The biggest mystery Julie Artz unraveled as a young girl was how to properly pronounce the word “spaghetti” and she never, EVER, would have run away with her stinky little brother…Eww! But she did spend a lot of time writing stories, mainly about girls who fought all sorts of parental and peer injustice before reaching the pinnacle of ten-year-old existence: riding off into the sunset on a pony of her very own. Now her middle-grade stories contain both a magical bent and more sympathetic parents. Learn more about Julie on her blog, TerminalVerbosity (www.terminalverbosity.com), or connect with her on Twitter (@JulieArtz).
Amie Borst could never fit enough chocolate in one violin case to last her a whole week, let alone one day. When she’s not eating chocolate, she’s busy writing with her three daughters. She lives in northern Virginia soaking up the sun and walking through cemeteries plotting her next idea. To learn more about Amie, visit her website, www.amieborst.com.
Dori Hillestad Butler always felt like she and Claudia were kindred spirits, except Dori didn’t want to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; she wanted to live in a library. When she was in high school, she worked in the library. She liked to stay after closing and write in the library by herself…until she got caught. Today she still likes to write in libraries, but she usually does it when the library is open. She is the author of more than 40 books for children, including the Edgar award winning Buddy Files series and her recently released Haunted Library series. To learn more, visit www.kidswriter.com.
Dorian Cirrone ran away from home once but only got to the end of the driveway—probably because there was no place as cool as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in south Florida. Dorian still lives in Florida and writes for children and teens. Her middle grade novel THE FIRST LAST DAY (S&S/Aladdin, June 2016) is about a girl who gets caught in a time loop on the New Jersey shore. Dorian is also the author of two chapter books featuring investigative journalist Lindy Blues (THE MISSING SILVER DOLLAR and THE BIG SCOOP) as well as two young adult novels (DANCING IN RED SHOES WILL KILL YOU and PROM KINGS AND DRAMA QUEENS), short stories, and poems. Visit her at www.doriancirrone.com to learn more about these books and more.
Sue Cowing once spent the night locked in a public library, but in the bathroom wing where she couldn’t reach the books! Naturally, she made good use of the time drafting a new novel on paper towels. . .not. Her debut novel YOU WILL CALL ME DROG was published by Carolrhoda Books in 2011 and will appear in paperback from Usborne UK in April, 2014. Visit her (and the puppet Drog) at www.suecowing.com.
Barbara Dee never ran away to the Met, but she did get lost there once on a school trip. (So embarrassing–she was the teacher.) She’s written five middle-grade novels, all published by Simon & Schuster– THE (ALMOST) PERFECT GUIDE TO IMPERFECT BOYS (2014), TRAUMA QUEEN (2011), THIS IS ME FROM NOW ON (2010), SOLVING ZOE (Bank Street Best Children’s Books of 2009), and JUST ANOTHER DAY IN MY INSANELY REAL LIFE (2006) (PW starred review). When she is not writing, or helping organize the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival, Barbara spends her time rooting for the New York Yankees, eating ice cream straight out of the container, and walking her floppy-eared rescue hound, Ripley. You can visit her at www.BarbaraDeeBooks.com.
As the oldest of four children, Laurie J. Edwards planned to run away when she was nine. She didn’t get far before she realized she’d miss her pet parakeet, so she slept on the back patio. That wasn’t the only time she slept on concrete. Later in life, she spent a winter night on a sidewalk in Marseilles, France, sharing a heating grate with a homeless person. Her love of travel has led to many interesting adventures, including stepping on a lizard in Africa, climbing a Korean mountain in flip-flops, strolling the streets of Venice in a cat costume, and eating deep-fried water beetles (yum!) in China. You can find out more about her and her books at her blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
Greg R. Fishbone writes galactic fiction from the parlor of a two-hundred year old antique home. He is the author of the Galaxy Games series, combining sports, science fiction, video games, and the end of the world. Find him at www.gfishbone.com.
Growing up in small town Oklahoma, Louise Galveston often dreamed of being locked overnight in the town library. Although her wish never came true, she does spend an immense amount of time with books. Now a proud Kansan, Louise balances out her love of writing funny, gross boy stories by reading copious amounts of Austen and Dickens. She is the author of BY THE GRACE OF TODD and its sequel, IN TODD WE TRUST (Razorbill/Penguin). www.bythegraceoftodd.com When she’s not shuffling through the mixed-up files on her messy writing desk, you’ll find Louise directing children’s theater, playing games with her big family, or up to her eyeballs in laundry.
Jan Gangsei has never felt compelled to run away as she’s had the great fortune to live in some pretty awesome places — Vermont, Key West, NYC, DC and Barbados. Plus, she’d miss her family too much. But when Jan does need an escape, she retreats to the corner of her brain that harbors her inner 11-year-old and writes stories for kids. She thinks her amazing literary agent, Sarah Davies of the Greenhouse, is the most dedicated, hardworking person on the planet. Jan’s travel agent comes in a close second.
Mike Hays is from Kansas and is a tried and true flatlander by birth. He would most assuredly be obsessed with a statue of mysterious origins, especially if he could buy said statue on the cheap. He has worked as a molecular microbiologist for over 25 years, has coached high school sports, and writes middle-grade books. He writes from a boy point of view and hopes to spread his particular style of stupid-funny inspiration through his books, blogs and social media. His upper middle-grade historical fiction novel, THE YOUNGER DAYS, is about a family’s survival in the fallout from the violent Border War over “Bloody” Kansas. You can find him at his sportsy blog, www.coachhays.com, or at his writerly blog, www.mikehaysbooks.wordpress.com.
Hillary Homzie is the author of the tween novels, THE HOT LIST (S&S 2011) and THINGS ARE GONNA GET UGLY, as well as the comedic chapter book series ALIEN CLONES FROM OUTER SPACE, which is being made into an animated television series. She has also been privately coaching both published authors and aspiring authors for nine years, and during the summers teaches in the graduate program in children’s writing at Hollins University. A former sketch comedy performer in NYC, Hillary currently lives with her family in Northern California. Please visit www.hillaryhomzie.com.
While in high school, Jacqueline Houtman touched one of Michelangelo’s Slave sculptures in the Louvre Museum and got a stern look from a guard. After her reckless art-touching youth, she earned a PhD in medical microbiology. These days she writes about science for adults and children. She is a coauthor of the middle-grade biography, BAYARD RUSTIN: THE INVISIBLE ACTIVIST (Quaker Press 2014). Her middle-grade novel, THE REINVENTION OF EDISON THOMAS (Boyds Mills Press 2010) is an example of what she calls “sciency fiction,” where real science is integral to the story. She and her engineer husband live in Wisconsin, where they conduct research in the form of two sciency kids. Visit her at www.jhoutman.com.
Michelle Houts is fascinated with big cities like New York, Florence, and Rome because she doesn’t even live in a city. She lives instead on a farm outside a small town in Ohio. Sometimes the endless cornfields, starry night skies, and green pastures look a lot like art to her. She’s the author of four books for middle graders including THE BEEF PRINCESS OF PRACTICAL COUNTY, WINTERFROST, and KAMMIE ON FIRST: BASEBALL’S DOTTIE KAMENSHEK. Soon, Michelle will be finished restoring a one-room schoolhouse where she’ll adopt a cat and name her Miss Beadle. Until then, you can visit this catless author at www.michellehouts.com.
When Michele Weber Hurwitz was 10, she ran away from home with her 5-year-old brother. They made it to the end of the block. Now she journeys a little farther — her best writing ideas come on long walks in her tree-filled neighborhood. She lives in the Chicago area with her CPA husband and three children. Michele is the author of two middle grade novels, THE SUMMER I SAVED THE WORLD…IN 65 DAYS (Wendy Lamb Books/Penguin Random House 2014) and CALLI BE GOLD (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House 2011). When she’s not writing or walking, Michele can usually be found anywhere in the vicinity of chocolate. Visit www.micheleweberhurwitz.com.
T. P. Jagger once stole a coin from a fountain, but his mom made him put it back. He then decided not to be a criminal and became a teacher instead. After working many years as an elementary teacher and reading specialist, T. P. now stays home and writes a lot, washes his kids’ dirty socks, and teaches online for Indiana Wesleyan University even though he actually lives in the state of Washington. His writing is geared toward middle-grade boys because that’s what the voice of the 10-year-old trapped in his head keeps telling him to write. He is not a ninja. Visit him at www.tpjagger.com.
Linda Johns has always thought there’s something nice and safe about being surrounded by books. She spends her days in an 11-story library that has excellent potential for adventure, even if mummies are kept in the 393′s instead of their own Egyptian wing. She is the author of the HANNAH WEST middle-grade mystery series (published by Penguin) and is a librarian at the Seattle Public Library. Visit her at lindajohns.wordpress.com or on the third floor of the downtown Seattle library.
Katharine Manning is a middle grade writer and mom of three. She lives outside Washington, D.C., and so far has only ever stuck her toes into the fountain at the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden. Katharine writes books for girls dreamy enough to believe in dragons, and strong enough to defeat them. Check out her book recommendations for the 5-12 set at www.kidbooklist.com. You can find her on Twitter @SuperKate.
If Claudia Kincaid currently lived in Greenwich, CT, Stacy Barnett Mozer might have been her third grade teacher. When she is not busy teaching, going to her son and daughter’s soccer practices, and finding critique groups for New England SCBWI writers, Stacy writes middle grade novels. You can also find her blogging at Sportygirlbooks.blogspot.com. Visit her at StacyMozer.com
Rosanne Parry knows all about hiding in museums, cheating at cards, and having a bossy big sister. She’s the author of the middle-grade novels HEART OF A SHEPHERD and SECOND FIDDLE (2011). She and her husband live in an a very old house in Portland, Oregon where they raise four children, three chickens and five kinds of fruit. You can visit her tree house office at www.rosanneparry.com.
Andrea Pyros was born and raised in New York City, and she’s still sad that she’s never spent the night in any of the city’s museums. Andrea now lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and their two children and works as a freelance writer for a variety of publications. She is also the author of MY YEAR OF EPIC ROCK, a middle-grade novel about friends, crushes, and a 7th-grade rock band named The EpiPens. Visit her at www.andreapyros.com or on Twitter @AndreaPyros.
Jonathan Rosen is a high school English teacher and father of three, living in South Florida. He spends his “free” time being a volunteer coach for their sports teams. Some of Jonathan’s earliest memories are of writing. He writes for middle-grade boys, because they share the same sensibilities and sense of humor. Jonathan has lived all over in such varied places as, New York, Mexico, Israel and now Florida. He is hoping to eventually find a place that will let him stay.
If Tricia Springstubb could get locked in somewhere overnight, it would be the zoo! She’d love to see what the animals do after all the humans go home. She is the author of the award-winning WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET and its sequel MO WREN LOST AND FOUND. Her new novel, MOONPENNY ISLAND, and the first book in her new series, CODY AND THE FOUNTAIN OF HAPPINESS, will both publish in 2015. Tricia lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where she’s a book critic for the Plain Dealer and has the requisite garden, cats, and love of flannel PJs. Please visit her at www.triciaspringstubb.com.
In fourth grade, Valerie Stein touched an ancient artifact from an archaeological dig. Though she never got to travel the world in search of buried treasure, she ended up journeying to new and exciting places between the pages of books. Now she spends her time researching history, in museums and libraries, which is like archaeology but without the dirt. Valerie’s book, THE BEST OF IT: A JOURNAL OF LIFE, LOVE AND DYING, was published in 2009. Her current work focuses on historical fiction set in Washington State. Valerie is proprietor of Homeostasis Press, and blogs at The Best of It. She manages Gather Here, an online history site for middle grade readers and teachers.
Jennifer Swanson dreams of one day running away to the Museum of Science and Industry- then maybe she could look at all the exhibits and try out all the gadgets without competing for them with her kids. An author of twenty nonfiction science books for grades 3-6, Jennifer’s goal is to show kids that Science Rocks! She lives in sunny Florida with her husband, three kids and two dogs. When not writing she’s on the hunt for fun science facts. Learn more about Jennifer and her books at www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com.
Mindy Alyse Weiss spends so much time writing humorous stories with heart, she usually has a laundry mountain large enough to fill a hundred violin cases. She lives in Florida, and is constantly inspired by her husband, daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix who was rescued from the Everglades. Visit Mindy’s Twitter, Facebook, or blog to read more about her writing life, conference experiences, and writing tips.