Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Upcoming Event: Childrens’ Literature Book Signing

Southern Breeze is hosting a FREE childrens’ literature book signing at the Decatur Library. Twenty authors of picture books to young adult novels will be on hand to sign books and chat with readers.

WHEN: Friday, March 13, 7:30pm to 8:30pm
WHERE: Decatur Library • 215 Sycamore Street • Decatur, GA

Meet Award-Winning YA Author Meg Medina and Award-Winning Illustrators  
Bill Mayer and Giuseppe Castellano, plus local authors:

Kelly Bingham
Robyn Hood Black
Nancy Day
Elizabeth Dulemba
Connie Fleming
Janice Hardy
SR Johannes
Kami Kinard
Jo Kittinger
Heather Montgomery
Michelle Nelson-Schmidt
Rhonda H. Rucker
Krista Russell
Jennifer Swanson
Patsi Trollinger
Tanya Valentine
Jodi Wheeler-Toppen

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hello from Tracey M. Cox, new Web Master

Working Behind the Scenes

Hello everyone. I'm Tracey M. Cox and have recently volunteered to become webmaster for Southern Breeze. I'm already the Local Liaison for South Georgia (Ocilla, Tifton area).

 I've been writing professionally for 15+ years now. Now that I'm back in SCBWI, I feel I will be more prepared for whatever challenges await me.

I know that volunteering and working behind the scenes can be a rewarding experiences. I like to think of  it as gardening. It's nice to smell pretty flowers and admire them. BUT, getting your hands dirty, planning, planting, nourishing, and tending a garden. Then seeing your hard work come to fruition. It's an amazing experience. 

I'm up for challenges.  :) 

What's in store for me as a volunteer?

  • I hope to help others through their writing experiences. I know I've had some great people give me advice I still take to heart. 
  • I plan on having a small smooze later this year for the South Georgia area. So get ready SoGA Peeps!  :)  
  • I am gathering a list of people who would like to guest blog for us OR have an announcement OR event OR or or or... Give me a jingle! We want to celebrate with you.  Email me at: tracey@traceymcox.com with the subject line: SB Blog Post
  • I am honing my web craft and stepping into the web master role. I feel like a grass-hoppah! *please tell me you got that joke*


What am I doing with my career?

I'm steadily writing, reading, and blogging. I have a four books scheduled to be published this year. I have six picture books published and continue marketing with them. I'm also booking school visits, and planning for the fourth Books Love & Taters Book Festival (non-SCBWI) in October. Plus I have a blog with Summer Sparks Writing Challenge, and I help with KidLit.TV.  I'm very excited to be in the fold of Southern Breeze once again.

Here's to celebrating each of your accomplishments! 

:::Leave A Comment:::
Do you have a question about volunteering?
Would you like to be a guest blogger?
Is there something you would like to see on the Southern Breeze blog?
Leave us your thoughts!

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hello from Sharon Pegram - Our New Assistant Regional Advisor

Sharon Pegram, New Assistant Regional Advisor

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Sharon Pegram, and I’m stepping into the role of Assistant Regional Advisor as Heather steps out of it. I write weird novels and have been a member of SCBWI since 2006. Recently, while organizing stacks of paper to avoid revising my work-in-progress, I excavated my whole writing history: nine years laid out like geological layers.
  • My first personalized rejection, from an editor I had heard at Springmingle.
  • Directions to my first critique group, from the friendly Southern Breezer who invited me to visit hers.
  • The first time a professional asked to see more of my work, on a critique from WIK.
And on everything—programs, contest flyers, newsletters—names of people who used to be strangers but now are friends. Southern Breeze’s fingerprints are all over my life, especially in recent years. Serving as conference coordinator for WIK 2012 and 2013 allowed me to get to know the regional leadership team and to look behind the curtain a bit at the furious whirl of activity that goes on all the time to make Southern Breeze’s programs happen. Stepping into that whirlwind feels daunting and exciting, maybe a little crazy, but the good kind.

Southern Breeze is filled with talent and energy. Our volunteer leadership is extraordinary. I’m delighted and honored to get to work with them and you.


Sharon Pegram was a school librarian before she became a stay-at-home-mom. She writes science fiction and fantasy from her home northeast of Atlanta. When not writing, she reads (well), cooks (well), and games with her son and husband (not-at-all well, but it is funny to watch). Her two ancient cats do the important literary job of keeping her behind in the chair.

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Southern Breeze is Sprouting!

By Heather L. Montgomery

Heather Montgomery photo by Sonya Sones 

In the Southern Breeze region, members have many opportunities to grow. I came into this organization a rookie and found fertile soil.  I sprouted among a bed of helpful members, then I grew and grew and grew. Not only did I grow in my craft skills, but also in business, networking, and -- most importantly -- confidence! Most of that was thanks to my SB volunteer roles. 

Here's a little secret. . . Early on, I put myself into volunteer roles to force myself out of my little hole. At first I just led a few nature writers' outings. Then, I became a Local Liaison. Next I was Angel Coordinator at a conference. Pretty soon I was the Assistant Regional Advisor (ARA) and sprouting skills all over the place!  Putting myself into those volunteer roles made me interact with others, gave me an excuse to work closely with industry professionals, and provided me an insider's view on this business.  

For over seven years I have been deeply rooted in our region and benefited from the awesome position as the ARA. Now it is time to let other leaders sprout. On March 16th, Sharon Pegram will become your new Southern Breeze ARA. Sharon will do a fabulous job!
Sharon's not the only one who's growing with Southern Breeze this spring. We've got other volunteers in new roles:

  • Paula Puckett     Membership Coordinator
  • Tracey Cox     Webmaster
  • Kevin Springer   Cobb County Local Liaison
  • Monique Fields   Tuscaloosa Local Liaison
Each of these volunteers will be helping Southern Breeze spring forward, but they will also be helping themselves. They will be in close contact with librarians, editors, agents, published illustrators, award-winning authors. They will be growing new leaves, absorbing energy to help their career. 

What about you? Will you dig your roots into the fertile soil of a SB volunteer position? Will you soak in the nutrients offered? If so, contact Claudia Pearson, pearsoncrz@earthlink.net, and let her know what skills you want to grow.

How will you nudge yourself out into the sunshine to sprout this spring? 

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Friday, February 6, 2015

How to Succeed at a Schmooze (Without Really Trying)

By Cathy Hall
Part three of the Volunteers series

So, you’ve signed on as an SCBWI Local Liaison and you want to have a schmooze. Or maybe a writers’ or artists’ workshop. Or perhaps you’re thinking about hosting a dazzling speaker. Good for you! Except you don’t know quite where to start. Neither did I when I paired up with my friend and critique partner, Debra Mayhew. We jumped in to serve as co-LLs in a large, suburban area in the Southern Breeze region.

We didn’t have a lot of experience, but we had tons of enthusiasm, plus a packet of Local Liaison information as well as SCBWI members to contact for help. It wasn’t long at all before we’d planned our first schmooze. Here’s how we did it!

Start with a Meet and Greet and add Critique

We live in the densely populated suburbs of metro Atlanta, so we weren’t surprised to find a ton of SCBWI members scattered throughout our area. But when we checked the list of 50 names or more, we recognized just a handful of people! We determined from the beginning that we wanted to meet these elusive writers and illustrators. But how could we get these members to come out and play? Debra and I had gone to our first schmooze, hoping to meet members interested in forming a critique group. So we really pushed this idea, and our hunch was right. We had around 25 people attend the first schmooze, looking for critique partners!

Find the Right Spot

We would have loved to use a charming, independent bookstore, but unfortunately, we only have the big box bookstores, and we knew space would be limited there. So we checked with our local library system. Several libraries had meeting rooms, set up for non-profit meetings. We had to pay a small fee, but it was worth it. The room had plenty of tables and chairs so that we could transition from a speaker to small critique groups. Your library may offer a room for free. Other spots to consider are church spaces, coffee shops, or community centers (through local parks associations).

Send a Personal Invite

It’s a good idea, of course, to announce your schmooze on your region’s listserv and through SCBWI. But many new members may not have signed up yet to get the emails. They almost always, though, have emails. Write a brilliant announcement with all the details of your event and send it out to each individual (Ask your RA for an email address list). And ask members to RSVP. You’ll be surprised at the response you get just from this simple effort. (And once you have the list, you don’t have to type in all those names again!)

Have Fun

Naturally, you’ll have refreshments, nametags, and SCBWI literature (Contact national headquarters for materials). And you’ll want folks to bring something to critique. But keep in mind that many of these members may be a bit shy, and most of them don’t know each other. You’ll need an icebreaker and party favors, even a door prize! Here’s how we partied down:
  1.  For your icebreaker, have each person introduce her/himself, including hometown and whether she/he is looking for a critique partner. We had some silly stickers that we slapped on nametags so that folks looking for critique partners could find each other easily.
  2. I presented a short Do’s and Don’ts about manuscript critique, and included party favors in the form of handouts from SCBWI Bulletin articles as well as a handout based on pointers from the book, The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide by Becky Levine. (I’d won it at an SCBWI conference!)
  3. After a short break, we broke into critique groups to apply some of the tips we’d learned. When our time was up, we called out the door prizes. (We’d had a basket at the welcome table for people to drop their names in to win prizes.) We gave out peach tea and small packets of tissues (tea and sympathy), and we gave a package of 9 x 12 envelopes (to submit those nicely critiqued and polished manuscripts). And finally, we gave away The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide.

We received lots of positive responses from our schmooze, made a ton of new friends, and managed to give those elusive writers and illustrators a bang for their SCBWI membership bucks. We even attracted a few folks who we hope will sign up for SCBWI. But mostly, we had a lot of fun with our first event as Local Liaisons, and so will you. Because honestly, if we could have that kind of success (without really trying), anybody can!

Cathy C. Hall is the Local Liaison for the Gwinnett area of Georgia. Her humorous stories have been published in children's magazines and anthologies and look for her soon-to-be-released books with Korean educational publisher, Darakwon. She also serves as the PAL Coordinator for Southern Breeze, sings in a choir, and occasionally visits her cows. Come say hello at c-c-hall.com.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How You Can Help Southern Breeze As a Volunteer (And How They Can Help You Back)

By Claudia Pearson
Part two in the SB Volunteers series

Hello friends,

Paula Puckett really knows what she’s talking about when she says Southern Breeze is Volunteer Powered, and some of our most important volunteers work at the local level! Why are they so important? One of the biggest benefits SCBWI Southern Breeze offers to both members and non-members is the opportunity to get together with like-minded people. But many of our members can’t make it to the big conferences, even though it is a ton of fun to attend with friends, and others who have never heard about SCBWI often learn about us at local events, those strange things called ‘schmoozes” held by those lovely creatures, Local Liaisons.

The world of children’s books can be full of isolation, frustration and rejection. Yes, we are all a little weird, or we wouldn’t be writers and illustrators, now would we? We need to embrace our weirdness! Contact with others who are just as passionate as we are about creating great books for young readers is often what keeps us grinding away.

But how do you find people who understand what you mean when you tell them that you can’t get any writing done because a character has stopped talking to you? My husband just laughs. Or if we try to tell them that even though our work gets rejected , it’s a “good” rejection because the editor or agent sent a personal letter telling us they don’t want our work?

“Seriously?” my husband asks. After fifteen years, I think he’s beginning to understand.

We need to support one another, to gather together and share both the frustrations and the little triumphs. To reach out to people who are going it alone and to those who have never heard of SCBWI before. But how does that happen?

That's where the schmooze comes in. In some areas members have already stepped up to become “Local Liaisons” – volunteers who organize gatherings and programs for writers and illustrators living not far from one another. In others no one has volunteered for this activity yet – you could be the one!

Why on earth would you do that, you ask? Because it is fun! And it can help you make contacts with others in your area who might be interested in forming a face to face critique group.

Local Liaisons also have the opportunity to interact with our regional leadership and with talented and experienced regional PAL members. Sometimes they get to work with a librarian or a bookstore owner, and what children’s book creator doesn’t want to get to know their librarians and local bookstore better? They may also have an opportunity to work with publishing professionals, agents and editors from outside the region who may be in the area and are willing to speak to a local group.

A "schmooze" can be as simple as getting together with a few people who want to meet each other, maybe with games and ice breakers. Or it can be as big a limited attendance workshop. There are all kinds of shapes they can take - it only depends on what the Local Liaison thinks will be fun and informative! And you wouldn’t be walking the plank all by yourself, either. In addition to guidelines from SCBWI, experienced Local Liaisons are happy to share information, and our PAL members are generous with their time and talents. I was once a Local Liaison, and look where I am now (LOL)!

As I said, our Local Liaisons do it because it is FUN!

Want more information? There will be an LL meeting on Saturday, March 14 at the Decatur public library before the Springmingle sessions begin. You do not have to be registered for the conference to attend this meeting.

Can’t make the meeting? Contact me. I’d love to hear from you. The more volunteer power we put into Southern Breeze, the farther we can go together!

Claudia Pearson
RA SCBWI Southern Breeze

Claudia writes a little bit of everything, sews, cooks, crochets, wears a lot of hats, and spends a lot of time with her grandchildren.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Southern Breeze is Volunteer Powered

By Paula Puckett
Part one in the SB Volunteers series

I hope this message finds you well and creatively productive. I know, I know--it's still considered "winter," and I'm ready for warmer weather. But for now, I sit by my fireplace and get some reading, drawing or writing accomplished when it's too cold to go outside.

One of my personal creative goals for 2015 has been to become more aware of available opportunities and to learn as much as I can about writing and illustrating. But where to look? Who to contact? How can I find out what I want to know? And what do I do about it if I'm not finding any of those opportunities in my area?

Every event that is sponsored by our Southern Breeze Region is volunteer-powered. Our Southern Breeze newsletter comes out twice a year. It is produced by volunteers, too. Every conference, every Meet-And-Greet, every SCBWI workshop has been put together by people who "step up to the plate." Even our team of Regional Advisors are volunteers! Many of you have offered to help at a conference or event, and it means SO much to the organizers to have the additional help. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

And if you're not sure what you could do, the next time you sign up for an SB event, look at the part of the registration form which lists possible volunteer jobs. One sure way to network and "learn the ropes" is to become involved as a volunteer.

Now I say this, because I asked a question about wanting to plan an event for our North Georgia area. I'd never done anything like that before. "Sure! Write up what you'd like to do, give us a proposal for it, and we'll have an idea of what you're thinking about," they said. And so, I did. It wasn't too hard.

The result was our "Meet and Greet" in Dawsonville, co-hosted by myself and Chris Rumble, back in September. We had a dozen attendees and had the opportunity to put together names and faces, talk shop, and enjoy the opportunity to be with like-minded creative individuals. I hope to do something like that again, in April or May 2015. It was work, but the FUN kind of work.

The SCBWI website and Southern Breeze have tons of information and articles, and our long-time members have a wealth of experience, too. And if you find you have a really great idea for a gathering in your area, or would consider becoming a Local Liaison yourself, please contact our Regional Advisors.

I look forward to seeing you at one of our Southern Breeze SCBWI events soon.

Happy Creating!


Paula B. Puckett handcrafts yarn as well as stories, and follows a creative life path. She is a retired elementary art teacher and longtime SCBWI Southern Breeze member. She is currently working on several writing projects and would really like to have more hours in a day.