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A recently retired elementary school principal, Gwen Agna has worked with many families as well as the educators at her school to create a safe and supportive environment for children to express their genders in their own ways—a critical factor in children’s healthy development. As a school teacher, she has firsthand knowledge of the challenges children and families face in seeking acceptance and in navigating a world that others do not yet understand. Gwen Agna’s school has a regional and national reputation for allowing children to express their gender exploration, and is known to be a joyful and accepting place for all.
Gwen Agna is the co-author, along with photographer and author Shelley Rotner, of TRUE YOU: A GENDER JOURNEY, a photo illustrated book for children ages 3-7 (Clarion Children's Books).
Jillian Amodio is a social worker, author, and founder of Moms For Mental Health, an online support group dedicated to ending the stigma and culture of silence around women’s mental health. She regularly writes and presents about LGBTQ initiatives, suicide prevention, anti-bullying efforts, implicit bias, and other mental health issues, and teaches yoga, mindfulness, and empowerment. Her work includes facilitating group therapy programs which use a mindfulness-based approach to working with children on the autism spectrum. Her work has been featured in Psychology Today magazine, Psych Central, U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Shape, and more.
Jillian Amodio’s work in progress, Powerfully Prepared: An Informational Guide to UnderstandingYour Body, is an inclusive, accepting, honest approach to empowering young girls and those assigned female at birth by arming them with knowledge and understanding of their bodies. Amodio’s all-embracing approach addresses the puberty experiences of non-binary and transgender individuals, and closes the gap in inclusive sex education for the disabled population.
Ben Balistreri is an Emmy and Annie Award winning artist working for over 25 years in the animation and book publishing industries. He has served as the Co-Executive Producer on the multi Emmy Award winning "Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure" for The Disney Channel and has directed, story boarded, and done character design on numerous movies and tv shows including "How to Train Your Dragon" for DreamWorks Animation.
Ben illustrated the "Princess Pulverizer" Young Adult Series for Penguin Publishing in addition to publishing his own graphic novel, "Seaweed and the Cure for Mildew.” Ben’s upcoming middle grade graphic novel is a new and exciting adventure into a world of nautical folklore stories and characters found at “The Lighthouse at the Edge of Reality.”
Kato Bisase is a Ugandan-American poet, essayist and entrepreneur based in San Francisco. He is currently chipping away at a Creative Writing MA from San Francisco State University. His work dances with a wide spectrum of topics and tensions, among them: human depth in a cursory world, the African experience in the American context, the Black experience in non-Black spaces . . . and the beautiful anxieties conceived inside all of them.
Kato is currently completing his first collection of poems and short stories, which examine
s America's lust for Black cool through the prism of a young teenager’s journey into adulthood. A journey which unearths unexpected layers to what 'The Culture'—and the implications of clinging to its perceived requirements—can mean.
Andrea Bradley is a YA author, college professor, and former lawyer, who lives in a small town outside of Toronto. She is passionate about chronic illness representation and writes novels filled with humor, romance, friendship and joy. She also writes literary and speculative short fiction and has published short stories with Grain Magazine and Exile Editions, among others.
Her current manuscript is a YA novel about a junior getting used to a new high school and new friends, while managing a love quadrangle and the world's worst stomach aches.
Belinda Brock had a multi-lingual upbringing, which inspired her love of stories, words, language, and languages. She’s followed her passions to be a teacher, editor, actor, writing coach, essayist, and author. When writing for children, Belinda strives to craft nonfiction that calls readers to action and inspires them to think about how they want to live their lives.
Belinda’s current project, A WINNING FRIENDSHIP, tells the overlooked story of the life-long friendship between Althea Gibson, a Black tennis player from Harlem, NYC and Angela Buxton, a Jewish tennis player from Hampstead, London. Both faced bias. Together, the two outsiders triumphed at Wimbledon.
Elizabeth is a writer and artist presently living in France's Loire Valley but considers Savannah, Georgia home. After graduating from the North Carolina School of the Arts with a major in ballet, Elizabeth's dance career provided her the opportunity to travel to over a hundred countries, including China, where she stayed for eight years. Inspired by her travels, she writes and illustrates middle grade, chapter and picture books.
Elizabeth's work tends to revolve around the joy and wonder of exploration. She is currently working on writing and illustrating FOLLOW THE LINE—a journey into a picture book full of whack-a-doodle creatures leading the most unusual expedition.
Mya (Mia) Byrne is a celebrated poet and storyteller/singer/songwriter also drawn to writing picture books and Y.A. novels. Out and proud, Mya is a leader for the presence of queer trans women in country music and Americana. Her compositions combine influences from countrypolitan to glam-pop, blues, and lyricism. Her second solo album, “Rhinestone Tomboy”, produced by Grammy-nominated songwriter Aaron Lee Tasjan, out now on Kill Rock Stars has been praised by NPR, Rolling Stone, Nashville Scene, and others. Her last Nashville appearance at Bridgestone Arena for the Love Rising benefit was lauded by Ann Powers in NPR as an event highlight. She is the first out queer trans woman to be an official Gibson artist. A firecracker guitarist, her work both on and offstage for social justice drives her passionate, fiery music, and yet she’s an absolute sweetheart who will make you cookies at midnight if you ask nicely.
Mya’s picture book writing debut, THE BEAT OF MY FEET, is a semi-autobiographical look at the moment she started to write music in her head on walks home from elementary school.
For over 15 years, Shauna worked as a creative director, designer, and illustrator on a wide variety of award-winning art and writing teams. Recently, she returned to her first love, teaching. Shauna’s art reflects the hours she spends outdoors, with students or her children, immersed in weird and wild places. She writes and illustrates books that are emotional, clever, and funny. Shauna lives in Maplewood, NJ with her husband and their two mostly feral, often bare-chested boys.
Addie and the Amazing Acrobats, Shauna’s debut, whimsically spotlights a delightful and ‘human’ little bat. It’s a tale of adventure, redemption, and love.
Karen Myna Cantor is a Young Adult fiction writer based on the East Coast. Now a mapmaker, she spent several years working as an environmental scientist in a Florida town notorious for Florida Man stories.
Her current manuscript is a contemporary YA novel about two queer teenagers in rural South Florida who decide to put their town on the map in the worst way possible—by staging a (fake) disaster.
Melanie Cataldo is an author-illustrator and arts educator. She’s illustrated picture books for Candlewick Press, Flyaway Books, and Learning A-Z, among others, and has also worked as a designer of textiles, packaging, and educational materials. She lives in central Massachusetts.
She’s currently working on a PB, THE NEW BAKERS, the story of a young child who is more talented and creative than her adult colleagues. Melanie’s other current projects include SIX STOPS, a picture book about a young frog’s first independent train trip to visit his grandmother—unexpectedly, havoc ensues.
Lauren Chaitoff is a mind-body-fitness expert who founded Yogi Beans, a children’s yoga company, in 2007. The idea "sprouted" from her innate ability to connect with children and her love and knowledge of yoga. Yogi Beans enables kids ages 18 months to teenagers to explore and experience the body-mind-heart foundations of yoga through content-rich programs specifically designed for them. Through partnerships with American Girl, Rosewood Hotels, Four Seasons Hotel, equinox, and The Ronald McDonald House, among others, Yogi Beans has become a respected name in the children's wellness and kids yoga world.
Lauren's latest creation is a visual book of yoga poses and associated imagery titled the 108 FUN YOGA POSES FOR KIDS. The Pose Book is a visual reference guide and teaching tool that is educational and uniquely engaging, and has a place in the home, in schools, yoga studios, and beyond. It will be published by Page Street Kids in 2023.
Born in Detroit to Arab immigrants, Hayan Charara is a poet, children’s book author, essayist, and editor. His latest poetry collection, These Trees, Those Leaves, This Flower, That Fruit, was recently published by Milkweed Editions. His children’s book, The Three Lucys (Lee and Low 2019), received the New Voices Award Honor, and he edited Inclined to Speak, an anthology of contemporary Arab American poetry. With Fady Joudah, he is also a series editor of the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize. Hayan lives in Texas, where he teaches at The Honors College at the University of Houston.
His newest work, Pretty Things, is a novel about a couple trying to get pregnant just as a child suicide epidemic breaks out and a fringe group led by a charismatic leader uses disinformation and fear to advance ideologies rooted in hatred.
Melizza Chernov is a writer and illustrator. She creates books for young readers and is working on a YA novel. In addition, she’s a Professor of Visual Art at Clark University in Massachusetts. As the first American born child of Guyanese immigrants, her inspiration arises from both West Indian and American cultures.
Melizza is interested in stories that explore inclusivity, mythology, and fantasy. Her past projects include an illustrated picture book for Blue Whale Press and editorial illustrations for magazines.
Her current project The Wall Built by Cleo is a PB about a child much more comfortable using her big imagination to create epic worlds in her bedroom than playing with friends. What will happen when her new next door neighbor comes to visit?
Emily Chibwana is an author/illustrator living in Melbourne, Australia. She joyfully creates stories that allow her four biracial, neurodiverse children to see themselves reflected in the pages of her books. Being neurospicy herself, Emily often has multiple projects on the go. At the moment those include (in no particular order) picture books, a MG novel, an early-reader GN, participation in multiple local art exhibitions, and expanding her rock collection one pebble at a time.
Emily’s current project is a picture book called MY SPARKLY IDEA, in which a young child wakes with a sparkly idea whispering in their ear but --beeeeeeep-- a noisy day drives it away. A relatable story about the overwhelm associated with neurodivergent processing, MY SPARKLY IDEA focuses on a child's use of practical strategies to move through chaotic thinking.
B.B. Cohen is an award-winning writer, professor, and performer. In his writing, Benjamin likes to play with dark and challenging material from an honest, comedic perspective. Raised in Atlanta and based in Brooklyn, Benjamin worked on projects selected by the Austin Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, and The High Museum of Art. He also appears in the Emmy-Nominated PBS short documentary, "What Makes a Great Book." Benjamin has taught Writing and Film History at NYFA since 2012 and is an active member of the WGA-E. When he's not writing, teaching, or performing comedy on the NYC stage, you can find Benjamin with his lovely wife and two dogs.
His debut graphic novel-in-progress, Undrafted, explores the intersections of mental health and toxic masculinity in the NBA.
Laura Collins is an Emmy Award winning investigative journalist based in New York. Born in Scotland, Laura studied English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford and gained a postgraduate BSc in Literary Interpretation and Theory from the University of Edinburgh. Her best-selling biography, Kate Moss: The Complete Picture was published by Pan Macmillan (2008).
As Chief Investigative Reporter for the Daily Mail Laura has spent the last nine years crisscrossing America in pursuit of stories. With her debut collection of short fiction and titular novella, The Art of Leaving, she draws on that rich seam to inform a series of dark and suspenseful tales. She’s currently working on her first novel.
Author/illustrator Lynn Curlee has published fourteen magnificently illustrated, non-fiction picture books for middle grade and YA readers. His most recent book, The Great Nijinsky, was a 2019 YALSA Finalist. Three of his books, Capital, Liberty and Rushmore, were chosen by the Barbara Bush Literacy Campaign as their book of the year. Curlee has won numerous awards for his work, including but not limited to a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book (Brooklyn Bridge), Orbis Pictus Award (Rushmore), ALA Notable Books for Children (Liberty), and Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year (Parthenon).
Lynn's forthcoming book, THE OTHER PANDEMIC: AN AIDS MEMOIR, will be published by Charlesbridge Teen in 2023.
During her forty-year career in Washington, DC, Carol Darr served as General Counsel to the Democratic National Committee, as counsel to two presidential campaigns, and as a senior political appointee in both the Clinton and Obama Administrations. Midway through, she returned to academia to study Niccolò Machiavelli’s philosophy and political advice at Cambridge University, a subject that had fascinated her ever since she first read The Prince as an undergraduate. Later, she led George Washington University’s Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet, served as an Adjunct Professor at GW’s School of Political Management, and taught Politics and New Media at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Carol recently completed a manuscript that puts Machiavelli’s outrageous, irreverent, and very practical advice in plain English….a book that she had promised herself back in college that she would one day write.
Lissette Decos is a Cuban-American television producer with over 15 years’ experience in reality formats of the love-wedding-relationship-disaster variety (i.e. Say Yes to the Dress and 90 Day Fiancé).
Her debut novel, a RomCom called ANA TAKES MANHATTAN, will be published by Forever Books in a two-book deal, for publication in 2023. The romantic comedy is about a single reality show producer who decides to date four different men, each of whom embodies one core quality from her “perfect man” list. How hard can it be to turn four frogs into one Prince? You might say Lissette’s got the story and the soundtrack for romantic angst down.
Author/Illustrator of the beloved Gilbert and Friends series, and illustrator of Ree Drummond’s wildly successful Charlie the Ranch Dog series.
Diane deGroat’s latest picture book is The Adventures of Robo-Kid, tracking two parallel stories, one in the real world and one inside a comic book. They intersect when the real-life kid and the comic book superhero find they need each other’s help. The Adventures of Robo-Kid was published by Neal Porter Books/Holiday House earlier this year.
The most wonderful sound in the world is hearing my name “DEXTER” yelled across the street. I always stand up taller and walk faster. My favorite activity to do is to walk in a parade with people clapping and cheering for me while I wear my favorite hat One of my favorite memories has been flying “celebrity status”. Do you know I have flown to both New York City and Los Angeles? I get to have my own row and I love to walk down the ramps into the airport terminal and see all of my new friends waiting to meet and greet me. Do you know I make sure to stand up and give hugs to everyone in the family? Lunch is spent mostly outside with the family around me and I guard them well in case a deer comes into the yard. The afternoons are spent walking upright around the house in search of the deer including a bark or two. My evenings include a great dinner, an upright walk to my favorite sniff spots then time on the big bed while a movie plays in the background of my Mom’s computer. I make sure I snuggle in well and sleep soundly until I become an alarm clock for practice again. What a life for sure!
Dhaval Desai was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and completed his undergraduate studies at Emory University. He completed medical school at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine in St. Maarten, performed his clinical years of medical school in New York City, and had the opportunity to rotate through various community hospitals. He is board certified in both internal medicine and pediatrics and is currently Director of Hospital Medicine at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. He is also a pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Over the past several years, he has developed a passion for the patient and human experience in medicine through sharing perspectives, knowledge, and stories.
His current project is a personal narrative of the COVID-19 pandemic and his experience of it as a doctor, leader, and father.
Nancy Drosd is a painter working in New York City. Since 2001 she has had four solo shows and participated in three group shows at the Tatistcheff Gallery in Chelsea. Her work is included in The Smithsonian, has been shown at the Queens and Brooklyn Museums and is in the collection of Richard Mayer, Allan Stone, Johnson & Johnson, The New York Health and Hospitals Corporation and Lehman College among others.
Drosd was living a full, rich life with her husband, the prominent photography collector and dealer Charles Schwartz. When something started to go wrong in Charles's brain, Nancy started to draw. The result is an extraordinary graphic memoir, WHEN THINGS FALL APART: A LOVE STORY.
Robin Storey Dunn was born to a German immigrant family in a small West Texas town. She left home at sixteen, queer, punk, and feral, and was rescued by an all-Black spiritualist church. She lived communally with the congregation for ten years, trying and failing to become a saint. Ultimately, she was delivered from fundamentalism to a pragmatic understanding of the importance and soul of kindness. Today, she lives with her wife and children in Austin, Texas, in the same neighborhood where she was once homeless and struggling for redemption.
Her debut, SOME KINDA LOVE: A Queer Punk Meditation on Leaving and Finding Home, tells a story that carries readers across juxtaposed cultures of white and Black, punk and gospel, queer identity and religious extremism.
Originally from Philadelphia, Chris has also lived in Berkeley, Paris, Sydney, Berlin, Antwerp, Chicago, and now Atlanta, where he teaches Health Humanities at Emory University. He is the author of Dysfluencies: On Speech Disorders in Modern Literature (Bloomsbury 2014). His fiction has appeared in AGNI, Louisiana Literature, and Sortes. He received his Ph.D. in English Lit from U.C. Berkeley and is a former Fulbright scholar.
His debut novel is a dark comedy titled DWELL HERE AND PROSPER, based on a diary his father kept while recovering from a stroke in a dysfunctional assisted living facility somewhere in Delco, PA. It was published by Tortoise Books in 2023 with the audiobook being simultaneously published by Blackstone Audio.
Annie Evans has spent the past 29 years working in children’s media on many television series including Sesame Street (13 Emmy Awards), Oswald the Octopus (Nickelodeon), Jojo’s Circus (Disney Channel), and most recently Pinkalicious (WGBH). She story edited the Bangladesh, Indian and Indonesian Sesame Street productions and both wrote and story edited live Sesame shows in Germany, the Netherlands, China, Australia and Singapore. Annie is also a published playwright with plays produced at Circle Rep and The Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, among others.
Her latest manuscript, a middle grade mystery called Ghost Horse Whisperer, is currently out on submission.
Naila Farouky is a Peabody Award-winning Executive Producer with extensive experience in developing and producing quality children's programming. Of Palestinian-Egyptian origin, with dual Jordanian and American citizenship, Naila has worked as an Executive Producer and Project Manager on Sesame Street co-productions in 17 countries around the world. She is currently the CEO of the Arab Foundations Forum based in Cairo.
Cindy Faughnan writes contemporary middle grade fiction that often takes place in Vermont where she taught seventh and eighth grade English, hiked through the woods and fields, and milked cows. She completed an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts and was a recipient of the PEN New England Children’s Book Caucus Discovery Award.
Her current project, a contemporary middle grade novel, ROCK, PAPER, SISTERS explores the love and changing relationship between two sisters, one of whom has had a recent mental health crisis. The other sibling is highly concerned and protective and must navigate her own life while saving the life of her sister.
Emma Fick’s new book, BORDER CROSSINGS: A JOURNEY ON THE TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILWAY, was published by Harper Design earlier this year. This extraordinary book chronicles her epic train journey from Beijing to Moscow in 240 pages of watercolor illustrations and hand-written text.
Emma started drawing and writing in this style while on a Fulbright Scholarship in Serbia, teaching English. She began to chronicle Serbian culture, from grandiose themes to minute details, in a series of watercolor illustrations she called “Snippets.” Eventually she published both Snippets of Serbia (Komshe), and Snippets of New Orleans (UL Press).
Chris Fleming is an Associate Professor in the School of Humanities at Western Sydney University, where he is also a member of the Writing and Society Research Center. He is the author or editor of ten books and has written widely on literature, philosophy, and culture. His fiction and nonfiction work has appeared in both scholarly and popular media, including The Guardian, The Sydney Review of Books, Kill Your Darlings, The LA Review of Books, Parallax, The Saturday Paper, and The Chronicle Review.
His most recent project, ON DRUGS, is an equally humorous and contemplative memoir that discusses addiction, obsession, the intellect, and masculinity.
Kermit Frazier has been a writer—both a playwright and a television writer—as well as a teacher of writing, literature, and theater for nearly forty years. He is a recipient of the McKnight Foundation Fellowship in Playwriting. As a television writer, Frazier has written for such television series as the popular children’s mystery series Ghostwriter (which he helped to create and for which he was a head writer), Gullah Gullah Island (co-producer and executive story editor), and many more.
His memoir, First Acts: A Black Playwright Comes of Age, was published by McFarland Books earlier this year.
Originally from The Bay Area, Jessica lives in Davis, California with her husband and 3 young daughters. Jessica has a background teaching Special Education but left the field to pursue a career in writing. She’s written articles for ScaryMommy, Filter Free Parents, Mom.com, Sonoma Family Life Magazine and others. She graduated from UC Davis with a BA in creative writing and psychology.
Her debut novel is a work of upmarket bookclub fiction titled BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, in which an alcoholic mother's obsession with her mother-in-law’s perfectionism forces her to acknowledge the villain in the mirror. With over a decade of sobriety, Jessica is a fierce advocate for addiction recovery.
Jessica Greaves is a YA fiction writer from the South Coast of Australia. After spending five years working as a materials engineer, she transitioned into manufacturing operations, where she is passionate about promoting girls in STEM and fostering an inclusive industry future. She spends her free time reading, learning languages, and obsessing about medieval and early modern history.
Her current manuscript is a YA historical fantasy set in the magical underworld of 1920s Venice. It is inspired by her love of history and travel.
Janet Harvey-Nevala is an award-winning writer of comic books, movies and games. As a comic book creator, she wrote the YALSA finalist Angel City for Oni Press, the upcoming CURIE SOCIETY from MIT Press, and the first adventure of Cassandra Cain in No Man’s Land for DC Comics. As a game writer, she was the staff writer on the DC Universe Online MMORPG. Her feature film debut, A Million Hits, screened at festivals around the world and was distributed by Summer Hill Films. Janet's current project is a YA graphic novel being developed in collaboration with Angel City illustrator Megan Levens.
Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Justin Haynes is a novelist and short story writer. He has been awarded various fiction residencies and fellowships including the Tin House summer workshop and the Nicholas Jenkins Barnett fiction fellowship from Emory University. His writing has been publishing in a variety of literary magazines and journals, including Caribbean Quarterly, the Hawai’i Review, and Pree. Justin currently lives and works in Atlanta. His debut novel, IBIS, will be published in Fall 2024 by Abrams/Overlook Press.
On a sunny September morning in 2013, Marti Hill, a graphic designer and single mother of two, was home alone, preparing to leave for work. The doorbell rang and a friendly, familiar face asked if he could come in. She opened the door and within minutes Marti was left for dead, crumpled in a five-foot-wide pool of blood, her throat and neck cut in three places, skull broken, and face beaten to an unrecognizable mass of red flesh. Miraculously, Marti Hill not only survived, but recovered, and is finally telling her own story in A Millimeter from Murder: The Anatomy of a Survivor.
Matt Hogan was born and raised in Philadelphia and completed his undergraduate degree at Penn State University. He completed medical school at Temple University and then slogged through internal medicine residency at Emory University before finding the time to pursue his other interests including eating, sleeping, and writing. He is a board-certified internist and is currently the Director of Hospital Medicine at Emory Decatur Hospital and Emory Long Term Acute Care Hospital. At an early age, Matt fell in love with both science and comedy, and he employed those passions to pursue his career and influence his writing. Matt currently lives in Decatur, Georgia with his wife and two children.
His current project is a collection of personal essays that reflect on the absurdities of life and medicine through a humorous and self-deprecating lens.
Emily Holi is a PB/MG/YA author, mom, and grilled-cheese-connoisseur living in the suburbs of Chicago. The oldest of five kids and mom of her own five kids (four girls and one very spoiled baby boy), Emily is interested in all things “baby,” including adoption and foster care. Emily was recently diagnosed with MS, and is also extremely passionate about chronic illness research, fundraising, and disability advocacy. Her stories are teeming with laughter, warmth, healing, and joy. She also writes literary and speculative short fiction, and has published short stories with Cerasus Magazine and Moonflake Press, among others.
Emily’s current manuscript is a Middle Grade Novel-in-Verse featuring the oldest child of a big family and her quest to balance a first crush, a chaotic home life, a new medically-compromised foster child, and the unraveling of a family secret about the Grandma that was here one day, and gone the next.
Author and Photographer Jonathan Hollingworth's books of photography include Left Behind: Life and Death Along the U.S. Border; Everybody I Ever Met in L.A.; and What We Think Now: Young People's Response to the War in Iraq. He has had solo exhibitions at the UCR / California Museum of Photography, Santa Fe Art Institute and Center for Photography at Woodstock. His work has been published in The New York Times, The Independent, The Sunday Times (London), Die Welt, and BBC News Magazine, among others. He lives in New York, where he works in the publishing industry.
Nothing warms Molly Ippolito’s heart quite like a picture book. With a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education, her unrelenting passion for kid lit has helped Molly’s students become lifelong readers throughout her career. Now, she’s looking forward to reaching young people through her non-fiction, lyrical, and humorous picture books. As a stay at home mom, she keeps her love of children’s literature alive with her own two daughters. Molly is currently using her professional teaching background to create educational resources for authors that are aligned to instructional standards.
Her current projects include both non-fiction and lyrical picture books. Molly hopes that her stories will teach and empower young readers, showing them the new heights they can reach by opening a book.
Christine Iverson's first two non-fiction picture books will be published by MIT Kids Press (2023) and Holiday House (2024). She graduated from the U.S. Military Academy with a BS in History, and earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Baylor University. A former Army physical therapist, Christine Iverson served three tours of duty in Iraq.
Her current project is a non-fiction picture book about Mary McMillan, known as the "Mother of Physical Therapy." After World War I brought ordinary life to a screeching halt, Mary McMillan showed the world how to move again.
Jade Johnson is a New Orleans based illustrator/author specializing in editorial work and book creation. After receiving her BFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design, she taught visual arts in non-profit arts education program. She is the illustrator of Someday Is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-ins (written by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Seagrass Press, 2018.)
Painted primarily with gouache, her illustrations are character driven and explore abstract feelings and connection through storytelling. Her work has been recognized by Creative Quarterly, Applied Arts, and the Society of Illustrators.
Judith Joseph is a Chicago-based artist whose paintings, woodblocks, and calligraphic works are held in many collections. As a child, Judith’s love for art was inspired by picture books and her precocious interest in illuminated manuscripts: the more she looked, the more she saw. Joseph brings the influence of intensely detailed narratives to her illustrations and books.
Her author/illustrator debut is Toby and Sonia, a story is based on true-life. Toby, a bright and bold child, rescues Sonia, her beloved cow, away from the Kaiser’s army.
Maryam Kia-Keating is an author, professor, and child psychologist whose writing blends themes of compassion, interconnectedness, and courage. Her unique perspective is shaped by early years of emigration, crossing borders, and immersion in new languages. Her family eventually settled on the island of O'ahu, among tropical abundance and the wonder of rainbows.
Maryam’s current project includes a poetic picture book that’s also a call to climate action. It asks us to be open to the wonders and importance of living in harmony with nature.
Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh is an author, journalist and editor who lives in Los Angeles. She is an ardent advocate for children of all abilities, and volunteers with local and national organizations to spread the message of assuming competence in every child. Her current feature-writing "home" is National Geographic KIDS and National Geographic Family, where she writes about incredible animals and amazing places on Earth and ways kids can help to protect them.
Jamie is thrilled to collaborate with her childhood best friend Amanda Lee Summers on their current project, Candy Kitty Land, an early chapter book series for ages 6-9. In these stories, Edie, who lives with her dad above their candy shop, meets five magical cats. The kitties transport her to a land of walking, talking confections! Edie returns from each Candy Kitty Land adventure better prepared to meet the challenges of the “real” world. Writing Candy Kitties channels the squeals of joy Jamie experienced as a girl, back when she and Amanda made up their own commercials, invented a greeting card corporation, and collected puffy stickers.
Bonnie Kelso, the 2021 SCBWI Karen Cushman Award winner, is an author-illustrator with a love for writing and illustrating informational fiction for kids. Gnome Road will publish her debut picture book, Nudi Gill, in 2023, and her second picture book, Sea Smiles in 2024. She is illustrating In A Cave by Heather Kinser for Gnome Road, as well. Bonnie has a professional background in graphic and exhibit design and spent years working on projects for NASA, National Geographic, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Her current picture book, QUAIL TRAIL, is a funny, informational fiction picture book with SEL messaging regarding the importance of listening, self-awareness, and making good choices. We are also representing Bonnie’s young middle grade graphic novel, NYA & NELLIE'S NINE LIVES. Featuring a pair of time traveling cats in a flying litter box, the story is packed with action-adventure, historical facts about cats, and humor.
Carrying a backpack and inspiration, Paul Kennedy, educated to be a chef and restaurateur, cashed in his proverbial chips in 2018 and took off to see the world. His journey, originating in uncertainty, found purpose as he explored and documented the world’s cultures and tastes. The inspiration endured — he never returned to the States.
Paul’s debut cookbook is forthcoming. It focuses on both the food and culture of Vietnam, where he lives. His own evocative photography creates a sense that we are traveling with him. Paul encourages us to explore new experiences through our palates and hopes that once readers are curious, we will understand each other better.
Vanessa Konoval is a picture book author whose path has taken her from small-town upstate New York to San Francisco to Pittsburgh to the Philadelphia suburbs, with excursions across the pond and into the High Desert of SoCal along the way. A licensed attorney and mother of two, she can usually be found scrambling for a pen to jot down another picture book idea into one of her many notebooks. Vanessa is the daughter of a school psychologist and an early intervention special educator, both from big Italian-American families. Her upbringing and her experiences practicing law and raising her own little ones have impressed upon her that nothing is more important than the stories we tell to children.
Vanessa is currently collaborating with illustrator Catmouse James on a graphic novel for the picture book crowd, all about a little monster named Mildred who loves to scare up new friends - but finds that her terrifying tactics make humans run away from her instead!
Emily Perl Kingsley has received 21 Emmy Awards for her writing work on Sesame Street. The mother of a child with Down Syndrome, Ms. Kingsley is the author of the inspirational essay Welcome to Holland, about parenting a differently abled child, which has been reprinted in many languages and in many forms all over the world. She is a frequent lecturer on Down syndrome and disability rights. Ms. Kingsley has received the Secretary’s Highest Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in recognition of her 39 years of spearheading the inclusion of individuals with disabilities on Sesame Street in the United States and 140 countries around the world.
Tanya Konerman writes because she is compelled to share her innate curiosity with young readers. She was awarded the Indiana SCBWI's Helen Frost Mentorship in 2020. Before authoring children's books, her stories were published in magazines, newspapers, and websites. When not at her desk, Tanya can be found hiking the Appalachian Trail or exploring the slot canyons and hoodoo-blessed lands of the Southwest— while adding birds to her life list.
Tanya’s newest picture book, IF YOU WERE A FOREST is a beautifully constructed poem—an appreciation of forests that asks us to look closely at an entire habitat.
Carolyn Le is an author, illustrator, and art teacher. Her stories celebrate the diverse world she grew up in, honor family dynamics, and are inspired by her students. Her work has received numerous awards and has been shown in galleries in London and Los Angeles. She has illustrated for Arbordale Publishing.
Currently, Carolyn is working on a magical, chapter book/graphic novel celebrating sisterhood and a Halloween inspired picture book featuring monsters who overcome established norms.
Working under the name Regina Linke, Joy Lin is a Taiwanese American writer and illustrator who blends traditional Chinese, meticulous-style brush painting with digital art techniques. Her favorite subjects include themes and characters out of East Asian philosophy, religion, and folklore. Her Instagram webcomic The Oxherd Boy enjoys a highly engaged audience from all over the world and has been translated to more than ten languages by volunteer fans.
Her latest project is adapting the Oxherd Boy comic into both an adult gift book (Potter Gift) and a series of picture books for children (Little Brown Young Readers).
A decade as an actor taught Lofton the power of story-telling and compelling narratives. When not writing for adults and young adults, he’s a senior advisor at the Library of Congress, where he’s surrounded by books and people who love them.
The author’s writing is infused with a southern voice gleaned from his Georgia childhood. His characters live on the fringes and face bullies as if they were paper predators. His debut novel, Red Clay Suzie, released January, 2023, tells the story of Philbet, a gay boy enraptured by cars, who struggles with his identity and differences in his physicality in the context of his conservative home. He finds resolution in lessons learned in his granddaddy’s vegetable garden.
Brodie Lowe is an award-winning short story writer and novelist based in South Carolina. He has received the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Fellowship in Fiction and the Author Fellowship by The Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. He is a two-time finalist of the Ron Rash Award in Fiction. His stories have appeared in the Broad River Review, Mystery Tribune, New Plains Review, Eastern Iowa Review, The Mark Literary Review, and elsewhere.
Brodie recently completed THE SILVER CORD, a Southern noir about greed, false prophets, and deliverance. He is currently working on a collection of stories written in the Southern Gothic tradition.
Gabriela Lyon is a Chilean artist, illustrator, and picture book creator of works published around the globe, and, in languages from Spanish to Korean. One of her most acclaimed is 9 Kilómetros (Ekaré Sur, 2020 & Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2023). 9 Kilometers was chosen as a Los 10 Mejores Libros Para Pequeños by the New York Public Library in 2022 and selected by the Junior Library Guide 2023. Pequeña Historia de un Desacuerdo (A Small History of a Disagreement, Ekaré sur, 2017) was published in Canada by Greystone Kids. She has recently collaborated on two books with the renown Chilean author, Alejandro Zambra. Gabriela teaches drawing while continuing to dedicate herself to what she loves most: telling stories in pictures.
She is currently developing on her own project, a book about the sheep dogs of Patagonia. She always tries to include at least one image of an animal in all of her work.
For an artist who made his reputation working with material that was “100% Guaranteed Overheard,” Stan Mack has one of the most distinctive voices in American letters. Stan Mack’s Real Life Funnies, the strip he drew weekly for the Village Voice for more than twenty years, has had an outsized impact on the development of one of today’s most popular and culturally revered forms—the literary graphic novel. He is currently drawing a weekly strip for the global, non-profit news organization WhoWhatWhy.org.
His latest project is a retrospective titled Stan Mack's Real Life Funnies: 1974—1994, capturing two rambunctious decades in the life of New York City (in the words of those who were actually there).
Wanda Mann has been writing about wine and travel for over a decade and is a Certified Specialist of Wine. She’s visited vineyards and cellars around the world and interviewed renowned winemakers and moderated seminars at major wine festivals. Wanda’s articles have been published in Food & Wine, Decanter, Napa Magazine, The SOMM Journal, and other media outlets. Wanda is drawn to wine for its sensory pleasures and powerful ability to create bonds between people.
Wanda’s first collection of essays will explore how wine goes beyond taste and terroir to connect us to universal themes and expressions of the human experience including resilience, faith, love, creativity and joy.
Author John A. Marley is an Irish television producer and writer with a proven track record in creating and producing distinctive, original entertainment and factual programming for both the UK and international audiences.
In his new thriller, London Interrupted, master thief Danny Felix finds himself propelled into the heist of the century, masterminded by a psychotic, crooked cop named James Harkness. In order to succeed he will not only have to outwit the ruthless Harkness; he will also have to bring the city of London to a halt. The first of three books in a Danny Felix series of crime thrillers, LONDON INTERRUPTED will be published by SpellBound Books in early 2023.
Demree McGhee is a writer currently studying at the University of California San Diego. Her poetry and prose have been published in literary journals such as Lunch Ticket, Palette Poetry, Free State Review, SORTES, and more.
Her debut story collection, SYMPATHY FOR WILD GIRLS, will be published by Feminist Press in early 2025.
Brooke’s writing focuses on connections between people, between people and animals, and between people and their environments. Her most recent books are set in nature. Her debut, soon to be announced, offers a rich poetic look at deep sea exploration. One of her latest projects, BLOOM is a metaphorical look about the unique potential of every child.
Making connections is also at the heart of Inked Voices, the well-reputed, international, online writers’ platform established by Brooke to inspire professionalism, nurture creativity, and foster community for rising and published authors.
For over two decades, Associate Professor Anne O’Dwyer has taught a range of psychology courses at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. Her research looks at how the nature of self intersects with interpersonal conflicts and asks how these conflicts impact how we think and feel about ourselves. Anne has published in professional journals and presented at many conferences. She is a past-president of the New England Psychological Association.
Anne is currently working on a book for the general public that explores the psychology of road rage. An authority on the topic, she will help readers understand its origins and dangers, show how other types of anger are related, and share how to ease interpersonal aggressions on the road and off.
Katie Palazzola is an author-illustrator from St. Louis, Missouri. She shares a little purple house with her husband, daughter, and dog, where she writes, draws, and daydreams about the multiverse. She loves to collect rocks, visit her garden, and chase her kid through muddy puddles. As humble curator of her toddler's library, Katie is dedicated to creating books that surprise and delight. Her stories are whimsical, magically strange, and brimming with quirky humor.
Katie's current picture book explores the multiverse for young readers in a tale about a laboratory specimen who ventures through a wormhole, befriends his future self, and narrowly escapes being eaten by a Space Robin (by diving back through the wormhole, of course!).
Kentee is the creative force of nature behind @dexterdogouray, the bipedal, tri-pawed wonder dog taking the world and the internet by storm. As Dexter’s puppy parent she is his social media manager, pet influencer, pooper scooper, video producer, and inspirational writer. Dexter Dog Ouray has won the 2021 Ollie Heartfelt Hero Award, the 2022 Durango Cowboy Gathering Best Family Award, and an Emmy Channel 9 News in Denver over an inspirational interview of Kentee and Dexter. An entrepreneur and fine artist, Kentee has a Recreation Administration degree from the University of Northern Colorado.
Ouray, Colorado has always been home as Kentee grew up in a fourth-generation Northern Italian family. In 2009, after living all over the United States with her US Coast Guard helicopter pilot husband Tim Pasek, they returned home to Ouray to raise their two young children in a multigenerational household with Kentee’s parents. Dexter, a pedigreed Brittany, joined the family in 2015. She has worked as an art show director, festival director, and manager of the Ouray Hot Springs Pool. In the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kentee rebounded from debilitating depression and found a new calling as a content producer and Dexter’s social media manager. She and Dexter have since reached millions of people worldwide, uplifting spirits and encouraging folks to get through the pandemic, one Dexter-step at a time.
Julie Peppito has been telling stories with various media, including trash, for over 30 years. Her work has been the subject of eight solo exhibitions, and you can visit her installations at J.J. Byrne Playground, Underhill Playground, and Slope Park in Brooklyn, NY. Orginally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Julie is a Brooklyn-based artist, activist, author, illustrator, and art educator. She is currently working on her picture book debut, OTHER PEOPLE’S SHOES, a fanciful exploration of empathy told through richly layered mixed-media illustrations.
In 2015, artist and writer Pops Peterson debuted REINVENTING ROCKWELL, a series of artworks reimagining mid-century illustrations by Norman Rockwell in a manner reflective of today’s times. Celebrating America’s rich diversity and embracing Rockwell’s sense of humanity, Peterson has created images that envision social change and express his desire for a positive, inclusive, and just world. The collection was featured at The Norman Rockwell Museum in what became the longest-running solo exhibition in the museum's history, fall 2020- summer 2021. Peterson’s artistic education began at the High School of Music and Art in New York and continued at Pratt Institute and Columbia University.
Pops Peterson’s collection of Rockwell-influenced/social justice paintings will be featured in a solo exhibition at the Massachusetts State House in Summer 2022. He is currently working on an illustrated YA book featuring these dynamic paintings.
UK-based Thalamus Plank was brought up in a creative household with a blend of English and Guyanese cultures and was encouraged to write and draw from an early age. Passionate about storytelling, Thalamus studied performing arts, and has written and directed pieces for performance in different media.
Co-running a small animal rescue, Thalamus lives with one other human, a collection of huskies and a variety of mammals, avians, and reptiles—life is never dull, and inspiration, never far!
The author/illustrator’s current work-in-progress is a picture book about a kiddo who believes his granny has a sneaky secret—one that could get her into more trouble than any child would encounter.
Award-winning writer and journalist Lisa N. Peterson worked as a crime reporter at The Newtown Bee in the 1980s, covering two high-profile murder cases—the woodchipper murder and the disappearance of Regina Brown—in Newtown, Connecticut. She is the foremost expert on these two interwoven domestic violence murder cases—both without bodies.
Her new manuscript, The Look-Back Window: A Journalist’s Memories of Murders and Men, is a true crime memoir.
Rebecca Pitts writes for and makes things with young people. She is a freelance writer (published in the New York Times for Kids, Teen Vogue, Highlights Magazine, and elsewhere) and author of the YA book JANE JACOBS: CHAMPION OF CITIES, CHAMPION OF PEOPLE (forthcoming by Seven Stories Press, Sept, 2023.) She runs workshops in the Lower Hudson Valley Rivertowns for young writers and artists, guiding children in visual storytelling in comics, zines, and newspaper-making.
A former archivist, Rebecca’s happy place is in the stacks, poring over records and correspondence. She believes that all children deserve access to true, full accounts of history. She is interested in crafting various genres of children’s books (including picture books and graphic novels) and is currently working on a picture book about a pioneer of journalism who set ground-breaking standards for ethics in reporting.
Kathy Z. Price is an author, poet, and musician. Her latest literary PB, MARDI GRAS ALMOST DIDN'T COME THIS YEAR (2022, Atheneum), about Hurricane Katrina, received starred reviews from Horn Books, ALA Booklist, and Publisher's Weekly. An earlier book received favorable reviews in the NYT and was a Children's Literature Assembly Notable Book. Tri-Quarterly Review, Bayou Magazine, Cincinnati Review, and Pleiades have featured her work. She's a two-time Pushcart nominee and has been a fellow at the NY Foundation of the Arts, MacDowell, Hedgebrook, Edward Albee Foundation, and Cave Canem.
Kathy's newest projects include a PB that offers a fresh perspective and musically crafted approach to Josephine Baker. She's also completing a middle-grade novel focusing on a bi-racial "tween" girl coping with selective mutism.
Frank Riccardi is a cybersecurity and privacy expert passionate about empowering people and companies with the cyber-savvy needed to repel cyberattacks. With 25 years of experience in healthcare compliance and privacy, he has led the response to high-profile data breaches and cybersecurity investigations and developed robust compliance and privacy programs for large healthcare systems. Frank is the author of Mobilizing the C-suite: Waging War Against Cyberattacks (Business Expert Press), a call to arms for business leaders to take action against cyberattacks.
He is currently working on a pop tech book meant for general audiences that covers the scams and technologies that cybercriminals employ to steal your data and ruin your life, and how to defend yourself from it.
Erin is an author, 4th grade teacher in Vermont, and a UPenn Literacy Network facilitator. Her first book, Charlotte’s Bones: The Beluga Whale in a Farmer’s Field, won silver for nonfiction from The Moonbeam Children's Book Awards and will be featured in an upcoming edition of NSTA’s Picture Perfect Science. When she isn't writing about science, nature, or remarkable human subjects, she's a sports mom hauling two kiddos to fields and courts around the state.
Erin juxtaposes childlike curiosity and humor with serious interest in science. She’s currently working on a PB on plate tectonics. Her Snot to the Rescue playfully introduces readers to the diagnostic riches of whale snot, which is a key to the welfare of those magnificence creatures and the health of our oceans.
Shelley Rotner is the author and photo-illustrator of 50 award-winning children’s books. She has traveled extensively for UNICEF documenting programs about children and education. She has a Dual Masters in Elementary Education and Museum Education from the Bank Street College of Education.
Shelley's latest photo-illustrated nonfiction picture book (a collaboration with author Gwen Agna) is called TRUE YOU: A GENDER JOURNEY. It will be published by Clarion Books in September, 2022.
Ashley is a writer, producer, and an initiated Priestess. She has been practicing magick for over half her life. Ashley earned her BA in Philosophy and Theology which propelled her deeper into the magical world where she was a professional ghost hunter for two years. Ashley teaches witchcraft at Pythian Mystery School to help those find and responsibly walk their spiritual path.
She is currently writing a magical book under her online persona, Pythian Priestess, advising on spells, creations of rituals, and the basics of witchcraft. All the tips and tricks you could ever need from the witchy big sister you never had!
Enid Baxter Ryce comes to writing from her career as a filmmaker and artist. She has a BFA from The Cooper Union, where she won the Academy of American Poets’ Elizabeth Kray Prize and the Ethyl Kram prize for Overall Excellence in Art. She was an Ellen Battel Stokel fellow at Yale University and an MFA fellow at Claremont Graduate University where she studied art and creative writing. After writing and editing a documentary that screened at Sundance, Enid has gone on to exhibit her films and paintings internationally at venues recently including the National Gallery of Art and Library of Congress, and has been written about in The New York Times, Artforum, Artreviews, The Los Angeles Times, and many others.
Enid’s writing and illustrations are inspired by her multicultural family and their experiences in the natural world. She is currently working on a middle grade mystery that involves both arson and paranormal spirits.
Lauren Seal is a writer, librarian, and the third Poet Laureate of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada. Her work has appeared in various literary magazines and anthologies, and she's performed at numerous festivals and events. She mentors the teen and young adult poets of SWYC - the Spoken Word Youth Choir - and performs in the adult incarnation of the group. In her free time, Lauren can be found reading, writing, and composing poems in her head on long walks.
Lauren's debut novel, a YA novel-in-verse titled LIGHT ENOUGH TO FLOAT, will be published by Rocky Pond Books/Penguin Teen in Fall 2024.
The author of three previous books, Stephanie Sellers brings together her work as a journalist, college educator, expert in gender studies, and advocate for women to her sensibilities as a writer. Sellers is the founder of Sedna's Daughters, an international virtual community for women who have been shunned or 'mobbed' by their families.
Her newest book, Sedna’s Daughters, to be released Spring 2023 by North Atlantic Books fits the pieces of shunned daughter’s experiences into a cohesive and healing picture.
Christina Shawn is a reading specialist, literacy coach, and author who writes about magical moments in our everyday lives. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and three kiddos, who provide a constant supply of support, humor, and inspiration. Christina loves yoga, beach bike rides, mountain hikes, and adventuring to new places. Mostly, she loves the spark of learning something new and passing it along. Her writing focuses on early literacy foundations while helping children feel seen, heard, and understood.
Christina has two picture books being published in 2025: There’s Always Room for More, illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani, about a reluctant child in a growing family (Chronicle Books); and No-Love Potion (The Little Press), a story that bubbles over with chaos and humor as a young witch’s “No-Love” potion is spoiled by Ingredient Number 9 unexpectedly hopping into her heart.
Dana Sherwood is an American artist/writer/illustrator. Her distinct style uses dreamlike magical realism to explore the interconnectedness between humans and the natural world and humans and non-human animals, including our companion species and those who live on frontiers of human civilization: raccoons, possums, foxes, and others. Like Alice’s mad tea party, food plays an important role in the mise en scene. The result is both enchanted and down-to-earth; her diverse work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide.
Sherwood’s debut, THE NIGHT FEAST is about a child’s attempts to make friends with forest creatures.
Seymour Simon, whom the New York Times called. “the dean of the [children’s science] field,” is the author of over 300 highly acclaimed science books, more than seventy-five of which have been named Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).
His latest book, CLIMATE ACTION: WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT WE CAN DO was published by HarperCollins.
Crystal Simone Smith is the author of Down to Earth (Longleaf Press, 2021), Running Music (Longleaf Press, 2014), and Routes Home (Finishing Line Press, 2013). In 2020, she received a Duke University fellowship to research and compose African American haiku. She is the Founder and Managing Editor of Backbone Press Inc., which publishes emerging & established poets of color.
Her forthcoming YA book of blackout poetry, DARK TESTAMENT, was created from the text of George Saunders' experimental novel "Lincoln in the Bardo," and written during the days and weeks of demonstrations that followed the death of George Floyd. It will be published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers in January 2023.
Author/Illustrator Rebecca Solow creates imaginative worlds from her home studio in Maryland. She's illustrated projects for Penguin Random House, Highlights Magazine, Spider Magazine and others and focuses on children's books, ranging from picture books through YA. She's drawn to animal stories, updated folk and fairy tales, middle-grade fantasy, and stories with humor and heart. Rebecca has a particular interest in narratives that feature strong girls who solve their own problems.
Though Rebecca has numerous books in the works, her latest work focuses on the lively and (literally) ‘explosive' true story of a young woman of particular courage and stamina.
Emily “E.L.” Starling is a YA speculative fiction writer from the center of California, midway between all the cities anyone has ever heard of. Now living in Portland, Oregon, she spends her time papercutting, hiking, befriending neighborhood cats, running a small business with her husband/high school sweetheart, and weaving stories full of longing and twisty secrets.
Emily’s current manuscript is a YA grounded sci-fi romance. Travel between planets has become as common as crossing an ocean. Star-crossed teens fall in love on one fateful voyage. They might overcome their class divide—if they make it to their destination alive.
Renowned percussionist and storyteller Carol Steele has a resumé that reads like a who’s who of popular music. She has performed or recorded with Peter Gabriel, Steve Winwood, Joan Baez, Tears for Fears, Diana Ross, Mongo Santamaria, and many other well-known artists. Carol realized her life-long dream of going to Cuba in 1987, where she was the first woman to play with Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, one of Cuba’s iconic folklore groups. Carol calls Cuba her spiritual home, and now spends most of her time there.
She brings the depth all of these experiences to her solo performing and writing, hoping to honor her 30-year career in the telling of her stories. Currently, Carol is working on her memoir, tentatively titled A Different Drummer.
Charles B. Strozier has written or edited ten books, has been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize, and was recently shortlisted for the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize. His articles frequently appear in periodicals and he’s often participated, on camera, in documentary films and audio interviews. He’s written extensively on the noted 20th century psychoanalyst, Heinz Kohut. Chuck, a practicing psychoanalyst, is Professor Emeritus of History at John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
His current project, Radical Empathy: Politics & Psychology in Northern Ireland, focuses on how the peace process in Northern Ireland was facilitated and stabilized through the work of politician/psychiatrist John Alderdice.
Gabriella Svenningsen is a Swedish author and illustrator living in New Haven, Connecticut. She’s captivated by how words and images play off one another and, appropriately, holds degrees in Comparative Literature and Art History. Her source of inspiration comes from childhood memories, fleeting every-day moments, and her work in museums.
Gabriella began her career as a playwright in London, UK, where her plays were staged at the Round Chapel and the Royal Court Theatre. Over the last 15 years her main focus has been to write and illustrate picture books for children and adults.
While her next story takes root in her head, you can find several projects on Gabriella’s drawing desk. Her current work-in-progress; Lost and Found was inspired when she saw lost dinosaur sitting amongst empty plates at a diner. Who forgot her toy; will she ever find it again?
Maryam A. Sullivan is an educator, writer, storyteller and mother from Western Massachusetts. She penned the first Urban Muslim fiction book in 2006 before moving abroad to teach in North Africa and the Gulf. Currently, she is a program coordinator at Springfield Technical Community College, a fellow at Indiana University's Lilly School of Philanthropy, and the co-editor of Black Muslim Reads. She enjoys working on urban literacy initiatives in her community, spending time with her family, and traveling.
Maryam’s current project is a work of urban Muslim fiction called MAMA JOY’S DAUGHTERS.
Amanda Lee Summers is an illustrator, animator, and author based in New Jersey. She's created digital storybooks for several major children's television shows including Nick Jr.’s Blue's Clues & You! She’s also worked as an artist and animator on the original Blue's Clues, Little Einsteins, Team Umizoomi, and Blaze and the Monster Machines. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she comes from a small dynasty of kidlit artists. Her mom is celebrated author/illustrator Diane deGroat and Amanda s proud to carry on the family tradition.
Amanda is thrilled to collaborate with her childhood best friend Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh on their current project, Candy Kitty Land, an early chapter book series for ages 6-9. In these stories, Edie, who lives with her dad above their candy shop, meets five magical cats. The kitties transport her to a land of walking, talking confections! Edie returns from each Candy Kitty Land adventure better prepared to meet the challenges of the “real” world. Drawing from their own childhood experiences, Amanda and Jamie are ready to captivate young readers with sweet escapades.
Angel Tate has been creating stories since she was a kid growing up on the south side of Chicago. The author/illustrator studied English Literature and Radiologic Science in college and had a long career working in healthcare. She realized she had a passion for writing children’s books while raising her three girls. Unable to find books with characters that represented the people closest to her heart, she went to work, creating what she didn’t see. Now, Angel is trying hard to make books that show kids that they not only exist everywhere in this world, but they belong there as well.
Angel’s first chapter books will be released in spring of 2023, and she is currently working on her debut, non-fiction, STEAM picture book.
Transformed by the study of yoga and the journey into conscious compassionate heart-centered living, Jamie is constantly encouraging seekers to look within and awaken their inner vibrancy and guidance. Her current manuscript, a collaboration with Shelley Rotner, is called Living Yoga in the Present Moment.
Erica Simone Turnipseed is a writer who has published two adult novels, and a wife, a mom, and a teacher, not necessarily in that order. She’s also a student of popular culture and an everywoman philanthropist who founded the Five Years for the House Initiative, a fund-raising drive for the Afro American Cultural Center at Yale.
Her forthcoming picture book, Bigger Than Me, will be published by Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / Atheneum in 2023. Her latest adult novel, American Sibyl, weaves one Black family's present, past, and future into a captivating 250 year saga and will be published by 2Leaf Press in Spring 2024.
Kim Watson got his start as a bandleader, writer and performer on the New York music scene. After segueing into film he established himself as an innovator and director of over 40 music videos, garnering “Best Music Video” nominations from both MTV and the Soul Train Awards, and NAACP recognition for his presentation of positive images of African Americans. Watson went on to write for Disney, Nickelodeon, Simon & Schuster, Warner Brothers Films, MTV Films, Kidz Bop, movies of the week, and the Universal Pictures hit HONEY, starring Jessica Alba, before directing and conducting the interviews for A&E Biography’s groundbreaking documentary on LL Cool J.
Watson’s current photo series, TRESPASS, spotlights Los Angeles' homeless and highlights his skills as a “thought leader” and passionate, multi-dimensional artist who stirs people’s deepest emotions and promotes social change through his creativity. It will be published by Broadleaf Books in 2024.
Ashley Wilda is a 2019 graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults. Wild coaches competitive rock climbing and describes herself as a “maker, musician, and artist of many mediums.”
Her debut YA novel, The Night Fox, is a contemporary work of magical realism, with the past told in poetry and the present told in prose. It will be published by Rocky Pond Books (PRH) in 2023.
Amy Day Wilkinson is a writer and professor based, with her family, in Brooklyn, New York. Amy’s essays and short stories have appeared in literary journals such as New Letters, The Missouri Review, The Minnesota Review, Jabberwork Review, Elm Leaves Journal, and others. Several pieces have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Amy’s taught Writing as part of NYU’s Liberal Studies program since 2009. She spent the 2017-2018 academic year teaching at NYU’s Florence, Italy campus. Her children were, briefly, fluent in Italian, and Amy’s been tweaking a Tuscan ragu recipe since returning home.
Amy’s debut novel is set largely on the New York City subway, which she, like most New Yorkers, loves and hates in near equal proportions. It’s a system of platforms, plastic seats, metal bars, tunnels, strangers, and—for the most part—civility that Amy frequents and knows well.
Barry Wittenstein is widely published in narrative nonfiction and historical fiction picture books. He’s the author of A Place to Land (Neal Porter Books/2019), illustrated by Caldecott winner Jerry Pinkney. It won the 2020 Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction and was named a Bank Street Best Book of the Year and nominated for an NAACP Image Award.
In 2023, Paula Wiseman Books will publish The Day The River Caught Fire (Jessie Hartland, illustrator)—based on the 1969 fire on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River. Barry is currently writing television scripts for grownups and a YA prose/poem novel; he and his wife live in New York City.
Jessica Wolf is a writer and editor of (mostly) creative non-fiction. She is co-author of Deep Listening: Healing Practices to Calm Your Body, Clear Your Mind, and Open Your Heart/Rodale Press. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Huffington Post, AARP’s The Girlfriend, Istanbul Literary Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, among others.
Samantha Tisdel Wright is an award-winning independent journalist based in southwestern Colorado with a passion for crafting deeply reported narratives. Her writing roots are in the ink-stained caffeinated trenches of hyperlocal community journalism. She has worked for publications from McMurdo Station, Antarctica to southwestern Colorado and beyond as a reporter, columnist, contributor, and editor. Samantha believes small towns have big stories. She has dozens of journalism awards to prove it – including the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists, which she earned for her coverage of a mine fatality in 2014.
Samantha and her lifelong friend Kentee Pasek are currently collaborating on a narrative nonfiction book about Kentee’s disabled dog Dexter (@DexterDogOuray), an American Brittany who taught himself to walk upright after losing a front leg in an accident and has gone on to become an internet sensation, inspiring and uplifting people around the world.