Author Bios

Click a name below to jump to the participant's bio

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Lori Degman writes in rhyme, most of the time – but not always!  She is the author of the award-winning books: 1 Zany Zoo, Cock-a-Doodle Oops, and Just Read, as well as Norbert’s Big Dream, Like a Girl, and Travel Guide For Monsters.  She was a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education.  Lori enjoys presenting at schools, libraries, festivals and writing conferences. You can find her online at

Twitter: @LoriDegman Facebook: @LoriDegmanAuthor


Ame Dyckman

Ame Dyckman lives in her head but gets her mail in central New Jersey. She’s the award-winning author of several picture books and board books including the New York Times bestselling WOLFIE THE BUNNY, BOY + BOT, YOU DON’T WANT A UNICORN!/DRAGON!, THAT’S LIFE!, etc. On days that end in “Y,” you can find Ame on Twitter: @AmeDyckman.

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

_Josh Funk Headshot - Credit Carter Hase

Josh Funk is a software engineer and the author of books like the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, the ​It's Not a Fairy Tale series, the How to Code with Pearl and Pascal series, the A Story of Patience & Fortitude series, Dear Dragon, Pirasaurs!, Albie Newton, and more.

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

Twitter: @JoshFunkBooks Facebook: @Josh.Funk.Books Instagram: joshfunkbooks

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Laura Gehl is the author of twenty picture books, board books, and early readers, including One Big Pair of Underwear, the Peep and Egg series, and the Baby Scientist series. Laura’s 2020 releases include Baby Paleontologist, May Saves The Day, Judge Juliette, Cat Has a Plan, The Ninja Club Sleepover, and Happy Lllamakkah. She loves hiking, reading, travel, and dark chocolate, preferably combined. Visit Laura online at, or connect with her on Twitter: @AuthorLauraGehl or Instagram: authorlauragehl


Rebecca J. Gomez enjoys writing picture books as much as she enjoys reading them. Reading aloud is the best, and when she doesn't have a cooperative human audience, she reads to her two dogs. When she's not reading or writing, Rebecca's favorite things to do are baking, creating art, and dragging her family to the woods for a hike. 

Twitter: @GomezWrites Facebook: @rebeccajgomez Instagram: gomez_writes

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Alastair Heim is the author of the picture books Love You Too (Little Bee Books – 2016), No Tooting At Tea (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion – 2017), The Great Puppy Invasion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion – 2017) which won the 2019 Oklahoma Redbud Read-Aloud Award, Hello, Door (Little Bee Books – 2018) which was chosen as one of The New York Public Library’s Best Books of 2018 and listed on The 2019 Best Books for Family Literacy by The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, the upcoming Quiet Down, Loud Town! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion – 2020) and If I Had Your Vote - By the Cat in the Hat (Random House/Dr. Seuss Enterprises – 2020).  He lives in Kansas City and is represented by Kelly Sonnack of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

Twitter: @alastairheim  Instagram: alastairheim


Ann Ingalls passes the day exaggerating (writing fiction) or telling the truth (writing nonfiction).

She has written fifty books for young readers. Her books have won several awards: Bank Street Books, Best Books of 2020, the 2015 Annual American Graphic Design Award and the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation’s “A Book Just for Me!” Pencil: A Story with a Point! is on the SSYRA list as well as Missouri’s Building Block Award list.


When given the choice between educating children or entertaining them with her writing, Ann chooses to do both. Before she was a children’s writer, Ann taught elementary and special education classes and worked as a parent educator. Ann lives in Kansas City with her husband, Winston. Please visit her at

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

Twitter: @AnnIngallsBooks Facebook: @AnnIngallsWriter


Writer ​Megan Lacera grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, with a book always in her hands. She became a writer and creator of characters and worlds for entertainment companies like American Greetings, Hasbro, and Goldieblox and later formed her own creative company where she creates original content and consults on marketing, social media, and strategic direction for start-ups and large corporations.

After reading many stories to their son, Megan realized that very few books reflected a family like theirs--multicultural, bilingual, funny, and imperfect. She decided to change that by writing her own stories. 

Megan and Jorge offer paid critiques as well as phone/Zoom consultations. They provide picture book manuscript and dummy critiques, middle grade manuscript critiques, portfolio critiques and query/pitch guidance. Email for more information and rates.

Note: Megan will be doing a co-critique with Jorge. 

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

Twitter: @MeganLacera  Facebook:@MeganAndJorgeLacera 


Street magic performer. Hog-calling champion. Award-winning ice sculptor. These are all things Tara Lazar has never been.

Instead, she writes quirky, humorous picture books where anything is possible.

Her picture books available now are:

Tara is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Her last name rhymes with “bazaar”—you can listen to Tara pronounce her name on She’s not Tara Laser-beam (although that would be awesome).

5 Unusual Facts About Tara:

1. She prefers cheese over chocolate.

2. She walks with a blue cane.

3. She lives in a pink house.

4. She eats tacos every day of the week.

5. She's a former figure skating champion.


And the not so unusual stuff…

Tara at age 9 with her puppy, Bo

Tara loves children’s books. Her goal is to create books that children love.

She writes picture books and middle grade novels. She’s written short stories for Abe’s Peanut and is featured in Break These Rules, a book of life-lesson essays for teens, edited by author Luke Reynolds.

In November 2009, Tara created PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) as the picture book writer’s answer to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). In 2017, PiBoIdMo’s name was changed to Storystorm and it’s now held on this blog every January…with nearly 2,000 participants from around the world.

Tara was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2010. She has an inspirational story to share about overcoming a chronic illness to achieve your goals and dreams. Tara can speak to groups big and small, young and old—just contact her for more information.

Tara is the co-chair of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Plus Conference and an SCBWI member. In 2017, she served as a picture book mentor for We Need Diverse Books and in 2019 she’s a #PBChat mentor.

Tara speaks at conferences and events regarding picture books, writing, brainstorming techniques, and social media for authors. Her former career was in high-tech marketing and PR.

Tara is a life-long New Jersey resident. She lives in Somerset County with her husband, two young daughters and the world’s cutest hamster, Ozzie.

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

Twitter: @taralazar  Instagram: taralaser


Diana Murray is the author of over a dozen books for children, including Goodnight Veggies (HMH, March 2020), a Jr. Library Guild Selection; Five Fuzzy Chicks (Imprint/Macmillan, February 2020), an Amazon Book of the Month; and Unicorn Day (Sourcebooks, 2019), a National Indiebound Bestseller. Her poems have appeared in magazines such as Highlights, High Five and Spider, as well as anthologies like Thanku: Poems of Gratitude (Millbrook, 2019), an ALA Notable Book. Diana grew up in NYC and still lives nearby with her firefighter husband, two children, and a smarty-pants cockatiel named Bean.

Picture Book Spotlight Interview

Twitter: @DianaMWrites  Facebook: Diana Murray  Instagram: dianamurrayauthor


Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children's book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. She has 30 picture books with more on the way. In addition to winning awards and earning starred reviews, Tammi's books have gone on to do great things. Chicken Dance:  The Musical is set to tour the nation, Wordy Birdy is a Kids’ Indie Next List book, the 2021 Book Choice for Read Across Oklahoma, and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, and Your Alien, an NPR Best Book of the Year, was released in Italian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and French which makes her feel extra fancy. Tammi will also be offering a session at The Writing Barn called Writing the Rollicking Read-Aloud on November 8.


To learn more about Tammi, her books, and her school visits, please visit

Twitter: @SauerTammi  Instagram: tammisauer

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Corey is the author of The Three Ninja Pigs and several other rhyming picture books and fractured fairy tales. Corey has no formal ninja training, but she sure can kick butt in Scrabble. She lives with three Knuckleheads in Warren, NJ.

Twitter: @CoreyPBNinja


Jody Jensen Shaffer is an award-winning poet and the author of more than 70 books of fiction and nonfiction for children, including Prudence the Part-Time Cow, a Missouri Show Me Award finalist for 2020, A Chip Off the Old Block, It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus!, an Amazon best-seller and Amazon Prime Book Box pick for September 2019, It's a Field Trip, Busy Bus!, Emergency Kittens!, Who is Jackie Chan? and more. Jody’s poetry and fiction have been published in magazines like Highlights, Ladybug, and Clubhouse Jr. Jody lives in Liberty, Missouri, with her family. When she’s not writing, Jody can be found watching baseball or walking her rescue dog, Sophie. You can find Jody online at and on Twitter @jodywrites4kids.

From Jody:
I grew up the youngest of three kids in a northern Missouri college town, where my dad taught anatomy and physiology and my mom taught at the local elementary school. I earned my Bachelor’s in English from William Jewell College and my Master’s in English from Truman State University. After 12 years in the business world, I left to raise my children, and that’s when I fell in love with children’s literature.

-2017 Presenter, Kansas Book Festival
-2018 Mentor, Picture Book Writing With the Stars
-2018, 2019, 2020 Presenter, nErDcampKS
-2018 #KidsNeedMentors mentor


Kids Author Stays Busy This Fall, Winter Courier-Tribune, January 2019

Children’s Book Authors Find Praise for Books January 2018
Liberty author honored by national magazine with Courier-Tribune June 8, 2017
March 2017 interview with Johnson County Library
Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb
Sharon Chriscoe’s Picture Book of the Month, June 2017

10 random facts about me:

1. I am endlessly fascinated by the natural world.
2. I try to walk for exercise most days.
3. I like dogs. A lot.
4. I am a member of two long-term writing groups. We give one another feedback about our stories.
5. I prefer a hoodie over a sweater, tennis shoes over heels.
6. The one food I can’t live without is peanut butter.
7. I love laughing and funny people and things.
8. I can sing the names of the 50 states in alphabetical order. I can sing the preamble to the constitution.
9. I remember the exact moment I learned how to read.
10. I loved being a kid.

Twitter: @jodywrites4kids

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Susan grew up in the heart of Greenwich Village in NYC. As a kid she kept a piece of chalk in her pocket (for spontaneous hopscotch) and her skate key around her neck, ready for the next adventure. She found inspiration everywhere and loved to write all about it!

Now, Susan lives by the sea in East Hampton, New York with her 3 children, their dog, Gizmo and a menagerie of other creatures. Here, she writes books for children of all ages and teaches kids yoga and mindfulness. She is a yogi herself and is still working on her headstand.

Her best-selling, award-winning stories range from explorations of music, art and museum visits to the concepts of serendipitous friendships, environmental issues, empathy and humanity with an emphasis on yoga and mindfulness. Susan’s stories celebrate the unique voices and experiences of kids and inspire adults to let their own inner child out…maybe for a spontaneous game of hopscotch every now and then. Susan’s books have been translated into multiple languages.

For more info about her books, including her New York Times bestselling I Am series click here.

Susan loves to bring her knowledge of writing, yoga, and mindfulness to schools, libraries and yoga studios. She is also available to keynote events and offers workshops for educators, parents and aspiring writers. To schedule a visit customized to your needs click here.

Susan is a frequent contributor to MindBodyGreen, YogaDigest, and other online magazines and has appeared on multiple podcasts (livehappy and KidLitTv) speaking about writing, parenting, mindfulness, and yoga.​

Instagram: susanverde


A New York Times best-selling author, Carole is one of the leading poets writing for young people today. She believes that poetry makes music with words. And she mines the past for family stories, fading traditions and forgotten struggles. Her work spans poetry, nonfiction, biography and historical fiction. Her latest releases are Freedom in Congo Square and You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen. Her 40-plus books include many award winners:

 Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America (NAACP Image Award)

 Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement (Caldecott Honor, Sibert Honor, Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Award and Flora Steiglitz Straus Award from Bank Street College of Education)

 Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood (Arnold Adoff Early Poetry Honor)

 Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (NAACP Image Award, Coretta Scott King Award and Caldecott Honor Medal)
 Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor and the SCBWI Golden Kite Honor)

 Becoming Billie Holiday (Coretta Scott King Author Honor)

 Dear Mr. Rosenwald (SCBWI Golden Kite Honor, NAACP Image Award finalist)

 Birmingham, 1963 (Jefferson Cup from Virginia Library Association, Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and Jane Addams Children’s Literature Honor)

 The Sound that Jazz Makes (Carter G. Woodson Award from National Council for the Social Studies, NAACP Image Award finalist)

 Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sitins (North Carolina Juvenile Literature Award)

 Remember the Bridge: Poems of a People (North Carolina Juvenile Literature Award)


For career achievements, Carole received the Ragan-Rubin Award from North Carolina English Teachers Association and the North Carolina Literature Award, among the state’s highest civilian honors. She holds an M.A. in publications design from University of Baltimore and an M.F.A. in creative writing from University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She has two adult children and lives in North Carolina, where she is a Professor of English at Fayetteville State University. Through her books and performances, her words reach millions of young readers. And as a professor, she trains current and future teachers and mentors emerging writers.

Twitter: @poetweatherford Facebook: @poetweatherford  Instagram: caroleweatherford