Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Speaker Biographies


Lisa Cron



LISA CRON is a story coach, the author of Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers From the Very First Sentence (Ten Speed Press) and Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Ten Speed Press). She’s an instructor and a lecturer whose TEDx Talk: Wired For Story, opened Furman University’s 2014 TEDx Conference.

Her video tutorial Writing Fundamentals: The Craft of Story can be found at Lisa has worked in publishing at W.W. Norton, as an agent at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency, as a producer on shows for Showtime and CourtTV, and as a story consultant for Warner Brothers and the William Morris Agency. Since 2006, she's been an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and has taught portions of The Story Genius Novel Writing Workshop all over the world.

Lisa works with writers, nonprofits, educators, and organizations, helping them master the unparalleled power of story, so they can move people to action – whether that action is turning the pages of a compelling novel, trying a new product, or taking to the streets to change the world for the better. 





JOHN SANDFORD has worked in children's publishing since 1978. As Senior Art Director at Cricket Media, he enjoys the stories and modes of storytelling in children’s magazines.

John has illustrated more than 60 picture books, using a variety of styles to suit the mood and flavor of the words.  His research has taken him to South Dakota to learn about the Lakota Sioux; Pennsylvania to study the world of the Old Order Amish; and Northern Wisconsin to interview the Terrible Hodag. Booklist said of his illustrations for Snug, “Sandford captures the warmth of the domestic scenes to perfection, but his beautiful, mysterious pictures of outdoors at night will be even more fascinating to preschoolers."


Sandford’s work has garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, CBC 10 Best selections, and a Parent’s Choice Gold Medal, among other honors. John lives in Chicago with his wife Frances, and their daughter Eleanor lives a few neighborhoods south. 

To see John’s work, visit



Jill Santopolo

JILL SANTOPOLO is the Editorial Director of Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, where she edits many critically-acclaimed, award-winning, and best-selling books including A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi, Proxy by Alex London, It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going! and She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton (the second illustrated by Alexandra Boiger), the Nightshade series by Andrea Cremer, The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron, A Dance Like Starlight by Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper, and Peanut Butter & Cupcake! by Terry Border.

Jill is also the author of the Alec Flint Mysteries, the Sparkle Spa series, the Follow Your Heart books, and the internationally bestselling adult novel The Light We Lost. When she’s not writing or editing, Jill is a thesis advisor at The New School in their MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and has been on the faculty of the Columbia Publishing Course. She was formerly an adjunct professor at McDaniel College, where she helped develop the curriculum for their certificate program in Writing for @jillsantopolo



Jennifer Soloway

JENNIFER SOLOWAY represents authors and illustrators of picture book, middle grade, and YA stories, and is actively building her list. Although she specializes in children’s literature, she also represents adult fiction, both literary and commercial, particularly crime, suspense and horror projects.
For picture books, she is drawn to a wide range of stories from silly to sweet, but she always appreciates a strong dose of humor and some kind of surprise at the end. When it comes to middle grade, she likes all kinds of genres, including adventures, mysteries, spooky-but-not-too-scary ghost stories, humor, realistic contemporary and fantasy. YA is Jennifer’s sweet spot. She is a suspense junkie. She adores action-packed thrillers full of unexpected twists. Throw in a dash of romance, and she’s hooked! She’s a sucker for conspiracy plots where anyone might be a double agent, even the kid next door. She is a huge fan of psychological horror that blurs the lines between the real and the imagined. But as much as she loves a good thriller, she finds her favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary teens, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction. In such stories, she is particularly drawn to a close, confiding first-person narrative.

Regardless of genre, she is actively seeking fresh new voices and perspectives underrepresented in literature. That’s her wish list, but the truth is an author might have something she has never considered before, and it might be absolutely perfect for her. She is open to any good story that is well written with a strong, authentic voice. Surprise her!

Prior to joining ABLA, Jennifer worked in marketing and public relations in a variety of industries, including financial services, health care, and toys. She has an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College, and was a fellow at the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto in 2012. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, their two sons, and an English bulldog. Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @marchsoloway



CALLA DEVLIN is the author of Tell Me Something Real, a finalist for the Morris Award, and Right Where You Left Me. A Pushcart nominee and winner of the Best of Blood and Thunder Award, her stories have been included in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Originally from California, she lives in Iowa with her family.


Sarvinder conf

SARVINDER NABERHAUS was born in India and came to the U.S. because her dad had a scholarship to study Vet. Med. Her dad's grandfather was a writer, and her grandmother was a singer. Sarvinder inherited these gifts and started writing and singing her own songs at the age of 8. She also danced through her childhood and into her college years where she attended Iowa State and choreographed for Barjche.

She put her rhythm and rhyming to use when she pursued writing for children. Sarvinder has published 3 picture books, Boom Boom, Blue Sky White Stars and Lines, all with award winning illustrators. Blue Sky White Stars, with acclaimed Illustrator Kadir Nelson, received 4 starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, PW, SLJ, and is on their recommended Best Books List of 2017. Sarvinder has her Master’s in Education and enjoys teaching at Iowa State University.



Linda Skeers conf

LINDA SKEERS’ Women Who Dared:  52 Stories of Daredevils, Adventurers and Rebels will be published Sept. 1. The next book in this series about little known women in history is about wonderful writers, artists and designers. She loves digging through archives and uncovering fascinating facts about women who have unfortunately been overlooked. Until now.