Our deep dive into craft and the business of publishing is guided by top-notch experts in the children’s writing and illustrating industry.
Meet our Faculty
Cynthia Leitich Smith, Keynote Author
Cynthia Leitich Smith is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestselling, award-winning YA fantasy author of the Tantalize series and the Feral trilogy as well as Native YA novel, Hearts Unbroken. Her acclaimed realistic children’s books include Jingle Dancer, Indian Shoes and Rain Is Not My Indian Name. Cynthia makes her home in Austin, a citizen of Muscogee Nation /ma(:)skó:k-î/, and teaches on the faculty of the low-residency MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She also serves on the honorary advisory board of We Need Diverse Books.
Scott Campbell, Keynote Author/Illustrator
Scott Campbell has illustrated numerous children’s books including SKULLS!, Sleepy the Goodnight Buddy, Zombie In Love, XO OX: A Love Story, and If Dogs Run Free . He was author/illustrator of the much loved HUG MACHINE. He enjoyed a long career in video games where art directed the critically acclaimed game Psychonauts for Double Fine Productions. Great Showdowns is his ongoing series found online and Adventures in Drawing is his guided sketchbook for creative minded people. Scott’s work has appeared in galleries and publications around the world, but he calls Los Angeles home. You can see his work at ScottC.com!
Matthew Ringler, Senior Editor at Scholastic
Matt Ringler is a senior editor at Scholastic specializing in chapter book, middle grade, and YA fiction. He works on the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine, The Puppy Place series by Ellen Miles, and the Two Dogs in a Trench Coat series by Julie Falatko. His YA list include New York Times best-selling author Goldy Moldavsky’s Kill the Boy Band and No Good Deed, plus the Caster series by Elsie Chapman.
Grace Kendall, Senior Editor at MacMillan
Grace Kendall works on a wide range of material from picture books to YA novels, fiction and nonfiction. She publishes exciting projects from debut authors, seasoned veterans, and award-winners, including MAMA AFRICA! by NBA Winner Kathryn Erskine, illustrated by CSK John Steptoe Winner Charly Palmer; YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR by Mitali Perkins, which was a Walter Honor, South Asia Book Award Winner, and a NBA Nominee; Kirkus Prize finalist THE OTHER SIDE by JP Villalobos; and ALL BOYS AREN’T BLUE, a memoir-manifesto by newcomer George M. Johnson. Grace also publishes ongoing series, like the Jasmine Toguchi chapter books by Debbi Michiko Florence.
Sarah Jane Abbott, Associate Editor at Beach Lane Books
Sarah Jane Abbott is an associate editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books at Simon & Schuster. She started her publishing career in publicity before switching to the editorial side. She is also on the editorial board of Simon & Schuster’s OfftheShelf.com. She has had the pleasure of working on books such as The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast by Samantha M. Clark and Blue & Bertie by Kristyna Litten. She loves quirky, character driven picture books with a lot of heart; non-fiction picture books, especially about little-known, strong women; and unique, literary middle grade novels.
Jennifer March Soloway, Associate Agent at Andrea Brown Literary
Jennifer March Soloway is an associate agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She enjoys all genres and categories, such as laugh-out-loud picture books and middle-grade adventures, but her sweet spot is young adult. She adores action-packed thrillers and mysteries. Throw in a dash of romance, and she’s hooked! But as much as she loves a good thriller, she finds her favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary teens focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction. To learn more about Jennifer, follow her on Twitter, @marchsoloway, and find her full wish list at www.andreabrownlit.com.
Stephanie Fretwell-Hill, Agent at Red Fox Literary
Stephanie Fretwell-Hill is a literary agent with a sales and editorial background. After starting her career in foreign rights at Walker Books in the UK, Stephanie moved home to the US as an acquiring editor at Peachtree Publishers. In 2016, she joined Red Fox Literary where she represents authors and illustrators of fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle grade, and YA. Some of her clients include Beth Anderson, Michael Belanger, Carolyn Crimi, Christina Soontornvat, and Archana Sreenivasan. Stephanie lives in North Carolina with her English husband, two very small daughters, and a rescued border collie.
Lindsay Lackey, Author
Lindsay Lackey’s bestselling debut novel, All the Impossible Things, was named a Best Book of 2019 by the New York Public Library, the Denver Public Library, and A Mighty Girl’s website, among others. Before she became an author, Lindsay trained as an opera singer, worked in children’s and teen services at the public library, and for a major publishing house in publicity and marketing. Born and raised in Colorado, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their spoiled dog. She absolutely believes in impossible things.
Diana Toledano, Illustrator, Teacher, Author
Diana Toledano is a Pisces with curly hair and glasses. She makes children’s books, loves patterns and speaks English with an accent. She has illustrated books in languages that she can’t even speak. Diana (Dee-Anna) grew up in Spain, where she studied Art History and Illustration. Now she lives in San Francisco with her husband and two fluffy cats. When she is not writing and illustrating, Diana teaches workshops for kids and adults. She loves doing school visits and speaking at conferences. www.diana-toledano.com
Abigail Hing Wen, Author
Abigail Hing Wen holds a BA from Harvard, JD from Columbia Law School and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of Loveboat, Taipei, which comes out from HarperCollins on Jan. 7, 2020, and, like her main character Ever Wong, she is obsessed with musicals. When she’s not writing her next novel or listening to her favorite scores, she is busy working in venture capital and artificial intelligence in Silicon Valley, where she lives with her husband and two sons.
Minju Chang, Agent at BookStop (Virtual faculty member)
Minju Chang joined BookStop in 2006. She represents fiction and nonfiction in all children’s book categories, including: picture books, chapter books, middle-grade, graphic novels, and YA. She also represents illustrators and is looking for more author-illustrators. Minju looks for emotional impact and distinctive voices, an unusual and authentic “insider” point of view, stories that shift her perspective of the world, and vivid settings that make her want to linger and explore. On her current wish list: realistic and fantastical graphic novels for ages 5 and up; picture books that range from charming and quirky to irreverent and subversive; narrative non-fiction with a timely hook; evocative magical realism; heartwarming MG with clever and gutsy characters; voice-driven historical fiction; strong female characters in all genres; re-tellings of fairy tales, myths and legends; re-imagination of the literary canon (esp. Austen, Brontë sisters, Dickens, and Collins); “light” fantasy; YA romance with tons of humor; and stories about finding family and friends in unexpected places and ways. She is also eager to find projects from diverse creators, both writers and artists, and from underrepresented voices. Portrait credit: Lily Williams