Varian Johnson is the author of two novels, including the Essence Magazine Bestseller, A Red Polka Dot In A World Full of Plaid. He was born and raised in Florence, South Carolina, and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering. Varian now lives in Austin, TX with his wife, Crystal, and is currently pursuing an MFA for Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. His second novel, My Life as a Rhombus, was released, January 2008.
Learn more about Varian at http://www.varianjohnson.com/.
Don Tate is an award-winning author, and the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children, including The Cart That Carried Martin, (Charlesbridge); One Hope’s Gift, (Penguin); Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite (Charlesbridge); She Loved Baseball (HarperCollins); and Ron’s Big Mission, (Penguin). He is also the author of It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started To Draw, an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor winner. Don lives in Austin, Texas, with his family.
Visit Don at http://www.dontate.com/.
Kelly Starling Lyons is a children’s book author whose mission is to transform moments, memories and history into stories of discovery. Her books include One Million Men and Me, a picture book with illustrator Peter Ambush that explores the Million Man March through the eyes of a little girl who was there with her daddy, and chapter book, NEATE: Eddie’s Ordeal. She has two forthcoming picture books with G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers. Ellen’s Broom, illustrated by Daniel Minter, will debut on January 5, 2012. Tea Cakes for Tosh, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, will debut that fall.
A native of Pittsburgh, Kelly lives in North Carolina where she facilitates a book club that celebrates African-American children’s book creators of today and the past. [Photo Credit: Zack E. Hamlett, III]
Learn more about Kelly at http://www.kellystarlinglyons.com.
Tameka Fryer Brown, a native of Miami, Florida, calls Charlotte, North Carolina home—and has for over 14 years. She has donned many titles, including Medical Supplies Sales Rep, Teacher’s Assistant, Sunday School Teacher, Church Youth Counselor, Wife, Mother (times 3), and most recently, Children’s Book Author.
AROUND OUR WAY, Tameka’s debut picture book, will be published by Abrams Books for Young Readers in the Fall of 2010; her second book, MY COLD PLUM, LEMON PIE, BLUESY MOOD (Viking Children’s), is scheduled for 2013. Tameka was also awarded one of two First Prizes in the 2008 Cheerios® Spoonfuls of Stories® New Author Contest.
While Tameka’s stories are quite diverse in topic, they all have three basic goals in common: (1) to explore a given emotion, (2) within a relatable story (3) via unusual characters, in an unusual way. She is currently working on several picture book projects, and a magical-realism, middle grade novel. [Photo Credit: D. E. Photography]
Check out Tameka’s website at http://www.tamekafryerbrown.com
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich’s debut novel for teens, Eighth-Grade Superzero, will be released on January 1, 2010 by Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic.
She has written for various magazines, including American Baby, Healthy Kids, Word up! Rap Masters, Right On!, and Scholastic Instructor and now does a monthly column, “Faves on a Friday”, at AuthorsNow! She has been a PR writer, grant writer, developed curricular materials, and has 10+ years of experience in youth development and literacy education, at community organizations and in New York City schools. She was an Echoing Green Foundation Fellow, working with adolescent girls in creative arts and literacy.
Olugbemisola studied the teaching of writing at the Teachers College Reading & Writing Project at Columbia University. She received her M.A. in Educational Communication and Technology from New York University, with a concentration in Adolescent Literacy and English Education, and her B.Sc. from Cornell University in Communication and Africana Studies.
Olugbemisola was the ‘new kid’ at school many times, in more than one country, and currently lives with her family in Brooklyn, NY, where she loves walking and working on crafts in many forms.
For more about Olugbemisola’s debut visit her at http://www.olugbemisola.com.
Gwendolyn Hooks is the author of sixteen books for children. She writes both fiction and nonfiction to encourage children to explore their world. As a child, Gwendolyn was forced to explore whenever her Air Force father transferred to another base. “It was hard always being the new girl in class,” Gwendolyn remembers about those moves. But she could count on a trip to the library to ease the transition.
Gwendolyn graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with a degree in Secondary Education-Mathematics. She taught in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Now she writes from her home in Oklahoma City.
Her recent books are the eight-book series, The Pet Club Stories (Stone Arch Books 2011), Bobby’s Big Bear Hunt (Red Chair Press 2010), and The Best Shoes (Bebop Books 2011).
For more about Gwendolyn, visit her at www.GwendolynHooks.com
* I was born in a military hospital in Germany because my dad was in the Army.
* I’m the youngest of five children.
* I spent lots of my young years in New Albany, Indiana where I was corn-shucking and multiplication queen of my third grade class.
* I’m ambidextrous, which means I can write with both hands.
* I wore a wig to school my entire fifth grade year because I hated my hair.
* I had two dates to an eighth grade sweetheart dance in which I was a candidate for Sweetheart Queen. (whoops!) I apologized to both guys because one had asked me very, very early and I’d forgotten. It was awkward for awhile, but then all three of us shrugged, got on the dance floor and shook what our mommas gave us! Ended up being one of the best dances ever!
* In high school, I taught everyone in our choir to do the robot and we performed it in a concert.
*My most recent book is, How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Award (HarperCollins)
Like Lamar, I had asthma. I grew out of it, though, when I was 16.
I’m married, have two sons and we live in Texas. My husband’s parents and siblings are from Tennessee and when they come to visit, we have a Texas/Tennessee bowling war where we all talk trash and try to bowl like Lamar.
Paula Chase-Hyman doesn’t mind being known as a Jane of all trades, Queen of none. But a single theme has followed throughout her career in communications—keeping her finger on the pulse of teen culture. From starting her own mentoring group at Annapolis Senior High School in ’94 to coaching her Green Hornet cheerleaders to Grand Champion (ahem, twice), Chase-Hyman refuses to squash her inner teen diva. Luckily, her long memory for all things young led to a career writing young adult novels.
Paula’s Del Rio Bay series, which helped introduce Dafina’s YA line, debuted in March 2007.
Visit Paula at http://www.paulachasehyman.com/.
For more about Crystal, visit her at www.crystalallenbooks.com