Thursday, January 17, 2019

Spring to Success with SpringMingle'19 and the PRO Track!

PAL Coordinator Heather Montgomery sent this very important message:

Calling all published and professional creators! We’ve got something special to look forward to in March.

At this year’s Springmingle, Southern Breeze is offering their first-ever PRO Track Intensive. What exactly is PRO Track? A Friday filled with sessions on advanced topics. Want straight talk on advances, marketing, and longevity in your career? Author/agent/all-around rock star Alexandra Penfold’s got a session on that. How about marketing tips from an author who has had 14 books on the NY Times bestselling list? Ellen Hopkins has got that covered. See, these are topics for folks with experience, from folks with experience.

PRO Track will be Friday, March 15, 2019 and will be held at the Decatur Presbyterian Church, next door to the public library in Decatur, GA. It is open to any attendee who has published work for children.

What if you love the idea of learning at an advanced level, but there’s a topic in the picture book or novel intensive that’s calling to you? Really want to hear Kevin Lewis speak about creating works for the very young? Absolutely can’t stand to miss Jessica Anderson’s intensive on revision tricks? You are in luck. This year when you register for the full day of intensives, you can choose different tracks in the morning and the afternoon. Brilliant! Southern Breeze nonfiction author Jennifer Swanson will be coordinating the PRO Track and she'll be happy to answer any questions you might have about this new feature. You can contact her at

And there’s more. The esteemed Joe Davich, Executive Director of the Georgia Center for the Book, will be leading a session on building connections with librarians – we can all use some of that. Plus he’ll share how books are considered for ALA and state awards. Can any of us afford to miss that!?!

PAL members of Southern Breeze often request the space and time to learn from one another. By sheer virtue of attending together, this intensive can offer that; however, Southern Breeze wanted to offer additional opportunities to engage. The last session of the day will be roundtable discussions, each on a topic of attendees’ choice. Bring your burning questions, pick your colleagues’ brains, leave with fresh ideas and deeper connections.

So this Pro Track has a lot to offer the experienced creator, but don’t forget about the rest of the conference. There will be book launches, book sales on Friday and Saturday, and (thanks to more break-out options this year) Springmingle has several advanced sessions on Saturday.

But, what if you are pre-published? Will you be left out? No worries – there will be plenty at the conference for you. For one, there will be lots of published folks to rub elbows with (and buy books from!). Plus, just look at the master-level sessions you have to look forward to once you get that first “Yes!” Southern Breeze has something for everyone.

It’s called Springmingle, but I think it should be called Springforward. Sure there’s opportunities to mix and mingle, and no fooling we love and need that, but the pace of learning can be lightning fast. We hope to see you at Southern Breeze’s annual conference!

Thanks, Heather! And though the early bird savings have flown away, you can still get a discount on Springmingle if you win the Spread the Word Contest! All you need to do is blog, tweet, update, Instagram...any way you want to spread the word about Springmingle'19 is great! But it won't count for the contest if you don't let us know! So start spreading the word, and then send how you spread the word to Spring to Success at Springmingle'19!

                                    CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY!

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Inside Scoop on Illustrators' Day 2019

Illustrator Coordinator TeMika Grooms is here with all the info on Illustrators' Day:

Join the Children's Book Illustration Community for our day dedicated to The Art of Storytelling.

We will dive into developing craft and the business to building a career as an illustrator in a competitive market. There are many paths to publication. We want you to be a strong visual storyteller no matter what path you choose.

 Keeping your work fresh as you grow your voice is important for illustrators.We'll kick off the day with Mark Braught, Award-Winning Illustrator and Educator. He will break down creating Self-Promotional Pieces Outside Your Client Projects. This insightful presentation will explore the difficult process of creating an illustration for yourself, why it’s important to keep this in your practice and how to approach this daunting challenge.

Maria Middleton, Art Director for Candlewick Press, will challenge us in Quick on the Draw! Hands on Workshop & Critique, a hands-on craft workshop, because illustrators need to work fast in this ever-changing industry. Bring your pens, pencils and sketch pads to gain valuable feedback from Art Director Maria Middleton as she takes you through a hands-on activity and brief review of your work.

She will follow the craft session with a mentorship review that challenged mentees to act as author-illustrators and discover new characters for their work. The Drawing on Discovery Mentorship Review will take a close look at the process of discovering the magical, terrible, wonderful, and shocking world of characters for your next story. The art director will provide a live review of Picture Book spreads and Middle Grade covers created in the Illustration Mentorship. This is a great session for any author-illustrator seeking to learn more about the art of storytelling.

Kevin Lewis, Agent for the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, will delve into the Things Art School Will Never Teach You: Publishing Insights for Illustrators (Especially Those Who Endeavor to Write). This session will give valuable hints from experience as an editor to Loren Long, Tony DiTerlizzi, LeUyen Pham, Kadir Nelson, Cynthia Rylant, Matt Cordell, Brian Pinkney, Antionette Portis, and Dav Pilkey, as an author, and as a picture book fanatic.

We will also announce the 2019 Liz Conrad Award Winner in honor of Illustrator Liz Conrad. Make sure you bring your portfolios to showcase you work during the Portfolio Show and experience the fast-paced Quick Fire Portfolio Review! We’ll round out the day with a faculty panel, with the addition of Monica Odom, Agent for Liza Dawson Associates, as they give us final thoughts on how to position ourselves for success in the kids lit market.

Thanks, TeMika! There's still room for YOU at Illustrators' Day, March 15th in Decatur, GA--click here to register today!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Spring to Success with SpringMingle'19 and a PITCH PARTY!

This year, we’re starting the conference with a pitch party! I'm so excited, I can't stand it! We're all excited! But seriously, I may be a little too excited. And that won't be a good thing because there are rules for the Pitch Party and I need to remember 'em. So do you, if you want to participate. I think we should all take a deep breath and look at how the Pitch Party works:

1.       If you’re interested in presenting a pitch (IT’s FREE!), sign up when you register. Look for the button labeled “Start With a Pitch!”

2.       Perfect your pitch! (For more information about a pitch and what makes a good one, see this excellent post from Paula Yoo atTara Lazar’s blog. Or take a look around and research "giving a pitch" for writers. There's lots of good information available.

3.       Bring your pitch with you when you come for Springmingle’19.

4.       The morning of the conference, we’ll select 15 names from those who have signed up. We’ll announce the names at the beginning of the Pitch Party. YOU MUST BE IN ATTENDANCE AND READY TO PARTICIPATE. If you choose at that time NOT to participate, do not line up.

5.       Each person participating will have up to one minute to make the pitch. You may wish to read your pitch rather than memorize it. Either way, at one minute, you must stop.

6.       Each member of the Pitch Panel may or may not give feedback. Faculty will be given two minutes for the entire panel to respond so please listen carefully.

This is a new feature for Southern Breeze, so we'll be learning as you learn, too. Here’s the plan: we expect each pitch and the feedback to take three minutes. We hope to get through at least 12 pitches in the time allotted for this session. And we hope you’ll love this experience!

Don’t forget about our Spread the Word Contest, Breezers! Every time you spread the word—in a tweet, blog post, update or any social media—you’ll get an entry in the contest. The Breezer with the most entries will win $50 off registration, refunded to you when the contests ends (March 5th). For more details, check out this earlier post from our Southern Breeze blog.

So register today and get Early Bird savings and Spring to Success with SpringMingle'19 at the PITCH PARTY!

(And I sincerely hope no one--and by no one, I mean me--passes out from the excitement of it all!)


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Spring To Success with SpringMingle'19 and AGENTS!

We're so excited to bring a handful of helpful agents to SpringMingle'19! Here's a quick introduction to our stellar list:

Alexandra Penfold is a literary agent with Upstart Crow Literary Agency and an author herself with  a couple of published books. She represents children's book authors and illustrators, and she'll be presenting several sessions on the Friday writing intensive tracks as well as an advanced breakout session on Saturday.

Kevin Lewis is an agent with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, primarily focusing on writer-illustrators and diverse voices. He, too, is an author, with almost a dozen published picture books! He'll be very busy on Friday, with sessions at both the Picture Book Track and Illustrators' Day. And he'll join us on Saturday for a breakout session where he'll take a look at the #OwnVoices movement and other current publishing topics.

Monica Odom is an agent at Liza Dawson Associates where she represents a variety of nonfiction, literary, and upmarket fiction. She is committed to the expansion of diversity and inclusivity in the publishing industry. She's presenting a breakout session on Saturday for all the nonfiction writers out there.

With the ease of online querying, many agencies have found themselves slammed and closing their doors to submissions. And many publishing houses only accept agented submissions! So give yourself a helping hand and attend our conference. You could be the next writer or illustrator to Spring to Success with a little help from one of our agents!

And don’t forget about our Spread the Word Contest! Every time you spread the word—in a tweet, blog post, update or any social media—you’ll get an entry in the contest. The Breezer with the most entries will win $50 off registration, refunded to you when the contests ends (March 5th). For more details, check out this earlier post from our Southern Breeze blog.

Early Bird registration is available now through January 15th! Come join us and Spring to Success with SpringMingle'19!

                                      REGISTRATION OPEN! CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Spring to Success with SpringMingle'19: Early Bird Registration Opens Today!

Are you ready for success? Because Southern Breeze is ready with a SpringMingle bursting at the seams with so much that we had to add more space!

On Friday, March 15, our Illustrators’ Day activities and sessions will be at the Decatur Public Library, while our writer’s intensives—with three different tracks—will be right next door at the Decatur Presbyterian Church. An added feature this year is that attendees for the writer’s intensives can switch it up. You can sign up for one track in the morning and a different track in the afternoon. So you don’t have to choose between picture books or novels—you can do them both! Or you can spend your whole day in one track. Whichever path is going to lead you to success, register early!

Early Bird registration opens today! That means a $25 discount for you early birds. But act fast because Early Bird registration ends January 15th.

And the early bird gets more than a discount. Slots fill up quickly for those additional, optional activities like one-on-ones with an agent, so don’t delay and sign up early to get a head start on your success!

The conference on Saturday, March 16, will take place in both locations. We’ll open SpringMingle’19 in the library auditorium with another new feature: a Pitch Party with our panel of agents! You can find more details at the Southern Breeze website when you register. But you can always get more information when you check in at the Southern Breeze blog all this month for highlights of SpringMingle’19, including more about our Pitch Party.

And don’t forget about our Spread the Word Contest! Every time you spread the word—in a tweet, blog post, update or any social media—you’ll get an entry in the contest. The Breezer with the most entries will win $50 off registration, refunded to you when the contests ends (March 5th). For more details, check out this earlier post from our Southern Breeze blog.

Ready to Spring to Success with SpringMingle’19? Register before January 15th and get Early Bird savings! We can’t wait to see you in Decatur, March 15th and 16th!


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Breezers in Your Neighborhood: JANUARY 2019!

Happy New Year, Breezers!

 And what could be better than starting the year off with your Southern Breeze friends? (Hint: There's nothing better! Unless a contract popped up in your Inbox. A contract might be the teensiest bit better.)

Sunday, January 13

Lisa Stauffer will be at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA at 2 PM for story time. Bring a little one or just bring yourself as Lisa uses song, improv, art, and imagination to explore the often-told Noah's Ark story and how it became something new in Stauffer's Two By Two.

Saturday, January 19

Join our Illustration Coordinator, TeMika Grooms, for a FREE Children's Illustration Critique session. Bring your sketchbooks because they'll be sharing tips to help you find inspiration in your work! And they'll be opportunities for networking and seeing the work of other artists, plus much more.

When: 12:30 to 2 PM

Where: Stonecrest Library
             3123 Klondike Road
             Lithonia, GA

RSVP please! Contact TeMika at for more details and/or RSVP. This event is sponsored by the Dekalb County Library System, Litfest, SCBWI Southern Breeze, and Muse Arts Press.

PAL member Carrie Dalby Cox will be the guest presenter at the Baldwin Writers Group. The group meets at the Daphne Public Library (AL) at 10:00 AM; the meeting is open and free to the public.

Whether you're struggling to find time to write, are in search of fresh inspiration, or trying to increase your daily word count, join Carrie Dalby as she goes through helpful reminders about carving writing space into your life. "Get Possessed with Writing" will inspire you to seek your muse everywhere and drive your project--and word count--to the next level.

Saturday, January 26

Local Liaison Melissa Miles is hosting an event in Savannah, Georgia. As always, these events are free and open to the public.

Who: SCBWI PAL member and author, Susan Montanari

What: Susan will discuss her path to publication, including querying agents and the editing process.

Where: Southwest Chatham Library, Savannah, GA

When:  1:00 PM

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Springmingle'19 in Atlanta: Two Reasons Why

Hi, this is Randall Bonser, Conference Cooordinator of Springmingle 2019 in Atlanta. I’ve been to so many SCBWI Southern Breeze conferences in Georgia and Alabama, it is easy to take for granted how much you can learn at our conferences, and what great opportunities they present for making connections. Let me remind you (or let you know for the first time) of the two best reasons for attending Springmingle in Atlanta on March 15-16, 2019:

Reason One: Spring

Reason Two: Mingle


The theme for our 2019 conference is Spring to Success with Springmingle'19, meaning, whether you are a seasoned pro or just starting out, we want to help you MOVE FORWARD IN YOUR CRAFT. We’re offering several valuable intensives and workshops to help you improve your writing. We normally offer only one writing intensive on the Friday of the conference; this year we’re offering THREE writing intensives:

 • Picture Book
 • Middle Grade/Young Adult
• Pro Track (for our PALs)

In addition, we will be offering our Illustrators' Day at the same time. These intensives are deep dives into improving your writing and illustrating skills, with discussions on plot, character, setting, and other essentials for writing a good book. The instructors are a mix of seasoned veteran writers/illustrators, editors, and agents.

On Saturday, a variety of workshops will not only help you improve your craft, but also delve into the business side of writing with successful writers and artists, as well as the agents and editors to whom you will have the opportunity to submit something after the conference. In Springmingles past, we didn’t have the variety of workshops we will be making available this year, because we didn’t have space. This year, we will also be using several classrooms at Decatur Presbyterian Church next door to our usual library location, which allows us to expand our workshops.


At last year’s WIK conference in Birmingham, I celebrated ten years of being a part of my critique group, which we lovingly call Decatur Chill. That’s because ten years ago at Springmingle 2008, I met several aspiring individuals who seemed like quality people and serious writers, so we decided to start meeting to critique each other’s work and hold each other accountable. Ten years later, our core is still around, and we have added to it as people moved away from the community.

Long story short: writing conferences, especially local ones, are great places to meet like-minded people, as well as agents and editors who are looking for talented authors. Springmingle 2019 is a unique chance to connect with your tribe and form valuable relationships. Discussions in intensives, workshops, lunches, breaktimes, after-conference beverages, and walks to and from the hotel can often lead to fruitful contacts. Our end-of-conference Gala, once again hosted by the dynamic group called Middle Grade Mafia, will be a fun way to meet folks and corner unsuspecting editors (don’t tell them I said that).

So there you go – two great reasons to attend Springmingle 2019 in Decatur/Atlanta, Georgia, on March 15 and 16th. We also have an exciting event planned for Friday night, March 15, which we can’t publicize, because we won’t be able to confirm the speaker until closer to the event. So save the date and make plans to join us on March 15 for an intensive, and on March 16 for a day of workshops, pitch sessions (oh, did I forget to tell you we will have a pitch session for the attending editors and agents – oops, my bad), first pages review, motivational messages, good food, Kidlit fun, and great new connections.

Come back to the blog or check out the Southern Breeze website on January 5th when registration opens for Springmingle'19!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Spread the Word About Springmingle'19 and WIN BIG!

Are you ready to Spring to Success with Springmingle’19? Because we’ve got a great line-up of agents and editors and authors and illustrators and intensives and portfolio reviews and much more, PLUS a few new surprises--starting with our Spread the Word on Social Media Contest!

We want everyone to know about our March conference and we need your help. And we’re willing to put our money where our help is! Here’s how the contest works:

For the next couple of months, we’ll be posting all about Springmingle’19 and Illustrator’s Day on the Southern Breeze blog. Every time you spread the word, you’ll get an entry. So if you tweet, you get an entry! If you share a blog post on your Facebook page, you get an entry! If you link to the conference on your Facebook page, you get an entry! If you have your own blog and you write a post and link to the registration page, you get an entry! The possibilities are endless but there is a limit on entries per day; we will only count up to five entries daily.

Use #SpringtoSuccessSM’19 or mention “Spring To Success with Springmingle’19” or “Spring to Success with Illustrators' Day’19” whenever you spread the word and make sure you include the link to the Southern Breeze website registration page. (Note: Every post on the Southern Breeze blog will have the registration link included.)

Next, send an email to with the link to your social media entry. If you’re not sure how to get a link to a Facebook post or a Tweet, just give enough information that we can verify the entry. (But pssst! Here’s a great opportunity to learn all about social media and become proficient!)

And then, sit back and wait to hear the winning results. (Contest will begin when registration opens on January 5th and end on March 1, 2019.) If you’ve had the most entries, you’ll get $50 off registration to SM’19! The two runners-up will get their choice of a signed author’s book from attendees at Springmingle’19. And please, go ahead and register! If you win, you’ll receive the $50 refund.

Just a few minutes every day can mean a big discount for you! So help us Spread the Word on Social Media on January 5th and then join us on March 15th and 16th in Decatur, Georgia where Southern Breeze will help you Spring to Success with Springmingle’19!

(And P.S. You’ll see Southern Breeze spreading the word but regional team members and leadership team members won’t be eligible for the contest. And if you have any questions, contact any of your Southern Breeze Regional Team!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Did You Hear The One About the Illustration Mentorship?

This year, our Illustration Mentorship SOLD OUT IN ONE DAY! We are very happy to have Maria Middleton (Art Director with Candlewick) on board with us this year.

If you missed it - no worries - there is still so much more! The 2019 Springmingle Brochure will be uploaded soon with wonderful art from within our region (you'll see soon!). In the meantime, here's what you can expect:

Maria Middleton will be discussing the mentorship project so you would benefit from seeing how she interacts with artists and could develop your own artwork to compare with what others did even if you did not register for the mentorship program. Maria will also be conducting a hands-on drawing activity with feedback at her second session.

Lori Nichols will discuss paths to publication and how she pursued her career.

Kevin Lewis (agent/former editor for Disney/Hyperion) will talk about the things art school doesn't teach about the business of art.

And don't forget….. The Liz Conrad Award will be judged by Anne Moore Armstrong with the Bright Agency. This is a great opportunity to have an illustration agent see your work. After all, it's not always winning, but showing up that matters. Submissions for the Liz Conrad Award are open now. 

EARLY REGISTRATION HAS ITS BENEFITS! The first 25 to sign up for ID and elect to participate in the "Quickfire" portfolio review will get feedback on their portfolios from the ID faculty, plus agent Monica Odom. Registering for ID also makes you eligible to book a consultation with an agent and a private portfolio review with a faculty member and to display your portfolio for the Springmingle and Illustrators' Day faculty to see.

Registration for those wanting to participate in the mentorship opened December 1st and has already sold out so the next opportunity to register and book a session with an agent will be when early-bird registration opens  on January 5th.

 See you there!

 The Southern Breeze Conference Team

Monday, December 3, 2018

Breezers in Your Neighborhood: DECEMBER!

Just two events for December and both on the same day! But one's in Alabama and the other is in Georgia, so something for almost everyone! Take a look and join the Breezers in your neighborhood!

Saturday, December 8th

Join TeMika Grooms in Atlanta:

2019 IS ALMOST HERE! Get a head start on those goals!
Join us to learn the nuts and bolts of creating a children's book.

Dec. 8th, noon - 3pm 

@ Cinamaker Studios
3619 Piedmont Road NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30305


AND Monique Fields and her ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of HONEYSMOKE (due to release in January) will be here:

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Illustration Mentorship: Are YOU Ready?


Illustrators! Are you ready for a challenge?

The Southern Breeze Region is excited to host Maria Middleton, Art Director for Candlewick Press.  Maria recently joined Candlewick Press where she will provide art direction for the imprints Walker Books U.S., Candlewick Entertainment, Nosy Crow, Templar, and Big Picture Press. She previously was art director at Random House Children's Books.

Maria will lead the Illustration Mentorship: Drawing on Discovery for the first 10 illustrators to sign up for the program.  These illustrators will be challenged to develop the world of a character of their own invention in the act of discovering.  Each artist will imagine, discover, and develop a world for this character as the art director guides them through the process of producing a final picture book spread or middle-grade cover.   

Final designs will be presented during Illustration Day on March 15, 2019. To learn more about how you can uncover and discover a character within you, CLICK HERE to register. 

Registration opens December 1, 2018 for Illustration Day and Mentorship. Slots fill up soon so don't delay!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Making It Happen With Mentorship!

Southern Breeze is one of a handful of regions that offers mentorship to its members, and this year's mentorship program has just wound down. Breezer Lori Choi qualified for mentorship and chose Jo Kittinger to help her with her book. We asked Lori to share a few words about her experience:

I had been working on a book with my husband for over a year, but was in dire need of a professional review. Then I applied for the SCBWI Mentorship Program and was accepted. My mentor, Jo, provided clear, concise feedback that could be immediately implemented. She also helped me think more critically about my target audience, pointing out things that weren’t even on my radar. With each new round of revisions, I gained practical insights for evaluating my own writing. It was awesome to work with someone so experienced and knowledgeable about the industry! Her warm, encouraging spirit was an added bonus. I still have so much to learn, but because of the SCBWI Mentorship, I definitely feel better equipped as a writer.  ~ Lori Choi

Thanks, Lori! We're keeping our fingers crossed for you and your manuscript!

The mentorship program kicks off in the spring, so if you're interested in this program, start working on your words. Attend Springmingle in March and polish up those words. Then keep an eye out here and on the Southern Breeze website for our slate of mentors and the opening of the mentorship program in 2019. We want our members to soar to success, and thanks to our many mentors like Jo Kittinger, we can give you the tools to make it happen!