Authors & Illustrators
Sheri Roloff started writing even before she knew any words. She’d fill up tiny notebooks with squiggly cursive-like lines until one day, those squiggles actually said something. And to accompany those new words, Sheri drew pictures.
While writing and performing music in a rock band called Mercury Crossing, Sheri met and married her drummer. She also found a day job she actually liked – as a copywriter of ads, websites, brochures and more. Today she leads a team of copywriters and develops creative marketing concepts at Direct Supply in Milwaukee, WI.
But Sheri never forgot those squiggles, and adding pictures to her words, this time as an adult, proved incredibly fun. She joined SCBWI in 2014, where she has been able to hone her craft and connect with the talented writers and illustrators in the SCBWI community. This fall, Sheri led a workshop at the SCBWI Wisconsin Fall Conference called “Stories for Humans: Use comics concepts to enhance any story.”
Check out Sheri’s portfolio at sheriroloff.com and connect with her on Twitter and Instagram via @SheriRoloff.
Hide & Go Seek-A-Saurus, Author/Illustrator, March 6, 2018
Award-winning illustrator Cortney Benvenuto hails from the Pacific Northwest and continues to call Portland home, where she lives with her husband, two young children, and cat, Mayberry. Cortney graduated from Oregon State University with a BFA. She taught elementary school for six years and is an active member of SCBWI. Her awards include the 2017 SCBWI Alaska Chapter fall conference poster winner and the 2017 International Reggae Poster Contest (1,270 applicants), 2nd place.
You can learn more about Cortney by visiting her website.
Illustrator, Come On, Fish!
Amy Ward is an accomplished artist and art educator. Currently, she works as an art teacher at Germantown Hills Grade School, in Germantown Hills, IL. Amy received her Bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, graduating with honors. She has completed additional art coursework at Illinois Central College.
Amy is a member of the Wisconsin and Illinois chapters of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and she has illustrated flyers for SCBWI-WI. She has had two craft projects published by Highlights Magazine, and five project ideas published by Family Fun Magazine. Amy is also a professional muralist and has completed many murals for children’s bedrooms, including farm scenes, flower gardens, a vintage children’s toy theme and dinosaurs. Amy’s illustration style is a whimsical meets realism approach to digital collage. The resulting images feature rich textures and colors that emanate the essence of characters, settings and moods.
Amy lives in Meramora, IL, with her husband and three boys. For more information about Amy, and to see what creative project she’s currently working on, visit amywardcreates.com.
Crunchy, Not Sweet, Author/Illustrator, Fall 2018
Amy Frances Ward
Jim Nies is an avid writer and sailor, a naturalist and Great Lakes conservationist, educator, technology guru and father and grandfather to quite a few avid fisher people. Jim grew up in Crystal Lake, IL. He has a BSEd from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MS, CAS from Northern Illinois University. Jim co- owned and operated his family’s bookstore, Brainard’s Books, in Crystal Lake and Elgin, IL. For many years, he taught high school and college English, technology and photography classes.
He is a long-time Great Lakes sailor, and captained an eight-month cruise on a 36-foot ga cutter from Wisconsin to Florida and the Bahamas. He has been a columnist for Sailing Magazine, writing monthly book reviews, and is the author of many academic and Great Lakes based articles. He self-published a nature writing anthology titled Stepping into the Natural World: An Introductory Anthology of Nature Writing. He holds the U.S patent for the invention of an RDF Signal Identifier, a navigation aid that is now obsolete. Jim is also a certified windmiller, and for several years he was an operator of the historic Fabyan Windmill, a fully-functional Dutch windmill in Geneva, IL.
Jim and his wife reside in Whitewater, WI, for half the year and Kagawong, Ontario, a small town on Manitoulin Island, for the remainder of the year. Jim is a member of FLOW for Water and the Manitoulin Area Stewardship Council and had an article titled, “Living Along the Water in a Time of Climate Change,” published in the Manitoulin Expositor.
Tamia of the Forest, Author, Fall 2018
Come on, Fish, Author, Spring 2019
Crunchy, Not Sweet, Author/Illustrator, Fall 2018
Lisa Covelli is an accomplished artist and art educator. Lisa grew up in Batavia, IL. She received her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in the field of art education and later attended the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where she received her Master’s Degree in Art Education, with an emphasis in painting.
Lisa has been teaching visual art for thirteen years. She spent ten years teaching high school art in Lake Zurich, IL, two years in Maple Grove, MN, and just completed her first year is Osseo, WI, where she works with 6th-12th graders. Lisa is a member of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and the Wisconsin Art Education Association (WAEA).
In addition to her teaching, Lisa has been commissioned to create art for the cover of a book by author Paul Robert and acrylic paintings for a physical therapy office. She has also created designs for yoga t-shirts for the Barrington, IL-based company, Third Eye Threads. Lisa has experience with drawing and design, figurative life drawing, caricature drawing, ceramics and wheel throwing, sculpture, darkroom and digital photography, watercolor, acrylic and oil painting, jewelry, book making, fabric dying and computer arts. Lisa lives in Eau Claire, WI.
Lina Baby Baby, Illustrator, Fall 2018
Janet Halfmann has published more than 30 award-winning and starred-reviewed books for children with many houses, including Henry Holt, Star Bright Books, Arbordale Publishing, and Lee & Low Books. Janet’s new book, Midnight Teacher, will be released from Lee & Low Books in Spring of 2018.
On Janet’s website you can read about her career in children’s literature, which in addition to being published includes having worked at Little Golden Books, then located in Racine, WI, and her love of nature, which began during her early years growing up on a farm in Michigan. Today, Janet is a gardener and keen observer of the natural world, much like the protagonist in her beautiful book Grandma is a Slowpoke (Star Bright Books, 2016). Janet lives in Wisconsin.
Author, Caterpillar’s Surprise
Rochelle Groskreutz is a children’s author and the Southeast Area Rep for SCBWI Wisconsin. Rochelle has published stories and articles in many children’s magazines, including Highlights, AppleSeeds and FACE. When she’s not busy selling words to companies at www.wordsforsale.info, she’s crafting stories for kids at: at www.rochellegroskreutz.com.
Author, Easter Elf vs. Christmas Elf
When Leah was in tenth grade she was given a questionnaire in a literature class that asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Leah claims that she hadn’t a clue, but nevertheless decided to write down, “I’d want to make children’s books.”
Her answer wasn’t completely random. Leah grew up in Stevens Point surrounded by picture books. Leah’s mom took Leah and her brother to the library every week, where they would get “…a bunch of books, and sometimes donuts from a nearby bakery.”
Leah studied graphic design in college, and she currently works as a Senior Graphic Designer in Madison, WI. She has illustrated three other children’s books, Patsy Bea (Ashley Lokey, Harrington & Harrington Press, 2017), Even Lions Wear Pajamas (Natalie Malafronte, Zamponi Press, 2017) and Who’s Who at the Bearaboo Zoo, Thomas Webber, still in production). She has also had art published in Cricket Media’s BabyBug Magazine.
Leah describes her artistic style as cheerful and colorful. She grew up loving cartoons and animation, newspaper comic strips, and picture books, all of which heavily influence her style today.
Leah’s preferred medium is digital, but she begins her process with a pencil, paper, and clipboard. She prefers to keep this part of her process “unplugged.” In the summer, when the weather is nice, she sits outside in the evenings with her cat and sketches while he watches birds and eats grass.
Once she has her sketches created, she takes photos of them, scans them, and then adds color and dimension digitally.
You can learn more about Leah by visiting her website.
Illustrator, Easter Elf vs. Christmas Elf
Leah Danz DiPasquale
Rachel Ball is an accomplished multi-media artist who has published an adult coloring book, Colour Me Wild, and created a wide variety of merchandise featuring her brand, Wild Creations, and other Manitoulin Island-inspired art. Rachel is a graphic designer and editor for Toro Publishing. She graduated from Cambrian College where she studied Art and Design Fundamentals. Rachel’s love of wildlife and nature inspire her creativity. Rachel lives in Kagawong, Ontario, Canada.
You can learn more about Rachel by visiting her Facebook page.
Illustrator, Tamia of the Forest
Emily is a self-described graphic designer by trade and illustrator by heart. She studied design and fine arts at Bemidji State University. Her illustrations start with a hand-rendered pencil drawing that is soft, detailed, and realistic. Then, she brings the drawing onto the computer where she adds color digitally. Occasionally she adds painted backgrounds or elements. Emily illustrated the children’s book Goodnight Server Room, by T.D. Smith (2017). She also created the 2017 Quilt Minnesota Fabric Design, of which roughly 68,000 yards were sold throughout Minnesota during the 2017 Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop. She has been the recipient of multiple scholarships and has had her art published in multiple magazines.
Emily lives in the woods with her husband and their “Little Oak,” Otto. They love family hikes, animals, and visiting the state park just a mile from their home. Emily grew up in the countryside in an animal-loving family and draws much of the inspiration for her art from her experiences in nature then and now.
You can learn more about Emily by visiting her website.
Illustrator, Caterpillar’s Surprise
Pine Journal, January 16, 2018
ShaRhonda Crystal Knott Dawson is the mother of two free-spirited, strong-willed girls and the wife/partner/best friend to her husband Brian, who should be appointed a saint for co-existing in the madness that is their life. They reside in the western suburbs of Chicago where she writes on politics, education, current events, and social justice.
ShaRhonda Crystal Knott-Dawson received her master’s degree from The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, with an emphasis on management and public policy. She received her undergraduate degree from the Jacob Carruther’s School of Inner City Studies with a focus on the study of Western Civilization through an Afro-centric lens. ShaRhonda also has over 15 years of experience in nonprofit program management. She also has worked over 20 years as a political organizer, focusing on engaging youth and people of color.
Most importantly, she is also a taco enthusiast, a proud member of the Bey-hive, and truly believes that she will be receiving her letter from Hogwarts any day now. Her role models include Jesus, Mother Mary, her Mother, Dr. Aretha Faye, Her Mother-In-Love (Nana), Mattie Belle, Frida Kahlo, Ida B. Wells, and Lorraine Hansberry. Nana’s Hands is her debut children’s book and is a love letter to the power and magic of all Black Women’s Hands, throughout the Diaspora, in the past, present, and future. May their magic hands continue to bless and uphold our families.
ShaRhonda Crystal Knott Dawson
Julia Karlinsky was born in Moscow, Russia. She was privileged to have two incredible grandmothers, one a bookseller and the other an awesome cook.
The fortunate future Ms. Karlinsky had an easy access to bundles of great books and piles of terrific food. Grownup Ms. Karlinsky had tried many occupations and found them all immensely satisfying. She was a costume and set designer, mural painter, art teacher, co-owner of a electric vehicle conversion shop and a Russian interpreter, as well as an illustrator for If War Were published by the Gumboot Books Publishing.
One day, she sat down and wrote a list of things she loved. The first entry on her list was ‘my grandma’s cooking’, which became a subject of her first picture book. She and her family now live in Portland, Oregon.
She is a member of SCBWI and an illustrator for 2014 SCBWI Oregon Conference Poster.