Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2019 Writers’ Day Speaker Bios & Critique Preferences

Speakers are presented in alphabetical order by last name

Nikki Barthelmess

Nikki Barthelmess

Nikki is a journalist and author of young adult books. She entered foster care in Nevada at twelve and spent the next six years living in six different towns. During this time, Nikki found solace in books, her journal, and the teachers who encouraged her as a writer. A graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, Nikki lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her pride-and-joy Corgi pup. The Quiet You Carry is her debut novel. Its sequel, Quiet No More, is set to be published by Flux Books in fall 2020.

Heather Cashman

Heather devours any book that tells a good story and introduces a new world but especially loves the ones that make her want to be the heroine of her own life. She’s loved being a collaborative partner, was a professional editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, worked as Managing Director of Pitch Wars, #PitMad, and Pitch Madness.

Before becoming an agent at Storm Literary Agency, Heather interned for three years at The Bent Agency and Entangled Publishing. She’s mentored authors from the pre-query stage to acquisitions. She’s excited to continue helping authors as their agent.

Critique Preferences: PB, MG, & YA, fiction/nonfiction

Mary Hershey

Mary Penney Hershey

Mary is the author of five humorous (and heartfelt, she hopes) middle grade novels. Mary is excited to be under contract with Harper Collins for her next middle grade novel entitled Green Eyes and Ham. Mary holds a Masters Degree in Education, and is a certified Personal and Executive Coach. She is a longstanding SCBWI Cen-Cal member and served on the Board for our region for a number of years. She has taught workshops for Cen-Cal and served as a faculty member at SCBWI Nationals. 

Karen Jameson

Karen Jameson

Karen is the author of the lyrical picture books Moon Babies (Putnam, 2019), Woodland Dreams (Chronicle, 2020) and Farm Lullaby (Chronicle, 2021). More stories are in the works! She was awarded the 2016 Sue Alexander Grant for the Working Writers Retreat (SCBWI LA) for her rhyming picture book, Woodland Dreams. A retired teacher and active member of SCBWI, she holds a Master’s Degree in Education. Lover of books, wildflowers, farmers’ markets and everything chocolate, Karen lives and works in sunny Southern California. 

Terry Pierce

Terry Pierce is the author of twenty-two books for young children. Her most recent works include Mother Earth’s Lullaby, Jack and Jill and T-Ball Bill, Mama Loves You So, and My Busy Green Garden. She loves playing with words and creating books that will hook children into becoming lifelong readers. A former Montessori teacher of twenty-two years, she now writes full-time, teaches for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, and is a visiting author to elementary schools. Terry holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Please visit her at  

Critique Preferences: PB fiction or nonfiction

Amanda Ramirez

Amanda Isabel Ramirez

Amanda is an Assistant Editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and has worked with award-winning authors such as Neal Shusterman, Katherine Rundell, Tim Federle, and Andrew Smith. She is passionate about diverse, commercial fiction from humorous YA to fanciful middle grade adventures, as well as graphic novels. Prior to S&S, she was an editor at The Literary Review, a children’s bookseller, and a staff writer for multiple online lifestyle outlets. A Nuyorican Brooklynite, she currently lives on Long Island and takes a lot of naps. Learn more about what Amanda is looking for on Twitter: @AmandaIsA_Ram or at her website:

Critique Preferences: MG or YA fiction only

Karol Silverstein

Karol Silverstein

Originally from Philadelphia, Karol Ruth Silverstein is a writer and screenwriter, based in West Hollywood, CA. She is happiest while writing in her home office (generally in her PJs) but can occasionally be convinced to leave the house for karaoke nights with her writer friends. 

Her debut novel Cursed is loosely drawn from her experience of being diagnosed with a painful chronic illness at 13. She lives with her two exceptionally fluffy cats, Ninja and Boo.

Follow her on Twitter @KRSilverstein

Rachael Stein

Rachael Stein is an Editor at Sterling Children’s Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing, where she works on books for kids of all ages. Previously, she was at Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She’s been lucky to work with many award-winning authors, including Linda Sue Park, David Wiesner, Tammi Sauer, Josh Funk, and Gary Schmidt. If she’s ever not reading, you might find her biking, eating, working on her latest sewing project, or occasionally on Twitter @rachaeljstein.  

Critique Preferences: PB, MG, YA fiction

Kari Sutherland

Kari Sutherland

Kari joined the Bradford Literary Agency in 2017 after a decade of experience in publishing from the editorial side. Previously a Senior Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, she has worked with bestselling and critically acclaimed authors on projects such as the #1 New York Times bestselling Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and the #1 New York Times bestelling Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard. With her editorial insight and experience with the entire publishing process, Kari is passionate about helping to polish each manuscript and equip her clients for success. 

Twitter: @KariSutherland

What she’s looking for: Picture books, especially by author/illustrators, story or character-driven with heart and humor, and untold narratives; Middle grade fiction and nonfiction; Young adult projects of all genres; Graphic novels for all ages; Diverse and underrepresented voice

Critique Preferences: MG or YA fiction or nonfiction

Charlotte Wenger

 Charlotte Wenger

Charlotte is a literary agent in the Boston area with Prospect Agency. Prior to joining Prospect, she was an associate editor at Page Street Kids, where she acquired and edited more than twenty picture books in two years. She has her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons College (now University) and serves on the national advisory board of the Mazza Museum, the world’s largest collection of original artwork by children’s book illustrators. Charlotte is drawn to children’s literature and art for all ages– board books through YA, but especially picture books. You can find her on Twitter at @WilbursBF_Char

Critique Preferences: PB or PB dummy, fiction or nonfiction