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Black Voices Matter Fundraiser: Critique Donors Revealed

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

UPDATE: The sale is now live! Check it out HERE.

Hi friends. If you missed my last post, let me fill you in quickly. We're hosting a massive Kidlit Critique sale in an effort to help amplify Black voices. I'm so thrilled by the commitment in publishing to do better and be better about bringing Black voices to the forefront, and I firmly believe that we can all do better. If we come together, I think we can really make a difference. 100% of the proceeds from this event will go to sending a Black author or illustrator to the 2020 SCBWI Summer Spectacular. The sale goes live on Wednesday.

If you are a Black Kidlit author or illustrator, you can apply to win a ticket to the SCBWI Summer Spectacular HERE.

If you have ever considered purchasing a professional critique (or even if you haven't before!) I hope you'll take this opportunity to purchase. This is a great chance to buy a critique at a smoking deal while supporting a great cause. I'm so hopeful that we can raise enough funds to send 10 or more Black authors/illustrators to the conference.

If you would like to donate to the cause, but do not want to purchase a critique, you can send your donation via paypal and 100% will go to the fundraiser.

Now, for the exciting announcement of all our donors!! Please make sure to give them a HUGE thank you, a follow on twitter, and on Monday, buy their critiques! The sale will go live at 6am Pacific Time, so if your heart is set on a very specific critique, make sure to hop on early. Once a critique is sold, it's gone!

Clelia Gore, Agent—PB MS Critique: $45

Clelia Gore is Vice President of the Seattle-based agency, Martin Literary & Media Management. She represents authors of books for children and teens including Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, authors of the New York Times-bestselling and award-winning picture book, RESCUE & JESSICA: A LIFE-CHANGING FRIENDSHIP. She tweets as @MadmoiselleCleland you can read more about her and her agency at

James McGowan, Agent—Query Critique: $35

Since interning at BookEnds as an undergrad in the summer of 2015, James has (basically) never left. He's just continuously level-up-ed inside of BookEnds. Now he is the Literary Assistant and Social Media Manager for the team.

James is a Staten Island native, and holds a Master's Degree in English from the College of Staten Island. He’s been a reader since his mom gave him the first A Series of Unfortunate Events book, and ordered the sequels regularly through Scholastic book orders. He only recently learned he could be a writer... now, his debut picture book, GOOD NIGHT, OPPY, publishes in Fall 2021 from Boyds Mills Kane Press. When James is not reading/working/writing, he can usually be found watching an unhealthy amount of sitcoms. Follow him on twitter at or instagram at

Megan Manzano, Agent—Query Critique: $35

Megan fell in love with reading and writing from a young age. She grew up to receive a BA in English with a minor in philosophy; eager to stay as close to books as possible. She has and continues to wear many hats in the publishing world: freelance editor, a marketing manager for Trade books, Revpit 2020 mentor, and now an Agent at D4EO Literary Agency. In her spare time, she’s either traveling, hiking, or binge-watching television shows. You can follow her on twitter @ Megan_Manzano

Kaitlyn Sanchez, Agent—Choice of PB MS Critique, or 1st 5 pages MG/YA Critique: $45

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez is a mom, wife, high school math teacher, picture book author, co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest, creator of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest,  and a associate literary agent at Olswanger Literary, and she had just signed her first clients. In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch shows on Hulu and Prime, and, of course, read. Her favorites are historical fiction, short stories, dramas, fantasies, mysteries, and of course picture books! She especially loves it when her husband, daughter, and her all cozy up and read together.

Find Kaitlyn online: 

Miranda Paul, Agent—30 min phone call/Facetime consultation: $50, PB MS Critique: $45

Miranda Paul is an Associate Agent with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She holds a B.A. in English from St. Mary's College of Maryland and has worked with students (and campers) in every grade from Pre-K through college. A co-founding member of the nonprofit organization We Need Diverse Books, Miranda currently serves as its Mentorship chairperson. Miranda occasionally makes faculty appearances at SCBWI conferences, The Writing Barn, and Highlights Foundation (Nuts and Bolts of STEM writing) and has presented at the Library of Congress Young Readers Center. In her other lives, Miranda has worked as a freelance writer and journalist, and is the award-winning author of more than a dozen picture books. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, author Baptiste Paul, two children, four rescue cats, and a fluctuating number of gill-bearing aquatic animals.

Follow Miranda on Twitter.

Shanna Miles, Author— Query Critique: $25

Shanna Reed Miles lives in Georgia with her daughter, educator husband and writing demons. She works as a school librarian and tries to fill her time writing and reading Young Adult novels. Her passion is Paranormal  Romance, but she also has a deep affinity for diverse Science Fiction like that of Octavia Butler and Sherri L. Smith.

She is represented by John Cusick at folio Jr. Her debut novel FOR ALL WE KNOW will be on shelves in 2021 by Simon Teen.

Chrysa Keenon, Agent— YA 1st 5 pages Critique: $45 (2 available), Query Critique: $35

Chrysa Keenon has always loved stories—both reading and writing them. Her degree from Taylor University’s acclaimed Professional Writing program helped her learn a thing or two about the craft, and she set her sights on working in the publishing industry. She has published over 400 pieces of fiction (including poetry, short stories, and stage plays) and nonfiction (book reviews and journalism articles). She has multiple first-place awards for her writing, including 1st Place in Sci-Fi/Fantasy for the Blue Seal Award. Setting her sights on the industry, Chrysa kick started her career in publishing by interning with GenZ Publishing and The Seymour Agency. By day, she works in editorial for a prominent bridal magazine. By night, she is an agent at the Cyle Young Literary Elite agency, helping writers achieve their publishing dreams, one query at a time.

Learn more about her at

Follow her on Twitter: @Chrysa_Keenon

Hannah VanVels, Agent— Query Critique: $35 (3 available)

Hannah’s life is consumed by all things bookish, and when she’s not working on books, she can usually be found curled up with a good cup of coffee or a glass of wine. She earned her BA at the University of Michigan and holds MA degrees from Tel Aviv University and the University of Chicago. In addition to agenting, Hannah owns a freelance editing business. Hannah has worked various bookish jobs including a stint as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble, a freelance editor for scholarly and academic essays and journals, and most recently as the acquiring editor at a young adult imprint with HarperCollins Publishing. Hannah loves working closely with authors and coming alongside them to make their vision come to life on page. She lives in West Michigan with her partner, two German Shepherds, and two cats.

Carly Hayward, Freelance Editor— 1st Five Pages MG/YA Critique (specialties in romance, sci-fi, and fantasy): $45 (2 available)

CARLY HAYWARD is a developmental novel editor who helps authors find their voice and bring their book to light. She specializes in genre-fiction, including but not limited to romance, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, and YA. She will be your book’s best friend.

With 10+ years in publishing, she’s worked all over the industry, including at a big 5 publishing house, a small press, a hybrid publisher, and a literary agency. She is a co-founding Revise & Resub (#RevPit) editor, a host on Story Chat Radio, a writing advice podcast, as well as an EFA, RWA, and CWiP member.

Editing combines her love of reading, giving advice, and logic puzzles. When not reading or working she lounges with her husband being vastly amused by their cats or binge-watching TV.

Kaitlyn Johnson, Agent—1st 5 pages Critique: $50

After receiving a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College, Kaitlyn refused to leave the concept of nightly homework behind. A literary agent for Belcastro Literary Agency, she is also a freelance editor at her own company, K. Johnson Editorial. Kaitlyn started her literary journey as a copyeditor for academic publisher codeMantra, a YA editor for Accent Press, a Conference Assistant for GrubStreet, Boston, and has been agenting since 2016. She has written various articles for Writer’s Digest and has had a flash fiction story published in the anthology A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed.

Tara Lazar—PB MS Critique: $45

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

She writes picture books and middle grade novels.

Some of her books include:

How To Trap A Leprechaun (Harper Collins, January 2020)

The Upper Case (Disney*Hyperion/Little, Brown, October 2019)

Your First Day Of Circus School (Tundra/Penguin Random House Canada June 4, 2019)

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 her blog every January…with nearly 2,000 participants from around the world.

Find Tara Online:

Josh Funk—PB MS Critique: $45

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

Lindsay Leslie—PB Critique with Phone call or Skype to talk craft: $45 (2 available)

A diary keeper, a journal writer, a journalism major, a public relations executive—Lindsay Leslie has always operated in a world of written words. When she became a mom and began to tell her kids bedtime stories, Lindsay connected the dots to children’s literature. She likes to bring her unique outlook on life, quirky humor, and play with words to the page in picture books.

Lindsay is the author of THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS and NOVA THE STAR EATER (Page Street Kids). Her third picture book, DUSK EXPLORERS (Page Street Kids), will launch June 2, 2020.

Lindsay lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, two boys, two fur-beasts, a guinea pig, and a tortoise. Whew!

Find her online at:

Anna Lazowski—PB MS Critique: $40

Anna Lazowski has storytelling in her blood. The daughter of a foreign correspondent and an English teacher, the value of reading and sharing stories was instilled in her from the very beginning.

Anna is an award-winning Senior Producer at CBC Radio. She has an MA in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario and a BFA (Hon) in Photography from the University of Manitoba.

She started writing for children after being inspired by her kids, Silas and LIla. Her journalistic work has been published in various newspapers and magazines, and she has been a nationally syndicated radio columnist covering music and health. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband Mike, their kids, and their dog Jackson.

Anna's debut picture book, T. Rexes Can’t Tie Their Shoes, will be out in the summer of 2021 on Doubleday/Penguin Random House.

Find Her Online:

Hallee Adelman—PB MS Critique: $45

Hallee Adelman has a Ph.D. in Education and Learning Technologies and has worked with and for children as an educator and multimedia creator. She is the Author of My Quiet Ship, Way Past Mad, and the upcoming Way Past Worried.

Brian Gehrlein—PB MS Critique: $40

Brian Gehrlein is the creator of Picture Book Spotlight, a member of SCBWI, and is represented by Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary Agency.

Brian's debut picture book, The Book of Rules, is set for publication with FSG for fall 2021.

Brian teaches high school English and lives in Liberty, Missouri with his wife, Katherine, his son, Peter, and two corgis, Toby & Harry. You can follow Brian on twitter @briangehrlein, subscribe to his site, or contact him here

Bea Birdsong—PB MS Critique: $45 (2 available) and PB Query Critique: $25 (2 available)

Bea Birdsong is the author of I Will Be Fierce, illustrated by Nidhi Chanani and published by Roaring Brook Press, Sam’s First Word, illustrated by Holly Hatam and published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and How to Spot a Best Friend, illustrated by Lucy Fleming and published by Rodale Kids/RHC.

Bea is also a writer for the education market and a former teacher who believes in the awesome power of books to educate, entertain, and empower. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, son, and rescue dog. Bea is represented by Melissa Edwards of Stonesong Literary Agency. She invites you to follow her on Twitter, @BeaBirdsong, and visit her online at

Kjersten Hayes—PB MS Critique: $45

Kjersten Hayes lives in Bellingham, Washington, in a century-old house full of color, books, pottery, art, music and happy kid noises. She has spent many years creating and selling collage work, greeting cards, and handmade journals. She loves adventure, crafting, and teaching art classes for kids. Her first picture book THE ELEPHANTS' GUIDE TO HIDE-AND-SEEK hits shelves April 7, 2020. Find her at, or on Twitter and Instagram @kjerstenhayes.

Lisa Kerr— PB Query Critique: $25, and PB NF MS critique: $40

Lisa D. Kerr is a children’s nonfiction author, nature lover, and avid researcher. She has a special interest in animals, lyrical language, technology, space, and diseases. 

A former educator, Lisa taught at Title 1 schools for three years, with a particular focus on making academic writing accessible to struggling readers. 

Lisa loves hiking, photography, local public libraries, and used bookstores. She lives in California with her husband, three young children (who are triplets), and their rescue dog. She is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Michelle Rascon, Freelance Editor— MG or YA Query Critique: $25 (5 available)

Michelle Rascon is a freelance fiction editor with five years of experience editing for successful self-publishing and traditional authors. Her goal is to strengthen your writing while respecting your unique voice. An introvert at heart, Michelle enjoys naps, reading, gaming, binge-watching medical or crime dramas, and cuddling with her cat.

Connect with her on Twitter.

Miranda Darrow, Freelance Editor--YA Query Critique (2 available): $25

Miranda Darrow is a freelance fiction editor of YA and adult contemporary, SFF/paranormal, and mystery. She’s also an award-winning author, living in the frozen Minnesota tundra. Loves: forced proximity, awkward teens, obscure sports, cheese-heavy snacks, and road trips.

Connect with her on Twitter.

Jenna Waldman, Author: Rhyming PB Critique: $25 (2 Available)

Jenna has always has always loved creating for children, from her playful greeting cards, her work as a toy designer, to writing stories and poetry. She is the author of two forthcoming picture books, both told in rhyme: LARRY’S LATKES and SHARK-BOT SHALOM (Apples & Honey Press, Fall 2021). She lives with her husband, their two boys, and three felines (Tupac, Midnight, & Pippa) in Northern CA— where there is always an experiment bubbling, fort construction underway, or cats lounging in boxes. Jenna is represented by Joyce Sweeney of The Seymour Agency.  Website: Twitter: @SarafinaDesign

Alyssa Reynoso Morris, Author--PB MS Critique: $30

Growing up, Alyssa's abuelas taught her about love, hope, and service through stories. They motivated her to found Schools for Sustainability, Inc., to establish environmentally sustainable schools to alleviate poverty.  And they inspired her to write. Alyssa is an Afro-Latinx writer, member of SCBWI, and graduate from the Children’s Book Academy after earning the Yuyi Morales Diversity and More Merit Scholarship. Follow her on Twitter:

Amanda Davis, Author--Query Critique: $25

Amanda Davis is a teacher, artist, writer, and innovator.  Art and writing have always been an important part of Amanda's life but after losing her father at the age of twelve, she turned to creativity as an outlet. It became her voice. A way to cope. A way to escape. And a way to tell her story.  She was thus inspired to teach art and pursue her passion for writing and illustrating children's books. Amanda has a B.A. in English and Studio Art and a M.A.T. in Art Education from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her debut picture book 30,000 STITCHES: THE INSPIRING STORY OF THE NATIONAL 9/11 FLAG (Hachette Book Group/WorthyKids Imprint) will release in spring of 2021. Her poetry and illustrations will appear in the Writers’ Loft Poetry Anthology, Friends and Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children (2020). Most recently, Amanda was awarded the 2020 Ann Whitford Paul-Writer's Digest Most Promising Picture Book Grant.  Amanda teaches art at a public high school in Massachusetts where she was selected as 2020 Massachusetts Secondary Art Educator of the Year. You can usually find her hanging out in nature, petting dogs, and immersed in all things creative. She's inspired by her students, life experiences, and small acts of kindness. She lives in the Boston area with her partner and rescue pup, Cora. You can learn more about Amanda and her work at

Twitter: @amandadavisart

Instagram: @amandadavis_art

Kailei Pew, Author--PB MS Critique: $15 (5 available); PB Query Critique: $10 (5 available)

Kailei Pew is an aspiring Picture Book author. She loves all things funny, though she isn't afraid to pull at the heartstrings every now and again. Kailei loves imagination and pretend play with her littles and is the creator of #ForLittleReaders where imagination and reading meet. She was a 2019 Write Mentor Mentee, a finalist in Susanna Leonard Hill's 2019 Holiday writing contest, and is an active member of SCBWI. Connect with Kailei one Twitter:


I hope everyone is excited to purchase professional critiques that will also support a great cause! Due to technical difficulties, the sale will not go live until Wednesday, June 24th. Until then, I will be hosting a giveaway to help spread the word. Like and retweet for a chance to win (3 possible prizes) any of the books from my list of books to teach anti-racism to the youngest kids, a free query critique, or a free PB MS critique. Giveaway runs through Tuesday, June 23rd.



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