Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Meet SCBWI’s New Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer: April Powers!


After an extensive search and interview process, SCBWI brought April Powers on board in June as its first chief equity and inclusion officer. Recently Southern Breeze caught up with April to talk about herself, her job, and what’s planned for SCBWI. Here's the second part of our Q and A with April:



Q: I noticed SCBWI changed the logo for Pride Month. Is this emblematic of things to come? 

A: Making more use of social media is certainly a high priority. For instance, with the LGBTQ+ community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others), we’re in contact with some of our members on an ongoing basis to figure out how to provide for people who are writing and providing content to and about LGBTQ+ families. I won’t speak for those members: I want to hear from you and learn your thoughts on where we’re lacking and how we can do better.

We’re also looking at highlighting some of our members’ work in months that are designated to highlight them—so when we update the profile page for you to tell us who you are, check those boxes that apply to you. Some of those months include Asian Heritage month, Hispanic Heritage month, etc.

Q: How are we addressing inclusion for students and members who are disabled? 

A: One step is to make the website and our social media accessible. For instance, if you include a hashtag in a social media post, the first letter of each word should be capitalized for the computer or translator to be able to read it aloud. Another step, which you will have seen if you’ve viewed any of the SCBWI digital workshops this summer, is we’re including an ASL (American Sign Language) translator.

Q: Any final thoughts for our members? 

A: Lin is unapologetically leading an antiracist organization. We support all creatives — every type. We can’t have an environment where any of that creativity is squashed, squandered, or made to feel less than because someone feels their story matters more. Or that their values matter more—a lot of misunderstandings are based on cultural values people misunderstand. I know we’re international, but our staff is small, mighty, and fierce, including our volunteers. I look forward to the time when we can resume in-person events. And I can’t wait to get to know as many of you as possible.

 ****


If you’d like to connect with April on social media:

Twitter 
Facebook 
LinkedIn 

If you’d like to email April directly, she can be reached at aprilpowers (at) scbwi (dot) org.

And special thanks to ARA Lisa Stauffer for this in depth Q and A with April Powers!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Meet SCBWI’s New Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer: April Powers!

“Whether you have children or not, we are all the ancestors of future generations on this planet. Let’s leave something great for them!” —April Powers, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, SCBWI

After an extensive search and interview process, SCBWI brought April Powers on board in June as its first chief equity and inclusion officer. She brings fifteen years of experience as the diversity, equity, and inclusion champion for a variety of companies, including such big names as NestlĂ© and Amgen. Recently Southern Breeze caught up with April to talk about herself, her job, and what’s planned for SCBWI.

Q: Welcome to SCBWI! 

A: Thanks! I’m very excited about this job on both a professional and a personal level. On a professional level, during the several months-long interview process, I found I really liked all the people involved in SCBWI. At this stage of my career, after working for some large companies and nonprofits, I’d worked in some positions where they weren’t committed to the work.

When you have the tone from the top, then it’s easy to say, “This is who we are as an organization.” Lin Oliver sets that tone. We’re all ambassadors for SCBWI all over the world.

On a personal level, I’m “Bluish,” which stands for Black and Jewish. I’ve been writing a kids book with my sons, and they wanted to know why my main character didn’t have golden hair.

I grew up with the angst of being a child who didn’t see herself represented in toys, stories, books, TV, or art. But our home and the media my sons see, I’d hoped, would be different. Their comment simply brought home that our society has a long way to go. I’d already begun researching how to publish a children’s book — and was planning to become an SCBWI member— when I got the job offer.

Q: What’s your top priority for SCBWI right now? 

A: First we’re training the SCBWI staff and regional leadership, since they’re essentially our main ambassadors to all the members as well as the public. As we move forward, I’m working on a way to make training in cultural competence, inclusion, and belonging accessible to all who volunteer in our regions worldwide.

Q: What steps are you taking to build equity and inclusion beyond training? 

A: At SCBWI, we’re pro-kid—we’re here for ALL children. And in the same manner we’re here for ALL of our members—writers, author/illustrators, illustrators, and translators.

So I want to know who you are. I invite members to email me or connect on social media. If you want to be more active in SCBWI in the arena of equity and inclusion, please reach out to me.

Another thing that’s in the works is to add a section to our member profile page, so that you can say who you are if you want to—it will always be optional. We’ll also be doing surveys to gain a better understanding of our membership.

As far as bringing in new members, I’m a recruiter at heart, and definitely think recruiting is a key part of what we’re talking about!

It’s important to reach out to people who are not traditionally in this space. We’ll be hunting in different fields. We know SCBWI is known within certain circles, such as among teachers or librarians. What we could do a lot better is to reach out to underrepresented writers to make sure their stories get told, too, especially BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or People of Color). We’re not taking away anything from anyone. We’re here to support all writers, author/illustrators, illustrators, and translators.

For people who would like to join SCBWI but it’s out of their budget, we have scholarships and are actively looking for some individuals and groups to sponsor really full scholarships. We’re looking into what a full scholarship would look like, beyond the membership or conference fees.

****

Join us next week for more of our Q and A with April Powers, SCBWI's Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Writing Contest! Our Judges! Show-Mos! Oh, My!

Are you a member of SCBWI? Because we've got lots going on, just for you!

June is only a few weeks away and that means our Southern Breeze Writing Contest will be open for entries. And we have some exciting changes coming to the 2020 writing contest!

In order to help our members best prepare their manuscripts for publishing, the contest entries will now mirror submissions that would be sent to future agents or editors. So although the manuscript requirements are shorter in length, every entry will now also include a query.

The query is such an important part of all submissions, even for those already represented by an agent. To get some great tips on writing your query, please refer to SCBWI THE BOOK which is available online for free to our members.

Along with having query feedback, each manuscript receives a scoring sheet from one to two of our Southern Breeze published authors, depending on the number of submissions to the contest category. The top 15 manuscripts in each category move on to the final round and receive feedback from an editor or agent judge.

And now to announce the judges for our 2020 categories!

Illustrated text (which includes fiction and non-fiction picture books only): ADRIA GOETZ



Adria Goetz is a literary agent with Seattle-based Martin Literary and Media Management, specializing in picture books, middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction, as well as gift books and devotionals. To learn more about Adria and what she is (and isn't) looking for, check out her wish list at adriagoetz.com. She tweets at @adriamgoetz.




Middle Grade novels, including chapter books: LAUREN SPIELLER



Lauren Spieller is a literary agent at TriadaUS. She has a sharp editorial eye, and is passionate about author advocacy. Lauren is seeking middle grade and young adult fiction. Whatever the age category or genre, Lauren is passionate about finding diverse and underrepresented voices.







Young Adult novels: ALEXANDER SLATER



Alexander Slater is a literary agent with the Trident Media Group. He is most interested in stories that blend genres, in characters that have historically been underrepresented, and in voices that enrapture him to the point of missing his subway stop. His list focuses intently on middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction, and in particular, graphic novels for all ages. You can follow his infrequent tweets at @abuckslater.





Our judges always rave about the Southern Breeze contest entries (and P.S. Something else new: First Place winners will receive a year's SCBWI membership!) and this year, we're once again sponsoring special programming for our members to get those entries polished up and prize-ready: Show-Mos!

This year, our annual Show-Mo events are moving online! By now, you've heard from Critique Coordinator TK Read about the meetings starting on May 15th. There are 10 Show-Mo events, with five different categories. You can go to as many Show-Mo events as you like, too, and then decide which manuscript is the best to enter into the Southern Breeze Writing Contest.

It's free to enter the contest and it's free to attend any Show-Mo event, as long as you're a member of SCBWI. So take advantage of all that your SCBWI membership offers... and good luck!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Breezers in the (Virtual) Neighborhood: MAY!

Even though some businesses are opening in our region, bookstores, libraries, and other businesses where our Breezers would typically share a book-signing or host a release party remain closed. So we asked you to send news of your virtual events so that we can join you online!




From Jenny L. Cote, author of the series, Epic Order of the Seven:

Every Thursday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM EST, I hold a Facebook Live event at my author page. I've been focusing on a different aspect of writing each week and taking reader questions:

 https://www.facebook.com/Jenny-L-Cote-33032532428/








From Reem Faruqi, author of Laila's Lunchbox:

Join her for an online Storytime with a Q & A on May 9th on Instagram Live at
 https://www.instagram.com/taleswithmimi/?hl=en 





From TeMika Grooms, our Illustrator Coordinator:

Join us for a 3-part series on Children’s Book Illustration designed to give you the basics of visual storytelling in children’s books from start to finish.  This free event, sponsored by Microsoft, Art Is King and SCBWI Southern Breeze, will cover the development of thumbnails and book dummies, book design, character design, and the basics of typography and hand lettering.  
The three-part series will be on Sundays May 17th, 24th and 31st  from 1pm – 3pm EST.
May 17th- Thumbnails, Book Dummies & More 
May 24th – Character Design
May 31st – Typography and Hand Lettering
Join us! Registration is required.



And of course, we're joining in the virtual fun with Zoom Local Liaison meet-ups starting May 7th. And Zoom Show-Mos are coming, too! Look for more details in your members-only newsletter.

There are lots of opportunities for our members to get together during these social-distancing days of spring in Southern Breeze. So see you soon online, Breezers!


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

What Can SCBWI Southern Breeze Do For You?

The other day, I was having a (cellphone) walk-n-talk with a Southern Breeze member who asked for feedback about a webinar proposal. At the end of the conversation, she thanked me and asked, "And what can I do for you today?"

Such a nice thing to say! And I thought of all our Southern Breeze members because SCBWI is, after all, a support group. What can we do for you?

Of course, it's not possible these days to provide all the in-person programming you've previously enjoyed; even our Breezers in the Neighborhood are staying safe inside. But we are still here for you!

Here's a look at what we have going on in Southern Breeze and beyond for both members and for those wondering if children's writing or illustrating is for you:

wik'20 2.0: There are still spots left and registration is open for both fee and free sessions. Don't worry if you can't attend the session at the date and time; we'll send you the recording and it's available for seven days to watch over and over (and over) again.

Regional webinars: SCBWI offers webinars across the regions in the U.S. and abroad. And webinars are reasonably priced so that you all can attend. Check out the list HERE and find exactly what you need to get your writing and/or illustrating to the next level.

*Speakers Bureau: Virtual school visits and speaker events are always popular, but right now, parents and libraries are looking for engaging authors and illustrators to share their expertise with all the kids stuck at home! So if you haven't added yourself to our Southern Breeze bureau, take a few moments to add your name and the kinds of presentations you offer to your profile. *Must be an SCBWI Member.

*Contests: We have both writing and illustration contests and even now, we're busy finding industry judges for our Writing Contest and fine-tuning changes. Keep an eye on our website for updates to this year's contest and as always, these contests are offered to you for FREE! *Must be an SCBWI member (but the prizes are totally worth it!)

SCBWI: Now's the time to take a tour around the SCBWI website because SO much has been added during these challenging days.


So if you haven't joined us in SCBWI yet, now is a great time to come aboard! And if you're a member and you have ideas, SCBWI Southern Breeze wants to hear about 'em! Stay safe, y'all, keep well, and tell me...

What can we do for you today?

~Cathy C. Hall, ARA
SCBWI Southern Breeze