Friday, March 23, 2018

Spotlight on...Stephanie Moody!

Now that we've caught our breath from all the wik'18 happenings, it's time to put faces to the names on our website. So let's start with a spotlight on one of our long-standing Local Liaisons, Stephanie Moody!

Fun facts about Stephanie:

*She's been a member of SCBWI since 1989.

*Her work has been published in Highlights for Children, Spider, Jack and Jill, and Clubhouse, to name just a few.

*She's a certified Master Naturalist (and many of her stories focus on animals, habitats, and protecting the environment).

*She's a writer and illustrator and a pretty awesome photographer, too. You've probably seen her behind the camera at many conferences!

*And as the Local Liaison in the Atlanta/North Fulton area, Stephanie brings us terrific workshops in conjunction with the Atlanta/Fulton County Public Library. And what do you know? She just happens to have one coming up next month:

What:              Writer's Workshop With a Christian Focus

When:             Saturday, April 21, 10:30 AM

Where:            NE Spruill Oaks Library
                        9560 Spruill Rd.
                        Johns Creek, GA  30022

Join Author and photographer Deborah Malone who will lead "Writing Christian Fiction 101"and author April Love Fordham as she discusses "My Journey as a Christian Author." As always, workshops are FREE and open to the public! For more information or to register, contact Stephanie at

We are so lucky to have Stephanie Moody as one of our amazing Local Liaisons! In fact, Southern Breeze is bursting at the seams with amazing volunteers so next time, the spotlight might just be on you!


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Shining Brightly with Southern Breeze's Illustrators!

Take a room full of illustrators and add a handful of amazing industry professionals and you've got a winning combination at Illustrators' Day! And a few illustrators won even more!

I'll let Temika Grooms, Illustrator Coordinator for Southern Breeze, tell you more:

Claire Easton of Painted Words, Inc. joined us to round out our faculty and serve as a judge for the Liz Conrad Award. In honor of Liz Conrad, Claire selected three artists who demonstrate exceptional potential within their craft and provided written and verbal feedback during the conference. This year we had 13 applicants. Each applicant submitted a letter with a bio and information about their work along with images for review. The following were awardees for 2018:

Honorable Mention – Shannon Day
Runner Up – Melissa Schultz-Jones
Winner – Laura Moss
They were each provided with a certificate to commemorate the award. The winner will be able to attend next year’s conference for free!

AND there was another winner at ID 2018! The Illustrator’s Portfolio Show was held on Saturday and twenty-one portfolios were on display all day during the conference for viewing.  Faculty judged the portfolios to choose a winner. The winner, Lori Nichols, was awarded with a Michael’s Gift Card at the end of the day.

The theme for this year's program was Ignite Your Illustration Career and we're pretty sure all of our Southern Breeze illustrators will continue to shine brightly!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

TEN Tips for Conference AtTENdees

The doors open on wik'18 this Friday, March 9th! And it's a whirlwind of activities and sessions and speakers and friends and fun, so you'll want to be ready. Thanks to Southern Breeze Regional Advisor, Claudia Pearson, you can be! Take a look at these ten tips she's collected just for you:

 1. Volunteer! It's the best way to get to know new people!

2. Comment on the Southern Breeze conference Facebook, Twitter and blog posts. People will remember your name.

3. Attend the conference with your critique group or writing buddies if you can. If you each attend different sessions, you can share notes after the conference.
4. Get organized: Prepare a clear view binder prior to attending. Keep the conference schedule in the front cover and a checklist of items to bring in the back. Use clear sleeves inside the binder for "homework," handouts, writing samples, business cards, etc, for easy access. 

5. Keep it compact. Big bags can be barriers and small (no larger than 14") illustration portfolios are better suited than large ones for presentation space and critiques.

6. Write out "must know" questions handy for the breakout session speakers and to pop in the box for the Q & A panel. Refrain from questions that can be easily "Googled," (i.e. what is point of view, what's a dummy?) and instead address specific craft/marketing issues that maximize the speakers' expertise.   

7. If you plan to take notes on a laptop, insure the battery is fully charged. Plugs near work space may be scarce.
8. Don't "buttonhole" faculty, and don't offer them your manuscript at the conference (you will have a chance to submit after the conference), but have your 30 second pitch ready just in case they ask what you are working on.
9. Get together with your Local Liaison and members from your area. They can be great friends and resources after the conference.
10. Prepare to be engaged, challenged and inspired! Drinking water from a fire hose is not so easy, so get some rest, arrive early, and be ready to learn and share. Everyone has something valuable to offer.

There you have it, Breezers, ten terrific tips! Can't wait to see all y'all at wik'18!

(Late registration is ongoing, and many sessions are full, but you can still join us for the conference experience. See the Southern Breeze website for details!)

Monday, March 5, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: Friday Dessert Party and Booksigning!

Books and Cookies. Cookies and Books.

Children’s books.

Children’s authors and illustrators.

Desserts. (Lots of cookies.)

What an unbeatable combination!

Bring your kids. Invite friends and neighbors to bring their kids.

March 9, 3:30-5:30 at the Homewood Public Library, 1721 Oxmoor Rd., Homewood, AL 35209

Join our SCBWI Southern Breeze region’s kick-off celebration of Writing and Illustrating for Kids (WIK) at a new time of year.

If you love books for kids, member of SCBWI or not, registered WIK attendee or not, you are invited to meet over 30 authors and illustrators and see their latest books. Little Professor Book Store is handling sales and authors and illustrators will be happy to autograph them in person.

If you are registered for the conference, pick up your registration materials early. Skip the lines on Saturday. If you aren’t able to attend the conference this year, come see all your writing buddies and catch up on writing news. Free! Students from the neighborhood (including schools) will be walking over from school or stopping in car pools on the way home. This means YOU can meet your future fans.

Cookies and books. Books and cookies. Friends and future fans. How can you stay away? Oh—lots of free parking.

Joan Broerman, RAE, Southern Breeze, has contributed to more than a dozen books on the business and craft of writing. The first Southern Breeze Regional Advisor, she now serves as an Emerita. A picture book and a middle grade novel are on editors’ desks. With fingers crossed, she’s finishing another novel.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Breezers in the Neighborhood: MARCH!

Isn't it March that comes in like a lion? I'm sure the expression has more to do with weather than writer/illustrator happenings, but Southern Breeze is roaring in this month!

Saturday, March 3:

Elevator Pitches and Query Letter Feedback

10:00 to 2:00 PM

Read Law Firm in Olde Town Conyers
915 Commercial Street
Conyers, Georgia 30012

Participants will read their work out loud and others will provide feedback. This is a free event, open to the public, so bring your friends!Light refreshments will be served, and you can bring your own lunch or donte to a collection and pizza will be ordered. If you plan on coming, or have questions, email TK Read at And once you have your polished pitch and query, you'll want to bring 'em to the big event!

March 9, 10, 11:

WIK'18 (Writing and Illustrating for Kids) SCBWI Southern Breeze Conference

Friday: Public Book Signing and Dessert Party
             3:30 to 5:30

             Homewood Public library
             1721 Oxmoor Road
             Birmingham, AL  35209

Saturday, Sunday: wik'18

              8:30 to 5:00 PM

              Spain Park High School
              4700 Jaguar Drive
              Hoover, AL  35242

See the Southern Breeze website for more information!

Wednesday, March 21: Meet The Author!


               Eastlake Public Library
               Birmingham, AL

Come out and say hello to Avery Hurt, non-fiction children's writer and one of Southern Breeze's terrific mentors.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: Mix and Mingle!

Whether you’re a newcomer or a long time conference attendee, you’re sure to find folks to help you along your creative journey at this year’s SCBWI Southern Breeze WIK!  Of course, the speakers and sessions will be amazing.  Look at that line-up!

If this is your first conference or if you’ve lost count of how many conferences you’ve attended, think about the benefits of expanding your network of writers and illustrators.  I know, I know, sometimes it’s hard to be a new person in a situation where it might seem like everybody knows everybody else, especially if you might be a little on the “shy side.” It can also be a challenge for long time attendees to help newcomers feel at ease in a conference setting, too.

We began something a few conferences ago with a Membership Display and are continuing with this because it seemed to be helpful.  There are a few changes, so please take a look!

Here’s how this will work:

Each area has been divided and posted on the Membership Display.  Look for the largest major city which is closest to where you live, select the corresponding color slip of paper and put it in your name tag.  Then go out there and meet people! If they have the same colored tab in their name tag, chances are they could live somewhere in your area.


North Alabama   (RED) Huntsville, Decatur, Gadsden, Florence, Hamilton
BIRMINGHAM AREA(S)  (YELLOW) Tuscaloosa, Hoover, Talladega, Anniston
Middle Alabama   (Yellow)  Prattville, Demopolis, Montgomery, Auburn
South and Coastal Alabama  (ORANGE) Mobile area, Jackson, Andalusia, Enterprise, Dothan, Troy
North Georgia (Light Green) Rome, Dalton, Canton, Cumming, Gainesville, Dawsonville, Commerce, Athens and all points northward.
ATLANTA AREA(S) (Dark Green) Metro Atlanta area, North and South Atlanta, Decatur area, Gwinnett and Cobb Counties, Conyers, Stone Mountain
Middle Georgia (OLIVE GREEN) Columbus/Pine Mtn area, Macon, Warner Robins, Augusta area
South Georgia (DARK BLUE) Albany, Bainbridge, Moultrie, Valdosta, Ocilla/Tifton
Savannah and Coastal GEORGIA (Turquoise) Statesboro, Waycross, Brunswick, St. Simons, Savannah, Beaufort SC
North FLA and panhandle (Magenta) Pensacola, Tallahassee, Panama City, any of Florida

But what if you are hesitant about meeting people?  Not to worry. Southern Breezers are a friendly bunch!

Let’s say you are a first time attendee at a conference.  You might get to know six people—three of them are writers and three are illustrators.  You get to know what they are working on and share a little bit about yourself and your project(s). Maybe you find other ways to keep in touch through social media.  Maybe you attend the next conference, those six people are there and you get to know six more new people.

By the time you have attended several conferences you will have met so many people, learned so much more, and your network will have expanded, like when the rings of a pebble thrown into a pond begin to overlap one other.

If there is not an active Local Liaison close to where you live, consider becoming one yourself. The names and email addresses of Local Liaisons are on the SB webpage. Local Liaisons are volunteers who hold Local Events from time to time. Ask the Regional Advisor, Assistant Regional Advisor(s) or Membership Coordinator to send you information and guidelines about becoming a Local Liaison if you think you would like to participate in this volunteer position.

Some LLs choose to belong to critique groups too, but their main function is to provide opportunities for local members to get together and pass along information. It’s a bit of work, but it’s the FUN kind of work. 

See how this works?  And anyway you look at it, you will soon begin to develop and expand both your knowledge base of the art and craft of writing/illustrating, along with your network of creatives.  Win, win, win!

All my best,
Paula Puckett
Membership Coordinator

Paula B. Puckett spins stories and yarn. She grows vegetables, frequents flea markets, and makes stuff. She is a retired elementary art educator and a 20+ year member of SCBWI. Follow her on Twitter with @Runswithalpaca or

                                REGISTRATION IS STILL OPEN! CLICK :::HERE:::TO REGISTER!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: Meet the Regional All-Stars!

Can I confess something? I know we’re not supposed to play favorites with our children or characters or conference formats, but I’ve always liked WIK a little better than SpringMingle for one reason: regional speakers. Both conferences bring editors and agents and famous authors from the far reaches of the country, but at WIK we also get to hear from our own. And our own have some good stuff to share!

This year is no exception. Wherever you are in your writing journey, and whether you’re in the mood for craft or business, our regional all-stars have something for you.

Author Christina Farley will be opening the door to the publishing world and demystifying the basics for entry.

Author Jaimie Engle offers how to land a literary agent, both what to expect and what not to expect.

Author and Southern Breeze Assistant Regional Advisor Cathy Hall will teach you how to put yourself out there by taking advantage of opportunities that SCBWI offers for both the published and unpublished among us.

Author Irene Latham and Archivist Jim Baggett will share their secrets for using research to create rich, authentic historical settings.

Author Debbie Dadey will reveal Five Steps to Worldbuilding that we know work because she’s on her 13th book series and has over 42 million copies in print.

So check out some all-stars at WIK this year. You’ll be glad you did!

~ Sharon Pegram


Sharon Pegram is the Southern Breeze Co-Assistant Regional Advisor. You'll find her at wik'18, in the sessions and the intensives, taking really great notes. She's also a pro at answering any questions you might have--just ask!


Monday, February 19, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: The Informal Critiques!



____    Want 4-6 fresh eyes to give you feedback about your illustration or story’s opening pages?
____    Want to hear or see the latest and greatest works in progress from your peers?
____    Want to be able to give your work one last polish before you send it off after the conference to our amazing WIK faculty?!

If you answered “Yes” to even one of these questions, you need to participate in the Informal Critiques at WIK’18. 

SO, for these “Yes” people, and those already sold on actively participating in Southern Breeze’s Informal Critiques, skip ahead and read way below for the nitty-gritty about the Informal Critiques.


REASON ONE: THE COST.  Sorry, not valid. You can get feedback from 5-6 fellow writers or illustrators for FREE! All you need to do to participate is read and listen to their work, then give them feedback too.

REASON TWO: I’M WORRIED SOMEONE WILL STEAL MY STORY/ILLUSTRATION IDEA. Again, not valid. It’s commonly said that there’s only one genuine story, and the rest is in the telling. For example, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, is written about a fairly-common literary trope – a wizarding school for kids set in a castle with fantastical elements - however, J.K. Rawlings’ excellent telling of this story brought her characters to life and stole our hearts. If you are really worried about idea theft, you can register your work with the US Copyright Office for a nominal charge. Here’s the link to the FAQ page: It’s been my experience that suggestions given to me by other writers have helped me impro­­ve my work so much, the benefits outweigh any real risk of idea theft.

This same logic applies to illustrators, where if you ask three illustrators to provide mock-ups of the same picture book page, they will come up with three very different samples emphasizing either different elements of the story or the same story elements differently.
REASON THREE: I’M WORRIED ABOUT RECEIVING CRITICISM: OK, we here at Southern Breeze strongly encourage the sandwich method for critiquing. It works like this: you say something you like about someone else’s work, then you make a constructive suggestion for improving it, then you end with another comment about what you liked. Our work are our babies after all, and so we need to treat them and each other gently. Another gauge with regards to criticism is that two people can disagree based on personal likes and dislikes, but if three people offer the same suggestion for improvement, you may want to give that suggestion some serious thought. What I frequently do with suggestions like these is rewrite my work using the suggestion, then take a week off from the writing. At the end of the week, I reread both versions and see which one is more appealing.  

I hope I’ve addressed your concerns, and that you will join me in making the most we can of every opportunity offered to us at wik’18 by participating in the Informal Critiques on Saturday. See you soon!

Yours in Writing, T. K. Read, Critique Group Leader, Southern Breeze


Wik’18 Nitty Gritty:


WHEN:    SATURDAY APPROX. 4:30-6:00 (Immediately Following Last Session). There Will Be Over-Flow to Sunday Morning at the Same Location Beginning At 10:00 AM.


FORMAT: Group leaders will pick up a paddle with their group number and a copy of the updated sign-up sheet from the Critique Group display and take it to a table in the cafeteria where they can sit with 4-6 participants. They will hold up their paddle until their group members join them. They will also be responsible for moving the critiques along so that everyone has an opportunity to share. Each participant reads their work out loud as others follow along. When finished, the leader moves the discussion around the table, and stops it when time is up (15-20 minutes for reading and discussion depending on number present). For those wanting to continue the dialogue on their work with their Informal Critique partners, you will have access to the Cafeteria Sunday morning beginning at 10:00am.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Soar with Southern Breeze's Mentors!

Oh, for a Mentor!

If that thought has crossed your mind, this may be your chance! The Southern Breeze mentorship program provides 8 months of back and forth discussion and direction for lucky writers.

Drumroll please \.\.\.\.\.\.\.  Our illustrious mentors for 2018 are:

For Young Adult writers, Janice Hardy, awesome author of a teen fantasy trilogy, The Healing Wars, has come on board. So, if you love dragons, magic, creating worlds, and names like Aeryn or Taureil, this could be a perfect fit! Of course, you don’t have to write fantasy to apply for this YA mentorship. Plot, structure, characterization and voice cross all types of writing.

We have three terrific middle grade mentors – Kami Kinard, Lisa Lewis Tyre and Jamie Dodson.
Kami write humorous novels, which is so hard!  Her books The Boy Problem and The Boy Project are with Scholastic Publishers. She is well published in shorter formats as well. If you need to exercise your funny bone, Kami is the mentor for you!

Lisa writes contemporary stories with strong characters. LAST IN A LONG LINE OF REBELS and Hope in the Holler, with Nancy Paulsen Books, both garnered excellent reviews. Lisa masterfully weaves historical details into her writing.  Learn from a master!

Jamie writes the Nick Grant Adventure series and other histrical fiction. He also published nonfiction magazine articles. If you love to blend fact with fiction, he could be a terrific mentor for you!

Two picture book authors are available as mentors – Tracey M. Cox and Jo S. Kittinger.

Tracey has eleven books with Guardian Angel Publishing, so if you are interested in that company, Tracey can provide the inside scoop. Additionally, she has two books with other publishers. Non-rhyming picture books are her specialty. Tracey is both an author and illustrator, so she can offer you a unique perspective!

Jo is offering to mentor both picture books and easy readers, so if you like to write both, she’s the one for you. Fiction or nonfiction, rhyming or not, she is open to a wide range of picture book styles. Jo has published over 25 books with traditional publishers. Her latest book is ALABAMA, in the MY UNITED STATES series through Scholastic.

This year we have four fabulous nonfiction mentors – Avery Hurt, Heather Montgomery, Jennifer Swanson, and Jodi Wheeler-Toppen. Nonfiction is often overlooked, but offers greater opportunity for publication.

Avery often writes about science, social studies and science fiction, but her interests are broad. She has authored over a dozen books for children and young adults. She is one of the authors of the Weird But True series from National Geographic Kids Books, plus a regular contributor to magazines. This broad experience makes her an appealing mentor for many!

Heather gets kids excited about nature and often incorporates the yuck factor to draw their attention. She has over a dozen books with major publishers. Her latest is SOMETHING ROTTEN: A FRESH LOOK AT ROADKILL. An award-winning educator, Heather knows how to offer constructive direction. Picture book or Middle Grade non-fiction writers would benefit from her expertise.

Jennifer loves science, evidenced by over 30 nonfiction books. She has received excellent reviews and accolades for her work. SUPER GEAR: NANOTECHNOLOGY AND SPORTS TEAM UP was named an NSTA Best STEM book of 2017 and got a starred review in Booklist. So, if you are a science geek, Jennifer would be a perfect mentor for you.

Jodi loves to experiment as her books reveal. Her love of science is contagious! As a former teacher, Jodi knows how to communicate and direct others to improve in their work. Jodi has over 10 books with major publishers, including National Geographic Kids, Capstone and NSTA Press. Jodi can help you make science exciting and understandable.

A magazine article or story is often the first publishing credit an author receives. But magazines are not only a stepping stone on the path to book publishing. Magazines offer rewarding exposure and income for writers. Johnna Stein is offering to mentor an author for magazine writing.
Johnna is a former teacher and loves helping others advance, whether it be as a writer, a reading coach or advocate. She has multiple publishing credits and would love to help you on your path to publication.

Learn more about the mentorship program and access the application form at the Southern Breeze website.

TIME IS SHORT! APPLICATION DEADLINE IS February 25. Mentors will be announced in early March and the relationship will run through October.

Jo Kittinger is the Southern Breeze SCBWI Mentorship Coordinator. When she's not writing picture books, she's busy reading 'em to her grands. If you have questions about anything mentorship-related, she's the one to contact!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Everyone a Winner at WIK'18: One-on-Ones Still Available!

We're this close to the 30 day deadline for wik'18!

But this close means you still have time to sign up for a one-on-one session. And with four agents, there's someone for any kidlit writer:

John Cusick represents picture books, middle grade, and young adult writers. And he's an author himself. Is he a good fit for you?

Erica Silverman is with Stimola Literary, a small boutique agency. They're very selective, but they might just select you.

Kristy Hunter loves voice-driven stories, so if you have one of those in a middle grade or young adult novel, she'd love to talk to you.

And Claire Easton's sweet spot is picture books, but she also represents chapter books and middle grade. If you're one of those writers who switches back and forth between age groups, she may have the advice you need.

In fact, with twenty minutes in a one-on-one, you're sure to get plenty of advice! But you'll need to register for wik'18 first, and then sign up for your one-on-one even quicker. Because we're this close to filling up!


                              REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! CLICK :::HERE:::TO REGISTER!

Cathy C. Hall has been so busy getting everyone to introduce themselves (herself? himself?) that she completely forgot her own introduction! She lives in the metro Atlanta area (which is a fancy way of saying the suburbs) and she writes for all ages. Her leveled readers are published in Korea and (possibly? unlikely?) legendary!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: Deborah Halverson and Teen Talk Tips

The deadline for submitting manuscripts for formal critiques may have passed (hope you all got your manuscripts in on time!), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still great opportunities for those attending wik’18 to enhance their conference experience with optional activities. 

There are still slots available for One-on-One sessions with an agent, and Linda Sue Park, Matt Ringler, Janice Hardy, Heather Montgomery and Jodi Wheeler Toppen, Kami Kinard and Rebecca Petruck, and Deborah Halverson are all teaching morning intensives on Sunday.

Deborah Halverson is one of SCBWI’s superstar teachers. When it comes to writing for teens, she wrote the book – literally, THE book on how to write for teens and young adults.

We hear it all the time: you need to have the right “voice” for your teenage character. Easier said than done when it comes to writing dialogue. For some of us it has been decades since we were teens ourselves, and have you tried to actually talk with teens the way teens talk?

Oh, the way they look at you, like you’re all creepy or weird even if you get the jargon just right. There’s just something about an AARP member throwing around teen slang in a conversation that feels awkward.

So if you can’t converse in teen-talk with teens to make sure you get it right, what can you do to develop that skill?

I was lucky enough to attend one of Deborah’s intensives on writing for a teen audience while at an SCBWI conference, and know that those attending her intensive will come out with new tools in their writing toolbox. You won’t want to miss a single tip, resource url or sneaky way to eavesdrop on teens talking with teens. Way better than camping out at the food court in the mall.


Claudia Pearson, Regional Advisor for Southern Breeze, is a retired trial attorney, earned a masters degree from Hollins University in Children's Literature, speaks French, and once worked as a sous chef in a French restaurant. She writes a bit of everything and has published two books about children's books.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Mentorship Opens!

It’s time! Mentorship applications are NOW being accepted.

The Southern Breeze mentorship program is geared toward writers who have been working at their craft for some years – attending workshops and conferences, submitting manuscripts, but so far, not finding success in the genre in which they are currently working. The mentorship program spans 8 months, over which time there are back and forth discussions about the work in progress. Details of what can be expected are on the website.

I especially encourage writers of nonfiction to apply for mentorship. We have several very accomplished nonfiction authors on staff. When I was a young writer with a stack of rejections, Larry Dane Brimner said at a conference -- "If you are having trouble breaking into publishing, try nonfiction. There is greater demand and less competition." I followed his advice and got my first contract within a year.

So, if you have been writing for a while and have hit a plateau, a mentorship may be the perfect jolt to advance your writing to the next level. We can’t promise publication, but do our best to help you advance your career.

Check out the list of available mentors on the website. DON’T DELAY! Application deadline is February 25. Mentors will be announced in early March and the relationship will run through October.

Happy Writing!

Jo S. Kittinger

Jo Kittinger is the Southern Breeze SCBWI Mentorship Coordinator. When she's not writing picture books, she's busy reading 'em to her grands!