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conference artwork by Vesper Stamper

New England SCBWI 2020

Finding Joy in the Journey


Friday, May 1, 2020 3:00 PM – Sunday, May 3, 2020 3:00 PM (EST)


Click here to see a LIST of all Faculty members.
Click here to view a printable version of the Faculty Bios.
Click here to view a list of Manuscript Critiquers.
Click here to view a list of Portfolio Critiquers.
Click here to view a list of Agent Quick Query Critiquers.
Click here to view a list of PAL Critiquers.

Keynote Speakers

Mike Curato
Mike Curato is the author-illustrator of everyone’s favorite polka-dotted elephant, Little Elliot. Mike’s debut title, Little Elliot, Big City has won numerous awards and has been translated into over ten languages. There are now four additional Little Elliot books – Little Big Family; Little Elliot, Big Fun; Little Elliot, Fall Friends, and Merry Christmas, Little Elliot. Mike is the illustrator of Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, and What if…by Samantha Berger. His two upcoming books include The Power of One by Trudy Ludwig and his debut YA graphic novel, Flamer. Mike was born and raised outside of New York City, and earned a BFA in illustration from Syracuse University. He currently lives in Northampton, MA.


Nikki Grimes
New York Times bestselling author Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2017 Children’s Literature Legacy Award for substantial and lasting contributions to literature for children, the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, and the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.  The author of Coretta Scott King Author Award-winner Bronx Masquerade, and recipient of five CSK Author Honors, her most recent titles include the much-honored Words With Wings, Garvey’s Choice and Boston Globe-Horn Book honor, Between the Lines, and One Last Word, winner of the 2018 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.  Her much anticipated memoir in verse, Ordinary Hazards, released in October 2019.


Kate Messner
    Tag-Team Revision (M1)
When Kate Messner made a list of the dozen books she has publishing in 2020, she noticed two things. First, that they were wildly different from one another in terms of content, genre, and age group. And second, that they all had something in common–the stories emerged out of what Kate likes to call “open-hearted curiosity,” that big wondering that invites us to look more closely at the world around us, one another, and even ourselves. Her keynote will be an invitation to wonder, even when it’s not easy, and a challenge to turn that wondering into art.

Workshop Faculty

*** see the CRITIQUE FACULTY list below for additional Workshop Presenters

Kristy Acevedo
    World-Building Tips and Techniques in Sci-Fi/Fantasy (S9)
Kristy Acevedo is the YA author of the Holo Series. Consider, her debut novel, won the 2015 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award, was a 2017 finalist for the Philip K. Dick award, and was touted as one of Barnes & Noble Teen’s Top 13 Anticipated YA sci-fi books of 2016. She has her master’s degree in English and has taught high school for twenty years. She is a huge Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Harry Potter fan (Ravenclaw all the way!) She is represented by Ali Herring at Spencerhill Associates.
Anika Aldamuy Denise
    Poetry & Pointing the Lens: The Art of Crafting Crisp, Lyrical Picture Book Biographies (L5)
    Marketing Your Books with the Buddy System (N8)
Anika Aldamuy Denise is the author of many celebrated books for young readers including Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, Starring Carmen!, The Love Letter, and Bunny in the Middle. Her books have been featured in the New York Times and have been recognized by Bank Street College of Education, Junior Library Guild, Indie Next, A Mighty Girl, and the New England Book Awards. Anika’s forthcoming title is A Girl Named Rosita, a PB biography of legendary Puerto Rican actress, singer, and dancer Rita Moreno. Anika grew up in Queens, New York, and now lives with her family in Rhode Island.

Priscilla Alpaugh
    Using the Procreate Application on the iPad Pro (M2)
Priscilla Alpaugh has been creating illustrations in her studio at ArtSpace Maynard since 2001. She has a BFA in Painting/Illustration from UMass Amherst and an MFA in Illustration (ABD) from Syracuse University. She won the Portfolio Showcase Award at the 2015 NESCBWI Spring conference. Priscilla lives in Greater Boston with her husband David and two grown children, Tim and Addie. She is a member of SCBWI and The Greater Boston Illustrators’ Group. Priscilla’s books include Space Mice by Lori Haskins Houran (Albert Whitman 2020); I Love You Still by Maggie Scofield (2018); Don’t Eat That! By David Cicarelli (2016); Solomon Sire and the Fantastic Fib by Diane Root (Solomon Sire Ventures 2012); and Hold This! by Carolyn Scoppettone (Islandport Press 2015).

Christina Bauer
    Writing Kick-Ass Heroines for YA Readers (L8)
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. Before becoming a full-time author, Christina worked in high-tech marketing for companies such as Microsoft and Cisco. She credits her years of business organization for helping her deliver exceptional quality novels that are released on a regular schedule. Christina lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Lisa Bunker
    How to be Original (P6)
Lisa Bunker has written stories all her life. Before setting up shop as a full-time author she had a 30-year career in non-commercial broadcasting, most recently as Program Director of the community radio station in Portland, Maine. Besides Maine she has made homes in New Mexico, southern California, Seattle, and the Florida panhandle. She now lives in Exeter, New Hampshire with her wife, a child psychologist and author in her own right. Between them they have three grown children. In 2018 Lisa was elected to represent her town in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. When not writing or representing she plays piano, practices yoga, plays chess, and studies languages.

Marcie Colleen (PAL critiques)
    Help! I’m on Draft 39! (S4)
    Crafting the Chapter Book (V8)
Marcie Colleen teaches writing at The Writing Barn, the University of California at San Diego, and her own Study Hall, a month-long online critique group dedicated to the craft of PBs. She is the award-winning author of The Super Happy Party Bears chapter book series with Macmillan, as well PBs, Love, Triangle, illustrated by Bob Shea (HarperCollins), Penguinaut!, illustrated by Emma Yarlett (Scholastic), and The Bear’s Garden, illustrated by Alison Oliver (Macmillan). She lives in San Diego, California. To learn more, visit her at or @MarcieColleen1 on Twitter.
Erin Dionne  (PAL critiques)
    Say What? Writing Realistic Dialogue (K8)
    The Art of Reinvention: Diversify Your Work to Grow Your Career (V3)
Erin Dionne has published seven novels for MG readers, and two PBs. Her most recent book is Balletball (Charlesbridge, 2020) about a stubborn girl who loves her tutu, not her lumpy baseball glove.

Emma D. Dryden
    The Joy of Revision (R2)
Emma D. Dryden is the founder of drydenbks LLC, a premier children’s editorial and publishing consultancy firm she established after twenty-five years as an editor and publisher with Random House and Simon & Schuster. Emma has edited over 1,000 books for children and young readers, many of which hit national and international bestseller lists and received numerous awards and medals, including the Newbery Medal, Newbery Honor, and Caldecott Honor. Emma is the co-author of the award-winning PB What Does It Mean To Be An Entrepreneur? (Sourcebooks) and is on the Advisory Board of SCBWI. She is a highly sought-after teacher of writing craft, revision, the art and business of children’s books, and all aspects of children’s book writing and publishing. Learn more at

Carrie Firestone
    Revising with an editor (S2)
    Enhancing your work with pictures, found objects, and vision boards (V2)
Carrie Firestone is the author of two YA novels, The Loose Ends List and The Unlikelies. Her MG novel, Dress Coded, will release this summer. When she isn’t writing, Carrie co-leads ForwardCT, a civic engagement and community service organization. She lives in Avon, Connecticut with her husband, their two teen daughters, and their dogs.

Megan Frazer Blakemore
    Come Play! with Jarrett Lerner and Megan Frazer Blakemore (Friday afternoon)
Megan Frazer Blakemore is an award-winning author of YA and MG novels as well as chapter books. Her titles include The Water Castle, The Firefly Code, and the Franie Sparks series. A former school librarian, she is passionate about connecting kids with books and with helping kids to spark their own creativity. She lives in Maine with her family.
Josh Funk
    Powerhouse Marketing Strategies(L3)
    Virtually Visiting Schools (T7)
Josh Funk writes silly stories such as the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, the How to Code with Pearl and Pascal series, the It’s Not a Fairy Tale series, the A Story of Patience & Fortitude series, Dear Dragon, Albie Newton, Pirasaurs!, and more coming soon! Josh is a board member of The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA and was the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 NESCBWI Conferences. Josh grew up in New England and studied Computer Science in school. Today, he still lives in New England and when not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes manuscripts. For more information about Josh Funk, visit him at and on Twitter at @joshfunkbooks.

AC Gaughen
    Putting the Play Back in Wordplay (L4)
AC Gaughen is the author of the Scarlet Trilogy (Scarlet, Lady Thief and Lion Heart) and the Elementae series (Reign The Earth, Imprison The Sky). She serves on the board for the non-profit Boston GLOW, creating opportunities to encourage and engage teen girls in the Greater Boston area, and works as an engagement manager for Girl Scouts of Eastern MA’s 15,000 adult volunteers. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from St. Andrews University in Scotland and a Masters in Education from Harvard University.

Alison Green Myers
    Use Setting to Raise the Stakes (L10)
    Beginner’s Guide to Query Letters (N3)
Alison Green Myers is the program director for the Highlights Foundation retreat center. As a National Writing Fellow and former literacy coach, she speaks in schools and at national conventions about growing readers. She’s an active volunteer for SCBWI in her region. Along with books, her greatest loves are her two favorite guys, and two favorite dogs, who live with her in the woods of Pennsylvania.

Jamie Harper
    Using the Procreate Application on the iPad Pro (M2)
Jamie Harper fell in love with picture books from reading so many to her children. Her first PB, Don’t Grown Ups Ever Have Fun, was published in 2003, and since then she’s written and illustrated many other acclaimed books including Miss Mingo and The First Day of School, Miles to Go, and the Baby Bundt Board book series. Her latest book is Bella’s Best of All, and she has a new Miss Mingo PB coming in 2020. Jamie lives with her husband and three girls in a small town just outside of Boston, Massachusetts where her kids used to give her lots of ideas for stories but now, since they’re older, she relies on her two bulldogs, Mabel and Louie, for inspiration. Check out her website at

Julie Hedlund
    Top Ten Layers of Picture Books (N7)
    Writer Envy: Drop the Shame. Tame the Beast (V9)
Julie Hedlund is an award-winning PB author, the founder of the 12 x 12 PB Writing Challenge, a co-founder of the PB Summit, and a co-creator of The Complete PB Submissions System. Julie lives in Boulder, Colorado with her son and daughter and one high-maintenance hound dog the size of a mini horse.

Leah Henderson
    Back Up and Let Me Be Me: Giving a Character’s Voice Space to Grow (K6)
    Their Voice, Their Perspective: Writing Cross-Cultural Stories We All Deserve (S10)
Leah Henderson is the author of the MG novels The Magic in Changing Your Stars and One Shadow on the Wall, an Africana Children’s Book Award notable and a Bank Street Best Book, starred for outstanding merit. Her short story “Warning: Color May Fade” appears in the YA anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America and her PBs include Mamie on the Mound, A Day for Rememberin’, and Together We March. Leah mentors at-risk teens, is an avid traveler, and her volunteer work has roots in Mali, West Africa. She holds an MFA in Writing and is on faculty at Spalding University’s graduate writing program and she currently calls Washington, D.C. home.

Loretta Kapinos
    Read to Write Better (S8)
Loretta Kapinos has been a nurse for over twenty years. She spends her days working in an emergency department and trauma center and her nights writing stories for kids. Loretta can often be found in her local crossfit gym or on the road training for her next road race. Loretta co-wrote the book, Springfield Tornado: Stories From the Heart, in 2012. She’s also an avid reader and a member of Team K (a.k.a her family), established in 1997. Learn more about Loretta on her Facebook page.

Heather Kelly
    Stick with Your Buddy! The Benefits of Collaboration (L9)
Heather Kelly is a former co-chair of the NESCBWI conference and is the founder and director of The Writers’ Loft, a writing community in Sherborn, MA. She explores the fabric of the universe through writing MG, YA, and everything in between. She wears many hats — teacher, editor, author, director. She’s always searching for (and finding) ways to help authors become more prolific storytellers and co-edited An Assortment of Animals: A Children’s Poetry Anthology. Heather thrives on collaboration, creativity, and community.

Elaine Kiely Kearns
    Creating an Author/Illustrator Platform (T4, V4)
Elaine Kiely Kearns is a PB and MG writer. Armed with a master’s degree in Education and working from her home office, she spends her time perusing the internet for golden nuggets of information about children’s writing and creating her own stories. Her debut PB, Noah Noasaurus, illustrated by Colin Jack (Albert Whitman) came out in April 2019. She is represented by Linda Epstein of Emerald City Literary Agency.

J. R. Krause
    The Do’s and Don’ts of Visual Storytelling (K1)
    Picture Book Pacing (T3)
J. R. Krause’s career as a narrative artist spans three decades. His PBs have been featured in The Boston Globe, BookPage, Kirkus, the Picturebooking Podcast, and the SCBWI Bulletin. His most recent PB Dragon Night is an Indie Next selection, an Amazon Best of 2019 So Far, and one of 10 Books You Should Read In 2019 by the Southern California Booksellers Association. He is also the illustrator and co-author of Poco Loco! and Happy Birthday, Poco Loco!, both written with Maria Chua. Since graduating from Rhode Island School of Design he has worked on many television shows including 500+ episodes of The Simpsons. He lives in L.A. with his family. To learn more visit, on Twitter @jrkrausebooks and Instagram @j.r.krause.

Megan Dowd Lambert
    The Whole Book Approach for Authors and Illustrators (P2)
Megan Dowd Lambert ( @MDowdLambert), Lecturer in Children’s Literature at Simmons University, is the author of Reading Picture Books with Children (Charlesbridge 2015). She received a 2016 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor for A Crow of His Own (Charlesbridge 2015), and its sequel, A Kid of Their Own, published in 2020. Her PB, Real Sisters Pretend (Tilbury House 2016), was a 2017 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and a Must Read title with the 17th Massachusetts Book Awards. The mother of seven children, Megan writes for Kirkus and The Horn Book, and in 2019 she became co-owner and President of Modern Memoirs, Inc., a noncommercial publishing company based in Amherst, MA that specializes in personal and family history.

Rajani LaRocca  (PAL critiques)
    From Personal to Publication: How to use your own experiences to inspire your writing (V6)
Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area with her wonderful family and impossibly cute dog. After graduating from Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, she spends her time writing novels and PBs, practicing medicine, and baking too many sweet treats. Her MG debut, Midsummer’s Mayhem (Yellow Jacket/Little Bee Books) is an Indian-American MG mashup of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and competitive baking. She is also the author of the PBs Seven Golden Rings (Lee & Low, 2020), I’ll Go and Come Back (Candlewick, 2022), Where Three Oceans Meet (Abrams, 2022), and other forthcoming books. Learn more about her at and on Twitter and Instagram @rajanilarocca.

Jarrett Lerner
    Come Play! with Jarrett Lerner and Megan Frazer Blakemore (Friday afternoon)
Jarrett Lerner is the author of EngiNerds and its sequel as well as the forthcoming Geeger the Robot early chapter book series and the author-illustrator of the Hunger Heroes graphic novel (all published by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin). He co-founded and helps run the MG Book Village and is the co-organizer of the #KidsNeedBooks and #KidsNeedMentors programs.

Brian Lies
    Imbuing Animals with Real Life (T1, V1)
Brian Lies is the author and/or illustrator of numerous PBs, including The Rough Patch, recipient of a 2019 Caldecott Honor and the Crystal Kite Award (New England), and Got to Get to Bear’s!  He also created the New York Times bestselling bat books (Bats at the Beach, etc.).  Brian lives in Duxbury, MA and has been a member of SCBWI for 30 years.

Sylvia Liu
    Creating an Author/Illustrator Platform (T4, V4)
Sylvia Liu is a former environmental attorney turned children’s author. She is the author of A Morning With Grandpa, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books 2016) and a contributor to the PB anthology, Thanku: Poems Of Gratitude, edited by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Marlene Myles (Lerner Books 2019). She is inspired by cephalopods, kraken, and all things ocean and currently writes contemporary and speculative MG. She is represented by Jennifer March Soloway of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Janae Marks
    Tackling Mature Themes in Middle Grade (P1)
    Landing a Literary Agent with Alex Slater and Janae Marks (T9)
Janae Marks has an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Writing for Children from The New School. She grew up in the suburbs of New York City, and now lives in Connecticut with her husband and daughter. From the Desk of Zoe Washington is her debut novel.

Barbara McClintock
    Finding the Right Visual Voice for a Manuscript (N6)
Barbara McClintock has written and illustrated over 40 PBs for children, including her highly acclaimed Adele & Simon series. Her books have received five New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books awards, a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor, three ALA Notable book awards, two SCBWI Golden Kite Honors, and many other awards and citations. Barbara has served on the board of the Eric Carle Museum, and as chairperson of the Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators. She runs her own non-profit community arts outreach program, working with elementary schools in Willimantic, CT. Barbara lives in Windham, CT, with her partner, the artist David Johnson, and their four very active cats.

Dana Meachen Rau
    Bits of Brilliance: Flash Fiction as a Writing Practice (T6)
Over the past 20 years, Dana Meachen Rau has written more than 340 books for PreK to high schoolers, including early readers, PBs, biographies, and nonfiction on popular topics. Recently she has turned her focus to MG and YA fiction. She received her BA in Creative Writing at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and her MFA in Writing for Children and YAs at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Besides freelancing, Dana has also worked as an editor and illustrator. She teaches creative writing and undergraduate literature and rhetoric at the University of Hartford.

Jamie Michalak
    Marketing Your Books with the Buddy System (N8)
Jamie Michalak is a children’s book author and former editor. Her nearly forty books include the early reader Frank And Bean, illustrated by Bob Kolar, and the Joe and Sparky early reader series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. Kirkus Reviews called Joe And Sparky, Superstars! a “little treasure” in a starred review. She also wrote the forthcoming Dakota Crumb, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Candlewick Press, 2021). Jamie was born in Springfield, Massachusetts and grew up in the same neighborhood that Dr. Seuss once lived in. She now resides with her family in Barrington, Rhode Island. Visit her at

Lynda Mullaly Hunt
    School Visits — a Vital and FUN part of the Journey (K10)
New York Times bestselling author, Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s novel, Fish In A Tree, is an ALA Schneider Family Book Award winner, an ALA Notable Book, a Global Read Aloud, a SLJ Best Book, a Nerdy Book, and a SCBWI Crystal Kite winner. Soon it’ll be a stage show in NYC. Her first novel, One For The Murphys (both published by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin), is an ABA New Voices Pick, a Nerdy Book, and a Scholastic Book Clubs Editors’ Choice. Combined, Lynda’s books have appeared on 59 state award lists and are published in 30 languages. Her next novel, Shouting At The Rain (a Junior Library Guild selection) is a Cape Cod story about our friends who are glitter and our friends who are glue.

Lesléa Newman
    Let’s Start at the Very Beginning: A Very Good Place to Start (K5)
    Point of View: Whose? (P8)
Lesléa Newman has created more than 70 books for readers of all ages including the PBs, Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story; Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale With A Tail; Ketzel: The Cat Who Composed; and Sparkle Boy; the teen novel-in-verse October Mourning: A Song For Matthew Shepard; the middle-grade novel, Hachiko Waits; and the children’s classic, Heather Has Two Mommies. Literary awards include two American Library Association Stonewall Honors, the Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Award, the Massachusetts Book Award, and a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. From 2008 – 2010, she served as the poet laureate of Northampton, MA. Currently she teaches Writing for Children and YAs at Spalding University’s low-residency MFA in Writing program.

Lisa Papademetriou (PAL critiques)
    Marie Kondo Your Scenes (L2)
    Every Step A Journey: Planning a Series (N5)
Lisa Papademetriou is the author of over 20 books for young readers. Her latest series, Mackenzie Makes It Work, will be published by Scholastic in 2020. She writes a monthly column on creativity for The Daily Hampshire Gazette, and is the founder of, an online tool that helps writers reach their creative goals.

Sera Rivers  (PAL critiques)
    Extreme Research: If You Dare (N4)
Sera Rivers is a developmental editor and YA novelist. She launched Avenue A Books, a children’s graphic novel imprint from Center for Responsive Schools. As Avenue A’s acquiring editor, she worked with new and established children’s book writers and illustrators on a work-for-hire basis from concept to publication. Sera holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing for Children from Simmons College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing/Journalism Studies from UMass. She is an active member of SCBWI and was co-chair of the 2017-2018NESCBWI Spring conferences. Sera’s interests include writing YA novels that incorporate historical figures/events into current societal issues. Her YA Memoir THE WICKED ONES won the 2016 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award.

Heidi E.Y. Stemple  (PAL critiques)
     Does my book need Backmatter? (K3)
    Making Your Picture Book Text More Poetic (P4)
Heidi 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 twenty-five books and numerous short stories and poems, mostly for children. Heidi lives and writes on a big old farm in Massachusetts that she shares with two cats who live inside, and a dozen deer, a family of bears, three coyotes, two bobcats, a gray fox, tons of birds, and some very fat groundhogs who live outside. Once a year, she calls owls for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

Susan Tan
    Writing From Childhood  (L7, S5)
Susan Tan is the author of Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire (winner of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Children’s Honor Award), Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book is A Classic, and Cilla Lee-Jenkins: The Epic Story (Shortlisted for the New England Book Award). She was the 2015 Gish Jen Emerging Writers Fellow at the Writers’ Room of Boston. She currently lives in Jamaica Plain and is a postdoctoral teaching fellow at UMass Boston.

Chris Tebbetts
    Introverts Unite!:
        Self-Promotion in the Face of Shyness, Social Anxiety, and Impostor Syndrome (K2)
    Getting Unstuck: Four Approaches for Moving That Project Along, No Matter What (P5)
Chris Tebbetts is the author and co-author of many books for young readers. Titles include the YA novels Me, Myself, And Him, as well as M Or F? (with Lisa Papademetriou). He is also the co-author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Middle School series with James Patterson, and the bestselling Stranded series with Jeff Probst. His work has received children’s choice awards in Oregon and Hawaii, as well as a Sunshine State Young Readers Award nomination, and a nod on the New York Public Library’s annual list of Books For the Teen Age. He is a native of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and currently lives in Hinesburg, Vermont.

Linda Urban
    Tag-Team Revision (M1)
Linda Urban’s novels and PBs have won many awards and appeared on more than 25 state lists. She is currently on faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts and for ten years was Marketing Director at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California.

Padma Venkatraman
    Singing with Joy on the Journey (T5)
Padma Venkatraman lived in 5 countries, explored rainforests and coral reefs, and served as chief scientist on oceanographic vessels before becoming an American author. Her latest novel, The Bridge Home, was released to 5 starred reviews (PW, Kirkus, SLJ, Booklist, SLC) and is a Washington Post Summer Book Club Selection, a ProjectLIT book club selection. a Mighty Girl pick, and a Global Read Aloud 2019. Padma Venkatraman is also the author of Climbing The Stairs, A Time To Dance, and Island’s End, all of which were released to multiple starred reviews and have garnered awards and critical acclaim and a contributor to the poetry collection Thanku (edited by Miranda Paul).

Kristen Wixted
    Stick with Your Buddy! The Benefits of Collaboration (L9)
Kristen Wixted writes MG novels, PBs, and poetry, and is the co-editor of An Assortment of Animals anthology. She is on the board of directors of The Writers’ Loft and lives in MetroWest Massachusetts with her family, a singing dog, and a glamorous cat who writes the family Christmas card. Find her at

Dan Yaccarino  (PAL critiques)
    What a Character! (L1)
    From Inspiration to Publication: The Essentials of a Picture Book Dummy (N1)
Dan Yaccarino is an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator with more than 60 children’s books to his credit, including Giant Tess, Five Little Pumpkins, Trashy Town, Unlovable, and The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau. Exhibitions of his work have been held in New York City, Los Angeles, Bologna, and Tokyo, and he has been invited to the White House to read his books. Dan Yaccarino is also the creator of the TV series Oswald and the Emmy Award-winning Willa’s Wild Life, as well as the character designer behind The Backyardigans. Mr. Yaccarino lives in New York City. You can visit him on the Web at

Jane Yolen
    Making Your Picture Book Text More Poetic (P4)
Often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America,” Jane Yolen is the award-winning author of nearly 400 books. Her works range from very young rhymed PBs to novels for adults and every genre in between, including poetry collections, early readers, folklore, nonfiction, fantasy, science fiction, board books, and novelty. She writes a poem a day, which she sends out to subscribers, and six colleges have given her honorary doctorates for her body of work. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Yolen finds joy in every part of the process of writing. She was the second person to join SCBW (before there was even an “I”). And, she began the first regional conference–this one.

Critique Faculty


*** Elizabeth Bennett (agent)
    So You Want to Write a Chapter Book? (T2)
Elizabeth has spent her career in the children’s publishing industry with positions in marketing, product development and editorial at such companies as Scholastic, Reader’s Digest and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Prior to joining the Transatlantic Agency, Elizabeth was an Executive Editor at HMH where she focused on brand-forward publishing around classic properties like Curious George, Little Blue Truck and The Little Prince as well as novelties, board books and PBs. During her tenure she established an IP program launching several MG series and graphic novels. As an agent, Elizabeth represents a balanced list of talented PB, graphic novel, MG and YA authors and illustrators. She is interested in fiction and non-fiction submissions especially those with series potential and is partial to books with humor; books that approach contemporary issues in a fresh, new way; books that make even a reluctant reader want to curl up in a nook and read.

Marlo Berliner (agent)
Marlo Berliner is an agent, award-winning YA author, freelance editor, and bookseller. She joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in March 2018 as an editorial intern after having completed a previous internship with The Bent Agency. Now, she is actively building her list as an associate agent. She is a member of SCBWI, RWA, NJ-RWA, and YA-RWA. Prior to her career in the publishing world, Marlo was an accounting manager for a Fortune 500 company. She holds B.S. degrees in Economics and Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Julie Bliven (editor)
Julie Bliven is grateful to be an editor at Charlesbridge, a publishing house with a longstanding dedication to supporting books with social consciousness and global perspective. She has edited more than fifty titles, including fiction and nonfiction board books, PBs, and middle-grade novels. Julie holds an MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons University and has been both a writing instructor and a publishing mentor for the university’s MFA program. She is also a former member of the Children’s Book Council Diversity Initiative.

Rob Broder (editor)
    Rhyme or Reason (K7)
    Read to Write Better (S8)
Rob Broder is a Publisher and the Creative Director of Ripple Grove Press, a children’s PB publishing company. He is on the Board of Directors for the Independent Book Publisher’s Association I(BPA) and is a recent co-honoree for PW Star Watch.

*** Andi Diehn (editor)
    Nonfiction Joy in the Educational Market (K9)
Andi Diehn is a senior editor at Nomad Press, an educational publisher of children’s nonfiction books. She has an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College and has written 11 children’s books, including several nonfiction PBs. She is a longtime member of SCBWI.

*** Jennie Dunham (agent)
    Synopsis (S1)
    The Mushy Middle (V7)
Jennie Dunham (AAR and SCBWI member) worked at three different literary agencies in New York City before she founded Dunham Literary, Inc. in August 2000. Her clients have been New York Times bestsellers and have won awards such as Boston Globe Horn Book Honor, New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year, the Charlotte Zolotow Award, and International Reading Association Award. Her agency represents children’s books for all ages from novelty and PB through MG and YA as well as literary fiction and non-fiction for adults.

Linda Epstein (agent)
Linda Epstein is a senior agent at Emerald City Literary Agency. She represents picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, as well as select non-fiction for kids and teens. She likes stories that deal with issues of identity, history, sexual politics, feminism, and culture. Some of her other interests also include art, food, and the environment. She looks for the offbeat, quirky, and left of center, with bonus points given if you keep your sense of humor about it all. She actively seeks to represent projects that give voice to work by and about all kinds of marginalized people. Linda has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from The New School and writes stories for kids and teens. Find her on Twitter @LindaEpstein.

*** Liza Fleissig  (agent)
    Making Magic with Perseverance: How to Crush What Crushed You (K4)
Liza Fleissig is a founder of LRA, a cross-platform company providing development, representation, and strategic career management for clients in all media. A former partner in a NYC based law firm, Liza brings over 20 years of negotiating experience to the field. This background, along with connections rooted in publishing and film, allows her to build on a referral based clientele, from PBs through adult, fiction and non-fiction. Recent deals include Erica George’s latest YA to Little, Brown; Lisa Fipps’s debut MG Starfish to Nancy Paulsen/Penguin; Laurie Wallmark’s latest biography PB to Abrams; Mượn Thị Văn’s I Love You Because to Tegen/Harper with Jessica Love illustrating; and Theanne Griffith’s Maker Maze CB series to Random House. Follow her Twitter/Instagram @lizaroyceagency – Facebook: Liza Royce Agency

*** Saho Fujii (art director)
    Picture Book Cover Illustration (S3)
    The Picture Book Process: Life Cycle of a Picture Book (V5)
Saho is a senior art director at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She has designed a wide range of books including PBs, board books, activity and novelty books, MG and YA novels. She currently oversees the LBYR’s PB list. She has worked with many award-winning illustrators including Jerry Pinkney, Javaka Steptoe, Sophie Blackall, Molly Idle, Bryan Collier, Mordicai Gerstein, and John Rocco. She lives in New York City.

*** Samantha Gentry (editor)
    Making Magic with Perseverance: How to Crush What Crushed You (K4)
Samantha’s primary focus at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is commercial nonfiction across all categories and fiction PBs and MG. She has a particular interest in pop-culture tie-ins and platform-driven stories in nonfiction. She’s especially on the lookout for voice-driven MG with unforgettable characters, a friendship story at its core, interesting family dynamics, and a touch of magical realism. In PBs, she’d love to see character-driven stories with a touch of humor and quirk. But she’s also a sucker for the charming tales that feel like an instant classic. She will be acquiring select YA fiction only; she’s looking for authors who have a platform, OWN voices, and edgy contemporaries with a strong and distinctive narrative voice. Samantha Gentry joined LBYR in 2019 from Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House Children’s Books, where her list included Reach for the Skai by Disney Channel star Skai Jackson, Find Your Rainbow by artist Jenipher Lyn, and Destroy This Book in the Name of Science! by Mike Barfield. She also worked closely with New York Times bestselling authors Danica McKellar, Megan Miranda, and Raymond Arroyo; Morris Award-winner Jeff Zentner; and high profile authors Jazz Jennings and Scott Kelly.

*** Saritza Hernandez  (agent)
    A Decent Proposal: How to get in bed with a Publisher without losing your shirt (L6)
VP/Sr. Literary Agent at the Corvisiero Literary Agency, Saritza was the first literary agent to represent authors in the digital publishing landscape while also securing traditional deals for clients. A geek with a passion for all things Star Wars, Star Trek, and Harry Potter, her love of great storytelling is what has driven her work in the publishing industry for the past 17 years. An avid coffee-drinker with a Kindle book and audiobook obsession, she enjoys a steaming cup (or several) of strong Cuban coffee while escaping into worlds and stories from all walks of life. A passion for romance and a strong advocate of the LGBTQIA+ community, she enjoys fresh voices in YA and Adult genre fiction.

*** Aram Kim (senior designer)
    Is There a Story Behind This Image? (P3)
Aram Kim is a writer, illustrator and a PB designer. She currently works as a senior designer at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. She loves working with illustrators, finding new talents, making the book design reflect the voice of the story. She is always looking for illustrators whose work is expressive, diverse, conveys a lot of emotions. Aram’s published PB includes Cat on the Bus (Children’s Choice Reading List 2017 by ILA/CBC), No Kimchi For Me! (Junior Library Guild selection, Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year 2018, and 2018 A Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy), and Let’s Go to Taekwondo! all of which she wrote and illustrated.

*** Tricia Lin (editor)
    Writing Graphic Novels for Young Readers (N2)
Tricia is an editor with Random House Children’s Books, specializing in middle grade, YA, and graphic novels. Previously, she acquired middle grade and graphic novels for Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, as well as YA for Simon Pulse. At S&S, she had the privilege of working with wonderful authors such as Edgar Winner James Ponti on City Spies, Cory Leonardo on Parents’ Choice Award Winner The Simple Art of Flying, and Eisner-nominated author-illustrator Emma Steinkellner on The Okay Witch.Follow her on Twitter at @triciaelin.

*** Rick Margolis (agent)
    What You Need to Know to Make It  (T10)
For nearly 15 years, Rick Margolis worked for the world’s largest reviewer of books for young readers. Although he loved his stint as School Library Journal’s executive editor, Rick was ready for a new challenge. But not just any job would do. He wanted to find his true calling — one that he was wild about and that could contribute something of value to the world. Rick also wanted to stay connected to kids’ books—because he loves them and because he was once a reading specialist, and he knows firsthand what a profound difference the right book can make in a young person’s life. The answer? Rick launched Rising Bear Literary Agency, specializing in what he loves: PBs and middle-grade and YA fiction.

*** Stephanie Pitts (editor)
    Revising with an editor (S2)
Stephanie Pitts is an editor at G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers. She acquires a healthy mix of PBs, novels, and nonfiction for young readers. She has worked with YA authors Stacey Lee, Sherri L. Smith, and Jennifer Dugan; MG authors Carrie Firestone and Chris Rylander; PB authors Liz Garton Scanlon, Pat Zietlow Miller, and Mara Rockliff; and illustrators Brett Helquist and Brian Biggs, among many others. Follow her on Twitter @stephpittsbooks.

*** Kate Prosswimmer (editor)
    Plot Meets Character (T8)
Kate Prosswimmer is an Editor at Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint at Simon & Schuster, where she acquires and edits across children’s fiction from PBs through YA books. Before that, she worked at Sourcebooks for more than five years where she had the privilege of working with some truly wonderful people, including Zoraida Cordova, author of the critically acclaimed Brooklyn Brujas series; Jen Calonita, author of the popular Fairy Tale Reform School series and the Royal Academy Rebels series; and Jess Keating, author of the award-winning PB, Shark Lady. Follow her on twitter at @kap212.

*** Quressa Robinson (agent)
    Developmental Editing Intensive (R1)
Quressa Robinson joined the Nelson Literary Agency in 2017 after working at a previous agency and as an editor for five years. She is originally from San Francisco, but has been living in New York City for over a decade. As a New York based agent, she is eager to build her MG, YA, and Adult lists. When not curled on her couch reading, she plays video games, enjoys too much TV–mostly Sailor Moon and Harry Potter (Slytherin!), eats delicious things, drinks champagne, hangs out with her very clever husband, and adds another “dramatic” color to her lipstick collection. Quressa is also a member of the 2017-2019 WNDB Walter Grant Committee and holds an MFA in Creative Writing: Fiction from Columbia University.

*** Abigail Samoun (illustrator agent)
    Five Plot Tools that will Bring More Tension to Your Narrative (S7)
Abigail Samoun was an in-house children’s book editor for over ten years before transitioning to agenting and opening Red Fox Literary with Karen Grencik in 2011. In her eighteen year career in children’s books, Abi has worked on just about every format and genre imaginable. Books she’s worked on have received such honors as the CCBC Charlotte Zolotow award, the New York Public Library Ezra Jack Keats award, and the Pura Belpre. Her clients include established names such as Betsy Franco, Matt Faulkner, Hannah Harrison, Deborah Blumenthal, and Carlyn Beccia, along with rising stars such as Illustoria art director Elizabeth Haidle and NASA engineer Tiera Fletcher. Abigail lives in Sonoma, California with her entomologist husband, two wild little boys, and a chihuahua named Perkins. Visit

Amanda Shih (editor)
Amanda Shih is an associate editor at Scholastic. She works on MG and YA nonfiction, including Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl’s Brave Fight to Walk, Nazi Saboteurs: Hitler’s Secret Attack on America, and Fearless Felines: 30 True Tales of Courageous Cats. Previously, she was an editor of adult nonfiction at TarcherPerigee/Penguin Random House, including New York Times bestseller, The Odd 1s Out. She is currently looking for narrative nonfiction with a particular focus on history and contemporary memoir, and accessible general nonfiction that combines the educational with the entertaining.

*** Alex Slater (agent)
    Landing a Literary Agent with Alex Slater and Janae Marks (T9)
Alexander Slater is a literary agent with Trident Media Group. Some of his clients include Janae Marks, Keah Brown, and Amy Ephron.

Harold Underdown (independent editor)
Harold is an independent children’s book editor and consultant who works with authors and publishers on manuscripts, books, and strategy. He is also the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Children’s Book Publishing, a comprehensive guide to how children’s book publishing works. He founded and runs The Purple Crayon, a respected Web site with information about the children’s publishing world at Harold also likes to teach, and runs the Kids Book Revisions workshops, retreats, and online classes with colleague Eileen Robinson. In addition, he speaks and gives workshops at conferences, including the SCBWI’s national conferences in Los Angeles and New York, the Highlights Foundation, and elsewhere. Previously, he worked at Macmillan, Orchard, and Charlesbridge, and has experience in trade and educational publishing.

*** Charlotte Wenger (agent)
    Giving Characters Life and Voice (S6)
Charlotte Wenger is a literary agent in the Boston area with Prospect Agency. Prior to joining Prospect, she was an associate editor at Page Street Kids. She has her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons College (now University) and serves on the national advisory board of the Mazza Museum, the world’s largest collection of original artwork by children’s book illustrators. Charlotte is drawn to children’s literature and art for all ages—board books through YA and graphic novels, but especially PBs. You can find her on Twitter at @WilbursBF_Char.

*** Matthew C. Winner (social media expert)
    Making Space for Social Media (P7)
    In Conversation with Characters (V10)
Matthew Winner is the lead Lower School Librarian at McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Maryland. He is the host of The Children’s Book Podcast, a weekly podcast featuring insightful and sincere interviews with authors, illustrators, and everyone involved in taking a book from drawing board to bookshelf. He also cohosts Kidlit These Days, a Book Riot podcast where he and New York Times bestselling author Karina Yan Glaser are kidlit connoisseurs, pairing the best of children’s literature with what’s going on in the world today. In 2013 Matthew was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker and was invited to the White House as part of the Champions of Change program. He wishes he was still on the Obama’s Christmas card mailing list. Matthew and his family reside in Ellicott City, Maryland.

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