Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2017 Houston SCBWI Conference Faculty & Speakers


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Bruce Coville 

Bruce Coville has published over 100 books for children and young adults, including the international bestseller My Teacher is an Alien, the four book “Unicorn Chronicles” series, and Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher. His work appears in a dozen languages and has won Children's Choice awards in as many states.  His most recent book Hatched, is the second in the “Enchanted Realm” series. Before becoming a full time writer in 1986, Bruce was a teacher, a toymaker, a magazine editor, a gravedigger, and a cookware salesman. In 2001 he created FULL CAST AUDIO, an audiobook company devoted to producing full cast, unabridged recordings of material for family listening. He has produced over 120 audiobooks, directing and/or acting in most of them. Much in demand as a speaker and storyteller, he has performed on five continents.  Bruce lives in Syracuse, New York, with his wife, illustrator and author Katherine Coville.


Adriana Dominguez
Literary Agent, Full Circle Literary

Adriana Dominguez has 20 years of experience in publishing. Prior to becoming an agent at Full Circle Literary, she was Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and before that, Children’s Reviews Editor at Críticas magazine, published by Library Journal. She is also a professional translator and a member of the Brooklyn Literary Council that organizes the Brooklyn Book Festival. She represents fiction and narrative nonfiction for all ages and is actively building her list of author/illustrators. Adriana has a long trajectory of publishing underrepresented authors and illustrators. Her growing list of author/illustrators includes Ana Aranda, Tania de Regil, Rafael López, John Parra, Tony Piedra, Lorena Siminovich and Lila Quintero Weaver. Her author client list includes award winners and best sellers such as Michaela and Elaine DePrince, Reyna Grande, Katheryn Russell-Brown and Angela Cervantes. Some new releases in 2017: illustrator debut Ana Aranda’s The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra, written by Marc Tyler Nobleman (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin), author debut Emma Otheguy’s biography of poet and Cuban national hero Martí’s Song for Freedom (Lee & Low), and Bravo!, by award-winning team Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López (Macmillan). Adriana is based in NYC.


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Christa Heschke 
Literary Agent, McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency
PB through YA. No paranormal or dystopian

Christa Heschke is a literary agent at McIntosh and Otis. She graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children's Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively acquiring manuscripts for all ages, picture books through young adult. She is not looking for dystopian or paranormal novels.



Deirdre Jones 
Editor, Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Deirdre Jones is an editor at Little Brown Books for Young Readers. She works on picture book, middle grade, and young adult projects and is interested in just about everything. For picture books, she gravitates towards the silly, the over-the-top, the just-wacky-enough-to-work—anything that will get kids (and parents) laughing. She’d love to see the next The Day the Crayons Quit or Dragons Love Tacos. She also enjoys unique nonfiction topics and picture book biographies written in a narrative style. For middle grade and young adult, she’s looking for stories that pull her into an incredible world, so fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, magical realism, and blends of these genres are right up her alley (as are occasional high concept contemporary/realistic projects). She’s looking for fast-paced plots and strong writing.

Among the books Deirdre has edited are Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Caldecott award-winning artist Javaka Steptoe; Claymates by author Dev Petty and artist Lauren Eldridge; the Map to Everywhere series by New York Times bestselling author Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis; The Star Thief by debut author Lindsey Becker; the New York Times bestselling Frostblood by debut author Elly Blake; and World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s Court of Fives series.


Thao Le 2016 credit Roxyanne Young

Thao Le 
Literary Agent, The Dijkstra Agency

Thao Le has been a literary agent at the Dijkstra Agency since 2011. Thao is looking for: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, and some Romance. She is currently closed to picture book submissions. In the Adult and YA Sci-fi/Fantasy realms, she enjoys stories rooted in mythology, fairytales, and legends with atmospheric settings and strong world building. Particularly stories that are inclusive and multicultural. She’s also a fan of magic realism. In contemporary YA, she’s seeking witty, heartfelt writing with an authentic teen voice. Especially stories about family and friendships. Think Stephanie Perkins, Jenny Han, or Sarah Dessen. And in Middle Grade, she’s looking for fantastic adventures and clever protagonists the likes of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and Soman Chainani’s School of Good and Evil. In Romance, she’s drawn to heroes/heroines who turn stereotypes and tropes on their heads (such as heroines in typically male roles and sensitive heroes who aren’t necessarily alpha, but just as swoonworthy). In general, she loves beautiful literary writing with a commercial hook. She is most excited to add more writers of diversity (including, but not limited to, all ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental and physical health, and socioeconomic status) to her client list.


Martha Rago
Executive Creative Director, Random House/Golden Books Young Readers Group

Martha Rago, named the Executive Creative Director for Random House/Golden Books Young Readers Group in November of 2015, Martha came to Random House from HarperCollins to oversee their growing trade list of picture books, YA, middle grade and chapter books. In 2016, her role expanded to overseeing all of the Random House Children's Book art department, encompassing Knopf, Crown, Wendy Lamb Books, Doubleday and the Delacorte imprints that fall under that umbrella, along with the licensed and branded properties such as the Dr Seuss publishing program that are also part of Random House.

Martha has had extensive experience as designer and art director in children's books and has worked with many established illustrators in her career. These include Eric Carle, Tomie dePaola, Peter McCarty, Ed Young, Mo Willems, Sean Qualls, Floyd Cooper, Peter Sis, Dan Yaccarino, Pat Cummings, and Kadir Nelson.  She loves to discover and support new talent as well, and more recently worked with illustrators Mike Curato, Julia Denos, Debbie Ohi, Teagan White and Suzanne Kaufman, to name a few. With the responsibility of overall strategy and development of many imprints and the leadership of a large staff, focusing on a single project as an art director and designer is a welcome luxury afforded just a few times a year. Connecting with aspiring artists and sharing the experience and insights of a long career at an scbwi conference is an equally unique pleasure. She’s looking forward to an inspiring conference.


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Anna Roberto
Editor, Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan

Anna Roberto is an editor at Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan and works on everything from picture books to young adult novels as well as some select nonfiction. She began her career as an intern at FinePrint Literary and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She eventually made the move to Macmillan where she has happily worked for seven years under such industry giants as Jean Feiwel and Liz Szabla. She works on a variety of genres from fantasy to realistic fiction and gravitates toward projects that are voice-driven. She has edited the #1 New York Times bestseller Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year by Demi Lovato, How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder, Shark Week by Discovery, The Infinity Year of Avalon James by Dana Middleton, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett, Flawed by Cecelia Ahern, as well as the upcoming titles The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski and Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey. 


e-Critiques Only

Heather Alexander
Independent Children's Book Editor

Heather Alexander is an independent children's book editor working with new and established authors on their projects for all ages of children's books. She has experience across the board, having previously been an agent with Pippin Properties, and an editor at Dial Books for Young Readers. Some of her favorite projects include CATSTRONAUTS by Drew Brockington, New York Times best seller and major motion picture NERVE by Jeanne Ryan, and the upcoming PABLO AND BIRDY by Alison McGhee. You can find her on Twitter @heatheralexand  or at 

She will critique manuscripts for all ages, and would like a synopsis with novels, just to have an idea of where things are going. Include the synopsis after the sample pages, as part of the same document.


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Andrea Cascardi 
Publisher, Transatlantic Agency

Andrea Cascardi is an agent at Transatlantic Agency. After working as a publisher at Egmont, Andrea has returned to her agenting role at Transatlantic, where she'd previously worked for ten years. She also held senior editorial positions at Random House and Disney Publishing.

As an editor she acquired and edited Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King winner Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold and Pura Belpre winner Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez among many other award-winning books. As an agent she represented many bestselling and award-winning titles including Clare Vanderpool’s Newbery winner Moon Over Manifest and Printz Honor winner Navigating Early, e.E. Charlton-Truillo’s Stonewall winner Fat Angie, New York Times Bestseller Nubs and Texas Bluebonnet winner Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break if You Want to Survive the School Bus by John Grandits.

 Please include cover letter with critiques



Karl Jones
Associate Editor, Penguin Young Readers
PB, PB dummies, MG and YA


Karl Jones is an Associate Editor, Penguin Young Readers Group. He works on a variety of licensed and original middle grade and activity books, as well as some early YA projects. He acquired and edited the JUST JAKE series from New York Times best-selling kid author, Jake Marcionette, and edits a middle grade/YA transition series by established stage and screenwriter, Justin Sayre. The first book in this series, Husky published in September 2015 and Pretty comes out in July 2017. Recently he acquired Midnight Arcade from author, Gabe Soria, a modern take on the choose-your-adventure style series storytelling that incorporates elements of video game play with individualized narrative structures. He develops, acquires and writes original novelty books like Day of the Dead Activity Book and Build a Boyfriend, as well as hiring work-for-hire authors for several licensed book programs for entertainment and gaming properties including Star Trek, Powerpuff Girls, Uncle Grandpa, Regular Show and Shovel Knight. He is particularly interested in realistic middle grade and YA fiction and format-bending storytelling projects. In his free time, he enjoys comedy and storytelling events, outdoor adventures, and live music.
Please include a cover letter with the critique pages, and a synopsis for novels. Critiques all genres for PB and MG, likes contemporary and sci-fi YA, but isn't the best choice for YA fantasy. 


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Andrea Somberg
Literary Agent, Harvey Klinger Literary Agency

Andrea Somberg is a literary agent at Harvey Klinger Literary Agency. A literary agent for over fifteen years, I represent a wide range of fiction and nonfiction, including projects for adult, young adult and middle grade audiences.  Previously an agent at the Donald Maass Agency and Vigliano Associates, I joined Harvey Klinger Literary Agency in the spring of 2005. My clients’ books have been NYTimes and USABestsellers, winner of ALA’s Alex Award, nominated for The Governor General’s Award, the Lambda Award, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and named best books of the year by NYPublic Library.  I also teach courses for MediaBistro and Writers Digest on topics such as nonfiction, memoir, mystery and thrillers, fantasy and sf.  To learn more about my list, please feel free to visit and Please include a cover letter and synopsis with critique submissions. She doesn't have as much experience with PBs and prefers to critique MG and YA novels.




Houston's Very Own…

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Pat Miller
Presenting a Saturday Non-Fiction Break-out Session.


Pat Miller will be presenting a Break-out session entitled “Curiosity and Clues: Creating Kid-Friendly Non-Fiction”. She says of the session:  Writing nonfiction is the act of uncovering a story that already exists.  But how is that done? This workshop will give you a roadmap from getting the idea through getting the facts to getting it down on paper.  
Pat Miller is the author of seven children’s books. Her newest nonfiction, The Hole Story of the Doughnut, is a JLG selection, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book, a CCBC Best Books of the Year selection, a Crystal Kite finalist, and a Children’s and Teen Choice Book Award finalist. She is a career elementary teacher and school librarian, and published 200 articles, 20 books, and two games for the school library market. Pat was the organizer of the Nonfiction for New Folks writing conferences and is passionate about writing true. She is the grandmother of seven under 7, lives in Richmond, TX, with her husband, and is companioned at her computer by her illiterate Jack Russell terrier.


Jennifer Hamburg

Presenting a Sunday Picture Book Intensive.

"Picture Book Intensive: Finding the Funny" – We know kids love to laugh, but when it comes to picture books, humor can be hard! In this fun (and funny) picture book intensive, we'll look at the different ways humor can shape a story, what types of humor works best for young children, how illustrations help bring funny stories to life, and how authors can develop their own brand of funny that keeps kids giggling. Please bring up to 500 words of a picture book manuscript – humor encouraged! 
Picture Books

Jennifer Hamburg is an Emmy-winning children’s television writer and story editor who has written for hit shows such as Doc McStuffins, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Super Why!, Henry Hugglemonster, and Creative Galaxy. Her picture books include A Moose That Says Moo, Monkey and Duck Quack Up!, and the upcoming Billy Boo is Stuck in Goo. Her middle grade book series, Hazy Bloom and the Tomorrow Power, comes out in 2017.
Jennifer holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology from Columbia University’s Teachers College, where she studied children’s creative and cognitive development. She lives in Houston, TX with her husband and two children.





Critiques Available with Our Local Authors



Crystal Allen
Middle Grade

CRYSTAL ALLEN is the author of middle grade novels, How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy (Balzar and Bray, 2011) and The Laura Line (Balzar and Bray, 2013), and The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit Week Showdown (Balzar and Bray, 2016). Crystal lives in Sugar Land, Texas with her husband, Reggie, two sons, Phillip and Joshua, and dog Angel.


Kimberly Morris 
Picture Books / Middle Grade

KIMBERLY MORRIS has authored more than 60 books for children and young adults, many of them under a pen name, for popular series including Disney Fairies, Animorphs, Freshman Dorm and Sweet Valley. She has also written short stories for the Muppets, Muppet Babies, and Fraggle Rock characters, and animated television scripts for ThunderCats, SilverHawks, TigerSharks and MiniMonsters. As a custom publishing director, she has produced small and large-scale custom publishing projects for HISD and Child Advocates, Inc. involving as many as 300 adult and student participants. Kimberly is an active speaker at schools and conferences for educators, writers, business groups, and general audiences. For more information, please visit 


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Sherry Garland
PB through YA

SHERRY GARLAND is the critically acclaimed author of more than thirty books for children, teenagers and adults. In addition to winning over forty national and international awards and honors, three of her titles were on the best seller list. Her picture book, THE LOTUS SEED, was a featured book on the Reading Rainbow TV program; her Dear America book, A LINE IN THE SAND, was made into an HBO TV show. She especially enjoys writing historical books and fiction about other cultures. 


Joy Preble

JOY PREBLE is a Texas girl who was born and raised in Chicago and a former high school teacher who now writes full time, which means she gets paid for making up stuff. She earned an English degree from Northwestern University and speaks and teaches widely on writing and literacy at libraries and schools, as well as SCBWI, NCTE, AWP, and other conferences.
Joy is the author of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE and its sequel, THE A WORD (May 2014), both from Soho Press. She is also the author of the DREAMING ANASTASIA series (Sourcebooks) and  the contemporary mystery/romance FINDING PARIS, which was released April 2015 from Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins. Another paranormal mystery/romance, IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS, arrived from Soho Press in May 2016. 



Sandra Howatt

SANDRA J. HOWATT is the author of SLEEPYHEADS (Beach Lane/Simon and Schuster), illustrated by Joyce Wan. This debut picture book received great reviews and was nominated for the 2014 Kirkus Prize.  It was a finalist in the 2014 Writers' League of Texas Book Awards, chosen for The Scholastic Book Club, and has recently been translated into Chinese.  It will come out as a Little Simon Classic Board Book this summer.  Sandra is a past nominee for the Joan Lowery Nixon Memorial Award. A former dance educator, she has transitioned from telling stories on the stage to telling stories on the page.


Kathy Duval


Kathy Duval's latest book, A BEAR’S YEAR (Schwartz & Wade @ Random House) celebrates the passing of seasons, following a mother bear and her cubs through the course of a year. Kathy is also the author of THE THREE BEARS’ HALLOWEEN  and THE THREE BEARS’ CHRISTMAS (Holiday House), and TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ (Disney Hyperion). Her poetry can be found in in children’s magazines and anthologies.


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