Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

  • Katie O'Malley November 2021 Featured Illustrator   Katie O’Malley is an illustrator that lives in Fenton, MO. She has a BFA in Illustration, a precocious daughter, three kitties and a Diet Coke addiction. She loves the simple things in life, like drawing, primary colors, and cozy sweaters. She also loves the complicated things in life, like feelings, avoiding doing chores and attempting to keep her cats from eating her houseplants. She works in digital or traditional formats. Her art is quirky, funny, figurative and colorful with lots of line work. Katie is also the 2021 Middle of the Map Cover Art Contest winner and you can see her artwork currently being used on the event pages for the online conference. How did you get started in illustration? What is your background? When I was a kid, my mom was an artist and always encouraged my brother and me to draw. In high school, I realized I had a natural talent and that people put value to what I was doing. I’ve always liked having an assignment and creating art that tells a story, so I went to the University of Central Missouri and received a BFA in Commercial Art with an emphasis in Illustration. I’ve had an amazing job for years doing sign art/chalkboards/murals/and anything else creative as needed for a fun grocery store. In the past couple of years, I have been making a concerted effort to make time for myself to focus on Illustration since I love doing it. As my daughter grows up, I want her to see me following my passions, so she can learn how to follow her own.   What is your preferred medium, method of working? I like to start off with lots of sketching and looking at heaps and heaps of reference photos. I will then do many simplified thumbnail sketches to plan the basic composition, then I move on to a pencil drawing. Bristol board and hot press watercolor paper are my favorite surfaces, but anything smooth will work. I will use ink, watercolor, acrylic gouache, colored pencil and anything else that ends up on the paper in the final project. Sometimes I like to scan in my original drawings and to work from them digitally. I really like Brushes from Lisa Bardot when using Procreate.   How did your style and technique develop? This is a super hard question because I feel that I have several different styles, but at the same time, I can now identify a strong sense of “me” running through them all. I create illustrations, comics, large paintings and recently I love making patterns – and I think they all look like “Katie O’Malley” made them. The thing that has helped me build my “style” is by making lots of art and working in my sketchbook. Finding the traits that look good are the most fun and end up with the best results – and then trying to emulate those elements in future projects can add cohesiveness to my work. If working on a project makes me giggle from start to finish, it’s a pretty good sign that it will be something that I’ll be proud to call mine.   What do you find the most challenging in your work? Time management. Since there are always so many things I want to try and experiment with, it can be hard for me to make myself complete a project. Even with my own personal work, I like to create due dates and plan my available time to work on them – if I don’t, there are always other parts of life ready to encroach on that time. Also, because I like doing different styles and I’m a person that communicates visually, I find it hard to market myself (another thing that seems to take a lot of time).   What would be your dream project? Or what was your favorite project? My dream project would be to illustrate a book of fairytales, mythology or a book about cute witches! Really, anything fantasy-based, quirky, weird and girly would be a dream come true!! I would love to be a regular illustrator for an awesome children’s magazine like Illustoria.   Do you have a favorite book(s) from your childhood? My all-time favorite books from my childhood are the DORRIE, THE LITTLE WITCH books by Author/Illustrator Patricia Coombes! I love the adorable witchy world created in them with strong female characters, magic, and energetic line art. A choose-your-own-adventure book about Thumbelina stands out in my memory as well. As a kid, I loved to pour over Archie, The Far Side and Garfield comic books. Having been a child in the ’90s, the WHERE'S WALDO books by Martin Hanford are indelibly imprinted in my brain.   Do you have an agent? If not, are you looking for one? I do not currently have representation but I would love to connect with an agent. I have a hard time tooting-my-own-horn, so maybe that is just what I need.   Do you have any art supply-type tips you can share with us? Paint, paper or software that you love, a favorite art store or website to buy supplies or a new product that you’ve tried, etc.? My current favorite art supply is Turner Acrylic Gouache. It is acrylic paint, but is flat and opaque like gouache, dries quickly and you can paint or draw over it easily. I also love using Procreate on my iPad. It’s super affordable, easy to learn and a great on-the-go way to work on digital art. It made digital art approachable and convenient for me. When I first started using Procreate, I watched a ton of super informative Skillshare videos which were so much fun. My favorite place to wander around picking up new supplies is Artmart here in St. Louis. They are locally owned, have an amazing selection and get involved in supporting the community.   Any words of advice for those just starting out in illustration? What do you wish you would have known sooner in your author/illustrator career? My only advice is to just keep creating. I spent so much of my life putting off making art because of not having enough time, thinking everything I did needed to be impressive, and stressing out about not having an identifiable style. Now, my life is busier than ever and with Instagram, I show off any nonsense that comes out of me and I couldn’t be happier doing just that. What’s next for you? Any upcoming book releases we should be on the lookout for? Lots of art! I don’t have any particular projects lined up but you can watch me doing prompts, posting original comics about me being awkward and drawings of my mini muse (a.k.a. daughter) on my Instagram @katieomalleyart   To learn more about Katie, visit     Previous Featured Illustrators   Katie Schaefer is an illustrator working in St. Louis, MO. Her favorite place to be is in her colorful home studio with her hairless pup Mysterio and mustachioed honey bunny David.   Dayne Sislen has enjoyed a career as an art director and an instructor in Design Graphics and Illustration at Maryville University. After retirement, she reinvented herself as a children’s book illustrator. Dayne lives in St. Louis with her husband Don and their wee Scottish Terrier, Ghillis.   Lisa Harkrader is an author/illustrator who has published twenty-five books for children, including the award-winning AIRBALL: MY LIFE IN BRIEFS and THE ADVENTURES OF BEANBOY. She lives in Tonganoxie, Kansas, with her husband and two children.   Maja Anderson creates illustrations for greeting cards, apparel, gifts, home decor, memory keeping albums and books. She lives in the Kansas City area. Rob Peters has worked with a number of self-published authors and worked on a variety of licensed sport books for the Kansas City Chiefs, KU Jayhawks, and others. He lives with his wife Janie and four kids in Topeka, KS. Blayne Fox has illustrated books for Scholastic Publishing, Brown Books Publishing, Double Ink Publishing, and Benchmark Publishing, as well as several self-published authors. Blayne currently lives in St. Louis with her partner and three cats. Elizabeth Baddeley is the New York Times Best selling illustrator of I DISSENT: RUTH BADER GINSBURG MAKES HER MARK. She resides in a historic neighborhood in Kansas City with her husband and young son. Lois Bradley is an author, graphic designer and visual artist working in acrylics, watercolor, pen/ink and mixed media. She served as ARA for the New Mexico chapter of SCBWI from 2008 through 2012. She now lives in Kansas City, MO.   Phyllis Harris is an author/illustrator who has illustrated over 35 children’s books. Her debut book as an author/illustrator, GIFT SHOP BEAR is scheduled for publication on Oct. 5, 2021. She lives in Kansas City, MO with her husband and pup, Brinkley. Il Sung Na is an author/illustrator and illustration teacher. He lives with his wife and small dog in Kansas City, MO.   Heather Bell is a picture book author and illustrator. When she’s not illustrating or writing, Heather searches out story ideas as an undercover school bus driver.   Sandra Ure Giffin is an author and illustrator. Her creative work depicts our relationships with each other and our planet. She lives in St. Louis, MO.   Wendy Leach is a picture book author and illustrator. She lives and works in Overland Park, KS.   John Hare is a picture book author and illustrator. His latest book FIELD TRIP TO THE OCEAN DEEP comes out Sept. 8, 2020. He lives in Gladstone, MO with his wife and two boys. Daniel Miyares is a picture book author and illustrator. Some of his books include FLOAT, NIGHT OUT, THAT IS MY DREAM and BRING ME A ROCK! He currently lives in Lenexa, KS with his wife, their two wonderful children, and a dog named Violet. Violet Lemay has illustrated nearly 40 books for children, several of which she also wrote. Her husband’s job as a PGA teaching pro has taken her family all over the world. Her family lives in the St. Louis area, so Missouri is Violet's home base.   Morgan Hutcherson is an illustrator, graphic designer, and author. Morgan is currently enjoying first-time-homeownership in Maplewood, Missouri with her rescue Corgi Scout, and her long-time boyfriend, Rutger. Stephen T. Johnson is an author and illustrator of many children’s books, including ALPHABET CITY, a Caldecott Honor and a New York Times Best Illustrated book of the year. Look for his upcoming book MUSIC IS, which is slated to be published in the fall of 2020. Heather Hatch is a writer and illustrator. She teaches art classes and volunteers on the board of her local art museum. She lives with her family on an Ozark, Missouri farm with a Big Red Barn and a chicken-coop-turned art studio. K.L.B. Barsotti (Kate) is a writer and artist specializing in illustration for children, special commissions, fiction (middle grade and below), and poetry. Kate lives in downtown Kansas City, Missouri with three cats, a bundle of rats, her husband and father. Jeanne Conway has written and illustrated many children’s picture books. She has also been an art teacher in elementary and secondary schools. Jeanne lives in St. Louis, Missouri.   Polly Alice McCann is an author-illustrator, critical writing professor and managing editor of Flying Ketchup Press. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri. Joe Mohr is the author/Illustrator of ROBOT+BIKE=KITTEN: 34 OF JOEM’s POEMS. He is also a cartoonist, dad, hubby and bicycle lover. Joe lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife and three kids. Daniel Wiseman is the Illustrator of over 16 children’s books. Daniel also hosts a podcast with his friend Rob Bennet called REMOTE with Rob & Dan about working remotely. He lives with his wife and two sons in Knoxville, Tennessee.   Lynn Alpert is a writer, illustrator and graphic designer. She can usually be found reading, writing or drawing in St. Louis, MO where she lives with her husband. Kathy L. Perry is an author, illustrator, speaker and publisher at Chicadee Words. A former elementary teacher, Kathy still wants to make a positive impact in today’s youth. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri. Ed Koehler is an illustrator living in St. Louis and working nationwide, primarily for the Christian publishing market, creating art for children’s books, curriculum, activity books, and a variety of kid-friendly products. Kim Wilson is an illustrator, designer, artist and writer. She runs the Dittmer ArtBarn, which offers year-round art classes for children and adults. Kim lives just outside of St. Louis in Dittmer, Missouri. Karen B. Jones’ illustration work has been featured in magazines, books, and the educational market. She lives in living in Olathe, Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Brad Sneed has illustrated more than twenty picture books. He enjoys visiting schools to talk with students about illustrating picture books. Brad lives near Kansas City with his wife and daughter. Deborah Zemke has written and/or illustrated more than fifty books for younger readers. These include picture books, chapter books, drawing books, early readers, and humor books. She lives in Columbia, Missouri.
  • What was the inspiration for your series of dinosaur books? Nearly a decade ago now, our family was going through a challenging time. Our son was born with chronic pain and hadn’t slept through the night more than a handful of times in his first two years. We were zombies, and it was starting to affect our other kids. We reached a point where we were determined to find some way to give the kids something to engage with, maybe even something they could get excited about. One night, we came across a box of plastic dinosaurs that had belonged to Susan when she was younger. She set them up on the bathroom sink with some toothbrushes and toothpaste, hoping to put a smile on the kids’ faces when they woke up, and then we went to bed. The next morning, our then-three-year-old burst into our bedroom and dragged us out of bed. The dinosaurs had come to life, she told us, and we had to see what they were doing. We realized that this could be what we’d been looking for and decided the dinosaurs would come to life again. Eventually, this evolved into Dinovember, a month-long holiday of sorts celebrated by families in over fifty countries around the world.   What's it like to work on a project like this with each other? Working, living, and parenting together—often all three at the same time!—is probably not for everyone. In a more conventional creative partnership, when one person encounters a setback in their personal life, the other can often step in to pick up the slack. When one of us encounters a setback, there’s a good chance the other person is experiencing the exact same thing. On the other hand, our personalities and skills complement each other perfectly. We’re very different people, and while that can cause friction at times, it also makes for a surprisingly effective collaboration.   Tell us a little about your journey to publication. On November 11, 2013, we published a blog on called ‘Welcome to Dinovember.’ We thought we were writing something to share with our kids’ teachers and friends or family to explain why we were suddenly flooding their Facebook feeds with pictures of dinosaur toys. Instead, the blog was read more than two million times in the first forty-eight hours after it went live. The Facebook page we set up to post our photos was flooded with new members. Calls from agents and editors started coming in almost immediately. The publishing rights went to auction and we signed a deal for one adult non-fiction book and one children’s picture book.   What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out? Our story is an unusual one. We both had aspirations to make children’s books but didn’t know where to start. Then, when we suddenly found ourselves caught up in a whirlwind of interest from the publishing world, we had to scramble to figure things out on the fly. Now, four What the Dinosaurs Did books and two forthcoming novels later, I think our best advice may be this: look for inspiration in unlikely places and be prepared to follow those ideas wherever they take you.   What challenges have you experienced that you didn't expect? Making the What the Dinosaurs Did series is absolutely chock full of challenges. Where do we even begin? From props to locations to lighting and post-production, the process of creating the art for our stories is somewhat unique in the picture book world. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and requires a lot of physical space. But the most unexpected challenge has been convincing the world of picture books to take our photography-based art style seriously. The art in our books sticks out on the shelves and in the catalogues which has proven to be both a blessing and, at times at least, a curse.   What do you love about being creative? Creativity is purpose. Whether we’re playing with plastic dinosaurs, writing books and telling stories, or unraveling a complex medical issue in one of our children, we’re never more alive than when we use our creativity to make the world a little better. That’s maybe a little more sentimental than we’re generally comfortable being, but that truly is what we believe.   Title: What the Dinosaurs Did the Night Before Christmas Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Release Date: October 26, 2021 ISBN: 978-0316539654 Website:   Susan Tuma is a writer and illustrator living in Kansas City, MO. Originally from Chicago, she has published four books, including the bestselling and award-winning picture book What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night and What the Dinosaurs Did the Night Before Christmas, and she is currently developing several traditionally-illustrated children’s stories. Refe Tuma is the co-author of the What the Dinosaurs Did picture book series. His debut Middle Grade novel FRANCES AND THE MONSTER will be published by HarperCollins in Summer 2022, followed by a sequel in 2023. Refe grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and now lives with his family and his dog Boris in Kansas City. (BTW, it’s pronounced ‘reef.’)   FORMER Authors of the Month   Violet Lemay is an illustrator and author whose clients include HarperCollins, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Highlights, Penguin, Scholastic, Holt, and duopress. Violet's work has won awards, being selected for various illustration annuals including The Society of Illustrators LA, RSVP, and American Illustration 20, 21 and 32. Violet is proudly represented by MB Artists .     Brian Gehrlein lives in Liberty, Missouri with his wife, Katherine, and their two boys. The Book of Rules is his first picture book. Brian does his best to follow the rules and has (so far) avoided being eaten. He hopes this trend continues.   Michelle I. Mason is the author of Your Life Has Been Delayed (9/21) and My Second Impression of You (9/22). Michelle spent ten years in public relations promoting everything from forklift rodeos to Hotel Olympics before deciding she’d rather focus on made-up stories. She lives in St. Louis with her family and pets.   Carrie Beamer is a Kansas City, Missouri author who writes Young Adult Contemporary. She's a high school registrar who fills her nights with writing and reading into the wee hours. Her weekends are spent hanging out with her two sons and trying to tame a couple of obnoxious rescued dogs, and life couldn’t be better. Her main internet traffic is via a bookstagram account on instagram     A former classroom teacher and homeschool mom, Kathy Perry has a heart for educating kids and teens. Through her own publishing  company, Chickadee Words, LLC she makes it her mission to affect today's youth through wonderful stories full of timeless character struggles. 
 Beth Bacon is an creator of books for young readers. Her books I Hate Reading and The Book No One Wants To Read bring humor to the experiences of struggling readers. Her book Covid-19 Helpers offers children a clear understanding of the global pandemic. Beth volunteers for Open Hearts Big Dreams, an organization dedicated to improving literacy in Ethiopia. Beth has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She also has a MA in Media Ecology from New York University and a BA in Literature from Harvard University.   Dave Cole is from St. Louis, Missouri. He's done everything from missile guidance systems to teaching college computer science classes to designing data center monitoring tools for Facebook to starting two tech companies. He's always been an avid reader and loves to write. His wife is happy he's found something to enjoy that doesn't cost her money!   Bridget Heos is the author of the MUSTACHE BABY and STEGOTHESAURUS series and more than 100 nonfiction and fiction books for kids. She offers school visits—virtual and in-person—throughout the country. Her home base is Kansas City, where she lives with her family.     Born and raised in the Midwest, Amber Hendricks grew up reading everything she could get her hands on. Amber has worn many hats in her career but she has always circled back to her first love of telling stories. Amber currently resides in Missouri with her husband and two children.   Niki Lenz lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and two adorable children. She studied elementary education at Southwest Baptist University and taught kindergarten for six years. Niki enjoys reading, travel, glamping, polka dots, red lipstick, and oldies music. She is the author of BERNICE BUTTMAN, MODEL CITIZEN and THE STEPMOM SHAKE-UP, both middle grade fiction.   David Harrison lives with his wife Sandy in Springfield, Missouri (where he was born). Empowering Students’ Knowledge of Vocabulary is his 100th book, 13 for classroom teachers and 87 for young readers: 41 fiction, 26 nonfiction, and 20 poetry.   Alastair Heim is the author of the picture books IF I HAD YOUR VOTE – BY THE CAT IN THE HAT for Dr. Seuss Beginner Books from Random House, LOVE YOU TOO, NO TOOTING AT TEA, THE GREAT PUPPY INVASION, HELLO DOOR, and the upcoming QUIET DOWN LOUD TOWN.  He lives in Kansas City and is represented by Kelly Sonnack of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.     Ann Parr believes writing is about making connections between what writers know and what readers want to read. She makes links between interesting people and unusual events with her nonfiction stories. To find out more about this Kansas City author, visit   Lindsay H. Metcalf is a journalist and author of nonfiction picture books: Beatrix Potter, Scientist (Albert Whitman & Company, 2020); Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices (Calkins Creek, November 2020); and No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History  (Charlesbridge, 2020).   Taylor Morris is a novelist, ghostwriter, and editor. She is the author of more than twenty books, from fiction to non-fiction, and from children’s books to women’s romance. Taylor lives with her husband in Lawrence, Kansas.   Amanda Flinn is an award-winning author, blogger, and book nerd. Her debut board book, Yoga Baby, was released in June from Beaming Books. She lives in Jackson, Missouri, with her husband, three boys, two rowdy rescue pups, and a pair of furry chinchillas.     Shannon A. Thompson is the best-selling author of the Timely Death trilogy and the Bad Bloods series. Shannon lives with her gremlins, I mean cats, in Kansas City, MO.   Dorinda Nicholson writes World War II, MG and YA, non-fiction books. Dorinda lives in Raytown, MO where she writes, and is now the care giver for her husband. Besides writing, she has also worked as a psychotherapist.     Rebecca Koehn writes picture books and books for middle grade readers. Her new picture book, AFTER THE RAIN, is the perfect welcome to spring! Rebecca lives in Southwest Kansas with her husband and their two sons.      Ann Ingalls has written four dozen books for young readers. Her book, J IS FOR JAZZ, won Graphic Design USA’s 2015 Award and the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation’s “A Book Just for Me!” Ann is a former elementary and special education teacher. Ann lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband, Winston.     S. J. Bushue (Sherry) is the author of Dinosaurs Count and the founder of The Little Fig publisher and packager. Sherry  loves life in the Midwest which includes family, friends, fur-babies, water activities, warm summer nights, and frogs. She lives in the Kansas City metro area.   Angela Cervantes is an award-winning author of contemporary middle-grade fiction published by Scholastic. She started writing stories, featuring Latino characters, which were about her friends and her community, when she was nine years old. Her newest novel, Lety Out Loud, was published earlier this year and received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. It was named one of the best books for kids in 2019 by Kirkus Review and the New York Public Library.   Jennifer Adam is an author of middle grade and young adult fantasy. Her first novel for upper middle grade, THE LAST WINDWITCH, will be released from HarperCollins in 2021. Jennifer lives on a third-generation family farm in Vandalia, Missouri with her husband, two wild mustangs, and a collection of barn cats.   Sharon Mayhew's first book for middle grade readers, KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, CHILDREN, was released last month. Her first picture book, THE JUNK COLLECTOR, will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. She currently resides in Lake Saint Louis, Missouri with her husband and daughter.   Tonja Drecker writes Middle Grade and Young Adult fantasy. Her stories have been published in several collections and magazines. Her debut novel MUSIC BOXES is a slightly dark, modern day fairy tale for the middle grade audience, was released in March this year by Dancing Lemur Press.   Jessica Marie Baumgartner, writes fiction and non-fiction for children.  Her work has been published in several children’s magazines including Guardian Angel Kids e-zine, Kid’s Imagination Train, and Spaceports & Spidersilk. Her picture book, The Golden Rule, was published by Eleventh Hour Literary Press.     Lorri Cardwell-Casey. Besides being the mother of ‘six’ children, counting her son-in-law and daughter in-law, Lorri has worked as a daycare center director, tutor, and instructor for The Institute of Children’s Literature. She enjoys helping clients improve their own writing with her critique company, RE:VISION Critiques.     Scott Emmons has always loved fun rhymes, and especially loved Dr. Seuss as a child. He is the author of StoryBots Step Into Reading books published by Random House. Scott currently works as a Senior Editor on the Kids Greetings team at Hallmark.       Niki Lenz is a middle grade author, and lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and children. Bernice Buttman,   Model Citizen is her first novel, released from Random House in March 2019.     Jenn Bailey writes picture books, middle grade and young adult novels. Jenn’s newest book, A Friend for Henry, is a   picture book that come out in February 2019 (Chronicle Books).       Lisa Harkrader is the author of humorous fiction for middle grade readers. She is also an artist and graphic designer. Lisa’s newest book, Crumbled!, is the first book in a middle grade series from Yellow Jacket (Little Bee Books).     Ben McClanahan has worked for newspapers and trade magazines, but whether it’s non-fiction or fiction, his love is writing for children. He is the author of two non-fiction educational books and his newest book, We Need Plankton (The Animal Files), was released from Focus Readers last month.     Randi Hacker has worked as a personal assistant to the stars, publisher, educator, librarian, author and video store clerk. She was the editor of The Electric Company Magazine published by Children's Television Workshop. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Punch and Spy. She is currently the Education Outreach Coordinator at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.   Molly McCluskey-Shipman writes picture books for children. Her first picture book, Emma’s Dilemma (Goldminds Publishing), received an honorable mention in the Purple Dragonfly Book Award. Her picture book Festeva's Holiday Cheer was released last month from Lift Bridge Publishing. In addition to writing for children Molly has written various manuals and articles for nonprofit organizations and she is active in the Great Plains SPCA.   Amber Hendricks grew up reading everything she could get her hands on, including the morning cereal boxes. That passion melded into writing, and by the age of 11 she was writing and binding her own “books.” Amber earned her degree in merchandising, and over the years has worn many hats. Those include army wife, mother, visual merchandiser, certified pharmacy technician, and childcare professional. But she has always circled back to her first love of telling stories. Sophie and Little Star is her first book for children.     Adib Khorram works as a graphic designer, videographer, projectionist, and more for live events in and around the Kansas City area and nationwide. When he’s not working at his day job, he writes contemporary fiction for young adults.Darius the Great Is Not Okayis his first published book for young readers. It received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and was selected as a 2018 BEA Young Adult Buzz Book. You can read more about Adib and his books on his website at     Billie Holladay Skelley is the author of children’s books from picture books through young adult, as well as articles, stories, essays and poetry for adults. Her books for young readers have earned awards such as the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, the Purple Dragonfly Award, and the Missouri Writers’ Guild Best Juvenile Book Award. Her latest book, Ollie the Autism-Support Collie, was released this year in June. Billie is a retired registered nurse who now enjoys focusing her time on her writing. You can read more about Billie and her books on her website at or contact her at     Roberta Lynne Roelfs has always loved reading, and she has been writing stories and poems since she was in the first grade. Today she writes for children under the name R. Lynne Roelfs. Roberta is the author of a magazine story inspired by her dog, Duncan, and has published fiction and nonfiction passages for the educational testing market.You can read more about Roberta and her work on her website at and follow her at twitter @RLynneRoelfs     Constance Levy felt poetry was 'love at first sound.' She has been writing poetry since first grade and is still writing today. Her poetry has earned many awards, including a Lee Bennett Hopkins Award and honor award, a Boston Globe Horn Book Honor Award, the National Council of Teachers of English Notable Books in Language Arts, and others. You can find out more about Constance and her books on her website at     Jan Greenberg combines her passion for art, literature and writing to write award-winning books about art and artists for young readers. Some of her awards include: the American Library Association Notable Book Award, the International Reading Association Teachers’ Choice Award, the Boston Globe Horn Book Honor Award, the Seibert Honor Award, and the Printz Honor Award. You can find out more about Jan and her books on her website at     Alastair Heim writes picture books for young children, including THE GREAT PUPPY INVASION published by HMH/Clarion and HELLO DOORpublished by little bee. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and three children. You can find out more about Alastair and his books on his website and you can connect with him on twitter at     Lori Galaske writes for children from the picture book age to middle grade and teens. Her short stories and articles have been published in teen magazines and in anthologies, and she writes an inspirational blog for adults. Her first picture book, THE ALPHABET FOREST, was published by Guardian Angel Publishing in 2017. You can learn more about Lori and her book and her writing on her website at Find her on facebook at  and follow her on twitter at @lgalaske.     Carol Murray writes poetry and non-fiction for young readers. Her books for children include Rookie Reader books and storybooks with stickers, as well as having her poetry published in Highlights magazine and in anthologies. Her newest book, CRICKET IN THE THICKET, was released in 2017. You can find out more about Carol and her work at     Jonathan Schkade writes religious books for children, books with titles like Icky Sticky, Hairy Scary Bible Stories and Not-So-Nice Bible Stories: Master Criminals. He has published a dozen books for young readers in the religious market. He also writes picture books, MG, and YA for the general market.     Nicki Jacobsmeyer's stories have been published in Saturday Writers anthologies (Missouri Writer’s Guild), and her book, CHESTERFIELD was published by Arcadia Publishing. Her first children’s book, SURVIVING THE IDITAROD: An Interactive Extreme Sports Adventure, was released by Capstone Press in August. You can find out more about Nicki and her books on her website at     Vicki Berger Erwin has worked as a children’s book buyer and a sales rep for Scholastic, and she and her husband owned the independent bookstore, Main Street Books, in St. Charles, MO for seven years. She is the author of many books for children, including SCOOBY DOO AND YOU, as well as some single Scooby Doo titles. She was also a ghostwriter for several popular girls’ book series. DIFFERENT DAYS, is historical fiction for middle grade readers, and was released this month by SkyPony Press. You can find out more about Vicki and her books on her website at www.vickibergererwin.comz   Laura S. Schmidt writes contemporary fiction and mysteries for young adults. Her first novel, SWEETER THAN LIFE, was published in 2015. Laura has worked as a community education coordinator, and has spent several years as a staff counselor at an agency that supports children and adults with developmental disabilities. You can find out more about Laura and her books on her website at     Jessica Shaw writes for children from the picture book age through young adult, including poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Her work has been published in several magazines for children as well as doing work-for-hire projects. She received a Letter of Merit from the SCBWI 2016 Magazine Merit Award committee for her poem My Favorite Sounds, published in Ladybug, May 2015. You can find out more about Jessica and her books on her website at www.authorjessicashaw.comz     Patricia A. Miller writes picture books, including nonfiction, historical fiction, and fiction, and she has written several board book manuscripts as well. She has had two nonfiction magazine articles published in Highlights for Children magazine. Her latest article is “A Century of Blossoms,” which appears in the April 2017 issue of Highlights. You can find out more about Patricia and her writing on her website at     Clare Vanderpool writes adventure and historical fiction for middle grade readers. Her book Moon Over Manifest won the 2011 Newbery Award, and her newest book, Navigating Early, was a 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book. Visit her website to find out more about Clare and her books at     Claire M. Caterer has been a freelance writer and editor for more than a dozen years. Her short fiction for adults has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and Woman’s World. She lives in Shawnee, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. Find more about Claire and her books on her website at   Sue Lowell Gallion writes picture books, early readers and chapter books for children from her home in Leawood, Kansas. She is the former Regional Advisor for Kansas SCBWI, and is currently Co-Regional Advisor with Kim Piddington for Kansas/Missouri SCBWI. Sue has been published in children’s magazines and educational publishing. PUG MEETS PIG, released in September 2016 from Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), is her first picture book. You can find out more about Sue on her website at   Lisa Wade McCormick has written eighteen non-fiction books for children, and her stories have appeared in several children's magazines. Besides being a children's book author, Lisa is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than 20 years experience as a newspaper reporter and television producer. She is currently the investigative producer at WDAF-TV in Kansas City. You can find out more about Lisa and her books on her website at     Rita Arens is the author of the contemporary realistic young adult novel, THE OBVIOUS GAME (InkSpell Publishing, 2013), a 2016 Library Journal Self-e Selection. Rita is also the editor of a parenting anthology, SLEEP IS FOR THE WEEK (Chicago Review Press), winner of a 2009 gold National Parenting Publications award (NAPPA) and winner of an honorable mention in the 2012 New York Book Festival. You can find our more about Rita and her books at     Patricia J. Norton is the author of phonics-based beginning readers and narrative non-fiction for children. In 2006, she started a new publishing house, Short Vowel Phonics, to provide phonics-controlled short stories for beginning and struggling readers. You can find our more about Patricia and her books at     Amy Houts, Maryville, MO, is a freelance writer and former instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature. She enjoys writing fiction and nonfiction books on assignment for educational publishers, as well as working on her own projects. She is the author of over 60 books, many for young children ages 3 to 7. You can find out more about Amy and her books on her website,, or follow her blog at     PEGGY ARCHER, O'Fallon, MO, loves to talk to students and adults about writing and her books. Readers can learn more about her author presentations on her website at They can also check out her author blog, Peggy’s Pages, at NAME THAT DOG! ( Dial Books for Young Readers, ISBN# 978-0-8037-3322-0) is also available through Scholastic Book Club and Scholastic Book Fairs.     JANIE CHEANEY is the author of novels for middle-grade readers. Her book, THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, was named a 2008 Kansas Notable Book by the Kansas State Library. Janie is also a senior writer for WORLD Magazine and co-publisher of     HOLLY SCHINDLER's first two published works, A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt, were both YA novels. Her debut MG, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, released with Dial / Penguin on February 6, 2014, and her next YA, Feral, is forthcoming from HarperCollins. Find out more at     BRIDGET HEOS is the author of Mustache Baby (Houghton Mifflin, May 2013, ISBN-13: 978-0547773575) She lives in Kansas City with her husband and four children. Check out her Facebook page, Author Bridget Heos, or website for updates!     BONNIE HINMAN writes non-fiction books for children. She lives with her husband in Joplin, MO, close to their children and grandchildren. You can find out more about Bonnie and her books at     SHANNON MOORE is the former Assistant Regional Advisor for Missouri SCBWI. You can find out more about Shannon on her blog, Great Books for Children, where she reviews children’s books.     JODY FELDMAN lives in St. Louis where she writes middle-grade contemporary novels for young readers. The first book in her series, The Gollywhopper Games, was an ALA/YALSA Best Books for Young Adults nominee, and received the Midwest Bookseller’s Choice Award Honor Book for Children’s Literature. The second book in the series, The Gollywhopper Games: The New Champion, recently made the St. Louis Post Dispatch Best Sellers list for kids' books.   NANCY POLETTE of O’Fallon, MO  is the author of picture books, fiction and non-fiction for middle grade readers, and has four easy readers coming out this year. Nancy is a former teacher of students in K through 8th grades, and is currently a professor of education at Lindenwood University where she teaches Children’s Literature.     ANN INGALLS was born in Cleveland, grew up in Detroit, and now lives with her husband and three children in Kansas City. You can find out more about her and her books, including J is for Jazz, on her website at:     Two of her short stories published in the quarterly writers’ journal, The Storyteller, received a People’s Choice Award for 1st Place in Fiction. You can find out more about Cynthia and her writing on her website at, and you can contact her at     KRISTIN BAIRD RATTINI, Foristell, Missouri, is a freelance writer who has written for children’s magazines for 17 years, Kristin has enjoyed the challenge of introducing young readers to a wide range of topics and the thrill of hooking their attention with writing that’s both educational and entertaining. You can find out more about Kristin and her books at: Linkedin: and MediaBistro:     MARGO L. DILL, of St. Louis, Missouri, is the SCBWI Missouri webmaster and a children's and YA author. She currently has three books out: Maggie Mae, Detective Extrordinaire: The Case of the Missing Cookies (picture book), Finding My Place (middle grade), and Caught Between Two Curses (young adult). She is also a freelance editor and writing teacher. Find out more at     SUE BRADFORD EDWARDS writes from her home in Florissant, Missouri, where she lives with her husband and son. You can find out more about Sue and her work on her website at, and on her blog,     VEDA BOYD JONES is the author of 47 books and over 500 articles and short stories. She writes children’s picture books and middle grade novels, fiction and non-fiction, and has been published in children’s magazines. She also writes romance novels for adults. Find out more about Veda and her books on her website at     Cynthia Reeg's books have been published by Guardian Angel Publishing, and her work has been published in anthologies, magazines and newspapers. Her newest book, BUNNY BUSINESS, was released from Guardian Angel Publishing in September 2014.     STEPHANIE BEARCE is the author of non-fiction for children and she also writes middle grade fiction. She is a past SCBWI Regional Advisor and is a full member of the Missouri Writers Guild and American Christian Fiction Writers. Find out more at     BARBARA STUBER, from Kansas City, brings visual art and writing together as she weaves artwork into her stories for young adults. Her latest book, Girl in Reverse, was an NPR (National Public Radio) pick for the Best Books of 2014 in five categories. Her earlier book, Crossing the Tracks, was an ALA Wm. C. Morris Award Finalist in 2010. Find out more at     JEANIE FRANZ RANSOM, from O’Fallon, Missouri, sold her first story to Seventeen magazine when she was a teen, and has been writing ever since. She is an award-winning author of children’s picture books, and her books have received starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly. She is also a former elementary school counselor. Find out more at     JODY JENSEN SHAFFER is the author of 26 fiction and nonfiction books, which include titles like NINJA WARRIORS, INSIDE MY MUSCLES, BLACK-FOOTED FERRETS, and FREDERICK DOUGLASS.  Her debut picture book, ROCKY, releases in 2017 from Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin. Find out more at:     ANOLA PICKET is a former teacher and school librarian and writes historical novels for middle grade readers. She is also the author of an I-Can-Read book for younger readers, and co-author of a book for teachers and parents, Multiple Intelligences and Positive Life Habits. Anola lives in Kansas City but loves to travel and finds ideas and inspiration in her travels. You can find out more about Anola and her books at, or meet her on Twitter at anolamarie.       AMY SKLANSKY, University City, is a former editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, Amy writes picture books and board books, and is the author of children’s fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Her books have received many awards including the Bankstreet College of Education Best Books of the Year, Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers Association and Children’s Book Council, and have appeared on the St. Louis Independent Bestsellers list. You can read more about Amy at:   CATHY GILMORE, St. Louis, is a picture book author, and freelance editor. Her goal is to help children discover the joy of God’s love through her books. A Certified Catechist of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, she creates stories that bring the gospel to life for children. Her newest book, LITTLE LAMB FINDS CHRISTMAS, won the 2015 USA Best Books Award in the Children’s Religious books category. Read more about Cathy and her books on her website at www.catherinecgilmore.c

Conference Dates on Home Page

The Kansas / Missouri SCBWI region is a vibrant, dedicated and welcoming community of children’s book writers and illustrators.


Future Conference Dates:
2022: November 4-6





 What's coming up in the region?
  Our first event of 2022!     January 12, 6-7:30 Webinar!   Sign up now so you don't miss out!  

Tackling the Perfectly Overwhelming Task of Researching Literary Agents Webinar with Author Tara Luebbe

ATTENTION: In-person events are now permitted in our region. Please follow local guidelines, be safe, and enjoy again!
 The Kansas/Missouri region stands with the entire SCBWI community in saying, we stand firmly against bias, oppression, or unfair treatment of people based on their identity elements. To read about our position statement on equity and inclusion please click HERE