Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Meet your mentors

N Novels
PB Picture books
NF Nonfiction


(N/PB) AIMEE REID is a former English teacher who has written and edited for young children through to adults. Aimee’s picture book Mama’s Day with Little Gray is published by Random House Children’s Books, and her forthcoming book, All the Earth, is under contract with Nancy Paulsen at Penguin Random House.


(N/PB) ALMA FULLERTON is an author/illustrator born in Ottawa Ontario. She writes contemporary fiction and has published everything from picture books to young adult novels. She’s mentored many times before (both privately and in programs) and has been in critique groups for over 15 years. Her first seven books are In the Garage (2006), Walking on Glass (2007), Libertad (2008), Burn (2010), A Good Trade (2012), Community Soup (2013), and In a Cloud of Dust (2015).

Alma has won and been nominated for dozens of awards, including the 2008 Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature (finalist), the 2009 and 2011 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award (finalist), the 2009 Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award (winner), the 2009 CLA Children’s Book of the Year Honor Book, the 2009 Golden Oak Award (winner), the 2009 Once Upon a World Children’s Book Award (winner), and the 2010 Silver Birch Award (honor) and the 2014 Blue Spruce Award (finalist).


(N) CAROLINE PIGNAT is the Governor Generalʼs Award–winning author of seven highly acclaimed young adult novels. Her books have received the 2009 and 2015 Red Maple Honour Book Award, as well as the 2015 Honour Book for the CLA Young Adult Book of the Year. Caroline’s work has been short-listed for CLA Book of the Year, the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction, and the IODE Violet Downey Book Award, among others. Her historical novels are recommended by, enjoyed by readers of all ages, and hailed by Canadian Children’s Book News as “historical fiction at its best.” From famine in Ireland and Algonquin hunt camps, to lives lost aboard the Empress of Ireland or locked in slave quarters on a Virginia plantation, the varied voices from such different times and places resonate with a common theme: hope. An author and educator, Caroline continues to teach her grade 12 writer’s craft class in the mornings, and spends her afternoons immersed in her next work-in-progress.



(N/PB) CATHERINE AUSTEN writes funny, sad, award-winning fiction for all ages. Her first children’s novel, Walking Backward, was published by Orca in 2009 and was nominated for numerous awards. She has since published four more books: My Cat Isis, illustrated by Virginie Egger (Kids Can Press, 2011); All Good Children (Orca, 2011), which won the 2012 Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award; 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 (Lorimer, 2011), which won the 2012 QWF Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature; and 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6 (Lorimer, 2014).

Catherine has years of experience critiquing manuscripts in face-to-face and online critique groups. She has mentored young writers and led writing workshops at elementary and high schools across the country. She was a presenting author at the MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Conference (2012 and 2015) and a touring author in the Gaspesie’s Bookfest (2014), the TD Children’s Book Week (2014), the Hackmatack Author Tour (2013), and the Vancouver Island Children’s Book Festival (2015).

Catherine writes corporate reports for a living, which is not as much fun as writing fiction. She studied political science at Queen’s University and environmental studies at York University and worked in the conservation movement before throwing it all away to write freelance. She now works from her home in Gatineau, Quebec, where she lives with her husband and teenage sons.


(N) DEBBIE SPRING’s nine books are published worldwide. The Kayak was nominated by IBBY Canada for the Schneider Family Book Award (U.S. Award). Breathing Soccer was a finalist in the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award. Both books are in the IBBY collection for Young People with Disabilities. The Righteous Smuggler was a recommended book from the Canadian Toy Testing Council, was short-listed for CBC’s “Young Canada Reads,” and received a special star rating in the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Our Choice magazine.


(N/PB) DEBORAH KERBEL is a critically acclaimed, award-winning Canadian author of twenty books for children of all ages. Her young adult and middle grade novels have been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Canadian Library Association’s YA Book Award, the Diamond Willow Book Award and the Red Cedar Book Award, among many others. Her debut picture book, Sun Dog, was a 2019 Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Honour Book, the winner of the 2019 IODE Jean Throop Book Award, and finalist for the 2020 Snow Willow Book Award. She’s also the recipient of the City of Vaughan’s 2011 R.A.V.E. Award for her work as a Literary Arts Educator and Mentor. She’s been a guest speaker at both national and international literary festivals across Canada (Wordfest; Word on the Street; the Festival of Trees; Luminato), conferences (Packaging Your Imagination; Words, Words, Words) as well as judge and juror for provincial book awards and national youth writing competitions.

Deborah’s young adult novels are Under the Moon (2012), Lure (2010), Girl on the Other Side (2009), and Mackenzie, Lost and Found (2008). Her middle-grade titles include Bye-Bye, Evil Eye (2014), Feathered (2016), and My Deal with the Universe (2018). Deborah’s picture books are Sun Dog (2018), Before You Were Born, and When Molly Drew Dogs (2019).

Deborah is also the co-author of Money Savvy Kids (Penguin, 2013) and the holiday series Quizmas, Family Quizmas, and Quizmas Carols, published by Penguin Canada and Plume U.S. Currently, Deborah has five more picture books, two board books, one middle grade novel, and one graphic novel forthcoming for publication between 2020 – 2022. In 1993, she graduated from the Western University with a degree in English literature. Born in London, England, Deborah currently lives and writes in Thornhill, Ontario with her husband, two teens, and a rescue schnoodle named Fred.


(N/PB/NF) HEATHER GALE is a former orthotist and prosthetist and now, picture book author: Ho’onani: Hula Warrior (2019).

One of her favourite parts in a manuscript process is critiquing. Belonging to three critique groups, she helps published authors polish their manuscripts and pitches every week. She has also paid for several critiques and understands how it feels when you are on the receiving end.

Heather is currently writing an MG series while working on more picture book ideas and is comfortable helping with any genre.


(N/PB) JEAN E. PENDZIWOL is an award-winning Canadian author. Born and raised in northwestern Ontario, she draws on the culture, history and geography of the region for inspiration for her work.  An instant national bestseller, Jean’s debut adult novel The Lightkeeper’s Daughters was published in 2017 in North America by HarperCollins and has been released in fourteen other languages and more than 19 countries around the world. It was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club selection, shortlisted for the HWA Debut Crown, and winner of the Northern Lit Award. Her novel builds on a successful career publishing books for young readers, including the bestselling No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids and Dragons (Kids Can Press) and Once Upon a Northern Night (Groundwood Books), which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award, and the TD Children’s Literature Book of the Year. Jean’s latest picture book, I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree, will be released by Groundwood Books in August of 2020. She lives in Thunder Bay.


(N) JOANNE LEVY’s love of books began at a very early age. Being the youngest and the only female among four children, she was often left to her own devices and could frequently be found sitting in a quiet corner with her nose in a book. Since she left the corporate world in 2013, Joanne spends her non-writing time helping other authors with their administrative needs as a virtual author assistant.

Joanne is the author of several middle grade books, including the Sydney Taylor notable and Red Maple nominate Small, Medium at Large, Fish Out of Water, and the upcoming The Sun Will Come Out.

Joanne can usually be found at her computer, either formatting spreadsheets or channeling her younger self into books, and still lives in Ontario with her husband and kids of the furred and feathered variety.



(NF: Canada) At some point, every kid starts asking “Why?” LINDSEY CARMICHAEL never stopped. As a Ph.D. candidate, she uncovered new reasons why arctic foxes are the coolest; as a forensic scientist, she found out why bears sometimes get away with murder. As a writer, she follows her sense of wonder to the “whys” of subjects as diverse as nature, the environment, medicine, and technology.

The award-winning author of more than 20 STEM books for children and young adults, Lindsey writes to spark her readers’ curiosity and ignite their imaginations. Packed with “oh wow!” and “I never knew that!”, her books reveal the process of discovery and the stories behind the science. A popular speaker, Lindsey’s school visits encourage inquiry and kindle a love of life-long learning.

Publishing under the name L. E. Carmichael, Lindsey loves beaches, platypuses, and all things fantasy. She’s fascinated by the moment when facts reveal truth.


(PB/NF) LIZANN FLATT is the author of 20 nonfiction books and several short stories and poems for kids. Recent nonfiction picturebook titles include Shaping Up Summer, Sizing Up Winter, Sorting through Spring, Counting on Fall, and Let’s Go! The Story of Getting from There to Here. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Ladybug, Babybug, and Highlights for Children magazines. Lizann was formerly the editor of Chickadee, a Canadian children’s magazine, where she edited short fiction, nonfiction articles, puzzles, and comics.

After leaving full-time employment Lizann went on to be an instructor with the Institute of Children’s Literature for 12 years, helping adults learn to write for children. She was also a Regional Advisor with SCBWI in Canada for many years. Today she lives and writes in rural Muskoka, Ontario, Canada.


(N/PB) 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 storytelling, marketing, social media, and strategic direction for start-ups and large corporations.

Megan’s debut traditionally published picture book (Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies!) has appeared on many “best of” lists, including Kirkus Reviews and the New York Public Library. It was also selected by Storyline Online to be a part of their Emmy award-winning story library. Her second picture book is set to publish in 2021 with Lee and Low Books.

Megan has presented at several local SCBWI conferences and is a mentor through the #PBChat mentorship program. She is represented by John Cusick at Folio Jr.

Megan currently lives in Montreal, Quebec.


(N/PB) MELANIE FLORENCE is an award-winning writer of Cree and Scottish heritage based in Toronto. She was close to her grandfather as a child, a relationship that sparked her interest in writing about Indigenous themes and characters. She is the author of Missing Nimama, which won the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and the 2017 Forest of Reading Golden Oak Award and was a finalist for the 2017 First Nation Communities READ award. Her most recent picture book, Stolen Words, won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, was a 2017 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award finalist, and was given a starred review by Kirkus, who listed it as one of the best picture books of 2017 to give readers strength. Her other books include the teen novels Just Lucky, He Who Dreams, Dreaming in Color, and The Missing.

In her spare time, Melanie watches Doctor Who and Harry Potter with her daughter, discusses the DC vs. Marvel Universes with her son, and makes her husband sit through scary movies with her. She shares her home with her family, their two dogs (Henry and Daisy), two cats (Shadow and Oreo), and a backyard that seems to constantly attract wildlife.


(N/PB/NF) RACHEL EUGSTER has more than two decades of freelance and staff experience as a writer and editor. Her critiquing talents are legendary among her colleagues. With a deep understanding of language and story structure, Rachel homes in on the unsightly sag an otherwise shapely story arc, the fatal character inconsistency, or the oversight that unhinges the plot. All this, along with grammar and style corrections, is delivered with both honesty and kindness.

Rachel was a staffer at Walking magazine, and as a freelancer has edited everything from fiction to poetry to medical journals to architectural writings. Work for children is her special delight.

Rachel is the author of the award-winning picture book The Pocket Mommy (Tundra), the five-book Ingredients of a Balanced Diet series (Franklin Watts), and the play Whose Aemilia?, which she premiered in the Ottawa Fringe Festival in June 2015 in the title role. She is also widely published in newspapers and magazines, for both adults and children. Rachel is a member of SCBWI (PAL) and TWUC, and has frequently participated as a critiquer at SCBWI Canada East conferences. Early in SCBWI’s establishment in Canada, she was teasingly (but respectfully) installed as the chapter’s Grammar Queen.


(PB) SHAUNTAY GRANT is an award-winning children’s author and creative writing professor at Dalhousie University. A former poet laureate for the City of Halifax, she’s been a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards (Young people’s literature, Illustrated books category). Her children’s picture book with illustrator Eva Campbell Africville (Groundwood Books) won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award (TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards) and was shortlisted for the Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards and the Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award. Shauntay’s other honours for her children’s work include a Best Atlantic Published Book Prize from the Atlantic Book Awards and a Joseph S. Stauffer Prize in Writing and Publishing from the Canada Council for the Arts. She’s been Writer in Residence with the Vancouver Writers Festival and the Writers Trust’ of Canada’s celebrated Berton House Writers’ Retreat in Dawson City, Yukon.

Whether poetry or prose, Shauntay’s picture books are lyrical, playful, introspective, and informed by deep research. Her work has been internationally acclaimed by CBC Books, The Globe and Mail, Canadian Review of Materials, Kirkus Reviews, and the United States Board on Books for Young People (Outstanding International Books List), among others. A member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists (Royal Society of Canada), Shauntay has served on peer assessment committees for national and provincial children’s literary awards including the Governor General’s Literary Awards. She’s presented her children’s books internationally at schools, literary festivals, and arts events, and she’s facilitated workshops on writing for children with various organizations including the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia.


(N/PB/NF) SYLVIA MCNICOLL has written over 30 books, many published internationally. Her latest young adult novels include Crush. Candy. Corpse., Dying to Go Viral, and Best Friends through Eternity; her recent junior novels include Revenge on the Fly and the soon-to-be-released The Best Mistake Mystery. She worked as features editor of Today’s Parent Toronto for eight years and taught creative writing for nine years at Sheridan College.

Currently, she teaches teens at Mississauga Living Arts Centre. She has acted as a mentor and blue pencil editor both officially, through CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers) and CSARN (Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network), and privately, with experienced and emerging authors, helping launch many novels.