Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2021 SCBWI CenCal Hybrid Writer’s Day Critique Bios

Please read critiquers’ preferences very carefully. 


Megan Ilnitzki, Editor, HarperCollins Children’s Books
Will Critique –  picture book, middle grade and YA in fiction or nonfiction. 

Megan edits picture books through young adult titles, with an emphasis in middle grade. She is looking for character-driven picture books, commercial middle grade fantasy, and voice-driven contemporary middle grade and teen fiction. Across all age levels, she’s particularly drawn to joyful, magical, and inclusive stories from diverse voices. Her list includes books by Alysa Wishingrad, M.O. Yuksel, Jason June, Rochelle Hassan, Jacquetta Nammar Feldman, Samantha Berger, Breanna Carzoo, George Jreije, and more. She also works on programs for Maurice Sendak and C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, and is part of the team for Soman Chainani’s New York Times bestselling The School for Good and Evil series.





Nikki Barthelmess 
Will Critique – young adult fiction only. 

Nikki is an author of young adult books, including The Quiet You Carry, Quiet No More, and Everything Within and in Between. While growing up in foster care, Nikki found solace in books and writing. A former journalist, Nikki lives in sunny Santa Barbara with her husband, daughter, and diva of a corgi. When not reading or working on her books, Nikki loves advocating for the rights of current and former foster youth, jogging near the beach, and trying to convince her abuelita that feminism means it’s okay that her husband does all the cooking.







Allison Crotzer Kimmel
Will Critique – picture books and middle grade in both fiction and nonfiction.

Allison is the author of the newly released Unbeatable Betty (Harper Collins, 2020) and The Eternal Soldier (Little Bee Books, 2019), a Eureka Honor award winner and an ILA Children’s Choices Reading List book in 2020. She has also authored three additional books with Capstone on topics ranging from Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott to fashions of the 1980s and 90s. When she isn’t writing, Allison teaches high school English, journalism, and creative writing. In 2017, Allison received the Armin R. Schulz Literacy Award from the California Reading Association, given to an author who promotes social justice. She lives with her family in Bakersfield, where she is an active member of SCBWI, serving as the Kern Mingle Host. 




Alexis O’Neill 
Will Critique – picture books in both fiction and nonfiction. 

Alexis is the author of picture books about bullies, friendships and generosity in books including The Recess Queen, The Worst Best Friend, Loud Emily and Estela’s Swap (Estela en el Mercado de Pulgas) and picture book biographies about people who made an impact on the world such as Homan Walsh, Jacob Riis, and Melvil Dewey. In addition, she is an instructor for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, writes about school visits for the SCBWI Bulletin and Pro Insider, and is Regional Advisor Emeritus for SCBWI CenCal. 




Cindy Rankin
Will Critique – middle grade in fiction or nonfiction. 

Cindy dreamed of being an author as early as fourth grade. After college, she wrote retail training manuals. Boring. Later, she worked for a US Air Force Public Affairs Office in Italy, writing news articles and interviewing guests on Armed Forces Radio. Better. After a move to California’s Central Coast, she became a substitute teacher and a freelance writer, publishing multiple newspaper features and magazine articles. Cindy never gave up her dream. Eventually Under the Ashes, her debut historical middle grade novel was published. Yay! She’s a member of Author’s Guild and SCBWI, still writing and dreaming. 





Sarah Lynn Scheeger
Will Critique – picture books, middle grade, and young adult in fiction. 

Sarah is the author of eight books for young readers and teens, including Operation Frog Effect (mg), Mitzvah Pizza (pb), and How to Live on the Edge (ya). Operation Frog Effect has been nominated for multiple awards, including Sunshine State Young Readers Award, Black-Eyed Susan, Surrey Schools Book of the Year, VA reads list, and Louisiana Young Reader’s Choice Award 2021-2022, It is a P J Our Way book and a Battle of the Books 2020 book in Hong Kong.

To learn more about Sarah, follow her Twitter-Sarah Scheerger or visit  Sarah Lynn Books.  






June Sobel
Will Critique – picture books in fiction or nonfiction. 

June loves picture books for the way they awaken the wonder of words in children, keeping the child alive in adults. The birth of her son inspired the challenge of creating pictures with words, writing for very young pre-readers. B is for Bulldozer, illustrated by Melissa Iwai, marked the beginning of her career as an author. Her rollicking Shiver Me Letters, illustrated by Henry Cole is a favorite read aloud. The Goodnight Train bedtime series illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith, continues to be a bestseller. June is also the creator of the Tow Truck Joe books illustrated by Patrick Corrigan. 






Robin Yardi
Will Critique – picture books, middle grade, and young adult in both fiction and nonfiction.

Robin lives in the California foothills where—every once in a while, in the dark of night, a skunk or two will sneak by and an owl will hoot. She loves good stories, odd animals, homemade cakes and kids. An elementary school teacher and museum docent turned author and presenter, Robin teaches kids in classrooms, libraries, and museums about our extraordinary world and what it means to find your place in it through reading and writing. She is the author of Owl’s Outstanding Donuts, The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez and They Just Know: Animal Instincts