About Us

PENCIL TIPS WRITING WORKSHOP is composed of children's writers and illustrators who have published in a variety of genres: picture books, novels, poetry, nonfiction, historical fiction, fantasy, chapter books, and magazines. As writers and illustrators for children, we’d like to help others, especially young people, feel comfortable and confident with the written word. This blog provides practical tips and observations on the art of writing, particularly in the classroom. We also offer it as a forum for teachers, students, parents, and others who love children’s literature and writing as much as we do. All of us do school visits and teach writing workshops. We believe in the power of mentoring other writers.

Jacqueline Jules is the award-winning author of Unite or Die: How Thirteen States Became a Nation, Duck for Turkey Day, Never Say a Mean Word Again, The Princess and the Ziz, No English, the Zapato Power chapter book series, and other books for young readers. Her books have been recognized by the CYBILS Literary Awards, Sydney Taylor Awards Committee, The New York Public Library, the National Council for Social Studies, the Library of Virginia Cardozo Award for Children’s Literature, and named on state and summer reading lists. She has also published poetry and short stories in numerous publications including Highlights for Children, Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, Stories for Children, and Christian Science Monitor. Jacqueline is also a certified teacher and school librarian with a Masters in Library Science from the University of Maryland. She teaches three days a week in a unique teaching job as a writing specialist in charge of a literary magazine in an elementary school in Northern Virginia.

Laura Gehl is the author of One Big Pair of Underwear, a Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended Title, International Literacy Association Honor Book, and Booklist Books for Youth Editors’ Choice; Hare and Tortoise Race Across Israel and And Then Another Sheep Turned Up (both PJ library selections); and the Peep and Egg series.  A former science and reading teacher, Laura also writes about science for children and adults.  She loves working with kids at schools, community centers, and literary festivals to make sure every child knows that he or she has valuable creative ideas, just waiting to be turned into stories.  Laura lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and four children.  Visit her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraGehl.

Karen Leggett Abouraya grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, surrounded by writing and books: her father was a journalist and her mother is a retired school librarian. Karen was a broadcast journalist for many years on ABC Radio WMAL in Washington, D.C., where she began reviewing and discussing children’s books. Karen is a past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C. Her first children’s book was Hands Around the Library: Protecting Children’s Treasured Books, published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2012. This book, with vibrant cut paper collage illustrations by Susan L. Roth,  tells the story of protesters who held hands around the great library in Alexandria, Egypt, to protect it from vandals during the 2011 revolution (handsaroundthelibrary.com).  In 2014, Karen published Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words, illustrated by L.C. Wheatley and published by StarWalk Kids Media. Malala is a picture book biography of the Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban for her belief in girls’ education.  Karen graduated from Brown University (international relations) and met her Egyptian husband in Washington. Facebook.com/handsaroundthelibrary   Twitter: @LeggettAbouraya and @HandsBook

Mary Quattlebaum is the author of 25 award-winning picture books, books of poetry, chapter books, and nonfiction for children, most recently Jo MacDonald Hiked in the Woods and Together Forever: True Stories of Amazing Animal Friendships. Her work has appeared in anthologies and children's magazines, including Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, and Babybug. Mary's M.A. in English from Georgetown University focused on the teaching of writing, and she developed her thesis into a grants-funded creative writing program for Metropolitan Washington, DC, which she ran for 12 years. Mary has taught writing workshops through videoconferences and at numerous schools, educational conferences, museums, and universities, including Georgetown University and Antioch College's summer program, and she is on the faculty of the graduate program in writing for children and young adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.  Mary reviews children's books regularly for the Washington Post and Washington Parent and writes frequently for the KidsPost section of the Washington Post.


GUEST BLOGGERS --  Pencil Tips invites guest bloggers to share writing exercises related to his or her book. This feature provides a new perspective and a wider variety of mentor texts.