About Smack Dab in the Middle

About the Blog:

The site started with a group of middle grade authors all banding together to discuss MG books and the writing life. We've since expanded to include other vital voices of individuals working in the field of MG lit. We have regular bloggers who are teachers and librarians, and are often joined by guests who are working as middle grade editors or illustrators. Occasionally, we're even joined by young readers themselves! 

Here, you'll find tips on writing, illustrating, or teaching middle grade works, all from industry professionals. 

You'll also find announcements of new releases, books young readers are raving about. If it fits squarely "in the middle" of children's literature, you can find it at Smack Dab in the Middle.

Smack Dab Regular Bloggers:

Charlotte Bennardo 
Until Hollywood calls, Charlotte lives in NJ with her husband, three children, two needy cats and sometimes a deranged squirrel. The Evolution Revolution series: Book 1, Simple Machines, Book 2, Simple Plans, and Book 3, Simple Lessons are her first solo novels. She is co-author of Blonde Ops (St. Martin’s/Dunne) and the Sirenz series: SirenzSirenz Back In Fashion, (Flux), and one of 13 authors in the anthology, Beware the Little White Rabbit (Leap). To put books in the hands of kids, she contributed to the fundraising ebook anthology of horror, Scare Me To Sleep. She’s written for magazines and newspapers, and has given presentations and workshops at NJ SCBWI conferences, schools, libraries, and other venues. Currently she’s working on sci fi, historical, fantasy, and time travel novels for middle grade, young and new adult readers. Connect with her on Twitter (charbennardo), Author Charlotte Bennardo on FB, on Pinterest and Instagram as Charlotte Bennardo, and through her blog, http://charlotteebennardo.blogspot.com/ 

A.M. Bostwick writes Middle Grade and Young Adult novels. Her debut middle grade novel, The Great Cat Nap, earned the 2014 Tofte/Wright Children's Literature Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. It also earned the Moonbeam Children's Award Bronze Medal in the Pre-Teen Fiction category. The sequel and standalone, The Clawed Monet, hit the shelves in 2016. Her young adult novel, Break the Spell, released in autumn 2015. An early draft of that book was a finalist in the 2013 Wisconsin Romance Writers of America Fab 5 Contest. She has placed in Rochester Writers' contests in 2014 and 2016 and has had short fiction appear in Black Fox Literary. She holds degrees in both art and earth science. A.M. Bostwick lives in northern Wisconsin with her husband and thrill-seeking cat. Visit her at https://www.ambostwick.com/.

Dia Calhoun is the winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. Three of her young adult fantasy novels are ALA Best Books for Young Adults.  Calhoun’s first middle grade book was The Return of Light: A Christmas Tale.  Her next middle grade novel, Eva fo the Farm, a contemporary verse novel, will be published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers in July 2012.  A companion novel to that will be published in the summer of 2013.  Calhoun has taught writing at Seattle University.  She is in demand as a public speaker, and  makes school visits to share her work with kids. For more information, visit her website at www.diacalhoun.com.

Sarah Dooley has lived in an assortment of small West Virginia towns, each of which she grew to love. Winner of the 2012 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship for Free Verse (coming in March 2016 from G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers), she has written two previous novels for middle grade readers. Sarah is a former special education teacher who now provides treatment to children with autism. She lives in Huntington, West Virginia, where she inadvertently collects cats. She's a 2006 graduate of Marshall University. To contact her, you can visit her website at www.dooleynotedbooks.com.

Jody Feldman may have been a natural-born reader, but has never claimed to be a natural-born writer. In school, she would either avoid writing assignments or put them off until the last possible moment. Through a series of happenstances, she found herself enrolled in the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, discovered she really could write, and holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree in advertising which led her to write a television special, a travel book, speeches, all means of market and promotion and … back to her reading roots .. children’s novels. Her first, The Gollywhopper Games received the 2011 Georgia Children's Book Award and the 2011 Grand Canyon Readers Award, and found its way on 20+ state lists. Her second, The Seventh Level (both books from HarperCollins/Greenwillow) received the 2011 Missouri Writers Guild Show Me Best Book Award. Thanks to popular demand, there are now two more books in the Gollywhopper series. Jody Feldman lives in St. Louis where she’s always hard at work on the puzzles or mysteries or twists for whichever might be her next book. www.jodyfeldman.com @jodyfeldman


 Lizzie K. Foley is the author of REMARKABLE (Dial/Penguin), which was reviewed in the New York Times, received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Booklist, and was named as a summer reading recommendation for The Horn Book Magazine in 2012.  She was born and raised in Los Alamos, New Mexico, but now lives in Montclair, New Jersey with her husband, her son, and four poorly trained dogs.  Her website is www.lizziekfoley.com or you can follow her on twitter at @lizziekfoley.

Darlene Beck Jacobson has loved writing since she was a girl. “I wrote letters to everyone I knew and made up stories in my head. I even sent letters to pop stars of the day professing my adoration. Unfortunately, they never wrote back. Now, I’m lucky enough to have some of my stories published,” Darlene says. 

As a freelance writer and children’s book author, Darlene’s stories have appeared in CICADA, CRICKET, and other magazines. Her first book – a historical MG called WHEELS OF CHANGE is due out in 2014 with CRESTON Books.  She is currently working on a contemporary MG titled THE ART OF IMPERFECTION.  She hosts a blog that features recipes, activities, crafts and interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators. www.darlenebeckjacobson.com

Darlene also enjoys creating scrapbooks about her travels throughout the US, Europe and Australia. She finds inspiration in exploring parks and wildlife areas. She sews, crochets, bakes, and does crazy quilting when she needs a break from writing.

Deborah Kalb has written three middle grade novels, George Washington and the Magic HatJohn Adams and the Magic Bobblehead, and Thomas Jefferson and the Return of the Magic Hat, all part of her President and Me series featuring present-day kids who travel back in time and meet historical figures. A former longtime journalist who covered Congress and politics, she has written and edited nonfiction and reference books for adults. Her first novel for adults, Off to Join the Circus, will be published in Spring 2023. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area.

Jane Kelley is the author of MG novels: Nature Girl, The Girl Behind The Glass, The Desperate Adventures Of Zeno & Alya, and The Book Of Dares For Lost Friends, which received a starred review from Kirkus. Zeno & Alya were on best of the year lists from Cooperative Children's Book Center, Tri State Review Committee, National Reading Recovery Convention, and World Magazine. She was honored to be the Thurber House Children's Writer in Residence in 2013, where she got to sleep in Thurber's haunted attic. She lives in Mequon, Wisconsin with her husband and a black cat. https://janekelleybooks.com/

Irene Latham is a poet and novelist who writes heart-touching tales of unexpected adventure. Her debut historical novel Leaving Gee's Bend (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2010) is set in Alabama during the Great Depression and was awarded the Alabama Library Association 2011 Children's Book Award.  Her next novel Don't Feed the Boy is a contemporary story about a the son of a zoo director mother and elephant keeper father who struggles to escape the confines of zoo life and will be released by Roaring Brook/ Macmillan in 2012. Irene loves exploring new places and often uses "research" as an excuse to travel. Her favorite characters in books and real life are those who have the courage to go their own way.  www.irenelatham.com

Bobbi Miller writes historical fiction, focusing on forgotten characters (usually girls, who are not represented enough) and events (because she thinks as a nation, we are historically illiterate and have forgotten our own story) that helped build the American landscape. She also writes historical American fantasy, blending the tall tale tradition and character that captures so much of the American identity, and a unique form of fantasy.  Her first middle grade novel is the American historical fantasy, Big River’s Daughter. (Holiday House, April 2013) Recommended by the International Reading Association, the Historical Novel Society, it was nominated for the Amelia Bloomer Project (American Library Association, 2013). The book is listed on A Mighty Girl’s Top 2013 Mighty Girl Books for Tweens and Teens.

Her second middle-grade novel, the historical fiction Girls of Gettysburg, (Holiday House, 2014)  comes recommended by Booklist as “a unique, exciting work.” School Library Journal calls the book a “riveting historical fiction.” The book is listed as a Hot Pick on Children’s Book Council for September 2014. It also won an honor for the 2015 Thomas Jefferson Cup Overfloweth and an honor for the 2015 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. It also comes recommended by the Historical Novel Society, an international literary society: “This book is gripping, the details strong, and the characters compelling. The historical detail is engrossing, as are the experiences of these three remarkable girls. … it is a wonderful junior companion to the likes of Shaara’s or Peters’ books about the same battle.”

She also has a cat named Comma.

Holly Schindler's MG, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, has been chosen for inclusion in the Scholastic Book Fair, and has made the Master List for several state readers' awards, including her Missouri home state's Mark Twain Award. She's also released illustrated works for young readers: Nobody Sang Like Katy Did: A Rock Poem offers an introduction to formal poetry. Wordquake and Alexander and the Amazing Wide-Awake are aimed at more reluctant readers and fans of graphic novels who are just beginning to transition to reading non-illustrated books. She can be reached at HollySchindler.com

Former Smack Dab Bloggers:

Edith Cohn is the author of middle grade mysteries: BIRDIE'S BILLIONS (Bloomsbury) and SPIRIT'S KEY (FSG/Macmillan). Both books received starred reviews and were chosen as top Mighty Girl books of the year. Birdie's Billions is also a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. A former 7th grade English teacher, Edith loves writing for kids. She was born and raised in North Carolina and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and young daughter.

Jennifer Mitchell I am a second/ third grade looping teacher in the Kansas City area.  I have been teaching for twenty years, and I have taught grades 1-5 over the years.  I think third grade has become my favorite grade over the years though; I love the content and the age.  My husband is also a teacher and we have four adult children, two are currently still in college.  I am back in college again to get my math specialist degree, but don’t let that fool you, I love teaching reading!  I love reading in my spare time, it has always been one of my favorite things to do. We also have four fur babies that we love to spend time with.  If I am not in the classroom my favorite place to be is at Disney World!

Ginger Rue
 is the author of the Aleca Zamm series from Aladdin and the Tig Ripley series from Sleeping Bear Press, as well as the novels Brand-New Emily and Jump (both from Tricycle Press). She is a former advice columnist for a teen magazine and has written for publications including Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Girls’ Life, and Family Circle.

Ginger is currently a contributing editor for Guideposts. She lives in Alabama, where she and her husband and kids enjoy Crimson Tide football and somehow manage to endure the summer humidity.

Nancy J. Cavanaugh

Nancy J. Cavanaugh is the acclaimed author of Always, Abigail, a Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee, and This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, a Florida State Library Book Award winner, an NCTE Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts Award winner, and a nominee for numerous state awards, including Florida Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award and Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Award.  School Library Journal calls her third novel, Just Like Me, “A charming and refreshingly wholesome coming-of-age story . . . Filled with slapstick humor and fast-paced action.”

Cavanaugh’s newest book, Elsie Mae Has Something to Say, tells the story of a young girl’s endeavor to save the Okefenokee Swamp.  This historical fiction, full of adventure and mystery, takes place in the 1930’s and gives readers a chance to experience a unique and unusual time and place in history. 

Nancy and her husband and daughter enjoy winters in sunny Florida and eat pizza in Chicago the rest of the year.


Chris Tebbetts is an author and co-author of many books for young readers. Titles include the #1 NYTimes bestselling Middle School series with James Patterson and illustrator Laura Park; the NYTimes bestselling Stranded series with Jeff Probst; and the forthcoming YA novel, The Weakness of Gravity. His work has received children's choice awards in Oregon and Hawaii, as well as a Sunshine State Young Readers Award nomination, and a nod on the New York Public Library's annual list of Books for the Teen Age.His first collaboration with James Patterson, Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life, was also adapted into a 2016 CBS Films theatrical release the same name. Find him online at www.christebbetts.com and on Twitter @christebbetts.

Michele Weber Hurwitz is a critically acclaimed middle grade author. Her titles, from Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, include Hello from Renn Lake, Ethan Marcus Stands Up, Ethan Marcus Makes His Mark, The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days, and Calli Be Gold. Her books have been nominated for many state reading awards, received starred reviews, and have been published in several countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and Brazil. Michele is an avid walker, passionate consumer of ice cream, and is constantly inspired. Find her online at micheleweberhurwitz.com.

Claudia Mills is the author of over 50 books for young readers, including picture books (Ziggy’s Blue-Ribbon Day), easy readers (the ten books of the Gus and Grandpa series), chapter books (Fractions = Trouble!, Being Teddy Roosevelt, How Oliver Olson Changed the World), and middle-grade novels (The Totally Made-Up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish, One Square Inch).  Recently, How Oliver Olson Changed the World was named an ALA Notable Book of the Year, as well as a Blue Ribbon book by the Bulletin from the Center for Children’s Books and finalist for a Cybil Award. Claudia, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University, also has a full-time position as a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and has published many scholarly articles on ethical and philosophical themes in children’s literature. In 2013-14 she will serve as president of the thousand-member Children’s Literature Association.
Sheila O’Connor is the award-winning author of four novels: Keeping Safe the Stars, Sparrow Road, Where No Gods Came and Tokens of Grace.  Her poetry and fiction have been recognized with fellowships from the Bush Foundation, Loft McKnight and the Minnesota State Arts Board.   A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is a professor in the MFA program at Hamline University where she also serves as fiction editor for Water~Stone Review.  Sheila’s books have been honored with the Michigan Prize for Literary Fiction, Minnesota Book Award, International Reading Award, Midwest Booksellers Award finalist and Best Books of 2012 from VOYA, Bank Street Books, Booklist and Chicago Public Libraries. You can visit her website at sheilaconnor.com. 

Deborah Lytton writes books for middle grade and young adult readers. She is the author of the Ruby Starr series (Sourcebooks), Jane in Bloom (Dutton) and Silence (Shadow Mountain). Deborah has a history degree from UCLA and a law degree from Pepperdine University. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her two daughters and their dog, Faith. For more information about Deborah, visit her website www.deborahlytton.com.


Ann Haywood Leal comes from a long line of musicians, artists, and teachers.  Since she’s never been able to carry a tune, she was always given plenty of writing supplies and allowed to use the sharp scissors.  Eventually, she put those writing supplies to good use and wrote her middle-grade novels, ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER and A FINDERS-KEEPERS PLACE.    

 Ann lives, writes and teaches elementary school in southeastern Connecticut. 

 ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER was chosen by the Chicago Public Library for their Best of the Best List of 2009-2010, was an ABC Good Morning America Summer Reading Choice for 2009, and was featured on NBC Nightly News in 2011.  It is currently on the Arkansas Charlie May Simon Master List, the Iowa Children’s Choice Award Master List, the South Carolina Book Award Master List, the Oregon Battle of the Books, and was a finalist for the William Allen White Award.  She recently contributed to Black Dog & Leventhal’s MY BOOKSTORE:  WRITERS CELEBRATE THEIR FAVORITE PLACES TO BROWSE, READ, AND SHOP.    

Platte F. Clark is the author of the upcoming series, Bad Unicorn.  He shares his first name with the Midwestern Platte River, which literally means "wide and shallow."  Despite that, he was able to find a woman to marry and produce seven offspring with.  Platte holds a BS in Philosophy and an MS in English, and currently lives with his family in Utah.

Bad Unicorn is slated for a March, 2013 release through Aladdin, a division of Simon & Schuster. 

Tracy Holczer is the author of The Secret Hum of a Daisy, a middle grade novel published by G.P. Putnam's Sons in May, 2014 and Konigskinder/Carlsen in Germany fall of 2015. Her second book, The Natural History of Samantha Rossi (because, apparently, she likes loooong titles) is also forthcoming from G.P. Putnam's Sons and Konigskinder in 2016. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, three daughters, two rather fluffy dogs, and two rats (who are not so fluffy). A 2014 Indies Introduce New Voices and Indie Next pick, The Secret Hum of a Daisy is her debut. You can visit her at tracyholczer.com.

Bob Krech:
"I live in New Jersey and love sports, teaching, writing, travel, hiking, grilling, my wife, my two kids, and cheese doodles (not necessarily in that order). I am an elementary math specialist and teacher coach by day and the writer of more than twenty books (mostly on math teaching) by night. My first book for young adults, Rebound was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. My latest MG book is Love Puppies and Corner Kicks and was inspired by the three terrific years I spent teaching in Scotland many moons ago. "

Naomi Kinsman is the author of Spilled Ink, winner of the 2009 Moonbeam Gold Medal for Educational/Activity book. Her debut fictional series, the From Sadie's Sketchbook series, includes Shades of Truth, Flickering Hope, Waves of Light and Brilliant Hues (ZonderKids). Naomi is the founder of Society of Young Inklings, and is passionate about sharing her love of writing and creativity with young writers. Naomi's background in improvisational and story theatre as well as her arts education work in Chicago, Portland and the Bay Area has convinced her that creative play is a doorway through which learners can find inspiration and transformative learning experiences. Naomi loves to play in many ways, but some of her favorites are tap-dancing, jewelry-making, and hide-and-go-seek with her Portuguese Water Dog, Turley. Naomi has a BA in Theatre Arts from Seattle Pacific University and has studied theatre with the Piven Theatre Workshop and ACT. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University.

Jennifer Cervantes grew up believing in the magic of story and often asked “what if?” In her debut middle grade novel, TORTILLA SUN she brings this magic and her love of family and the rich New Mexico culture to her writing. TORTILLA SUN was recently awarded a 2011 Zia Book Award. Additionally, Jennifer was named a 2010 New Voices pick by the American Booksellers Association.

In addition to writing, Jennifer also teaches Children’s and Young Adult Literature at New Mexico State University. She just completed her next children’s novel, MAX OF THIEVES and is at work on another.
She has made the Land of Enchantment her home for the last twenty years and currently lives with her husband, three active daughters, and two feisty dogs. Please visit Jennifer online at www.jennifercervantes.com or you can follow her on Twitter @jencerv.

Megan Frazer Blakemore is an author for children and young adults. Her YA novel, Secrets of Truth & Beauty, was published by Disney-Hyperion in July of 2009 using the name Megan Frazer. Her debut MG novel, The Water Castle, was published by Walker Books for Young Readers in January of 2013. Coming in 2014, from Bloomsbury: The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill. She graduated from Columbia with a degree in English and was in the first class to complete the Undergraduate Creative Writing Certificate Program.  She has also completed coursework as part of the University of Maine's Master of Education in Literacy with a Concentration in Writing and the Teaching of Writing. In the summer of 2013 she joined the faculty of the University of Southern Maine Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing. She is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.

Megan has over ten years experience as a librarian, including two as a children's librarian and nine as a school librarian. Her Masters in Library Science was earned from Simmons GSLIS. She is currently "on hiatus" from being a librarian, focusing on her writing and her family. As a librarian, she focused on raising reading achievement and giving voice to students through such programming as Coffee Houses, a Film Festival, and various reading incentives. She has written for Knowledge Quest and Library Media Connection.

Megan lives in Maine with her husband and two children as well as a cat (and dreams of a dog and keeping bees).

Danette Vigilante grew up in the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn, New York. She now lives in Staten Island with her husband, two daughters, two puppies (whom she sings to when no one is around) and ten fish. In fifth grade, her teacher wrote one sentence on the back of her report card which changed her life— “Danette needs help in reading.” That’s when she began visiting the library every week where she fell in love with books. Danette is the author of The Trouble with Half a Moon, a 2012-2013 Sunshine State Young Readers Award nominee, and Saving Baby Doe. Pay her a visit at:  Website, Facebook, Twitter @DanetteVig, Blog, YouTube

Michael Townsend is a writer and illustrator who prefers to work in a comic format. His Picture books include, ‘Billy Tartle in Say Cheese!’ and ‘Monkey and Elephant’s Worst Fight Ever!’ both published by Knopf. He has also written and illustrated three graphic novels. Two are about a young hamster-bear type creature named Kit Feeny (#1-Kit Feeny: On the Move and #2- Kit Feeny: The Ugly Necklace, ages 8-12, Knopf). The third, is a collection of goofy comic retellings of Nine Greek Myths called, “Michael Townsend’s Amazing Greek Myths of Wonder and Blunders”  (ages 8-12, Dial Books For Young Readers). Michael also loves Monkeys a whole lot.
Website: mikeisgreathelikeschocolatecake.com

Christine Brodien-Jones studied creative writing at Emerson College, Boston, then traveled to Europe where she lived in Spain, England and The Netherlands, and met her husband Peter.  As a mother of young boys, she rediscovered the magical world of children’s fantasy and wrote The Dreamkeepers, published by Macmillan in 1992. 

Christine is the author of the dystopian fantasy The Owl Keeper (Random House/Delacorte Press, 2010), The Scorpions of Zahir (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2012), an adventure-fantasy set in Morocco, and The Glass Puzzle (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2013).  She's represented by Stephen Fraser of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.  Christine and her husband Peter divide their time between Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Deer Isle, Maine and can be found most winters in Buenos Aires. Visit her website at www.cbrodien-jones.com, check out her Facebook author page and follow her on Twitter @CBrodienJones.

Trudi Trueit imagined a career as a novelist ever since writing, directing, and starring in her first play in the fourth grade (it got decent reviews). A former TV news reporter and weather forecaster, Trudi has published more than 80 fiction and nonfiction books for children on everything from storm chasing to video gaming. Her novels for middle graders include the Julep O’Toole series (Penguin), the Secrets of a Lab Rat series (Aladdin), and Stealing Popular (Aladdin MIX). Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Trudi still lives in the Seattle area with her husband and their two cats. Trudi enjoys doing virtual visits with students, classrooms, and book clubs across the country. Visit her website at www.truditrueit.com, follow her on Twitter @truditrueit, and 'like' her author page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/truditrueit.

Stephanie Burgis is an American-born writer who lives in Wales with her husband, fellow writer Patrick Samphire, their son, "Mr. Darcy", and their crazy-sweet border collie, Maya. Her trilogy of Regency-era fantasy adventures, Kat, Incorrigible, is being published by Atheneum Books in America and Templar Books in the UK (where the first book is called A Most Improper Magick). To find out more and read the first three chapters of her book, please visit her website: http://www.stephanieburgis.com

Tyler Whitesides was born in Washington. Growing up, he loved to tell stories. He would often do extra housework in exchange for having these stories typeset by his mother. After learning to type for himself, he was surprised to discover that he still had to do housework.

Tyler lived two years in Argentina where he learned to speak Spanish. He graduated from Utah State University in Music. In addition to performance, Tyler is a composer and arranger of instrumental music.

Tyler enjoys cooking on the barbecue, spending time in the mountains, and making people laugh. He has worked as a private music teacher, firework shooter, and janitor. He lives in northern Utah with his beautiful, patient wife who doesn’t type for him no matter how much housework he does.

Leslie Margolis is the award-winning author of a bunch of books for ‘tweens, including three novels in the Annabelle Unleashed series:  Boys Are Dogs, Girls Acting Catty, and Everybody Bugs Out.

She’s also working on a new series, The Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries.  Book one is called Girl's Best Friend.  Book two, Vanishing Acts, comes out in January of 2012

Please visit Leslie online at www.lesliemargolis.com and learn more about her new series here: www.maggiebrooklyn.com.  

 Alan Gratz is the author of five novels for young readers. His first novel, Samurai Shortstop, was named one of the ALA's 2007 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults. Teen mystery Something Rotten was a 2008 ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Readers, and a sequel, Something Wicked, hit shelves in October 2008. His first true middle grade novel, The Brooklyn Nine, was among Booklist's Top Ten Sports Books and Historical Books for Youth, and was followed in 2011 by the fantasy/sports mash-up Fantasy Baseball. His short fiction has appeared in Knoxville's Metropulse magazine, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and the middle grade anthology Half-Minute Horrors, and he has a handful of writing credits on A&E's City Confidential. Alan is a full-time writer living in Western North Carolina with his wife and daughter.

Suzanne Williams has written more than 30 books for children, from picture books and easy readers to chapter books and middle grade fiction series.

Her most recent middle grade series, co-written with Joan Holub, is Goddess Girls (Aladdin, ages 8 - 12). Other series for middle graders include:Third Grade Friends (Scholastic Book Club, ages 7 - 10); The Marvelous Mind of Matthew McGhee, Age 8 (Aladdin, ages 6 - 9); Princess Power (HarperCollins, ages 8 - 12), Fairy Blossoms (Harper Collins, ages 7 - 10). A former elementary school librarian, she lives in Washington State with her husband and one small dog. Visit her at: www.suzanne-williams.com/ www.suzanne-williams.blogspot.com

Joan Holub has written and/or illustrated over 130 board/novelty, picture books, easy readers, chapter books, and MG. She’s co-author (with Suzanne Williams) of the popular Goddess Girls series for ages 8-12 at Aladdin, with 2011 titles #5 Athena the Wise and #6 Aphrodite the Diva. Other popular titles Joan has written include Groundhog Weather School (Putnam picture book) and Vincent van Gogh, Sunflowers and Swirly Stars (Grosset & Dunlap picture book). Joan is fueled by cookies, chocolate, and good friends. Visit her at http://www.joanholub.com | http://readertotz.blogspot.com | http://joanholub.blogspot.com

Lucy Jones is the author of The Nightmare Factory, a middle grade fantasy/adventure coming May 2012 from Orchard Books. Lucy has been writing stories ever since she can remember, although The Nightmare Factory is her first official novel, which spookily, came to her in the form of a dream! She is currently working on the sequel, due October 2012.
When she isn’t writing, she can be found listening to rock music or watching grisly horror films.

Lisa Graff is the author of several middle grade novels, including The Thing About Georgie and Umbrella Summer, both of which have been named to numerous state award lists. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children from the New School in Manhattan, and spent five years as an editor at Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers, where she worked with such brilliant authors as Helen Frost, Peter Sís, Barbara O’Connor, and Traci L. Jones. Lisa now writes full-time and teaches an online course in children’s and young adult literature through McDaniel College. When she’s not writing or reading, Lisa likes to bake, play board games, and watch her cat do parkour off her apartment wall. She lives in New York City.  She can also be found online at http://www.lisagraff.com/

Brian Farrey is the acquiring editor for Flux, the young adult imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide, where he has worked with New York Times Bestselling authors Simone Elkeles and Maggie Stiefvater.  His YA debut, With Or Without You, was published by Simon Pulse in May 2011. His MG debut, tentatively titled The Vengekeep Prophecies, is the first book of a forthcoming trilogy from HarperCollins Children’s (2012).  He is an unapologetic fan of Doctor Who.  You can follow him on Twitter @BrianFarrey or check out his mad ramblings at brianfarreybooks.com

Stephanie J. Blake is the author of The Marble Queen (Amazon Children's Publishing, 2012). When she's not in front of the computer, which is nearly always, Stephanie can be found in the backyard with her husband, three boys, and cocker spaniel in Castle Rock, Colorado. Follow on Twitter at @stephbwrites.

Tracy Barrett is the author of numerous books and magazine articles for young readers.

A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study medieval women writers led to the writing of her award-winning young-adult novel, Anna of Byzantium. Her most recent works for young readers are The Missing Heir (Book 4 of “The Sherlock Files,” Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, 2008) and Dark of the Moon (Macmillan, 2011).  Forthcoming in June is her twentieth book for young readers, The Stepsister's Tale (Harlequin Teen). She won SCBWI’s 2005 Work-in-Progress Grant.

Tracy Barrett was SCBWI’s Regional Advisor for the Midsouth for ten years and is currently the Regional Advisor Coordinator. She has taught courses on writing for children and on children's literature at various institutions, and frequently makes presentations to groups of students, librarians, teachers, and others.

She holds a Bachelor's Degree with honors in Classics-Archaeology from Brown University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval Italian Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Her scholarly interests in the ancient and medieval worlds overlap in her fiction and nonfiction works. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where until recently she taught Italian and other subjects at Vanderbilt University.

Please see her website at http://www.tracybarrett.com/.

John Claude Bemis brings his passions for music, magic, American folklore, and spinning exciting tales to his novels and presentations.  He is the award-winning author of the Clockwork Dark (Random House), a steampunk fantasy adventure trilogy which includes The Nine Pound Hammer, The Wolf Tree and The White City.  His latest novel The Prince Who Fell from the Sky was an Amazon Best Book of the Month.  A musician, educator, and presenter, John lives with his wife and daughter in Hillsborough, NC.  www.johnclaudebemis.com

Tamera Wissinger was inspired to write this novel-in-verse after writing “Night Crawlers,” a poem that stemmed from her fun childhood memories of night crawler hunting with her dad before fishing trips. A graduate of Hamline University’s MFA Writing for Children program, Tamera Wissinger shares her time between Chicago and Florida. This is her first book.
Online you can find Tamera on her WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter, or Facebook.

Sheila Turnage is the author of Three Times Lucky, named one of the Best Books of 2012 by Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Review, the New York Public Library, Newsday and others. 
The novel, which is set in eastern NC where Sheila lives, features Miss Moses LoBeau, rising sixth grader, and Mo’s best friend Dale Earnhardt Johnson, III.  In it, Mo and Dale set out to solve a murder and end up solving the mysteries of their own lives. 
Three Times Lucky is a Junior Library Guild pick, and a 2012 SIBA “Okra Pick” for outstanding books set in the South.  It also appeared on several Best Books for Summer lists, including the Washington Post’s.

In addition to Three Times Lucky (Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin, 2012) Sheila is the author of Haunted Inns of the Southeast (John F. Blair, Publisher), Compass American Guide: North Carolina (Fodors/Random House), and Trout the Magnificent (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich). 

She’s now finishing Mo and Dale’s next adventure, The Ghost of Tupelo Landing, which is slated for release early in 2014.  (Kathy Dawson Books/Penguin)

Sheila was born in Jacksonville, NC, and grew up on a tobacco farm in eastern North Carolina.  She earned a B.A. degree in Anthropology from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, and studies creative writing at Pitt Community College in the same city.  She and her family live near Farmville, NC.

You can learn more about her at www.SheilaTurnage.com.

When she got her first library card in kindergarten and was set free among the picture books, Laurie Calkhoven decided she wanted to be a librarian. Actually, she wanted to live at the library, but that wasn’t allowed. Later she realized that that were actual people who created those wonderful books on the shelves, and she decided to be one of them. She spent twenty years working in book publishing helping other writers get their books out into the world before finally becoming a writer herself. Laurie currently writes for American Girl’s Innerstar University series as well as historical action/adventure novels for her own middle grade series, Boys of Wartime. Her most recent work of nonfiction is I Grew Up to be President.

She lives in New York City and can frequently be found at the library. You can find her online at www.lauriecalkhoven.com

Kristin Levine is a former teacher who has taught everything from 3rd grade German immersion to screenwriting.  Her first book, The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, was named an ALA 2010 Best Book for Young Adults and was also a Virginia Readers' Choice selection.  Her second novel, The Lions of Little Rock, has received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. Currently, she lives with her family in Alexandria, Virginia.   www.kristinlevine.com

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of 8TH GRADE SUPERZERO (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic). She was the ‘new kid’ at school many times over, in more than one country, and currently lives with her family in New York City, where she loves walking and working on crafts in many forms. Look for her work in Kate Messner's REAL REVISION, Victoria Hanley's SEIZE THE STORY and WILD INK, Luke Reynolds' KEEP CALM AND QUERY ON and BREAK THESE RULES, and the forthcoming OPEN MIC anthology edited by Mitali Perkins. She has 15+ years in writing and literacy education work with children and teens. Visit her online at http://www.olugbemisolabooks.com

Photo by Ella Clem
Marcia Thornton Jones has written 131 books for children with sales totaling more than 43 million copies world-wide. Her works include RATFINK (mid-grade novel), CHAMP (mid-grade novel), GODZILLA ATE MY HOMEWORK (chapter book), THE TALE OF JACK FROST (picture book) and LEPRECHAUN ON THE LOOSE (picture book). She is also the co-author of seven popular series, The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, Keyholders, Ghostville Elementary, The Bailey School Kids Jr. Chapter Books, Triplet Trouble, Bailey City Monsters, and The Barkley School for Dogs as well as the Writer’s Digest Guide,  STORY SPARKERS: A CREATIVITY GUIDE FOR CHILDREN’S WRITERS.

Marcia and her books have enjoyed many prestigious honors including:
  • Kentucky Bluegrass Award nominee
  • Minnesota Youth Reading Award (MYRA) Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award winner
  • Surrey Schools' Book of the Year Award nominee
  • Elementary Library Book Award (ELBA)
  • Publisher's Weekly Bestsellers list
  • Milner Award
  • Listed as a top 100 author by the Educational Paperback Association
  • Selected for the Children’s Top 100 Books list by the National Education Association and the International Reading Associations Children’s Choice Award
  • Humane Society of the United States KIND Children's Honor Book
Marcia, a full time writer living in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband and two cats, also enjoys presenting at schools and conferences. As a veteran teacher with more than 20 years of experience, she easily relates the importance of writing to students of all ages.
For more information about Marcia, her books, author visits and for activities related to her books, check out Marcia’s Web Site:  www.MarciaTJones.com or www.BaileyKids.com.