Lyla Lee is the author of the MINDY KIM series. The first book, MINDY KIM AND THE YUMMY SEAWEED BUSINESS, will be out in Spring 2020 from Aladdin Books (Simon & Schuster). A fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ and POC representation in children’s literature, Lyla is hard at work on her next novel. When she is not writing for children and young adults, she’s working with them as a teacher. She currently lives in Dallas, Texas and is always in search of the perfect bowl of shaved ice.
Shannon Doleski was born and raised in Cazenovia, New York. After graduating with an English Education degree from Niagara University, Shannon was an English teacher and swim coach in New York and Maryland. She and her family live in West Texas. Her debut middle grade novel, MARY UNDERWATER, will be published in Spring 2020 with Amulet Books.
Janae Marks writes contemporary books for kids and teens. After graduating college with an English Literature degree, she worked in children’s publishing in New York City, where she remembered how much she loved stories for children, and still connected with them – even as an adult. That love only grew when she got an MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. Her middle grade debut FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON will be published on January 14, 2020 by HarperCollins Katherine Tegen Books. She currently lives in Connecticut, and when she’s not writing fiction or working in education, she’s spending time with her husband and daughter – at the beach when it’s warm enough.
Kate O’Shaughnessy writes middle grade fiction. She is a graduate of Yale University, a member of SCBWI, and is the events and outreach coordinator at Left Margin LIT, a creative writing center in Berkeley, California. When she’s not writing, you can find Kate in her garden, eating good food, hiking with her husband and their dog, and chronically mispronouncing words she’s read but never heard said aloud. Her debut novel, THE LONELY HEART OF MAYBELLE LANE, will be published in Spring 2020 with Knopf Books for Young Readers.
Doug Cornett is a writer and teacher living in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Skidmore College and the MFA in Creative Writing program at Portland State University, he has published his fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in various literary magazines. He enjoys ping-pong, solving mysteries, and hanging out with his wife and son.
He is represented by Penelope Burns at Gelfman Schneider/ ICM Partners. His debut middle grade mystery, FINALLY, SOMETHING MYSTERIOUS, will be published by Knopf Books for Young Readers in early Spring 2020.
Tanya Guerrero is Filipino and Spanish by birth, but spent her childhood living in three continents—Asia, Europe and North America. Upon graduating from high school, she moved to Boston and attended Boston University, where she studied Screenwriting. Over the course of eleven years, she’s worked as a photo editor in children’s educational publishing, operated her own photo studio and freelanced as a writer.
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA, her debut middle-grade novel will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers/Macmillan on March 31st, 2020.
Currently, she lives in a shipping container home in the suburbs of Manila with her husband, her daughter, Violet, and a menagerie of rescued cats and dogs. In her free time she grows her own food, bakes sourdough bread and reads lots and lots of books.
Julie Abe is the author of EVA EVERGREEN, SEMI-MAGICAL WITCH, releasing in 2020 (Little, Brown Young Readers) and the second book in the series, releasing 2021. She has lived in Silicon Valley, spent many humid summers in Japan, and currently resides in Southern California with her imaginary dog.
Eden Royce is from Charleston, South Carolina and is a member of the Gullah-Geechee nation. Her short stories have appeared in various magazines and she is the recipient of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Diverse Worlds grant.
Her debut MG Southern Gothic own voices historical fantasy, TYING THE DEVIL’S SHOESTRINGS, will be published by Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins in Summer 2020. She is represented by Adriann Ranta Zurhellen at Foundry Literary.
She now lives in the Garden of England with her husband and cat. When she’s not writing, she’s probably roller-skating, watching quiz shows, or perfecting her signature dish for Masterchef. Sometimes all at once.
Sarah is an author of middle-grade fiction. Her debut novel GET A GRIP, VIVY COHEN will be published by Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Random House) in spring 2020. The contemporary book is written in epistolary format and melds several of Sarah’s favorite things: baseball, disability rights politics, and feminism.
Sarah holds a PhD in History from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently, she lives in central California with her family, including a goofy cat. She is represented by Jennifer Udden of New Leaf Literary.
Briana McDonald writes diverse and adventurous stories for young readers. Her middle grade debut, PEPPER BLOUSE AND THE WICKED WILL, is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in Fall 2020. She is the author of several short stories, a reviewer at The Literary Review, and a reader for CLMP’s Firecracker Awards. When she’s not writing, Briana works as an Academic Advisor and English Professor. She currently lives in Queens, NY.
Arianne is a former English teacher who firmly believes that writers should crack up at their own jokes. Born and raised in Mesa, Arizona as the oldest of five, she currently lives outside of Los Angeles, California with her husband and children. Her middle grade debut MY LIFE AS A POTATO is coming out with Random House Childrens Books in March 2020. Her favorite kind of potato is the tater tot, with mashed potatoes coming in close second–as long as they’re not gluey.
Jess Rinker’s debut picture book, Gloria Takes a Stand, a biography of Gloria Steinem, comes out in March 2019. Her second picture book biography, Send a Girl: The Brenda Berkman Story is forthcoming in 2021. Both are being published by Bloomsbury. Jessica’s middle grade novel debut duology, The Dare Sisters, will be published in Fall 2020 and 2021 by Imprint/Macmillan. Jess has a BA in Social Welfare and received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has won many awards for her work including short story, creative nonfiction, and most recently an honorable mention for the Katherine Paterson Prize from Hunger Mountain for her middle grade manuscript, The Young Traveler’s Club.
Jessica Kim’s debut middle grade novel, STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG! will be published by Kokila in the spring of 2020. She resides in southern California with her husband and two kids.
Stacy Hackney grew up in Virginia where she spent her early years reading everything she could get her hands on and singing in the school choir. She is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. Along with her husband, four sons, and their rescue dog named Albert, she currently lives in Richmond. Forever Glimmer Creek is Stacy’s debut novel.
Donna grew up in the oilfields of central California, where chupacabras posed as coyotes and La Llorona disguised herself as dust devils. She still dreams in Spanglish. Donna melds folklore with her own life experiences to reinvent storylines for her MG and picture books.
Her debut novel Lupe Wong Won’t Dance will be released Spring of 2020 by Arthur A. Levine Books and Scholastic Books. Donna lives in Washington State with her husband, four children, two dogs and three frogs. Donna is a Critique-Group-Coordinator for SCBWI-Western Washington and teaches “The Hero’s Journey for Young Authors” to future writers.
A.J. Sass is a fiction-writing figure skater, inclined toward adventures of a traveling nature. He is autistic, non-binary, and keen on exploring how gender identity and neurodiversity impact character narratives.
An avid figure skater, A.J. is a US Figure Skating double gold medalist in Moves in the Field and Free Skate, a silver medalist in Ice Dance, and a member of the 2019 national silver medalist Masters synchronized skating team, IceSymmetrics.
A.J. grew up in the Midwestern US, came of age in the South, and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his boyfriend and two cats who act like dogs. He is represented by Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary & Media and his debut middle grade novel, ANA ON THE EDGE, will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in Fall 2020.
Gail Zhuang Schmidt was born in China and immigrated to the U.S. when she was six. She has lived in a wide range of states, including Kentucky, Indiana, North Dakota, and Georgia. Gail attended Wellesley College, where she received her BA in Economics. She currently lives in Switzerland with her husband and her mischievous tuxedo cat.
Adrianna Cuevas is a first generation Cuban-American originally from Miami, Florida. A former Spanish and ESOL teacher, Adrianna currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and son. When not working with TOEFL students, wrangling multiple pets including an axolotl, and practicing fencing with her son, she is writing her next middle grade novel.
Adrianna’s debut middle grade novel, Nestor’s Guide to Unpacking, will be published by FSG/Macmillan in spring 2020.
Christopher Swiedler is a writer and software engineer living in Pacifica, California, where he’s under constant threat from earthquakes, tsunamis, and solar flares. His goal is to win the Newbery Honor while steering clear of the Medal itself, because he was once told that being runner-up builds good character. His debut novel, IN THE RED, will be published by HarperCollins in spring 2020.
Born in Boston with the accent to prove it, Risa lived within ten miles of the city for decades until a recent move to the neighboring Ocean State.
For many years, Risa worked in a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting active participation in our democracy with a special focus on voting and elections. Then a strange event that involved three pennies led her to take a deep dive into creative writing, which is now a priority and passion ⏤ unless grandchildren are nearby.
Sarah is the author of WHAT STARS ARE MADE OF (FSG/Macmillan 2020), her Own Voices middle grade debut about a young girl with Turner Syndrome who makes a deal with the universe to help her sister’s growing family. She has an MFA in creative writing from BYU and currently lives in the Seattle area. She is always working on the next project or being overenthusiastic about Pixar movies. She’s a major lover of golden retrievers, leather jackets, and Colin Firth.
Originally from Bristol, England, Joseph studied English Literature and Drama at the University of Manchester, before doing an MA in performance at Central School of Speech and Drama. For the last ten years, he has worked as an actor, predominantly in comedy and children’s television. He is probably best known for playing pirate ‘Cook’ in the BAFTA-winning CBeebies series, Swashbuckle, for which he also writes many of the scripts. In 2017, he co-created, wrote and starred in InterNOT, a comedy sketch show commissioned by the BBC, which parodies the bizarre world of YouTube. He is also part of the writing team for CBBC’s Class Dismissed. When not writing or acting, Joseph loves painting, snorkelling and playing board games. He is a firm believer that houmous goes well with everything.
Joseph’s debut novel, The Good Hawk, will be published by Walker Books UK and Walker US in Autumn 2019.
Lorien Lawrence graduated with creative writing degrees from Wheaton College and Bath Spa University. After college, she lived abroad in England for a few years, before returning stateside and becoming a middle school English teacher. On weekends you can often find her exploring New England haunts, getting more inspiration for her novels.
Ernesto Cisneros was born in the gang-ridden and often marginalized part of Orange County in California. He believes in providing today’s youth with an honest depiction of characters with whom they can identify. The real world is filled with amazing people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. His work strives to reflect that.
He holds an English degree from the University of California, Irvine; a teaching credential from California State University, Long Beach; as well as a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from National University.
Chris Negron grew up outside Buffalo, New York, where he spent a huge chunk of his childhood reading comic books and loving sports. But it was the hours of playing Dungeons and Dragons in friends’ basements that grew his imagination and eventually the dream to one day write his own stories took hold and wouldn’t let go. That dream kept him company through college at Yale University and years of programming computers for big companies. His debut novel, DAN, UNMASKED will be published in Summer 2020 with Harper Children’s. He lives outside Atlanta with his wife, Mary.
Over a 20-year career as an award-winning editor and travel journalist, Josh Roberts has written for publications as varied as USA Today, The Boston Sunday Globe, The Huffington Post, and Business Insider. By day, he’s the Senior Executive Editor of SmarterTravel, a TripAdvisor Company. At night (and often very early in the morning) he writes the kinds of middle-grade and young adult novels he always wanted to read when he was a kid. His debut novel, THE WITCHES OF WILLOW COVE, will be published Summer 2020 by Owl Hollow Press. He lives outside Boston with his wife and two children.
Alyssa Zaczek is a fiction author, journalist and playwright originally from Chicago. She graduated cum laude from Columbia College Chicago in 2016. Her plays have been performed across the Midwest, and her short fiction can be read in Midwestern Gothic, Jet Fuel Review, The Dionysian, et al. She currently lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where she works as a features reporter for a USA Today newspaper. When not writing, Alyssa can be found running (begrudgingly,) cooking (happily) and chasing after her dog and two obnoxious cats. She is a #DVpit success story and is represented by Jessica Mileo at InkWell Management.
PJ is hard to define. Sometimes she’s a Switzer, sometimes she’s a Gardner. She’s lived in the mountains, near the ocean, and currently in the desert. She writes fun mystery stories for children, but emotionally raw stories for young adults. All anyone can say for sure is that she’s definitely not a unicorn.
Cathleen wrote her first story, called “Aunt Ant,” when she was seven years old and has been writing ever since. She is thrilled to have her debut middle grade novel, THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS DO coming out on January 28th, 2020 with HarperCollins. When she’s not reading, writing, or walking her dog Zeke in the woods, Cathleen fosters kittens and does CrossFit because you can be sensitive and still be strong.
Nicole grew up on Cape Cod and graduated from Wesleyan University. She spent a few years in London and now lives near Boston with her husband, two kids, and two rambunctious black cats. She writes middle grade and young adult books, and her middle grade debut, THE NIGHTMARE THIEF, will be published in September 2020, with a sequel to follow in 2021. In her spare time, Nicole likes to knit, practice yoga, and read tarot cards.
Celesta has lived in nearly every region of the United States, and her settings are inspired by these places and what makes them unique. She has a degree in sociology and is an elephant advocate, a musical theater performer, and an active participant in her local writing community. As a teenager, Celesta worked at a zoo in Omaha, which is part of the reason she set her debut novel in a Nebraska zoo. She now lives in Utah with her husband and two children, where they have a miniature railroad with a rideable steam train. Celesta’s debut novel, THE ELEPHANT’S GIRL is forthcoming from Crown Books for Young Readers and Random House Children’s Books on May 19, 2020.
Kit Rosewater writes books for children. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her spouse and a border collie who takes up most of the bed. Before she was an author, Kit taught middle school theatre and high school English, then worked as a children’s bookseller. She has a master’s degree in Children’s Literature and a knack for finding her characters in clouds, ceiling plaster, and Cheetos. Her debut series THE DERBY DAREDEVILS rolls out Spring 2020 through Abrams.
Loriel Ryon spent her childhood with her nose in a book, reading in restaurants, on the school bus, and during every family vacation. When she wasn’t reading, Loriel built volcanoes, made jewelry, rescued tadpoles with her siblings, and raised butterflies. Now an author of middle grade and young adult fiction and a nurse, she lives in the beautiful New Mexico desert with her husband and two daughters
Juliana Brandt is an author and kindergarten teacher with a passion for storytelling that guides her in both of her jobs. She lives in her childhood home of Minnesota, and her writing is heavily influenced by travels around the country and a decade living in the South. When not working, she is usually exploring the great outdoors.
Jennifer Orr is a writer and former elementary school librarian. Her debut middle grade novel RATING YOUR BUNKMATES AND OTHER CAMP CRIMES will be published by Capstone in February 2020. She lives in Walnut Creek, California with her husband and two daughters. She loves musicals, mysteries, and mathematics, despite the fact that she still struggles with simple addition.
Claribel A. Ortega is a former reporter who writes YA & MG fantasy inspired by her Dominican heritage. When she’s not busy turning her obsession with eighties pop culture, magic and video games into books, she’s recording episodes of her podcast, Write or Die or making GIFS for her small graphic design business, GIFGRRL.