• Tanya Baxter


    One day, Tanya Baxter woke up and decided that if she really wanted to be an author, she had better start writing. She enrolled in Hamline University's MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, where she began to write in earnest for both middle grade and YA readers. She has written one book, Mirrordarkness, a middle grade fantasy. She is currently working on a YA historical fantasy.


    When she is not writing, Tanya loves to travel and cook.

  • Nina Bricko


    Nina has a degree in Environmental Education and Interpretation. For the past ten years she has lead programs at various nature centers across the country. A favorite, was while working as the Education Coordinator for Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary, in Prescott AZ. She brought wildlife to local talk shows as Nature Nina and put on presentations for school groups, scouts, children's libraries, and at local bookstores. Nina has pursued writing since she was a little girl and continues to do so at Hamline University, obtaining an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults in 2014. Nina writes picture books, easy reader chapter books, middle grade fantasy fiction, and comics. She is currently the nature teacher and yoga instructor for a private preschool and four year-old kindergarten in Verona, WI. She will also be leading a Character Development workshop for the Loft Literacy Center in Minneapolis, MN, summer 2013.

  • Russ Cox


    Russ Cox was raised by a pack of crazed hillbillies in the back woods of Tennessee. Without much in the way of modern conveniences, like a television set or running water, he spent his time drawing and whittling away the hours.


    After dismantling his grandfather's lawn mower engine, and without a clue on how to get it back together, he soon realized that he did not have an automotive bone in his body so he kept drawing.


    After graduating from art school, with a portfolio in his hand, he ventured into the world of design and illustration. He opened his own studio, Smiling Otis Studio, where he presently specializes in illustration for children. When not drawing, running amok in the snow, or training their four cats to sing Bohemian Rhapsody, Russ enjoys some quiet time, working on his picture book stories. He also enjoys playing the banjo but his wife would prefer him to play the triangle or build a sound proof room.


    To view more illustrations, visit www.smilingotis.com.

  • Sarah Glenn Fortson


    Sarah Glenn writes picture books and middle grade novels because in tenth grade Sister Mary Angeline told her if she didn't it would be a sin. And because writing actually makes her day dreams come true.


    When she's not writing, she loves reading to her grandchildren, painting with acrylics and taking long nature walks while meditating on the deeper

    meaning of life.

  • Rebecca Grabill


    Rebecca Grabill has an affinity for the silly, the irreverent, the dark, the bizarre. Whether writing fantasy, thriller, or mystery, picture books or young adult, she takes on the most challenging and/or goofiest topics she can conceive, and always infuses them with her passion for poetry.


    Her poetry and prose have appeared in journals such as Main Street Rag, Farming Magazine, and Medulla Review. She has a sci-fi play published in the UK, consults on screenplays for feature films, and has sold, oh, about fourteen-thousand photographs worldwide. She earned her MFA from Hamline University.


    Rebecca writes from 6 to 7a.m. every single day, and sporadically at other times. When not writing, she's enjoying life with her husband, four children, cross-eyed cat, and very bad dog. They live off a dirt road deep in the Michigan wilds where they snowshoe, tap their own maple trees, grow zillions of tomatoes, and hope not to catch skunks in the woodchuck trap. Check out her website at www.rebeccagrabill.com or  follow her blog at


  • Annette Gulati


    Annette Gulati’s life has always revolved around words. As a child, her favorite place to be was deep inside the pages of a book. Now, as a writer, she hopes to create similar places where children can feel strong, safe, and spirited.


    Her magazine work can be found in Babybug, Ladybug, Highlights for Children, Highlights High Five, and others. She also writes picture books, easy readers and middle-grade fiction. Her work has won several awards, including the SCBWI Barbara Karlin grant and a Kay Snow award from Willamette Writers.


    When she’s not writing, she’s dodging the rain (or walking in it) near her home in Portland, Oregon. She also loves traveling and spending time with her teenagers (really!). You can visit her at www.annettegulati.com.

  • Mary Jeanne Hecht


    Mary Jeanne Hecht is an educator who believes no one ever grows too old for picture books. After a long career in teaching, she decided to become a writer, drawing her inspiration through her insatiable curiosity in the world around her and the people she meets. She earned her Bachelors Degree in Elementary and Special Education from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She raised two children and currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, John, and their German Shepherd, Baylee Mae.


    Besides writing, Mary Jeanne enjoys photography, gardening, biking, travel, hiking, and rowing on beautiful Lake Monona. The young people she meets through her volunteer work at American Family Children’s Hospital inspire her to live each day with appreciation and kindness.

  • Flint Keller


    A teacher and writer, Flint Keller is raising five children, has taught over a thousand and aspires to write for millions. To combine his Masters in Education, experience with children, and his lifelong love of writing Flint earned an MFA in Creative Writing for Children.


    Flint's background is an orchestra of travel, children and diverse education in architecture, theatre, teaching, and writing. All of these attributes have influenced his art as an educator, writer and father.

    Flint's short story "On the Fence" was published in the anthology, How To Be a Boy by Walker Books London in the summer of 2011. He writes picture books, middle grade fiction, and ponders writing a young adult piece. He currently lives in Minnesota with his beautiful wife and children. Please visit his webpage at flintkeller.com.

  • Amy Laughlin


    Amy Laughlin is a writer of funny middle grade fiction and picture books. She's the mother of two boys, runner, hiker, and avid traveler. She's a practicing literary attorney at the Law Offices of Amy Laughlin. After law school, Amy obtained her MFA in Writing Creative Fiction for Children & Young Adults. She is the Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators for the region of San Francisco to Monterey, where she facilitates the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, publishers, agents and others who are involved in the creation of literature for young people. For more about Amy, visit www.amylaughlinlegal.com.

  • Bridget Magee


    Bridget Magee grew up the youngest of 10 children in a family of readers.  She became an Elementary Teacher and School Librarian.  Her experience in education coupled with her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults have afforded Bridget the skill and insight to create truly unique poetry and stories for children.


    From her whimsy Poem-A-Day blog: www.weewordsforweeones.blogspot.com to her many picture book manuscripts, what stands out most in Bridget’s work is her quirky, child-centric sense of humor.


    Bridget has won various awards for her poetry through the Arizona State Poetry Society and has a Poem of the Month feature in the East Tucson Macaroni Kid Publication.


    A self described picture book junky, Bridget, when not writing, can be found reading.  She lives in Tucson, AZ with her husband Joe, daughters, Colleen and Maureen, and crazy dog, Smidgey.


  • Missy Mitchell


    Missy Mitchell prefers to write YA. She spends her days writing and working with children. You can find her with her children at their school or with children from the local schools, volunteering or tutoring. Her husband teaches high school and coaches various sports, probably where much of her inspiration comes from for ideas for her books. She earned her degree and MBA in San Diego and loves to hit the beach with her kids any chance she can get. Somewhat of an expert in matters of the heart, she and her two children have had heart surgery. It's no surprise when a character in one of her stories ends up needing some kind of medical procedure!


    Missy is an in-demand speaker for the American Heart Association, her local Children's Hospital and various blood bank locations, in addition to being hired as a motivational speaker for businesses and various groups.


    Though she's been to France, Missy can't wait for the opportunity to take her whole family to Paris. Un jour.

    Feel free to contact her:

    Facebook: Missy-Mitchell

    Twitter: @lavendermissy

    Blog: www.xoxolavendergirl.blogspot.com


  • Jennifer Sommer


    Jennifer remembers telling her 5th grade teacher that she would like to be a writer one day. Either that or an Avon lady. She has a diverse education that includes political science, architecture, and interior design, and obtained a MLS in Library Science. When she also received a MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults, her mother proclaimed that her daughter collected degrees like a dog collects fleas.


    She has written a YA novel, “Paradise”, and several picture books, a fairytale, and a non-fiction book for children that are in various stages of completion. She lives Dayton, Ohio with her husband, Cavapoo “Ping” (the cutest dog EVER!), and two cats “Dalila” and “Kula”. She loves to travel, scrapbook, garden, and make fun snacks for the children in her library where she works as a Children’s Librarian.