Wednesday, January 31, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: Critiques! (More Than Just Your Conference Thrill Ride)

Who doesn’t love a critique? Palms sweating and stomach fluttering with butterflies as you sit down in front of the esteemed editor or agent about to pass judgment on you. Er, I mean your manuscript.

But seriously, a critique from a publishing professional can do so much more for you than feed an adrenaline habit.

My first critique taught me to let my character tell her own story.

My worst critique left me frustrated and angry…and ready to write the story that was in my heart instead of something I thought people would want to read.

At my next critique, the editor wanted to read more of that story.

And, yes, I met my agent at a critique.

WIK18 registration is open, with critique opportunities still available, but manuscripts have to be submitted by February 4. Don’t miss your chance for personalized attention from a publishing professional. Your work will grow, and chances are, you’ll discover that those august sages are nice, knowledgeable people, eager to help you in your artistic journey.

Photo by Debbie Sanders

Sharon Pegram is a Co-Assistant Regional Advisor for Southern Breeze. She writes sci-fi and fantasy and enjoys good thrill rides, both literary and otherwise.


Monday, January 29, 2018


Book launchers at SM'17!
One of my favorite jobs as PAL Coordinator is introducing the book launchers!

I love listening to each author or illustrator tell their story of publication. To hear how hard work paid off, how SCBWI helped make a dream come true, how the littlest seed of an idea can grow into a great, big book!

It's so exciting, not to mention, inspiring! So if you have a newly released book, I hope you'll take advantage of this opportunity to inspire us! It's free for attendees, but you do need to sign up by the deadline (30 days prior to the conference). Look for more information about book launches (and book sales) on the registration page under Optional Activities. And then join us for the exciting moment when you get to share your journey! (And don't forget--you also get to hold that Southern Breeze kite in your hand!)

P.S. This year, I won't be introducing the book launchers at wik'18 because now, I'm the Co-Assistant Regional Advisor. So say hello to your new PAL Coordinator, Heather L. Montgomery!

Hello Everyone!

I’m excited to serve the region as the PAL Coordinator. I’ll never have Cathy’s pizzaz, but I’ll do my
best. I’ll steer the ship, but I’ll need you – published and pre-published Breezers alike – to provide the breeze.

Your ideas on what works. Your suggestions on what doesn’t work. Your energy for new initiatives. That’s what will carry us all smoothly across the high seas of the kidlit industry. Looking forward to this grand new adventure!


Friday, January 26, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: Humor Meets Heart

We have such terrific intensives for wik'18, I don't know how anyone's going to choose!

Next up is the dynamic duo of Kami Kinard and Rebecca Petruck, two authors who have managed to combine heart and humor in a couple of wonderful middle grade reads.

Kami Kinard's THE BOY PROBLEM and THE BOY PROJECT (Scholastic) are both laugh-out-loud funny and endearingly charming, capturing the essence of adolescent angst in facing that age-old problem of finding someone special.

Rebecca Petruck's STEERING TOWARD NORMAL is...well, now that I
think about it, both laugh-out-loud funny and endearingly charming, too! And cows! Lots and lots of interesting stuff about cows! Her WILL NOLAN EATS BUGS (ABRAMS/Amulet) is slated for a March release and with a title like that, I expect it to be a big hit with the middle grade crowd.

It's no surprise then that their intensive is "Building Characters With Heart and Humor." Writing funny is not exactly a laugh-a-minute--it's hard work!--but I can promise you that there will be plenty of laughs to share in this intensive. And plenty of know-how from two writers who know how to combine heart with humor to make a winner for publishers!

So, I'm sorry for all of you attending wik'18 because I don't know how you'll choose your intensive. But choose you must, and as soon as possible!

(Though now that I think about it, whatever intensive you choose, you can't go wrong. They are all just write!)

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


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

EVERYBODY A WINNER AT WIK'18: Nature Nuts and Nonfiction!

Hey Breezers,

You have a passion to share with readers. Kids have endless curiosity. Put those two together and you have great nonfiction for kids, right?

If your attempts end up a little too encyclopedic, if you are forcing rhyme just to add something fun, if you struggle to cram 1,000 pages of notes into 32 sparse pages, you are not alone. 

Passing along your passion for nature or science through the written word is not simple. But we Breezers don’t give up easily. When our manuscript – which we were sure sung the praises of nature or clearly clarified a complex concept – doesn’t quite do our subject justice, we dig in and learn some more.

That’s what Jodi Wheeler-Toppen and I, Heather Montgomery, will be doing on a Sunday afternoon in March. Come join us for “Curiosity Meets the Printed Page,” one of the many intensives offered as a part of wik18.  

It will be an extravaganza of nonfiction fun! We’ll explore the terminology of the nonfiction world. What does that editor mean when she says she’s looking for “commercial” nonfiction? Why did a reviewer describe a particular book as “narrative”? What is trade versus the educational market?
Come discuss different structures in used in nonfiction to turn bits of trivia into timeless lessons.  Compare and contrast different texts. Examine structural frameworks which might fit your topic. 
What techniques turn dry data into an “Aha!”? To understand that, we must become students of nonfiction. We must learn to read like writers.
Join us for an afternoon of analyzing mentor texts, discovering ways to make tough topics
understandable, and – my favorite! – reveling in rowdy research.

We hope to see you there!

Heather L. Montgomery is passionate about the underappreciated creatures of the planet and loves to wade in – literally – to her research. Learn more about her 12 nonfiction titles at


Monday, January 22, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: The Intensive Experience with Janice Hardy

Eight years ago, Janice Hardy lived about thirty minutes from me. But I had to go all the way to Birmingham to meet her.

Yep, we met at the first wik conference I attended, and right off, I knew she was a writing force to be reckoned with! Her first book in the Healing Wars Trilogy was out--The Shifter--and it was garnering rave reviews. And her blog, where Janice gave tons of writing tips and advice, was chugging along with a huge following. And after talking to her for twenty minutes after the Dessert Party, I was a lot smarter--writing-wise--than I had been before. And now you can sign up for her intensive and get a lot smarter, too!

Janice will be bringing all her expertise to her intensive, "Bringing Your Novel To Life." And it's amazing that she can cram all that expertise into a half-day!

For example, you know that blog I told you about? It's now called Fiction University, and any writer could get a four-year education, studying the posts.

She has a collection of books on writing craft: Understanding Conflict (And What It Really Means), Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting It), Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft.

And she's constantly invited to teach workshops and classes, bringing her extensive knowledge to beginners and experienced writers alike.

Plus, Janice Hardy is a lot of fun. But you don't have to take my word for it. Register for wik'18 and sign up for her winning intensive.

Um. You will have to go to Birmingham. (See you there!)


Thursday, January 18, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: Pat Cummings Talks Tips (And Pastries)!

Hey Illustrators, we haven't forgotten you! And so we caught up with Pat Cummings, author and illustrator, who's presenting a couple of brilliant break-outs, plus an illustrator's dream of an intensive: Illustrators Matchbox. We asked her the same questions we put to Linda Sue Park, and here's what she had to say!

Southern Breeze: Any tips for writers or illustrators who might be a little shy about saying hello?

Pat Cummings: The children's book community is, hands down, the friendliest one I've encountered. Everyone in attendance is guaranteed to have something in common with anyone they talk with, including the speakers. 

I once sat one seat away from Madeleine L'Engle throughout the first half of a play, not daring to speak to her. In between us was my husband, Chuku, who works in a totally different field and had no clue who she was. After I went out for the intermission, I returned to my seat to find them laughing and chatting like old friends. He introduced us, clearly surprised and delighted to report, "Pat, Madeleine does children's books, too!" She was lovely. The only thing that made me nervous talking to her had been MY hesitation. One thing I LOVE about SCBWI conferences is meeting fellow writers and illustrators. So do say hello.

SB: What is the last great book you read?

PC: I finished two recently that are truly worth recommending. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. Both books were informative, compelling and left a strong impression.

SB: Who is a writer or artist you'd like to have coffee with and why?

PC: I think I'd choose Haruki Murakami for coffee and Philip Pullman for pastries (got to have a pastries option).

I first got interested in Murakami when I read several reviews of his books that raved about them but  couldn't explain or relate their plots. I like a mystery. In fact, he does do something magical in his stories. He can set up a mystery, wind you down to the last few pages, when your brain is screaming, 'Pull up! Pull up!', and then, rather than crash, the ending glides smoothly into a satisfying conclusion that doesn't rely on a neatly tied up resolution. Not sure how he does it every time. But his fiction books are, to me, adult fairy tales. 

Having spent part of my childhood in Okinawa and Germany, getting a healthy does of ghost and fairy tales, I'm drawn to stories with otherworldly elements. Pullman, on the other hand, is just pure fun. His delicious, engaging fables make me suspect that he's lively and entertaining and someone who appreciates good pastries.

SB: How about industry news? Is there anything new/surprising/exciting that you'd like to comment on?

PC: I like the nonfiction trend that is going on. Because any topic that you find fascinating, you can use as the foundation for a book. I also see that heavily illustrated books have become very popular (thank you Brian Selznick for some genre-bending standouts that I think increased their popularity).

And thank you to Breezer Sherri Dillard who interviewed both Linda Sue Park and Pat Cummings as well as a couple of our wik'18 agents and editors. Those interviews are available in the members-only Tradewinds at the Southern Breeze website. Join SCBWI today and you'll get ALL the inside information from Tradewinds, plus much more!

How much more? Come to wik'18 and meet our authors and illustrators, plus all the speakers. We can't wait to show you how you'll be a winner in SCBWI!

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: The Inside Scoop with Linda Sue Park

We've got a great line-up of speakers at wik'18, including the amazing author, Linda Sue Park. And you can get plenty of information about this Newbery-Award-winning author right here. But we've also got a little insider information, so listen up, 'cause we're dishing out the details!

Southern Breeze: Any tips for writers or illustrators who might be a little shy about saying hello at the conference?

Linda Sue Park: My favorite conversation starter at any writers' conference: "So what are you reading?"

I really wish it could become an SCBWI thing:First gathering in the ballroom (or wherever), one minute to turn to your neighbor, ask and answer!

SB: What is the last good book you read?




PB: LINES, by Suzy Lee

Adult: PRAIRIE FIRES: The American Dream of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Caroline Fraser

SB: You are planning a literary dinner party. Which three writers/illustrators, dead or alive, do you invite and why?

LSP: I love dinner parties. :-) My goal is always the same: good food and engaging conversation. I'm listing two friends and two strangers, three out of four of them writers, and what a grand evening it would be!

Lin Oliver, Steve Mooser, and Barack and Michelle Obama

SB: How about industry news? Is there anything new/exciting/surprising that you'd like to comment on?

LSP: Sometimes it seems like things change so fast--editors, technology, markets--it's impossible to keep up, right? I try to remind myself that there will always be a need for stories that are entertaining, meaningful, and well written. For young readers, now more than ever, good stories are both brain food and magic.

Come join us at wik'18 where everyone's a winner--especially because you know how to start a conversation with a Newbery-Award-winning author!



Friday, January 12, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: Dear New Writer or Illustrator

Hello again, New Kidlit Writer or Illustrator!

Why Hello, again?

Because I'm guessing you've been here a couple of times, at the blog, or maybe at the the Southern Breeze website, your finger hovering over the "register here" link. Once, twice, maybe three times, and yet, you haven't registered. You're still unsure...

...that  you're a good enough writer or illustrator to attend the conference.

...that you should spend that much money on a dream.

...that you won't fit in, you won't know anyone, you don't belong.

Know how I know what you're feeling? Because I've been exactly where you are now. And what's more, I can promise you that every single writer and/or illustrator at wik'18 started out exactly where you are now.

We all start at the beginning, unsure of our talent or skills, uncertain if we're in the right place, nervous about whether we will make it in this challenging kidlit industry.

But there's a reason why our theme for this conference is "Everyone  A Winner at wik'18." The minute you walk through those conference doors at Spain Park High School, you've taken the first step toward the beginning of your successful kidlit career.

And that makes you a winner in my book!

So come join us today. Your SCBWI tribe can't wait to meet you!


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Extended Deadline for Illustrators!

Good news for illustrators!

You still have time to apply for the Liz Conrad Award! The deadline has been extended to January 15th so get out your pens, your brushes, your creativity, and get to work! Not sure what the Liz Conrad Award is? Read on...

Southern Breezer, Liz Conrad, created many wonderful books for children. In her honor, our chapter has established a merit-based award for illustrators. Now that we have only one conference per year, this is the only award available to illustrators.

The award will be given to one promising illustrator, and provides free attendance at our Illustrator's Day/Illustrator's Intensive, as well as free tuition for the annual conference. Entry for this contest is FREE! Find out more information and get your application here.

Also, there are a few openings left in the Illustrator Mentorship with Nicki Carmack available at wik'18. You can find all the details about this wonderful illustrator opportunity here. But don't delay because the deadline for the first stage of this mentorship is also January 15th!

There's no time like now to ignite your illustration career, so come join us and create today!

Monday, January 8, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: The One-on-One Sessions

So you didn't win a special prize during our Season of Giving with Wik'18...

Cheer up, Breezers, 'cause there's still time to win!

Take our One-on-One sessions, a great opportunity to get tons of winning feedback about...well, let's look at what our own Tay Berryhill had to say about her One-on-One session:

WIK attendees have three golden opportunities to receive feedback from agents: face-to-face critique, written manuscript critique, and one-on-one meetings with an agent. I’ve been fortunate to participate in all three. Each has helped me grow as a writer in different ways; all have advantages.

All written-only critiques are conducted by agents or editors who keenly target craft and marketability issues. Face-to-face critiques offer the same, but with the added benefit of a twelve-minute meeting with the expert who conducted the critique—although that person may not be an agent. One-on-one brings even more to the table—twenty minutes with an experienced agent to discuss anything. Anything. At WIK14, I spent my one-on-one time with literary agent Courtney Miller-Callihan of Greenburg Associates. Prior to our meeting, I submitted elevator pitches and one-paragraph synopses of three works-in-progress for Courtney to read in advance. I also put together a “goodie bag” of queries, first pages, and a full page synopsis of a finished draft, in case time allowed us to expand the discussion.
During our first ten minutes, Courtney addressed the marketability of my WIPs, offering generous feedback on what was appealing and why, as well as potential pitfalls. Her input quickly gave me a clearer picture of which projects merited my attention. I then showed her a first page of the front runner, and she spent the rest of the session suggesting ways to improve it. All good. Before leaving, I mentioned a graphic novel I was outlining. Courtney gave me the name of her agent friend who represents graphic novels. I’m pretty sure that I danced out the door. For writers with a manuscript that needs detailed feedback, the formal manuscript critiques are invaluable. But for those also seeking individualized advice on queries, marketing, rejections, Internet presence, or any other topic an agent can enlighten, one-on-one is an ideal venue. Besides great advice, the meeting gave this tongue-tied writer the chance to relax and “talk shop” in a stress-free exchange with a fellow lover of words. Agents want to help us succeed. Let them. 

If you're looking to take that next step in your career, the One-on-One session could be a winning fit for you. And if you have any questions about how the One-on-One sessions work, ask in the comments and we'll get an answer for you. Then sign up for a session today because slots are limited! 

Come join us at wik'18 where everyone's a winner!

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

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Breezers in the Neighborhood--January

Happy New Year, Breezers!

Are you a resolution maker? Because I have a great one to add to your list: meet someone new in your Southern Breeze region! And there's no better way to make a new Breezer friend than to attend events in your region.

Like a conference. Wik'18 is coming in March so register as soon as possible! Your favorite sessions, presentations, or intensives could fill up before the end of January.

Or how about attending one of our Breezer in the Neighborhood events?

Lisa Lewis Tyre will be launching her new middle grade novel, HOPE IN THE HOLLER!

When:   January 13th, 4:00 to 5:30 PM
Where:  Fox Tale Book Shoppe
              105 East Main Street
              Woodstock, GA  30188

Here's an opportunity for those of you in the northern area of Alabama:

Children's book author and illustrator, Susan Eaddy will share about her roller coaster ride to publication and the power of perseverance! Her presentation is aptly called "Mistakes and Detours--Try, Try Again!" and it's FREE!

When:    January 20th, 10 AM to Noon
Where:   Huntsville-Madison County Library
               Downtown auditorium
               Huntsville, AL

And now's the time to find your Southern Breeze tribe in Athens, GA!

What:  Meet 'n Greet sponsored by LL Martha Hynson (RSVP to

When:  January 20, 2 PM
Where: Oconee County Library

Finally, Sucheta Rawal will be reading and signing her "Beato Goes To" books at Sara Smith Elementary School in Atlanta on January 22nd.

Resolve to make your SCBWI membership pay off this year and come join us at an event near you!

(If you have an event for Breezers in your Neighborhood, please send the information to so we can share it here. The monthly post is a regular feature; please send the information at least one week prior to the event to get it listed.)