Hugs and Hurrahs

Hugs and Hurrahs! 

July-September 2018

Hugs and Hurrahs!

Happy Fall Y’all! I’ve harvested a bushel full of happy publishing news from around our marvelous Mitten. Rest assured this edition of Hugs and Hurrahs is full of treats (no tricks) that will leaf you feeling warm, toasty and proud of your fellow Michkids! Now put that donut and cider down for a couple of minutes and celebrate with all your SCBWI Michigan friends! Here we go. . .

Congratulations to Amy Nielander! Her nearly wordless picture book, I AM NOT LEAVING WITHOUT A HUG, was recently acquired by Page Street Kids! Way to go, Amy!

Hats off to Kathryn Allen! Her board book, THIS BOOK, was recently awarded a silver medal in the 2018 Moonbeam Awards. Happy dancing with you, Kathryn!

Three cheers for Joseph Kimble whose picture book, MR. MOUTHFUL LEARNS A LESSON, also won a Moonbeam Award. The book received a silver medal in the category "reading skills/literacy." The awards are presented by The Jenkins Group and Way to go, Joseph!  

Congratulations to Kristin Nitz! Her short story, “Nothing Drops,” about volleyball and the importance of perseverance was recently featured in the October edition of Highlights! Way to go, Kristin!

Happy to announce that Heather Dean Brewer’s debut picture book, LOVE IS POWERFUL, was recently acquired by Candlewick Press and is scheduled for a 2020 release. The book was inspired by a girl holding a "Love is Powerful" sign during the January 2017 Women's March in New York City. Publication is set for 2020. We’re giving you a standing ovation, Heather!

Deb Gonzales recently launched “The Debcast,” a podcast celebrating the tenacious spirit of female athletes of all walks of life - any sport, any age, as well authors who have written about them. Members can subscribe to The Debcast on iTunes or Stitcher. You’re amazing, Deb!  

Shout out to Lauren Muskovitz Ranalli, who recently published "The Great Latke Cook Off", a Chanuakah story about family tradition, friendly competition, and delicious recipes. You can find out more and get your copy at Three cheers, Lauren!

Hats off to Lisa Rose! Lisa recently sold two picture books to Rourke Educational Media for the series: Ready Readers- Playing and Learning Together. Lisa also sold her picture book, SENOR SAGUARO, KING OF THE DESERT, to The Little Fig Publishing Co, and has recently signed with agent Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Literary! Happy dancing with you, Lisa!

We’re celebrating with Andrea Contos! KCP Loft has bought her #PitchWars debut YA novel, THROWAWAY GIRLS. Told from two points of view, the story is about a girl whose life is upended by the disappearances of her lover and her best friend, two girls from opposite sides of the tracks, and the discovery that she is the only link between them. Publication is planned for spring 2020.

Buffy Silverman is proud as punch to have a poem in J. Patrick Lewis' gorgeous new anthology, The Poetry of Us published by National Geographic. The anthology takes readers on a journey across the United States, sharing the beauty, diversity, and challenges of our country with stunning photography and poetry. Buffy's stop is Holland, Michigan, with her poem "Tulip Time Festival." So happy for you, Buffy!

Carrie Pearson’s new nonfiction picture book, STRETCH TO THE SUN: FROM A TINY SPROUT TO THE TALLEST TREE ON EARTH, illustrated by the talented Susan Swan and published by Charlesbridge sprouted on October 9. Carrie will be sharing it at various lower Mitten bookstores, libraries and schools in early November.

Carrie’s also celebrating the sale of her picture book biography, A GIRL WHO LEAPED, A WOMAN WHO SOARED, about Dr. Virginia Apgar to W.W. Norton's new children's division, Norton Children's. Dr. Virginia Apgar was a trailblazing doctor who invented a lifesaving method of evaluating newborn health used worldwide every day. Nancy Carpenter (BALDERDASH; JOHN NEWBERY AND THE BOISTEROUS BIRTH OF CHILDREN'S BOOKS) will illustrate. The book launches in fall 2020. Happy dancing with you, Carrie!

Congratulations to Rebecca Grabill! Rebecca’s new book, VIOLET AND THE WOLF, published by HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan Books, and illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova, released on October 9. Rebecca has a variety of events sceduled to celebrate including the release party. Rebecca writes: “I’m extending an invitation to all of you to the release event, an open-house-style fun-filled afternoon at Hopscotch Children’s Store in Grand Rapids. The date for the open house is November 10th, 2-4pm.”

Three cheers to Neal Levin! His poem, "Annie, Get Your Gum" appeared in the July 2018 issue of Spider, his poem "Rumble-Grumble Storm" was in the July 2018 issue of Highlights For Children, and his poem "Good Morning" appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Humpty Dumpty magazine. Way to go, Neal!

And although it’s not an SCBWI-sponsored event or publication, I’d like to say a heartfelt congratulations to Michigan members Dave StricklenLori McElrath-Eslick and Kevin Kammeraad for their entries in this year’s Art Prize in Grand Rapids! That’s a huge undertaking and we’re proud of all of you!

And last but not least, I’m happy to announce that my picture book manuscript, SCRATCH AND SNIFF, won an Honorable Mention in the 87th Annual Writer’s Digest Contest in the Children’s/YA Category. Doing a little happy dancing myself!

I’ve had so much fun reading, celebrating and posting all of your amazing accomplishments this year. And as always, I’m proud to be part of such a supportive and talented group! Our next Hugs and Hurrahs is scheduled for January 2019. Please send all of your happy publishing news to me, Patti Richards, at

April- June 2018

Happy summer! It may be time for vacations and evenings by the firepit, but Michikid authors are still hard at work producing amazing stories resulting in lots of happy publishing news. We’ve got tons to celebrate around here, so let’s get right to it!

Lisa Rose is proud to announce the release of her six-volume chapter book series, STAR POWERS, with Rourke Educational Media, today! The series is about a second-grade girl named Star Powers who wants to be an astronaut and uses a wheelchair and includes science experiments in the back matter. Lisa recently attendad ALA in New Orleans and did a signing for STAR POWERS! 
Happy Dancing with you, Lisa!

Kathie Allen’s vividly-colored board book, THIS BOOK, (Albert Whitman & Company) was released in March. The book is chock-full of preschool concepts and was illustrated by Lizzy Doyle.
We’re giving you a standing ovation, Kathie!

Monica Harris recently sold an activity called "Hocus Pocus: Crayon Mind-Reading Trick," to Highlights Magazine. Monica also recently completed eight pieces for Data Recognition Corp, including fictional and informative listening passages and a biography.  
Way to go, Monica!

Josef Bastian’s, EXCERPTS FROM AN UNKNOWN GUIDEBOOK: BOOK 1: PHASES OF THE MOON, was recently named a Finalist in the 2018 International Book Awards in the Children’s Fiction category.
We’re so proud of you, Josef!

Neal Levin is happy to announce that his poem, “It’s Summertime,” was published in the June 2018 issue of Pockets Magazine. His poem, “Rumble-Grumble Storm,” is in the July 2018 issue of Highlights for Children.

Way to go, Neal!   

Jordan J. Scavone's second picture book, THE MUD PRINCESS, is now available on Amazon! Follow Georgia, a girl who defies the looks and ideals of her princess peers. When the other princesses are captured by a dragon, Georgia must decide if she should help those who shunned and mocked her. Jordan also has a downloadable companion coloring page on his website.

So happy for you, Jordan!

Ruth McNally Barshaw illustrated the middle-grade novel about two Latino sisters who love softball, THERE’S NO BASE LIKE HOME. Written by two-time Olympic medalist and ESPN baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza and her English-teacher sister Alana Mendoza Dusan, the book officially released June 19 by publisher Lee and Low. This story is for 7 to12 year-olds who like sports, love families, or just want an exciting read.

Happy Dancing with you, Ruth!

On March 10, Janet Ruth Heller spoke about “Nine Tips for a Successful Book Signing Event” for the Motown Writers Network Monthly Meet Up at the Detroit Public Library Main Branch. On Saturday, March 17, Janet also spoke about “Recent Multicultural Literature for Children” for the Michigan Reading Association Conference in Detroit. On April 13, Janet and Miriam Bat-Ami conducted a workshop called “Writing and Revising Religious Poetry and Prose” for the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

Three cheers, Janet!

Lindsey McDivitt is thrilled to share that her PB bio, NATURE'S FRIEND: THE GWEN FROSTIC STORY, officially released in July from Sleeping Bear Press. And Lindsey did her first book tour in early July and visited book stores in Northern Michigan. This is Lindsey’s first picture book!

We’re so happy for you, Lindsey!

Pat Trattles’s activity, “Welcome Game,” will be published in the November issue of Pockets Magazine!

Way to go, Pat!

On June 30, 2018, Jean Alicia Elster was the guest speaker/presenter for the 3rd Annual Yule Love It Lavender Farm Writing Workshop, sponsored by Detroit Working Writers. Her workshop presentation was titled “The Tyranny of Reality (Revisited).” Jean was also one of the off-panel authors interviewed in The Documentary, World Book Cafe: Detroit, a production of the BBC World Service. The segment aired on international radio on June 23, 2018.

We’re proud of you, Jean!

September sees the release of the 11th book in Lisa Wheeler’s Dino series for CarolRhoda/Lerner (illustrated by Barry Gott). DINO-CHRISTMAS will be the first of 4 titles that share how the dinosaurs spend their holidays. Dino-Sport fans are eager for this one!

We’re giving you a standing ovation, Lisa!

Deb Pilutti is happy to report that her illustrations for IDEA JAR, written by Adam Lehrhaupt, were awarded merit in the 3x3 International Children's Book Show and will be published in 3x3 Magazine's Illustration annual #15.

So happy for you, Deb!

Special congratulations go out to Kristin Lenz, the winner of the PAL Novel Mentorship with Leslie Connor for her novel, THE DOOR SWINGS OPEN. Congratulations to runners-up Charlie Barshaw for his novel, AUNT AGNES, and Margaret Mason for her novel, IS MY NAME.

Congratulations to Kristin, Margaret and Charlie!

Kathryn Madeline Allen's picture book, I AM A BABY, (Photos by Rebecca Gizicki, published by Albert Whitman & Co.will be released as a board book edition on Sept 1!

That’s awesome, Kathie!

And I have some happy news of my own to share! My poem, “Alice Thanks her (Looking) Glasses,” will be part of a poetry collection called THANKU: POEMS ABOUT GRATITUDE, edited by Miranda Paul, published by Lerner/Millbrook and scheduled for a fall 2019 release. And my picture book manuscript, WHAT THE SEASHELL SAID, recently won an Honorable Mention in the 2018 Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Literature at Hunger Mountain. The piece will be published in their winner’s collection in the coming months. So very happy! 

Didn’t I tell you we had lots to celebrate?! For every piece of good news, there are hours, days, months and years of hard work, and we are proud of all of you!

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


January-March 2018

Happy Friday Michkid Friends!

As I’m putting the finishing touches on this installment of Hugs and Hurrahs, it’s a beautiful sunny and breezy day in the Mitten. The first in a long, long, LOOOONNNGGG time! So it seems only right that it’s time to celebrate our happy publishing news from the first three months of 2018. Be sure and adjust your sunglasses, because as always, Michigan kidlit folk are shining brightly!

Here we go. . .

Hats off to Joe Kimble who was interviewed about his picture book, MR. MOUTHFUL LEARNS HIS LESSON, on Michigan Radio in January. Here’s a link:

Joe also spoke at several elementary schools in Phoenix and San Diego this winter and had a book signing at the Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix.

Way to go Joe!

A big hurrah to Janet Heller, who recently presented “Nine Tips for a Successful Book Signing Event” for the Motown Writers Network Monthly Meet Up at the Detroit Public Library Main Branch. Janet will also be speaking at the Festival of Faith and Writing on Friday, April 13, about “Writing and Revising Religious Poetry and Prose.”

That’s awesome, Janet!

Congratulations to Neal Levin who won the latest Saturday Evening Post “Limerick Laughs” contest. His winning limerick is announced here:

So proud of you, Neal!

A big round of applause for Lisa Wheeler, whose new book, PEOPLE DON'T BITE PEOPLE, was released April 3rd, 2018, and has received two starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal. AMAZING!

In other news, Lisa’s book, THE CHRISTMAS BOOT, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, (Dial Books for Young Readers) has been translated and released in China with TB Publishing. Also, 8 of her 10 Dino-Sports books, illustrated by Barry Gott, (Lerner Publishing) have been translated and released in Korea by Woongjin Think Big Co. Ltd.

You’re an international star, Lisa!

Hop! Hop! Meeehh! Meeehh! Clomp! Clomp! Oink! Oink! Buffy Silverman's four new titles for Lerner Publishing's Little Pets series are now out. Read all about these cute critters in Dwarf Rabbits, Pygmy Goats, Mini Horses, and Mini Pigs. Buffy also ventured into the World of Gaming with two other Lerner books: The World of Pokémon and The World of Mario Bros.

You’re amazing, Buffy!

Woo Hoo for Erin Fanning! Her hi-lo novel, CLOUD WARRIOR, about bravery and rediscovering old friendships during a kayaking disaster, was published in January by Saddleback Educational Publishers. Here's the URL:

Way to go, Erin!

Hats off to Monica Harris who recently sold SIX writing pieces (3-fictional and 3 informational) to Data Recognition Corp / Michigan Department of Education.

That’s awesome, Monica!

Kevin Dangoor (writing as Barnaby Quirk) indie published his third middle-grade novel, Virtual Grunt, on March 9th. Kevin and Chris Africa and will be talking about indie publishing at the next Ann Arbor SCBWI Shop Talk on April 21, where Kevin will share some of how the book came to be.

So excited for you, Kevin!

Hat’s off to Jack Cheng, whose untitled middle-grade novel was recently acquired by Dial Books, following his award-winning debut, SEE YOU IN THE COSMOS. His new book takes place in a near-future Detroit, is set partly inside a video game, and follows Chinese-American seventh-grader Octavia Lu and her burgeoning friendship with Dante, an African-American boy newly "bussed in" to her suburban school in a self-driving car. Publication is set for spring 2020.

Way to go, Jack!

Three cheers for Rhonda Gowler Greene, who has a new picture book coming out with Bloomsbury in May— LET’S GO ABC! THINGS THAT GO, FROM A TO Z, Illustrated by Daniel Kirk.

In other good news, the text from Rhonda’s book, SING PRAISE, was commissioned several months ago by St. John’s Cathedral of Knoxville, set to music, and sung at their February 4th treble choir festival.  Sixty kids (3rd grade - high school) from area Knoxville churches made up the choir, and Rhonda got to attend the performance!

That’s so inspiring, Rhonda!

Students around the state recently voted for the 2017-2018 Great Lakes Great Books Award. Lisa Wheeler's picture book DINO-RACING was the winner for grades K-1, and Kristin Bartley Lenz's YA novel, THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO, was one of the two honor books for 9-12th graders. See the complete list of winners and honor books for all ages here. The 2018-2019 nominees have also been announced, including Jack Cheng for his middle grade novel, SEE YOU IN THE COSMOS. See all of the nominees and voting instructions here

So proud of you Lisa, Kristin and Jack! 

Anita Pazner is celebrating! She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts in January.

That’s quite an accomplishment, Anita! 

And finally, I did my first school visit entitled, ARE YOU MY FRIEND? based on my book, ALL ABOUT SOCIAL NETWORKING, in North Carolina just a few weeks ago. We had about 60 kids attend, and we talked about what true friendship looks like, the differences between real live friends and social media friends and how to stay safe online. It was so much fun (and I think the kids liked it tooJ).

Isn’t it great to be part of such an inspiring group of children’s writers? And remember, no matter where you are on your publishing journey, we think you’re pretty special!

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.