Allie is an author, artist, and has been known to be spotted foraging in the woods. Growing up, every day after school she’d throw a ball against a wall for hours on end, speaking stories into existence. (Much later she discovered she shared this childhood quirk with Judy Bloom, which made her feel less crazy). Her desire to tell stories has developed into multiple MG and YA novels, as well as picture books.
At eighteen, Allie moved from Atlanta to England, where she worked in a secondary school, and eventually met her husband. In their first three years of marriage, they moved to Brazil to serve in classrooms and soccer fields, and became houseparents for young adults in Foster Care back in Atlanta.
Allie loves a good creative outlet, and since 2018 has co-founded two small businesses—The Floralette Co., a floral design studio, and Little Woven Home Co., a textile art company. She can never get enough of middle schoolers, though, so she also works part time as the program coordinator for a non-profit that mentors under-resourced students.
All the while she is still writing stories. She is a member of SCBWI, The Atlanta Writers Club, and various critique groups. Her debut MG novel was sold to Feiwel & Friends at Macmillan and will release Winter 2024. Her second MG novel (also with Macmillan) will release in 2025.
You can check her out here: https://www.alliemillington.com
Charissa resides in a suburb of Minneapolis, MN. She’s married and a mother to three beautiful children. Her faith, children, and family are what fuels her existence.
Charissa was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer on her 13th wedding anniversary. She is now a Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor. Charissa feels driven to educate and support others during their cancer journeys. In 2020, Charissa was the Keynote speaker at “Pursuit for a Cure” at Ashley for the Arts.
She and her children wrote We Find Joy: Cancer Messed with the Wrong Family, a children’s book to help other families gain some control and find joy while fighting cancer.
Charissa now works as a children’s mental health therapist and absolutely feels this is the job she was called to do. Before transitioning to that role, she was a school social worker.
Charissa has a two Picture Books on submission now.
Charles Ghigna, aka Father Goose
Charles Ghigna – Father Goose® is an award-winning poet and children’s author of more than 100 books from Disney, Random House, Red Comet, Schiffer, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Time, Inc., and more than 5,000 poems that appear in anthologies, textbooks, syndicated newspapers, and magazines ranging from Harper’s and The New Yorker to Highlights and Crick
He served as poet-in-residence at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, instructor of creative writing at Samford University, poetry editor of English Journal for the National Council of Teachers of English, and as a nationally syndicated feature writer for Tribune Media Services. Ghigna has read his poems at The Library of Congress, The John F. Kennedy Center, American Library in Paris, American School in Paris, the International Schools of South America, Indigenous Schools of Alaska, and conferences, libraries, book events, and schools throughout the U.S. and overseas. For more information
Among his constant Picture Book projects, he is working on a debut YA novel that will go out on submission soon. You can see more about Charles here: FatherGoose.com
Deana sobel Lederman
Deana is an author, cartoonist, and illustrator who lives in San Diego, California with her husband and two young sons.
Her artist grandmother taught her to paint at an early age. She has been mentored by many wonderful artists over the years, among them New Yorker cartoonists. She was a nationally recognized staff cartoonist as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, graduated from UC Berkeley School of Law, and later worked for the New York City Department of Education, where she illustrated the Chancellor’s holiday cards. Her work has been exhibited in galleries in Brooklyn and New York.
As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, Deana illustrated and cartooned for The Daily Californian. She earned national recognition for her editorial cartoons and was a finalist for both the John Locher Memorial Award and the Society of Professional Journalism Mark of Excellence Awards. Her comic strip, Roomies, based on the lives of Deana and her six college roommates, was a finalist for MTV U’s comic strips contest.
Her Picture Books, ROAR & a HANUKKAH STORY are out on submission. You can check her out here: https://deanasobel.com/
Denise was born in New Orleans during the heart of Mardi Gras. When given a creativity test as a young child, her mother was told, “Denise will never fit into any mold.” Luckily, her parents continually encouraged her with a pencil in one hand and a sketchbook in the other.
Later, Denise moved to Lafayette, Louisiana to study art at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. It did not take long for her to fall in love with Lafayette and choose to make it her home. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree of Fine Art and spent the first part of her career as an art director and graphic designer in the advertising industry.
In 2013, Denise changed gears and opened her own design shop with a focus on illustration and creative graphic design. She also began pursuing another passion—writing and illustrating for children. She joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and now serves as the Illustrator Coordinator for the Louisiana/Mississippi Region of SCBWI.
With a few picture books already under her belt, her debut MG story is now out on submission. You can check her out here: https://www.denisegallagher.com/
Ian grew up in the small town of Holland Landing, Ontario. He was an avid reader and writer, but leaned more towards combat sports – earning a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Karate and becoming an instructor at 14.
Ian attended Brock University for sociology, working as a night club bouncer on the side before managing Isaac’s – the Brock University campus bar. It was there he wrote his first novel, GREY DOGS: ZOMBIE SURVIVAL – which sold and was published by Severed Press out of Australia in 2010 when he was only twenty-two years old.
Before graduating, Ian would have three more novels published. After university, Ian signed on to work full-time as a CNC machinist at the family business, Lakewood Machine & Tool in Newmarket, Ontario. There, he began making YouTube videos on the trade and manufacturing business, which were soon picked up by Practical Machinist – the largest manufacturing community in the world.
In 2017, Ian married his wife, Brooke, and moved up north to cottage country, where he lives with his wife, two dogs, and two cats.
Returning to his love of writing, Ian as another Horror story on submission now.
Indra Grace Hunter
Indra is a Pacific Northwest artist and illustrator. She began selling her work at the age of thirteen designing greeting cards for small businesses and nonprofits. Her love for fantasy, literature, and enchanted forests became the primary inspirations for her work. Inspirations that carry on through the murals she was hired to do for both the cities of Springfield and Eugene Oregon, as well as nonprofits within the King County of Washington.
Along with building a successful merch design business (creating tee-shirts, stickers and more), Indra has illustrated children’s books for multiple authors and publishers including the award winning Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye, with the aim of bringing back the fairytale whimsy of traditional children’s book literature.
On Submission: Indra has partnered with author, Jenny Fulton, on a Picture Book featuring the beauty of God’s earth and the Navajo people.
Jenn Suen Chen
Jenn is a speaker and leader in the area of spiritual formation and cross-cultural ministry work. She is co-director of Summit Clear, an organization focused on mentoring, coaching in the area of cross-cultural leadership development, and provides spiritual direction for Christian mission leaders. She has led over 60 retreats both internationally and in the US with ministry leaders with a particular focus on the intersection between spiritual formation and leadership development.
But she is foremost a mom of 4 adult children, two of whom are now married. She raised her 4 kids on the mission field, homeschooling them for most of their years until her husband’s cancer nearly took his life and they relocated from China to Thailand where they have been until recently.
Her Nonfiction book, Dim Sum on Sundays, is being published by Elk Lake Publishing. You can check her out here: www.jennsuenchenn.com
Jenny is a published freelance writer, content editor, an award-winning author of children’s books, and a multi-genre author of a Bible study, memoir, and YA fantasy book. In 2007, she received a B.S. in Bible, a B.S. in elementary education. Jenny has worked as a teacher in a variety of cultural and educational settings, both abroad and in the United States. She is a storyteller, a follower of Christ, and a seeker of truth.
An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, Jenny grew up in Kansas but regularly visited family and friends on the reservations where she fell in love with the lands and its people. This heritage inspired an early love for other cultures and languages. While in college, she worked with Sudanese and Hispanic populations and spent three months in Mexico learning the language, teaching elementary English classes, and connecting with various people and ministries. In 2007, Jenny moved to China where she taught ESL at an international school, coached middle school and high school athletics teams, and worked with an international youth group.
In 2010, she moved to the Navajo Nation where she taught at a grant school, working with various ages and coaching their middle school athletics teams.
Jenny began pursuing her dream of writing and publishing books in 2008. She currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband and three daughters.
Her Picture Book, Morning on the Mesa, is on submission now.
Jessie fanczi latimer
Jessie is a writer, freelance editor, and administrative assistant living with her husband in metro-Atlanta. She is a follower of Christ, lover of books, and killer of houseplants. As a child, she was constantly getting into trouble for reading when she was supposed to be doing other things.
Jessie holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia, where she edited an edition of The James Dickey Review and published in journals including The Georgia Historical Quarterly and The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity. After college, she moved to Colorado and worked on a dude ranch, eventually returning to Georgia to pursue an MFA in Writing at Reinhardt, which she will complete in June.
She once lived in a bedroom with a bookshelf that opened to a secret passageway, and her hobbies include weightlifting and sharing book reviews on her Bookstagram and BookTok pages (@picnicswithpaperbacks). Her debut YA fantasy novel will be out on submission soon. You can find out more about Jessie here.
Megan Rogers is an author who derives her stories from her creative dance background. Her dance training includes professional opportunities, cheering for the NFL, and owning a performing arts studio for 13 years. She’s received several accolades in dance as a youth and as an adult. Some of her recent work has been honored with Choreographer of the Year.
Megan developed a knack for storytelling through years of custom designing sets and costumes, hand embellishment, and crafting, dance choreography, and stage training. While Megan is new on the literary scene, she has been named the winner of the Purple Dragonfly, a Gold recipient in Mom’s Choice Awards, 2022 Creative Child Book of the Year, and an honoree in the Book Excellence awards of 2023 with her first published work.
Megan is a recently retired studio owner who teaches jazz techniques and is still active in choreography. She is married to her high school sweetheart, whom she met at church youth camp when she was 13. Megan and Luke have three children ages five and under and are actively building their dream farm. Her Picture Book is on submission now.
Megan Wilson is an artist and illustrator who has used the creative world to make her unique thumbprint on whatever she’s a part of.
Although Megan has an Art Education Degree, her journey has sent her in many directions besides a formal classroom setting. Megan always welcomes a creative challenge and has worked with several different mediums. Still, in recent years, she’s spent more time with watercolor and digital hand drawing with the hope that anything she creates will bring encouragement and joy.
As a freelance artist and illustrator, Megan has had the opportunity to create custom art, illustrations, and logos that can be found worldwide. Megan also enjoys mural work, live sketching, teaching, and translating her eye for design into the home. The latter helps support her husband’s contracting business.
Megan lives in a small rural town outside St. Louis, MO, with her husband and four children. After moving from the suburbs into a shop they built from the ground up, they are now on to the adventure of building their own home and continuing to get involved with the community.
You’ll find her name tied to illustrations in “Chester the Cat,” “Stand Fearless Devotional,” “Tenacious Grace,” and “The Never-Ending Joys of Parenting Adopting and Fostering Kids.” Her Picture Book is on submission now.
Melissa Johnston Miles has always loved kids. In fact, during middle school she’d get into trouble for sneaking out of church to take care of the babies in the nursery. When she graduated from The Medical University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, she went straight into the neonatal ICU because she still loved the babies! When her own kids were in school, Melissa earned a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and taught school for 5 years before returning to nursing. No matter what job she’s had over the years, working with kids has been the common denominator. Melissa continues to keep both her nursing license and teaching certifications current—just in case!
Melissa began writing books for kids in 2016. She joined SCBWI, attended a Highlights Foundation course and began taking every opportunity to study the writing craft. She began volunteering in her SCBWI region in 2017 and moved through several roles until recently becoming a co-Regional Advisor. In addition to this role, she serves as Board Chair for the nonprofit she created, Superhero Success Foundation. Through the nonprofit, she’s written and published two picture books featuring special needs superheroes. Over 4,000 copies of the books have been sold (mostly through corporate sponsorships) and hundreds of books have been donated to children’s hospitals, schools, libraries, and a camp for kids with tracheostomies.
Melissa’s debut Middle Grade Novel-in-Verse is on submission now.
Nancy is an Emmy Award winning television executive and producer who pioneered the magazine show format with the syndicated show PM Magazine and served as the Executive Producer on the long-running talk show, Leeza. In those capacities, then known as Nancy Alspaugh, she helped foster the careers of many people who run the television industry today. She graduated with an English Literature Major with honors from Virginia Commonwealth University.
In 2004, Alspaugh-Jackson’s (as she became known) adopted son, Wyatt, was diagnosed with autism. She gave up her career, rolled up her sleeves, and did everything she could to help him. She produced a fundraiser called Denim and Diamonds for Autism in the backyard of her gated equestrian community (home of The Kardashians, Drake, The Weeknd, and others) for a new autism foundation called ACT Today! or Autism Care and Treatment Today where she served as the Executive Director from 2005 until October of 2019. The annual fundraiser became so star-studded it was renamed Denim, Diamonds and Stars and became one of Southern California’s most publicized events.
Under Nancy’s leadership, Autism Care Today has distributed close to three million dollars in grants to families around the country.
Currently, Alspaugh-Jackson is the director of Recovery at The Ranch at Special Spirit, Inc. (www.specialspirit.org), an animal and equine-assisted program for those in recovery for addiction issues. She also leads women’s spiritual and empowerment retreats. Alspaugh-Jackson stays busy as the “momager” of the blossoming art business of her son, Wyatt Jackson, called “WyArt.” Her nonfiction book with her son, Wyatt, and artist friend, Paola Luther, called ALL DOGS GET LOLLIPOPS IN HEAVEN goes out on submission soon.
With over 500k followers across her art-centered Instagram accounts reaching 100M in the first quarter of 2023 alone, Paola is an established marketer and influencer in her field. She is a force online, but her beauty and talent go way past the digital screen. She positively impacts people daily through her paintings and teaching students, especially those with special needs like Wyatt Jackson.
Paola is an award-winning artist with a delicate touch and a sense of light and color. She can usually be found painting in her studio in Los Angeles, CA, but has been painting since childhood. She became a professional artist in fine arts by attending several years of intense ateliers training in the Washington DC area and Los Angeles. Paola participated in multiple workshops with talented artists around the world and her work has been featured in solo and group shows, as well as galleries on the East Coast. She has produced colorful plein-air pieces and commissioned many paintings and portraits.
Her original works can be found in private collections across the United States and Europe. Her nonfiction book with Nancy & Wyatt Jackson called ALL DOGS GET LOLLIPOPS IN HEAVEN goes out on submission soon.
When Sandy entered Nathan Bishop Junior High School in Rhode Island, she had no idea seventh grade would be such a defining year. Three encounters were about to set the direction of her life. First, art class was no longer all about crayons and everyone drawing the same thing. Instead, Miss Rose fearlessly introduced materials like clay, wire, paints, and plastic and ignited creativity. Then, in language arts, Sandy (unlike her peers) took great joy in diagramming sentences and discovered a love for words and grammar. And finally, she made friends with that cute boy named Elliot, who would one day become her husband.
After getting a B.A. in art, Sandy worked as a toy designer, art teacher, and commercial artist—her word skills came in handy on book layouts and promotional pieces and eventually opened the door to new career. She now lives in Atlanta, where she’s been a writer and senior copy editor for more than 20 years. To encourage professional development, her team leader instituted writing days for extracurricular projects—it was a great opportunity to play with words in a new way and resulted in several stories for children.
Sandy is delighted to live near her three children and nine grandchildren, who happen to be a pretty terrific built-in test audience for her writing. Her early chapter book is now on submission.
Samira is an Iranian-American writer whose love of stories propelled her into a career as an award-winning high school literature teacher. After earning her Masters degree in English, Literary Studies from Georgia State University, she directed her passion for global voices into a grant-writing campaign that allowed her to introduce a diverse literature curriculum to her students and peers. Samira won Teacher of the Year in 2016 and has been the goodwill ambassador in various school programs across Georgia.
Outside of the classroom, Samira considers her family her full-time job. Though she doesn’t hold a degree for that important work, she leads with her heart most of the time and finds it’s a pretty solid guide.
When Samira moved from Chicago to Atlanta in her senior year of high school—an upheaval that initially left her feeling unmoored in strange land—she had no idea that she’d choose to plant roots in the South or that she would develop a deep love for Southern culture, recognizing links between mehmoonnavazi–a Farsi word rooted in the concept of navazi, a tender caress–and Southern hospitality. Now, after nearly a quarter century on Georgia soil, she’s earned the nickname “The Persian Georgia Peach.”
Samira has been writing consistently for years and has a range of fiction and non-fiction pieces published. Check out Samira’s author Instagram to learn more.
More than anything, Samira especially loves to listen to women. A collector of stories, she spent much of her childhood gathering the perspectives of mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and cousins. Her debut novel, Ellie, Maman, marries her love for characters who navigate a complex web of cultural identities with what interests her the most—the underbelly of marriage, intimacy, and female relationships. This Women’s Fiction novel is on submission now.
Shanah grew up in Sydney, Australia surrounded by love and books and a backyard filled with fruit trees and chickens.
She trained as a family physician with a specialization in women’s health. The role was fast-paced and required exceptional communication skills, empathy, compassion, and the ability to be detail-oriented, time-efficient, and a great collaborator—much like the skills required of a successful author.
In 2014, she moved with her husband and young family to Chicago. There, inspired by her children and their daily visits to the library for story time, Shanah found herself returning to her creative childhood and dreaming of a second career.
Two years later, she’d taken her first course in children’s writing (at Chicago’s Newberry Library), become an active member in SCBWI-IL, and joined several local critique groups.
Shanah was awarded an Illinois Arts Council Grant for novel development in 2020. This grant funded placement into a six-month novel intensive through The Writing Barn. She loved it so much she accepted a fellowship and remains a fellow there to date.
Her debut YA Contemporary romance is out on submission now. You can check her out here: http://www.shanahsalter.com/
Wyatt is twenty-one-year-old artist from Westlake Village, CA. He attends vocational school at Agoura High School. He’s been painting since he was a year old. He has autism and works with his mom to raise money for other kids with autism by selling his art. He loves to use acrylic paint on recycled cartons, as well as painting acrylics on canvas. He calls his art WyArt. Mixing different colors is my favorite thing to do.
For the last year, he’s been studying art with the internationally known artist and painter, Paola Luther. He is frequently commissioned to paint people’s pets and has painted close to 60 dog portraits, plus many other animals, for people all around the country.
His nonfiction book called ALL DOGS GET LOLLIPOPS IN HEAVEN goes out on submission soon.