Tim writes under the pen name Francis S. Poesy and has developed an exciting backstory for Mr. Poesy, as he believes writers of children’s stories should be more interesting than a technical writer who lives outside of Philadelphia with his wife, his son, and his daughter’s dog (don’t ask). Tim is a serial doodler and maker of very occasional comics but aspires to write graphic novels, not draw them.
Ken is an award-winning professional dabbler. He was born in the Philippines and moved to the US with his entire family during his teenage years. Currently, he enjoys life as an author/illustrator of picture books and graphic novels. His latest graphic novel is the middle-grade series Mischief and Mayhem. His most recent books include The Whole Hole Story, Ghastly Ghosts, and Petro and the Flea King (which was Nevada’s 2020 selection for the Library of Congress National Book Festival).
Urania Smith has a B.A. in English and has been writing for children for 17 years. She is a founding and current Diversity Committee Member for the Illinois chapter of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Urania is the winner of the 2017 We Need Diverse Books Mentorship in the Picture Book category and Co-Founder of KidLit Nation. KidLit Nation has provided resources, mentorships, and conference scholarships for writers and illustrators of color. Urania loves to cook, garden, decorate, and DIY projects. She could be more humble about her mad cooking, gardening, decorating, and DIY skills.
Russ was raised by a pack of crazed hillbillies in the backwoods of Tennessee. Instead of whittling away the time, he was always found with a pencil or a paintbrush in his hand. He followed his childhood dream of becoming an artist and now creates picture books, graphic novels, and chapters books for young readers.
Annette was born in Japan and moved to California as a child. She recently moved to Columbus, Ohio where she illustrates and writes children’s books. In 2020, Annette won a mentorship with middle grade author Sylvia Liu through the Author Mentor Match program. Her debut graphic novel, SELFIES BY SUMIE will be published in 2025 with Viking Press. Annette is represented by Elizabeth Bennett of Transatlantic Agency. When Annette is not working on her books, she enjoys gardening, oil painting and spending time with her two mischievous Corgis.
Johnell is a former public relations exec who switched to writing picture books, middle grade and graphic novels. She traveled and worked with international clients before marrying a diplomat, and now moves to a new country every two-three years. Some of her favorite adventures included swimming with dolphins in the oceans of New Zealand and Israel, and snorkeling with nurse sharks in Belize. Watching her three TCK (third-culture) kids experience a childhood so different from her own rural upbringing has inspired many stories.