#FallWritingFrenzy 2020 Donors




Aloha kidlit community!

Are you excited about the #FallWritingFrenzy 2020 donors? We sure are! They’re a group of talented editors, agents and authors, all ready to share their expertise and knowledge with you. Feel free to send them support in any way you can: by checking out their websites, buying their books, reviewing their books, following them on social media. We count ourselves very lucky to be working with them, and are grateful for their generosity. Also- feel free to follow this blog for contest updates, simply click “follow” in the upper right hand side. And, to check out the official rules, please click HERE.

And now for the exciting part: here are the Fall Writing Frenzy 2020 donors:


Sydnee Monday

Sydnee Monday, assistant editor for Kokila (a Penguin Random House imprint), was born on a Monday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She wants to read about what it feels like to live in your skin, disillusionment with crumbling facades, and how we move towards utopia. A graduate of Howard University, she mentors young people with Read Ahead and the Governor’s Committee on Scholastic Achievement. She also serves on the board for the POC at PRH employee resource group and the Communications & Events Committee for People of Color in Publishing. Follow her on Twitter: @sydneemonday.

Web: www.mswishlist.com/editor/sydneemonday
Twitter: @sydneemonday
Donation: PB critique


Erin Siu

Erin Siu is an Associate Editor at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, where she manages MCPG’s paperback imprint, Square Fish, and acquires and edits picture books, middle-grade and young adult for Feiwel & Friends. She has a soft spot for stories about multicultural experiences, family relationships, and first love, and she’s worked on several children’s books including, You Are Enough by Jen Petro-Roy, The Secret Recipe for Moving On by Karen Bischer, and Finding Mr. Better-Than-You by Shani Petroff. Before joining MCPG, she studied Comparative Literature and Music at NYU. She grew up in California surrounded by redwood trees and constantly wonders why she doesn’t still live there.

Web: www.erinsiu.com
PB, MG, YA critique


Harriet Low

Harriet Low is an editorial associate at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, where she edits picture books, middle grade, and YA titles, including nonfiction and graphic novels. Before that, she worked at Page Street Publishing and interned at Candlewick Press. Based in Boston, Harriet loves to chat about webcomics, disabled protagonists, and books with happy endings.

Web: www.mswishlist.com/editor/litwitlow
Twitter: @litwitlow
Donation: BB, PB, CB, MG, YA critique


Mira Reisberg

Mira Reisberg has worn just about every hat in the industry: award-winning author/illustrator, agent, kidlit university professor, editor and art director, and fearless director of the Children’s Book Academy. Her students have published over 500 books and won every major North American award. Mira is obsessed with creativity and helping others make wonderful children’s books. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her handsome husband and two quirky cats.

Web: www.mirareisberg.com
Twitter: @MiraReisberg
Donation: non rhyming PB critique


Alli Brydon

Alli Brydon is a freelance children’s book editor, author, and lifelong New Yorker who moved to the south of England with her family in 2018. She is the editor of the #1 New York Times bestselling picture book Last Week Tonight with John Oliver presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo and author of fiction and nonfiction books with Scholastic, Lonely Planet, National Geographic Kids, Sourcebooks, and Amazon/Two Lions. With nearly 15 years of experience developing, editing, writing, and selling books, Alli has spent a large part of her career nurturing authors and illustrators to improve their craft and create outstanding children’s literature. Please drop in at allibrydoncreative.com to learn more.

Web: www.allibrydoncreative.com
Twitter: @allibrydon
Donation: PB critique



James McGowan

Since interning at BookEnds as an undergrad in the summer of 2015, James has (basically) never left. He’s just continuously level-up-ed inside of BookEnds. Now he is an Associate Agent and Social Media Manager for the team.  He only recently learned he could be a writer… now, his debut picture book, GOOD NIGHT, OPPY, publishes in Fall 2021 from Boyds Mills Kane Press. James is currently closed to queries, but hopes to re-open in the Fall, when he’d be open to submissions in picture book fiction and non-fiction, middle grade fiction and non-fiction, and adult fiction. More information can be found on the BookEnds submissions page.

Web: www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/james-mcgowan/
Twitter: @jmcgowanbks
Donation:  BB, PB critique


Charlotte Wenger
Charlotte Wenger is a literary agent in the Boston area with Prospect Agency. Prior to joining Prospect, she was an associate editor at Page Street Kids. She has her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons College (now University) and serves on the national advisory board of the Mazza Museum, the world’s largest collection of original artwork by children’s book illustrators. Charlotte is drawn to children’s literature and art for all ages—board books through YA, but especially picture books.

Web: www.charlottewenger.com
Twitter: @WilbursBF_Char
Donation:  BB, PB critique


Janna Morishima

Janna Morishima is an illustration and literary agent specializing in graphic novels and visual storytelling for kids. She was one of the co-founders of Scholastic’s Graphix imprint and has worn almost every hat in publishing, from art and editorial to marketing and sales. She is also the founder of Kids Comics Unite, an online community for graphic novel professionals. Find out more at https://kidscomicsunite.com.

Web: www.jannaco.co
Donation: MG critique


Joyce Sweeney

Joyce Sweeney is an author and literary agent for The Seymour Agency. She has written fourteen young adult novels, many of which have won awards. She is also the author of two chapbooks of poetry. She is currently working on a fantasy series about Atlantis. Joyce was a creative writing teacher, mentor and coach for over 25 years. Her online classes can be found at www.sweeneywritingcoach.com. She also published a plotting how-to book, Plotting Your Novel With The Plot Clock.(Giantess Press, 2019) At this writing, she has successfully mentored 64 students to traditional publishing contracts. In 2020 she joined The Seymour agency, and represents picture books, middle grade novels and non-fiction, and select poetry and verse novels. Her hobbies are theater, collecting illustration art and animal causes of all kinds. She lives in Coral Springs with her husband, Jay and cat, Nitro.

Web: www.sweeneywritingcoach.com
Twitter: @JoyceGrackle
Donation: MG critique


Wendi Gu

Wendi is an agent at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates and is lucky to work with fiction and nonfiction children’s books across the spectrum, from board books all the way up to young adult. She enjoys voice-driven stories with thoughtful, contemplative characters, lyricism, as well as absurd humor. Most of all, she is looking for authors who value and uphold antiracism and intersectionality. She is always looking for stories about loving our earth. She loves family stories. She hails from Chicago and lives in Brooklyn.

Web: www.greenburger.com/agent/wendi-gu
Twitter: @wendilulugu
Donation: BB, PB, MG critique



Tara Lazar  

Street magic performer. Hog-calling champion. Award-winning ice sculptor. These are all things Tara Lazar has never been.
Instead, she writes quirky, humorous picture books where anything is possible. Her last name rhymes with “bazaar”—you can listen to Tara pronounce her name on TeachingBooks.net. She’s not Tara Laser-beam (although that would be awesome). Tara is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Web: www.taralazar.com/
Twitter: @taralazar
Donation: PB critique


Josh Funk

Josh Funk is a software engineer and the author of books like the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, the ​It’s Not a Fairy Tale series, the How to Code with Pearl and Pascal series, the A Story of Patience & Fortitude series, Dear Dragon, Pirasaurs!, Albie Newton, and more.

Web: www.joshfunkbooks.com
Twitter: @joshfunkbooks
Donation: PB critique


Vivian Kirkfield
Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more than five words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing, banana-boat riding, and visiting critique buddies all around the world. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books and critiquing manuscripts in the picturesque village of Bedford, NH. A retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog, Picture Books Help Kids Soar where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. She is the author many picture books and you can connect with her on social media and just about any place people with picture books are found

Web: www.viviankirkfield.com/
Twitter: @viviankirkfield
Donation: PB critique


Teresa Robeson

Teresa Robeson is a Chinese-Canadian-American ALA-award-winning who lives on a mini-homestead and is passionate about science and own-voices (and hyphens, apparently).

Web: www.teresarobeson.com
PB critique



Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer is an award-winning children’s book author who presents at schools and conferences across the nation. She has 30 picture books with many more on the way.

Web: www.tammisauer.com
PB critique



Saadia Faruqi

Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American author, essayist and interfaith activist. She writes the children’s early reader series “Yasmin” published by Capstone and other books for children. She is editor-in-chief of Blue Minaret, and lives in Houston, TX with her family.

Web: www.saadiafaruqi.com
CB, MG critique


Megan & Jorge Lacera

Jorge Lacera was born in Colombia, and grew up in Miami, Florida drawing in sketchbooks, on napkins, on walls, and anywhere his parents would let him.
After graduating with honors from Ringling College of Art and Design, Jorge worked as a visual development and concept artist for major gaming studios and entertainment companies. As a big fan of pop culture, comics, and zombie movies, Jorge rarely saw Latinx kids as the heroes or leads. He is committed to changing that, especially now that he has a son. Jorge is currently helping to create the next chapter in the Bioshock franchise as the Associate Art Director at Cloud Chamber Studios in Montreal, Quebec. He is represented by John Cusick at Folio Literary Management.

Megan Lacera grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, with a book always in her hands. She became a writer and creator of characters and worlds for entertainment companies like American Greetings, Hasbro, and Goldieblox and later formed her own creative company where she creates original content and consults on marketing, social media, and strategic direction for start-ups and large corporations. After reading many stories to their son, Megan realized that very few books reflected a family like theirs–multicultural, bilingual, funny, and imperfect. She decided to change that by writing her own stories. She is also represented by John Cusick at Folio jr.

Web: www.studiolacera.com
@MeganLacera and @jlacera
PB, CB, MG critique


Ishta Mercurio

Ishta Mercurio was born and raised in an interracial family in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she developed a love of reading and books and big ideas. After leaving for college at the exactly-right age of 16, she went on to explore the world and, with it, to explore various ways of storytelling, from dance to theatre to poetry to prose. She now lives and writes in Brampton, Ontario, where she serves as the Chairman of the Board for The FOLD Foundation, a non-profit whose mandate is to lift underrepresented and marginalized voices in Canadian literature. Her picture book debut, SMALL WORLD (illustrated by Jen Corace, and out from ABRAMS Books for Young Readers in 2019), was selected as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2019 by its Book Concierge team, and won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for the Canadian region.

Web: www.ishtamercurio.com
PB critique


Aya Khalil
Aya holds a master’s degree in education with a focus in teaching English as a second language.  She’s a freelance journalist whose work has been published in The Huffington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Toledo Area Parent and many others. She’s been featured in Teen Vogue, Yahoo! and other publications. Her debut picture book, THE ARABIC QUILT, was published February 4th, 2020 by Tilbury House. Besides writing and teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and exercising.

Web: www.ayakhalil.com
Twitter: @ayawrites
Donation: PB critique



Jolene Gutiérrez

Jolene grew up on a farm in northeastern Colorado and now lives in a suburb of Denver, where she’s been a school librarian for 25 years. She spends her days sharing children’s books and her nights writing them. She’s a wife of 22 years and a mama to two young adults, three rescue dogs, and one rescue squirrel. Jolene is represented by agent Kaitlyn Sanchez of Olswanger Literary and is an active member of SCBWI and The Author’s Guild, a We Need Diverse Books mentorship finalist and a Writing with the Stars mentee. She is the author of Mac and Cheese and the Personal Space Invader (Clear Fork, 2020) and Bionic Beasts: Saving Lives with Artificial Flippers, Legs, and Beaks (Lerner, 2020). Learn more at .

Web: www.jolenegutierrez.com
Twitter: @writerjolene
Donation: non-rhyming PB, MG critique


Valerie Bolling

Let’s Dance! (Boyds Mills & Kane), published in March 2020, is Valerie Bolling’s debut picture book. In addition to being an author, Valerie has been an educator for 27 years. When she taught elementary students, it was difficult to find diverse literature for them. Thus, she is passionate about creating stories in which all children can see themselves and feel valued and heard.
A graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University, Teachers College, Valerie currently works as an Instructional Coach. Valerie and her husband live in Connecticut and enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater, and dancing.

Web: www.valeriebolling.com
PB critique


Kyle Lukoff
Kyle Lukoff is the author of books like the Stonewall-award winning “When Aidan Became A Brother” and “Explosion at the Poem Factory.” While becoming a writer he worked as a bookseller for ten years, and then nine more years as a school librarian. He lives in New York City, and hopes you’re having a nice day.

Web: www.kylelukoff.com
PB critique



Meera Sriram

An engineer in the past, Meera now enjoys writing, leading early literacy initiatives, and advocating for diverse bookshelves. She is the author of picture books THE  YELLOW SUITCASE, A GIFT FOR AMMA and the upcoming title BETWEEN TWO WORLDS. Meera believes in the transformative power of stories and likes to write about people, places, and experiences less visible in children’s literature.

Web: www.meerasriram.com
PB critique



Nadia Salomon
Nadia is the debut author of GOODNIGHT GANESHA (Philomel), due out in Fall 2021. She writes picture book, middle-grade, and graphic novel manuscripts covering South Asian and Caribbean culture, STEM concepts, and humor. Nadia is the winner of the 2020 SCBWI Service Award and the 2019 SCBWI WOOP Honor Award for work of outstanding progress on her non-fiction, picture book manuscript, MYRLIE: A VOICE OF HOPE.

Web: www.nadiasalomon.com
PB critique



Alexandra Alessandri

Alexandra Alessandri is a Colombian American poet, children’s author, and Associate Professor of English at Broward College. Her poetry has appeared in The Acentos Review, Rio Grande Review, Atlanta Review, and YARN. Her debut Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! releases October 1, 2020 from Albert Whitman & Company, followed by Isabel and Her Colores Go to School in fall 2021 from Sleeping Bear Press. Alexandra lives in Florida with her husband and son.

Web: www.alexandraalessandri.com
PB critique


Ernesto Cisneros

Ernesto Cisneros was born and raised in Santa Ana, California, where he still teaches. He holds an English degree from the University of California, Irvine; a teaching credential from California State University, Long Beach; as well as a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from National University. As an author, 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. Efrén Divided has garnered 4 Starred Reviews, An Indies Introduce/Next Pick, Amazon Top MG of 2020 So Far list, and is a ProjectLit Selection.

Web: www.ernestocisneros.com
MG, YA critique



Amparo Ortiz

Amparo Ortiz was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and currently lives on the island’s northeastern coast. Her short story comic, “What Remains in The Dark,” appears in the Eisner Award-winning anthology PUERTO RICO STRONG (Lion Forge, 2018), and SAVING CHUPIE, her middle grade graphic novel, comes out with HarperCollins in Winter 2022. She holds an M.A. in English and a B.A. in Psychology from the UPR’s Río Piedras campus. When she’s not teaching ESL to her college students, she’s teaching herself Korean, devouring as much young adult fiction as she can, and writing about Latinx characters in worlds both contemporary and fantastical. Her debut novel, BLAZEWRATH GAMES, hits shelves on October 6, 2020 from Page Street Kids.

Web: www.amparoortiz.com
YA critique



Ana Siqueira
Ana Siqueira is a Spanish-language elementary teacher, an award-winning Portuguese children’s author, and is published in the Foreign Language educational market. Her forthcoming picture books include BELLA’S RECIPE FOR DISASTER/SUCCESS (Beaming Books, 2021) and one for 2022 that can’t be announced yet. Besides writing, Ana loves to read, teach, and play with her Cuban-Brazilian-American grandchildren.

Web: www.anafiction.com
PB critique



Ellen Leventhal

Ellen Leventhal is an educator and writer in Houston, TX. She is the co-author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Clear Fork Publishing/Spork, 2017) and the author of LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Clear Fork Publishing/Spork, 2018) as well as A FLOOD OF KINDNESS (Worthy Kids/Hachette Book Group, Spring, 2021).  Ellen enjoys supporting literacy programs as well as diversity and anti-bullying programs. Her best days are when she can interact directly with children as they garner a love of literacy and kindness together.

Web: www.Ellenleventhal.com
PB critique


Candice Conner

Growing up between swamps, a river, and the Gulf Coast, Candice Marley Conner’s stories emerge from gnarled burrows, muddy water, and salty air. Her YA Southern mystery, THE EXISTENCE OF BEA PEARL, will release Spring ’21 with Owl Hollow Press. She’s the kidlit haint at a haunted indie bookshop and a Local Liaison for SCBWI. Her work can be found in Highlights Hello, Babybug Magazine, and in anthologies such as Cabinet of Curiosities, Mardi Gras Pieces, Under the Full Moon’s Light and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Web: www.candicemarleyconner.com
PB, CB, MG, YA critique



Diana Murray

Diana Murray is the author of over a dozen books for children, including GOODNIGHT VEGGIES (HMH, March 2020), a Jr. Library Guild Selection; FIVE FUZZY CHICKS (Imprint/Macmillan, February 2020), an Amazon Book of the Month; and UNICORN DAY (Sourcebooks, 2019), a National Indiebound Bestseller. Her poems have appeared in magazines such as Highlights, High Five and Spider, as well as anthologies like THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE (Millbrook, 2019), an ALA Notable Book. Diana grew up in NYC and still lives nearby with her firefighter husband, two children, and a smarty-pants cockatiel named Bean.

Web: www.dianamurray.com
Twitter: @DianaMWrites
rhyming PB critique



Vicky Fang  

Vicky Fang is a product designer who spent 5 years designing kids’ technology experiences for both Google and Intel, often to inspire and empower kids in coding and technology. She started writing to support the growing need for early coding education, particularly for girls and kids of color. Her goal is for her books to inspire computer literacy for a wide range of kids—while letting their imaginations run wild with the possibilities of technology! She is the author of nine new and upcoming STEAM books for kids, including Invent-a-Pet, I Can Code, Layla and the Bots, and her author-illustrator debut, Friendbots.

Web: www.vickyfang.com
Twitter: @fangmous
Donation: BB, PB, CB critique



Heather Bell

Heather Bell whole-heartedly believes that hidden within our everyday lives is a secret realm glimpsed through books, music, and children’s laughter. Holding a BFA in Painting from the Kansas City Art Institute, she is a member of SCBWI, a participant in the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge, a Children’s Book Academy graduate, and a mommy. When not illustrating and writing, she searches out story ideas as an undercover school bus driver. Heather Bell is an author/illustrator represented by Kaitlyn Sanchez at Olswanger Literary Agency.

Web: https://heatherbellbooks.com/
Twitter: @heatherbell37
PB (dummy or a rhyming manuscript critique)



Annie Lynn

Since 2004, AnnieBirdd Music, LLC has been licensing award winning curriculum based songs to schools, homeschooling, choirs & non profits. Since 2017, Annie & Company have also been writing Kidlit songs for book trailers and teacher guides. Songs are provided for free download with the Teacher Guide, as an additional Arts activity. Those songs that can stand alone without the book will be submitted to Children’s Radio.

Web: https://annielynn.net/
Twitter: @AnnieLynn215
Donation: PB critique


Amanda Davis

Amanda Davis is a teacher, artist, writer, and innovator who uses her words and pictures to light up the world with kindness. When she’s not busy creating, you can find her sipping tea, petting dogs, and exploring the natural wonders of The Bay State with her partner and rescue pup, Cora.

Web: https://www.amandadavisart.com/
Twitter: @amandadavisart
Donation: PB critique




Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez is a mom, wife, associate agent at Olswanger Literary, middle school math teacher, and picture book author. She’s also the proud co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest, creator and co-host of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest, and co-creator co-host of Kidlit Zombie Week. In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch TV shows, and, of course, read, especially when she’s all cozied up with her husband and daughter reading together.

Web: www.kaitlynleannsanchez.com
Twitter @KaitlynLeann17


Lydia Lukidis

Lydia is the author of three trade picture books, thirty educational books, and thirty-two eBooks. Her latest STEM book, The Broken Bees’ Nest, was nominated for a CYBILS Award, and she’s a two time finalist for the #PBParty contest. Her background spans the fields of literature, science and puppetry.
Lydia is an active member of SCBWI, CANSCAIP, 12 x 12, The Authors Guild and QWF. She’s very involved in the kidlit community through her blog and newsletters, as well as on social media. Another passion of hers is fostering a love for literacy with children through the writing workshops she regularly offers in elementary schools.

Web: www.lydialukidis.com
Twitter: @LydiaLukidis