Saturday, August 20, 2022

Workshop Description 

Writing, illustrating, and publishing a book for children is filled with obstacles and hurdles that are unique to being an author for a younger audience. Our panel of children’s book authors will present books for primary students (grades K-3), elementary students (grades 3-5), and middle school students (grades 5-8). Each panelist will share their own journey, creative process, and advice to those wanting to pursue writing children’s books. 


Andrea Cassell

The Kibby Series (elementary)

Andrea Cassel is a three-time recipient of the Mom’s Choice- Gold Award as well as the prestigious 2021 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Her three delightful books, Kibby the Space Dog, Kibby Gets a Little Sister, and Kibby and Olive Move to Georgia, teach life lessons as seen through the eyes of her dog Kibby.


Dr. Surishtha Sehgal

It’s Diwali and A Bucket of Blessings (primary / elementary)

Dr. Surishtha Sehgal was a university professor for many years and now enjoys reading to children during story time. She is the founder of a nonprofit organization that promotes social responsibility among students, and she serves on the boards of two universities and a national arts center. She lives in Atlanta.


JoAnn Dotson

Spider In My Shoe, What Do You Do? (primary)

JoAnn Dotson is a retired educator with 32 years of service. She is a native of Sandersville Ga. She is married to Benjamin Dotson. She attended Morris Brown College with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education. She received her Master’s in Psychology and Counseling from Troy State University. She also took Doctoral classes at North Central University. During her teaching career she was Teacher of the Year, 13 WMAZ News My Teacher is Tops Award, and Washington County Chamber of Commerce Spotlight Teacher of the Year Award. She enjoys reading, poetry, painting and the love of chocolate candy and desserts of all forms.


Andy Runton

Owly Series (elementary and middle)
Andy Runton is the award-winning creator of Owly, the kind-hearted little owl who’s always searching for new friends and adventures. Owly showcases Andy’s love of wildlife and the outdoors, and has earned him multiple awards, including the Eisner Award for Best Publication for a Younger Audience. The Owly books have been praised for their “charm, wisdom, and warmth” by Booklist, and said they are “one of the best comics for kids around. Period.” Andy lives in the greater Atlanta area, where he works full time as a writer and illustrator.

Amanda Vining photo

Amanda holds a BS in Biology from Georgia College & State University. She began her career as an educator with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. After leaving the DNR, Amanda became a formal educator with Baldwin County School System and Jasper County School System. Amanda began her museum career at the Museum of Arts and Sciences (MAS) in Macon, Georgia, where she served as Curator of Environmental Science
(2011-2020). While at MAS, Amanda developed a love for sharing the world around us with the many students who visited on school field trips. During her time as Curator of Environmental Science, Amanda launched a storytime
program for preschool children.

Since 2020, Amanda has been serving Georgia Writers Museum as a volunteer on the Education Committee. Amanda has brought her love of sharing stories with students by launching Peaches’ Reading Pasture. As Museum Manager, Amanda looks forward to serving the community and helping to inspire those within our community to put words to paper and share their stories.

Amanda was born and raised in nearby Shady Dale, Georgia. Her husband, Rodney, is a native of Eatonton, and they currently reside in Putnam County. They have three children.