Janet Lee Carey was born in New York and grew up under the towering redwoods in the Bay Area. She now lives in the Seattle area. As a child she discovered the door into a vast, magical country each time she opened the cover of a book. She quickly fell in love with reading and dreamed of becoming a writer. Janet learned courage through the power of story, and believes story transforms lives. Her novels for children and young adults have earned her the Mark Twain Award, Finalist Washington State Book Award, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, and NYPL Best Books for the Teen Age. Her newest medieval fantasy, Dragonswood (Dial Books 2012) received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus.
Statistics have shown that children who read are more compassionate. The "giving back" page on her website links each new book to a charitable organization, challenging teens to read and reach out. Concerned over the changes happening in our libraries, Janet created a blog two years ago. Library Lions gives school and public librarians a place to roar for libraries and showcase their outstanding youth programs.
Teaching Experience: Janet taught special education before leaving to raise her family and invest in her writing career. For ten years she taught novel writing at Lake Washington Vocational College and Bellevue College. She now focuses on presenting workshops for writing conferences, and enjoys meeting readers, teachers and librarians on her school visits. Janet's assemblies are designed for upper middle grades, middle schools, and high schools. In "Words on the Wing," lively discussion invites students to see how stories expand cultural awareness, increase respect for others and for the earth. "Dream Catcher" gives students seven tools to set goals and begin the step-by-step journey to reach their dreams.
Growing up, Kirby Larson's best friends were books but she never imagined an ordinary person like her could become a writer. What she loves best about the creative life is that she is always learning something new. That may be why Kirby has tackled a variety of genres from picture books to chapter books to novels. Kirby's historical fiction portfolio includes the 2007 Newbery Honor Award book, Hattie Big Sky and its recent sequel, Hattie Ever After (nominated for the ALSC Notables List), as well as The Friendship Doll, The Fences Between Us and, in fall of 2013, Duke. She and her friend Mary Nethery have collaborated on two award-winning nonfiction picture books: Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival, and Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine and a Miracle. Between them, these two books have garnered over 20 State Young Readers Choice Awards. Kirby is delighted to be involved in a brand-new picture book series for American Girl, with titles including Bitty Baby and Me, and Princess Bitty Baby, among others. A lifelong resident of Washington state, Kirby lives in Kenmore with her husband, Neil, and Winston the Wonder Dog. When she is not reading, writing or speaking about writing, she is traveling, beach combing or spoiling her new granddaughter rotten.
Sharon Mentyka is a children’s writer, designer and educator, with an MFA in Writing from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (NILA) Whidbey Writers Workshop. Her stories grow from small kernels of truth that explore common themes: fairness (or unfairness), transitions and helping the less powerful find their voice.
Her stories and essays, for both children and adults, have appeared in numerous literary magazines including ColumbiaKids, Cricket and Soundings Review. QUI, QUA, AND QUO, a picture book about three cats living in the ancient Italian hilltown of Civita di Bagnoregio was the product of Sharon 2012 two-month fellowship from the Civita Institute, where she also created a series of storytelling maps. B IN THE WORLD, an illustrated children’s chapter book about a gender non-conforming child was published in 2014 and CHASING AT THE SURFACE, a middle grade novel inspired by a 30-day visit of orca whales to an enclosed inlet in the Pacific Northwest, is forthcoming from WestWinds Press in October 2016.
An active member of SCBWI-Western Washington and a contributor to the “We Need Diverse Books” campaign, Sharon also tutors and teaches writing workshops to middle and high school students.
Ever since the 1993 publication of his multi-award-winning, best-selling picture book, Baseball Saved Us (over half a million sold to date), Ken Mochizuki has made over 100 presentations around the country at schools, libraries, community centers and educators' conferences to ages K-Adult. Using Baseball Saved Us and his second picture book, Heroes, he makes stereotypes, prejudice and racism understandable in an age-appropriate presentation for students K-3. Including those same topics for older grades, he also addresses fighting, bullying, the moral dilemma and the conscientious choice through his picture book about the Holocaust, Passage to Freedom: the Sugihara Story, and his recent picture book, Be Water, My Friend: the Early Years of Bruce Lee. For middle grades and above, Ken also conducts presentations on the history of Asian Pacific Americans in the U.S. military, and around his young adult novel, Beacon Hill Boys. Among the awards his books have earned include the Washington State Governor's Writers Award and the national Parents' Choice Award, American Bookseller 'Pick of the Lists,' American Library Association Notable Book, International Reading Association Teachers' Choices, Smithsonian Notable Books for Children and the Jane Addams Children?s Book Awards Honor Book.
Ana Maria Spagna lives and writes in Stehekin, Washington, a remote community in the North Cascades accessible only by boat, trail, or float plane. But don’t worry! She has not always lived such an insular life. Born in Bogotá, Colombia and raised in Riverside, California, Ana Maria was a book-loving kid who liked sports but knew nothing about the outdoors. She never camped until, as a teenager, traveled to Oregon and — well, there’s no other way to say it — fell in love. After college, she settled in to working on backcountry trail crews for the National Park Service in summer and writing in winter. Ana Maria is the author most recently of The Luckiest Scar on Earth about Charlotte, a 14 year-old snowboarder and her eccentric father, and 100 Skills You’ll Need for the End of the World (as We Know It) a humor-infused exploration of how to live more lightly on the planet, winner of a 2015 Nautilus Award. Her previous books include Reclaimers, the story of people reclaiming sacred land and water, the memoir/history Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus, winner of the River Teeth literary nonfiction prize, and two collections of essays, Potluck, finalist for the Washington State Book Award, and Now Go Home, a Seattle Times Best Book of 2004. After fifteen years on the trail, she turned to teaching. She has taught creative writing at Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, where she directed the MFA program, at Antioch University, Los Angeles, at conferences around the country, and each winter in the one-room school in Stehekin. Her stories about nature, family, civil rights, and life in a small community appear regularly in magazines and journals. You can learn more at AnaMariaSpagna.com.