literary agent Bios

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Stephen Barr is a senior literary agent at Writer House, where he started out as an intern in 2008.  He represents a broad stripe of authors across all genres, and his picture book clients include Katherine Roy (Neighborhood Sharks), Thyra Heder (How Do You Dance), Christopher Silas Neal (Over and Under the Snow), Andrea Tsurumi (Accident!), Emily Hughes (Wild), Bethany Barton (I'm Trying to Love Spiders) and Deborah Freedman (Carl and the Meaning of Life).


Twitter: @yikeslouise

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Erin Casey, Gallt & Zacker

Erin graduated from Hamilton College with a B.A. in Creative Writing and an ever-growing list of books to read. She is open to all kid lit age groups, from picture books through YA, and is particularly drawn to work that shows the author’s world- and character-building ability. She wants to believe wholeheartedly in the world of the book, whether the setting is familiar or fantastic. She wants to see authentic, thoughtful representations of all people so that every kid can find a book that speaks to them. She wants even the simplest lines of dialogue to pluck at her heartstrings because they’re so perfectly written for that character. Erin loves that startled feeling you get upon reaching the end of a chapter in a really good book. You forget you’re reading when you’re so busy living, you know?

Erin wants you to know the children's & teen day of DVpit is October 26, 2020!

Picture Book Spotlight Interview


Twitter: @erin_michelle_C

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If you are reading this you are probably a "book person," with passion for writing (and, perhaps, illustrating), reading and sharing children's books. You may have experienced - or dream of experiencing - the incredible joy of seeing something you wrote become a book that gets out into the world and into the hands of kids and teens. That describes me, too.

Although the agency is located in California, I work from my home in Minnesota. For fourteen years I was Education Director at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. At the Loft I curated an annual Festival of Children's Literature, and hired judges for the McKnight Award in Children's Literature from among the nation's top editors of children's books. On many occasions, I hired Betsy Amster to teach workshops at the Loft and, in 2008, joined the agency to bring contacts and expertise in children's lit. Many star-reviewed, inspiring books later, and more in the pipeline - I'm still having lots of fun!

Houses I've sold book projects to include, among others:

HarperCollins; Little, Brown; Feiwel and Friends; Abrams; Knopf; Henry Holt; Imprint; Holiday House; Farrar, Straus Children's; Running Press Kids; Peter Pauper Press; WorthyKids; Philomel; Random House Children's; Viking; David Godine; Walker; and Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster.

Check out my articles on my website to learn about how I work with clients; what kinds of manuscripts excite me; some mistakes I see (every day!) in query letters and in writing; and more.

Picture Book Spotlight Interview


Kelly Dyksterhouse grew up with a book always in her hands and a story always in her head. The important role that books played in her early years developed into a passion for children’s literature in her adult life. Kelly holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults for Vermont College of Fine Arts and has interned as an editorial reader at leading literary agencies and worked as an independent developmental editor and writing mentor. She considers the opportunity to help bring books into existence to be a great honor, and it is a particular joy for her to work alongside authors as they develop their project from idea to polished manuscript. The best feeling of all is when those manuscripts end up as books in the hands of children.


Twitter: @KellyDHouse


Emily is, as she likes to say, a professional fangirl. From the early days of crafting fiction prompts on Tumblr to writing miniseries on how to write a successful fantasy battle scene, she fell in love with the minor details of storytelling. After receiving her MFA in Creative Writing, emphasizing in YA fiction, she worked for a popular fiction press as an editor until she realized she wanted to stay with her favorite authors throughout their careers. She was a publishing and editorial fellow for the LA Review of Books,where she trained with her editorial background. Becoming an agent, especially at BookEnds, was fate.


Growing up, Emily would stay awake until sunrise to finish new YA releases, and honestly, she just desperately wants the vampire trend to return. She enjoys the whimsy, the complexities, and the warmth young adult and children’s books offer, and she hopes to work with authors interested in turning their speculative worlds into series. With a BA in History and certificates in Classics and Latin studies, she’s also a big fan of historical fiction and mythological works.

She writes about identity and youth through her experiences as a young black woman, particularly focusing on genre fiction as a means to explore tropes otherwise dominated by white voices. Emily would particularly like to read #OwnVoices stories and is always on the lookout for new Black authors.

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

Twitter: @EmilyKaitlinnn


Clelia Gore is Vice President of Martin Literary & Media Management, where she represents authors of fiction and nonfiction books for children and teens. Prior to being a literary agent, she was a corporate litigation attorney in New York City, but gave up that career to pursue one that has more 100% more unicorns in it. Read more about Clelia at

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

Twitter: @MadmoiselleClel


After earning her Bachelors from the University of Pennsylvania, Alyssa fulfilled a childhood dream that she professed on a home video at the age of six: move to New York and work with books. In 1999, Alyssa began her career in editorial at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Here she found “kindred spirits” who loved Anne of Green Gables as much as she did and a kids book space that was rapidly growing. In late 2006 Alyssa headed to Trident to expand the firm’s children’s book business. She works hard to ensure each book’s longevity from brainstorming the perfect editor, title and jacket to overseeing successful foreign, merchandising, audio, film and theatrical partnerships.


Alyssa is seeking emerging authors and illustrators in all genres. Feisty picture book protagonists, whether real or imagined, tend to intrigue. For older readers, she wants everything from prose and verse novels brimming with underdogs, social justice, mysteries, humor, regional and ethnic flavors to intrepid genre-bending nonfiction, memoir, graphic, and otherwise. Alyssa looks to spice up the canon with projects that break new ground.

Twitter: @AgentHenkin


James McGowan is an Associate Agent and Social Media Manager at BookEnds Literary Agency. He has been with BookEnds, in some capacity, since the summer of 2015. He started as an intern, and as the joke goes: they couldn't get rid of him.

James is a Staten Island native, and holds a Master's Degree in English from the College of Staten Island. He’s been a reader since his mom gave him the first A Series of Unfortunate Events book, and ordered the sequels regularly through Scholastic book orders. Though, he only recently learned he could be a writer, too...

His debut picture book, GOOD NIGHT, OPPY, launches in Fall 2021 from Boyds Mills Kane Press. When James is not reading/working/writing, he can usually be found watching an unhealthy amount of sitcoms.

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

Twitter: @jmcgowanbks   Instagram: jmcgowanbks


Colleen Oefelein is an author of YA, picture books, and author promotion guides, a devourer of books, and the owner of the book review site North of Normal. Formerly an Associate Agent and PR Manager with Inklings Literary Agency, Colleen has hosted numerous “Pitch Perfect” and “Rejection Correction” workshops on Facebook and at conferences nationwide, and she’s mentored several authors one-on-one through online pitch contests such as Pitch Wars. Prior to her career in the publishing world, Colleen was an engineer in the Air Force who launched satellites, played with lasers, and flew helicopters. Now retired from the military, she lives in Alaska with her husband, son, and boerboel. She holds a BS in chemical engineering/biotechnology and a separate BS in German, both from Penn State. A former 911 call taker and dispatcher for Alaska troopers, she has a soft spot for veterans and law enforcement families. She represents picture books, middle grade, young adult, and adult books in many genres.

Halloween is a great time to pick up her YA paranormal, EERIE, by my alter ego, CM McCoy.

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

Twitter: @eerie_o


Like most people in publishing, Melissa grew up surrounded by stacks of library books and buried in notebooks full of stories and doodles. Taking a cue from Peter Pan, she’s never outgrown her love for children’s stories—and she never will!  

Melissa has been working as a writer for years, with publishing credits in The Washington Post, Florida Today, Space Coast Parent, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and many more. She had a children’s fiction serial run in WDW Magazine for over a year, and she is a current features writer at the same publication. In addition, previous backgrounds in both marketing and teaching give her a unique edge as an agent. 

When not reading or working, Melissa can be found swimming, paddle boarding, jogging, or biking. Her two favorite spots on earth are her own backyard, where dolphins and manatees come to play, and Walt Disney World, where magic never gets old. She lives in Florida with her husband and four school-aged sons (who are also growing up surrounded by stacks of library books and notebooks). 

Melissa comes to Storm with prior experience as an associate literary agent and a growing list of clients. To build her client list, Melissa is drawn to witty wording and whimsical design for picture books, humor and quick pacing for chapter books, charming mysteries or magic in middle grade, and fresh, character-driven stories in young adult. She’s not the best fit for horror, high fantasy, paranormal, or graphic violence of any kind.

Some of Melissa's perennial favorites include: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Snicket), Junie B. Jones (Park), The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Avi), The Messenger (Lowry), and A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens).

More recent titles that she’s loved include: Lovely War (Berry), Stay Sweet (Vivian), The Unexpected Everything (Matson), Salt to the Sea (Sepetys), An Ember in the Ashes (Tahir), and What to Say Next (Buxbaum).

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

Twitter: @MelissaRicheson


Amy Stern started at the Sheldon Fogelman Agency in 2010 as an agent assistant and has spent the past five years taking on additional responsibilities while not quite believing that she gets to work with children's books as her job. After receiving degrees in English and creative writing at Bryn Mawr College and masters degrees in children's literature and library science at Simmons College, she interned at a literary agency and fell in love with the industry. In her copious spare time, she mentors writing students at Simmons's Center for the Study of Children's Literature. She is currently accepting picturebook, middle grade, and young adult submissions from authors and illustrators, particularly if the work explores underrepresented identities. She's not your best bet for a heterosexual romance or historical fiction, but is open to pretty much anything else. She has probably looked at your Tumblr.

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

Twitter: @AmyRStern