Pamela Holtz Beres

Pamela Holtz Beres graduated from the Institute’s course, Writing for Children and Teenagers, in 1989. 

      Her first sale to Pockets magazine, “Joey’s Almost Good-For-Nothing Day,” was published in August 1990. That story was originally written as a course assignment, as was her second sale, “Telescape,” published by Guide in September 1990. 

      Since then, her work has appeared in My Friend, Children’s Digest, Jack And Jill, On the Line, Partners, Junior Trails, and Wee Wisdom.

      In 1999, Ms. Beres won the Pockets fiction-writing contest. Several of her stories were named top-ten finalists in Pockets contests of previous years.

      In addition to her work for children, Ms. Beres writes feature articles for Lutheran Parent magazine. She has also written short scripts for radio, and articles for a variety of other publications.



Linda Crotta Brennan

Linda Crotta Brennan gained insight into children’s imaginations through her own rich childhood and later training. She earned her degrees in college and graduate school in child development and early childhood education.

       Ms. Brennan has been published in Highlights for Children, Cricket, Ladybug, Turtle, Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine, My Friend, and Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company’s On My Own anthology. A story Ms. Brennan sold to Highlights, The Dream Violin, became the title story in a paperback anthology put out by Boyds Mills Press.

      Her first picture book manuscript, Flannel Kisses, was followed by a sequel, Marshmallow Kisses (Houghton Mifflin, 2000), which won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award. 

      Her other titles include The Black Regiment of the American Revolution (Moon Mountain Publishing, 2004) and North Carolina (Scholastic, 2003).

      Ms. Brennan was a recipient of the Highlights for Children Foundation’s Eve Bunting Scholarship to the Chautauqua Workshop, and she has served as a Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

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My instructor has fine teaching skills. She’s been supportive, critical, patient, and encouraging, instilling confidence in me. She has kept my dream of being a successful writer alive!

                                                    —Diane Arth, Cleveland, OH


Jan Burns

The author of more than 100 magazine/newspaper articles and 7 books, Jan Burns loves the challenge of a new subject. She’s written about everything from crop circles and parent-teacher conferences to butterfly gardens and Jack London, and is a skilled and passionate researcher.

       Ms. Burns’ published books for children include three titles in KidHaven’s Mysterious Encounters series, UFOs (2008), Crop Circles (2008), and Fairies (2007); John Roberts (Lucent Books, 2008), part of the People in the News series; Crime Scene Investigations: Kidnapping (Lucent Books, 2007); and Shigeru Miyamoto (Kidhaven, 2006).

      She has also sold more than 100 articles and stories to such markets as Highlights for Children, Boys’ Quest, On the Line, Faces, Christian Science Monitor, Children’s Writer, Dallas Morning News, Grit, Highways, Ladies’ Home Journal, San Francisco Examiner, Trailer Life, Houston Chronicle, Plain Truth, The Writer, and Writers Forum.

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Nancy Butts

The suspense builds to a surprising climax that leaves you wondering: if time can stop, can it also go backward? That’s what Booklist wrote about Nancy Buttss science fiction novel, The Door in the Lake (Front Street, 1998; Puffin, 2000).

      Nancy Butts’s novel appeals to young readers not just because of its gripping plot, but also because it touches them on a personal level as well. This dual appeal has resulted in much recognition.

      The American Library Association recommended The Door in the Lake as a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. The University of Wisconsin School of Education included it in its prestigious Choices book list in 1998. The book has also been nominated for three state awards.

      Ms. Butts found a publisher for her first young adult novel, Cheshire Moon (Front Street, 1996), just four months after completing it. But her success was the result of years of hard work.

      She learned the basics of writing as a reporter and editor for a small town newspaper, in the process earning three awards from the Georgia Press Association and one from the Georgia School Board Association.

      Ms. Butts graduated magna cum laude from Duke University, and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

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Patricia Calvert

Patricia Calvert’s first novel, The Snowbird (Scribner, 1980), was a success by any measure.

      The book won three awards: Best Book award from the American Library Association; the juvenile fiction award from the Society of Midland Authors; and the juvenile award from the Friends of American Writers. The YWCA selected The Snowbird for its Outstanding Achievement in the Arts award.

      Yesterday’s Daughter (Scribner, 1986) was a Junior Literary Guild selection, and Stranger, You and I (Scribner, 1987) was a special selection for reluctant readers by YASD. Bigger (Atheneum, 1994) was a nominee for the Mark Twain Award and Glennis, Before and After (Atheneum, 1996) won the Christopher Award.

      Ms. Calvert later turned her attention to nonfiction, with the publication of The American Frontier (Atheneum, 1997). She has published more than 100 short stories and articles in Highlights for Children, Jack And Jill, Junior Life, The Friend, and more.

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My instructor is the perfect role model. She responds to me on a personal level, not just about my writing, but also about the business of writing and my goals. I wouldn’t want any other instructor.

                                         —Katherine T. Mohan, Haymarket, VA


Mary Blount Christian

A veteran writer, Mary Blount Christian has more than 35 years’ experience and 100 books to her credit, including picture books, beginning readers, middle-grade, and young adult novels. Her work spans many genres, from mysteries and folktales to history and humor.

      Ms. Christian’s writing credits include several mystery series, such as Sebastian, Super Sleuth (Macmillan); The Undercover Kids (Albert Whitman); and Determined Detectives (Dutton); as well as two beginning reader series, Penrod and Griswold (Aladdin) and Swamp Monsters (Dutton).

      Her picture book, The Doggone Mystery (Whitman), received an Edgar Allan Poe Scroll Award; and Nothing Much Happened Today (Addison Wesley) received the Silver Burdett & Ginn World of Reading Readers’ Choice Award. She has also written several titles for adults.

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Nancy Coffelt

Author/illustrator Nancy Coffelt has a distinctive writing style that has been described as “lively” and “touching.” Her titles, which include eight picture books, have appeared on numerous best book lists, including School Library Journal’s (SLJ) Best of 2007, Kirkus Best of 2007, Miami Herald’s Best Children’s Books of 2007, ALA Notable Books, Bank Street College of Education’s Children’s Book Committee Books of Particular Distinction/Best Children’s Books list, and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s 2008 Best Books list. Her books have also earned starred reviews in Kirkus, Horn Book, and SLJ.

      Ms. Coffelt’s recent title, Fred Stays With Me (Little, Brown, 2007), was described by Kirkus as a “fresh, villain-free look at a split family—and at a girl who finds strength, love, and reassuring consistency in the dear pooch who is all her own—a gem.” School Library Journal praised Fred as a “charming book that meshes text and illustrations seamlessly.” Another title, What’s Cookin’? A Happy Birthday Counting Book (Chronicle Books, 2003), “makes both counting and cooking fun,” said Kirkus.

      Her other titles include Pug in a Truck (Houghton Mifflin, 2006); The Dog Who Cried Woof  (Harcourt, 1995); Tom’s Fish (Harcourt, 1994); Dogs in Space (Harcourt, 1993); and Goodnight Sigmund (Harcourt, 1992). She has also illustrated many books for the educational market and several editions of Highlights for Children.

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Michael L. Cooper

Described as a “talented and able historian” by the Washington Post, Michael L. Cooper is the award-winning author of 14 nonfiction books for young people. His most recent books are Hero of the High Seas: John Paul Jones and the American Revolution (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2006) and Jamestown, 1607 (Holiday House Books, 2007).

      Mr. Cooper’s other books cover a variety of American history topics ranging from the history of slave spirituals to Japanese-Americans during World War II to the mass migration of African Americans from the South to the North in the early twentieth century.

      His honors include a Golden Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for Dirt to Eat: Drought and Depression in 1930s America (Clarion), named best nonfiction book of 2004.

      Mr. Coopers books have been included on several prestigious lists, including the American Library Associations list of ALA Notables; the ALAs Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) Nonfiction Honor list; the National Council for the Social Studies/Childrens Book Councils list of Notable Childrens Books in the Field of Social Studies; the International Reading Associations 25 Notable Books for a Global Society; and the New York Public Librarys 100 Best Books for the Teen Age.

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My instructor is very positive in his evaluations. He offers ideas and constructive criticism, which often make me see things in a completely different light. His interest in my personal success is genuine, which makes me that much more eager to do my best. A caring instructor and definitely a keeper!

                                                —Deborah Burt, Fond du Lac, WI


Kim Delmar Cory

Kim Delmar Cory’s children’s books, Lilly’s Way (1998), Charlie Boy (1999), and Home to Mackinac (2006), are meticulously researched historical novels and are frequently used in fourth-grade curriculums for the study of Michigan history.

      Ms. Cory’s freelance writing experience includes feature articles for Big Beautiful Woman Magazine, Home Spotlight, the Detroit Free Press, and for local publications such as Lansing Metropolitan Woman and Lansing City Limits.  She has also created marketing copy for a nationwide travel project and for websites of nationally distributed products, such as Perrier water. 

      In addition to her freelance writing for magazines, newspapers, and other publications, Ms. Cory has taught college classes in writing, children’s literature, and writing for publication.

      Ms. Cory is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, where she is on the Speaker’s List; she also holds a membership card to the Michigan Council for Teachers of English.

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Chris Eboch

A middle-grade historical adventure set in ninth-century Guatemala, The Well of Sacrifice (Clarion, 1999) is an engrossing first novel, according to Kirkus Reviews.

      Eboch crafts an exciting narrative with a richly textured depiction of ancient Mayan society . . . The novel shines not only for a faithful recreation of an unfamiliar, ancient world, but also for the introduction of a brave, likable and determined heroine. The Well of Sacrifice was listed in the Seattle Public Librarys brochures Grades 5 & 6 Books to Build On, Chicano/Latino Doorways to Culture and Tradition, and Read up a Storm.

       Ms. Eboch has published three nonfiction books for middle and high school students, Turkey (2003), Yemen (2003), and Life Among the Maya (2005), all of which were published by Lucent Books. Her work for children has also been published in AppleSeeds and Ladybug.

       Chris Eboch has worked as an editor and writer for magazines such as International Musician and Beauty Fashion. More than 100 of her articles have been published in those and other magazines including Psychology Today, Womens Sports and Fitness, and Grand Circle Traveler. Her articles on writing have appeared in Writers Digest and the SCBWI Bulletin.

       Ms. Eboch taught fiction writing through New Mexico Techs  Community College and has led dozens of workshops for children and adults at conferences and writing festivals.

      Critique group partners rave about her editing skills, especially her ability to see both the large picture and the small details.

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Trinka Enell

“An excellent young children’s book” and “fun all the way” is what Book World said about Trinka Enell’s picture book, Roll Over, Rosie (Clarion).  The Bulletin and the Kutztown Book Review also praised this Junior Library Guild selection, calling it “a delightful story” and “highly recommended.”

      Ms. Enell also writes poetry and nonfiction, and fiction for middle-grade and young adult readers. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in several childrens magazines, including Spider, Child Life, Childrens Playmate, Jack And Jill, Childrens Digest, Turtle, Childrens Magic Window, and Highlights for Children. Highlights also published seven of her stories in its Stories from Highlights anthology series. Turtle Makes a Birthday Card, a story for young readers that appeared in Highlights for Children, was chosen by several hundred employees at Highlights as their favorite story of the month.

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Jan Fields

Jan Fields’ writing for children and families has appeared in such varied magazines as Boys’ Quest, Highlights, Shining Star, Crayola Kids, Ladybug, and Single-Parent Family. Her story, Miss Fiona’s Ferret, was a finalist in the Tessie Walden New Voices Award, and her poem, Snowflakes, and accompanying craft were chosen for inclusion in the Best of Holidays and Seasonal Celebrations anthology. She has also written 20 storybooks for the Family Company as part of its She’s Like Me line of collector’s dolls, as well as a series of stories for their online promotion.

      Ms. Fields is also the founder of the e-zine, Kid Magazine Writers, which offers in-depth analysis of markets for both new and experienced writers. Her drive to help new writers also led to her current position as Web editor for the Institute of Children’s Literature.

       For more than 10 years, Ms. Fields taught writing to adults and children at a community college in North Carolina. She currently moderates a busy Internet mailing list for childrens writers.


My instructor is excellent. She is able to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses and communicate clearly. She has a wonderful blend of inspiring comments and critical assessments. I am very happy with my progress.

                                                    —Patricia W. Miller, Berea, KY


Sheila Wood Foard

Sheila Wood Foard’s stories, articles, essays, and poems for children and adults have sold to more than 60 publications.

      Her work has appeared in TEEN, Highlights for Children, Cicada, Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, Wee Ones, Hopscotch for Girls, Nature Friend, Hob Nob, Missouri Conservationist for Kids, Albuquerque Journal, ByLine, and Country Home.  

      For young readers she has written magazine profiles of famous Americans, including scientist Rachel Carson, architect Mary Jane Colter, and artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Her biography of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (Chelsea House, 2003) targets teen readers. 

      Ms. Foard completed a middle-grade novel, Harvey Girl, while enrolled in the Institute’s course. It won awards in both the SouthWest Writers (SWW) and Heartland Writers Guild (HWG) contests.

      Ms. Foard is also a graduate of the Institute’s courses, Writing for Magazines and Beyond the Basics. Five of her assignments from these courses sold to children’s magazines.

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Sue Ford

Sue Ford has written for a diverse range of magazines for children and adults, selling more than 130 pieces. She has written both fiction and nonfiction for publications such as Cricket, Highlights for Children, Jack And Jill, Child Life, Ladybug, and Brio.

       Ms. Ford’s writing credits also include two books, a middle-grade title called Lindsay Hits the Club (New Canaan Publishing Company, 1999) and a picture book, Things Little Kids Need to Know (Our Child Press, 2000), which was chosen as a 2000 Read, America! Collection Selection. Some of her work has also appeared in reading assessment tests. She writes for children under her maiden name, Susan Uhlig.

      Ms. Ford has given numerous presentations to adults about writing, including her local regional chapter of SCBWI and other writers groups. For a number of years she was a regular guest speaker at the University of Washingtons Extension Program class, “Writing for Children.”

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Troon Harrison

Troon Harrison writes picture books, young adult novels, and junior chapter books. Her writing covers a range of genres, from historical fiction to fantasy.

      Her picture books, Aaron’s Awful Allergies (Kids Can, 1996) and The Memory Horse (Tundra, 1999), were awarded Outstanding by the Parent’s Council. The Memory Horse was also named an Honor Title at the Storytelling World Awards and an Honor Book by the Society of School Librarians International.

      The Dream Collector (Kids Can, 1999) was a finalist in the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Ms. Harrison’s young adult novel, A Bushel of Light (Stoddart, 2000), was nominated for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction.

      Other recent books by Ms. Harrison include Tales of Terre, Book I: The Separated (Brown Barn Books, 2006); Eye of the Wolf (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2004); and Poetry and Potatoes (Chrysalis Books, 2003).

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Marcia Hoehne

The publication of Marcia Hoehne’s first book, A Place of My Own (Crossway Books, 1993), was an exciting achievement in itself, but even more so when the publisher requested that the author produce three more books for a series called the Adventures of Jenna V.

      Additional titles about life in Jenna V’s large family are A Pocket in My Heart (1994), The Fairy Tale Friend (1994), and Sunflower Girl (1995).

      Two Caroline Grade mysteries, The Music Box Test and The Paper Route Treasure (Lion/Chariot Victor, 1994), feature math and word puzzles. Stay Away from the Swamp (1996) is a suspenseful addition to Tommy Nelson’s Spine Chillers series, published under the pseudonym of Fred E. Katz.

      The Journey of Emilie (1999) is Ms. Hoehne’s contribution to The Immigrants’ Chronicles, a popular series published by Chariot Victor Publishing.

      Ms. Hoehne’s magazine work has appeared in Pockets, Turtle, and Sunday school publications.

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I cannot say enough positive things about my instructor. When I began this course, my confidence in my own ability was shaky at best. Through her gentle coaxing and honest, straightforward advice, I have seen my writing blossom and grow into something I am truly proud of.

—Luanne Alcorn, Honeoye Falls, NY


Heather Klassen

A graduate of the Institute, Heather Klassen has sold several hundred works of short fiction. Her writing has been published in numerous magazines, including Highlights for Children, Pockets, Hopscotch, Child Life, Brio, and New Moon.

      Ms. Klassen received the Highlights Author of the Month award twice, for her stories The Foster Child and The Chore Chain. The Drive-by (Listen, 1998) was included in the Institute’s anthology, Best of the Children’s Market (2000), and Hopeless (With, December 1996) was reprinted in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II (1998). Many of Ms. Klassen’s stories have been purchased by the educational market for use in reading assessment and enrichment programs.

      Ms. Klassens book credits include a young adult novel, Normal Around Daniel (Publish America, 2002), and two picture books, I Don't Want to Go to Justins House Anymore (Child & Family Press, 1999), and All On the Same Earth (Waterford Institute, 1997).

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Susan Ludwig

An author, teacher, curriculum and education writer, and former national magazine editor, Susan Ludwig knows exactly what it takes to launch a successful writing career.

      Her own writing credits include three books and two plays for children, among them Exam Cram ACT (Que Publishing, 2005) and the best-selling teachers resource, 24 Ready-to-Go Genre Book Reports (Scholastic Professional Books, 2002).

      As a playwright, Ms. Ludwig is the author of Explore and Explain: A Play About Spanish Explorers and the New World (Discovery Enterprises, 2003) and This is Our New Country: A Play About Citizenship (Discovery Enterprises, 2003).

      Her short articles have also been published in a wide range of magazines, including Todays Parent, Wonder Years, and Teaching PreK-8. Ms. Ludwig is a contributing writer for Duke Universitys quarterly Gifted newsletter, where she writes about education, schools, and curriculum issues. She is also the former editor of SWIM magazine (now USMS Swimmer).

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Marcia Amidon Lüsted

Marcia Amidon Lüsted realized how challenging and how much fun writing nonfiction could be when she wrote The Holy City of Jerusalem (Lucent Books, 2002) for young readers.

      While she was writing the book, she utilized many different sources in order to research nearly three thousand years of Jerusalems history and explain how the ancient city was continually built, destroyed, and rebuilt. The resulting bibliography, which she compiled for the book, was pronounced excellent by School Library Journal.

      Her other titles include Presidents of the United States: Revolution and the New Nation (Weigl Publishing, 2007), The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami (Abdo, 2007), and Obesity and Food Policing (Abdo, 2007). She has also been published in Cobblestone, AppleSeeds, Odyssey, Calliope, and Dig magazines.

      As a member of the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators, Ms. Lüsted has attended numerous conferences in Iowa and New England. She is also listed in a Gale Research publication, Something about the Author, which can be found in the reference section at most public libraries.

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The words I would like to use to describe my instructor are: supportive, encouraging, professional, comfortable, and positive. I love the way she grasps what I’m trying to get across and never tries to limit my style.

   —Corrine Dolezal, Marshalltown, IA


Paula Morrow

Paula Morrow has been a children’s literature specialist for more than twenty-five years.

      Her writing has appeared in Highlights for Children, Cobblestone, Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, Babybug, Faces, AppleSeeds, Discoveries, and Junior Trails. She currently contributes the regular column “Like a Child” for the writer’s magazine Once Upon a Time, and writes a weekly book review column published by selected Shaw Newspapers.
      In her former position as Executive Editor with Cricket Magazine Group, Paula edited the award-winning magazine Ladybug from 1991 to 2005. She also participated in the launches of both Babybug and Spider, and edited the unique board-book magazine, Babybug, for its first eleven years. She also edited picture books and chapter books for Cricket Books, working with well-known authors such as Barbara Seuling, Marylin Hafner, and Eve Bunting.
      Mrs. Morrow’s speaking engagements have included the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua; the Manuscript Workshop in Londonderry, VT; the Drury College Writing for Children Workshop; and numerous Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conferences and workshops.

Some books edited by Paula Morrow:

Snowboarding on Monster Mountain, Mom for Mayor,

Emmett’s Dream, Robert Takes a Stand

Lori Mortensen

Since completing her first course at the Institute, Lori Mortensen has sold more than 100 stories and articles. Her work has appeared in Highlights for Children, The Friend, Boys’ Quest, Hopscotch, Ladybug, and other publications. Three of her stories were reprinted in Liahona and translated into forty-one languages.

      In addition to stories and articles, Ms. Mortensen has several nonfiction books to her credit, including easy reader biographies Harriet Tubman, Thomas Edison, Amelia Earhart, and George Washington Carver (Picture Window Books, 2007), Leprechauns (KidHaven Press, 2007), and Basilisks (KidHaven Press, 2006).

       Ms. Mortensen has shared her knowledge of the craft of writing by contributing articles to the Institute of Children’s Literature website. One article, “Confessions from the Gene Pool,” won first place in ByLine magazine’s Advice for Beginning Writers contest and enjoyed an encore appearance at the ICL website in December 2003.

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Kristin Wolden Nitz

“Unlike many how-to-play sports books for children, this one is written in a style kids can understand. . . .” said Children’s Literature about Kristin Wolden Nitz’s first book of nonfiction, Fundamental Softball (Lerner Publications, 1997). 

      To write the book, Ms. Nitz studied manuals, observed high school practices, attended games, and interviewed players, coaches, and officials in order to make her description of the history, strategy, and techniques of softball as clear and informative as possible.

      Ms. Nitz used similar techniques to write two more books of nonfiction, Play-by-Play Track and Play-by-Play Field Events, both published by Lerner Publications in 2004.

      Such attention to detail also helped her bring the story of a girl playing soccer on an Italian boys’ team to life in her first novel, Defending Irene (Peachtree, 2004). 

      Her short stories and articles have appeared in Highlights for Children, Cricket, Hopscotch, and Soccer Jr. Reprint rights of some of her work have been sold to SIRS and Harcourt Educational Measurement.

      Ms. Nitz serves on the local board of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Missouri region, where she helps plan events, recruits speakers, gives presentations, and writes a column for the quarterly newsletter, MO Scribbles.

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My instructor has…given encouragement and kept me writing. The results of her teaching were almost immediate. I won first place in a short story contest in a local newspaper. The piece was the first thing I’d ever sent out….Cleaning up my writing has even helped me in my day job.

—Tree Heckler, Brewer, ME


Karen Orfitelli

A former editor for McGraw-Hill Publishers, Karen Orfitelli created and edited educational material for children and teachers for five years. In addition, she has extensive teaching experience, having taught literature, language arts, and writing to high school and college students for more than 20 years; she also designed and implemented reading and writing programs and curriculum.

      Still, Ms. Orfitelli is a writer at heart: her articles have been published nearly 300 times in more than 100 publications. Her first article, “Searching for Safety” (Standard), was published in 1992. That acceptance was followed by hundreds more from magazines such as Focus on the Family, Breakaway, Brio, Teen, Writer’s Digest, The Plain Truth, Clarity, Vietnam, and Guideposts. She also spent several years reviewing children’s books for Christian Library Journal and Librarian’s World.

      She currently teaches literature and writing to high school students in addition to conducting workshops at writers conferences, teachers conventions, and regional writing groups, including New England Writers Network conferences. She is also the founder and director of the Connecticut Christian Writers Conference.



Gillian Richardson

Author Gillian Richardson has written 12 books and 25 stories for young readers. Several of her titles have received honors, including the short chapter book, A Friend for Mr. Granville (Hodgepog Books, 1997), “highly recommended” by the Canadian Book Review Annual; and her juvenile novel One Chance to Win (Ragweed, 1986), both of which received the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s “Our Choice” Award. Her nonfiction book, Saskatchewan (Lerner, 1995), made the Year’s Best List in 1996 in Resource Links, a review publication for teacher/librarians.

      Ms. Richardson’s fiction credits include picture books Ants Belong Outside (2006), Ragdoll Rescue (2006), and Too Ba-a-d! (2005), all part of a Scholastic Canada primary language arts program; a mystery/fantasy, Oliver Buggins, Investigator? (Electric Ebook, 2001), a finalist in the Readers’ Favorite e-book category of the 2002 Independent e-book Awards; and The Migration of Robyn Birchwood (Nimbus, 1991), a three-time nominee for Young Readers’ Choice Awards by the Saskatchewan Reading Council.

      In addition to books, Ms. Richardson’s short stories have appeared in magazines such as Cricket, KNOW, OWL, WILD, Story Friends, and Aquila.

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Jill Rubalcaba

An exciting, suspenseful tale, wrote the School Library Journal in reviewing Jill Rubalcaba’s first book, Uncegila’s Seventh Spot (Clarion, 1995).

      Her next three middle-grade novels, St. Vitus Dance, A Place in the Sun, and The Wadjet Eye, were also published by Clarion.

      Cricket bought Ms. Rubalcaba’s first fictional piece, which was reprinted in a children’s textbook, and Pioneer purchased her first nonfiction piece. I like having something going in both genres, she says. That way, if I get stuck on one I can switch; the two don’t intrude on one another.

      Since her first sale, Ms. Rubalcaba continues to write for magazines. She is a graduate of the University of Vermont and did graduate work in mathematics, writing, and business.

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This course has made my dreams come true. It was easy to follow, yet I found each lesson challenging. I sold my first article before I finished the course. I have had 17 articles and short stories published in seven publications so far. Thank you for the opportunity to take this course. It has changed my life.

—Mary Dobbs, Clinton, MD


Mary Ryan

Before becoming an author, Mary Ryan worked as an elementary school librarian, a reporter, and a humor columnist. Over time she began building a list of credits in children’s writing, with stories and articles appearing in Capper’s Weekly, Cobblestone, Humpty Dumpty, Young American, and Boys’ Life. Her magazine credits also include adult pieces in Reader’s Digest, Writer’s Digest, the Wall Street Journal, Grit, and Catholic Digest.

      In 1987, Little, Brown & Co. published Frankie’s Run, her first book and a Junior Literary Guild selection. It was followed by Who Says I Can’t? (Little, Brown, 1988); The Voice from the Mendelsohn’s Maple (Little, Brown, 1990); My Friend O’Connell (Avon, 1991); Ghosts, Gadgets and Great Ideas (Avon, 1993); and Me Two (Little, Brown, 1991), a Junior Library Guild selection that was also made into a Disney Channel Original Movie called The Other Me.       

      She later formed her own publishing company, Dragonseed Press, to publish Secret in the West Woods, a middle-grade science fiction novel.

      Ms. Ryan is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI Northern Ohio Chapter, and Children’s Writers and Illustrators of Northeast Ohio.

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Cindy Savage

Cindy Savage’s entrée to children’s publishing came when she realized she could write a better story than the one she was reading. So she “called the editor of a local magazine, introduced myself, and asked if there was any work I could do for them. At first they said no, but I kept after them, and eventually, I submitted an article entitled ‘Dress for Success.’ That got my foot in the door and gave me some leverage.”

      Since then, “Dress for Success” has been joined by more than 300 stories and articles and over 40 books. Willowisp Press has published 24 of her books, including her Forever Friends Club series and numerous boys’ and girls’ adventures for middle-grade and high school readers.

      Among her publishers are HarperCollins, Scholastic, Bantam, and Berkeley, and some of her credits include The Journey to Mount Eternity (One World, 1994), Ghosts at Four O’Clock (Athena, 1994), and Kick Back (Athena, 1998).

      For the last three years, she has concentrated on the online textbook market, publishing curriculum for ESL programs. Shes currently writing Business English textbooks for schools in Chile, and Spanish curriculum for schools in the United States.

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Pegi Deitz Shea

A moving representation of the dreams of refugees everywhere is how Booklist described The Whispering Cloth (Boyds Mills Press, 1995), Pegi Deitz Shea’s picture book about a Hmong girl confined to a refugee camp. The book was selected as a Notable by the International Reading Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Council for the Social Studies.

       Ms. Shea has published more than 200 stories, books, articles, and poems for children and adults. Her first book was Bungalow Fungalow (Clarion, 1991), followed by Whispering Cloth and New Moon (Boyds Mills Press, 1996). Tangled Threads (Clarion, 2003) won the Connecticut Book Award for childrens literature and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

      Her other publications include a middle-grade biography, Ekaterina Gordeeva (Chelsea House); I See Me, a board book for HarperCollins; and fiction that will appear in Highlights for Children and Ladybug.

      Her picture books include Patience Wright: American Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy (Henry Holt, 2007); Liberty Rising (Henry Holt, 2005); Ten Mice for Tet (Chronicle Books, 2003); and Carpet Boy (Tilbury House, 2002) .

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I appreciate all of my instructor’s corrective help and suggestions. Her comments are lengthy and all-inclusive. She is frank, encouraging, and eager to help. In short, I am pleased she is my instructor and, if successful, I will owe much to her.

—Paul R. Doyle, Escondido, CA


Victoria Sherrow

Since 1985, Victoria Sherrow has published more than 80 books, including 10 picture books and various nonfiction titles in the areas of science, social studies, sports, current events, biographies, and how-to.

      Many of her titles have earned honors, including Mohandas K. Ghandhi (Millbrook Press, 1994), a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age; The Nez Perces (Millbrook Press, 1994), an American Association for the Advancement of Science Best Science Book for Children; Bioethics and High-Tech Medicine (Twenty-First Century Books, 1996), a Voice of Youth Advocates Nonfiction Honor Book; Hardship and Hope (Twenty-First Century Books, 1996), a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age; and Women and the Military (ABC-CLIO, 1996), an American Library Association Outstanding Reference Source.

      More recent credits include Tennis (Lucent, 2002); The Stubborn Pig (Seedling Publications, 2003); and Guglielmo Marconi (Enslow, 2004).

       Ms. Sherrow’s stories and articles have appeared in publications such as Highlights, Humpty Dumpty, Children’s Playmate, Children’s Digest, and Pennywhistle Press. 

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Marilyn K. Strube

Marilyn K. Strube has written more than 50 stories for inspirational publications. Her work has appeared in collections including Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul, The Hidden Hand of God: All God’s Children, and Guideposts’ Best-Loved Stories, as well as magazines such as Guideposts for Teens, Catholic Digest, Angels on Earth, Positive Thinking, and Guideposts

      In addition to the nostalgic and light-hearted fare Ms. Strube has sold to the inspirational market, she has also frequently contributed articles with a local interest slant to newspapers such as the News Herald and the Detroit Free Press.

      Ms. Strube has earned numerous awards including the Guideposts Writers’ Workshop Contest (1994), Madonna University’s Earnest I. Nolan Award for outstanding achievement in English/Journalism (2002), and Eastern Michigan University’s Meritorious Award in Graduate Studies & Research (2003). 

      Ms. Strube teaches Advanced Composition and Oral Communication at the university level.



Kristi Collier Thompson

Called “an involving novel with a full, varied cast of convincing characters” by Booklist and “a gentle, lyrical book . . . perfect for male reluctant readers” by VOYA, Ms. Collier’s middle-grade novel, Throwing Stones (Henry Holt, 2006), is historical fiction at its best. Its intriguing story line and memorable characters made Throwing Stones a Junior Library Guild Selection in 2006.

      Ms. Collier’s first novel, Jericho Walls (Henry Holt, 2002), was called “a promising debut” by Kirkus Reviews. Set in South Carolina in 1957, Jericho Walls highlights the personal struggles faced at the onset of the civil rights movement. “This is an involving portrait of a complicated family,” said the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Ms. Collier did intensive on-site research for the book, which ultimately paid off: It was chosen as a Junior Library Guild Selection and voted one of Smithsonian Magazine’s Best Books of 2002. It was also a winner of the 2002 Josette Frank Award for Children’s Fiction.

      Among Ms. Collier’s other writing credits are a nonfiction book, The Girls’ Guide to Dreams (Sterling Publishing, 2003), as well as numerous stories and articles published in a variety of children’s magazines, including Girls’ Life, Pockets, Brio, Calliope, and more.

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My instructor is a born teacher! She corrects my errors with gentleness and tact, and encourages me in my strong areas. She has shown me where I can excel and how to achieve my goals. This is the best way to learn to write and I would encourage anyone who wants to write to enroll.

—Kate Mourner, Denton, TX


Deborah Vetter

A respected children’s book and magazine editor, Deborah Vetter has worked one-on-one with literally hundreds of authors and edited thousands of manuscripts, both fiction and nonfiction, for children of all ages.

      During her twenty years as an editor for Cricket magazine, Ms. Vetter worked with such distinguished writers as Eric A. Kimmel, Nancy Springer, Aaron Shepard, Teresa Bateman, and Eugie Foster. In addition to her responsibilities for Cricket, she served as Executive Editor for Cicada, a bimonthly literary journal launched in 1998 to provide quality fiction for teens.

      When Cricket Books was established in 1998, she became an editor for the books division as well. Among the titles she acquired and edited are Highland Fling by Kathleen Ernst; Chief Sunrise, John McGraw, and Me by Timothy Tocher; Casebook of a Private (Cat’s) Eye by Mary Stolz; and several chapter books in Barbara Seuling’s popular Robert series.

      She has spoken at numerous writers’ conferences around the country and written editorials, book reviews, and other pieces for magazines. She is currently a Contributing Editor for the Cricket Magazine Group and Cricket Books.

Some books edited by Deborah Vetter:

Highland Fling, Casebook of a Private (Cat’s) Eye,

Chief Sunrise, John McGraw, and Me

Andrea Vlahakis

Called “a very special and highly recommended addition to a child’s Christmas reading list” by the Midwest Book Review, Andrea Vlahakis’ picture book, Christmas Eve Blizzard (Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2005), is a success by any measure. In addition to being a 2005 ASPCA Henry Bergh Book Award Finalist, it was also a New York Library Association Book of the Season, a Book Sense Picks nominee, and a 2006 North Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association Picture Book of the Year Award nominee.

      A graduate of the Institute, Ms. Vlahakis has published close to 100 stories, articles, and poems. Her knack for making science and nature appealing to kids makes her a favorite among editors—her work has appeared in Highlights for Children, Primary Treasure, Turtle, Kidspace in the Christian Science Monitor, Wondertime, Story Friends, Guide, My Friend, Ladybug, AppleSeeds, and other children’s magazines.

      Her poems for adults have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, frogpond, Modern Haiku, Connecticut River Review, Comstock Review, American Journal of Nursing, and other magazines, as well as an anthology called The Thin Curve (Red Moon Press, 2000). A registered nurse, Ms. Vlahakis is also a contributor to the award-winning Intensive Care: More Poetry and Prose by Nurses (University of Iowa Press, 2003), and the American Journal of Nursing.

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