Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2020 Fall Conference – Faculty Bios

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Learn about the faculty for the North Texas 2020 Fall Conference, listed below in alphabetical order.



Sara Jane Abbott

Sarah Jane Abbott is an associate editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books at Simon & Schuster. She started her career at S&S as a publicity assistant before joining Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books as editorial assistant in 2014. She is also on the editorial board of Simon & Schuster’s  She has had the pleasure of working on books such as The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast by Samantha M. Clark and The Sea Knows by Alice McGinty and Alan Havis, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis.  She loves quirky, character driven picture books with a lot of heart; non-fiction picture books, especially about little-known, strong women; and unique, literary middle grade novels. She is committed to uplifting diverse and underrepresented voices and their stories.





Jen Betton 

Jen Betton loves to draw and make up stories with her pictures. In Kindergarten she got into trouble for drawing gifts on a picture of Santa, and she has been illustrating ever since. She wrote and illustrated HEDGEHOG NEEDS A HUG, published with Putnam, which won Pennsylvania’s Keystone to Reading Award, and was shortlisted for Mississippi’s Magnolia Award. She illustrated TWILIGHT CHANT, written by Holly Thompson, published with Clarion, which was an NCTE Notable Poetry Book.

She has a BA in English, and a BFA and MFA in Illustration. She was also a college art professor for eight years, teaching illustration and animation students. You can find her near Dallas chasing her two munchkins. Her work is at and @jenbetton.





Vanessa Brantley Newton 

Vanessa Brantley Newton attended both SVA and FIT of New York, where she studied fashion and children’s illustration. An artist swathed in retro chic, she loves all things vintage – especially books and clothes from the 40s through the 60’s – and it shines through in her designs, which run the gamut of fun and whimsical to stylish and sophisticated. She loves to add unique touches to her work, including mixed media accents, collage, and hand lettering. Her desire is that all children see themselves illustrated beautifully in pictures. She celebrates self-love and acceptance of all cultures through her work, and hopes to inspire young readers to find their voices.

She lives in Charlotte, NC, with her husband of more than 25 years, their daughter and a very old cat named Stripes.





Arree Chung 

Arree Chung is an award winning author, illustrator and international speaker living in San Francisco Bay Area. Arree travels to schools across the country to encourage children to writestories, make art and to share their creative ideas.Arree shares creative and writing techniques with parents and educators to help grow the next generation of creative thinkers and storytellers. Arreeʼs most popular books are Ninja! and Mixed.Mixed uses color theory to discuss diversity, acceptance and inclusion in a simple but powerful story.







Sean Easley

Sean Easley is the author of young adult and middle grade adventure books, including the Hotel Between series from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. After working with kids and teens for well over a decade, he managed to grab a master’s degree in education and has since turned his passion for lifelong learning toward creating empowering stories for young people. Now he’s a full-time writer and author mentor, helping others to get their words out. He lives with his wife and son in Texas, where he stubbornly refuses to wear cowboy boots. Visit him at, or on Twitter and Instagram at @AuthorEasley.






Erin Golden

Erin Lee Golden has written stories for as long as she can remember, although she stopped illustrating them around age eight when she realized she couldn’t draw a straight line! She earned an English and history degree from UT Arlington and is a former high school English and creative writing teacher who now teaches writing for Texas Christian University’s Extended Education department.

Erin is a longtime member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Dallas Area Writers Group (DAWG) and is also a Writing Barn Fellow who works on The Courage to Create podcast. Erin is represented by Erzsi Deàk of Hen & Ink Literary. Her publication credits include Let’s Dance with Julius and Friends; Big, Bigger, and Biggest Trucks and Diggers; and four titles in Chronicle Book’s Scratchers activity book series. Also a speaker, Erin has presented workshops for DAWG, SCBWI, and local writers groups in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where she lives with her husband, two sons, and five very spoiled rescued pets.





Christa Heschke

Christa Heschke graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children’s Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively acquiring for all age groups in children’s.



Natalie Lakosil

Natalie is an agent at Bradford Literary Agency. Her specialties are all ages (PB, chapter book, MG, YA) of children’s literature, both fiction and nonfiction, adult cozy mystery/crime, female-driven thrillers, and upmarket women’s/general fiction. She also represents illustrators and select adult nonfiction. You can find her online @natalie_lakosil,, or



Karlie Lucas

Karlie Lucas is a graduate of Southern Utah University, where she received a B.A. in Creative Writing with a minor in art. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, The International English Honor Society, SCBWI, as well as ANWA, the American Night Writers Association.

Karlie is interested in all things magical and mysterious, especially elves and dragons. She is an avid fan of J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling. When not writing, Karlie can often be found drawing, baking, watching her favorite old school shows, or just spending time with her family. She currently resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband and a cat named Kally.





Daniel Nayeri 

Daniel is the publisher of Odd Dot, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, where he oversees a team of designers, editors, and inventors creating joyful books for curious minds. Daniel was born in Iran and spent several years as a refugee before immigrating to Oklahoma at age eight with his family. He is the author of several books for young readers, including EVERYTHING SAD IS UNTRUE and STRAW HOUSE, WOOD HOUSE, BRICK HOUSE, BLOW: Four Novellas. He is a former professional pastry chef, and if he’s not writing or baking, he’s likely playing board games, or riding motorcycles.