Co-Program Chair Angela Haigler led a wide ranging discussion with Charlotte based creatives on everything from breaking in to the children's book business to how Derrick and Gordon's children feel about Daddy's work. The third member of the panel, writer and illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton was unable to join us.

Barnes who said “writing children’s books is an act of God” has authored 12 including the chapter series Ruby and the Booker Boys , and was the first male African American creative copywriter at Hallmark Cards, Inc. He and James met there.

James is a fine artist who calls illustrating his "a day job" has collaborated with Barnes on acclaimed picture books, I Am Every Good Thing, released in 2020 and Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cut, Crown was a multi-award winner in 2018: Caldecott Honor Book,Newbery Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor (Author and Illustrator) Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor.