Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2019 Pocono Mountain Retreat Faculty Information

Lead Faculty

Melissa Iwai

Melissa Iwai is the author and illustrator of many books for young children. Some of her stories include Soup Day and Pizza Day, which she wrote and illustrated. She is the illustrator of Thirty Minutes Over Oregon (a 2018 Orbis Pictus Honor book) and I’ll Hug You More, as well as many more. She received her BFA in Illustration from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. Melissa has been a proud member of SCBWI since 1996 and served on the faculty of the SCBWI New Jersey Regional Conference in 2013. Please visit her site at to view her work.


Lisa Maxwell

Lisa Maxwell is the New York Times Best-Selling author of The Last MagicianThe book is being translated into eleven languages and has been sold in twelve territories. Her other books for Young Adults include the YAVA award-winning Unhooked, as well as the critically acclaimed Sweet Unrest and Gathering DeepShe has a PhD in English and is a professor at a community college outside of D.C. She drinks way too much coffee and has a soft spot for loud music and fast cars. When she’s not teaching or writing, you can probably find her catching a live band or going on adventures with her husband and two boys.

Publishing Guests:

Mallory Grigg is an award-winning designer who has had the pleasure of working for Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Alloy Entertainment, Cider Mill Press, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Currently she’s the Art Director for Feiwel & Friends, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Swoon, and Squarefish at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group where she works on everything from picture books to YA fiction. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.


Eileen Robinson

Eileen Robinson is an editor, publisher, and writer. She loves the power of stories and helping authors revise.  She feels once the draft is done, the revision process is where an author’s skill, inventiveness, and individuality begins to shine through. She has worked in children’s publishing as an editor for over 20 years, in-house and independently at both Scholastic and Harcourt — in educational publishing, school and library, with has trade, magazines, book fairs and clubs. She now owns, partners with Harold Underdown in Kid’s Book Revisions and launched  Move Books Children’s Publishing in 2011.



Amanda Ramirez

Amanda Isabel Ramirez joined Simon & Schuster Books for Younger Readers in 2016, to much fanfare from her loud, Puerto Rican family. As David Gale’s assistant, she’s had the honor of working with talented authors like Neal Shusterman, Katherine Rundell, Tim Federle, Andrew Smith, and countless others. Amanda is passionate about diverse, commercial literature from contemporary YA to fanciful middle grade adventures to subversive, tongue-in-cheek picture books. Prior to S&S, she was the assistant online editor at The Literary Review; a Barnes & Noble children’s lead bookseller; the copy editor for Petite Hound Press; and a staff writer for The Celebrity Café, Puckermob, and elsewhere. Amanda has an MFA in creative writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. A Long Island native, if she’s not reading, writing, or climbing filing cabinets, she’s probably napping. For a current look at her wish list (PB – YA) please visit: #MSWL/AmandaIsARam


Jennifer Herrera

Jennifer Herrera joined the David Black Agency in 2015 after working at Fletcher & Company and Europa Editions, where she was an early advocate of Elena Ferrante. She went to college in Ohio, where she studied Philosophy, French, and Russian, and has master’s degrees in Philosophy and Social Sciences.

She loves reading nonfiction books about big ideas and fiction that is thoughtful, unselfconscious, and authentic. Jennifer is actively looking for submissions in upmarket and literary fiction, as well as nonfiction. She is particularly drawn to science, psychology, philosophy, economics, prescriptive, lifestyle, and smart gift books, as well as history, when its focus is on the stories of underrepresented groups, and anything that has a social justice angle.


Marie Lamba

Marie Lamba ( is author of the picture book Green Green (Farrar Straus Giroux, ’17), of the upcoming picture book A Day So Gray (Clarion, Fall ’19), and of the young adult novels What I Meant… (Random House), Over My Head, and Drawn. Her articles are in more than 100 publications, and she’s a frequent contributor to Writer’s Digest. She has worked as an editor, an award-winning public relations writer, and a book publicist. As a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in NYC (, Marie represents picture book writers and illustrators, middle grade, YA and adult fiction, plus memoir. You can follow her on Twitter @marielamba, and like her Facebook page: Marie Lamba, Author.

In addition to our lead faculty and publishing guests, we are thrilled

to offer six sessions with Eastern PA members.


Linda Oatman High


Matthew Ross Smith


Julie Gonzalez


Hallee Adelman


Jennifer Robin Barr


Tony Fredericks


Eric Taylor

Roundtable sessions will be lead by the following authors and illustrators:

Jan Cheripko, Jodi Moore, Kristin Walker, Melanie Eitelman, Berrie Torgan-Randall,

Gail C. Krause, & Katrina S. Forest

Roundtable sessions will add a new layer to our Friday night introductions and we are grateful to our members for their willingness to share mini-sessions on everything from social media strategies to reimagining fairy tales. (You will receive a complete list of our roundtable offerings upon registration to the event.)