Faculty Bios/2017 Orlando Mid-Year Workshop



imgres New York Times best selling children’s author Toni Buzzeo has published twenty-four picture books for kids (with two more forthcoming) as well as eleven books for teachers and librarians.  A former elementary school librarian and college and high school writing teacher, Toni and her books have won many awards, including a 2013 Caldecott Honor for One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small. Her characters are sometimes human and sometimes animals whose experiences echo those of human children. Either way, her characters are as lovable as the children Toni writes for. Toni lives in Arlington, Massachusetts just downstairs from her own two lovable grandbabies (endless sources of inspiration!) and their devoted parents. For more information about Toni and her books, visit www.tonibuzzeo.com.


13606654_10153848364786676_2896251647768598857_n Alma Fullerton was born in Ottawa Ontario Canada. She grew up in a large military family and has lived in various cities in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Germany. Alma struggled with reading and instead memorized most things, until the age of nine when with the help of her grade four teacher, she realized she had dyslexia. By grade nine Alma loved reading. She now lives in Ontario with her husband and two daughters.

 She is published in both novels and picture books as well as illustration. Her books have been nominated and/or have won over two dozen awards including the Governor General Finalist 2008, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award finalist 2009 & 2011 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award winner 2009, CLA Children's Book of the Year Honor Book 2009, 2011 Golden Oak Award winner 2009, Once Upon a World Children's Book Award Winner – 2009, Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award shortlist – 2010, SilverBirch Award shortlist -2010 Bank Street College Best Children's Books 2009, 2014, Blue Spruce Award 2014 & 2016, Kentucky BlueGrass Award 2015 and the 2016 Marilyn Baillie picture book award.


Bruce Hale

 Edgar-nominated author-illustrator Bruce Hale is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to open books (and actually read them). He has written over 40 seriously funny books for children, including the award-winning Chet Gecko MysteriesSnoring Beauty (one of Oprah’s Recommended Reads for Kids), and the Clark the Shark books, one of which ended up in a McDonald’s Happy Meal (not the way you think). His newest series, The Monstertown Mysteries, is based on a book he did in second grade, which should net him a spot in the Guinness Book of Records as world’s slowest writer. An actor and Fulbright Scholar in Storytelling, Bruce is in demand as a speaker, having presented at conferences, universities, and schools from New York to New Delhi.


Lisa Cline-Ransome Lesa Cline-Ransome's first book was the biography Satchel Paige, an ALA Notable Book and a Bank Street College “Best Children’s Book of the Year.” She later wrote Quilt Alphabet, Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist, Young Pele:  Soccer’s First Star, Words Set Me Free, Light in the Darkness,  Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson, Freedom’s School, and, her newest title, Just a Lucky So and  So: The Story of Louis ArmstrongMy Story, My Dance: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey was a 2016 Orbis Pictus recommended Book.

 Many of her books are in collaboration with her husband James Ransome. Lesa’s books have received numerous honors and awards including two NAACP Image Awards. She lives in Rhinebeck with her family. Visit her writerhood blog and website www.lesaclineransome.com.


getPart (1)James Ransome was born in Rich Square, North Carolina. He has been illustrating children’s books for over 25 years.  Winner of several awards for his illustrations, including the Coretta Scott King and NAACP Image awards, James received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration from Pratt Institute in New York. He is also a published author/illustrator of three books, Gunner: Football Hero, My Teacher, and New Red Bike. In addition to illustrating over 50 children’s books including Uncle Jed’s Barbershop, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, Aunt Flossie’s Hats and Crabcakes LaterSatchel Paige, Sky Boys, and This is the Rope,  he has also completed pieces for children’s magazines, and numerous book jackets.  In 2004 he completed a commissioned mural for the Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. James’ work is part of both private and public children’s book art collections. 

In 2016, the MTA Metro-North Railroad selected James to illustrate one in a series of posters for the New York City subway system. An Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at Syracuse University, James and his wife, author and frequent collaborator, Lesa Cline-Ransome live in Rhinebeck, New York and are the parents of four children and one very large Saint Bernard.  


matt ringler Matt Ringler is a senior editor at Scholastic specializing in chapter book, middle grade, and YA  fiction. He is the editor of the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine, the Game Changers series by Mike  Lupica, the STAT series by Amar’e Stoudemire, and the Little Rhino series by Ryan and Krystle Howard.

 His YA list includes the New York Times Bestseller Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky and It’s Not Me, It’s You by Stephanie Kate Strohm.  



Neff Headshot WebAuthor Henry H. Neff is the creator of two middle grade fantasy series. The Tapestry (Random House) is a five-book saga that follows the life and adventures of Max McDaniels. Its books have been translated into almost twenty languages and were finalists for The Texas Bluebonnet, Missouri Truman Award, and Northern California Book of the Year. Impyrium (HarperCollins) is the first in a new trilogy that follows the latter days of the Faeregines, an ancient family of sorcerers whose dynasty is under siege. The first book was designated the "Top Middle Grade Book of 2016" by Entertainment Weekly. Henry lives with his wife and two sons in Montclair, New Jersey.


FSFrancesco Sedita joined Penguin in 2008 as the publisher of Grosset & Dunlap, Price Stern Sloan, and Frederick Warne, where he focuses on creating a quality, affordable book  program for children  ages 0-12. Francesco is fortunate to publish authors like Ann Hood, Andrew Keenan-Bolger and  Kate Whetherhead, Giada De Laurentiis, Nancy Krulik, Henry  Winkler, Emma Thompson, and (13-year-old) Jake Marcionette. In Fall 2017, Francesco will launch a new imprint, called Penguin Workshop, which will give space to new voices, from picture books to young middle grade.

He attended New York University’s Gallatin School, where he studied writing and graduated with his MFA. He began his career in publishing in the publicity department of Alfred A. Knopf, and then moved to Scholastic, where he developed and oversaw the marketing and creative campaign for the final book in the Harry Potter series. Francesco has written the series Miss Popularity and has just been signed by Viking for his graphic novel series, currently titled The Young Pioneers. He’s just finished an adult novel, as well.


CIuouQIW_400x400Lucy Ruth Cummins is a writer and illustrator, and also a full time art director of picture books, middle grade books, and young adult novels for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Paula Wiseman books. She is the art director for numerous New York Times and international bestsellers from authors and illustrators including Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, Andrew Smith, Tommy Wallach, Michelle Hodkin, Becca Fitzpatrick, Kenneth Oppel, Mark Pett, and Jon Klassen. She proudly serves as both art director and illustrator for Stuart Gibbs's New York Times bestselling middle grade mysteries. Lucy made her author-illustrator debut in 2016 with her picture book "A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals."


lowres headshot2Lexa Hillyer is the author of the YA novels Spindle Fire and Proof of Forever, both published by HarperCollins. She is also the author of Acquainted with the Cold (Bona Fide Books), the 2012 gold prize winner of the Foreward Book of the Year Award for Poetry and recipient of the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize. Her work was featured in Best New Poets 2012, and she has received various prizes and honors for her poetry. Lexa earned her BA in English from Vassar College and her MFA in Poetry from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. She worked as an editor at HarperCollins and Penguin before co-founding the creative development company, Paper Lantern Lit, with New York Times Bestselling author Lauren Oliver. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.


Tiff_LiaoTiffany Liao is an editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. She's had the pleasure of editing authors such as Tomi Adeyemi, Jay Asher, Lesley Livingston, Simon Van Booy, Henry Lien, and Erin Chack among others. She acquires young adult and middle grade fiction of all stripes, as well as the occasional nonfiction title. A Bay Area native, Tiffany now resides in Brooklyn where she continues to pine for a good avocado. She (mostly) tweets about bookish things at @tiff_liao.



hu-portrait-2015Harold Underdown is the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books. He maintains The Purple Crayon website, which contains news and articles about writing, editing, illustrating, and marketing works for children and teens. He provides editorial services to publishers and authors and is a frequent presenter at workshops and conferences. Previously, he was Vice President and Editorial Director at ipicturebooks. Before that, he was editorial director of the Charlesbridge trade program, and also worked at Orchard Books and Macmillan.



Rubin Pfeffer headshotRubin Pfeffer has served as President and Publisher of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Trade, working with world-renowned writers and illustrators of Adult and Children’s literature. As SVP and Chief Creative Officer of Pearson, Inc. Pfeffer coordinated programs between Penguin and Pearson’s educational products and services. Later, he joined Simon & Schuster as SVP and Publisher of Children’s Books overseeing such fine imprints as S&S BFYR, Atheneum, McElderry Books and the launching of Beach Lane Books. Pfeffer founded Rubin Pfeffer Content, LLC, a literary agency focused on children’s content, representing industry award-winners and luminaries. RPC Content takes great pride in introducing new, emerging, and diverse voices in children’s writing and illustrating to the children’s books community.




Erica Rand Silverman, who recently joined the Stimola Literary Studio, will give attendees an exclusive subject line to use with submissions, although she is unable to present at the Mid-Year Workshop. (Instructions for sending will be in your workshop folder.) Erica is particularly interested in acquiring picture books and author/illustrators. 


Additional Critique Faculty


Lorin Oberweger, agent with Adams Literary, writing coach, Free Expressions Seminars and Literary Services


Joyce Sweeney, writing teacher and coach


Gloria Rothstein, writing teacher and coach