Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2022 Fall Conference Faculty



Keynote Speaker


Jeff Zentner is the author of two New York Times Notable Books: THE SERPENT KING and IN THE WILD LIGHT, as well as GOODBYE DAYS and RAYNE & DELILAH’S MIDNITE MATINEE. Among other honors, he has won the ALA’s William C. Morris Award, the International Literacy Association Award, the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award twice, and been longlisted twice for the Carnegie Medal. He’s a two-time Southern Book Prize finalist; and was a finalist for the Indies Choice Award. He was selected as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start and an Indies Introduce pick. His books have been translated into fifteen languages. Before becoming a writer, he was a musician who recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. He lives in Nashville.




Karen Chaplin acquires picture books and middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction as well as graphic novels. She has worked with New York Times bestselling writers Michael Chabon, Tim Green, Amy Ewing, Steve Brusatte, Kate Anderson Brower, and Margot Lee Shetterly; PW Flying Start Paul Mosier; two-time Edgar Award finalist and critically acclaimed Lamar Giles; Caela Carter; Kathleen Krull; National Jewish Book Award Finalist Megan Hoyt, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez; and Rebecca Ross, among many others. She has also worked with illustrators such as CSK Illustrator Honor artist Laura Freeman, Iacopo Bruno, Aura Lewis, and Maurizio Quarello. Karen loves working with debut authors and is committed to publishing thought-provoking and heart-warming stories that celebrate all voices and experiences.


Trisha de Guzman is an Editor at Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, acquiring and editing picture books, middle grade and young adult novels. Born in the Philippines, she immigrated to NYC from Manila when she was seven years old. She’s passionate about amplifying BIPOC creators and making kidlit a more inclusive place. In her spare time, she likes to climb rocks, ride bikes, and revel in nature. Visit her at or on Twitter at @trishadeg.


Irene Vázquez is a Black Mexican American poet, journalist, editor and publicist originally from Houston, Texas. Irene graduated from Yale with a BA in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and English. Irene gravitates to voice-driven stories that are firmly rooted in a sense of place (whether real or imagined). Mostly Irene likes drinking coffee, impulse-buying books, and reminding people that the South’s got something to say.


Virtual only: Clarissa Wong is an Executive Editor at Scholastic where she edits picture books and select graphic novels. She had the pleasure to collaborate with incredible talents on amazing books like Joanna Ho and Dung (Dzung) Ho’s  “Eyes That Kiss in the Corners,” Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez and Jaime Kim’s “Where Are You From?” and Lily LaMotte and Ann Xu’s “Measuring Up” just to name a few.  Prior to Scholastic, she was an editor at HarperCollins, Abrams, and Disney Publishing. 




Alex Gehringer is a Children’s Illustration Agent at The Bright Agency. Both creative and savvy, she pairs talented illustrators with manuscripts that perfectly complement their unique strengths and artistic styles. From board books through middle grade, no matter the format, Alex is well-versed in building spectacular relationships between client and artist. She has been with Bright since 2015 and has agented thousands of deals for her illustrators recently including I Color Myself Different by Colin Kaepernick and illustrated by Eric Wilkerson (Scholastic), Beasts and Beauty by Soman Chainani and illustrated by Julia Iredale (HarperCollins), In My Mosque by M.O. Yuksel and illustrated by Hatem Aly (HarperCollins), and many more.


Kristin Ostby moved from Michigan to New York to begin her life in publishing at Penguin Random House and rose to become a senior editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. In her sixteen years as a children’s book editor, Kristin had the joy and pleasure of editing children’s book legend Tomie dePaola; New York Times bestselling authors like Stuart Gibbs (Spy School) and US soccer star Alex Morgan (The Kicks); and award-winning creators including Daniel Miyares (Float), Jessica Lawson (Nooks & Crannies), and Heather Vogel Frederick (The Mother-Daughter Book Club). She also edited the mainstay bestseller I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley. Kristin loves guiding authors and illustrators toward their best work and advocating for them in service of building successful, sustainable artistic careers. Kristin lives in Brooklyn, New York. Follow her on Twitter at @kristinostby.


Sera Rivers is a Senior Literary Manager at Martin Literary & Media Management. She holds an MFA in writing for children from Simmons University. She is actively seeking stories by authors and illustrators who identify as BIPOC, LQBTQIA+, and other underrepresented and marginalized identities. Sera is especially looking for: MG/YA —horror (no demonic possessions); psychological thrillers; speculative fiction, including magical realism and ghost stories (no high fantasy); LGBTIA+ romance; tough topics. Select PB—historically excluded stories; tough topics; horror (author/illustrator only for horror). She does not represent adult fiction/nonfiction. Check out her full MSWL and submission guidelines at Follow her on Twitter: @writeloudly


Eric Smith is a publishing professional and Young Adult author who grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey. As a literary agent with P.S. Literary, he’s worked on New York Times bestselling and award-winning books. As an author, his recent novels include Don’t Read the Comments, You Can Go Your Own Way, and Jagged Little Pill: The Novel, written with Alanis Morissette, Academy award-winner Diablo Cody, and Glen Ballard.


Virtual only: Jazmia Young is an associate agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. She received her bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing at the City College of New York and was a graduate of the Publishing Certificate Program at CCNY. She is interested in representing children’s books, picture books through YA, focusing on middle-grade fiction/non-fiction with the goal of amplifying underrepresented voices and experiences. She particularly loves stories with friendship ties, complicated family dynamics, and grief or loss. Being a New York native, anything based in the great NYC has her heart. 


Authors, Illustrators, and Consultants


Kate Albus writes historical fiction for young people. She loves getting to know new characters, both by writing and reading about them. Kate grew up in New York and now lives with her family in rural Maryland. Other than writing, she loves baking, reading, knitting, and other activities that are inherently quiet. Kate’s debut novel, A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON (Margaret Ferguson Books at Holiday House, 2021), was a New York Public Library Best Book of the Year, an ALSC Notable Children’s Book, a CCBC Choice, a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, and an SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner. Set in England during the early days of World War II, it’s the story of three orphaned siblings who hope the wartime evacuation of London will be their chance at a forever home. Her second novel, NOTHING ELSE BUT MIRACLES, is set in 1944 New York City, and will be published by Margaret Ferguson Books at Holiday House in 2023. Visit Kate online at


Linda Budzinski is the author of four young adult novels, including THE BOYFRIEND WHISPERER, winner of the Romance Writers of America Young Adult Chapter’s Rosemary Award, and EM & EM, named a “Must Read for Teens” by Your Teen Magazine. She also has had two short stories for adults published in anthologies, including the title story in the upcoming anthology FIRST LOVE: THE ART OF MAKING DOUGHNUTS. When she’s not writing, Linda works in nonprofit communications and outreach.


Virtual Only: Erin Dionne writes middle grade novels, picture books, and nonfiction. Her latest novel for tweens is SECRETS OF A FANGIRL (Scholastic 2019). She’s written six other books for young readers. Her most recent picture book is BALLETBALL (Charlesbridge, 2020). BAD CHOICES MAKE GOOD STORIES (Table for 7 Press, 2021) marks her first nonfiction collection, and her forthcoming chapter book series SHIVER-BY-THE-SEA (Pixel + Ink) releases in fall 2023. 


Sue Fliess (“fleece”) is the author of over 45 children’s books including bestselling Little Golden Books, ROBOTS, ROBOTS EVERYWHERE! and I’M A BALLERINA!, HOW TO TRAP A LEPRECHAUN (and 8 others in the series), MARY HAD A LITTLE LAB, SADIE SPROCKET BUILDS A ROCKET, the BEATRICE BLY’S RULES FOR SPIES series, and more. Her background is in copywriting, PR, and marketing, and her articles have appeared in Oprah Magazine, HuffPost, Writer’s Digest, and more. Fliess has also written for The Walt Disney Company. Her picture books have been included in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, have received honors from SCBWI, and have been translated into multiple languages. She’s a member of SCBWI and The Children’s Book Guild of DC. Sue lives with her family in Northern Virginia. Please visit her at


Pamela N. Harris was born and somewhat raised in Newport News, VA—also affectionately known as “Bad News.” A former school counselor by day, she received her BA in English and a Master’s in school counseling at Old Dominion University, her MFA in creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a PhD in counselor education and supervision at William and Mary. When she isn’t writing, Pam is re-watching Leonardo DiCaprio movies, playing with her two kiddos, and pretending to enjoy exercising. WHEN YOU LOOK LIKE US, an Odyssey Award winner for Excellence in Audiobook Production for Young Adults, as well as a finalist for SCBWI’s Golden Kite Award for Young Adult Fiction, an NAACP Image Award nominee (2022) for Outstanding Literary Work: Youth/Teens, and a 2022 Edgar Award nominee for Best Young Adult novel, is Pamela’s debut novel. Pamela’s next young adult novel, THIS TOWN IS ON FIRE, is set to be released in 2023. She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.


Zara González Hoang is an obsessive scribbler, daydreamer and doodler. A hopeless pantser with pictures AND words, she is perpetually changing things up to figure out the best way to get what’s in her brain out on paper. Her debut book as an author and illustrator, A NEW KIND OF WILD, was published by Dial books in April 2020 and was a Spring IndieNext Pick. She is also the illustrator of THREAD OF LOVE (Beach Lane Books, 2018) and MI CASA IS MY HOME. (Candlewick Press, 2021). Visit her at:


Joy Jones is a popular speaker, trainer, and the author of several books for adults and children. Her most recent are FEARLESS PUBLIC SPEAKING, a how-to for teens, and JAYLA JUMPS IN, a MG novel which received a starred review on Booklist and chosen as one of the best sports books for children by the ALA. Her novel in progress, WALKING THE BOOMERANG, won the 2022 Pen America/ Phyllis Naylor Grant for Children’s and Young Adult Novelists. She works for DC Public Library and is a member of the Children’s Book Guild and SCBWI. Visit at:


Sylvia Liu grew up with books and daydreams in Caracas, Venezuela. Once an environmental attorney protecting the oceans, she now spins stories for children, inspired by high tech, ghost crabs, and strong girls. Her middle grade novels include HANA HSU AND THE GHOST CRAB NATION (Razorbill 2022) and MANATEE’S BEST FRIEND (Scholastic 2021). Sylvia is the co-founder of the kid lit resource website, Kidlit411. She lives in Virginia with her family and a fluffy cat.


Joyana Peters is an independently published historical fiction writer. Her debut novel, THE GIRL IN THE TRIANGLE, won the SCBWI Spark Award Honor for YA fiction. It was also a medalist at the Historical Fiction Press Awards and was a Top Five Finalist for Shelf Unbound’s 2021 Indie Best of the Year. Joyana lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, two children, and goofy Yellow Lab, Gatsby.


Julie Scheina is a former senior editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers with over fifteen years of experience editing acclaimed and bestselling books for children and young adults. She has edited more than 200 titles across a variety of genres, from picture books and poetry collections to middle grade and young adult novels.


Ann Marie Stephens is the author of numerous picture books including SCUBA DOG, ARITHMECHICKS ADD UP, ARITHMECHICKS TAKE AWAY, CATASTROPHE! and forthcoming titles in both the ARITHMECHICKS AND CATASTROPHE! series. She is an award-winning elementary teacher and mentor with over 30 years of classroom experience. Ann Marie has received several grants for her inventive literacy projects and has taught dozens of original education-based workshops. She was a contributing writer for Kwame Alexander’s The Write Thing, and a co-writer for Scholastic’s Trait Crate Plus. Represented by Emily Mitchell at Wernick and Pratt Agency, Ann Marie is a seasoned presenter for both children and adults. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she’s off scuba diving somewhere tropical. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @AMStephens_ and on Facebook, Ann Marie Stephens (AMStephensAuthor).


Meera Trehan 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. Her debut, the MG novel THE VIEW FROM THE VERY BEST HOUSE IN TOWN, released from Walker US/Candlewick in February 2022 and has been named a Junior Library Guild Gold Selection and Amazon Editor’s Pick.


Chiêu Anh Urban is an author, illustrator, award-winning book designer and novelty format designer.  She specializes in developing interactive, playful books that provide fun learning and exploration for the youngest readers.  When Chiêu’s not cutting and pasting together dummies, she’s most definitely baking and enjoying arts and crafts with her family. Chiêu’s latest novelty books include 123 ZOOM and ABC ROAR with S&S, Little Simon.  Her forthcoming series, ILLUSIONS IN ART, will be released in 2023.  Visit Chiêu’s website at to learn more about her books.