Hugs and Hurrahs

Hugs and Hurrahs! 

July-September 2017

Happy fall everyone! It’s time for apple picking, pumpkin carving AND Hugs and Hurrahs! Our members have been more than busy over the last three months raking up mounds of happy publishing news. So settle in with your favorite cup of tea and celebrate with these amazing Michigan SCBWI members: 

Heidi Sheffield was recently awarded the 2017 LA Mentorship Award during the summer SCBWI conference! Heidi also just signed with Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. We are so proud of you, Heidi!

Deb Gonzales is thrilled to announce that she sold her nonfiction picture book, PLAY LIKE A GIRL: THE ROAD TO BREAKING BARRIERS AND BASHING RECORDS, to Julie Bliven at Charlesbridge Publishing. The book is slated for a spring 2019 release. We’re giving you a standing ovation Deb!

 Rhonda Gowler Greene sold two picture books this summer! The first book, THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON, went to Sleeping Bear Press and is scheduled for release in 2019, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Rhonda sold the second book, HERE WE COME, CONSTRUCTION FUN! To Zonderkidz. Rhonda is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of her first two books— BARNYARD SONG (Atheneum) and WHEN A LINE BENDS…A SHAPE BEGINS (Houghton Mifflin), this month. Both books are still in print. We’re doing a big happy dance for you Rhonda!

Congratulations to Sara Kendall, the winner of SCBWI- Michigan’s 2017-2018 Illustration Mentorship 2017-2018! Sara will spend the year learning from the fabulous Kirbi Fagan. And congratulations to this year’s runner-up, Basya Cohen! We’re so proud of both of you. Thanks to everyone who entered this year’s contest.

Lori McElrath Eslick recently participated in the National Assessment of Education Progress Grade 4 Writing ALS and was selected for one of the Nov. 2017 group. Way to go, Lori!

Hats off to Lindsey McDivitt who recently sold a picture book biography about Michigan nature artist and environmentalist, Gwen Frostic to Sleeping Bear Press. The book is scheduled for release in 2018. Lindsey also sold a second picture book biography to Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers about Nelson Mandela and his fight to free South Africa from Apartheid. So happy for you, Lindsey!

Congratulations to Rebecca Brockington who recently won 3rd place for her chapter book manuscript in the Kidlit College contest. Way to go Rebecca!

Cathy Gendron is happy to announce that she’ll be illustrating author Paul Czajak’s upcoming picture book, TREES MAKE PERFECT PETS. Sourcebooks is the publisher and the book is set for a spring 2019 release. So proud of you, Cathy!

Buffy Silverman won the 2017 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award in nonfiction for her photo-essay, "Magical Monarchs." The article, which was inspired by her experience raising monarchs, appeared in the October, 2016 issue of Ask. That’s awesome, Buffy!

Lisa Rose is excited to announce she’ll be writing a chapter book serried for Rourke Educational Media. The series has a total of six books. So proud of you, Lisa!  

Danielle Hammelef’s puzzle "How Do You Live?" was published in Pockets July 2017 issue, and her poem "School Starts Soon" was published in Pockets September 2017 issue. Danielle’s short story "Sharing Berry" will appear in Pockets October 2017 issue. The story is dedicated to her own soon to be 13 year-old golden retriever named Berry. Danielle writes, “His birthday is 10/16 so the timing of publication couldn't have been any better.” Way to go, Danielle!

Neal Levin just published his 25th "10 Facts" feature for Fun For Kidz. This is a regular two-page color cartoon he creates for each issue of the magazine, providing ten fun illustrated facts relating to the issue's theme. You’re awesome, Neal!

Kristi Gatchel is happy to announce that she’ll be blogging about her new Independent Study project on translated picture books. Kristi, a Children's Lit major at Eastern Michigan, will be blogging about the translated books she’s found, the need for translated books for children, and the industry. You can follow her journey here: Thanks so much for sharing this, Kristi!

Amy Leskowski recently won an Honorable Mention in the 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Contest in the Children’s/YA Category for her picture book, TRAFFIC JAM. Amy also won a First Place Georgia Peach Award from the CAG – for the same manuscript. Way to go, Amy!

Our amazing RA, Carrie Pearson, recently sold her picture book, STRETCH TO THE SUN: FROM TINY SPROUT TO THE TALLEST TREE ON EARTH, to Yolanda Scott at Charlesbridge publishing. The book is scheduled for a fall 2018 release. You’re awesome, Carrie!

And I’m (Patti Richards) doing my own happy dance because my picture book manuscript, CUPINE’S PERFECT DANCE PARTNER, won an Honorable Mention in the 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Contest in the Children’s/YA category! Woo Hoo!

That’s it for this edition of Hugs and Hurrahs. What an amazing group of talented writers you all are. You make our Mitten proud!  

Send all your happy publishing news to Patti Richards,

April-June 2017

Sarah Perry aka S.J. Lomas is celebrating the release of DREAM FREQUENCY, the sequel and conclusion to the DREAM GIRL duology. What a gorgeous cover! 

Neal Levin's poem BROTHER FOR SALE was published in the April 2017 issue of SPIDER. Cheers, Neal!

Monica Harris continues her steady sales (16 pieces!) to Data Recognition Corporation in various states which provide content for school state wide assessments. The specific topics are confidential, but here's a sample from her Wisconsin work:
*  Grade 4 Listening assessment - kids listen to the passage and then answer questions concerning the topic.
*  Grade 3 Informational assessment - students read about the nonfiction topic and then answer questions concerning their understanding. 
Congrats on your steady work, Monica!

Rebecca Grabil signed a contract with Eerdmans Books for Young Readers for the picture book, MAMA EARTH'S NEW YEAR, to be published early 2019.

Plus, her picture book with Atheneum, HALLOWEEN GOOD NIGHT, will be released July 25th! AND, it earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly!

Jean Alicia Elster has been selected to receive a 2017 Kresge Artist Fellowship in Literary Arts, awarded by Kresge Arts in Detroit, a program of The Kresge Foundation. We're so proud of you, Jean Alicia!

Shutta Crum, Jean Alicia Elster, Jack Cheng
On May 3rd, SCBWI-MI members Shutta CrumJean Alicia Elster and Jack Cheng joined fellow-author Ruth Behar at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor for a special Children’s Book Week middle-grade authors panel. Shutta served as panel moderator and guided the authors in a discussion on a wide range of topics from diversity to character motivation. What a great event!

Buffy Silverman wrote four titles for Lerner Publishing's SHARK WORLD series. TIGER SHARKS IN ACTION, ANGELS SHARKS IN ACTION, GREAT WHITE SHARKS IN ACTION, and MAKO SHARKS IN ACTION are swimming out this month. Way to go, Buffy!

On June 24th, Kazoo Books in Kalamazoo hosted a reception for the Oakwood Neighborhood Association’s annual Oakwood Neighborhood Reunion. Local writers attending this reunion and autographing their books for children included SCBWI-MI members Janet Ruth Heller and Kate Seifert.  

Plus, Janet Ruth Heller was interviewed about her books and advice for writers on author Mindy McGinnis's website

Mary Vee's junior fiction book for elementary readers, WILLIAM WORTHINGTON WATKINS III, featuring a boy main character, veterans, and mystery with humor was published in May and is available on Amazon.

Amy Nielander
Amy Nielander's picture book THE LADYBUG RACE earned a Bronze Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Children's Picture Books category. See all of the winners here. We're thrilled to see your book and artwork continuing to earn accolades!

Kristin Bartley Lenz's article, THE POWER OF CONTESTS: CREATE YOUR OWN LUCK, was published on the Writer's Digest Guide to Literary Agents Blog.

YARN (Young Adult Review Network) published Heather Smith Meloche's short story, TRIFLES, about complicated sisterly love and tough choices. Bravo, Heather! Read the story HERE. 

Kirbi Fagan won the Jack Gaughan Award for Best Emerging Artist 2017 (Presented by the New England Science Fiction Association) and she's a Muddy Color Rising Star 2017! She's also our 2017-2018 SCBWI-MI Illustrator Mentor!

And we saved the best news for last: Charlie Barshaw has officially joined the Mitten blog team! Charlie has been a frequent contributor for some time, and now he's taking over the quarterly Writer Spotlight feature for Patti Richards. Stay tuned - he might be reaching out to interview YOU!

Coming up on the Mitten Blog: Nina Goebel unveils our new summer blog banner and introduces our next Featured Illustrator!

January-March 2017

Happy Spring to one and all! It’s time once again for everyone’s favorite blog post, Hugs and Hurrahs! Our SCBWI Mitten-folk had lots to shout about since we turned our calendars to 2017, so let’s warm up our hands and give a hearty standing ovation to the following:  

Congratulations to Neal Levin! His short story "Where's My Shadow?" was published in the February 2017 issue of Highlights For Children. Neal also sold three stories to the website "Super Teacher Worksheets." They are:

"Bear and Hare Warm Up"
"Jezzabelle's Old School"

Way to go Neal!

Janet Ruth Heller’s short play, Pledging, will be performed at the Tritonysia Play Festival at Triton College on May 5-7 and May 12-14, 2017.  Pledging concerns two college freshmen in the 1960’s who are longtime best friends and is based on historical discrimination against people of color by many sororities and fraternities.

Congratulations Janet!

Sandy Carlson’s latest MG Michigan historical fiction (10 years in the making) with a paraplegic MC, time traveling, genealogy, and the fabulous Mackinac Island as a backdrop, THE POWDER HORN OF MACKINAC ISLAND will be published on March 3, 2017.

So happy for you Sandy!

Brynne Barnes recently sold her picture book, GIRL IN BLOOM, to Melissa Manlove at Chronicle Books. GIRL IN BLOOM, written in verse, is a read-aloud tribute to African-American women who have paved the way for generations, reminding girls they should never fear climbing too high or shining too brightly. Publication is slated for spring 2019.  

Lisa Rose has sold another story, MYSTERY VALENTINE, to the Amazon Rapids story app. This is Lisa’s fourth title for Amazon. 

Way to go Lisa!

Lisa Wheeler’s new book, EVEN MONSTERS NEED TO SLEEP (illustrated by Chris Van Dusen) released on March 14, 2017This very young book is Lisa’s first with Balzer&Bray/HarperCollins! Lisa also sold her rhyming picture book, A HUG IS FOR HOLDING ME, to Abrams Appleseed Books.

And if that’s not enough, the amazing Lisa just won the prestigious Golden Kite award for picture book text in 2016! This is an award judged by leaders in the industry. The starred review picture book, THE CHRISTMAS BOOT, is the winning text. Lisa will be invited to accept this award at a special recognition banquet at the international conference in Los Angeles this July.

What an honor! We’re so proud of you Lisa!

Laura Wolfe’s new book, BARN SHADOWS (Dark Horse Book Two), was released on March 14, 2017 by Fire and Ice Books. It is the second book in her YA mystery series.

Happy dancing for you Laura!

Danielle Hammelef is happy to announce the release of three new books published in January by Capstone Press. They are:

Congratulations Danielle!

MARS MISSIONS: A SPACE DISCOVERY GUIDE is Buffy Silverman's newest title with Lerner Publishing. The Space Discovery Guide series blasted off with a starred review from Booklist!

Three cheers for Buffy!   

Debbie Diesen’s newest picture book, BLOOM, AN ODE TO SPRING, released on March 7 to a starred review in Kirkus. You can read the entire review here.

Congratulations Debbie!

Kristin Bartley Lenz's YA novel, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go, has been chosen by the Michigan Reading Association for the 2017-2018 Great Lakes Great Books state-wide literature program.

So excited for you Kristin!

Deborah Marcero just sold her picture book, IN A JAR, to Jennifer Besser at Putnam. Deborah’s book isabout a young bunny named Llewellyn, a collector of things big, small, and even the intangible, who embarks on a journey of magical realism and friendship. Publication is planned for spring 2019.

So happy for you Deborah!

Monica Harris has sold three pieces to DRC Pennsylvania! Monica writes, “One of the stories I sold to DRC was written in 2012. It won second place in the Southwest Writer's Writing Contest in 2013.  Then, it sat and sat waiting for anyone to see its 'heart'. Lesson? Don't give up on your stories!  It will happen but it might take time and vision.”

Thanks so much for the encouragement Monica. We’re so happy for you!

Rhonda Gowler Greene’s lastest picture book, BAA! OINK! MOO!, was released by Zonderkidz in January.

That’s awesome Rhonda!

Congratulations to Heidi Woodward Sheffield for winning Honors in the 2017 Winter Conference Portfolio Showcase. There were about 200 portfolios in all, each with 10-15 images of an artist’s best work. (If you’re equating it to a writer’s experience, that’s like 10-15 different polished stories). Each year, five different publishing professionals judge the portfolios. The images that are the most well-received are narrative in nature and tell a story. 

Grand prize went to Melissa Crowton. Heidi shared honors with Victoria Tentler-Krylov and Luke Flowers. Heidi’s prize includes a phone call with an art director. (Used to be $100 for supplies, but the call with the art director is so much more meaningful!)

Happy Dancing with you Heidi!

And finally, I celebrated the release of my first nonfiction picture book, ALL ABOUT SOCIAL NETWORKING (Red Line Editorial/North Star Editions) in January and recently sold another story, THE GATEKEEPER, to Amazon Rapids. And I’m happy dancing about both!

See? I told you we had lots to celebrate in 2017, and it’s only the end of March. Keep up the amazing work my fellow Michkids! You never know when the manuscript you submit will be the ONE!

Send all of your happy publishing news to me, Patti Richards at


  1. Wow! So much good news. Excited for everyone. It's so great to see so many Michigan SCBWI members with good news.

  2. Way to go all you Michigan members. Great to read about everyone and everything. A big thank you to Kristen, Patti, and Nina for all this editing! You're doing a great job!

  3. Congratulations to all who have published this year (well, in any year). Such greatness in this membership.