), The Scorpions of Zahir (2012) and The Glass Puzzle, all published by Random House. She studied writing at Emerson College, Boston, and has been a journalist, editor and teacher. Christine and her husband Peter live in Gloucester, MA. She is represented by Stephen Fraser. (

Anne Broyles, Author

Anne Broyles’ picture books, Shy Mama’s Halloween and Priscilla and the Hollyhocks have been Notable Social Studies Trade Books, Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, and on the short list for the Massachusetts Book Awards.

Laurie Calkhoven, Author

Laurie Calkhoven has always loved reading and writing (arithmetic is another story). In addition to writing her own fiction, she has ghostwritten middle grade mysteries, authored TV tie-in novels, and contributed to many nonfiction series for children. The third novel in her Boys of Wartime series, Michael at the Invasion of France, will be published in March 2012.

Elizabeth Carpentiere, Editor, FACES Magazine

Elizabeth Carpentiere has been the editor of FACES, a world cultures magazine for middle school readers, for more than 14 years. FACES is one of several award-winning magazines published by Cobblestone Publishing. During her tenure, the publication has received numerous honors and awards including being named a Parents’ Choice Honor Winner and the Most Improved Publication by the Educational Press Association.

Kellie Celia, Marketing, Walden Pond Press/Walden Media

Kellie has worked in marketing and editorial for the publishing arm of film production company Walden Media. Notable book buzz-building campaigns on which Kellie has worked include Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander, Guys Read: Thriller edited by Jon Scieszka, and Newbery-Honor winning Savvy by Ingrid Law. (

Cinda Williams Chima, Author

Cinda Williams Chima has authored two New York Times best-selling YA fantasy series: The Heir Chronicles (The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir, The Dragon Heir) with two more forthcoming; and the Seven Realms series (The Demon King, The Exiled Queen and The Gray Wolf Throne) with The Crimson Crown forthcoming. (

Carolyn Coman, Author

Carolyn Coman's most recent book, with co-creator Rob Shepperson, is the graphic storybook, The Memory Bank. Other books include What Jamie Saw and Many Stones (both National Book Award finalists). She has taught in the MFA programs at Vermont College and Hamline University, and offers mentorship through

Jan F. Constantine, General Counsel, The Authors Guild

Jan F. Constantine has served as General Counsel for The Authors Guild, a non-profit organization representing a membership of over 8,000 published authors and freelancers, since 2005. She has over thirty years of legal experience. Most recently, she has been responsible for overseeing The Authors Guild, et al v. Google, Inc., a class action lawsuit, filed in September 2005. She received a B.A. from Smith College and is a graduate of George Washington University’s National Law Center.

David Hyde Costello, Author/Illustrator

David Hyde Costello is the author and illustrator of Here They Come, I Can Help, and Little Pig Joins the Band. With a background in theater as well as visual arts, he has painted scenery for plays and motion pictures including Spider-man, Mystic River and The Fighter. He is also a ukulele player, “self-taught through the productive use of procrastination.” He currently lives in Amherst,MA.

Gina Damico, Author

Gina Damico grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. After receiving a degree in theater and sociology from Boston College, she has since worked as a theater house manager, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. Croak is her first novel. She lives in Boston with her husband, two cats, and a closet full of black hoodies.

Sarah Darer Littman, Author

Sarah Darer Littman is the author of the 2006 Sydney Taylor Award-winning Confessions of a Closet Catholic, and the young adult novels Purge, Life, After (a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book) and Want to go Private? Sarah is also a columnist for Hearst Newspapers and (

Katie Davis, Author

Author/illustrator Katie Davis has published nine children’s books and one eBook, How to Promote Your Children's Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create a Bestseller. She loves to spread the gospel of kidlit through her podcast, Brain Burps About Books; appearing monthly to promote literacy on Good Morning, Connecticut; and through her blog, newsletter, and videos, and is a 2011 winner of the SLJ Trailee Award. (

Karen Day, Author

Karen Day is the author of award-winning middle grade novels Tall Tales (2007), No Cream Puffs (2008) and A Million Miles from Boston (2011). She has taught expository writing at DePaul University and New York University. She lives in Newton, MA, with her husband and three kids. (

Mary Lee Donovan, Executive Editor, Candlewick Press

Mary Lee Donovan has been in children’s book publishing for 28 years, the last 21 of them at Candlewick Press. Among the titles she’s edited are the 2008 Newbery Winner, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlitz, and the best-selling Judy Moody and Stink series by Megan McDonald. In 2012, look for the hilarious picture book by Annette Simon, Robot, Zombie, Frankenstein!; The High-Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate, Scott Nash’s debut novel illustrated by Mr. Nash in full-color throughout; the highly-anticipated new novel by Laura Amy Schlitz, a Victorian gothic called Splendors and Glooms; and a nonfiction volume by Doreen Rappaport that’s been six years in the making, entitled Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust.

Sarah Dotts Barley, Associate Editor, HarperCollins Children's Books

Sarah Dotts Barley is an associate editor focusing on middle grade and teen fiction at HarperCollins Children’s Books. She’s lucky enough to work with authors including Georgia Byng, Holly Cupala, Donna Freitas, Gwendolyn Heasley, Geraldine McCaughrean, Joyce Carol Oates, and several debut authors whose first novels will publish in 2012 and 2013. You can follow her on Twitter @The_SDB

Claire Evans, Editorial Assistant, Dial Books for Young Readers

Claire Evans is an editorial assistant at Dial Books for Young Readers, where she works with Kathy Dawson and Jess Garrison on a list of authors who write for young adult (like Franny Billingsley and Kristin Cashore), middle grade (authors such as Gennifer Choldenko and Jacqueline West), and who write and illustrate picture books (Joe Berger and Kevin Sherry). She is on the look out for middle grade and young adult fiction, especially action or sports stories with strong characters. She also likes character-driven tales in the edgy fantasy and magical realism genres – anything that puts a surprising new twist on things.

Cindy Faughnan, Author

Cindy Faughnan taught 7th & 8th grade English for 30+ years. She now works for the Young Writers Project helping teachers use writing with students in digital classrooms. She has an MFA from Vermont College. In 2007, she won the PEN-NE Discovery award for her work-in-progress, Taking Notes.

Jon Fine, Author & Publisher Relations,

Jon P. Fine coordinates outreach to author and publishing communities for, including the company’s grant program which supports a diverse range of not-for-profit author and publisher groups dedicated to fostering the creation, discussion and publication of new writing and new voices ( Previously, he directed legal affairs for Alfred A. Knopf, as well as Random House of Canada; and served as media counsel for NBC. His most prized professional moments revolve around his work with authors and illustrators and their creations, which now include the many books he shares with his 8-year old daughter Noa Daisy.

Kelly Fineman, Author

Kelly Ramsdell Fineman is an award-winning poet whose work has appeared in multiple journals, magazines, and anthologies. In addition to her blog, Writing and Ruminating, Kelly contributes to Guys Lit Wire and was the poetry organizer for the CYBILS Awards for several years. Her rhyming picture book, At the Boardwalk, will be published by tiger tales books in 2012.

Greg Fishbone, Author

Greg R. Fishbone is an author of galactic fiction for young readers, including the Galaxy Games series of humorous middle grade sci-fi novels from the Tu Books imprint at Lee & Low Books. Greg also serves as an Assistant Regional Advisor for the New England regions of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, is a two-time NESCBWI conference co-director, and founder of the Class of 2k7 debut author group. This summer he participated in the NASA and NSF-funded Launch Pad program at the University of Wyoming, intended to provide authors with better knowledge of astronomy and theories of science literacy. (

Stephen Fraser, Agent, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Stephen Fraser is a literary agent with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. Stephen has more than twenty-five years’ publishing experience, including both Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins. A graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, he has a Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College in Boston. Among his clients are Newbery Honor winner Margi Preus (Heart of a Samurai, Abrams) and PEN International winner Carol Lynch Williams (Glimpse, Paul Wiseman Books/S&S).

Brendan Gannon, Ebook Producer

Brendan Gannon is a web and multimedia designer and founder of Barrow House Press. By day he creates web properties for Boston University, and he recently developed workflows for distributing Harvard Law School's scholarly journals as ebooks. By night he writes YA and MG fiction, and is working on an upcoming book on HTML for beginners. ( or @brendan_gannon)

AC Gaughen, Author

AC Gaughen ( has been a lot of things in her life (wrapper, hotel concierge, retail flunkie, telemarketer, non-profit board member and personal shopper) but author is without a doubt her favorite. Her debut YA novel, Scarlet (Bloomsbury/Walker), is a retelling of the Robin Hood legend and comes out on Valentine's Day 2012.

Pamela Glauber, Editor, Holiday House

Pamela Kelly Glauber is an editor at Holiday House, an independent publisher of children’s books where she has worked for five years. She edits David A. Adler’s Picture Book Biography series and Eric A. Kimmel’s folk tales, as well as math, science, and language arts books; easy readers; and middle-grade and young adult novels in a variety of genres. Her authors and illustrators include Eve Bunting, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Saci Lloyd, Jane Cabrera, Steve Björkman, Ethan Long, and Jeff Ebbeler. She holds a B.A. in English and Latin American Studies from Cornell University and a certificate in editing from New York University.

Carol Goldenberg, Designer & Art Director

Carol Goldenberg studied illustration at RISD and worked as a book designer at David R. Godine and Houghton Mifflin Company, before becoming art director of Houghton’s Children’s Books. Carol was also art director at Clarion Books, a children’s imprint of Houghton Mifflin in New York City. She is currently a freelance children’s book designer. Her book designs have won numerous awards from the AIGA, The New England Book Show, and other juried exhibitions. She has designed five Caldecott Medal winning picture books and one Caldecott honor book. Carol writes articles and lectures widely on the art of children’s book design.

Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges, Owner, Studio Goodwin Sturges

Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and has worked in the art departments of such places as Hallmark and Ginn & Co. She then returned to RISD as a Professor of Illustration, where she continues her teaching today. In 1989, Judy Sue also started her own Children's Book Studio in Boston. She envisioned a place where she could nurture creative talent and develop quality book projects for trade markets and museum communities. Today, Studio Goodwin Sturges works on behalf of nearly 40 picture book artists worldwide. In addition, Fall 2012 will mark Judy Sue’s debut as a picture book author with the publication of Construction Kitties (Henry Holt).

Hilary Weisman Graham, Author

In addition to being a novelist, Hilary Weisman Graham ( is also a screenwriter and an award-winning filmmaker whose two features films have garnered numerous awards and played in art-houses and film festivals around the world. Her debut young adult novel, Reunited is due out in June 2012 from Simon & Schuster.

Julie Ham, Editor, Charlesbridge

Before completing an MA in Children's Literature from Simmons College, she interned with the Houghton Mifflin children's book department and served as a teacher's assistant to both nonfiction and fiction creative writing courses at Simmons. A lover of books and the creative people who write, illustrate, and publish them, Julie feels that she works in one of the best industries around. When she's not editing or considering a new manuscript, she plays in a women's basketball league in the Boston area.

Christa Heschke, Children's Department, McIntosh and Otis, Inc.

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 learned about and fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been Edward Necarsulmer IV’s assistant at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children’s Literature Department since 2009. Within Children’s, Christa is interested in fantasy, historical fiction, paranormal romance, horror, dystopian, humor and the occasional chick lit title, but is open to most any genre.

Mark Peter Hughes, Author

Award-winning author Mark Peter Hughes has been conducting writing workshops at schools for six years and is on the faculty of the Rhode Island College ASTAL Writing Institute. His novels include A Crack in the Sky, I am the Wallpaper, and Lemonade Mouth Puckers Up. The Disney Channel movie musical of his novel Lemonade Mouth was the #1 cable movie of 2011.

Lita Judge, Author/Illustrator

Lita Judge is the author and illustrator of a dozen picture books including, One Thousand Tracings, winner of the 2008 IRA Children's Book Award, and an ALA Notable Book. Her most recent book, Red Sled, (Simon & Schuster, Fall 2011) is a whimsical tale inspired by her home in the woods outside Peterborough, NH. (

Melissa Kim, Senior Editor, Children's Books, Islandport Press

Melissa Kim is the children's book editor at Islandport Press, an award-winning regional publisher based in southern Maine. Armed with a Masters in Journalism from NYU, she learned the ropes as a reporter and editor at Scholastic (New York), honed her grammar as an editor of teen magazines at Mary Glasgow Publications (London), and thought outside the box as an exhibit developer at a children's museum (Portland, Maine). Along the way she has written six children's books, a bicycling guidebook for adults, and countless newspaper and magazine articles. (

Jo Knowles, Author

Jo Knowles is the author of the young adult novels Lessons From A Dead Girl, Jumping Off Swings, Pearl, and See You At Harry’s. Her books have been included on BBYA, YALSA Quick Picks Top Ten, NY Public Library Books for the Teen Age, the International Reading Association Teen’s Choice List, and Bank Street College’s Top Children’s Books. (

Sarah Lamstein, Author

Among Sarah Lamstein's publications are four picture books. Her latest, Big Night for Salamanders, was a Smithsonian Notable Book 2010 and Massachusetts Book Award Must-Read 2011. (

Jeannette Larson, Editorial Director/VP of Harcourt Children’s Books

Jeannette Larson is the editorial director of Harcourt Children’s Books, a New York City-based hardcover imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Harcourt’s rich heritage includes fiction for teens and tweens, picture books, and occasional narrative nonfiction. Having begun her career as an editorial assistant in Harcourt’s San Diego office more than two decades ago, Jeannette has since edited many award-winning books by a wide range of talented authors and illustrators, including one of her co-presenters at NE-SCBWI, Linda Urban.

Jennifer Laughran, Agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

Jennifer Laughran is an agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She specializes in children's & YA fiction and is a vocal advocate for writers at all ability levels. Jenn hosts the very popular agent blog where she dishes advice for writers, observations about the publishing industry, and general enthusiasm about anything related to the children's book world.

Quinlan Lee, Agent, Adams Literary

Quinlan Lee has experience as a published author of numerous books for young readers and more than 15 years of business and project management expertise. She has been a part of the Adams Literary team since 2008, representing clients in all genres from picture books to YA. She enjoys meeting others who share her love of children’s literature and is an active member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and a founding board member of the Charlotte Chapter of the Women's National Book Association (WNBA).

Tanya Lee Stone, Author

Tanya Lee Stone writes nonfiction, picture books, and YA fiction. She has received such awards as the Sibert Medal, Golden Kite, and Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor. Books include Almost Astronauts, The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie, Sandy's Circus, Elizabeth Leads the Way, and A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl.

Amanda Lewis, Agent, The Doe Coover Agency

Amanda Lewis, a children’s book agent with The Doe Coover Agency, represents picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction, and all levels of nonfiction projects.  She is always on the lookout for an absorbing mystery or adventure with offbeat characters.  She also loves a surprising YA romance and anything that makes her laugh.  Before joining DCA in 1998, Amanda was Director of Special Sales at Candlewick Press.  She is actively building her list and welcomes submissions from conference attendees.

Tami Lewis Brown, Author

Tami Lewis Brown wrote The Map of Me, a middle grade novel and Soar, Elinor!, a picture book biography, both published by Farrar Straus and Giroux. She left a career as a trial lawyer to earn an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College and now serves of the Board of Trustees. (

Brian Lies, Author/Illustrator

Brian Lies has illustrated 26 children's books, five of which he also wrote, including his NY Times bestsellers Bats at the Beach, Bats at the Library and Bats at the Ballgame.  He has won numerous awards for his book, magazine and editorial work, including the 2011 New England Crystal Kite Award.  Brian speaks at conferences and elementary schools around the country, and lives with his wife and daughter and two cats south of Boston. (

Kelly Light, Author/Illustrator

Kelly Light has had a career that began in animation that led to a decade of drawing many of the most famous cartoon characters in the world of cartoon licensing. Now, she is happiest creating her own characters for children's books. Yet there is still this one mouse that she can't stop hanging around with. Because of that relationship, she is still under contract with The Walt Disney Company as a licensed character artist.

Cynthia Lord, Author

Cynthia Lord’s debut novel, Rules, was a New York Times Bestseller and received the Newbery Honor. A former elementary and middle school teacher, Cynthia also spent a year teaching on a Maine island, which is the setting for her second novel, Touch Blue. She is also the author of Hot Rod Hamster and its sequel, Happy Birthday, Hamster. She lives with her husband and her two children in Brunswick, Maine. (

Marcia Amidon Lusted, Assistant Editor, Cobblestone Publishing

Marcia Amidon Lusted is the assistant editor for Cobblestone Publishing’s six magazines. She is also the author of sixty-five nonfiction books for kids, as well as over 250 magazine articles. She also teaches magazine and book writing courses for the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Lauren MacLeod, Agent, The Strothman Agency

Lauren MacLeod joined the Strothman Agency after graduating cum laude from Emerson College with a BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing. Lauren’s primary interests are young adult fiction and nonfiction, middle grade novels, as well as highly polished literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. Some of her favorite (non-client) YA authors are Meg Rosoff, Maureen Johnson and John Green.

Ann Malaspina, Author

Ann Malaspina writes multicultural picture books, and nonfiction books for teens. Her books include Finding Lincoln, Phillis Sings Out Freedom: The Story of George Washington and Phillis Wheatley, and Yasmin’s Hammer, winner of the picture book award from the Asian Pacific American Library Association in 2010. Her latest book, Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper, received a work-in-progress grant from SCBWI.

Salley Mavor, Illustrator

Salley Mavor graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1978. She has illustrated many children’s books using her unique blend of materials and sewing techniques. Her newest book, Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes won the 2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and the 2011 Golden Kite Award. (

Kristin Miller, Associate Agent, Children's Books Specialist, D4EO Literary Agency

Kristin comes to agenting with over ten years of writing, publishing and teaching experience. She has taught writing at the secondary and university levels, has independently tutored in writing and works with published and unpublished authors at all levels of novel development. Her approach to agenting at D4EO Literary is editorial and hands-on, helping writers bring out the best in their novels.

Vickie Motter, Agent, Andrea Hurst Literary Management

Vickie Motter is an agent with Andrea Hurst Literary Management. Her Wednesday Reads feature on her popular agent blog spotlights recently read books, what she liked about them, and whether she would represent something like it. She gives advice about the publishing process (from page one to finished book) and reveals things authors might not know. (

Erin Moulton, Author

Erin E. Moulton graduated with an MFA in Writing for Children from VCFA in 2007. She is the author of Flutter: The Story of Four Sisters and One Incredible Journey (Philomel 2011), and Tracing Stars (Philomel 2012). Erin is co-founder of the Kinship Writers Association and is currently the YA librarian at the Derry Public Library. (

Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Author

Lynda Mullaly Hunt is the author of middle grade novel, One for the Murphys, (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin) which won the New Voices in Children’s Literature: Tassy Walden Award. She’s the Director of the Annual SCBWI Whispering Pines Writers’ Retreat in Rhode Island and enjoys teaching Scenario Writing to middle schoolers. Lynda is finishing up her next middle grade novel, Alphabet Soup.

Jen Nails, Author

Jen Nails's novel, Next to Mexico (HMH, 2008), was adapted from her solo play, Lylice, which was inspired by characters that she created during improv shows. She's performed all over the US and internationally. Jen received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School, and she's taught improv for nine years, and college English for two.

Edward Necarsulmer IV, Agent, McIntosh & Otis, Inc. Literary Agency

Born and raised in New York, Edward earned a BA in Philosophy from Denison University. After a stint on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, he began his career in publishing as an intern at Random House Books for Young Readers. Edward then moved to the agency side, working briefly at Sterling Lord Literistic before becoming an assistant agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. In 2004, Edward became the Director of the Children’s Department at McIntosh & Otis, Inc. where he now represents a diverse list of Newbery and Caldecott Award winners, as well as some of the most promising new talent in the field.

Anita Nolan, Author

Anita writes about commercial real estate by day and for children by night. She's written magazine articles, a historical chapter book for an educational publisher and annotations for Best Books for Children. She edits fiction for an e-publisher, is Executive Editor of NJ SCBWI magazine Sprouts, and conducts writing workshops at conferences and the New Hope (PA) Community School.

Ammi-Joan Paquette, Agent, Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Ammi-Joan Paquette (A. J. Paquette) is the author of The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies (Tanglewood, 2009), which was on the ABC’s Best of 2009 list and was featured in Scholastic: Parent and Child magazine; and the middle-grade novel Nowhere Girl (Walker/Bloomsbury, 2011); she was also a 2005 PEN-NE Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award honoree. She is also a literary agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency, representing the authors of picture books through YA novels.

Elizabeth Partridge, Author

Elizabeth Partridge is the author of more than a dozen books, both nonfiction and historical fiction. She is known for her YA photo biographies on Dorothea Lange, Woody Guthrie, and John Lennon. Her latest books include Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don't You Grow Weary, and her middle grade novel, Dogtag Summer.

Mitali Perkins, Author

Mitali Perkins ( is the author of several award-winning novels for young readers, including Bamboo People, Monsoon Summer, Rickshaw Girl, and Secret Keeper. Mitali speaks and teaches at conferences, blogs, (, tweets (@mitaliperkins), and connects with readers through Facebook ( She lives in Newton, Massachusetts with her husband and their plump black Lab.

Martha Rago, Associate Creative Director

Martha Rago is the Associate Creative Director for HarperCollins Children's Books. Martha oversees the development and design of HarperCollins picture books under the Harper imprint and including those in the Rayo, Collins, Katherine Tegen imprints, the estate programs of C.S. Lewis and Shel Silverstein, and the Blazer & Bray imprint. Prior to her position at HarperCollins, which Martha has held for nine and a half years, she was the Creative Director at Henry Holt.

Diana Renn, Author

Diana Renn ( grew up in Seattle and now lives in Boston. She has taught ESL and writing, most recently at Boston University. Her short stories and essays have appeared in various publications, and she is the author of several ESL textbooks. Her debut YA novel Tokyo Heist will be published by Viking/Penguin in Summer 2012.

Ruta Rimas, Associate Editor, Margaret K. McElderry Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, imprints of Simon & Schuster

Ruta Rimas joined Simon & Schuster in July 2011. She edits and acquires picture books, middle-grade novels, and teen novels for both the Atheneum and Margaret K. McElderry imprints. Prior to S&S, Ruta worked for the Balzer + Bray imprint at HarperCollins. She’s had the honor and privilege of working with some of the most talented authors and illustrators in the industry, including Laura Numeroff, Felicia Bond, Kadir Nelson, Heidi Ayarbe, Dan Wells, Maryrose Wood, Elissa Brent Weissman, Melissa Wiley, Janet Ruth Young, and many others. Ruta loves characters that come to life on the pages, stories that resonate long after the last page is read, and fiction that challenges our preconceived notions of the world.

Eileen Robinson, Editorial Consultant

Eileen Robinson helped many writers become first-time authors while an executive editor at Scholastic. She began in educational publishing, moved on to school and library publishing, where she worked with people in trade, book clubs, book fairs, and magazines. Moving on, she created F1rst Pages, helping published and unpublished authors strengthen their manuscripts, and collaborates with Harold Underdown, author of The Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, on Kid's Book Revisions, a tutorial they created focusing on the revision process. In August 2011, Eileen Robinson launched Move Books, which is dedicated to publishing books for boys.

Gina Rosati, Author

Gina Rosati’s YA paranormal debut, Auracle, launches August 7, 2012, from Roaring Brook Press. Born and raised in Boston suburbia, Gina now lives with her husband and two children in Merrimack, NH. Gina is a long-time volunteer at her local middle school library, and a member of SCBWI, YALSA, the Apocalypsies and Class of 2k12 debut author groups.

Sarah Shumway, Senior Editor, Katherine Tegen Books

Sarah Shumway is a Senior Editor at Katherine Tegen Books, a hardcover trade imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books. Sarah is most interested in commercial young adult and middle grade novels, including dystopian, humorous, or romantic stories, and relevant, appealing historical fiction. Recent and upcoming books on her list include Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay, Forgive my Fins and Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs, and A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean. When she’s not at work or reading, Sarah sings in a chorus, sews, and trawls for one-of-a-kind treasures.

Anne Sibley O'Brien, Author/Illustrator

Anne Sibley O’Brien has illustrated thirty picture books, thirteen of which she also wrote, including the just-released A Path of Stars. Her passionate interest in race and culture was kindled by her experience of being raised bilingual and bicultural in South Korea. She writes “The Illustrator's Perspective" for the SCBWI Bulletin and blogs at "Coloring Between the Lines.”

Kristin Sorra, Illustrator

Kristin Sorra studied illustration at Pratt Institute and has been specializing in children's illustration for over 13 years. Her most recent works include No Dogs Allowed by Linda Ashman (Sterling) and Groundhog Weather School by Joan Holub (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). She has also illustrated for comics, magazines, paper/gift products, and textiles. She lives in NY. (

Laya Steinberg, Author/Illustrator

Laya Steinberg is a writer, graphic designer and illustrator. She studied at Massachusetts College of Art and has since been juggling her design work with writing and loving the challenge (even when all the balls fall to the ground). Laya has published two award-winning picture books, Thesaurus Rex and All Around Me I See and is currently working on two middle grade novels and a few picture books.

Heidi Stemple, Author

Heidi Stemple didn’t want to be a writer when she grew up. In fact, after she graduated from college, she became a probation officer in Florida. It wasn’t until she was 28 years old that she gave in and joined the family business, publishing her first short story in a book called Famous Writers and Their Kids Write Spooky Stories. The famous writer was her mom, author Jane Yolen. Since then, she has published more than a dozen books and numerous short stories and poems, mostly for children. Heidi, her two daughters, her mom, and a couple cats live in Massachusetts on a big old farm with two houses.(

Kiffin Steurer, Associate Editor, Philomel Books

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA Creative Writing program, Kiffin has been an editor with Philomel Books since 2006. He edits and assists senior editors with picture books, and middle-grade and YA novels. He has contributed to such books as the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan, the Accidental Adventure series by C. Alexander London, and the novels of Mike Lupica, Anthony Horowitz, and T. A. Barron. He is the lead editor on the superhero series Super Human by Michael Carroll and the picture book Pirates Don’t Take Baths and the upcoming The World’s Greatest Lion. While open to books for all ages, he is interested in contemporary literary as well as action/adventure novels with strong protagonists and a unique voice—all the better if they have boy appeal. He is also looking for graphic novels and picture books with humor and heart. Generally speaking, Kiffin is probably not the best match for high fantasy or sci-fi.

Melissa Stewart, Author

Melissa Stewart is the award-winning author of more than 150 books for children. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Board of Advisors and speaks frequently at conferences for authors and educators. (

Kari Sutherland, Editor, HarperTeen, HarperCollins Children's Books

Kari Sutherland has spent the past four and a half years at HarperCollins Children’s Books where she has worked on several New York Times bestselling series including Pretty Little Liars, the Lying Game, and The Vampire Diaries, along with the Firelight trilogy by Sophie Jordan, Forbidden by Syrie James and Ryan James, and the forthcoming novels Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London, and What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang. You can follow her on Twitter @KariSutherland.

Peggy Thomas, Author

For twenty years, Peggy Thomas has been writing picture books, mid-grade and YA nonfiction, including award-winning Farmer George Plants a Nation. Most recently she used her research skills to dissect the art and craft of nonfiction in Anatomy of Nonfiction: Writing True Stories for Children, with co-author Margery Facklam. (

Harold Underdown, Editorial Consultant

Harold Underdown has worked at Macmillan, Orchard, and Charlesbridge, and has experience in both trade and educational publishing. He edits picture books, novels, and nonfiction. Harold wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide to Children's Book Publishing, now in its third edition. He founded and runs "The Purple Crayon," a respected web site with information about the children's publishing world at He speaks and gives workshops at conferences, including the Highlights Foundation's Chautauqua Retreat, SCBWI's national conferences, and regional conferences all over the country.

Linda Urban, Author

Linda Urban is the award-winning author of two novels – Hound Dog True and A Crooked Kind of Perfect -- and a picture book Mouse was Mad. Her forthcoming novel, The Center of Everything, will be published in 2013. She is a former teacher and indie bookseller. She believes in the power of small details and big laughs.

Audrey Vernick, Author

Audrey Vernick is the author of the very quiet novel, Water Balloon, as well as the picture books Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?; Teach Your Buffalo To Play Drums; and She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story. A two-time recipient of the NJ Art Council's Fiction Fellowship, Audrey lives near the ocean with her family.

Nancy Werlin, Author

Nancy Werlin is the author of 8 young adult novels that range from contemporary realism to mystery to fantasy. Her books include the New York Times bestseller Impossible, the National Book Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist The Rules of Survival, and the Edgar award winner The Killer’s Cousin. Her most recent novel is Extraordinary. (

Tamson Weston, Editorial Consultant

After a long stint as a bookseller, Tamson Weston worked as an editor for HarperCollins, Orchard Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Disney Hyperion, where she collaborated with many talented authors, including Adam Gopnik, Mac Barnett, Adam Rex, Deborah Hopkinson, Jane Conly and Jen Violi. She founded Tamson Weston Books, an Editorial Consultancy, at the beginning of 2011. Her own picture book Hey, Pancakes, illustrated by Stephen Gammell, was the winner of the Minnesota Book award and the Parents Choice award. Since she feels awkward writing about herself in the third person, she’s happy this bio is over.

Noa Wheeler, Editor, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (Macmillan)

Noa Wheeler is an editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. She has worked with award-winning authors and illustrators such as Steve Jenkins, Lish McBride, Margarita Engle, and Deborah Heiligman. She has edited the upcoming novels Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo and 37 Things I Love by Kekla Magoon, in addition to many other exciting projects. Noa edits books for all ages and all formats except original board books.

Ken Wright, Agent, Writers House

Ken Wright is a literary agent at Writers House in New York, where he specializes in children’s and young adult fiction and nonfiction. His clients include New York Times bestselling and award winning writers and illustrators, the recipients of the National Book Award, the Caldecott Medal and Honor, a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, among others. Before becoming an agent, Ken was an editorial director and publisher at Scholastic.

Dan Yaccarino, Author/Illustrator

Dan Yaccarino is an internationally acclaimed author/illustrator of over 30 children’s books and the creator/producer of the animated series Oswald and Willa’s Wild Life, as well as the designer behind The Backyardigans. Among his many honors, such as the Bologna Ragazzi Award and New York Times’ 10 Best Illustrated, Dan has been invited to the White House to read his books.

Jane Yolen, Author

Jane Yolen, often called "the Hans Christian Andersen of America," is the author of over 300 books, including Owl Moon, The Devil's Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight. The books range from rhymed picture books and baby board books, through middle grade fiction, poetry collections, nonfiction, and up to novels and story collections for young adults and adults. Her books and stories have won an assortment of awards--two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award, among others. She is also the winner (for body of work) of the Kerlan Award, the World Fantasy Assn. Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Catholic Library’s Regina Medal, and the 2012 du Grummond Medal. Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates. (

Liz Zembruski, Assistant Editor, Candlewick Press

Liz Zembruski is an assistant editor at Candlewick Press where she has worked for five years. She is the U.S. editor for the Maisy series by Lucy Cousins, oversees Candlewick’s picture book paperback list, and has had the pleasure of assisting on a wide range of projects, including the Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald and the ‘Ology series. She graduated with an English degree from Boston College. Liz is interested in all genres, especially picture books, chapter books, and middle grade stories that are quirky, funny, and touching. In her free time, she volunteers with a literacy program and chases after balls that her dog refuses to fetch.


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