Desi St. Amant


Desi is a Latinx writer based in Southern California. As a child, she spent her free time climbing trees, chasing chickens, and exploring the lush foliage of her grandparents’ backyard while replaying scenes from her favorite movies. Today, she teaches high school English. As a member of SCBWI, she does monthly critiques with other experienced writers and shares exciting member news on their quarterly newsletter. She has had poems featured on Aaduna and Virgogrey Press. Currently, she writes middle-grade stories (fantasy and contemporary–sometimes a little of both). ​

When she isn’t writing or teaching, she is spending quality time with her family, playing board games, going on long runs, listening to podcasts, maintaining a residential beehive, and dancing traditional hula. ​Sometimes–if she’s lucky–she even gets sleep.

What do you love to do for fun?

I love hula dancing and making memes (it’s therapeutic).

What was your favorite book as a child?

I LOVED The Baby-sitter’s Club series and the Goosebumps series as a kid. Those books completely sucked me in and made me fall in love with reading.

Available for School Visits:

I love to visit schools and strive to make it as engaging as possible. Regardless of the book, I incorporate interactive components, such as honeycomb and beekeeping equipment for Three Bee Honey or a hula-dancing lesson for In the Middle of the Sea. I use multimedia (images and videos) of elements that inspired the story, have students play trivia games, and even lead writing exercises to help them find and develop their own stories.


Art Process:

I do a TON of brainstorming (and sometimes drafting) in a dedicated notebook for that story. Once I have an idea or concept, I create mind maps, lists, and freewrite to see what ideas come out in a short burst of time. As a parent and teacher, life is extremely busy, so every minute is precious. I have to steal time from the margins of my days (#momlife). For instance, when I garden or go on runs, I work through scenes in my head. While my kids are engaged in karate or baseball practice, I brainstorm chapters and draft dialogue. Finding a balance is a challenge, but if I am patient and steadfast, I can see some meaningful progress and growth.

One thing that is a must-have for getting into the “zone” is playing music while I write. I have to tune out all of the other background noise and let the music help me focus on the story. The selection depends on my mood or the mood of that scene in the story. If it is a happy/upbeat scene, instrumental Disney music is great. Other music I love to play in the background: LoFi HipHop Beats, any instrumental jazz (like John Coltrane), and Hawaiian music. 

Steve Metzger


Steve Metzger is the award-winning author of many children’s books, including Detective Blue (SLJ starred review) and Pluto Visits Earth (Children’s Choice Book Awards Nominee). The first book in his forthcoming graphic-novel series, The Bumble Brothers (illustrated by Brian Schatell), will be published in Fall 2022. While growing up, he enjoyed being silly, which sometimes got him in trouble at school. Now that he’s a grown-up, he (mostly) keeps out of trouble by writing silly books. Steve lives with his family in New York City.

What was your favorite book as a child?

When I was a young child, I loved “The Red Carpet” by Rex Parkin. It’s a wild, rhyming read-aloud about a carpet that keeps rolling…and rolling…and rolling all through the town..

What cool travel spots would you most highly recommend?

Nothing too exotic here: Jamaica, Venice, Paris, Florence, Yellowstone National Park, and the Grand Canyon.

Awards and honors:

The Way I Act: (Parenting Press) Winner of the Gold Award in the illustrated children’s book category of Book Design of the Publishers Association of the West; Approved for classroom use by the California Reading Association.

Detective Blue: (Scholastic) Starred Review (SLJ); Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Nominee; IRA-CBC Children’s Choice Nominee: Kansas Bill Martin Jr. Children’s Book Award Nominee; Colorado Children’s Book Nominee.

Pluto Visits Earth!: (Scholastic) ABC Best Books for Children catalog.

Yes, I Can Listen: (Chicago Review Press) Eureka! Honor Award from the California Reading Association.

Bank Street Alumni Association Award


Published Books:

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt (Scholastic) 2005

The Great Turkey Race (Scholastic) 2006

The Mixed-Up Alphabet (Scholastic) 2007

Skeleton Meets the Mummy (Scholastic) 2010

The Way I Act (Parenting Press) 2011

The Dancing Clock (Tiger Tales) 2011

Detective Blue (Scholastic) 2011

The Ice Cream King (Tiger Tales) 2011

Pluto Visits Earth! (Scholastic) 2012

The Turkey Train (Scholastic) 2012

Lincoln and Grace: Why Abraham Lincoln Grew a Beard (Scholastic) 2013

This Is the House that Monsters Built (Scholastic) 2016

Toto’s Story (self-published chapter book) 2016

Princess Kitty (HarperCollins) 2017

Yes, I Can Listen! (Chicago Review Press) 2019

Turn Off Your Silly Phone! (Koehler Books) 2020

A Hawk Is Thankful Board Book (Familius) 2022

The Bumble Brothers Graphic Novel Series (Reycraft) 2022


Visit Steve at:

Available for School Visits:

My program (PreK – 5th Grade) features:

Award-winning picture books, including The Way I Act, Detective Blue, and Yes, I Can Listen!

Science connections are made with Pluto Visits Earth!

The power of writing is emphasized through Lincoln and Grace: Why Abraham Lincoln Grew a Beard.

The six traits of writing, especially “point of view,” is communicated through Toto’s Story: My Amazing Adventures with Dorothy in Oz.

An engaging PowerPoint presentation: the process of how a picture book is created– from idea to publication.

Ed Masessa


Born in nineteen something, I am the second oldest of 10 children. I was raised in the small town of Middlesex, NJ and attended Rutgers University. As anyone who has met me can attest to, I live by the mantra “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.” Formerly employed as a grease monkey, office cleaner, fast food manager, forklift operator, warehouse supervisor, sales rep, and automotive purchasing manager, I retired from Scholastic Book Fairs in 2016 where I was responsible for selecting many of the books that appeared on the fairs. While on the surface, it appears that I was unqualified for such a critical role, I earned my stripes through hard work and LOTS of reading – and I mean LOTS!

Twenty or so years ago, I turned to the wonderful memories of my childhood and began to write. My second book, The Wandmaker’s Guidebook, had a nine-week run on the NY Times Bestseller list, two weeks at #1!  Now a full-time writer, I remain active in the Kidlit community by participating in library, reading, and writing conferences throughout the year, and by visiting schools to share my writing techniques with students. And I am an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard

Who are your favorite children’s authors?

Jack Gantos, Neal Shusterman, and Jennifer Holm

Available for School Visits:

I love doing school visits! I can do up to three presentations in the same day that include grades 1-2 for picture books and early readers and grades 3-6 for my writing process and novels. Presentations can be customized from 20-45 minutes and only a laptop with a projector is needed (plus a microphone for large audiences). Fees are highly flexible.


Visit Ed at:



Creative Process:

I need to write outdoors. There’s something about sitting in a park, or near a lake, or by the gently rolling waves of the Florida surf that allows my mind to wander and opens it to unconstrained thoughts. This is especially helpful since I am an extreme pantser – that is, I write by the seat of my pants. I find it impossible to create an outline other than a general synopsis of the beginning, middle, and end of a book. I am constantly amazed at what has taken shape on the page at the end of my writing block of time. I love when I can look at my words and say, ‘Wow! I never saw THAT coming!’

I also hand-write everything and every project has its own notebook. My first pass at revision is when I sit down to type what I’ve written into a word doc.

Awards and honors:

The Wandmaker’s Guidebook:
#1 NY Times bestseller for four weeks
ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults

Parent’s Choice Award for “Fun Stuff”

Wandmaker’s Apprentice:
Florida Book Awards gold medal in the middle grade category

Scarecrow Magic:
starred review from PW

Published books:

Backpack Kitty Goes to Camp (early reader)
Travel-size Pups Around the World (early reader)
Mixed-up Pups (early reader)
Real Life Monsters (non-fiction)
Wandmaker’s Guidebook (novelty)
Wandmaker (novel)
Wandmaker’s Apprentice (novel)
Time Traveler’s Journal (novelty)
Scarecrow Magic (picture book)
Pumpkin Magic (picture book)
There Was an Old Dog Who Needed a Nap (forthcoming picture book)
Snowman’s Big Adventure (forthcoming picture book)

Kathlyn Kirkwood


Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Kathlyn J Kirkwood is the author of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round: the Story of an Everyday Activist and the Making of the Martin Luther King Holiday.

A retired college professor, Kathlyn focuses on writing for children and volunteering with under-priveleged 3rd and 4th grade students in the Nashville area. She has developed several innovative workshops that use trade books to help young people learn about the world beyond their immediate surroundings, and to inspire them with a love of reading.

What is your favorite food?

Memphis barbecue!

What is your favorite thing to do for fun?

Inspiring and mentoring third and fourth graders! I have teamed up with my beloved husband, Alan, to bring books to life for elementary students. We affectionately call ourselves Mama and Papa K, and we feed their young hearts, minds, souls, and bodies. Yes, we eat together metaphorically and literally!

My goal is to use my life experiences and love of books to birth young activists—to help them see that they are 100% capable of changing the world for the better, starting with themselves.



Visit Kathlyn at:

Forthcoming books:

Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round: The Story of an Everyday Activist and the Making of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, Versify/HMHCo., Fall 2021

Available for School Visits:

Kathlyn and her husband Alan form “The Team Kirkwood Literacy Lab”, which brings books to life for elementary-age children through holistic engagement with text. Each story is a starting point for exploring the world, learning life skills, and developing the unique interests of each child.

Working with a wide variety of sponsors, they design activities that expand students’ horizons in multiple ways: finding a new city on a map, eating new foods, learning the lost art of the handwritten thank you note, hearing new music, and more. Their commitment to underprivileged children is simple: loving guidance to see a world beyond their immediate circumstances.