Regional Conference Faculty
Additional headshots and bios coming soon!
Aneeka Kalia – Associate Editor, Viking Children’s Books
Aneeka Kalia is an Associate Editor at Viking Children’s Books. She acquires and edits stories across all ages and formats but particularly focuses on picture books and graphic novels. She enjoys contemporary/realistic middle grade and YA, and character driven picture books. She likes books that can make her laugh, no matter what the age range or format is. When Aneeka’s not editing, she loves to play soccer and tennis, hike, try out all of Brooklyn’s coffee shops, and try her hand at cooking.
Pronouns – she/her/hers
Follow Aneeka – Twitter
Brett Duquette – Executive Editor, Little Bee Books
Brett Duquette is the executive editor for Little Bee Books/Yellow Jacket. His list strives to provide children the opportunity to see themselves thriving in the world, while also educating and empowering them to help shape its future. He currently acquires picture books, board books, and middle grade novels in a wide array of genres. Brett is perhaps most proud of his collaboration with GLAAD to help represent LGBTQ+ families in children’s literature. Recently, one of these titles, Grandad’s Camper, written and illustrated by Harry Woodgate, was recognized as a Stonewall Honor Book by ALA. Brett believes that children’s literature has the power to affect meaningful change and is looking to help creators bring like-minded projects to publication. He believes in moral publishing and is always looking for titles that uplift, inspire, and call out injustice. Brett lives in a cozy Brooklyn apartment with his partner and 1-year old baby.
Pronouns – he/him/his
Follow Brett – Instagram
Chris Krones – Editor, Clarion Books
Chris Krones is a writer who has been a children’s book editor for more than a decade. They hold an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. Chris has edited a wide variety of books – from board books and picture books to middle grade novels and graphic novels. They are the author of CHILL, CHOMP, CHILL and the upcoming picture book, THE PRONOUN BOOK. Chris lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
Eileen Robinson – Executive Editor, Reycraft Books
Eileen Robinson has worked with children’s writers all over the world. Former Executive Editor at Scholastic and Editorial Director at Harcourt, she has acquired published works from the U.K. and Italy, and created original works for U.S. markets. She teaches workshops on revision with Harold Underdown at Highlights, a facilitator for Amplify Black Voices for Brown Bookshelf/Highlights, and is publisher of Move Books and Executive Editor at Reycraft Books. And in her spare time, eats every dessert she can find.
Catherine Laudone – Editor, Paula Wiseman Books
Catherine Laudone joined Simon & Schuster in 2013. She has the pleasure of working with New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Apryl Stott, Kaz Windness, Cyndi Marko, Annie Silvestro, Don Tate, Alexandra Diaz, Reina Luz Alegre, Jennifer Gennari, and many others. Catherine acquires picture books and middle grade with a special focus on finding stories featuring underrepresented voices. She is especially passionate about stories featuring neurodiverse and disabled characters. For picture books, she is drawn to classic-feeling, character-driven stories with a strong hook. She loves clever twist endings, fresh spins on timeless themes, and characters that make you laugh or cry. For nonfiction picture books, she is looking for biographies and narrative nonfiction. For middle grade, Catherine is particularly drawn to coming of age stories with lots of heart, strong friendships, and intergenerational relationships. Catherine is also currently pursuing her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her co-authored nonfiction picture book debut, SHE KEPT DANCING: THE TRUE STORY OF SYDNEY MESHER, A PROFESSIONAL DANCER WITH A LIMB DIFFERENCE will be published by Macmillan in Fall 2023. When not editing or writing, she enjoys making pottery and baking. Learn more at catherinelaudone.com.
Laurent Linn – Art Director, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Laurent Linn, Art Director at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, collaborates on picture books, middle grade, and teen novels with both celebrated and new illustrators such as Rosemary Wells, Bryan Collier, Vashti Harrison, Raúl Colón, and Kaylani Juanita. He is also the author/illustrator of the critically acclaimed young adult novel, Draw the Line. Laurent is on the SCBWI Advisory Committee and is the Artistic Advisor for the annual Original Art exhibit at the Society of Illustrators in New York. Laurent began his career as a puppet designer/builder in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop, creating characters for productions including the Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island films, and eventually becoming the Creative Director for the Sesame Street Muppets, winning an Emmy Award.
Jacqui Lipton – Literary Agent & Founder, Raven Quill Literary Agency
Jacqui Lipton is a publishing attorney/consultant and literary agent. She is the founder of Raven Quill Literary Agent and has previously agented and interned at several leading kidlit agencies. She has taught and consulted on legal issues related to publishing, intellectual property and contract law in Australia, the UK, and the U.S. She is the author of “Law and Authors: A Legal Handbook for Writers” (University of California Press, 2020) and contributes regular columns on publishing law for the SCBWI Bulletin, Luna Station Quarterly, Catapult and Savvy Authors. Her latest book, “Our Data, Ourselves: A Consumer Guide to Digital Privacy” is forthcoming from University of California Press (fall 2022). Jacqui lives in Ohio with a family of three kids and three kitties.
Miranda Paul – Agent & Author Co-Chair of We Need Diverse Books, Erin Murphy Literary
Miranda Paul is an award-winning author of more than fifteen books for children. She has received starred reviews and Junior Library Guild distinction for several titles, including One Plastic Bag, Water is Water, I Am Farmer, Nine Months, and Little Libraries, Big Heroes. Her book, Whose Hands Are These? was an ILA Teacher’s Choice and her edited poetry collection, Thanku: Poems of Gratitude, was a 2020 ALA Notable title for all ages. Her most recent collaboration with Baptiste Paul, Peace, was simultaneously published in Spanish (Paz) and German (Frieden). Miranda is a frequent presenter at schools around the world, and has presented at the Library of Congress Young Readers Center with environmental activist Isatou Ceesay. She is a co-founding member of We Need Diverse Books and an agent at Erin Murphy Literary Agency, Inc. More at MirandaPaul.com.
Saritza Hernández – Agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency
Known as the first literary agent to represent marginalized creators in the digital publishing space, Saritza is a self-proclaimed geek who loves escaping into worlds and stories from all walks of life. Her love of great storytelling is what has driven her work in the publishing industry for the past 18 years and her passion for amplifying queer and BIPOC voices is what continues to drive her today. An avid romance and science-fiction reader, and strong advocate of the LGBTQ+ community, she enjoys fresh voices in YA and adult genre fiction. She specializes in romance and young adult fiction by and for diverse audiences.
Baptiste Paul — Author, Environmentalist & Activist
Baptiste Paul grew up in St. Lucia, where at age seven he propagated a root cutting that still produces breadfruit for his community. He holds an Environmental Studies degree and is the author of several books, The Field which received multiple starred reviews, To Carnival — A Celebration in St. Lucia (2021) and Climb On (2022). He is also the co-author of, I Am Farmer, Adventures To School, and Peace, with Miranda Paul. Learn more at baptistepaul.net.
Bruce Coville – Author & Member of the SCBWI Advisory Council
Bruce Coville has published over 100 books for children and young adults, including the international bestseller My Teacher is an Alien, the“Unicorn Chronicles” series, and Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher. His stories have won Children’s Choice awards in a dozen states. His most recent book is The Thief of Worlds (Random House Children’s Books, 2021). Before becoming a full time writer in 1986, Bruce worked as a teacher, a toymaker, a magazine editor, a gravedigger, and a cookware salesman. In 2001 he founded FULL CAST AUDIO, an audiobook company devoted to full cast, unabridged recordings of material for family listening. He has produced over 120 audiobooks, directing and/or acting in most of them. Much in demand as a speaker and storyteller, he has visited schools on five continents. You can find him on the web at www.brucecoville.com
Dan Santat – Author-Illustrator & Caldacott Medal Winner
Dan Santat is a #1 New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of over one hundred titles, including The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, which won the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 2015. Other titles include, Are We There Yet? and After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again). He is also the creator of the Disney animated hit, The Replacements. Visit him at www.dansantatbooks.com
Rajani LaRocca – Author & Newbery Honor Winner
Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning books for young readers. Her middle grade novel in verse, Red, White, and Whole, is the winner of the 2021 New England Book Award, the 2022 Walter Dean Myers Award, and a 2022 Newbery Honor. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now she is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks. Learn more about Rajani and her books at www.RajaniLaRocca.com. She also co hosts the STEM Women in KidLit Podcast.
Pat Zietlow Miller – Author & Golden Kite Award Winner
Pat Zietlow Miller knew she wanted to be a writer ever since her seventh-grade English teacher read her paper about square-dancing skirts out loud in class and said: “This is the first time anything a student has written has given me chills.” Pat started out as a newspaper reporter and wrote about everything from dartball and deer-hunting to diets and decoupage. Then, she joined an insurance company and edited its newsletter and magazine. Now, she writes children’s books full time. She has 13 books currently available and 10 more under contract. Her first book, SOPHIE’S SQUASH, won the Golden Kite Award for best picture book text. It also won an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor and a Crystal Kite Award. BE KIND was on the New York Times bestseller list for 10 weeks. Pat has one wonderful husband, two delightful daughters and two pampered cats. She lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
PAL Breakout Session Faculty:
Sophia Gholz – Author
Sophia Gholz is an award-winning children’s book author, music lover, magic seeker, and voracious reader. Sophia enjoys writing fiction with humor and heart. When writing nonfiction, she pulls on her love of science and her strong family background in ecology. Since 2017, Sophia has helped oversee the Henry L. Gholz SEEDS National Field Trip Endowment for The Ecological Society of America, funding ecological field experiences for students from diverse backgrounds. Sophia’s books have received accolades and starred reviews. Her debut, The Boy Who Grew a Forest, won the Florida State Book Award Gold Medal, a Eureka! Nonfiction Honor Award and was named a 2020 Green Earth Honor Book. Her new and upcoming releases include Jack Horner, Dinosaur Hunter!, Bug on the Rug, and A History of Toilet Paper (And Other Potty Tools). Previously, Sophia worked as an advertising copywriter and made a career working with visual artists in New York City. Now, when she’s not writing from her home base in Florida, you can find Sophia visiting schools or exploring the great outdoors with her family. For more, visit: www.SophiaGholz.com.
Taryn Souders – Author
Taryn’s middle grade novels have been named to multiple state reading award lists, including Missouri’s Mark Twain Award, Pennsylvania’s Young Readers Choice Awards, Ohio’s Buckeye Children’s Book Awards, Indiana’s Young Hoosier Award, Wisconsin’s Golden Archer Award, Alabama’s Camellia’s Childrens Choice Awards, Georgia Children’s Book Awards, Alaska’s Battle of the Books, Nebraska’s Golden Sower Award list, and Florida’s Sunshine State Young Readers Awards. Her novel, Coop Knows the Scoop, was a 2021 Edgar Award nominee for Best Juvenile mystery novel. She is a member of both SCBWI and Word Weavers International and is represented by Sally Apokedak of Apokedak Literary Agency. Taryn currently lives in Sorrento, Florida with her husband, David, their three children, a chocolate Lab named Charlie, and two cats—an overly fuzzy Ragdoll named Mordecai and a polydactyl Hemingway named Sebastian—who like to terrorize flies. While she’s somewhat decent at math, she is terrible at science and has an intense dislike of tarantulas.
Additional Critique Faculty:
Joyce Sweeney – Agent, The Seymour Agency
Joyce Sweeney is a young adult novelist and agent at The Seymour Agency, specializing in picture books and middle grade. She has published fourteen novels, two chapbooks of poetry and one non-fiction book on plotting. She worked for over 25 years as a developmental editor and mentor and has helped more than 75 mentees achieve traditional publishing contracts.
Sarah Fisk – Agent, The Tobias Agency
Sarah N. Fisk is a former mechanical engineer who made the switch to publishing in 2011. They have worked in the publishing industry as an editorial assistant, author’s assistant, publicist, and art director. Sarah is a former Pitch Wars mentor, board member, and Agent Liaison. They host the podcast Queries, Qualms, & Quirks and have a passion for spreadsheets.
Nicole Resciniti – President and Agent, The Seymour Agency
After a series of careers that ranged from motorcycles to marine science, Nicole found her calling while interning with Mary Sue Seymour. She maintains that there was no better mentor–or person–than Mary Sue. After becoming an agent, Nicole hit the ground running, helping dozens of debut authors to achieve their publishing dreams. Fast forward a decade, and those same authors are bestsellers, continuing to top the charts, many having published 30, 40 and 50+ books. It’s been an incredible journey! Great books are always the highest priority. And Nicole focuses on taking great books beyond the shelves into: tv/film, audio, gaming, comics, and foreign, carving subsidiary rights opportunities for her clients and remaining agile in an ever-changing publishing climate. She is especially interested in YA, MG, Chapter Books and Picture Books and is accepting queries and pitches personally and on behalf of her Kid’s Lit Team (Lesley, Marisa, Jennifer, Lynnette, Elisa). She is thankful for the privilege of working with her talented authors, the chance to play a part in bringing wonderful books into the world, and for her incredible team at The Seymour Agency.
Deena Fleming – Associate Art Director, Abrams
Deena Fleming has over 15 years of experience in graphic design for children’s books. An alumnus of the University of Central Florida, she began her career at Tangerine Press in Orlando where she was responsible for the concept, design, formatting and execution of product design for the art and product development directors. She moved to New York City where she was a senior graphic designer for Scholastic, Inc. and worked closely with art directors on children’s book concepts and designs. Deena became a freelance graphic designer for several years working with publishing house giants such as Simon & Schuster, Abrams and Canopy Books. She is now the Associate Art Director for Amulet in the Abrams Children’s design department where she leads in the design, development and implementation of the layout for both book covers and interiors for YA and MG books. Deena has worked with numerous notable children’s book authors and illustrators, many of whom have won prestigious literary and design awards. She now resides in Ormond Beach, Florida with her two sons, two cats and a very large lap dog named Zeus.
Pronouns – she/her/hers
Follow Deena – Instagram
Early Bird Sessions Faculty:
Taryn Souders – Rise and Write
Fred Koehler – Rise and Draw
Dianne Ochiltree – Rise and Stretch