Sunday, December 31, 2017


On the 12th day of wik'18 registration, Southern Breeze gives to you...

Critical yet comforting and cozy critique groups!

There's nothing quite like professional feedback for a dearly loved manuscript or illustration. But there is nothing like having your writing and/or artistic dreams quashed ruthlessly by a room full of strangers! And that's why the Informal Critique Groups offered at wik'18 are so valuable.

Whether you are a writer or an illustrator, you'll have the opportunity to sit down in a small group with others and discuss your work. You'll be in a supportive environment, and what's more, we make sure that similar writers end up in the appropriate groups so that if you have a picture book, for example, you'll get feedback from other picture book writers. You may find yourself seated next to someone who has a dozen picture books traditionally published, while the person across from you may have just self-published. It's that kind of varied constructive feedback that can really make a difference in your career!

And best of all, the informal critiques are free!

Now, in case you've lost count of all the gifts we have for you at wik'18, here's the list:

Informal Critique Groups! (Absolutely free!)

Quickfire Portfolio Reviews! (Also absolutely free!)

Six Inspiring Intensives! (They fill up quickly, so please register today to get just the inspiring intensive you want!)

Four Awesome Agents! (They're offering One-on-One sessions, but those, too, will fill up fast!)

Two Terrific Editors! (For illustrators and writers!)

And an Early Bird Discount! (Which ends at midnight today!)

Oh! And our very special gift is an invitation to the faculty dinner on Saturday after the conference! Boy, I bet TracyGA is going to have a ton of fun there! Please send an email to RA Claudia Pearson at to get more information about claiming your gift.

But all y'all (as we say in Southern Breeze) can claim a whole 12 days of gifts in our Season of Giving! They're all there, waiting just for you, and all you have to do is register for wik'18!

So start your New Year with the best gift you can give to yourself and join us in March for wik'18!

Friday, December 29, 2017


On the eighth--or is it the ninth day of wik'18 registration?

To tell you the truth, I've sort of lost count. But I know exactly what's up next in our count of terrific gifts at wik'18:


Yes, we're having Illustrators' Day in Birmingham, and yes, it's new to this conference. But it's still the same great experience you've always loved!

Just like always, there will be a full day of speakers focused on illustrated books for young readers. Coretta Scott King Award winner, Pat Cummings, will show you how to fire up the emotional impact of your work. Deborah Shine, editor at Star Bright Books, will reveal how independent publishers find illustrators and work with them to create beautiful diverse books. Nicki Carmack will share the work done in the illustration mentorship as well as reveal how to create a more dynamic finished product. Claire Easton, agent at Painted Words, will join the rest of the faculty for the twenty-five FREE QUICKFIRE PORTFOLIO REVIEWS, plus a Question and Answer session.

So in case you've lost count, too, let's count down our wik'18 Season of Giving:

FREE Quickfire Portfolio Reviews!

Six Inspiring Intensives!

Four Awesome Agents!

Two Terrific Editors!

And an Early Bird Discount for registration!

It's all there, waiting for you! But spaces in some activities fill up fast, so don't wait to register. And don't forget about the special surprise gift you can win by commenting on this post.

Though everyone's a winner at wik'18!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


On the sixth day of wik'18 registration, Southern Breeze gives to you...

Six inspiring intensives!

We'll have six half-day intensives covering just about every topic a kidlit writer could want:

Newbery Award-winning author, Linda Sue Park, is serving up "Sentence Sense" so you can learn how to make every word count.

Senior Scholastic editor, Matt Ringler, is hosting a writers' roundtable where 15 writers will have the opportunity to get first hand feedback on their first five pages. Act fast if you want your pages read! (You can still register for the intensive if you want to keep your pages to yourself. It's always good to hear how an editor thinks, and maybe even better when it's some other brave soul's manuscript on the table!)

Deb Halverson, author of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies, will teach you all about teen speak.

We have a terrific two-for-one deal in the afternoon, with pairs of authors teaming up to bring intensives!  Authors Kami Kinard and Rebecca Petruck will show you how to build characters with heart and humor, while authors Heather L. Montgomery and Jodi Wheeler-Toppen will share the art of using science to engage readers of both fiction and non-fiction.

And last but far from least is the Founder of Fiction University, author Janice Hardy, who's ready to bring your novel to life!

You can find out lots more about this batch of inspiring intensives at the Southern Breeze website, where you can also register for wik'18. Hurry, Breezers, because these opportunities will fill up fast! Your Early Bird registration discount will soon fly away!

But wait! We have one more gift for you because we're still in a Season of Giving here at the Southern Breeze blog. We're serving up a special surprise gift today! So if you've registered, and you comment on this post by noon on December 31st, you might win. If you spread the word and let us know in the comments, we'll add your name twice to the drawing.

Everyone loves to win a surprise, right? Though everyone's a winner at wik'18!

Friday, December 22, 2017


On the third day of wik'18 registration, Southern Breeze gives to you...

Okay, yes. Registration has been going on for a whole week but we've got a theme going on here and so it works for us. You know who else loves to see a theme working?

Editors. And wik'18 just happens to have two of 'em!

Two editors--that's quite a gift! But we have an even better gift for you: when you attend wik'18, you have the opportunity to submit to the conference editors (and the agents)!

So let's take a look at our wik'18 editors:

First up is Deborah Shine. She's the editor and founder of Star Bright Books, and she's been publishing diverse books for almost a quarter of a century. Next is Matt Ringler with Scholastic. He's a senior editor specializing in chapter book, middle grade, and young adult fiction.

You can find out more about our two terrific editors at Tradewinds, the Southern Breeze exclusive newsletter for members. Or research Scholastic or Star Bright Books in SCBWI's The Book. It's filled with tons of kidlit insider information, and it's yours free with your membership.

If you're serious about writing for children, then it's time for SCBWI and wik'18. Register today and take advantage of all our gifts:

Two Terrific Editors!

Four Awesome Agents!

Early Bird Discount for members and non-members!

And big congrats to Jo Kittinger and Sherri Rivers, the winners of our books from our conference authors! Please send an email to Southern Breeze RA, Claudia Pearson, at to get the details about your prize.

And keep coming back, Breezers, 'cause there are more gifts coming your way!

Monday, December 18, 2017


On the second day of wik'18 registration, Southern Breeze gives to you...

Oh, wait. It's actually the fourth day of registration, isn't it? But that's even better, because we're giving you four awesome agents!

Agents who want illustrators, agents who love picture book writers and novelists and poets and more! And agents who can't wait to meet you in the one-on-one sessions!

That's the good news. The bad news is that we don't have enough slots to offer everyone who registers for wik'18 a slot in a one-on-one session. So on this fourth day of registration, take a look at our four awesome agents and sign up today!

There's John Cusik, with Folio, and Erica Silverman at Stimola Literary. Kristy Hunter with Knight Agency will be there, too, along with Claire Easton of Painted Words.

You can find out more at the Southern Breeze website when you register, plus you'll still get that wonderful gift of an early bird $25 discount!

So off you--hold on a minute. What's this in the bottom of my gift sack? It's another gift!

Two lucky winners will get a signed book by one of the wik'18 conference authors!

If you'd like to win, leave a comment on this post and don't forget to include your name. And then once your registration is verified, we'll put your name in the drawing. But you only have till noon on December 22nd. That's when we'll choose two lucky names.

Four awesome agents, an early bird discount, and come back on December 22nd to see if you've won a book from one of our very own amazing authors!

Now off you go! Because you can't win if you don't register--though everyone at wik'18 is a winner!

Friday, December 15, 2017


On the first day of wik'18 registration, Southern Breeze gives to you...
An EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT  on your conference registration!

To find out all about wik'18, visit the Southern Breeze website. Then register between now and December 31st to get $25 off your registration fee.

(This special discount is also available to non-members of SCBWI starting on December 20th. But if you're good with numbers, you might just figure out how much you can save by joining SCBWI and getting the early bird discount, too!)

On the second day of wik'18 registration, Southern Breeze gives to you...

You thought I was going to tell you, didn't you? But you'll have to come back next week to find out what special gift is waiting to be opened!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


‘Tis the season, Breezers! And one of the best gifts you can give yourself is an SCBWI/Southern Breeze conference!

Wik’18 will be here before you know it, and we’ve packed all kinds of good things into this spring conference! Looking for an agent? We’ve got four of ‘em! Want to pick an editor’s brain? Talk to rooms full of authors? Get the scoop on illustration? We’ve got all that and more!

But you have to attend the conference on March 10th and 11th in Birmingham, Alabama to get it all. And we have a very special gift for those early birds who register by December 31st so check out the faculty now and be ready to make your selections on December 15th when registration opens for SCBWI members.

Then keep coming back here to the blog to find out more about all we’re offering at wik’18! You never know what other gifts might be coming your way this season!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ignite Your Illustration Career!

Registration for the WIK 2018 Conference and Illustrators' Day opens for members on December 15, 2017, and we have some wonderful things in store. There will be Something for Everyone with this year’s Illustrator’s Day featuring Star Bright Books Editor, Deborah Shine, Peachtree Creative Director Nicki Carmack, award winning illustrator, Pat Cummings, and Clair Easton, Painted Words agent, who will advise us on how to level up and Ignite Your Illustration Career!

There are a few things you may want to take advantage of before the conference:

Apply for the Liz Conrad Award
Deadline January 1, 2018
The Region offers our regional members the opportunity to have their work reviewed by top professionals in the industry. The Awardee of the Liz Conrad Award will receive free tuition to the annual Southern Breeze Conference and Illustrators Day. Entry is FREE. 

Check out our site for more information:

When you Register for the conference be sure to also register for the Illustrators Mentorship with Nicki Carmack, Creative Director Peachtree Publishers

Space is Limited to 15 participants. Register Early! Deadline January 1, 2018!

Gain valuable guidance from Creative Director of Peachtree Publishers, Nicki Carmack. She will challenge mentees to reimagine the classic tale of Jack and the Beanstalk.  Participants will understand the book development process through hands-on-experience with an art director.  

The Mentorship will include valuable feedback to move towards a finished portfolio piece.  It will include character and environment development. Mentees will be taken through stages of the project to create a final color spread and cover that may be used as portfolio art.

Stage 1: Character studies, sketches and possible color palette

Stage 2: Story board/thumbnails of the entire story

Stage 3: Complete color art of one spread and cover

Estimated Timeline
Stage 1 deadline mid January
Stage 2 deadline mid February
Stage 3 deadline - a week before the event

Space is Limited to 15 participants. Register Early!

Deadline January 1, 2018!

So look for registration to open, stay Connected with your Region and be involved locally. There are many ways to join in and move forward with your tribe.

See you soon!

TeMika Grooms
Southern Breeze Region Illustrator Coordinator 

Friday, December 8, 2017

How I Got My Agent (Pssst! It's Probably Got Something To Do With a Conference!)

So I grabbed my folder and stuffed it into my bag without even giving it a look because of course, I was running late.

There really is no excuse to run late when the conference is practically in your backyard, but that seems to be what I do. That, and spending the rest of the day playing "catch-up" with conference business, people to see, and places where I'm supposed to be. And the next place I was supposed to be was the cocktail party.

I would not be late for that event! There were too many people I wanted to see, including Karen Grencik, an agent from Red Fox Literary. I'd met Karen the summer before at a week-long writer's retreat. She'd given a workshop which I thoroughly enjoyed, but she was also one of the professionals I signed up with for a manuscript critique.

And oh my manuscript critique, it was terrific! Not I-want-to-represent-you right-this-minute terrific; more like here's-what's-not-quite-working-in-this-picture-book terrific. Karen gave me concrete direction into the problems, but she was kind and professional. I'm not gonna lie. I sort of had an agent crush on Karen Grencik.

So I fetched an adult beverage for us both and we reconnected at the conference Friday night party. I'm not sure if Karen remembered me specifically but she was delightful and charming and I wasn't too stalkerish and eventually, everyone left and we cleaned up, and as I sat there waiting for my ride, I reached into my bag and opened my folder to see what I was going to be late for the next day. And that's when I saw the big envelope that had my manuscript critique.

For crying out loud, I'd completely forgotten that I'd signed up for a "written only" critique! I pulled out the manuscript and saw that it was Karen Grencik's name on the notes--wheee! And then I began to read the notes; she appeared to like this middle grade story I'd penned. When I got to the end, she'd included another note:

"I'd love to see this manuscript if you're unagented. Send it to..."

We'd never discussed manuscripts earlier, and clearly, she hadn't made the connection between me and the name on the manuscript, but no matter! As I held that critique in my hot little hands, my heart pounded a mile a minute!

I didn't have another chance to speak to Karen during the rest of the conference, but first thing on Monday morning, I emailed her the full manuscript. Within a couple of hours, she responded that she'd received it and couldn't wait to read it. Within a couple of days, she responded again, saying she was halfway through and loving the story! By the next week, she'd offered to represent me.

Because I attended an SCBWI conference where Karen Grencik was on the faculty, I not only got my agent, I got my agent crush.

Cathy Hall, mic drop.