When she’s not feeding cats, riding wild horses adopted from the rangelands, floating on a lake with swans, or wandering on her husband’s family farm, Jennifer Adam can be found surrounded by books, journals, and fountain pens. She is also passionate about hiking through the woods, ancient history, ballet, and classical music. Her short stories and poems have appeared in a number of magazines. THE LAST WINDWITCH (HarperCollins April 2021) is her first novel, and she is represented by Sarah Landis at Sterling Lord Literistic.
Kate Albus is the author of A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON, coming February 2, 2021 from Margaret Ferguson Books at Holiday House. Kate is originally from New York, but now lives in rural Maryland with her family, including some real people and some imaginary characters she’s conjured over the years (all of whom are beloved). Other than writing, her favorite activities are reading, knitting, baking, and other pastimes that are inherently quiet.
Jake Maia Arlow is a podcast producer, writer, and bagel connoisseur. She studied evolutionary biology and creative writing (not as different as you might think) at Barnard College. She has lived in various places, but can always be found with an iced coffee.
Jaime Berry is a native of rural Oklahoma and a former New York City public school teacher. After years with two small boys in a too-small Brooklyn apartment, Jaime and her husband moved to the wilds of suburban New Jersey and added another boy and a dog to the mix. HOPE SPRINGS is Jaime’s debut novel.
Shakirah Bourne is a Barbadian author, filmmaker and lover of mangoes. She has written and produced four movies, including a thriller where she fell off the back of a moving vehicle trying to get a shot, and a comedy that she filmed during an earthquake and in a cave with bats.
She currently resides in Barbados in the Caribbean, and spends most of her time staring out at the sea thinking about new stories to tell. Her debut middle grade contemporary fantasy, JOSEPHINE AGAINST THE SEA, will be published by Scholastic in July 2021.
Cliff Burke grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. He worked as a house painter, a parking lot attendant, and a sign-twirling dancing banana before graduating from the College of William and Mary. For the past ten years, he has taught reading and writing in China, Hong Kong, and Texas. Currently, he teaches writing and humanities at a middle school in San Mateo, California. This is his first novel.
Yvette Clark is a Brit by birth and a New Yorker by design. An avid reader, writer, and trampoliner, Yvette lives in Manhattan with her husband, two children, and a blue cat named Beau. GLITTER GETS EVERYWHERE is her debut novel and will be published by HarperCollins in May 2021. Yvette is represented by Elizabeth Bewley at Sterling Lord Literistic.
Nicole D. Collier, Ph.D. is a Georgia native and renaissance soul. She’s a non-competitive runner and salsera, reiki master and green-smoothie enthusiast, and has been known to do cartwheels from time to time.
She received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Florida A&M University’s School of Journalism, Media and Graphic Arts. After a short stint in journalism, Nicole spent nearly two decades in education. First as an elementary school teacher, then teacher coach before earning a doctorate in Learning, Design and Technology from the University of Georgia.
She’s the Chief Learning Officer for a coaching and consulting firm, and coaches her own clients to lead happier, more authentic lives.
Nicole writes contemporary MG. Her debut novel, Just Right Jillian, will be published by Versify/HMH Kids in Fall 2021.
Alyssa Colman won the 2013 Primary Stages ESPA new play competition and was a semifinalist at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference. She has participated both as a mentee and mentor in the Author Mentor Match program and is a member of SCBWI. Alyssa now lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys making a mess in her kitchen and hiking with her family.
Alda P. Dobbs is the author of the upcoming novel BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PETRA LUNA (Sourcebooks, Fall 2021). Her writings have won various awards including the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Award and the Sustainable Arts Foundation Grant. She has also written articles for Highlights Children’s Magazine, Guideposts, and La Prensa newspaper.
Alda was born in a small town in northern Mexico but moved to San Antonio, Texas as a child. She studied physics and worked as an engineer before pursuing her love of storytelling. She is as passionate about connecting children to their past, their communities, different cultures, and nature as she is about writing.
Alda lives with her husband and two children outside Houston, Texas.
Payal Doshi has a Masters in Creative Writing (Fiction) from The New School, New York. Having lived in the UK and US, she noticed a lack of Indian protagonists in global children’s fiction and one day wrote the opening paragraph to what would become her first children’s novel. She was born and raised in Mumbai, India, and currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and three-year-old daughter. When she isn’t writing or spending time with her family, you can find her nose deep in a book with a cup of coffee or daydreaming of fantasy realms to send her characters off into. She loves the smell of old, yellowed books. Rea and the Blood of the Nectar, the first book in the Chronicles of Astranthia series is her debut middle grade novel.
Reese Eschmann holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois-Chicago and worked in schools for six years. When she’s not writing or taking naps, Reese enjoys rock climbing, baking, and making movies with her family. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and their hound dog.
Reem Faruqi enjoys writing lyrical stories that reflect her own experiences. She is the award-winning children’s book author of LAILAH’S LUNCHBOX, a book based on her own experiences as a young Muslim girl immigrating to the United States. Her debut middle grade novel UNSETTLED will be published by HarperCollins in May 2021. Currently, she lives with her husband and three daughters in Atlanta. Reem spends her days trying to write, but instead gets distracted easily by her toddler, camera, and buttery sunlight.
Sara Fray is an American author. Her debut Middle Grade book SEVEN VOYAGES (Macmillan) is a 2021 Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. Her Middle Grade adaptation of MAGELLAN : OVER THE EDGE OF THE WORLD (Macmillan) was a selection of the Junior Library Guild in the fall of 2017. She was born and raised in New York City and is a graduate of Columbia University where she studied East Asian Civilization, American History and Film. She was an A&R executive before she became a historical researcher and contributing editor of a New York Times Editors’ Choice. She is a member of The Authors Guild, PEN America and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter and Great Dane.
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 workshops and speaking to audiences throughout Colorado and across the country. Learn more at www.meganefreeman.com.
Joanne Rossmassler Fritz grew up in suburban Philadelphia in a house filled with books and music. She played the oboe in school but now prefers to listen to classical music instead. She has worked as an editorial assistant, a school librarian, and a children’s bookseller. Joanne is a two-time brain aneurysm survivor and feels grateful just to be here. Her debut MG novel, EVERYWHERE BLUE, will be published by Holiday House in Summer 2021. She and her husband live in southeastern Pennsylvania and are the parents of two grown sons.
Caroline Gertler’s debut middle grade novel, MANY POINTS OF ME, will be published by Greenwillow/HarperCollins on January 12, 2021. A former children’s book editor, Caroline has an MA in art history and gives tours of Old Master paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was raised in New York City and still lives there, on the Upper West Side, just across town from the Met, with her family.
Chrystal D. Giles is making her middle-grade debut with Take Back the Block. Chrystal was a 2018 We Need Diverse Books mentee, and her poem “Dimples” appears in the poetry anthology Thanku: Poems of Gratitude (Millbrook). Chrystal lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and son.
Sharon Giltrow grew up in South Australia, the youngest of eight children, surrounded by pet sheep and fields of barley. She now lives in Perth, WA with her husband, two children and a tiny dog. When not writing, Sharon works with children with Developmental Language Disorder. Her debut PB Bedtime Daddy released May 2020 through EK books. She was awarded The Paper Bird Fellowship for Writers in 2019. During this time she wrote her early middle grade book SAMARA RUBIN AND THE UTILITY BELT, which will be released in 2021 through Clear Fork Publishing’s new imprint &MG.
Louise Gooding is a Children’s Author, SCBWI member and British expat living in Switzerland with her husband, 3 children and their dog, Mina.
Louise has a keen interest in sharing stories featuring characters that stand out, are different and who celebrate diversity.
Inspired by her own family, Louise took up writing to find a way of introducing and discussing neurological and physical diversity within children’s books. JUST LIKE ME will be published March 4, 2021 by Studio Press.
As an adult with ADHD, Louise focusses her writing on mental health, neurodiversity and finding a way to express and share her quirky sense of humour.
Soumya Gudiyella has a doctorate in Chemical Engineering and her other passions are reading and writing. Soumya reads extensively and has come across very few ‘diverse’ books with ‘Indian’ characters, and setting. She decided to contribute more books in this genre, starting with her debut middle grade novel, LOST BETWEEN WORLDS. It will be published by Batani Books in Spring 2021. Soumya Gudiyella was born and raised in Warangal, India, and currently resides in Detroit, Michigan with her husband and a two-year-old son.
Rina Heisel writes adventurous stories for young readers. Her middle grade debut, JOURNEY BEYOND THE BURROW, is coming from Harper Kids in July 2021. After eleven years producing educational television programs for South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Rina found she especially enjoyed writing segments centering on natural sciences. She found lots of inspiration in the animals she filmed, feeling as if she was getting a sneak-peek into their secret worlds. You can visit her online at http://www.rinaheisel.com/.
Melissa Hope earned her degree in English and is passionate about sharing her knowledge to help writers improve their craft and connect with the writing community. She escaped the frostbite normalcy of Canadian winters to live in Florida with her family, bipolar cat, and growing collection of scuba gear. Visit her website www.authormelissahope.com to watch free writing tutorials.
On September 11, 1961, Terry Catasús Jennings landed in the United States after a short flight from Cuba. On September 12th, she was enrolled in seventh grade in an American school. Her family, including her father who had been jailed during the Bay of Pigs invasion, was now in a free country. The only catch for twelve-year-old Terry was that she could count in English and recite the days of the week and the months of the year, but not much more. Often being the only Cuban in her school—even through college—Terry knows what it’s like to be the new kid on the block. She is delighted to have the opportunity, with Definitely Dominguita, to portray a child of immigrants who is normal—no different than her peers—other than she loves the classics (like Jennings did as a child) and thinks Cuban food rules.
Graci Kim is a Korean-Kiwi diplomat turned author who writes magic-infused MG books for magic-infused readers. She grew up not seeing herself in her most treasured books, and has since committed herself to writing Korean-x characters onto the page. When she’s not lost in her imagination, she’s drinking flat whites, eating ramyeon, and most likely hugging a dog (or ideally, many). She lives in Aotearoa New Zealand with her husband and daughter.
L. D. Lapinski is the author of The Strangeworlds Travel Agency series of children’s books. The first novel was published in April 2020 by Orion Children’s (UK), and May 2021 by Aladdin S&S (USA), and is being translated into twelve other languages.
L. D. Lapinski lives just outside Sherwood Forest with her family, a lot of books, and a cat called Hector. L.D. first wrote a book when she was seven; it was made of lined paper and sellotape, and it was about a frog who owned an aeroplane.
Christina Li is a student at Stanford University studying Economics. In her spare time, when she is not stressing over her latest stats problem set, she is dreaming up characters and stories for children and young adults. Her debut, Clues to the Universe, is coming out from Quill Tree Books on January 12, 2021.
Chad Lucas has been in love with words since he attempted his first novel on a typewriter in the sixth grade. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, communications advisor, freelance writer, journalism instructor, and parenting columnist. A proud descendant of the historic African Nova Scotian community of Lucasville, he lives with his family in Nova Scotia. He enjoys coaching basketball and is rarely far from a cup of tea. His debut middle grade novel THANKS A LOT, UNIVERSE (Amulet Books/Abrams Kids) releases on May 11, 2021.
Ally Malinenko is a poet, novelist, and librarian living in Brooklyn, New York where she pens her tales in a secret writing closet before dawn each day. Like Zee, she loves a good ghost story the most. When she’s not telling stories, she’s traveling as much of this world as possible.
Jimmy Matejek-Morris grew up in New Jersey as the middle child of five kids. He enjoys musical theater, Muppets, ice cream, and action figures. He currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his husband, Scott, and a very well-dressed poodle-Pomeranian named Rudy. When he is not writing books and screenplays for kids and young adults, you can find Jimmy peeking through the blinds in hopes of spotting baby bunnies.
Jimmy has a BA in Film and English from Cornell University and an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. His debut novel, MY EX-IMAGINARY FRIEND, will be out February 2nd, 2020 from Lerner/Carolrhoda.
Christyne Morrell writes middle grade novels and the occasional picture book. Her debut middle grade novel, KINGDOM OF SECRETS, will be released in August 2021 from Delacorte Press. When she’s not writing children’s books, Christyne is a corporate contracts attorney. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, daughter, and hyperactive beagle.
Jody Lee Mott is a former elementary and middle school teacher, and an avid reader of children’s books who finally decided to write down the stories bouncing around his brain. He is also the creator and host of the children’s book podcast Dream Gardens which can be found wherever you listen to your podcasts. He lives several stone throws from the Susquehanna River in Apalachin, New York with his wife, children and one very large greyhound.
His debut middle grade novel, HUSH-A-BYE, will be published August 24, 2021 by Viking Children’s Books.
Shane Pangburn grew up in rural Illinois and now lives in Los Angeles, where he writes whenever not drawing, watching TV, caring for an infant child, or otherwise working. He also produces YALLWEST, the nation’s largest Youth and Young Adult literary festival and illustrates The Unbelievable Oliver series from Pseudonymous Bosch.
For four years Alex Perry taught English Language Arts and reading to Houston middle schoolers ranging from 6th-8th grade, but she now lives in Arkansas with two large dogs, a husband, and one small baby. Alex is the author of PIGHEARTED coming fall of 2021 and is represented by Melissa Nasson of Rubin Pfeffer Content.
Lisa Frenkel Riddiough is a Northern California based writer whose projects include picture books, middle-grade, and short fiction. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. Her critical thesis was titled, It’s Not Just Talk: How Empathy Elevates When Talking Animals Exist in Contemporary Human Settings – Middle-Grade. In this study, she was particularly interested in the ways in which animal and human characters struggle to communicate with one another. Lisa is a former sales executive, an avid squirrel watcher, and a frequent baker of chocolate pound cake. She is pro-Oxford comma! Also, she likes exclamation points!! Her debut novel, ELVIS AND THE WORLD AS IT STANDS, comes out in August (Abrams).
Kaela Rivera was raised to believe in will-o’-the-wisps and el chupacabra, but even ghost stories couldn’t stop her from reading in the isolated treetops, caves, and creeks of Tennessee’s Appalachian forests. She still believes in the folktales of her Mexican-American and British parents, but now she writes about them from the adventure-filled mountains of the Wild West. Her debut novel, CECE RIOS AND THE DESERT OF SOULS, will be published April 13, 2021. When she’s not crafting stories, she’s using her English degree from BYU–I as an editor for a marketing company (or secretly doodling her characters in the margins of her notebook).
Her biggest hope is to highlight and explore the beauty of cultural differences — and how sharing those differences can bring us all closer.
Rachel Sarah writes from a place of hope and despair from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her first middle grade nonfiction book, Girl Warriors: How 25 Young Activists Are Saving the Earth, will be published by Chicago Review Press in April 2021.
Rachel has worked as a news reporter, a corporate blogger, and a developmental book editor. She’s also the mother of two creative, adventurous, nature-loving daughters who are 12 years apart. If you are raising your voice for change right now, Rachel is grateful and with you in resilience.
Merriam Sarcia Saunders, LMFT, is a family therapist specializing in ADHD and author of the picture books My Whirling, Twirling Motor and My Wandering, Dreaming Mind, both affirming stories about children with ADHD. Merriam is the co-founder of A Novel Mind, a website highlighting kidlit that features mental health issues. Merriam and her husband live in Northern California with their three kids, one silly lab, and a tiny chihuahua with no teeth. This is her first novel.
Jessica Speer is an author and speaker that focuses on helping kids and families thrive. Through her research and writing, she helps kids navigate relationships, uncomfortable emotions, and the tricky stuff that life tosses our way. Her first book, BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)? Girls Guide to Happy Friendships, will be released in July 2021. This guidebook includes fun activities, quizzes, and real stories to help girls navigate the tricky world of friendships. In addition to writing and leading programs, Jessica’s an adjunct faculty member of Colorado Mountain College. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Sciences and lives in Colorado, USA with her husband and two daughters.
Sam Subity loves writing stories that explore the magic and wonder of being a kid and is thrilled to share his writing with readers everywhere—both the young in age and the young at heart. When he’s not writing, you might find him running the trails of northern California where the endless, winding miles past fog and ocean inspire stories of adventure and mystery.
Or he might be mowing his lawn. Because that’s what adults sometimes have to do.
But in either case, he’s very likely imagining himself fighting mythical creatures or at the prow of a dragon ship feeling the wind and sea spray on his face alongside his own Viking queen and their two kids. His greatest hope is that in reading his books, you too may be transported to another place where, for a little while, you can exchange the ordinary for the extraordinary.
Jazz Taylor is a writer, receptionist, and huge cat fan. She loves watching cooking shows (despite being unable to make anything more difficult than ramen noodles). She lives with her hilarious grandmother in Alabama.
Meera Trehan is an Indian-American writer who grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs where she read as much as she could, memorized poems, and ate enough cookies to earn the nickname “Monster” after the Cookie Monster. After attending the University of Virginia and Stanford Law School, she practiced public interest law for over a decade before turning to writing for children. She lives in Maryland with her family. Her debut novel, THE VIEW FROM THE VERY BEST HOUSE IN TOWN comes out Fall 2021 from Walker Books.
Jessica Vitalis is a Columbia MBA-wielding writer specializing in middle grade literature. An American expat, she now lives in Canada with her husband and two precocious daughters. She loves traveling, sailing, and scuba diving, but when she’s at home she can usually be found recording book talks for Magic in the Middle and changing the batteries in her heated socks. Her debut novel, The Wolf’s Curse, will be published September 21, 2021 by Greenwillow/HarperCollins with a second book to follow.
Aileen Weintraub is an award-winning author and editor. Her best-selling book, Never Too Young! 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made a Difference, won a 2018 Parents’ Choice Award. Secrets of the American Museum of Natural History: Weird and Wonderful Facts About America’s Natural History Museum released in 2019. She also writes about female empowerment and issues that affect women for The Washington Post, Glamour, HuffPost, AARP, and many other publications. Inspired by the athletes in her book, she has taken up boxing. She lives in New York with her family and her dog, Monte, who keeps her company while she writes. You can find out more about her, view her portfolio, or send her a note at www.aileenweintraub.com.
Alysa Wishingrad once had a different career working in theater, film and TV, but nothing could be better than building worlds for middle grade readers. When she’s not writing, she’s probably out walking the dogs or seeing as much theater as she possibly can. Alysa lives in the Hudson Valley of NY with her family, three cats, and two demanding dogs.
The Verdigris Pawn is her debut novel. Visit her at www.alysawishingrad.com.