Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Pocono Retreat 2015 Faculty Information


Faculty Members:

 Ammi-Joan Paquette




Ammi-Joan Paquette

Senior Agent – Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Ammi-Joan Paquette is a senior agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency, representing all types of children’s and YA literature. She is also the author of the forthcoming novel Princess Juniper of the Hourglass (Philomel, 2015), and other books including Paradox (RH, 2013), Rules for Ghosting (Walker, 2013),Nowhere Girl (Walker, 2011), Ghost in the House (Candlewick, 2013), and Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo (Clarion, 2013). In her agent acquisitions, Joan is particularly drawn to richly voiced, unforgettable characters and settings, as well as tightly-paced, well-plotted stories with twists and turns that keep you guessing right until the end. Visit her on the web at:


Laura Whitaker






Laura Whitaker

Former Associate Editor – Bloomsbury Children's Books

Laura Whitaker was an Associate Editor at Bloomsbury Children’s Books. Laura edited everything from picture books through YA.  She worked on literary thrillers Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst (Walker BFYR, 2013) and Insanity by Susan Vaught (Bloomsbury, 2014) and forthcoming contemporary coming-of-age novel This Side of Home by Renée Watson (Bloomsbury, 2015). She also edited Ruthie and the (Not So) Very Busy Day by Laura Rankin (Bloomsbury, 2014) and worked on the Penguin pictures books by Salina Yoon. While open to books for all age ranges, she is particularly interested in innovative, soul-searing literary fiction and knee-melting romances that capture the beauty and freshness of first love. She also loves well-researched and expertly crafted historical adventure stories and edgy, wrenching and unforgettable coming-of-age novels that deal with sensitive topics and issues. She is actively searching for quirky, funny and honest picture books that present first experiences in an unexpected light.

When she’s not reading, editing or talking about children’s books, Laura can be found trying to teach herself how to cook (and failing miserably, even though her roommate kindly says that her food tastes delicious), dreaming about someday owning a miniature schnauzer, avidly trying to catch up on her favorite TV shows, and walking around marveling at the magnificence that is New York City. You can find her on Twitter at @laura_gemma


Heather Flaherty







Heather Flaherty

Literary Agent, The Bent Agency

Currently I'm looking for YA fiction across-the-board, though my heart does sway towards issue-related YA with humor and heart – not depressing, or mopey. I also love love love hard, punchy, contemporary YA that’s got no hesitations when it comes to crazy. I'm also always up for seeing contemporary stories with Sci-Fi or Fantasy elements, as well as a clever respin of an old or classic tale. And then, lastly, really good horror and ghost stories… not gory-for-gory's sake or overly disgusting, but cringing, dark, bloody twisted, and even lovely. That said, the one thing I love above all else in a YA novel, regardless of sub-genre, is a strong and specific character voice. A real person, not another “everygirl.”

As for the Middle-Grade I'm looking for, I want it stark, honest, and even dark; either contemporary or period, as long as it’s accessible. Coming-of-age stories, dealing-with-difficulty stories, witness stories (adult issues seen through the child’s p.o.v kinda thing), anything that makes you want to hold the narrator's hand… for your own comfort, as well as their’s. I am also ok with these stories having slight magical or fantasy elements as well – as long as they're subtle.

In New Adult, I like to see story… not just romance and/or erotica. For me, it should pretty much be a great YA novel for an older audience.

On the non-fiction side, I'm looking for strong teen memoirs about overcoming crushing situations.






Rachel Orr

Literary Agent, Prospect Agency

RACHEL is celebrating her eighth year at Prospect Agency. She previously worked for eight rewarding years at HarperCollins Children's Books, and now uses those editorial skills to help prepare her clients' work for submission. Her clients include a wide-range of picture-book authors, illustrators, and middle-grade/YA novelists, including Kit Alloway
(DREAMFIRE), Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS!), Cori Doerrfeld (MATILDA IN THE MIDDLE), Jennifer Latham (SCARLETT UNDERCOVER) and Todd Tarpley (MY GRANDMA IS A NINJA). Rachel teaches an online course on middle-grade novel writing through, and also serves on the council for the Rutgers One-on-One Conference in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Rachel now lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her husband and two young children. She has no spare time but, if she did, she would spend it dancing, running and reading, of course.


Darcy Pattison


Storyteller, writing teacher, Queen of Revisions, and founder of Mims House publisher, Darcy Pattison has recently been motivated by zombies (which helped her meet a goal of running a 5K) and chocolate (which keeps her marriage young). Always active, before her tenth birthday, she (almost) climbed the Continental Divide, turning back at the last 20 yards because it was too steep and great climbing shoes hadn’t been invented yet. Last year, she biked in Poland and hiked the Rockies. On her bucket list is kayaking the Nepali Coast, eating curry in Bombay, and catching a glimpse of a puma in South America.


   In 1999, she created the Novel Revision Retreat, which she has taught across the nation. Passionate authors at those retreats taught Darcy the power of story, and how an author’s passion can carry a career. Author of fiction and nonfiction for children and adults, her bio was twice rejected by Wikipedia because she failed to meet their standards of “Notability.” Let it be noted, however, that the bio was been resubmitted, this time with proper references as to her Notability and you can read it here:


   Translated into nine languages, Darcy has written about writing for many industry periodicals. Darcy served as Arkansas Regional Advisor for the SCBWI from 1991-96. In 1999, Darcy created the Novel Revision Retreat, which she teaches nationwide. Darcy is a member of the Author’s Guild. Awards include: Irma S. and James H. Black Picture Book Award Honor Book; twice her books have been named the National Science Teachers Association Outstanding Trade Books of the Year, and she’s the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Art Award for Individual Artist.


Leslie Helakoski







Leslie Helakoski


Leslie Helakoski grew up in south Louisiana. She is the author of Big Chickens (the Michigan Reads Picturebook for 2007, Great Lakes Great Books Award and a GLBA finalist) and Woolbur (a Book Sense pick for 2008, Florida Reading Assoc. Honor Book and nominee for state book awards in 9 states) Her other books include Big Chickens Fly the Coop, The Smushy Bus and most recently she authored and illustrated Fair Cow. See book trailers for her books, Fair Cow and Big Chickens at

Visit her website here

Lindsay Barrett George

Lindsay Barrett George


Lindsay Barrett George was born in the West Indies and grew up in New Jersey. She received a BFA degree from Manhattanville College (after having spent a year at the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston) and an MFA degree from the University of Wisconsin, where she majored in drawing and printmaking. After her studies in the Midwest, Lindsay returned to the East Coast and worked as a fine-art printer in New York City. She later got a job in publishing and worked as a designer in a children’s book department. Lindsay left New York City, had two children, and now spends her time creating children’s books. Lindsay’s published works include the popular“Who’s Been Here?” books from Greenwillow: Around the Pond: Who’s Been Here?; Around the World: Who’s Been Here?; In the Snow: Who’s Been Here?; In the Woods: Who’s Been Here?and In the Garden: Who’s Been Here?

Her most recent books include The Secret; Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse; Alfred Digs; Maggie’s Ball and That Pup! Lindsay has also coauthored and illustrated Beaver at Long Pond and illustrated Box Turtle at Long Pond. To read more about Lindsay, visit