Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2020 Faculty




All attendees are welcome to submit to the in-person editors and agents (in attendance at 2020 Letters & Lines) AFTER the conference. We will have submission guidelines for each of them in your packets including instructions to identify you as an attendee at our conference.

NOTE: Speakers who are offering 1-on-1 critiques and portfolio consultations have that noted in their bios. You must register online for any of these offerings.


Sylvie Frank is Senior Editor at Paula Wiseman Books, a boutique imprint of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Division. She is the editor of award-winning and critically acclaimed books including Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo; I Have a Balloon by Ariel Bernstein, illustrated by Scott Magoon; Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome; and OCDaniel by Wesley King. Since joining Paula Wiseman Books in 2013, Sylvie has been on the prowl for literary, character-driven middle grade and kid-focused, snappy picture books. She is drawn to original and diverse voices across all genres. One of her favorite pastimes is browsing agents’ and illustrators’ websites for new talent. When she’s not reading, Sylvie can be found running while listening to audiobooks. Sylvie will be providing a limited number of one-on-one critiques for Picture Books ONLY, as well as a limited number of one-on-one portfolio reviews.



Stephanie Fretwell-Hill is a literary agent with a sales and editorial background. After starting her career in foreign rights at Walker Books in the UK, Stephanie moved home to the US as an acquiring editor at Peachtree Publishers. In 2016, she joined Red Fox Literary where she represents authors and illustrators of fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle grade, and YA. Some of her clients include R. W. Alley, Beth Anderson, Carolyn Crimi, Edith Cohn, Brad Sneed, Christina Soontornvat, and Archana Sreenivasan. Stephanie lives in North Carolina with her English husband, two very spirited daughters, and a rescued border collie. Stephanie will be providing a limited number of one-on-one manuscript critiques for fiction and nonfiction picture books and MG; please no high fantasy or sci fi. She will also provide a limited number of one-on-one portfolio reviews.



Meet Megan Ilnitzki, one of our esteemed Letters & Lines faculty members! She’s an editor at HarperCollins Children’s acquiring picture books through young adult titles, with a focus on middle grade. Her list includes books by Caroline Carlson, Alysa Wishingrad, M.O. Yuksel, Jason June, Jeanne Walker Harvey, Jacquetta Nammar Feldman, Rochelle Hassan, Breanna Carzoo, Samantha Berger, and more. She also works on the classic programs for Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, and Eric Carle, and is part of the team for Soman Chainani’s New York Times bestselling The School for Good and Evil series. Ilnitzki holds a BA in English Language and Literature/Letters from Boston University. After completing three internships at different publishing houses, she landed at HarperCollins Children’s as an editorial intern/temporary editorial assistant. Ilnitzki then took a position with Disney Publishing Worldwide, where she moved from editorial assistant to assistant editor—before returning to HarperCollins Children’s as an associate editor in 2017. She is currently looking for character-driven picture books with breakout potential, commercial middle grade fantasy, and voice-driven contemporary middle grade and teen fiction. Across all age levels, she is particularly drawn to joyful, inclusive stories and diverse voices. Megan will be providing a limited number of one-on-one picture book, middle grade, and YA manuscript critiques as well as a limited number of one-on-one portfolio reviews.


Aneeka Kalia joined Viking Children’s Books in 2017 and is now an Assistant Editor. She edits picture books, and Middle Grade and Young Adult novels (and graphic novels) with a focus on contemporary, realistic fiction. She particularly enjoys funny, family/intergenerational, and food-related stories. In her free time, Aneeka drinks coffee, tries her hand at cooking, hikes, and plays soccer and tennis. Aneeka will provide a limited number of one-on-one picture book, middle grade, and YA manuscript critiques (for MG and YA, no more than 10 page samples). Her preference is for PB manuscripts. In all genres, she would prefer contemporary/realistic stories and historical. No high fantasy or nonfiction (light fantasy/magical realism is ok).



Natascha Morris spent most of her childhood in a leather chair with her nose in a book.  Her passion for books across genres and her desire to find amazing talent drove her to make the transition from editorial to literary agent. Her editorial philosophy stems from the idea that all books should be well written and entertaining, and that all children should see themselves and their lives in books. Natascha is primarily looking for picture books, middle grade and young adult manuscripts across most genres, including graphic novels.





Author and/or illustrator of over 40 books, Pat Cummings teaches at Pratt and Parsons and runs a summer Boot Camp to bring writers and illustrators together with publishers. She serves on the boards of the Authors Guild, the Authors League Fund and SCBWI and as Chair of the Founders Award Jury for the Society of Illustrators’ Original Art Show. Pat’s latest books include her debut middle grade novel, Trace, from HarperCollins and Where is Mommy?, a picture book from Holiday House. Find her at or on Twitter @PatCummingsBook. Pat will provide a limited number of one-on-one picture book manuscript critiques as well as portfolio reviews.



Mitali Perkins has written many books for young readers. She has been nominated for a National Book Award, honored as a “Most Engaging Author” by independent booksellers, selected as a “Literary Light for Children” by the Associates of the Boston Public Library, and was invited to serve as a judge for the National Book Award and the Kirkus prize. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India before immigrating to the United States. She has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana, studied at Stanford and U.C. Berkeley, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mitali will provide a limited number of one-on-one picture book, middle-grade, or YA manuscript critiques.



Jean Reidy’s fun, lively and award-winning picture books have earned their spots as favorites among readers and listeners of all ages and from all over the world.  This year, she has been honored with the Crystal Kite Award for her wonderful picture book, Truman. Truman is also a 2020 Colorado Book Award winner, an NPR Favorite Book of 2019, a New York Times Best Children’s book of 2019, a Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2019, and a School Library Journal Best Picture Book of 2019. She is a frequent presenter on writing and reading and at schools and storytimes across the country—in person and virtually. Jean is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Colorado Council International Reading Association and she has served on the board of Reach Out and Read Colorado. In 2011, her “Light Up the Library” Auction, in partnership with Books for Africa, filled the library at Musana Children’s Home in Iganga, Uganda. In addition to her books for children, Jean’s articles on home, family, travel and writing have appeared in over fifty publications. Jean is represented by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She writes from her home in Colorado where she lives right across the street from her neighborhood library … which she visits nearly every day.




Beth Anderson is the author of An Inconvenient Alphabet (S&S 2018), Lizzie Demands a Seat! (Calkins Creek 2020), “Smelly” Kelly and His Super Senses (Calkins Creek 10/20) and five more upcoming titles. A former educator who has trained teachers and written curriculum, she is drawn to stories that open minds, touch hearts, and inspire questions.





Olivia Chadha writes science fiction, fantasy, and literary novels for YA and adult audiences. She also holds a Ph.D. from Binghamton University’s creative writing program and a master’s from the University of Colorado, Boulder’s creative writing program. She has taught writing at Binghamton University and the University of Colorado, Boulder. Much of her research centers on the history of exile, India’s Partition, precarious borders and boundaries, global folklore and fairy tales, and the relationship between humans and the environment. Like her stories and characters, Olivia brings a diverse perspective to her writing: She was born in Illinois, raised in New Jersey, and grew up in Southern California. She is first-generation American of Punjabi Sikh and Latvian/German descent. Balance of Fragile Things (adult, YA crossover) is her first literary novel, and Rise of the Red Hand (Mechanists Book 1) is due out Jan 2021, a sci fi series set in future South Asia. She lives in Colorado with her family and two very odd dogs. She’s represented by Eric Smith of P.S. Literary Agency: @ericsmithrocks



Melanie Crowder is the acclaimed author of several books for young readers. She writes YA historical fiction: Audacity, An Uninterrupted View of the Sky, and the forthcoming Mazie. She also writes MG novels of all sorts: Three Pennies, A Nearer Moon, Parched, and the new middle grade duology The Lighthouse between the Worlds and A Way between Worlds. She lives with her family under the big blue Colorado sky.




Larry Day was born in Gibson City, Illinois, a rural farming community where he flunked high school art. Before becoming a storyboard artist and picture book illustrator, he drew art for arcade games, which included back glass, marquees, and playfields. Day holds three Gold medals from the Society of Illustrators, the Golden Kite, a Golden Kite Honor, Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, and numerous state awards. Upcoming: A Fort on the Moon, a story about Fox and Dodge, two boys who travel on an extraordinary journey. (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House) November, 2020. He lives in Carbondale, Colorado with his wife, author Miriam Busch. Visit his website at:



Martha Freeman has lived lots of places and written lots of books, many of them mysteries for young people. She’d be more specific, but she is not good at counting. You should see her trying to organize a dinner party. She has three grown children. She is pretty confident about that number. Among her most popular titles are Who Stole Halloween?, If You’re Going to a March, and Mrs. Wow Never Wanted a Cow.




Darby Karchut is an author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter. A former middle school teacher and native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy wrangling words. Her novels include Del Toro Moon (2019 Colorado Book Award Winner-Juvenile Literature) and her fifteenth book, On a Good Horse, releases this fall from Owl Hollow Press. Visit the author at




Jessica Lanan aims to create visual stories that inspire a love and understanding of the natural world. Her first published book as an author-illustrator, The Fisherman and the Whale, was a Colorado Book Award finalist and selected for the 2019 Society of Illustrators Original Art Show. She is also the illustrator of six books of fiction and nonfiction including Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet, a Junior Library Guild selection, ALA Notable book and winner of a Golden Kite Honor for best nonfiction book for young readers.




Jeannie Mobley writes historical fiction for middle grade and YA readers. She has degrees in history and anthropology, and is the chair of the social and behavior sciences department at Front Range Community College. Her novels have won the Colorado Book Award, The Willa Award, and been on multiple state and national lists, including the Library of Congress 52 Great Reads List. She lives in Longmont, Colorado.




Laura Perdew is an author and a writing consultant at CU Boulder. She has written over 30 books for the education market, including Biodiversity: Explore the Diversity of Life on Earth (Nomad Press, 2019), which earned a starred review from Booklist and is one of the Booklist editors’ Top 10 Books on the Environment & Sustainability for Youth 2020. She is also the author of The Fort (Page Street Kids, 2020), a picture book that celebrates the power of imagination and compromise, and the magic of a fort. She lives in Boulder with her husband and twin boys.




Nanci Turner Steveson is the author of middle grade realistic fiction: Swing Sideways (HarperCollins 2016); Georgia Rules (HarperCollins 2017); and Lizzie Flying Solo (HarperCollins, April 2019) with a fourth book due 2021. Swing Sideways was published internationally and was chosen as Scholastic Book Fair selection. Georgia Rules was a Bank Street College of Education Best book of 2018 with Outstanding Merit; and Lizzie Flying Solo was a Kirkus Best Middle Grade Book of 2019 and A Mighty Girl Best of 2019. Nanci is also a professional theatre stage manager, and an eager teacher and mentor of writing students.



Lily Williams is the author and illustrator of the If Animals Disappeared nonfiction picture book series and middle grade graphic novel Go With the Flow. She grew up in Northern California where she received her B.F.A. from California College of the Arts. Lily seeks to inspire change, engage audiences, and educate people of all ages with her artwork. Her work can be seen in films, books and on her website.




Writer-Illustrator Kaz Windness studied children’s book illustration at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) where she was a valedictorian graduate in 2002. A proud SCBWI member, Kaz volunteers as the Rocky Mountain Chapter Illustrator Coordinator (2009-present). She is passionate about helping artists succeed and believes education is key. She is a professor of illustration at RMCAD (2013-present) and an RMC-SCBWI illustrator mentor. She is the author-illustrator of  Mother Goth Rhymes (Hermes Press, 2019), If UR Stabby (Hermes Press 2021), Swim, Jim! (Simon & Schuster, 2022)




Nancy Bo Flood is the author of several books for children, including Cowboy Up! Riding the Navajo Rodeo (Boyds Mill Press, 2013; photos by Jan Sonnenmair) which was honored as a 2014 NCTE Notable Poetry Book, a 2013 California Reading Association Eureka! Nonfiction honor book, and given the Arizona-New Mexico book award for juvenile literature. Her most recent books are Soldier Sister, Fly Home (Charlesbridge, 2017), Water Runs Through This Book (Fulcrum, 2015), and First Laugh, Welcome Baby, written with Rose Tahe, Navajo elder and I Will Dance (Simon & Schuster). She has served on ILA’s Notable Books for a Global Society committee and is a columnist for The Pirate Tree and for Bookology magazine. To learn more about Nancy and her work, please visit her website.



Megan E. Freeman attended an elementary school where poets visited her classroom every week and she has been a writer ever since. She writes middle grade and young adult fiction, and her debut middle grade novel-in-verse, Alone, is available for pre-order now from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. Megan is also a Pushcart-nominated poet, and her poetry chapbook, Lessons on Sleeping Alone, was published by Liquid Light Press. An award-winning teacher with decades of classroom experience, Megan is nationally recognized for her work leading professional development workshops for audiences throughout Colorado and across the country. Learn more at




In 2003, Angela Hawkins sold her first story to Spider Magazine. Soon after, she sold additional stories, articles, how-to’s, crafts, curriculum ideas, quizzes, and activities to Clubhouse, Clubhouse Jr., The Friend, Listen, and The Bulletin magazines, and Gryphon House. Working around two babies and ten moves, she perfected her drawing skills and has since illustrated for Brown Books, Deeds Publishing, Shine Curriculum, and Babybug, Ladybug, and Spider magazines. She appeared on the 2018 SCBWI BIG Shortlist, and won the 2017 SCBWI Don Freeman Grant, the 2017 RMC-SCBWI Portfolio Showcase, and the 2016 RMC-SCBWI Illustration Contest.




Jenny Mason has authored well over 20 mostly nonfiction and mostly STEM books and articles for young readers. She is also the creator of the Blister and Muck Story Time Podcast. She earned an M.Phil in popular literature from Trinity College Dublin and she received an MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Usually, she can be found outdoors, writing, reading, mountain biking, trail running, or tennising.





Dan Santat is a #1 NY Times Best Selling Author of award winning titles such as The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, which won the 2015 Randolph Caldecott Medal, After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again, Are We There Yet?, Drawn Together, and Lift. He is also the creator of the Disney animated series, The Replacements.





Leslie Vedder (she/her) is a queer ace author. Her debut YA fantasy, The Bone Spindle, is forthcoming from Penguin Teen in Spring 2022. She has a B.A. in creative writing from San Francisco State University. She writes fairytale retellings with girl adventurers and heroes and loves reading, coffee, anime, geeking out over fictional characters, her two spoiled cats, and her girlfriend—not necessarily in that order! She lives in Colorado. You can find her at