Vanessa Brantley-Newton is a an illustrator, doll maker, and crafter who studied fashion illustration at FIT and children’s book illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She is the author and illustrator of Let Freedom Sing, Grandma’s Purse, Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table and the forthcoming Just Like Me. She has illustrated numerous children’s books, including the NYT bestseller, The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, Sewing Stories by Barbara Herkert, Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer, One Love and Every Little Thing, words by Bob & Cedella Marley, and Presenting Tallulah by Tori Spelling. Vanessa currently makes her nest in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and a very rambunctious cat named Stripes. Learn more about Vanessa at: VanessaBrantleyNewton.com
Tara Lazar writes quirky, humorous picture books where anything is possible! Tara’s book 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story was honored with the 2018 Irma S. & James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature from Bank Street College of Education and SCBWI’s Crystal Kite. The sequel, The Upper Case: Trouble in Capital City, released in Fall 2019. She has several other titles in print, including The Monstore, Normal Norman, and Little Red Gliding Hood. Tara runs the popular online writing challenge STORYSTORM, now in its 11th year. She also serves as co-chair of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature’s One-on-One Plus conference. Tara lives in New Jersey (where it’s probably snowing) with her husband and two daughters. Visit her at: taralazar.com
Kaylan Adair is an Executive Editor at Candlewick Press, where she’s worked for the past fifteen years. She acquires and edits everything from board book originals to YA novels. Among the creators she’s worked with are Don Calame, Lindsay Eagar, Jennifer Richard Jacobson, Kenneth Kraegel, Anne Nesbet, Elizabeth Rusch, and Todd Strasser. She is drawn to characters first and plots second, and loves nothing more than to be caught up in the stories of characters who seem so real, she aches when she finally has to say goodbye.
Erin Murphy was born and raised in Arizona, and founded Erin Murphy Literary Agency in Flagstaff in 1999 after launching her publishing career as editor at a regional publishing house there. At EMLA she has focused not just on publishing books, but on building careers and creating a sense of community. In 2016, she relocated the agency headquarters to southern Maine. Erin represents writers and writer-illustrators of picture books, novels for middle-graders and young adults, and strong nonfiction for picture book readers, middle graders, and teens. Her favorite reads feel timeless, have strong voices, and express unique creative visions—especially those of underrepresented creators.
Molly O’Neill is an agent with Root Literary. She loves the creative process and early-stage project development, is invigorated by business strategy and entrepreneurial thinking, and is fascinated by the intersections of creativity, commerce, and community. She has been the editor of #1 New York Times bestsellers, a publishing/tech start-up executive, and a marketing expert; all of these past roles now power her work as an advocate for talented creators. Her client list is comprised of both emerging and award-winning authors, illustrators, and cartoonists/graphic novelists. Learn more at mollyoneillbooks.com or connect via Twitter: @molly_oneill or Instagram: @mollyoneillbooks.
Mekisha Telfer is an associate editor at Roaring Brook Press (Macmillian), where she is building a list of picture books, middle-grade, and young adult novels. She got her start in publishing in 2014 as an editorial assistant with Simon and Schuster BFYR/Salaam reads, and has also worked briefly at Glasstown Entertainment. Some titles she’s had the privilege of working on include the New York Times bestselling series To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi, I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest and Born to Fly by Steve Sheinkin. Mekisha is committed to supporting unrepresented voices and is always on the hunt for character-driven stories with a mix of humor and heart.
Lynne Kelly’s career as a sign language interpreter has taken her everywhere from classrooms to hospitals to Alaskan cruises. She was born in Galesburg, Illinois, grew up in Houston, lived in some much colder places, then found her way back to the Houston area, where she lives with her adorable dog, Holly. For a few years she also taught special education, a good career for someone with excellent organizational and planning skills. Lacking those skills, she quit teaching in 2006 and thankfully has more time for writing. But it was during those teaching years that she worked with some great kids and became interested in writing, so that all worked out. Her first novel, Chained, won the SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Award and was a South Asia Book Award honor. Song For a Whale is her second novel. Visit her at: lynnekellybooks.com
Maria Barbo is a Senior Editor at HarperCollins. She acquires high-concept series and standalones for young readers of all ages—focusing mostly on middle grade and select picture books, chapter books, and graphic novels. She is particularly interested in projects with authentic voices, strong hooks, and fresh perspectives that use humor, magic, or illustrations to help young readers learn to navigate their world. She works with award-winning and bestselling authors such as Natalie Lloyd, Jim Benton, and Lisa Greenwald. Prior to joining Harper, Maria worked at Scholastic Inc., earned an MFA in painting, and lived in Spain via the Fulbright Program.
Jack Cheng is a Shanghai-born, Detroit-based author of critically acclaimed fiction for young readers. His debut children’s novel, See You in the Cosmos, is winner of the 2017 Golden Kite and Great Lakes, Great Reads awards for Best Middle Grade Fiction. His next book, also for young readers, is set simultaneously in present-day Metro Detroit and 1960s Communist China. He has visited schools around the world speaking with students about finding their paths as writers and artists, and he volunteers with 826michigan on in-class writing projects in Detroit public schools. He is a 2019 Kresge Artist Fellow. Visit him at: https://jackcheng.com/see-you-in-the-cosmos
Kristen Nobles is the founding Publisher of Page Street Kids, the picture book imprint of Page Street Publishing that launched in Fall 2018. Prior to Page Street Kids, she spent 13 years as an Art Director at Candlewick Press and Walker Books Group and was a Senior Designer at Chronicle Books for 5 years. Kristen is focusing on collaborating with new talent and publishing narrative stories, picture book biographies, and visually driven concept books all with distinct art. She loves strong characters, stories with humor and heart, a unique style or retro look made new again, and looks for a surprising spin on the tried and true subjects of kid books such as trains and unicorns. Kristen has worked with author/illustrators Carson Ellis, Steve Light, Leslie Patricelli, Matt Tavares, and Jessica Love, as well as illustrators Sophie Blackall, John Rocco, Ed Young, and many others on award-winning books. She graduated from the University of Buffalo with degrees in Communication Design and Art History, and has pursued further studies at SVA, Harvard, and Mass Art. Most weekends, Kristen spends her time hiking with her dog, swimming in fresh water lakes, shopping the local farmer’s markets, and curling up with a good book next to the wood stove at her house in Maine. Visit her at: www.kristennobles.com and www.pagestreetpublishing.com/kids
Sherri Rinker is the #1 NYT bestselling author of the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site Series and Steam Train, Dream Train (Chronicle Books). She also authored the nonfiction picture book biography Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton (HMH, illust. by John Rocco), which received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. Some of her other titles include Silly Wonderful You (Balzer+Bray, illust. by Patrick McDonnell), The 12 Sleighs of Christmas (Chronicle, illust. by Jake Parker), Tiny and the Big Dig (Scholastic, illust. by Matt Myers) and Celebrate YOU (Balzer+Bray, illust. by A.N. Kang). Sherri lives in the Chicago area with her husband, two sons and one fluffy dog. Inspired by her sons, by her 25-year career as a graphic designer, and by her own childhood memories, Sherri writes from a place of love and in hopes of happier bedtimes and sweet dreams for all. Visit her at: www.sherririnker.com
Minju Chang has been with BookStop since 2006. She represents both fiction and nonfiction in all children’s book categories: picture books, chapter books, middle-grade, graphic novels and YA. She also represents illustrators and is eager to find author-illustrators. Across all genres and formats, Minju looks for emotional impact and distinctive voices. She is always on the lookout for an unusual and authentic “insider” point of view, stories that shift her perspective of the world, and vivid settings that make her want to linger and explore. On her current wish list: evocative magical realism; heartwarming MG with clever and gutsy characters; realistic and fantastical graphic novels for ages 5 and up; strong female characters in all genres; picture books that range from charming and quirky to irreverent and subversive; narrative non-fiction with a timely hook; voice-driven historical fiction; re-tellings of fairy tales, myths and legends; re-imagination of the literary canon (esp. Austen, Brontë sisters, Dickens, and Collins); light fantasy; YA romance with tons of humor; and stories about finding family and friends in unexpected places and ways.
Sonia Chaghatzbanian is the Executive Art Director at Simon & Schuster for the imprints Atheneum Books for Young Readers, McElderry Books, and Beach Lane Books. In partnership with many talented artists, writers, colleagues, and team members, she helps produce a wide range of books, including picture books, graphic novels, middle grade, and YA novels. Some of her favorite projects have included the Zombies vs Unicorns anthology, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, Hug Machine by Scott Campbell, New York Times bestseller Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, The Bell Rang, by James Ransome, Skulls! by Blair Thornburgh and illustrated by Scott Cambpell, and the upcoming novel, The Deep, by Rivers Solomon with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes. She currently lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, and is always looking for new talent!
Author/Independent Book Editor
Lorin Oberweger is a highly sought-after independent book editor and ghostwriter with more than twenty-five years experience in publishing. Her company, Free Expressions, offers intensive, deep craft workshops nationwide, and her clients have placed work with every major publishing house and many important smaller presses. They have also gained representation with some of the industry’s leading literary agents. With bestselling author Veronica Rossi, Lorin is the author of the novels Boomerang, Rebound, and Bounce, published by Harper/William Morrow under the pen name Noelle August. She can be contacted at: email@example.com.
Moira Rose Donohue is the author of over 30 books for children, mostly nonfiction. She began writing for children after her defection from the practice of banking law. Her 2019 releases include: Tree Frogs, The U.S. Constitution: Why it Matters to You, and two books about Gettysburg National Military Park, all with Scholastic Children’s Press, and Making Smart Money Choices (ABDO). She has published several books with National Geographic, including Little Kids First Big Book of the Rain Forest and Dog on a Bike. Two of her books, The Invasion of Normandy (North Star Editions 2017) and Great White Sharks (Scholastic Children’s Press, 2018) are Junior Library Guild Selections. She also published two fictional books about animated punctuation marks, Alfie the Apostrophe and Penny and the Punctuation Bee, both with Albert Whitman. Moira is working on a series of biographies related to Florida. And coming soon from Sleeping Bear Press, How to Draw a Lion (co-authored with John Platt) and Stompin’ at the Savoy (working title). Moira lives in St. Petersburg, Florida with her dog, Petunia. Learn more at: http://www.moirarosedonohue.net.