2014 Faculty (Children's Writers & Illustrators Conference)

2014 Faculty


Jon Agee
Creator of many acclaimed books for children, including the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Terrific; ALA Notable Books Milo's Hat Trick, The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau, Little Santa, The Other Side of Town; and a series of popular wordplay books including, Go Hang a Salami! I'm a Lasagna Hog!

 Andrea Alban
Author of nine books, including the YA novel, Anya's War, (shortlisted for China's 2012 Panda Awards and an ALA honor award), and the bestseller The Happiness Tree. She is a dynamic speaker at schools, writing conferences, and literary festivals. Alban edits manuscripts and coaches writers in manuscript development and revision, as well as how to prepare submissions to editors and agents.
 Charlotte Ashlock
A Digital Producer & Editor for Berrett-Koehler, which publishes nonfiction books for adults on society, business, & personal development.  She maintains the company website, develops digital book resources, and helps authors grow their online voices.  She also helps the editorial department find new books and shape manuscripts.  Her hobbies are social media and creative writing.

 Laura Atkins
Independent children's book editor with twenty years of editorial experience. Most recently, Atkins was a lecturer at the National Centre for Research in Children's Literature in London. She currently edits for Cassava Republic Press in Nigeria, Saffron Press in Canada, and offers editorial services to self-publishers and aspiring and published writers and illustrators. Read more >>
 Jim Averbeck
Author of the Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book In a Blue Room and the author and illustrator of except ifOh No, Little Dragon, and The Market Bowl. He studied writing and illustrating for children at UC Berkeley. He was the Regional Advisor for the San Francisco chapter of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Mac Barnett
Author of several critically-acclaimed picture books, including Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, President Taft is Stuck in the Bath, Count the Monkeys, Extra Yarn, and Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World. He also writes the Brixton Brothers series of mysteries. Barnett is the founder of the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, a convenience store for time travelers, and serves on the board of 826LA, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center.

 T.A. Barron
New York Times bestselling author of children and teen books, notably, The Merlin Saga, which includes all the adventures in Merlin’s world: the Lost Years of Merlin epic, Merlin’s Dragon trilogy, and Great Tree of Avalon trilogy.Barron has also created a Young Heros Award that rewards children who are heroic in their communities. He is an environmental activist and is on the board of many corporations and charities. Read more >>


Shirin Bridges
The Ezra Jack Keats-winning author of Ruby’s WishThe Umbrella Queen, and Mary Wrightly So Politely, Shirin Yim Bridges is also the publisher of A Treasury of Glorious Goddesses, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses, and Horrible Hauntings. Bridges has taught and discussed writing and publishing at the Asian Festival for Children’s Content, the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference, Stanford University, Dominican University, San Francisco State University, Illinois State University, and the College of San Mateo, and will speak at the SCBWI Australia National Conference this summer. Read more >>

 Lewis Buzbee
Author of books for both adults and youth, Buzbee began writing at the age of 15, after reading the first chapter of The Grapes of Wrath. He is currently on the faculty of the MFA program at the University of San Francisco. Buzbee's first novel for middle grade readers, Steinbeck’s Ghost, won many awards, including the Northern California Independent Booksellers’ Association Children’s Book of the Year. His second middle-grade novel, The Haunting of Charles Dickens, won the Northern California Book Award, was nominated for an Edgar, and was selected as a Judy Lopez Memorial Honor Book. His third, and most recent, middle-grade novel is titled Bridge of Time. Read More >>
 Minju Chang
Literary Agent for BookStop Literary Agency, which she joined in 2006. Chang represents middle-grade and young adult writers of all genres, and some picture book writers. She has a particular interest in smart adventure/mystery novels, magical realism, and intense literary fiction. But, her real weakness is for funny, clever, and gutsy characters with big attitudes.

Kristin Elizabeth Clark
The author of Freakboy, which was named to the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) 2014 Top 10 Best Fiction for Young Adults list, the American Library Association's Top 10 Rainbow List, and won the Northern California Book Award for Young Adult Literature. Under the name of Kristin Clark Venuti she is the author of Leaving the Bellweathers and The Butler Gets a Break. She has taught with the Society of Young Inklings and has presented many workshops on craft for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, as well as the Canyon Crest Academy Young
Writer’s Conference. She lives and writes in San Francisco, CA. Read more >>


Amanda Conran
Children's programming specialist for Book Passage and published author.

 Susan Katz
An award-winning author and National Board Certified Teacher who worked as a bilingual elementary educator and literacy consultant for over 20 years, Susan now works as a social media strategist for authors and publishers at Spreecast and as a private consultant. She served as the Strategic Partner Manager for Authors and Publishers at Facebook and is also the Founder and Executive Director of Connecting Authors. She is the author of ABC, Baby Me!My Mama Earth, and has two forthcoming titles to be released in 2015. Read more >>
 Naomi Kirsten
Editor at Chronicle Books. Kirsten edits picture books and novelty formats, and develops publishing programs, with Moomin, Lately Lily, Star Wars, and Marc Boutavant, among others. Her recent and upcoming titles include: I Didn’t Do My Homework Because… (a Junior Library Guild selection), Yeti, Turn Out the Light!, Cat Says Meow, Ice Sabers, Jumping Jack, and The Bear’s Song, which was a New York Times Notable Book. Prior to Chronicle Books, Kirsten was an editor at Harper’s magazine and Discovery Girls magazine.
 Summer Dawn LaurieSummer Dawn Laurie
Independent children’s book editor. After ten years working in-house at children's book publishers, as senior editor at Tricycle Press and at Chronicle Books for Children, Laurie decided to head out on her own. Over the years, she has edited more than 50 published books, ranging from board books to picture books, middle-grade novels and nonfiction.
 Gretchen Maurer
The author of the middle-grade novel Call Me Isis: Egyptian Goddess of Magic, and the picture book biography Mary Tudor "Bloody Mary", winner of a California Reading Association Medal. Her writing has been published in Highlights for Children, Adventure Cyclist, and the anthologies The Discovery of Poetry and A Cup of Comfort for Mothers to Be. Gretchen also co-wrote the screenplay, ALMA, a 2007 short film that has screened in 22 festivals and won multiple awards.

Susan McCombs
Independent book editor and writing coach. Holds an MFA in Creative Writing and began working with children’s book manuscripts, authors, and illustrators over eight years ago at Tricycle Press. She currently works with individual writers to develop and tighten their manuscripts and edits for KO Kids Productions, Goosebottom Books, Andrews McMeel, Zoozil, and Callisto Media. 


Linda Watanabe McFerrin
Poet, travel writer, novelist, and contributor to numerous newspapers, magazines and anthologies and the Founder of Left Coast Writers. A winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction, her first novel, Namako:  Sea Cucumber, was named Best Book for the Teen-Age by the New York Public Library. Her most recent novel, Dead Love, the tale of a love that just won’t die, was a Bram Stoker finalist.  


Brian McMullen
Edits and designs the McSweeney’s McMullens children’s book series for McSweeney’s. 



Pooja Menon
Literary agent, who joined Kimberley Cameron & Associates as an intern in 2011, with the aim of immersing herself in the elusive world of books and publishing. She soon realized that being an agent was what she was most drawn to. Menon represents both fiction and non-fiction for Adult and Young Adult markets. She is interested in stories that deal with the prevalent issues that face teenagers today, fantasy, magical- realism, and historical fiction.

 Bethanie Murguia
Author and illustrator of Zoe Gets Ready, Buglette, the Messy Sleeper, Snippet the Early Riser, and most recently, I Feel Five!. She received an MFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York. While in New York, Murguia was an art director for Hearst Magazines. After relocating to the Bay Area, she continued to work as an art director, and began painting again, with her award-winning watercolors displayed in various galleries. 
Kathryn Otoshi
Kathryn Otoshi
Conference Chair
Award-winning writer and illustrator, whose books have won the E.B. White Read Aloud Honor, the Nautilus Gold Award, and the Mom's Choice Award. Her books include Zero, One, Maneki Meko, Simon and the Sock Monster, What Emily Saw, and  Marcello the Movie Mouse
 Thien Pham
Comic book and visual artist, based in the Bay Area. He is also a high school teacher. Pham illustrated Gene Luen Yang's Level Up, a YALSA Great Graphic Novel and New York Times Notable Children's Book. 
Sumo is his first solo work.

Andy Ross
Literary agent and former owner of Cody’s Books in Berkeley. He represents authors of narrative nonfiction, science, history, essays, and travel. 


Lissa Rovetch

Lissa Rovetch
Artist, and writing and creativity coach at Pixar Studios and Funthink. She has written and/or illustrated over 20 children’s books including: Ook the Book, Hot Dog and Bob, There Was a Man Who Loved a Rat...; hundreds of children’s magazine stories, such as the Highlight’s Ask Arizona series; and computer games. Rovetch founded Kid Lit Salon, a monthly group for children's writers and illustrators, which has been meeting at Book Passage since 2008. Read more >> 


Kat Salazar
Director of PR & Marketing at Image Comics—publisher of such bestselling series as The Walking Dead, Spawn, Saga, Chew and multiple other New York Times bestselling and Eisner and Hugo Award winning series. Previously she has worked at Red Wheel/Weiser, Larsen Pomada Literary Agents, and University of Washington Press. She specializes in traditional publicity paired with digital marketing and social media and is currently Book Promotion Forum’s Membership Coordinator. Follow her on Twitter @KatLovesBooks.

 Ginee Seo
Children’s publishing director at Chronicle Books.
 Tamra Tuller
Children's book editor at Chronicle Books. Tuller got her publishing feet wet in the Scholastic Book Clubs, then moved on to Blue Sky Press, then Philomel Books, and finally Chronicle Books. She is interested primarily in reality-based, literary middle grade and young adult fiction. Tuller has worked with such authors as Ruta Sepetys, Kathryn Erskine, Hannah Moskowitz, Beth Kephart, and K.A. Holt.


Caryn Wiseman
Caryn Wiseman is a Senior Agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.  She has sold over 250 children’s and young adult books, both fiction and non-fiction.  She represents debut authors, New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors, and authors at every stage in between.  Caryn is looking for books with emotional depth and a strong voice; excellent writing in a tightly-plotted, commercial story; and characters that stick with her long after she has closed the book.


Natasha Yim
Natasha Yim is an author, freelance writer, and playwright. She has published 4 picture books: Otto's Rainy Day (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2000); Cixi, The Dragon Empress (Goosebottom Books, 2011); Sacajawea of the Shoshone (Goosebottom Books, 2012), and Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas(Charlesbridge Publishing, 2014), a 2014 Junior Library Guild selection. She has also written nonfiction articles for Highlights for Children, Appleseeds, and Faces, and her short plays have been performed in venues around Northern California, Los Angeles and internationally in Sydney and Brisbane, Australia, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Natasha has presented at the Asian Art Museum, the SCBWI North Bay Sonoma County, Dominican University, the Mendocino Community College LitFest, and the Sonoma County Book Festival. Read More >>