Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2020 Regional Conference Additional Critiquers

is an associate literary agent at Apokedak Literary Agency. Her list includes both published and pre-published children’s book authors from picture book through young adult. Melissa is actively looking for new clients, and her wish list includes both funny and heartfelt stories across most genres, though she’s not a big fan of horror, sci-fi, or paranormal. She’s drawn to witty wording and whimsical design for picture books, humor and quick pacing for chapter books, charming mysteries or magic in middle grade, and fresh, character-driven stories in young adult. As a Florida resident, Melissa enjoys soaking up the endless summer with her husband and four boys.



Nicole Resciniti is president of the Seymour Agency. She has been listed by Publisher’s Marketplace as a top dealmaker in the country, and named ACFW’s 2012 Agent of the Year. Nicole is a member of AAR, ACFW, RWA, and Mensa.

She holds degrees in biology, psychology, and behavioral neuroscience. Nicole taught in the public school system and has worn many hats before heeding her calling to become a literary agent.

From Nicole:  “I have the best job in the world. I read for a living and make author’s dreams come true.”



Rob Sanders is a writer who teaches and a teacher who writes. He has been writing professionally since college; worked for fifteen years as an editor, editorial group manager, and product designer in educational publishing; and has a life-time of experience teaching children. Rob hosted the SCBWI Florida Tampa Bay area meetings for years, has served as Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI Florida, and created the Rising Kite Writing Contest for the region. He is a sought-after speaker, critiques hundreds of manuscripts a year, and finds time to write award-winning picture books that have been described as “fierce and funny.” Learn more about Rob at


Toni Buzzeo is a New York Times bestselling children’s author. She has published twenty-six picture books for kids (with three 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


Dianne Ochiltree’s first book for young readers was published by Scholastic in 1998, and since then, she has become a nationally recognized children’s author, writing coach, book reviewer and freelance editor. Her books have been featured in literacy programs, such as the Dollywood Foundation’s Imagination Library; made reading lists such as the ALA Amelia Bloomer List for Feminist Literature; and garnered awards such as the Florida Book Award for Children’s Literature.  She has provided workshops and critiques to hundreds of writers, helping others learn how to polish their manuscripts for submission to agents and editors.  For more information about Dianne and her work, go to


Gloria Rothstein
 has a background in educational publishing, plus years of experience writing for kids of all ages. She teaches “writing children’s books” workshops, runs writing programs/camps for tweens, and works with many writers one-on-one. Gloria is the author of Sheep Asleep (HarperCollins)—a picture book PBS Parents calls “a hysterical rhyming story”—Real-Life Writing Activities, Read Across America, and From Soup to Nuts (all from Scholastic), “Curious George” cartoons, and more. She’s been a speaker at SCBWI Conferences, the Miami Book Fair, the Willow Theatre, the Conference on Children’s Literature, and the Center for The Book. For the past twelve years, Gloria has been teaching writing workshops at Sugar Sand Park in Boca Raton. Her publishing credits include work for Children’s Television Workshop, Harcourt, Holt, Houghton Mifflin, Macmillan, Random House, Scribner, and Scholastic.


Joyce Sweeney is the author of fourteen novels for young adults and two chapbooks of poetry. Her books have won many awards and honors. She is currently working on a YA fantasy duology about Atlantis. She is represented by Nicole Resciniti of the Seymour Agency. Joyce has also been a writing teacher and coach for twenty-five years. She offers online classes ( In 2019, she, Jamie Morris and Tia Levings released Plotting Your Novel With the Plot Clock (Giantess Press).  At this writing, 63 of Joyce’s students have successfully obtained traditional publishing contracts. Joyce lives in Coral Springs with her husband, Jay and caffeine-addicted cat, Nitro.