Rate Your Story judges are not paid employees of RYS.
All judges volunteer their time to help give back to the literary community.
Owner / Administrator / Judge
Lynne Marie is the award-winning author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten -- art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School -- art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling / Scholastic 2019), Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World -- art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019), The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project and The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project Coloring Book -- art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press, 2022), The Palace Rat -- art by Eva Santana (Yeehoo Press 2023), Broommates (co-written with Brenda Reevers Sturgis) -- art by Nico Ecenarro, and more, forthcoming.
She’s the Owner/Director of RateYourStory.org, ThePictureBookMechanic.com, and the Creator/Host of March On With Mentor Texts (www.rateyourstory.org/march-on) and Mentor Text Talk by Rate Your Story). She’s also an Agent Mentee with The Seymour Agency, the Co-Host of #SeasonsOfKidLit (www.seasonsofkidlit.com), a Cybils Judge since 2016 (www.cybils.org) and a Feature Columnist at Children’s Book Insider (www.writeforkids.org).
When she’s not mining story ideas, she lives in the heart of Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin and a Chihuahua named Marlowe Charlotte (after a famous playwright and a famous author). Visit her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com. Lynne Marie is represented by Marisa Cleveland of www.theseymouragency.com.
IT Support / Admin Assistant / Judge
Heather Macht, author of REX THE...WE-DON'T-KNOW (Pelican, 2020), THE ANT FARM ESCAPE! (Pelican, 2019), and YOU MAY JUST BE A DINOSAUR (Pelican, 2015) and six more titles to be announced soon!, is an active children's author who has been creating stories since the third grade! She earned her degree in fine arts from Florida State College at Jacksonville and holds a career as an I.T. professional and a full-time mom.
Macht’s an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, is a volunteer judge for Rate Your Story, and lives with her family in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. In her spare time, she dwells in poetry and picture books, and enjoys painting beach scenes and monsters of all sorts. Website: www.heathermacht.com
Judy is a 2021 award recipient of the SCBWI FL Rising Kite writing contest for her picture book manuscript, You Might Be an Artist, and received Honorable Mention in the Cooking Up Culture writing contest.
With her passion for inspiring and nurturing creativity in young children, she has designed a curriculum for and taught arts enrichment classes to children in grades PreK-4th. She has intensively studied the craft of picture book writing for the past 4 years with memberships in SCBWI, Rate Your Story and 12x12, and has worked as a booking assistant for kidlit authors. Judy has lived in many places including Miami, New York, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Poland. Fulfilling a 20- year goal, she now lives, with her husband of many years, near the happiest place on earth.
Judy has created a planner for writers. For more information, visit I Am a Writer 28 Week Writer's Planner Spiral Bound | Etsy
Catherine Bailey is an award-winning children’s author and youth presenter from sunny Florida. Her recent books include HARBOR BOUND (Disney/Hyperion, 2019), DINO’S DON’T DO YOGA (Sounds True, 2020), and HUSTLE, BUSTLE BUGS (LLBYR, 2022), with more on the way. She has also written for popular children’s magazines such as Highlight’s Hello and Babybug. She is a frequent children’s speaker and has visited with hundreds (and hundreds, and hundreds!) of kids at schools, libraries, stores, and special events.
When Catherine is not writing, or editing, or swatting at mosquitoes, she looks after her husband and two children. All three of them are quite sticky, and none like bedtime, but she loves them anyway. Her prior job titles include Lawyer, Sailboat Deckhand, and Cartoon Network Intern. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, and snacking. But mostly reading.
Learn more about Catherine and her work at www.catherinebaileybooks.com.
Mary Boone has ridden an elephant, jumped out of an airplane, hung out backstage with a boy band, and baked dozens of cricket cookies – all in the interest of research for her books and magazine articles. She’s written more than 50 nonfiction books for young readers, ranging from inventor biographers to how-to craft guides. Her new book, BUGS FOR BREAKFAST: How Eating Insects Could Help Save the Planet, will be published by Chicago Review Press in Fall 2021. An active member of SCBWI, Mary lives in Tacoma, Wash., where she occasionally leads writing workshops. She is represented by Stacey Kondla of The Rights Factory. Visit Mary’s website to learn about her critique services: www.boonewrites.com
Kirsti Call is the co-host of the Picture Book Look podcast and coordinator of ReFoReMo. She reads, reviews, revises and critiques every day as a 12x12 elf, a blogger for Writers' Rumpus, and a member of critique groups. She's judged the CYBILS award for fiction picture books since 2015. Kirsti's picture book, MOOTILITA'S BAD MOOD (Little Bee) released fall 2020. COW SAYS MEOW (HMH) and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown) release in 2021. Kirsti is represented by Emma Sector at Prospect Agency.
Pam Calvert is an author of children’s picture books, easy readers, and short stories. She has four picture books nationally published that have been translated into Chinese, Korean, Catalan, and Spanish and she has a new character driven series entitled, Brianna Bright Ballerina Knight. Her Princess Peepers series has won awards and some of her books are Scholastic Book Club titles, including Multiplying Menace: The Revenge of Rumpelstiltskin. She offers a free picture book workshop, Picture Book University, on her blog as well as a highly praised critique service. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. You can visit her website by clicking here.
Jill Dana is an author, illustrator, award-winning filmmaker, and certified elementary educator. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Television and Film Production and a Master of Education in Elementary Education plus TESOL. Her newest book BUTTERNUT, about a little butternut squash lost in a supermarket, will be available in the U.S. on February 1, 2022. She is a member of SCBWI and the Author’s Guild.
Visit Jill on social media @JillDanaBooks and her website www.JillDanaBooks.com
Katie Frawley earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Florida (GO GATORS!) and a master’s in literature from Florida Atlantic University. From there, she had the good fortune to teach English in middle and high schools. When Katie left the classroom to grow her family, she rediscovered her literary roots in the world of picture books. These days, Katie lives in South Florida with her husband and five children. Her debut picture book, TABITHA AND FRITZ TRADE PLACES, travels to shelves in June 2021 with Two Lions. If you're interested in a full critique, message her on Twitter (@KatieFrawley1) or email her (Ktfrawley11@gmail.com) to request a quote. For more, visit: https://katiefrawley.wordpress.com
Sophia Gholz is an award-winning children's book author, music lover and magic seeker. Sophia enjoys writing fiction with humor and heart. When writing nonfiction, she pulls on her love of science and her strong family background in ecology. Since 2017, Sophia has helped oversee the Henry L. Gholz SEEDS National Field Trip Endowment for The Ecological Society of America, funding ecological field experiences for students from diverse backgrounds. She is also a founding board member of KidLiteracy.org, a nonprofit organization focused on early literacy initiatives. Previously, Sophia worked as an advertising copywriter and made a career working with visual artists in New York City. Sophia’s debut book, The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng, received the Florida State Book Award Gold Medal, a Eureka! Nonfiction Honor Award, and was named was named a 2020 Green Earth Honor Book among other accolades. When she’s not writing, you can find Sophia on Twitter or in her cave (aka office). For more about Sophia and her upcoming titles, visit: www.sophiagholz.com.
Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who currently lives in Colorado with her husband, their two dragons...er, daughters, and their rescue dogs. Lauren is the author of the Rosie the Dragon and Charlie picture book series (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions). Her latest picture book, HOME FOR A WHILE (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press) is expected February 2, 2021. Lauren also writes books in her field. Lauren is one of the founders of #ReVISIONweek, a judge with Rate Your Story, runs a critique business, and is a long-time member of 12x12 and SCBWI. Her writing goals are simple. Read voraciously. Embrace feedback. Grow each day. Work hard. Be passionate. Write courageously. Touch children’s hearts. You can visit her at www.LaurenKerstein.net.
Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing, and visiting kidlit friends all around the world. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books in the picturesque town of Bedford, New Hampshire. A retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. Her nonfiction narratives bring history alive for young readers and her picture books have garnered starred reviews and accolades including the Silver Eureka, Social Studies Notable Trade Book, and Junior Library Guild Selection.
For more, you can visit Vivian at:
Lydia Lukidis writes for children aged 4-12, and is the author of over thirty-three trade and educational books, and thirty-two eBooks. Her latest STEM book, THE BROKEN BEES’ NEST (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2019), was nominated for a CYBILS Award. Her background is multi-disciplinary and spans the fields of literature, science, and puppetry.
Lydia is an active member of SCBWI, CANSCAIP, 12 x 12, The Authors Guild and QWF. She's very involved in the kidlit community through her blog and newsletters, as well as on social media. Another passion of hers is fostering a love for literacy with children through the writing workshops she regularly offers in elementary schools. Lydia is represented by Miranda Paul from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. For more information, please visit: www.lydialukidis.com.
Silvia López is a Cuba native raised in Miami. As children’s librarian in schools and public libraries for over three decades, she spent her entire professional life among books for kids. Her first picture book, Just Right Family: An Adoption Story (Whitman) won the 2018 Florida Book Award. Her second book, Handimals: Animals in Art and Nature (Macmillan, 2019), a collaboration with Italian artist Guido Daniele, was starred in Booklist and received Silver Medal in the Nautilus awards. Other books include Pacho Nacho (Capstone, February, 2020), bilingual PB biographies, Queen of Tejano Music: Selena (Little Bee Books) scheduled for release August, 2020, and chosen as Junior Library Guild selections, and My Little Golden Book Biography of Frida Kahlo (Penguin Random House), due out in March, 2021. Silvia is represented by Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary Agency.
Marta Magellan has written award-winning nonfiction books about animals for children, books for the educational market, and magazine and newspaper articles for adults. A former full professor at Miami Dade College, she taught Creative Writing, English Composition, Survey of Children’s Literature, and Issues in Literature and Culture. She was adviser to the college’s award-winning literary magazine from 2001 to 2016, and she received three Endowed Teaching Chairs in the Humanities, the 2013 Distinguished Adviser Award, Florida College System Hall of Fame, 2014. She leads a Florida SCBWI critique group in Miami and travels into wild places to watch birds and other creatures whenever possible. Learn more about her at www.martamagellan.com
Swimmer. Hiker. Dreamer. Writer. Linda Elovitz Marshall grew up in New England, then attended Barnard College/Columbia University where she studied cultural anthropology. After college, she helped set up and teach in daycare centers, where she fell in love with picture books. Later, she began (but didn’t finish) a Ph.D. in anthropology, opened (and closed) her own indie bookstore, raised four (now grown) children and a small flock of sheep. Linda has written almost 20 picture books, fiction and non-fiction. In 2020, five of her books were released: HAVE YOU EVER ZEEN A ZIZ? (Albert Whitman & Co), SHALOM, BAYIT: A Peaceful Home (KarBen/Lerner) and three picture book biographies, SAVING THE COUNTRYSIDE: THE STORY OF BEATRIX POTTER AND PETER RABBIT (Little Bee Books), THE POLIO PIONEER: THE STORY OF DR. JONAS SALK AND THE POLIO VACCINE (Knopf, Penguin Random House), and ANNE FRANK: THE GIRL HEARD AROUND THE WORLD (Scholastic). www.lindamarshall.com.
Lyn Miller-Lachmann is the former editor-in-chief of MultiCultural Review. Her young adult novel Gringolandia (Curbstone Press/Northwestern University Press, 2009) was a 2010 ALA Best Book for Young Adults and received an Américas Award Honorable Mention from the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs. Her second novel, Rogue (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013) was a Junior Library Guild selection. Her most recent novel is Surviving Santiago (Running Press, 2015), the companion to Gringolandia. Lyn reviews children’s and young adult books on social justice themes for The Pirate Tree (www.thepiratetree.com). For more information, visit Lyn’s website, www.lynmillerlachmann.com.
Christy Mihaly writes stories, poetry, and nonfiction for young readers. Her recent picture book, Free for You and Me: What Our First Amendment Means (Albert Whitman Co. 2020), introduces our First Amendment freedoms to young readers through poems and stories.
Other books include Diet for a Changing Climate: Food for Thought, co-written with Sue Heavenrich (Lerner/TFCB, 2018) about how our diet affects the earth; and Hey, Hey, Hay! (A Tale of Bales and the Machines That Make Them (Holiday House, 2018), a rhyming picture book and Bank Street Best Book of the Year. A former lawyer, Christy has written more than 20 children's nonfiction titles on topics from free speech to food to fashion. She lives in Vermont, where she enjoys walking her dog in the woods and playing the cello (though not simultaneously).
Raised in New York and Paris, Robin Newman is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the City University of New York School of Law. She was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, and peacocks. Author of the award-winning Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series, she's a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, National Writing Project's Writers Council, the Bank Street Writers Lab, and PEN America, CYAB. She lives in New York with her husband, son, and three spoiled dogs. She is represented by Liza Fleissig at Liza Royce Agency. For more information, please visit www.robinnewmanbooks.com.
Dianne Ochiltree is a nationally-recognized author of books for the very young. Her picture books have appeared on recommended reading lists; included in literacy programs such as the Dollywood Foundation's Imagination Library; and honored with three Florida Book Award medals for children's literature. Dianne is also a writing coach and freelance editor; a certified yoga instructor; and meditation teacher. To learn more about Dianne and her books, go to www.dianneochiltree.com
Nancy Roe Pimm
Nancy Roe Pimm wrote her first book, HORSES, HORSES, HORSES at age ten. Today, she still loves horses, along with every other animal in creation—and she still writes books about anything that makes her say, “WOW!” She has books about race cars, gorillas, military dogs, and aviators. Five of her narrative nonfiction books are Junior Library Selection and Colo’s Story is a Choose to Read Ohio Selection. The Center for the Book chose Colo’s Story to represent the state of Ohio at the National Book Festival in Washington D.C.
Pimm visits schools and organizations to encourage the next generation to believe in their dreams and to challenge the possibilities. She also teaches writing workshops, virtually and in-person. Pimm lives with her retired race-car driver husband in Plain City, Ohio. Nancy and Ed have three daughters and two grandsons. They share their home with two dogs, one cat, and one snake. To discover more of Pimm’s books, visit her website: www.nancyroepimm.com
Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published children's author, poet, speaker, and writing coach. She works as a Writing Instructor for the Dallas Independent School District through The Writer's Garret, as well as a Writing Coach for Writing Workshops Dallas. She's also the founder of The Write Universe Kidlit Writers Workshops in Dallas, TX. She blogs about kidlit craft and publishing with regular author, illustrator, and editor interviews at KidLit Oasis. In addition, Rosie speaks on many women's topics and has appeared on radio, TV, and print media. Her upcoming children's book, Sunday Rain (Lantana Publishing, March 2021) celebrates imagination, the love of books, and new friendships. Visit Rosie at www.rosiejpova.com.
Shannon Stocker is an author, blogger, singer/songwriter, and mother (not necessarily in that order). Her debut picture book, CAN U SAVE THE DAY (rhyming), hits shelves in August, 2019 (Sleeping Bear Press). She’s been published three times in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL, with a fourth story coming out in May, 2019. She received SCBWI’s Picture Book HM award (Midsouth), as well as first place and honorable mention awards for non-fiction essays with WOW! (Women On Writing). Shannon is represented by Allison Remcheck of Stimola Literary Studio. To subscribe to her blog, visit her website, http://www.shannonstocker.com/blog/.
Laura Roettiger has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education, as a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school, and as a tutor for both children and adults. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. She has three children of her own whose curiosity and creativity led all of them into STEM related professions. ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON, released by Eifrig Publishing in February 2019. Visit Laura online at: www.LauraRoettigerBooks.com.
Vicky Rubin is an author and illustrator. Her books are in prose, and her rhyming poems have appeared in CRICKET and SPIDER magazines. She offers detailed, multi-round critiques and editorial services. In her crits, she looks at voice, language, character, story, plot, pacing, structure and the takeaway. She's glad to answer your questions about the critique process. She has over 20 years of professional experience as a writer, proofreader, and copyeditor. Her goal is to work with you to make your story as strong as possible. Visit her at http://doodlesoop.com.
An award-winning teacher for 33 years, Tina was privileged to share her love of books with many students. She released her first picture book, WALKOUT, with Clear Fork Publishing in 2020. Set to release in 2022, is Tina’s chapter book, CANINES UNLEASHED. She also writes for the Educational Marketwith several projects underway utilizing her teaching experiences. Tina is a Co-Assistant Regional Advisor with SCBWI’s West/Central Upstate Region, an active member of 12×12, and a judge with Rate Your Story. In 2019, she earned an honorable mention in Vivian Kirkfield's #50PreciousWords contest. Now you can find her writing full-time, at all times of the day (even at dawn) with coffee, chocolate, and her fluffy dogs nearby. When Tina, a winter enthusiast, isn’t writing, she enjoys Upstate New York and the Catskills with her husband, daughter, and two Akitas, one snowstorm at a time. Find her online at www.tinashepardson.com.
Nancy Stewart is the bestselling and award winning author of the four Bella and Britt Series books for children: One Pelican at a Time (eighteen weeks on Amazon Bestselling List), Sea Turtle Summer (International Classics Gold Book Award), Bella Saves the Beach and Mystery at Manatee Key. Her book, Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage, is the authorized biography of Katrina Simpkins and her life changing relationship with Winter, the dolphin (International Classics Silver Award, 2013). Nancy's debut YA novel, Beulah Land was published in November 2017 by Interlude Press. Beulah Land won the YA First Place Award in the State of FL SCBWI Rising Kite Contest in 2015. A frequent speaker and presenter at writing conferences throughout the United States, Nancy conducts many for SCBWI and speaks to school children frequently.
Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Return to Coney Island and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush; Ready, Set, GOrilla!; and Sadie’s Shabbat Stories. Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom (co-written with Callie Metler and Shirin Rahman, illustrated by Kate Talbot), released from Clear Fork Publishing in October, 2021. Melissa is a Blogger and Course Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY, and a founding member of The Book Meshuggenahs. She also interviews authors on her blog, This Writing Life, and offers book tips and resources. In other chapters of her life, Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her family, and enjoys theatre, museums, and long beach walks. www.MelissaStoller.com
Brenda Reeves Sturgis
Brenda Sturgis is the author of 10 Turkeys in the Road - illustrated by David Slonim (Marshall Cavendish/Amazon/Scholastic 2011), The Lake Where Loon Lives – illustrated by Brooke Carleton (Islandport Press 2014) and Touchdown - illustrated by Trey Chavez (MeeGenius 2014). Her latest picture book, Still A Family, came out in 2017 and was named a top 100 book from the New York Public Library, a top 20 book from Mighty Girl and placed on the NYC Department of Education Booklist in 2020. You can visit her at http://www.brendareevessturgis.com/home.html.
S. K. Wenger grew up among the mountains and lakes of New Hampshire and then found another beautiful backdrop in Utah to raise three children with her husband. With a master’s degree in science Shaunda enjoys weaving tidbits of the natural world into her stories and feels extra sparkly when they pivot on humor. She is the author of Chicken Frank, Dinosaur! (illustrated by Jojo Ensslin, published by Albert Whitman 2021), leveled-reader books with Benchmark Education and Richard C. Owen Publishers, and poems in Babybug, Cricket, The Sigurd Journal, and Miracles of Motherhood (a June Cotner Anthology). In 2021 she was honored as a PBParty Finalist and earned an honorable mention in Vivian Kirkfield's #50PreciousWords contest. In 2020 she was awarded the WIFYR Fellowship Grant for a middle grade novel-in-progress. Shaunda enjoys providing feedback on stories for other writers in the amazing kidlit community. Learn more at www.skwenger.com.
Roxanne Troup is the author of over a dozen credited books for kids (both published and forthcoming in the education and trade markets). She is also a professional ghostwriter who has worked with both publishers and individuals to write numerous picture books, chapter books, and adult nonfiction over the last ten years. Her debut trade picture book, MY GRANDPA, MY TREE, AND ME (Yeehoo Press, 2023) is a lyrical look at the life-and-harvest cycle of pecan trees. Her second trade deal, a rhyming picture book about space, is scheduled for release in 2024. Roxanne regularly reviews picture books at Goodreads with Ronna, and is an active member of her regional SCBWI where she mentors other writers—both formally and informally—as a co-facilitator of the Colorado Springs Connect & Critique group. Learn more about her at https://www.roxannetroup.com/.