About the Family

The mission of the Middle Grade Mafia is to provide a refuge, a klatch, for established and aspiring middle grade authors. The purpose of the site is to share knowledge, inspire each other, and celebrate good news. Writing can be a lonely endeavor, but when you are part of a family, you are never alone.

The Don

Kevin A. Springer


Kevin grew up on a farm in Maryland where his imagination knew no limits. As a husband and father, he reconnected with his creativity while telling bedtime stories to his two young boys. One such story evolved into his debut book, Extraordinary Sam & the Adventurers’ Guild (March 2015, Bookfish Books LLC.), which tells the tale of an ordinary boy who finds a hatbox and discovers a world of adventure and self-discovery.

Kevin is a self-proclaimed dreamer and a kid at heart. When he’s not writing or reading, he is coaching soccer or helping with homework. He lives outside of Atlanta with his wife, two extraordinary boys, and dogs.

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The Bosses

Lisa Lewis Tyre 

unnamedLisa Lewis Tyre grew up in a small town in Tennessee where the only form of entertainment was watching her crazy family, and even crazier neighbors. She figured out early on that not every child had a pet skunk, a dad that ran a bar in the front yard, or a neighbor that was so large his house had to be torn down to get him out.

What else could she do but write? Lisa’s debut middle grade novel, Last In a Long Line of Rebels, released September 29, 2015 from Nancy Paulsen Books.

Currently living in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and daughter, Lisa’s still been known to spy on her neighbors.

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Kim Zachman

kimKim Zachman also grew up in a small town in Tennessee, but a different one than Lisa Tyre’s.  She sold her first book at the age of six… to her grandmother for 10 cents. She’s never forgotten the rush that came with that literary success.

As a field support representative for Scholastic Book Fairs, Kim visits schools in the Atlanta area and helps them with their fairs. Her favorite part of the job is spreading the word about great books to the media specialists, teachers and students. 

Kim is also a freelance writer and 150 of her articles and essays have appeared in more than 25 print and online publications. A couple of years ago, she decided to give into her secret ambition to be a children’s writer. With the help of her agent, John Rudolph of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, she hopes to add “published author” to her LinkedIn page soon.

Kim lives in the Atlanta area with her husband, two teenage daughters and their mostly adorable dog. She’s a member of SCBWI and Atlanta Writer’s Club.

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Debbie D’Aurelio

IMG_0556 - Version 2Debbie has lived on three coasts from California to Long Island to Florida. She began her advertising career at J. Walter Thompson and now writes for children from picture books through middle grade. Debbie loves to travel and learn how people choose to work, live and play and has been known to ask complete strangers about their life story.

She lives in Atlanta with her husband, children, dog and scary-smart Alexa. When not writing, Debbie can be found playing ball in the house, from whiffle ball to basketball and riding scooters. She’s proud to say in thirteen years only two items have broke . . . totally worth it. 

So if Debbie writes from her own experiences, “it’s nothing personal . . . it’s business”. Ba-da-bing.  She is a member of SCBWI and The Atlanta Writers Club.

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L.S. Bridgers


L.S. Bridgers is an attorney and writer of middle grade fiction. She was born in the U.S. but raised in Rome Italy.

I find it gives me a unique way of looking at things. It probably explains why I love to write about magic so much. Magic is universal. But how we come to believe magic is real is individual. It’s that process that interest me. It tells us who we are and where we come from. L.S. Bridgers began writing when she was at Rice University and the continued while she was at the University of Georgia School of Law. She began to write for children after her children were born. She credits her experiences as a lawyer for teaching her how to write about heroes and villains and the endless energy of her sons for inspiring her imagination. L.S. Bridgers lives outside Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, three sons and dogs.

Alison Hertz

alisonAlison has always followed the tune of a different drummer. At age 10, she began performing as a juggler and when she was just 14 years old, Alison joined a circus. Really. So when her friends were going to football games and prom, Alison was riding a unicycle and walking a high wire. When it was time for her to attend college, Alison’s circus days abruptly ended and she headed to New York City to become a Toy Designer. After designing hundreds of toys that were sold in major retail stores including Toys R Us and WalMart, Alison returned to college to earn a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction so she could use her talents for entertaining children to get them excited about reading, writing and art. Alison also used these skills to write and illustrate her debut picture book, FLAP, which released in 2012. This teaching, toy designing, circus performing writer/artist mom is currently writing and illustrating picture books, chapter books, and mid-grade novels about her wildly exciting experiences. Alison has also illustrated hidden picture puzzles for Highlights. When Alison isn’t writing, drawing, painting, reading, creating puzzles, or volunteering at her children’s school she can be found doodling and is host of Doodle Day, an online daily drawing challenge with more than 500 participants around the world.

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Sherry Ellis

Sherry Ellis is an award-winning author and professional musician who plays and teaches violin, viola, and piano.When she is not writing or engaged in musical activities, she can be found doing household chores, hiking, or exploring the world.  Ellis has previously published Don’t Feed the ElephantTen Zany BirdsThat Mama is a GrouchThat Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN, and Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China. Ellis, her husband, and their two children live in Atlanta, Georgia.



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  1. Dear MGM: I’m an SCBWI member who just landed an agent to represent my middle grade novel (fingers crossed for a sale 🙂 ). I’ve been blogging about the process of finding an agent and writing in general, and I wonder if you could use any of my content here. I’m following your site in hopes of learning much more about middle grade writing myself!
    I hope you’ll take a look at my site and let me know if I may contribute anything here.
    Thanks for your consideration.
    Lynn Coulter

  2. Lynn,

    Congratulations on landing an agent. It is exciting to finally have a person in the business give you affirmation that all the work you have done was worth it. As far as contributing to the MGM blog, we would love for you to do a “How I Got My Agent” post detailing your path to landing an agent. This wouldn’t be an advice piece, just your story.
    Thanks for reaching out!!

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