Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2018 First Books Panel

Jonathan Rosen is an author and freelance writer who spends his “free” time being a volunteer coach for his daughter’s softball team and a chauffeur for all of his kids. Jonathan is of Mexican-American descent, though neither country has really been willing to accept responsibility. Find him on Twitter, Facebook,, FromtheMixedUpFiles.Com, and also his own website, Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies is his debut novel. Jonathan lives with his family in sunny South Florida.




Julie Shepard began her writing career on a Smith Corona typewriter, hammering out dark stories like the twisted tale about homicidal identical twins who conspire to get away with murder. She earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida and a teaching degree in Middle Grades English from Florida International University. While in the classroom, she developed a keen ear for adolescent drama and knew that young adult fiction was the path her writing journey would take. She lives by the beautiful beaches of South Florida, where sunny skies often beckon her outside to do her writing on a lounge chair. Rosie Girl is her debut.


Zebo Ludvicek graduated with a BFA from the University of Maryland. The rest, as they say, is art history. Today, Zebo takes commissions for murals and portraits from NYC to Key West. Her most well known mural in Sarasota being The Monkey Bar at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key. Her illustrations have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. Mouse is Zebo’s debut picture book as author/illustrator, working with Jen Besser and Cecilia Yung at G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Zebo happily resides in not-so-sunny North Port with her always sunny husband, Sam, and their three-legged, Jack Russell Terrier, Mouse.


Since her YA novel Blame was published in June by Taylor and Seale Publishing, Melody Dean Dimick has booked speaking engagements and book-signing events. Her short stories have been published in five annual Florida Writers Association (FWA) collections; one of her poems was the first poem ever published in an FWA collection. In 2016, her unpublished verse novel captured a First Place in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. Melody is a former teacher and adjunct professor, reviewer for, blogger, pickleball player, and member of SCBWI.


Larissa Hardesty is a Young Adult author of speculative fiction. Having lived a fairytale when she met her husband while on vacation at Disney World as a high school senior, all of her stories have at least a touch of romance. Larissa writes in between teaching music to elementary students, directing elementary school musicals, and directing the handbell choirs at her church. Her debut novel, Kiss Me, Kill You, released from Entangled Crave in June 2017. She lives in Central Florida with her husband and three children.