Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Writer Mentors

Current list of 2022/2023 Author Mentors 


Read more about each of our mentors to determine who might be the best fit for you. Check out each mentor’s website to learn more about them and view their books!


Beth Anderson

Picture Books (especially with a nonfiction element)

Beth is a former K-8 English as a Second Language educator and reading specialist. She began writing for children in 2013 and found her niche with narrative nonfiction and historical fiction picture books. With her writing, she strives to open minds, touch hearts, and inspire questions. She firmly believes that the most essential aspect of story is “heart,” the unique way an author sees a story that makes it matter. Beth is the award winning author of Franz’s Phantasmagorical Machine, Cloaked in Courage (November 2022), Revolutionary Prudence Wright, Tad Lincoln’s Restless Wiggle, “Smelly” Kelly and His Super Senses, Lizzie Demands a Seat!, and An Inconvenient Alphabet, and she has three more titles on the way. Beth lives in Loveland, Colorado. See her website for more information

 Beth has been filling her writer’s toolbox at retreats, in classes, and with new learning from every manuscript. She’d like to mentor an aspiring author whose goal is to traditionally publish picture books with a nonfiction element. Depending on the author’s needs, Beth is open to taking one manuscript from big picture to line edits or working on several manuscripts over the course of the program. Her feedback addresses structure, story elements, craft, pacing, heart, and more. While she often offers specific suggestions, she also likes to ask questions to spur an author’s thinking and let them find the direction that rings true to their purpose. Communication will be through email and virtual conversations.



Lynn Becker

Picture Books – Rhyming

Lynn Becker is the author of Monsters in the Briny (illustrated by Scott Brundage and published in April 2022 by Sleeping Bear Press), of which Kirkus said, “The perfectly scanned lines are complimented by delicious words like bilious, slewing, and peevish….Arrr! And School Library Journal complimented “the alliteration, rhyming, and clever wordplay.” Next spring, June Moon (illustrated by Nate Carvalho), which is also rhyming, comes out as a board book from Familius. 

Lynn is also a longtime children’s book reviewer for Shelf Awareness online magazines. A highly visual person, she has an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and has worked in animation. She’s worked with prolific poets and rhymers for many years. 

Lynn’s mentoring style is flexible, and she’s open to working in a way that best suits the mentee. She’s fine with multiple manuscripts, and/or working on queries and pitching—in short, whatever way (within reason) will be the most help! Zoom, in person, via email, all ways to communicate are in play. To learn more, please visit



Fleur Bradley

Chapter Books and MG (any genre)

Fleur is the author of the Crystal Kite and Colorado Book Award winning MG mystery Midnight at the Barclay Hotel (Viking Books for Young Readers), the Double Vision trilogy (HarperCollins Children’s), and Daybreak on Raven Island (Viking). She has judged for awards like the Edgars, and regularly does school and Skype visits, as well as librarian and educator conference talks on reaching reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, she now lives in Colorado Springs with her family and entirely too many rescue animals. You can visit her website for more information at

Fleur starts the mentor process by giving feedback in the form of an editorial letter. She’ll meet with the mentee (virtual or in person) to talk over any thoughts and vision for the mentor time. If the mentee intends to query the manuscript after editing, Fleur will help with a query letter, targeting agents and editors, and creating a query plan. She is open to working with a project that is outlined and partially drafted, or a fully drafted manuscript. 



Samantha Cohoe

MG & YA (all genres)

Samantha Cohoe is the author of YA historical fantasies A GOLDEN FURY (Wednesday Books, October 2020) and BRIGHT RUINED THINGS (Wednesday Books, February 2022). Samantha is a former Latin teacher, current history nerd, and constantly torn between her warring desires to wear bright lipstick and eat messy food. She has lived in Denver with her philosopher husband and anarchist children since 2011.

Samantha’s mentoring process will focus on developmental edits: big picture feedback to help you make your manuscript what you imagined it, while preserving your vision and voice. The goal will be to get the manuscript ready for submission, including some extra polish on the opening chapters and a sparkling query letter. Samantha’s own work is in young adult fantasy and historical fiction, so she would be an especially good fit for these categories. She also has extensive experience critiquing YA contemporary and all genres of Middle Grade in her critique group. She is open to working with a project that is outlined and partially drafted, or a fully drafted manuscript. 



Joanna Cooke

Picture Books (non-fiction), MG & YA (especially historical fiction)

Joanna writes books for young people, focusing on nature and the human experience. Her debut picture book, The Sequoia Lives On, earned a starred Kirkus review, and her middle grade novel, Call Me Floy, was on the  School Library Journal reading lists for the summers of 2020 and 2021. Due out April 2023, Joanna’s third picture book, Fire Shapes The World, is a natural history of fire on Earth. She has also written three nonfiction picture books for the educational market. Joanna holds an MFA in Creative Writing for Young People and an MEd in elementary education; she is currently earning her book coach certification. Prior to writing, she spent ten years working as an environmental educator and naturalist in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. She now lives with her husband and son in Jackson, WY. Visit her website for more information.

She is open to mentoring writers working in all genres, though her specialties lie in nonfiction picture books and MG & YA historical fiction. Joanna is also open to working with a novel that is outlined and partially drafted, or a fully drafted manuscript. 



Rachel Craft

MG & YA (especially those with a speculative element)

Rachel Delaney Craft lives and writes in Louisville, CO with her partner and two slobbery dogs. Her novels have won multiple Zebulon and Colorado Gold awards, and her short stories have appeared in Cricket, Spider, Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, and Cast of Wonders. She worked with 14 authors through three rounds of revisions to produce the anthology WILD: Uncivilized Tales from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. For more info, visit

Rachel would love to mentor a YA or MG project that is outlined and partially drafted, or a fully drafted manuscript. She has a soft spot for all things speculative–sci-fi, fantasy, horror, or anything just plain weird. Her first step as a mentor is to provide a detailed edit letter and discuss her mentee’s vision for their story. From there, she’ll help set goals and deadlines and check in with regular video or phone conversations. She’ll focus on big-picture edits like plot structure, characterization, worldbuilding, and the all-important voice, but she can also help with line edits and query critique when the time comes. 



Anna-Maria Crum

MG & YA (all genres)

Anna-Maria is the author of 22 grade school readers, both fiction and nonfiction. She has also illustrated over 50 books and won the 2022 Colorado Author’s League Award for Best Juvenile Book Cover. She has co-authored an interactive digital novel, Sorcery is for Saps, for Choice of Games, which is like three-dimensional chess for plotting. She is a long-time member of SCBWI and is on the board for Picture Book Artists Association. She is also a part-owner in Plot Doctors, a writing service that helps people with their plot problems. A number of people she’s worked with have gone on to sell their books. Anna-Maria loves helping authors see the potential in their stories and showing them how to add the depth and motivation their characters lack. So often authors already have everything they need in their story—they just aren’t using it to their advantage.

 When she’s not writing, she’s busy playing balloon bopping with Tucker, and teaching him what things he can jump up on (couches, chairs, bed, laps) and what he can’t (tables, kitchen counters, stove, and window ledges). Update: Anna-Maria has ceded ownership of the dining room table to Tucker (it has the best view of the street) but has successfully reclaimed all kitchen counters and window ledges. For more information  see

 In the  initial meeting with mentees, I help them establish goal(s) for the mentoring period. From there we determine what the mentee can commit to for each month and set realistic goals. I usually meet once a month on Zoom to go over what the mentee has sent me and discuss the next writing goal. Mentees can also contact me any time for help if they get stuck and we can schedule a Zoom brainstorming session to work out the problem—my writing superpower is plotting, so take advantage. The energy that happens during a brainstorming session can’t be beat. Often the story will gain from exciting new approaches and possibilities, added motivation, and plot twists. Two brains, in this instance, are better than one.



Julie Danneberg

Picture Books (fiction and nonfiction)

Julie writes mostly trade picture books, both fiction and nonfiction, with a smattering of nonfiction for the education market thrown in.  She doesn’t like to brag but does admit that several of her books have won awards. Her fictionalized account of her own back-to-school nerves in the book, First Day Jitters, is a perennial bestseller as well as a favorite of other teachers who are also terrorized at the beginning of the school year and comforted by the fact that someone else feels like they do. She currently lives in Boulder, has two adult children and three adorable granddaughters.

 Julie was a middle school writing teacher for many years (which accounts for her feelings of terror about the first day of school) but has also taught adult writing classes for BVSD Lifelong Learning program, as well as Lighthouse Writers Workshop and through her school district.  In addition, she has worked privately with many adult writers, helping them take their manuscripts from rough to ready to send out. Learn more about Julie at

 Her mentoring style is flexible, and she tries to work with the mentee in a way that best suits his/her learning style. She is definitely open to meeting via Zoom, or in person, in addition to giving feedback via email.  She is not opposed to working on more than one picture book manuscript over the course of the program. Questioning and discussion is encouraged.



Anna H. Freeman

Picture Books (rhyming or non-rhyming, fiction or nonfiction)

Anna Harber Freeman is the author of several books for children, from rhyming board books to non-fiction. Her recent picture book biography, Shaped by Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez (Albert Whitman & Co, April 2021), received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal, and was a Junior Library Guild selection. Her first book, Love You More Than Anything (Sterling Publishing, 2014), was featured in the New York Times, and published as both a picture book and board book. Anna also recently completed her first nonfiction book for the educational market. In addition to writing, Anna has a Master’s degree in Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity and has taught many subjects for grades PK-12. When she isn’t teaching or writing Anna loves spending time outside in Colorado with her husband, two boys, and poodle. See for more information. 

 Anna looks forward to working with a picture book author who is open to feedback and ready to work hard. As a mentor, she can offer advice on editing and polishing your writing, from big picture choices to line edits. And when you’re ready to share your work with the world she can help you write an eye-catching query and pitch.


Megan E. Freeman 

MG & YA (open to all genres, but specializing in verse novels)

Megan writes MG and YA novels in verse and prose, as well as poetry for adults. Her bestselling debut middle-grade novel, Alone, won the Colorado Book Award, is an NCTE Notable Verse Novel and a Goodreads Choice Award finalist, and is included on over a dozen “best of” and state reading lists. Megan is also a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and the author of the poetry chapbook, Lessons on Sleeping Alone. An award-winning teacher with decades of classroom experience, Megan is nationally recognized for her work leading workshops and speaking to audiences across the country. Megan used to live in northeast Los Angeles, central Ohio, northern Norway, and on Caribbean cruise ships. Now she lives in northern Colorado. You can learn more about her and her work at

Megan loves to work with writers in all phases of their careers. She is great at posing questions to help identify key issues in manuscripts and at providing actionable feedback to focus and prioritize revision. Megan also has a knack for framing the query/submission process so as to take the sting out of rejection and empower writers to manifest their goals through actionable steps. Her ideal mentee is an ambitious writer committed to developing their skills and learning as much as possible about the path to traditional publishing. They have already created a writing community of critique partners with whom they share work, and they regularly seek out and participate in a variety of learning opportunities related to their publishing goals. They see themselves as an active agent in their own success, and they have taken their manuscript as far as they possibly can using all their available resources. They are ready to partner with Megan in doing the hard and wonderful work of elevating their manuscript to the next level of excellence. 

Megan is open to working with a project that is outlined and partially drafted, or a fully drafted manuscript. 



Sandy Ferguson Fuller

Picture Books

Sandy is the author, illustrator, or author/illustrator of 10 different picture books, most recently The Poop Fairy (Alp Arts Press, 2022) and forthcoming The Bunny Poets and The Library Book (Alp Arts Press, 2023). She is a Colorado Book Award Finalist (2011) and a MoonBeam Silver Award winner (2011). She began her lifetime career as a picture book specialist with her mentor, Maurice Sendak, while an undergrad at Yale.  She is also a literary and international rights  agent and a professional picture book editor/consultant (both directly via her company, Alp Arts Co. and on She lives in Vail where she enjoys just-about-anything-outdoorsy, and also travels to Maine each summer for a visit to the ocean, lakes, and loons.

Sandy is a previous mentor for SCBWI. She especially enjoys working with author/illustrators to develop the unique interplay of text and illustration, unique to the picture book genre. The project begins with a complete line and content edit of the manuscript and evaluation for the current market. Please submit your most polished manuscript to begin. If you are also the illustrator, please submit at least two sample sketches for the text. Sandy is always open to questions, comments, opinions and different perspectives as the story evolves. Once the manuscript is close to final, she begins to focus more on the sketches and proper storyboarding. If self-publishing, Sandy will not require completion of final illustrations, as that is often a lengthy process. She will direct you to achieve complete sketches and at least one final illustration sample. Sandy will also advise on the merits of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing and provide general guidance on the submission process, if requested. One initial phone meeting or Zoom meeting will begin the process. Email will comprise most monthly contacts, with a final Zoom meeting at the end of the consult, if desired.


Kimberlee Gard

Picture Books (rhyming and prose)

Kimberlee is the award-winning author of several picture books including The Little i Who Lost His Dot, The Day Punctuation Came to Town, and Snoozapalooza. Her books have made best-seller lists and Vooks, a streaming app for kids books, has chosen her as a featured author and transformed her titles into living story books that are now featured on Netflix. Her next project, Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Another Vowel Over will be out in 2023. In addition to writing, Kimberlee speaks at conferences and schools where she shares her story and struggle with dyslexia, and encourages others to believe that with determination, dedication, and persistence, any dream can come true. She lives on a small hobby farm outside of Denver with her husband, sons, and a gaggle of barnyard friends. More information can be found at

Kimberlee is a previous mentor for RMC-SCBWI and loves helping authors grow in their writing careers. Her mentoring process is catered to each individual mentee and where they are in their writing journey. The process will include plot and character development, story structure, craft techniques, critique, and detailed line editing to make every word sing. She encourages mentees to submit up to three manuscripts. Kimberlee will also help authors with other key elements to get a book submission ready including creating a strong pitch, query letter, and book proposal. She will communicate with an introductory virtual or phone chat followed by bi-weekly email check-in’s and monthly virtual or phone meetings. Mentees can also contact her anytime for help through text messaging. Kimberlee will be both a coach and cheerleader to help get mentees closer to their dream of being published.


Dan Graham

Picture Books (especially rhyming and SEL)

 Dan is an award-winning professor of Psychology and Public Health at Colorado State University. His publication credits include Highlights High Five magazine and How Can I Wait When There’s a Treat on My Plate? (Magination Press, 2021), which will soon be available in multiple languages. He has also published over 50 academic journal articles. His writing for children incorporates SEL and STEM topics into fun, rhyming texts that kids will enjoy reading again and again. Dan lives with a family of passionate readers in Fort Collins, Colorado. His website is

Dan has developed and practiced his writing and critiquing skills at retreats, in classes, and from years of working closely with critique partners. He has honed his mentoring skills through more than a decade of helping students improve their writing. He is eager to mentor a picture book writer, especially one who would like to work in rhyme and/or with content that would fit within his scientific expertise (e.g., SEL, STEAM). Dan would be happy to work with an author on one manuscript or multiple manuscripts over the course of the program. Dan’s critiques aim to help with line-item elements (e.g., meter, alliteration) as well as big-picture elements such as pacing and emotional tone. Dan will provide notes on drafts by email and would love to follow up on written feedback with virtual conversations. 


Polly Holyoke

MG & YA (especially fantasy and sci/fi)

Polly is a former seventh grade history teacher and lives in Steamboat Springs. She is traditionally published in both women’s romance and children’s fiction. Her first MG science fiction novel was released by Disney Hyperion and Penguin UK. The Neptune Project landed on several state reading lists and won the Sunshine State Young Readers Award. Thanks to making those state lists and her teaching background, she has conducted over 300 school visits. Her new MG fantasy series, Skyriders, will be published by Viking Children’s in March, 2023. Combining elements of the Pegasus myth and the Pony Express, Skyriders is the story of brave young couriers on their flying horses fighting terrible three-headed chimerae to save their world. She is currently represented by Rosemary Stimola.

Polly has a wealth of experience working as a writing mentor. She has been a member of several different critique groups, and she has served as a judge for RWA and critiqued manuscripts for both RWA and SCBWI on many occasions. She loves helping writers find their voice, and she is quite practical in terms of preparing projects to sell in today’s competitive publishing market. You can read more about Polly and the writing programs she offers at

She is open to working with a project that is outlined and partially drafted, or a fully drafted manuscript. 



Traci L. Jones

MG & YA (any genre)

Traci L. Jones holds a B.A. in psychology from Pomona College in Claremont, Ca. An M.A. in advertising from the University of Denver, and has taken several courses in Creative Writing at the University of Denver. Before launching a young adult novelist career, Traci wrote articles for the local business magazines, In The Black and Emerging Markets.  

Discovered in the slush pile by Beverly Reingold at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (FSG), Traci L. Jones’ first YA novel, Standing Against the Wind, was published in 2006 and won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award. Her second novel, Finding My Place, was published by FSG in 2010. Her third novel, Silhouetted by the Blue (FSG), was released in July 2011 and received a starred review from Booklist. Her fourth YA novel, Ransoming the Captive, was released July of 2022 by Black Rose Writing. She currently has two manuscripts represented by Metamorphosis Literary Agency and her agent, Amy Brewer. 

In 2016, she began working as a creative writing instructor for the MFA program at Regis University.  She joined the instructor staff at Lighthouse Writing Workshop in March of 2020. In 2022 she began teaching a course on Young adult literature for the Honors College at the University of Colorado at Denver. Traci L. Jones is the proud mother of four. She lives with her husband in Denver, Colorado.

She is open to working with a project that is outlined and partially drafted, or a fully drafted manuscript. 


Claudia Mills

Chapter Books, MG

Claudia Mills has published over 60 books for young readers over the course of her 40-year career in the world of children’s literature, including the middle-grade novels The Lost Language (a verse novel), Zero Tolerance, and Write This Down, and several chapter book series, most recently Franklin School Friends and After-School Superstars. Her books have been chosen as Junior Library Guild selections, named Notable Books of the Year by the American Library Association, translated into half a dozen languages, and nominated for dozens of state readers’ choice awards. A faculty member in the children’s literature M.F.A. program, at Hollins University in Roanoke, she has also been a mentor for SCBWI over a dozen times since this program began.

How Claudia mentors: Focusing both on big-picture plot structure and character development and on the sparkle of each individual sentence, she is committed to helping every mentee’s book become the best and truest version of itself, while finding joy in the process as well. She is open to working with a project that is outlined and partially drafted, or a fully drafted manuscript. 


Laura Perdew

Picture Books (fiction and nonfiction) and Education Market Packages

Laura is a middle school teacher turned author. Her first fiction picture book, The Fort (Page Street Kids), was published in April 2020. She has also written over 50 nonfiction books for young readers on subjects ranging from wetland conservation to extinction, and the exploring mountains to animal adaptations. Most of her work is for the education market, including Biodiversity: Explore the Diversity of Life on Earth which is on the Booklist editors’ 2020 list of the

Top 10 Books on the Environment & Sustainability for Youth. If it isn’t obvious, her favorite subjects are nature, the environment, and environmental issues. It will not surprise you then, to learn that when she’s not writing she’s usually outside being amazed by all that Colorado has to offer. She is represented by Ana Crespo at East/West Literary. For more information about her and her books, visit

She looks forward to working with a mentee who is willing and ready to dive into deep revisions of a nonfiction or fiction picture book manuscript. Laura is also open to helping a mentee break into writing for the education market (generating writing samples, crafting queries, and approaching publishers). If time allows, mentees may be able to work on an additional manuscript during the mentorship, as well as cover letters, Twitter pitches, and more. Monthly meetings (either in-person or via Zoom) as well as email check-ins.


Heather Presseur

Picture Books and Chapter Books

Heather Preusser is the author of the picture book A Symphony of Cowbells (Sleeping Bear Press, 2017) as well as a soon-to-be-announced chapter book series. She has an MFA in creative writing as well as sixteen years of experience teaching English in both middle- and high-school classrooms. The past four years she’s been a Critique Ninja for Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Writing Challenge as well as a picture book mentor through Inked Voices. This is her second year as a SCBWI-RMC mentor. She is represented by Janine Le at the Janine Le Literary Agency. When she’s not reading or writing, Heather and her toddler son visit local fairy gardens and marvel at construction vehicles.

During the mentoring process, Heather can provide big-picture commentary, detailed line editing, or a combination of both based on her mentee’s needs. She can also suggest mentor texts to study and discuss. Although she’s open to reading rhyme and non-fiction, she’s a better fit for someone writing fiction in prose, particularly someone who’d like to hone their narrative voice and/or tighten their plot. 


Laura Roettiger

Picture Books

Laura Roettiger is a reading specialist from Chicago, IL who weaves her passion for STEM learning into stories for children. Her roots in Chicago remain deep but now her home and heart are firmly settled in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with her Goldendoodle, Charlie.

Since moving to Colorado, Laura focused on writing for children, working in environmental education, and mentoring new teachers at a STEM school. Her teaching superpower of encouraging curiosity in children has transferred to her books. Her debut ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON (Eifrig Publishing, 2019; German edition, 2022) combines science information with the story of a girl whose creativity, kindness, and patience pays off with a surprise ending. Her book AN ACCIDENTAL HERO, A MOSTLY TRUE WOMBAT STORY (Eifrig Publishing, 2023) allows readers to understand the devastation of fire while experiencing hope when a stranger offers shelter and kindness.

Laura loves lifelong learning! She has worked in a variety of careers and volunteer roles, including banking, writing for a variety of publications, proofreading court documents, serving as a commissioner of the American Youth Soccer Organization, overseeing religious education, writing curriculum for a college test prep company, teaching elementary school in Chicago and the suburbs – all while earning degrees in business and a Master of Arts in Teaching and Reading, PLUS raising three children. 


Julie Rowan-Zoch

Picture Books and Author/Illustrators

Julie Rowan-Zoch is an author, illustrator, bookseller, and activist. She joined SCBWI in 2011 and has been the NoCO Connect coordinator for 4 years, is an original member of the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge and a longtime Critique Ninja. She studied Advertising Design at FIT in NYC and Graphic Design in Braunschweig, Germany. Julie received the advice to “go digital” with illustration at her second RMC Letters & Lines conference portfolio review and hasn’t looked back! She completed the artwork for 3 picture books solely on the iPad for Clarion (formerly HMH) and Putnam. She also ran (pre-Covid) the Storytime program at Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins. Represented by Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. Visit her website at or follow her (almost) daily posts on Instagram.

Who should apply to me? Writers and/or illustrators working on picture books, picture book dummies, or a children’s book illustration portfolio. 

Process: Unless located in Northern CO (or willing to meet in the middle!), an initial phone or Zoom meeting is necessary to begin the mentorship process, discuss goals and expectations, and will continue on a monthly basis. Emails for any necessary communication, including encouragement (!), between meetings. 


Heather Mateus Sappenfield

MG & YA (all genres) 

Heather writes across genres. She’s published two contemporary YA novels, The View from Who I Was and Life at the Speed of Us, the latter a Colorado Book Awards finalist. Her story collection, Lyrics for Rock Stars, was featured on Colorado Public Radio, nominated for the MPIBA’s Reading the West Awards, and earned a silver medal from the IBPA’s Ben Franklin Awards, an Earphones Award from AudioFile magazine and was a finalist for the Audies. Her writing has also won the Danahy Fiction Prize and the Arthur Edelstein Prize, garnered six Pushcart Prize nominations, and was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award. She’s published interviews with some of the nation’s foremost poets and authors in The Writer’s Chronicle, and articles about writing in School Library Journal and Writer’s Digest. Last February, her MG novel, The River Between Hearts, released with Fitzroy Books, was a SLJ “Title to Watch in 2022,” is a current finalist for the CBC’s Noteworthy Reading List, and earned a letter of recognition from the Colorado General Assembly. Learn more about Heather at

With an MFA in writing from Pacific University, Heather has taught workshops at Colorado Mountain College, Western Colorado University, and Pacific University. Her mentoring focuses on character, in both story and student. She loves guiding mentees in crafting their works into what they’d dreamed, along the way nurturing an author, beyond a single book. She is open to working with a project that is outlined and partially drafted, or a fully drafted manuscript. 



Michelle Schaub

Picture Books (rhyming or lyrical) and Poetry

Michelle is an award-winning children’s author and former language arts teacher. Michelle loves using wordplay and the sounds and rhythms of language to delight, inspire, and empower kids. She is the author of the poetry collections Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market (2017 Cybils Awards Poetry Finalist, 2018 Growing Good Kids Award and 2019 Northern Lights Book Award) and Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections (2020 NCTE Notable Poetry Book.) Her rhyming picture books include Dream Big, Little Scientist and Kindness is a Kite String (Illinois Reads Selection 2022). Michelle’s poems also appear in several anthologies, including A World Full of Poems and Hop To It: Poems to Get You Moving.  Michelle shares ways to use poetry in the classroom at Poetry Boost. She has experience helping aspiring authors polish their work through her critique service, Rhyme Doctors. Visit her website for more information about Michelle and her books.

 Michelle looks forward to working with a mentee who is crafting rhyming or lyrical picture books or poetry collections. She loves helping with both fiction and nonfiction projects! Michelle is happy to work on 1-3 picture books over the course of the program.  Michelle’s mentoring focuses on helping authors with language, diction, meter, and rhyme scheme, as well as structure, pacing, voice, and query letters/marketing. Michelle will provide written feedback as well as engage in follow-up Zoom meetings.



Wendy Silvano

Picture Books

Wendi Silvano has always loved children’s literature, and is now delighted to take part in creating books like those she loved as a child. She has been writing for children since 1995, and is the award-winning author of numerous picture books, early readers, magazine stories and a variety of educational materials. 

Her TURKEY TROUBLE series is on its 7th book and going strong. Her picture books TURKEY TROUBLE and JUST ONE MORE both won the IRA’s Children’s Choice Award, while TURKEY CLAUS was named one of the ‘TEN BEST PICTURE BOOKS OF 2012’ by YABC. She is the mother of 5, a former teacher and the owner of a menagerie of assorted crazy pets (none of whom are as clever as Turkey). In her spare time she likes to read, play the piano, hike and eat chocolate. She lives and writes near the stunning red sandstone canyons of Western Colorado. She is represented by agent Marie Lamba of the Jennifer de Chiara Literary Agency. You can find her online at


Sonja Solter

Picture Books, MG, & YA

Sonja is the author of the middle grade novel in verse When You Know What I Know, an ILA Honor Book. She writes both prose and verse fiction, from picture books through YA which vary in style from the intensely emotional to the humorous. Sonja graduated with an interdisciplinary degree in human biology from Stanford University and has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. Her master’s critical thesis was on writing trauma in middle grade and young adult realistic fiction. Her master’s creative thesis was a series of humorous picture books, as well as a young adult novel. She is currently a creative writing mentor and Drafting Workshop lead for the Society of Young Inklings. Sonja lives with her husband and two children in Louisville, Colorado, and enjoys nature, travel, and yoga. To find out more, visit

Sonja’s mentoring style works for those who are still finishing a project all the way up to those who are readying their manuscript for submission. She will focus on helping you understand the reader’s experience of your work, so that you can bring your vision more fully onto the page. Sonja is open to working with a project that is outlined and partially drafted, or a fully drafted manuscript. 


Roxanne Troup

Picture Books

Roxanne Troup is the author of over a dozen credited books for kids (both published and forthcoming in the education and trade markets). She is also a professional ghostwriter who has worked with both publishers and individuals to write numerous picture books, chapter books, and adult nonfiction over the last ten years. Her debut trade picture book, My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me (Yeehoo Press, 2023) is a lyrical look at the life-and-harvest cycle of pecan trees. Her second trade deal, a rhyming picture book about space, has yet to be announced. Roxanne regularly reviews picture books at Goodreads with Ronna, and is a volunteer judge at Rate Your Story as well as a co-facilitator of the Colorado Springs Connect & Critique group. Learn more about her at

Roxanne is a good fit for fiction and nonfiction writers with a lyrical bent, and loves subtle humor that can be used in the classroom. She is open to all topics but believes books—especially picture books—should offer children hope for the future. During the mentoring process, Roxanne will provide big-picture commentary on up to three author manuscripts, and help her mentee take at least one manuscript through line edits with an eye towards story pacing and characterization. She is open to monthly in-person (Colorado Springs only) or Zoom meetings with periodic email check-ins.


Nyasha Williams – Picture Books (rhyming or non-rhyming, fiction or nonfiction – particularly hard topics for kids + culturally rich titles) 

Alternative Formats – Writing Beyond Books (Decks) 

Nyasha is the author of nine children’s books and two divinational decks (a tarot & an oracle deck) published or in progress. While a Colorado native, Nyasha grew up living intermittently between the United States and South Africa. As a former kindergarten teacher, she was encouraged further by the message of her first book when one of her Black students told Nyasha that mermaids could not be Black while she was reading her first book she self-published.  She kickstarted her first picture book, What’s the Commotion in the Ocean?, starring a Black mermaid who spreads a message of marine conservation. The beautiful illustrations and diverse representation caught the attention of many; Kickstarter was publicized on Pantsuit Nation before becoming fully funded.

 Her first traditionally published book, I Affirm Me, came out in 2020, inspired by a mantra her students recited together at the beginning of each day: I am confident and capable / I learn at my own pace / I am loved / I believe in me. I believe in us. I Affirm Me was born of her desire to spread a similarly positive message to Black children as well as celebrate the beauty of the Black community. “As BIPOCs we are operating and navigating a world that wasn’t made for us and is actively working against us,” says Williams. “My efforts as a creator, author, and activist are to combat the systems of White supremacy, colonization, and the patriarchy, working towards decolonizing, liberating, and indigenizing our minds and world.”

 She now pursues social justice, decolonizing work, and creating for her community full-time since mid-2020. Her latest children’s book Ally Baby Can: Be Feminist, was released in June 2022. She lives in Northglenn, Colorado with her husband. You can find her on her website:, on Instagram at 

@writingtochangethenarrative, and on TikTok at @decolonize_you.

Who should apply to work with me? Anyone who is interested in developing their manuscripts, looking to connect with literary agents, and open to take the less beaten path towards getting published. I would love to help someone get their website, and social media presence ready for submissions to literary agents and publishers. Open to beginning stages of book ideas to complete manuscripts moving towards submission.