Monday, March 30, 2009

My Famous Oklahoma Author Friends

In spite of a snowstorm, I made it to Tulsa on Saturday for the Oklahoma SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Spring Conference. My friend Una Belle and I zipped up there late Friday afternoon and spent Friday and Saturday nights in a motel so that we didn’t have to fight the snow on the turnpike. It was a great conference, and I’ll do a separate post on it in a day or two. For now, though, I want to introduce you to some of my favorite children’s writers (in alphabetical order so that I won’t be accused of having favorites). I’m proud to call all of them my friends.

Brandi Barnett is a young lady I met a few years ago. She has a young adult book out called GLAMOUR. I bought a copy and will be reading it soon. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of Brandi with her book, as she left the conference early. I’m guessing she wanted to get somewhere before the roads turned to ice. I’m looking forward to following her career as a writer. You can see her picture and learn more about GLAMOUR on her website,

This is Darlene Bailey Beard. I’ve known Darlene since before she published her first book, THE PUMPKIN MAN OF PINEY CREEK. In fact, I’m proud to say that I actually critiqued that manuscript in its beginning stages. She went on to publish another picture book, TWISTER, and three novels, THE FLIMFLAM MAN, THE BABBS SWITCH STORY, and OPERATION CLEAN SWEEP. She has a new book coming out in the fall called ANNIE GLOVER IS NOT A TREE LOVER. Darlene’s website is

Kim Doner has been an illustrator of books for children for many years, but now she’s a writer as well. The first book she wrote and illustrated is BUFFALO DREAMS. Here she’s holding her latest book, ON A ROAD IN AFRICA, which she wrote and illustrated. (It’s wonderful!) Her website is

Gwendolyn Hooks is a special friend. We’ve been in a critique group together for over eight years, and I value her feedback on my manuscripts. Besides that, she is fun. Gwen has written a number of short and easy to read books, which are harder to write than it appears. CAN I HAVE A PET? was her first book, followed by THREE’S A CROWD, THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING PET, and NICE WHEELS! Last year she published three books about aquatic food webs. She’s awesome! Her website is

Cynthea Liu has many friends and admirers in the world of children’s publishing. Although she now lives in Illinois, Cynthea is originally from Oklahoma, so she often attends the Oklahoma SCBWI Spring Conference. (It’s a good opportunity to combine business, friendship, and family. Also, she gets to see that beautiful red dirt.) Cynthea has written a how-to book for writers called WRITING FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS and two novels for kids, THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA and PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE. Her website is

Susan Meyers has helped with many of my manuscripts. She is the author of CALLIE AND THE STEPMOTHER. Her new book, THE PRINCESS AND THE PEE, will be published this year. Susan is very active in Oklahoma SCBWI activities and runs a list-serve for us. Learn more about her at

Anna Myers is the SCBWI regional advisor for Oklahoma. She’s our organizer, cheerleader, mentor, and sometimes mama/teacher. (She explains that it isn’t polite to follow a visiting editor into the bathroom and shove manuscripts under the stall door, and she makes us clean up our messes at conferences. After teaching eighth grade for years, she knows how to make us behave.) Anna’s many books are wonderful; I strongly recommend ALL of them. In this photo, she was signing one of her books for Una Belle, but somehow I left the book out of the picture. (I never claimed to be a photographer.) Anna’s website is

Tammi Sauer is our local picture book queen. This young lady is incredible! Here she is with her first picture book, COWBOY CAMP. She has sold six (yes, six!) more picture books since then. Tammi was a cheerleader in high school, and somehow she has retained that energy and enthusiasm. She spends a lot of time making school visits, where she wows the kids. Read more about her on

Una Belle Townsend is my carpooling buddy. We have gone to many conferences together, including the one in Tulsa last weekend. We may have to find someone with good map skills and a strong sense of direction to accompany us, however, as both of us are lost most of the time. Una Belle is the author of three picture books, and in this photo she’s showing off the latest one, THE OKLAHOMA LAND RUN. Her other books are GRADY IN THE SILO and THE RACECAR DRIVER’S NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

These are all very special people not because they're published authors, but because they realize that they still have a lot to learn about writing. They are happy to help others develop their writing skills, and many of them spend hours volunteering for SCBWI.
Thank you, published friends.

Check back in a couple of days and you should find a post about the conference.


drlobojo said...

Now if this ain't name dropping I don't know what it is. So this is where you were all week end.

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