Tuesday, February 27, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: Mix and Mingle!

Whether you’re a newcomer or a long time conference attendee, you’re sure to find folks to help you along your creative journey at this year’s SCBWI Southern Breeze WIK!  Of course, the speakers and sessions will be amazing.  Look at that line-up!

If this is your first conference or if you’ve lost count of how many conferences you’ve attended, think about the benefits of expanding your network of writers and illustrators.  I know, I know, sometimes it’s hard to be a new person in a situation where it might seem like everybody knows everybody else, especially if you might be a little on the “shy side.” It can also be a challenge for long time attendees to help newcomers feel at ease in a conference setting, too.

We began something a few conferences ago with a Membership Display and are continuing with this because it seemed to be helpful.  There are a few changes, so please take a look!

Here’s how this will work:

Each area has been divided and posted on the Membership Display.  Look for the largest major city which is closest to where you live, select the corresponding color slip of paper and put it in your name tag.  Then go out there and meet people! If they have the same colored tab in their name tag, chances are they could live somewhere in your area.


North Alabama   (RED) Huntsville, Decatur, Gadsden, Florence, Hamilton
BIRMINGHAM AREA(S)  (YELLOW) Tuscaloosa, Hoover, Talladega, Anniston
Middle Alabama   (Yellow)  Prattville, Demopolis, Montgomery, Auburn
South and Coastal Alabama  (ORANGE) Mobile area, Jackson, Andalusia, Enterprise, Dothan, Troy
North Georgia (Light Green) Rome, Dalton, Canton, Cumming, Gainesville, Dawsonville, Commerce, Athens and all points northward.
ATLANTA AREA(S) (Dark Green) Metro Atlanta area, North and South Atlanta, Decatur area, Gwinnett and Cobb Counties, Conyers, Stone Mountain
Middle Georgia (OLIVE GREEN) Columbus/Pine Mtn area, Macon, Warner Robins, Augusta area
South Georgia (DARK BLUE) Albany, Bainbridge, Moultrie, Valdosta, Ocilla/Tifton
Savannah and Coastal GEORGIA (Turquoise) Statesboro, Waycross, Brunswick, St. Simons, Savannah, Beaufort SC
North FLA and panhandle (Magenta) Pensacola, Tallahassee, Panama City, any of Florida

But what if you are hesitant about meeting people?  Not to worry. Southern Breezers are a friendly bunch!

Let’s say you are a first time attendee at a conference.  You might get to know six people—three of them are writers and three are illustrators.  You get to know what they are working on and share a little bit about yourself and your project(s). Maybe you find other ways to keep in touch through social media.  Maybe you attend the next conference, those six people are there and you get to know six more new people.

By the time you have attended several conferences you will have met so many people, learned so much more, and your network will have expanded, like when the rings of a pebble thrown into a pond begin to overlap one other.

If there is not an active Local Liaison close to where you live, consider becoming one yourself. The names and email addresses of Local Liaisons are on the SB webpage. Local Liaisons are volunteers who hold Local Events from time to time. Ask the Regional Advisor, Assistant Regional Advisor(s) or Membership Coordinator to send you information and guidelines about becoming a Local Liaison if you think you would like to participate in this volunteer position.

Some LLs choose to belong to critique groups too, but their main function is to provide opportunities for local members to get together and pass along information. It’s a bit of work, but it’s the FUN kind of work. 

See how this works?  And anyway you look at it, you will soon begin to develop and expand both your knowledge base of the art and craft of writing/illustrating, along with your network of creatives.  Win, win, win!

All my best,
Paula Puckett
Membership Coordinator

Paula B. Puckett spins stories and yarn. She grows vegetables, frequents flea markets, and makes stuff. She is a retired elementary art educator and a 20+ year member of SCBWI. Follow her on Twitter with @Runswithalpaca or

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

Thursday, February 22, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: Meet the Regional All-Stars!

Can I confess something? I know we’re not supposed to play favorites with our children or characters or conference formats, but I’ve always liked WIK a little better than SpringMingle for one reason: regional speakers. Both conferences bring editors and agents and famous authors from the far reaches of the country, but at WIK we also get to hear from our own. And our own have some good stuff to share!

This year is no exception. Wherever you are in your writing journey, and whether you’re in the mood for craft or business, our regional all-stars have something for you.

Author Christina Farley will be opening the door to the publishing world and demystifying the basics for entry.

Author Jaimie Engle offers how to land a literary agent, both what to expect and what not to expect.

Author and Southern Breeze Assistant Regional Advisor Cathy Hall will teach you how to put yourself out there by taking advantage of opportunities that SCBWI offers for both the published and unpublished among us.

Author Irene Latham and Archivist Jim Baggett will share their secrets for using research to create rich, authentic historical settings.

Author Debbie Dadey will reveal Five Steps to Worldbuilding that we know work because she’s on her 13th book series and has over 42 million copies in print.

So check out some all-stars at WIK this year. You’ll be glad you did!

~ Sharon Pegram


Sharon Pegram is the Southern Breeze Co-Assistant Regional Advisor. You'll find her at wik'18, in the sessions and the intensives, taking really great notes. She's also a pro at answering any questions you might have--just ask!


Monday, February 19, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: The Informal Critiques!



____    Want 4-6 fresh eyes to give you feedback about your illustration or story’s opening pages?
____    Want to hear or see the latest and greatest works in progress from your peers?
____    Want to be able to give your work one last polish before you send it off after the conference to our amazing WIK faculty?!

If you answered “Yes” to even one of these questions, you need to participate in the Informal Critiques at WIK’18. 

SO, for these “Yes” people, and those already sold on actively participating in Southern Breeze’s Informal Critiques, skip ahead and read way below for the nitty-gritty about the Informal Critiques.


REASON ONE: THE COST.  Sorry, not valid. You can get feedback from 5-6 fellow writers or illustrators for FREE! All you need to do to participate is read and listen to their work, then give them feedback too.

REASON TWO: I’M WORRIED SOMEONE WILL STEAL MY STORY/ILLUSTRATION IDEA. Again, not valid. It’s commonly said that there’s only one genuine story, and the rest is in the telling. For example, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, is written about a fairly-common literary trope – a wizarding school for kids set in a castle with fantastical elements - however, J.K. Rawlings’ excellent telling of this story brought her characters to life and stole our hearts. If you are really worried about idea theft, you can register your work with the US Copyright Office for a nominal charge. Here’s the link to the FAQ page: https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-register.html. It’s been my experience that suggestions given to me by other writers have helped me impro­­ve my work so much, the benefits outweigh any real risk of idea theft.

This same logic applies to illustrators, where if you ask three illustrators to provide mock-ups of the same picture book page, they will come up with three very different samples emphasizing either different elements of the story or the same story elements differently.
REASON THREE: I’M WORRIED ABOUT RECEIVING CRITICISM: OK, we here at Southern Breeze strongly encourage the sandwich method for critiquing. It works like this: you say something you like about someone else’s work, then you make a constructive suggestion for improving it, then you end with another comment about what you liked. Our work are our babies after all, and so we need to treat them and each other gently. Another gauge with regards to criticism is that two people can disagree based on personal likes and dislikes, but if three people offer the same suggestion for improvement, you may want to give that suggestion some serious thought. What I frequently do with suggestions like these is rewrite my work using the suggestion, then take a week off from the writing. At the end of the week, I reread both versions and see which one is more appealing.  

I hope I’ve addressed your concerns, and that you will join me in making the most we can of every opportunity offered to us at wik’18 by participating in the Informal Critiques on Saturday. See you soon!

Yours in Writing, T. K. Read, Critique Group Leader, Southern Breeze


Wik’18 Nitty Gritty:


WHEN:    SATURDAY APPROX. 4:30-6:00 (Immediately Following Last Session). There Will Be Over-Flow to Sunday Morning at the Same Location Beginning At 10:00 AM.


FORMAT: Group leaders will pick up a paddle with their group number and a copy of the updated sign-up sheet from the Critique Group display and take it to a table in the cafeteria where they can sit with 4-6 participants. They will hold up their paddle until their group members join them. They will also be responsible for moving the critiques along so that everyone has an opportunity to share. Each participant reads their work out loud as others follow along. When finished, the leader moves the discussion around the table, and stops it when time is up (15-20 minutes for reading and discussion depending on number present). For those wanting to continue the dialogue on their work with their Informal Critique partners, you will have access to the Cafeteria Sunday morning beginning at 10:00am.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Soar with Southern Breeze's Mentors!

Oh, for a Mentor!

If that thought has crossed your mind, this may be your chance! The Southern Breeze mentorship program provides 8 months of back and forth discussion and direction for lucky writers.

Drumroll please \.\.\.\.\.\.\.  Our illustrious mentors for 2018 are:

For Young Adult writers, Janice Hardy, awesome author of a teen fantasy trilogy, The Healing Wars, has come on board. So, if you love dragons, magic, creating worlds, and names like Aeryn or Taureil, this could be a perfect fit! Of course, you don’t have to write fantasy to apply for this YA mentorship. Plot, structure, characterization and voice cross all types of writing.

We have three terrific middle grade mentors – Kami Kinard, Lisa Lewis Tyre and Jamie Dodson.
Kami write humorous novels, which is so hard!  Her books The Boy Problem and The Boy Project are with Scholastic Publishers. She is well published in shorter formats as well. If you need to exercise your funny bone, Kami is the mentor for you!

Lisa writes contemporary stories with strong characters. LAST IN A LONG LINE OF REBELS and Hope in the Holler, with Nancy Paulsen Books, both garnered excellent reviews. Lisa masterfully weaves historical details into her writing.  Learn from a master!

Jamie writes the Nick Grant Adventure series and other histrical fiction. He also published nonfiction magazine articles. If you love to blend fact with fiction, he could be a terrific mentor for you!

Two picture book authors are available as mentors – Tracey M. Cox and Jo S. Kittinger.

Tracey has eleven books with Guardian Angel Publishing, so if you are interested in that company, Tracey can provide the inside scoop. Additionally, she has two books with other publishers. Non-rhyming picture books are her specialty. Tracey is both an author and illustrator, so she can offer you a unique perspective!

Jo is offering to mentor both picture books and easy readers, so if you like to write both, she’s the one for you. Fiction or nonfiction, rhyming or not, she is open to a wide range of picture book styles. Jo has published over 25 books with traditional publishers. Her latest book is ALABAMA, in the MY UNITED STATES series through Scholastic.

This year we have four fabulous nonfiction mentors – Avery Hurt, Heather Montgomery, Jennifer Swanson, and Jodi Wheeler-Toppen. Nonfiction is often overlooked, but offers greater opportunity for publication.

Avery often writes about science, social studies and science fiction, but her interests are broad. She has authored over a dozen books for children and young adults. She is one of the authors of the Weird But True series from National Geographic Kids Books, plus a regular contributor to magazines. This broad experience makes her an appealing mentor for many!

Heather gets kids excited about nature and often incorporates the yuck factor to draw their attention. She has over a dozen books with major publishers. Her latest is SOMETHING ROTTEN: A FRESH LOOK AT ROADKILL. An award-winning educator, Heather knows how to offer constructive direction. Picture book or Middle Grade non-fiction writers would benefit from her expertise.

Jennifer loves science, evidenced by over 30 nonfiction books. She has received excellent reviews and accolades for her work. SUPER GEAR: NANOTECHNOLOGY AND SPORTS TEAM UP was named an NSTA Best STEM book of 2017 and got a starred review in Booklist. So, if you are a science geek, Jennifer would be a perfect mentor for you.

Jodi loves to experiment as her books reveal. Her love of science is contagious! As a former teacher, Jodi knows how to communicate and direct others to improve in their work. Jodi has over 10 books with major publishers, including National Geographic Kids, Capstone and NSTA Press. Jodi can help you make science exciting and understandable.

A magazine article or story is often the first publishing credit an author receives. But magazines are not only a stepping stone on the path to book publishing. Magazines offer rewarding exposure and income for writers. Johnna Stein is offering to mentor an author for magazine writing.
Johnna is a former teacher and loves helping others advance, whether it be as a writer, a reading coach or advocate. She has multiple publishing credits and would love to help you on your path to publication.

Learn more about the mentorship program and access the application form at the Southern Breeze website.

TIME IS SHORT! APPLICATION DEADLINE IS February 25. Mentors will be announced in early March and the relationship will run through October.

Jo Kittinger is the Southern Breeze SCBWI Mentorship Coordinator. When she's not writing picture books, she's busy reading 'em to her grands. If you have questions about anything mentorship-related, she's the one to contact!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Everyone a Winner at WIK'18: One-on-Ones Still Available!

We're this close to the 30 day deadline for wik'18!

But this close means you still have time to sign up for a one-on-one session. And with four agents, there's someone for any kidlit writer:

John Cusick represents picture books, middle grade, and young adult writers. And he's an author himself. Is he a good fit for you?

Erica Silverman is with Stimola Literary, a small boutique agency. They're very selective, but they might just select you.

Kristy Hunter loves voice-driven stories, so if you have one of those in a middle grade or young adult novel, she'd love to talk to you.

And Claire Easton's sweet spot is picture books, but she also represents chapter books and middle grade. If you're one of those writers who switches back and forth between age groups, she may have the advice you need.

In fact, with twenty minutes in a one-on-one, you're sure to get plenty of advice! But you'll need to register for wik'18 first, and then sign up for your one-on-one even quicker. Because we're this close to filling up!


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

Cathy C. Hall has been so busy getting everyone to introduce themselves (herself? himself?) that she completely forgot her own introduction! She lives in the metro Atlanta area (which is a fancy way of saying the suburbs) and she writes for all ages. Her leveled readers are published in Korea and (possibly? unlikely?) legendary!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

EVERYONE A WINNER AT WIK'18: Deborah Halverson and Teen Talk Tips

The deadline for submitting manuscripts for formal critiques may have passed (hope you all got your manuscripts in on time!), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still great opportunities for those attending wik’18 to enhance their conference experience with optional activities. 

There are still slots available for One-on-One sessions with an agent, and Linda Sue Park, Matt Ringler, Janice Hardy, Heather Montgomery and Jodi Wheeler Toppen, Kami Kinard and Rebecca Petruck, and Deborah Halverson are all teaching morning intensives on Sunday.

Deborah Halverson is one of SCBWI’s superstar teachers. When it comes to writing for teens, she wrote the book – literally, THE book on how to write for teens and young adults.

We hear it all the time: you need to have the right “voice” for your teenage character. Easier said than done when it comes to writing dialogue. For some of us it has been decades since we were teens ourselves, and have you tried to actually talk with teens the way teens talk?

Oh, the way they look at you, like you’re all creepy or weird even if you get the jargon just right. There’s just something about an AARP member throwing around teen slang in a conversation that feels awkward.

So if you can’t converse in teen-talk with teens to make sure you get it right, what can you do to develop that skill?

I was lucky enough to attend one of Deborah’s intensives on writing for a teen audience while at an SCBWI conference, and know that those attending her intensive will come out with new tools in their writing toolbox. You won’t want to miss a single tip, resource url or sneaky way to eavesdrop on teens talking with teens. Way better than camping out at the food court in the mall.


Claudia Pearson, Regional Advisor for Southern Breeze, is a retired trial attorney, earned a masters degree from Hollins University in Children's Literature, speaks French, and once worked as a sous chef in a French restaurant. She writes a bit of everything and has published two books about children's books.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Mentorship Opens!

It’s time! Mentorship applications are NOW being accepted.

The Southern Breeze mentorship program is geared toward writers who have been working at their craft for some years – attending workshops and conferences, submitting manuscripts, but so far, not finding success in the genre in which they are currently working. The mentorship program spans 8 months, over which time there are back and forth discussions about the work in progress. Details of what can be expected are on the website.

I especially encourage writers of nonfiction to apply for mentorship. We have several very accomplished nonfiction authors on staff. When I was a young writer with a stack of rejections, Larry Dane Brimner said at a conference -- "If you are having trouble breaking into publishing, try nonfiction. There is greater demand and less competition." I followed his advice and got my first contract within a year.

So, if you have been writing for a while and have hit a plateau, a mentorship may be the perfect jolt to advance your writing to the next level. We can’t promise publication, but do our best to help you advance your career.

Check out the list of available mentors on the website. DON’T DELAY! Application deadline is February 25. Mentors will be announced in early March and the relationship will run through October.

Happy Writing!

Jo S. Kittinger

Jo Kittinger is the Southern Breeze SCBWI Mentorship Coordinator. When she's not writing picture books, she's busy reading 'em to her grands!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Breezers In Your Neighborhood: February!


Come take a look and see if there's a Breezer in your neighborhood:

Bobbie Canada, our Local Liaison in the Pine Mountain/Columbus, Georgia area invites all to a special speaker/workshop event.

When:     Saturday, February 3, 9:30 to 11:30 AM
Where:    Longleaf Library/Post Office
               Pine Mountain, GA
Who:     Author Betsy Hollis Frey

Be prepared for a "critique breakout" after the presentation. (Frey's books will be available for sale following the program.)

Breezer Sara Lynn Cramb would love to see you at this reception and gallery show:

Georgia GNSI Members Show
February 15 to March 12
The Gallery at the Galloway School
215 W. Wieuca Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30342

Reception/opening at 5:30 February 15

This show brings together the works of ten science illustrators working in Georgia, most of whom are members of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.

Ginger Stewart will be speaking at "Night of Aspiring Artists." Says Ginger, "It's about how art and illustration work together to tell stories."

When:    February 22, 6:00 to 7:30
Where:   Walker Elementary
               13051 Northside Rd
               Northport, AL

Also on February 22nd, Claire Datnow will present a session at the Environmental Education Association of Alabama conference. In "Environmental Detectives," environmental sleuths will role play how to investigate, and then solve, a mysterious environmental crime. For more information, visit their website; it's not too late to register for the conference.

And speaking of registering for conferences, there's still time to register for all the fun at wik'18! There are spots available in intensives, and plenty of agents are waiting to help you advance your career in the One-on-Ones. There are even a few days left to sign up for a manuscript critique. But you can't join us for the fun and activities unless you register first! Join us at wik'18 and meet the Southern Breezers from your neighborhood!

(If you have an event for Breezers in your Neighborhood, please send the information to cathyhall55@hotmail.com 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.)