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SoCal Fall Harvest: Faculty

Get to Know Our Presenters (more coming soon)

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Presenter: Courtney Donovan, Junior Agent at Writers House

Courtney Donovan is a junior agent at Writers House, building a list of children's book authors and illustrators. She started at the agency as an intern in 2019, before joining in 2020 as an assistant to Steven Malk. She has had the privilege of working with a range of authors and illustrators, including Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen, Kelly Barnhill, Amanda Gorman, and Tui Sutherland, among many others. Courtney is looking for impactful narratives and distinctive voices in all genres, though she feels especially drawn to science fiction and fantasy. Originally from the east coast, she now lives in Southern California.

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Presenter: Lynnette Novak, Agent at Writers House

Lynnette Novak, Agent at Writers House Prior to joining The Seymour Agency, Lynnette spent seventeen years freelance editing. She worked with new writers, advanced writers, as well as New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors. Lynnette earned a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba, where she specialized in English and French. She excelled in Advanced Creative Writing in university and studied writing for children and teens through the Institute of Children’s Literature. She was a Pitch Wars mentor in 2015 and 2016. Both her mentees acquired an agent. Lynnette has since closed her editing business and is excited to bring her passion for the written word to agenting. Although Lynnette was born and raised Manitoba, Canada, she now lives in Minnesota with her husband, twin girls, and many pets. Her personal interests include reading, writing, exercising at the gym (okay, that’s a love/hate relationship), working on an assortment of crafts, all things having to do with animals (if she could own a farm, zoo, and animal shelter, she would), and enjoying time with family and friends. Follow Lynnette on Twitter: @Lynnette_Novak https://theseymouragency.com #MSWL: https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/lynnette-novak/ She represents PB, MG and YA.

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Presenter: Moni Ritchie Hadley, Author

Moni is a Los Angeles-based children’s book author who draws inspiration from her dual Japanese and American upbringing. She is the author of MIso Magic, The Star Festival, a 2022 Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, and Anzu and the Art of Friendship. Moni is a former Bruin, home/hospital teacher, and a lifelong daydreamer and learner. Find out more about her and the Write Kidlit NOW! Scholarship at moniritchie.com.

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Presenter: Rex Ogle, Author

Rex is an award-winning author and the writer of nearly a hundred children’s books, comics, graphic novels, and memoirs—most notably Free Lunch, which won the ALA/YALSA award for Excellence in Non-Fiction. He has written under several pseudonyms, including Trey King and Honest Lee, but is currently focused on reimagining classic literature as modern or fantastical graphic novels as REY TERCIERO, under which he penned bestselling Meg, Jo, Beth, & Amy, as well as Northranger, nominated for both a Harvey and GLAAD Media Award. Born and raised (mostly) in Texas, Rex moved to New York City after college to intern with Marvel Comics before moving over to DC Comics, Scholastic, and Little Brown Young Readers. As an editor, he championed over a dozen NY Times Bestsellers and worked (and often wrote) on major brands such as X-Men, Justice League, Star Wars, LEGO, Power Rangers, Transformers, Minecraft, Assassin’s Creed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Neil Patrick Harris’s Magic Misfits. Now, Rex lives in Los Angeles where he writes every day—that is, when he’s not outdoors hiking with his dog, playing MarioKart with friends, or thinking up new ideas for books.

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Presenter: Laura Stegman, Author

Laura Segal Stegman is the author of Summer of L.U.C.K. (her debut), sequel Ready or Not (both Five-Star Readers' Favorite Award winners), and The Chambered Nautilus, third in Young Dragons Press’s middle grade trilogy. She has been featured at the Orange County Children’s Book Festival, San Diego Writers Festival, and LitFest in the Dena, and she shares her author journey with students at virtual and in-person visits to schools and libraries. She also serves as a judge for Society of Young Inklings, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and other writer competitions. As a publicity consultant, she owns Laura Segal Stegman Public Relations, LLC, which has represented a wide-ranging client list of businesses and arts organizations. Her PR Tips for Authors workshop, a step-by-step guide to building a digital author media kit, has been presented by The Writing Barn, SCBWI, and elsewhere. Non-fiction writing credits include collaboration on the travel book Only in New York. Her feature stories and guest posts have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Westways, and School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox, among others. Based in Los Angeles, Stegman is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UC Irvine with a B.A. in Drama. She loves reading, Dodgers baseball, New York City, classical music, and theater. www.LauraStegman.com

Get to Know Our Off-site Critiquers

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Critiquer: Karly Dizon, Agent at Fuse Literary

Karly is building KidLit universes with stories that matter. She first joined the agency in 2016 as a reader for Tricia Skinner and then promoted to Literary Assistant soon after. In 2019, she was promoted to associate agent. Karly has built a career with a strong background as a freelance editor as well as extensive experience with graphic design and marketing. She is looking to develop long-term career authors and nurture their entire writing journey as a strong editorial agent with marketing, social media, and design support. Karly is also the KidLit track coordinator for the San Francisco Writers Conference. Karly’s clients have won or been nominated for such awards as Kirkus Best Books of the Year, NCTE Notable Books List, SLJ Best Book of the Year, and Kirkus Prize Finalist.Karly is aggressively building her client list to boost and give visibility to marginalized voices, experiences, history, culture, folklore, and mythology. She believes that children should be able to see themselves reflected and celebrated within the pages of a book, from contemporary to fantastical adventures. Karly loves stories with grand adventures, imperfect characters, but most importantly, a strong voice that hooks a reader within the first page. If you can make her cry or laugh out loud, bonus points! She represents Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult Fiction and Illustrators. She does not represent satire, memoir or faith-based genres. She will do written critiques for PB, GN, MG and YA text.

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Ellen Goff, Agent at HG Literary

Ellen (she/her) graduated from The University of Chicago with a BA in English, a minor in Cinema and Media Studies, and a focus in Creative Writing. She has worked everywhere from The White House under the Obama administration to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. At HG Literary, her client list consists of authors writing for all age groups, from picture books to middle grade to young adult to adult, in both fiction and nonfiction. She also represents illustrators, for kidlit and adult projects, as well as graphic novelists. In addition to building her own domestic list, she is the International Rights Manager of the company’s Children’s & YA list. In her elusive free time, Ellen runs an active writing workshop and critique group in the heart of New York City. Having grown up in a family of mostly women, she is always hungry for stories celebrating girl power and intersectional feminism, but also narratives that don't shy away from asking questions about gender and exploring gender roles. She has a soft spot for southern stories that remind her of her home state of Kentucky, and is a perpetual sucker for a darn good love story. For picture books, Ellen is only taking on new clients who are author-illustrators, and gravitates toward projects that highlight the sparse and simple. She is interested in all genres and formats of MG and YA, especially anything spooky, graphic novels, novels-in-verse, and projects that allow her to travel vicariously through place and time. She will critique Graphic Novel Dummies.

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Critiquer: Jenny Kendrick, Agent at Red Fox Literary

Jennie Kendrick has been reading since she was three, is a former criminal defense attorney, and will forever be a history nerd. She has worked in the publishing industry since 2013, including reviewing for publications such as Kirkus, and part-time bookselling at a local independent bookstore. Jennie’s passions include gardening, law, politics, the criminal justice system, art, tarot, rock music, San Francisco history, and cooking. She loves well-researched character-driven fiction, narrative non-fiction, and is particularly looking for works from marginalized creators. She represents Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction/non-fiction. She will do written critiques for PB, GN, MG and YA text.

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Critiquer: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Senior Agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Ammi-Joan Paquette is a senior literary agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency, representing a wide range of award-winning and bestselling authors and illustrators. She is also the author of twenty books for young readers, including the award-winning Two Truths and a Lie series (co-authored with Laurie Ann Thompson), the picture book All from a Walnut, which has been translated into 9 languages, and the middle-grade novel The Train of Lost Things, which was a 2019 Ontario Library Association's Silver Birch Award nominee, a 2020 Rhode Island Children's Book Award nominee, and is currently being adapted into a major motion picture. She is also the author of the adult short story collection, Stories I Told My Dead Lover. She will do written critiques for Picture Book Dummies.

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Critiquer: Dainese Santos, Associate Editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

As a born and bred Southern Californian, Dainese’s favorite stories to tell are the warm, sunshine-y ones. She loves stories that are sweet, silly, and joyful. Having been raised on 2000s romcoms and Asian dramas, she’s a sucker for meet-cutes, crush energy, and things that are fluffy and frothy, and her tastes lean more commercial versus literary. Generally, she loves kids who march to the beat of their own drum, misfits who band together, and friendships that feel a lot like being in love. Contemporary realistic romances are her sweet spot in YA; for MG, she loves a coming-of-age story; and her picture book tastes are on the sweet and silly side. And though she’s typically not the best fit for speculative fiction, she’ll never turn down a good ghost story, and loves folklore and horror that’s rooted in the traditions of underrepresented cultures. CRITIQUE PREFERENCES: picture book text; YA fiction (contemporary, romance). NO: fantasy; graphic novels; novels in verse. She will do written critiques for PB, MG and YA text.