Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Decatur Book Festival Roundup!

The skies stayed clear, and the sun stayed hot this year at the Decatur Book Festival. The Southern Breeze SCBWI booth, in the children’s zone on Sycamore Street, was staffed by a baker’s dozen of brave and cheerful authors and illustrators including Kim Sullivan, Jodi Wheeler-Toppen, Jill Dubin, Janie Watts, Vickie McEntire, Andy Klein, Alayne Smith, Linda Hodge-McLoud, Susan Allen, Lucyann Wagner, Laura Freeman, Morgan Young, and me.

While we didn’t sell as many books as we would have liked, we talked with dozens of families, teachers, librarians, and grandparents. We handed out fliers about SCBWI to aspiring authors/illustrators, and made some contacts that hopefully will result in school visits and other opportunities.

Plus, the Festival itself was fantastic! There were booths featuring everything from yummy foods to MFA programs. And well-known authors gave talks and signed books in about a dozen venues throughout the weekend. There was no charge for festival visitors, including attending any and all of the speakers’ programs. (I think this festival is Atlanta’s best-kept secret!)

This year marked the first time in a number of years that Southern Breeze had a booth presence at the festival, so it was a bit of a learning experience. I hope we’ll have a booth again in 2019, and make some changes so we can reach even more people (and sell more books).

So whether you’d like to be involved in planning, staffing the booth, or simply as an attendee, pencil in Labor Day weekend. I know I’ll be looking forward to this festival each year from now on.

A big thanks to the Breezers who staffed the booth, the Breezers who stopped by to say hello, and to Ivan Pegram (Sharon’s husband) for shooting photos.

~Lisa Lowe Stauffer

About Lisa Lowe Stauffer

Lisa Lowe Stauffer’s debut book is TWO BY TWO (Zonderkidz), a playful, rhyming story about animals rocking the boat on Noah’s Ark. Her twenty-year journey to publication was helped by the encouragement of many, many critique partners, including lots of fellow Breezers.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Thinking About the Unprogrammed Retreat?

It's last call, Breezers!


An unprogrammed retreat is basically whatever you want it to be. Need quiet time for writing? A chance to get away from all the everyday distractions so you can focus on plotting or characters or even sketching? How about an opportunity to get feedback from your peers? It can be all that as well as the space to rejuvenate and renew your spirit. 


The retreat is open to any Southern Breeze member. 


Check-in is 4:00 PM on Thursday, September 20th and check-out is 11:00 AM on Sunday, September 23rd.


The event is located at the Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center, at 916 Convent Road in Cullman, Alabama.

Check out the Southern Breeze website here for more information about costs and registration. And check out the blog for what Breezers have said about this wonderful retreat.

Don't wait another minute, Breezers, because the Unprogrammed Retreat may be here today... but it could be gone tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Breezers in Your Neighborhood: September!

It's September already! Around the Southern Breeze region that means the weather is...still hot. But those warm days are perfect for getting out and about in the neighborhood where you'll find these Breezers:

Saturday, September 8th

Jodi Wheeler-Toppen is inviting everyone to her book launch for Dog Science Unleashed: Fun Activities To Do with Your Canine Companion.

Where:  City Dog Market
              4244 Peachtree Rd. NE
              Brookhaven, GA  30319

When:   10 - 2 PM

Jodi says "drop in anytime! There will be fun activities, giveaways, and more. And bring your canine!"

And Nancy Day is launching her newest book, Baby's Firsts!

Where: G. J. Ford Bookshop
             600 Sea Island Rd.
             St. Simon's Island, GA

When:   11 to 12 noon

Sunday, September 9th

Jodi Wheeler-Toppen will be taking her latest release, Dog Science Unleashed: Fun Acitivities To Do with Your Canine Companion to Tennessee!

Where: Barnes & Noble
             2615 Medical Center Parkway
            Murfreesboro, TN  37129

When:   3:00 to 5:00 PM CDT

Saturday, September 15th and Sunday, September 16th

Look for Sucheta Rawal and Beato Goes to Japan at JapanFest. She'll be in the Children's Gallery area at this popular cultural festival. (Tickets are required to attend this event, though 6 years and younger are free.)

Where:  Infinite Energy Center
             6400 Sugarloaf Parkway
             Duluth, GA

When:   10 to 6 PM

Monday, September 17th

Heather Montgomery will be celebrating launch day of her latest release, Bugs Don't Hug: Six-
Legged Parents and Their Kids.

Where: Page & Palette
             32 S Section St.
            Fairhope, AL 36532

When:  4:00 PM

Heather promises "spying on some really fun insect mommies and daddies and also a chat about what it takes to make a picture book work. And of course, there will be some icky-fun science involved!"

Wednesday, September 19th

Nancy Day is celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day with another of her new releases, Pirate Jack Gets Dressed.

Where:  Brunswick Public Library
              208 Gloucester St.
             Brunswick, GA

When:   10:30 AM

Saturday, September 22nd

Nancy Day's celebrating with a pirate launch party for Pirate Jack Gets Dressed!

Where:   The Book Loft
               214 Centre St.
               Fernandina Beach, FL

When:    1 to 3 PM

Monday, September 24 thru Saturday, September 29th

SCBWI Southern Breeze is sponsoring the Dekalb County Public Library's Lit Story Fest AND Illustrators Showdown!

Lit Story Fest is a literature and storytelling festival held throughout libraries in the Dekalb County Library system during the week. The festival includes author talks, art exhibits, and live performances. The week ends with an adult StorySLAM competition (Friday, September 28th) and Children's Literary Day (Saturday, September 29th).

For all the locations and happenings, please see the website here!

Illustrators Showdown Manuscript Contest!

Send your unpublished picture book manuscripts of 400 words or less to be reviewed and selected for LIVE ILLUSTRATION by illustrators R. Gregory Christie and Kelsi Jackson!

The Showdown will take place on Saturday at 3 PM at Stonecrest Library, 3123 Klondike Rd., Lithonia, GA. You must sign up in order to send your manuscript!

See the sign-up link here for details about manuscript submission and how the showdown will work. Deadline for submission is September 22nd!

Saturday September 29th

It's a busy day (and month!) for Nancy Day! She'll be in the Georgia neighborhood with Baby's Firsts at the following locations:

FoxTale Book Shoppe, 105 E. Main St., Woodstock, GA at 11:00 AM

Horton's Books, 410 Adamson Square, Carrollton, GA at 3 PM

Author Vanessa Fortenberry will be appearing at a collaborative author event featuring works in a variety of genres.

Where:  Douglas County Public Library
              6810 Selman Dr.
             Douglasville, GA  30134

When:  11 AM to 2 PM

Come out and say hello to your Breezers this month. And if you're new to SCBWI, attending these Breezer events is a great way to get to know your community! If you have an event for October, contact Cathy Hall at with all the details. See you around the neighborhood!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Southern Breeze at the DBF, Part Two

For the first time in a number of years, Southern Breeze authors and illustrators will have a booth at the Decatur Book Festival in downtown Decatur, Georgia. And we have so many authors attending, we couldn't fit 'em all in the first post!

On Labor Day weekend, from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon (Aug. 31 - Sept. 2), this festival offers a nonstop roster of speakers, panels, and entertainment that goes on all over the downtown area--and it's all free!

So where will we Breezers be? Our booth is #621, and it’s smack dab in the middle of the children’s section on Sycamore Street. Breezers will be signing as well as selling, so here's the rest of the rundown of what and who you'll find at our booth and when they'll be signing:

Lucyann Wagner and Delia Blackstone's book, NORAH BEDORAH AND THE PINK DOUGHNUT WITH SPRINKLES, is a rhyming story about a spunky little girl who wants to eat LOTS of pink doughnuts with sprinkles for breakfast at her Groovy Grandmas' house.  The Groovy Grandmas ( with pink doughnuts!) will be signing on Saturday 12-2 and Sunday 2-4.

Andy Klein is back with his 3rd book in the 'Oliver Phenomena' series. 'Oliver and the Little Bigfoot' has the boy with an unusual flair for the supernatural meeting up with a young sasquatch who is very shy and just as helpful. Andy will be signing copies of all his books on Sunday from 12-4pm.

Did you ever yearn to hop on a plane and fly to Paris?  In Pap Pap Goes to Paris, and so does Ricky, a five-year-old boy convinces his parents to let him travel to Paris with his beloved grandfather, so they can climb the Eiffel Tower together.  Author Janie Dempsey Watts will sign copies on Saturday and Sunday from 12-2 p.m.

Alayne Smith's novel, Ellen and the Three Predictions, is set in 1959 Marshall, Alabama, where an elderly soothsayer, Luella, makes predictions about all the babies' lives.  Stop by Sunday from 2:00 to 6:00. Luella may have a prediction for you!

Jodi Wheeler-Toppen's Dog Science Unleashed: Fun Activities to Do With Your Canine Companion teaches the science of dogs with hands-on activities and behind-the-scenes peeks into current pup-related research. She'll be signing (and petting dogs) from 10-12 on Saturday and 4 to 6 on Sunday.

Over on a Desert is the seventh book in the “Over in” series of animal counting books written by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Jill Dubin, published by Dawn Publications. These nature books show a wonderful array of animals and background material illustrated using cut paper collage. Jill will be signing books on Saturday 12-4.

Illustrator Laura Freeman will be signing a handful of books she's illustrated on Saturday from 2-6pm, including Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race, (written by Margot Lee Shetterly). The incredibly inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space was named as one of the ten Books All Young Georgians Should Read for 2018." 

Laura will also be signing a book she authored and illustrated, Natalie's Hair was Wild!, inspired by her own childhood adventures with her hair!

That's all but it's quite enough! Don't forget to check the DBF map for parking and the location of the SCBWI Southern Breeze booth. And remember: wear comfortable shoes and plenty of sunscreen, and be sure to come by the booth and say hello! We'd love to see y'all!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Southern Breeze at the DBF, Part One

For the first time in a number of years, Southern Breeze authors and illustrators will have a booth at the Decatur Book Festival in downtown Decatur, Georgia. (And we have so many authors attending, we can't fit 'em all into one post!)

On Labor Day weekend, from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon (Aug. 31 - Sept. 2), this festival offers a nonstop roster of speakers, panels, and entertainment that goes on all over the downtown area--and it's all free!

So where will we Breezers be? Our booth is #621, and it’s smack dab in the middle of the children’s section on Sycamore Street. Breezers will be signing as well as selling, so here's the rundown of what and who you'll find at our booth and when they'll be signing:

When Bigfoot dies in the forest, but no one’s there to see, does he still leave a body? Find out when BIGFOOT CSI author K. Osborn Sullivan signs copies of this exciting, hilarious new young adult novel from 10-12 on Saturday and 2-4 on Sunday.

It will take practice and patience for Joey to master a new skill in 
MORE-IGAMI by Dori Kleber, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. This award-winning picture book was named one of Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2016.

STEM author Morgan Young's tween novel--LANA & THE WATER CARRIER--takes readers on a cosmic adventure with a fierce girl and her magic telescope. Morgan will be on hand Saturday4pm-6pm, to demo her spaceflight VR goggles and sign copies of her book.

Lisa Lowe Stauffer's debut, TWO BY TWO, is a rollicking rhyming board book about two monkeys and their adventures on Noah's Ark. Lisa (and the monkeys!) will be signing on Saturday 10-12 and 4-6, and Sunday 4-6.

Every day is an adventure for Barkley the dog and his farmyard friends in Susan Allen’s latest book, A Week with the Wee Beasties! Come by the Southern Breeze booth between 12:00 - 2:00 on Sunday, where you can have your book signed by Susan and Barkley! 🐾

GABBY GRAPE MEETS JUNK FOOD JUNKIE! written by Linda Hodge-McLoud is an engaging children’s story set in a fictional town called Healthyville where she is often confronted by "Junk Food Junkie and the Munchies". Linda will be signing books on Saturday 2- 4 pm, and 12- 2 pm on Sunday

Peggy Shaw will be bringing a collection of her Sesame Street 8x8 books with titles like “What Makes You Giggle?” and “Abby Cadabby’s Rhyme Time.” She'll be signing on Saturday from 10 until 12.

Vickie McEntire’s second children’s book and winner of the Georgia Author of the Year Award, Little Bird & Myrtle Turtleis an inspiring story of encouragement and persistence for young children. Little Bird overcomes adversity with the help of an unlikely rescuer, Myrtle Turtle.  McEntire will be signing on Saturday 12-2 and 4-6, and Sunday 12-2.

Please check out the map on the DBF website to pinpoint our booth location and available parking and please note: parking is NOT free (but MARTA will drop you off right in the middle of all the activities). And come back tomorrow to read about the next batch of Southern Breeze authors who'll be appearing at the DBF!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Southern Breeze Goes to the SCBWI Summer Conference (And We're Dishing on LA!)

Every year, the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA beckons…and every year, I find myself following all the big doings from afar. But I know a couple of Southern Breezers who did make it to Los Angeles, so I asked RA Claudia Pearson, ARA Sharon Pegram, and IC Temika Grooms to give us the up close and personal rundown of their conference experience. Special thanks to Temika for putting it all in pictures!

(Bonus points if you can guess what character or book Claudia dressed up as for the big costume party!)

What was your don’t-miss-one-minute-of-it event/intensive/workshop session of the Summer Conference?

Claudia: Elana K. Arnold’s workshops on Increasing Tension and Writing through to the end, although Kevin Lewis’s Picture book Session was also outstanding. Both Elana and Kevin offered a ton of well organized info with solid examples.

Sharon: I learned a lot from Carolyn Mackler's workshop on what she's learned from writing novels for 20 years, and she made us laugh. Also, Lin Oliver at the Artists and Authors Ball with her face painted like a Picasso was definitely memorable!

And what benefits do you get from attending the conference, both for your personal professional growth, and for the membership here in Southern Breeze?

Sharon: The whole gigantic-ness of the experience recharges me professionally. I think it's impossible to marinate in that much creative energy and enthusiasm for three days and not bring some home with you. For our membership, I talk with regional leaders from around the country and the world about the programs they offer their members and how they do things, and that always yields some great ideas. And while I'm scribbling down my notes at workshops and key notes, part of my brain is always evaluating the speaker as possible Southern Breeze conference faculty.
Claudia: SCBWI offers an excellent community for professional writers and illustrators. I love touching base with so many wonderful authors, illustrators and acquiring professionals I have come to know over the years, and also meeting new people, like Ekua Holmes and Ibi Zoboi! Of course getting to meet Lois Lowery and Mildred Taylor are also huge highlights! These personal interactions make it much easier to evaluate and approach potential speakers for our own regional conferences.

Thanks for sharing, y'all! And P.S. Every year, I sulk a little bit, missing all the fun. But maybe it's a lot of work and no fun at all. What do you think?

Monday, July 30, 2018

Breezers in Your Neighborhood: August!

We had a bit of a vacation for Breezers last month, but it's August now, and we're baaaaaaack...

Saturday, August 4:

Shelli R. Johannes will be launching her new book, CECE LOVES SCIENCE, at Little Shop of Stories from 3:00 until 4:30. Little Shop is located at 133 East Court Square in Decatur, Georgia, and you can find out more information here!


Because CECE LOVES SCIENCE was chosen as the National Storytime Book at B & N on the same day, Shelli will be at the Mansell Road Barnes & Noble at 11:00 AM, also on Saturday!

Lisa Stauffer will be at FoxTale Book Shoppe for the launch of her debut board book, TWO BY TWO! Come see her at 105 East Main Street in Woodstock, Georgia at 11:00 AM.

Saturday, August 11:

Lisa Stauffer and TWO BY TWO will have a second book signing and storytime! You'll find Lisa and her mischievous monkeys at 11:00 AM at Starline Books in Chattanooga, Georgia.

Author Avery Elizabeth Hurt will be at the Local Authors Expo and Book Fair for book signing and writing talk! The Expo takes place from 9 AM until 1 PM at the Birmingham Public Library, Central Branch, located at 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, Alabama. It's free and open to the public.

Tracey M. Cox will be at the Harmony Jubilee, kissing hands, signing babies, and shaking books! The Harmony Jubilee takes place at Paulk Park Campground in Fitzgerald, Georgia.

That's Breezers in Your Neighborhood for August, y'all! If YOU are going to be at an event in your neighborhood that's open to the public, let us know. Send details to Cathy Hall at

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Show-Mo Success Story!

So… We did it… AGAIN!

June was our second, annual SHOW-MO MONTH!
You came, you showed, you read; we came, we saw, we heard and we responded, and… next year, we’ll do it again! 

We had loads of folks participate in our second annual SHOW-MO. Throughout the month of June, at various places in our region, Local Liaisons*, and other enthusiastic Southern Breeze members*, hosted critique meet-ups so members could show and share up to the first ten pages of their work, and give and receive feedback to help improve their writing in time for the Southern Breeze Writing Contest submission deadline.

SHOW-MO was intended to foster a sense of community amongst our members, encourage submission to our annual Southern Breeze Writing Contest, and help members up-their-game by improving the quality of their pages.

June is over, the SHOW-MOs have concluded, and the contest deadline has come and gone.

Did we accomplish our goals?


Just look at the pictures and you’ll have to agree the meet-up part was a resounding success. And how could it not be? What’s more fun than hanging out with a bunch of children’s book writers and illustrators as they discuss writing and illustrating children’s books? (The proper response is “Nothing; that’s what.”)

Here’s feedback from this year’s participants and Show-mo hosts:

From Cathy Hall, who hosted a Show-Mo in the Gwinnett County area in Georgia:

We had a terrific turnout for the Show-Mo at the Five Forks Library--we gathered first for a short and informative presentation from author Rebecca Petruck (BOY BITES BUG). And then it was right to work on our manuscripts! We had two groups: a PB group of five and a novel group of six; most of the attendees were Southern Breeze members but we had one young writer (a rising 4th grader) who I hope one day will join SCBWI. :-)

Special thanks to Rebecca Petruck who joined the novel group to give feedback to our middle grade and YA writers, to Lisa Stauffer who jumped in to facilitate the PB group (her PB comes out in August 2018!) and ARA Sharon Pegram who always lends a hand with whatever I need.

From Temika Grooms who hosted a Show-Mo in the Decatur, Georgia area:

The Southern Breeze ShowMo 2018 for Decatur/DeKalb was held on June 2, 2018 at the Kirkwood Library in Atlanta, Georgia.  SCBWI members and non-members gathered for the love of storytelling as they shared and listened to the first 10 pages of each manuscript.  This diverse group provided constructive criticism and support for authors from picture books to middle grade.  Opportunities like these are important for craft development and participants look forward to more critiques in the future.

From Suzanne Purvis, who hosted a Show-Mo in the Florida Panhandle area of our region:

We had a fabulous lunch thanks to Lisa Black who hosted us at her beachfront condo in Destin. We had a blast and  even critiqued too. :-)

From Paula Puckett, who hosted a Show-Mo in the NE Georgia Mountain area:

North Georgia East Write and Draw Event was held in May at the Sautee Nacoochee Center.  Attendees were able to have time to work on individual projects and attend featured displays, such as the miniature quilt display put together by the Mountain Laurel Quilter's Group and the Folk Pottery Museum.

We would like to plan another opportunity to get together in the future at this location.  Please get in touch with Paula Puckett for more information.

*Thank you, thank you, thank you a thousand times over to our SHOW MO volunteers for making this happen. And yes, I’m calling you out: Cathy Hall, Suzanne Purvis, Bobbie Canada, Melissa Miles, Susan Montanari, Carrie Dalby, Martha Hynson, Temika Grooms, Stephanie Moody, MeLeesa Swann, and Paula Puckett. 

If you missed submitting this year, don’t sweat it! We have other events taking place throughout our region (check-out the regional events page here, ) and… next June will be here before you know it.

Tootles!   T. K. Read
Critique Group Coordinator, Southern Breeze.


Friday, July 20, 2018

Registration Open for Retreat!

Oh, Breezers, gather up your pastels, get out the red pens!

Or don't do a thing but pack a toothbrush. It's time again for the Unprogrammed Retreat in Cullman, Alabama, September 20-23rd, and spaces will be filling up fast so you'll want to register now!

But what exactly is an unprogrammed retreat? That's's...well...hmmm.

It's anything you want it to be.

Want to have some time with your critique group to dig deep into manuscripts and make revisions? You can do that! Or do you need uninterrupted time to read 100 picture books and make a list of why each book is amazing? You can do that, too. Are you itching to set up an easel and paint, or flesh out a plot on your latest work-in-progress, or even work with your partner on that project you have to finish by October?

The unprogrammed retreat at the Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center in Cullman is the perfect place to accomplish those goals and more. The accommodations are delightful, the food's delicious, and the company is friendly and supportive.

But there are only so many spaces, Breezers! So there is one thing you absolutely must do for the Unprogrammed Retreat: register!

To register for the retreat, please see the Southern Breeze website here. And don't forget that members MUST log in to SCBWI in order to register. Please note: This retreat is open to ALL members (and non-members).