Get to Know… Elissa Brent Weissman!

My name is… Elissa Brent Weissman. Brent is my middle name, not part of my last. And I pronounce Elissa like Melissa, minus the M.

I am a… curly-haired, glasses-wearing, city-dwelling author of nine books for middle grade readers. I’m also a teacher, a mom, a proud nerd, a retired table tennis player, and, for 30 minutes a week, a Thai-style kickboxer with a mean right hook.

As a kid, I was… frizzy-haired but glasses-free. I loved everything about school. I read and wrote like crazy, usually stories about school. I played the flute, was good at math, had five or more pen pals at a time, took tap dancing and acting classes, and I performed in shows, both at a community theater and in my basement. (As an adult, I no longer play the flute. I watch theater regularly but haven’t performed in a long time, not even in my basement. I’m down to one awesome pen pal. I’m still good at math.)

Writing is… an extension of thinking, only better. It’s a way give shape and meaning to all the weird, brilliant, fuzzy, unique, clever things inside your head. Best of all, you can take all the time you want to make it sound just right.

Reading is…. what made me want to become a writer myself. It’s also to thank for 99% of my writing ability, from where to put commas to how to structure a story to what makes a sentence sing. Reading is also an act of empathy that brings people together. Best of all, it’s relaxing and enjoyable.

Books are… the best. Sigh.

Did you know… there are four books in my Nerd Camp series? Two full-length novels (Nerd Camp and Nerd Camp 2.0) and two short novellas called Nerd Camp Briefs. I say this because lots of Nerd Camp fans don’t realize there are three more books they can read about the characters. And lots of kids who’ve read all four tell me that the most recent one, Amanda and the Battle of the Brainiacs, is the best one yet!

You can find me… at a coffee shop in Baltimore City, drinking tea and writing on my laptop. Or volunteering in my kids’ school library. Or maybe even in YOUR school library—I love visiting schools! Connect online at, Facebook @elissabrentweissman, or Twitter @ebweissman.

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Are you going to NCTE this weekend? So is Elissa! Check out her schedule below!

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on some activity sheets — drawing and writing prompts to help ignite the imaginations and kickstart the creativity of kids (and, as always, kids-at-heart)!

I’ve planned to use these for a variety of things, but figured I might as well share them here, too, so YOU can share them directly with the kids in YOUR life. You can find the first batch of sheets at my brand-new “Activities” page, which you can link to using that nifty menu bar at the top of the page. I’ll be adding more sheets as I create them, so check back often, and please share completed sheets! I’d love to see kids’ creations! You can share with me on Twitter (@Jarrett_Lerner), Instagram (@jarrettlerner), or using the Contact form in that (still pretty nifty) menu bar above!

Get to Know… Jason Gallaher!

My name is… Jason Gallaher, like Gallagher but with no second “G”. If I had a nickel for every time my name gets misspelled, I’d have enough money to fund my own Super PAC that would work entirely on getting unicorns elected into office.

I am a… horrible singer, reader, mermaid enthusiast, Angelica Huston aficionado, Hufflepuff, holder of half full glasses, Kardashian supporter, Andalite seeker, Pomeranian cuddler, picture book and fantasy-adventure writer, First Lady hopeful, and enjoyer of coming up with self-descriptors.

As a kid, I was… ready to take on life! I’m fairly certain I would start each day like SpongeBob SquarePants, springing out of bed and shouting, “I’m ready!” But picture a little seven year-old with a mullet doing that.

Writing is… … … … I’m still thinking … … This is a hard question because writing means so much to me. I think a lot of the time for a lot of us writers, writing is the way we get to express ourselves. To express our joys and our sorrows and our fears and our courage. A lot of the time writing is my time to laugh, and I try to make others laugh along with me. The world is tough, and I really do believe in that old cliché that laughter is the best medicine. But I’ve also realized in the past eighteen months or so that I use writing as a means to figure myself out. Or maybe it’s more that my subconscious uses my writing to reveal things about myself that I didn’t realize were hidden in all those gray wrinkles. This especially applies to the last two middle grade manuscripts I’ve written (and that I’m still hoping get published). They’re all about gender issues and body acceptance, and I didn’t really understand until writing these works how boxed in I’ve felt by gender rules and how humans are allowed to express their gender. My feminine energy is a huge aspect to my being that I didn’t know I was suppressing as much as I was until I wrote characters who either came to embrace their feminine self or respect that femininity is just as strong as masculinity. I hope I get to share those stories with the world someday so that more kids of all ages feel they have a safe space to display their gender and their masculine and feminine energies however they choose.

Reading is… the foundation of everything! The ultimate tool to master language and the world around you! So much fun for everyone if we could all get out of each other’s way and let any person read whatever they want to read whenever they want to read it without shaming them for their reading choices. Read graphic novels! Read gossipy tabloids! Read books that are pink! Read BuzzFeed listicles! Read whatever the Hexxus you want, just read!

Books are… delicious. Like, Julia Child level scrumptious.

Did you know… that the one man I want to adorn me with jewelry other than my husband is Jeff Probst? I would give anything to have Jeff drape that Immunity Idol necklace across my chest on Survivor. So far I’ve been unsuccessful at having them see in me what I see in them, but a fella can dream (I love you, Jeff).

You can find me… ruminating on the world and gender and writing at, chatting books on YouTube at, tweet tweeting on Twitter @DraftingJason, or never being able to take a flattering picture on Instagram @DraftingJason.

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Don’t miss Jason’s Whobert Whover: Owl Detective, which Kirkus called “A cracking whooooo-dunit.”

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And get excited for Jason’s next book, Porcupine Cupid, illustrated by Lori Richmond!

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Jason’s headshot was taken by David-Gabe Photography.

Get to Know… Marcie Colleen!

My name is… Marcie Colleen. Pronounced MAR-see CAW-leen.

I am a… a children’s author! Wow. That feels super happy to say. It truly is the best job ever. I mean, in the past I have been a classroom teacher, an actress, and a nanny, but now I get to spend my days using my imagination to create books for kids!


Right now you can find my Super Happy Party Bears chapter book series and my picture book LOVE, TRIANGLE on the bookshelves wherever books are sold or borrowed.


As a kid, I was… always very creative. I took dance and sang in choirs. I taught myself to read music and had a short stint in piano lessons. I performed in a lot of plays and musicals. And I even wrote stories, poems, and songs. The coolest thing is that I still have some of those stories. Like THE RAINBOW HUNT. In this story, a group of neighborhood kids try to figure out where rainbows come from. They then ask the smart one, named Marcie, and she gives them the answer. I was very creative…and apparently quite humble.

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My favorite part of this book, however, is the About the Author section. How cool is this?!

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Writing is… my jam. Not only do I write books, but I also write in my journal every morning. It’s a great way to get in touch with what I am thinking and how I am feeling. Sure, I could just ask myself, “How are you feeling, Marcie? What are you thinking?” But the act of taking the time to slow down my thoughts and feelings to get them down on paper is quite therapeutic. Once I connect with myself, I feel better equipped to take on the day and complete whatever tasks come my way.

Reading is… the way I escape and relax. My mother instilled a love of reading before bedtime in me since I was very little. To this day, my mom still reads before turning out the light and I do, too. There is something about escaping to another world before sleeping that I find so comforting.

Funny thing is, I don’t read any adult books…unless they are non-fiction. I find adult fiction something I can’t relate to. I think it’s because one of the cardinal rules of kid lit is that all books, no matter how dark the content, need to end with hope. It’s that hope that I choose to read about. Therefore, no adult fiction.

Books are… everywhere in my house. I have a to-be-read pile by my bed, by the couch, on my desk, and books are bursting off my bookshelves. Of course, I could go through them and weed out. But most of my kids books are signed by the author. That makes it very difficult. Either, I need to stop being friends with so many prolific people or buy more bookshelves!

Did you know… the VERY FIRST book I sold is FINALLY coming out tomorrow! It’s PENGUINAUT!, illustrated by Emma Yarlett.

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It’s about a spunky little penguin named Orville who lives at the zoo, surrounded by animal pals who go on exciting adventures. A hang gliding rhino! A deep-sea diving giraffe! Orville struggles to keep up, until one day he concocts an adventure all his own: build a spaceship and fly to the moon all by himself. I am super excited to introduce Orville to any kid with big dreams and a strong sense of determination.

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Kids can take Orville on adventures of their own and possibly win a signed copy. Download your Orville here and use #Penguinaut on Twitter.

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You can find me… all over the place! In fact, I travel all year round, all over the country for events. Check out my Appearances tab on my website (  to see if I will be in a town near you! I would also love it if you would follow me on Twitter @MarcieColleen1.

The EngiNerds — err, ROBONerds — Head to Holland!

Did you know that the Dutch love farting robots?

Well, I’ve got PROOF:


That right there is the cover of the Dutch edition of EngiNerds! As you can see, they changed the title to RoboNerds and made the bot a little more sinister-looking than the one on the American cover. I love that illustrator Kees de Boer left some of the EngiNerds’s tools lying around, that he so perfectly captured Kitty the dog’s nervous obliviousness — and, of course, that he installed an air horn in the robot’s backside. That is NOT a detail from the book, but I couldn’t be happier that Kees took some artistic liberties and included it.

Seeing a foreign cover for the first time is hugely exciting — sort of like experiencing the thrill of watching your book get closer and closer to publication all over again. Only this time, obviously, you can’t understand a word of it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go ask my editor if we can add a line about the bots’ bullhorn bums in all future editions of EngiNerds.

Get to Know… Kara LaReau!

My name is… Kara LaReau (pronounced KARE-uh la-ROW for the uninitiated).

I am a… children’s book writer, editor, and mom, not always in that order.

As a kid, I was… funny, smart, snarky, sneaky, curious, anxious, weird, dramatic, imaginative, and never without a book. (Pretty much the way I am now.)

Writing is… the hardest, most fun job in the world.

Reading is… one way I improve my writing (writing ALL THE TIME and sharing my work with others are two more ways).

Books are… a great way to entertain and educate ourselves, a way to escape, and how we learn to empathize.

Did you know… I also have a full-time job as a writer at Hasbro? I write package copy and rules for many of their games.

You can find me… writing, working, hanging out with my friends and family (preferably at the beach), drinking too much coffee, and at my website,

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Kara LaReau was born and raised in Connecticut. She received her Masters in Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts and later worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and at Scholastic Press. She is the author of picture books such as UGLY FISH, illustrated by Scott Magoon, and GOOD NIGHT LITTLE MONSTERS, illustrated by Brian Won; an award-winning chapter book series called THE INFAMOUS RATSOS, illustrated by Matt Myers; and a middle-grade trilogy called THE UNINTENTIONAL ADVENTURES OF THE BLAND SISTERS, illustrated by Jen Hill. Kara lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband and son and their cat.

Get to Know… Armand Baltazar!

My name is… Armand Baltazar. I’m the author and illustrator of TIMELESS: DIEGO AND THE RANGERS OF THE VASTLANTIC.

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I am a… writer and illustrator now, but once worked as a pizza delivery guy and waiter to pay for school.  I studied to make book illustrations and stories in college but then embarked on a nearly twenty year career making artwork and visual stories for DreamWorks, Disney, and Pixar instead. One fateful day, my son encouraged me to write and illustrate my own stories again and because of him… I’m finally doing what I set out to do!

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As a kid, I was… painfully shy and moving around a lot didn’t help. Books and comics became constant friends. Reading and writing stories and making artwork for them became both an escape and a joy I could do anywhere. My dad loved adventure stories and my mom loved sci-fi. They introduced me to Captain Nemo and his submarine, Long John Silver and his pirates, not to mention Robinson Crusoe, Spiderman, Batman, even Captain Kirk and the Enterprise. Ok, I used to watch Star Trek a lot with my mom as a kid — still do!

Writing and illustrating are… combining two things I’ve always loved. Merging prose and pictures to tell stories that hopefully entertain, captivate, create beauty, and maybe even make the world a better place is the most satisfying job I’ve ever had, after being a dad!

Reading is… the best kind of exercise! It’s exercising your mind and when you are reading something good, it’s like going on a beautiful hike, or like how it feels riding fresh powder on the mountain with your snowboard. It puts me in tune with my imagination and it both stimulates and calms me like a good cup of coffee. I know — that’s pretty weird, but it can be kinda like that to me!

Books are… like movies that play in your head! The characters and the worlds look just like the way you imagine. And best of all you take the adventure with you and enjoy it as fast or as slow as you want, play it over and over, and it will always play for you without batteries, or power cords, and books never need a software update!

Did you know… I’m a first generation Filipino American born and raised in Chicago. Although my heritage is from a warm tropical island culture… I love the snow! My family and I are avid snowboarders and for a time we even owned a women’s snowboarding shop in Pasadena!

You can find me… on Twitter at @ArmandBaltazar, on FaceBook at @ArmandBaltazarStudios, and on Instagram at armand_baltazar. To buy a signed copy of my book and see and buy my art, check out my website: I’m always up to visit schools, libraries, and stores, and I love speaking with fellow authors! If interested, contact me at my email:

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Want to learn more about TIMELESS? Check out the Introduction to Timeless video and read some reviews below!

“While the action will enthrall, and the struggle for a better world will inspire, the reader will ultimately be won over by the intimate moments in Timeless…Like a midsummer action movie, the scope (and budget) of the book is dazzling. Six hundred glossy pages, with hundreds of luscious color illustrations by Baltazar, depict a world after a cosmic event that has reshuffled epochs. People from every era coexist with dinosaurs and giant robots.” — New York Times Book Review

“This epic tale from Baltazar, is not only wildly imaginative and attention-grabbing, it’s downright beautiful: more than 150 full-color photorealistic art pieces bring the characters and setting to life. A series opener that conveys a true sense of wonder and excitement on every page.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Intricate illustrations, stunning in their lush coloring and quality, are liberally interspersed. [C]inematic dialogue, glossy plot twists, and movie-ready illustrations will likely make readers feel they’ve had a theatrical experience.”  Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“The stunning artwork is the real star here. Sure to be popular with middle school fantasy readers.”  School Library Journal 

“Baltazar’s story is a captivating adventure lavishly illustrated with beautiful full-color paintings worth lingering over.”  Kirkus Reviews

“Vivid world creation and brilliant characters make Timeless an unforgettable, wondrous journey that will stay with you long after the final page.” — Ridley Scott