Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Breezers in the Neighborhood: JUNE!

Listen up, Breezers! There are only TWO more Show-Mo events left in the Southern Breeze neighborhood, so if you want help with your manuscript, come join us:

When:     Saturday, June 2
               10 AM to 1 PM

Where:    Five Forks Public Library
                Lawrenceville, GA

Contact:  Cathy Hall

(Please note: Cathy's event includes guest speaker Rebecca Petruck, author of BOY BITES BUG, who'll help get the bugs out of your manuscripts!)

Bring at least 4 copies of your PB manuscript; for novel manuscripts, bring 4 copies of the first 10 pages if possible. Contact Cathy if you have any questions. And as always, local liaison events are free and open to the public so bring a friend and share Southern Breeze!

When:   Saturday, June 2
              2 to 5 PM

Where:   Kirkwood Public Library
              11 Kirkwood Rd. NE
              Atlanta, GA  

For more information and to reserve your place RSVP to Temika Grooms:

Reminder: The Southern Breeze Writing Contest is open to members only. Find out more information at our website.

Oops! There are TWO more Show-Mos that were inadvertently left off the list!

Bobbie Weldon Canada has the following events scheduled:

June 16, 10:00 to 11:30 CMT at the Auburn Public Library, 749 Thach Ave., Auburn, AL

June 23, 10:00 to 11:30 ET, Harris Co. Public Library, 7511 GA Highway 116, Hamilton, GA

The Southern Breeze Gallery featuring original works of our children's book illustrators will continue through June 30th at the Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore Street, Decatur, GA. Please come out and see how talented our illustrators are!

If you have an event around the Southern Breeze neighborhood this summer, please email Cathy Hall with all of your information. We'd love to help get the word out AND the Breezers to your event!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Southern Breeze Gallery Show!

Memorial Day weekend starts with a colorful splash as the Decatur Arts Festival opens Friday evening. For many artists and illustrators in Southern Breeze, it's an opening for them, too, as the Southern Breeze Annual Gallery Show kicks off!

Come out and join us for art talk and children's books at the reception or join in the festival fun all weekend  long. But the Gallery show lasts all month long, so if you're in Decatur in June, come by the library and see what illustrators are up to in the Southern Breeze neighborhood!

Contact Southern Breeze Illustrator Coordinator Temika Grooms for more information.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Southern Breeze Portfolio Award Winner Lori Nichols!

The SCBWI Southern Breeze Portfolio Award is an honor we give to an illustrator attending our annual regional conference.  It is always a pleasure to see the level of talent on display on the portfolio tables.  It is fashioned after the SCBWI National Conference Portfolio Show and is judged by our esteemed faculty during the conference. 
The winner for the 2018 Southern Breeze Portfolio Show is Lori Nichols.  The judges reviewed the portfolios for quality of imagery, presentation and suitability for the children’s literary market.  Ironically, and not by design, Lori won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators New York Winter conference portfolio award in 2014.  We're chatting with Lori today about developing an award-winning portfolio:

Lori, congratulations on winning the 2018 Southern Breeze Portfolio Show! We are all striving to make our work better and we’d like to get some tips from you.  Talk with us about what inspires your choice of characters and how you bring them to life?

Thanks! My characters usually come from hours of playing around in my sketchbook. I like to set aside time to get to know my characters and that involves exploring their emotions. I draw them happy, mad, sad, frustrated, and ambivalent as I search for their emotional blueprint. The emotions are the real essence of bringing a character to life. The setting always comes last.

We love to learn about the spaces where artists work because they vary greatly.  What is the one thing you can’t live without when it comes to art making? What do you use to create your illustrations?  Do you have a special process or something that helps you get in the work flow?

The one thing I couldn’t live without would be pencils and paper. Those things bring me the most enjoyment. I use pencil on paper, ink on Bristol board, and gouache on watercolor paper. I like to experiment. Most of my books have been done with traditional pencil on Mylar or quilled ink on Bristol board. I then scan the original images into Photoshop to clean them up and color them. I also create traditional watercolor washes or acrylic textures to use as backgrounds. Sometimes I will use the textures to create custom digital brushes. 
My process is kind of a dance: sketch, draw, scan, color, repeat. I go back and forth between medium when working on a project, and I like to set aside warm-up time before diving into the finished product. 

Can you give us any tips on curating our work (for online and in your physical portfolio) to decide on what should be included within the body of work?

One mistake I made a lot when I graduated from art school was trying to show everything I created. I learned it’s better to choose only your best work and to try to find your voice. An art director wants to see your ability to create a character and move them through a story. Showing one or two characters in several different scenes with different emotions is more useful to an art director than showing her you can do 15 different styles. It’s OK to have different styles, but character development is more important. If you want to show that you have a few different styles, make sure you divide your portfolio up into those categories and mention in a divider sleeve that you work in a variety of styles. But do try to find your voice within those styles.

Portfolios can vary widely.  How did you make the choice on the style, size, materials, etc. of your physical portfolio?

When I attended the New York SCBWI conference they had specifics on portfolio sizes. I choose one that fits within their guidelines. If you have too large of a portfolio then your work may be disqualified. Remember, their reviews have hundreds of portfolios and they need to be able to fit all of them on a limited number of tables. If you’re going to spend the time and money to attend a national conference it’s worth doing your research on their rules. I would also recommend scanning all your work and having it output instead of showing the original art. This will allow you more flexibility to size things as well as keep your original art safe from damage.

Tell us about how you get your new work out into the children’s book market. 

 Luckily I have an agent who pushes my work but for those who are just starting out, social media is a wonderful tool. Follow every art director, publisher, illustrator, and writer you can find–especially those whose work inspires you. There are several different communities out there on social media to help you. A lot of it is just showing up and putting yourself out there. Your work won’t be seen if you don’t show it. Also, have a website! There are so many easy website building sites out there. I use WIX.

The pictures on your website show you having a great time with the kids doing school visits.  Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other illustrators who may be interested in getting into school visits?

I think if you are a debut author or illustrator it’s OK to do a few school visits pro bono to get your feet wet. I’m not saying to do this forever and not suggesting giving your future presentations away for free, but there will be a learning curve on what works for you and sometimes you need to just practice. It’s a win-win. The school wins and you win experience with speaking in front of children. I registered for a public speaking conference with Highlights in Pennsylvania when I started speaking at schools and conferences. I needed feedback and guidance. Really, I needed training! It also helps to see other authors speak at schools. Inquire at local school if they have any authors coming in for speaking engagements and ask if they would let you listen to the presentation.

Do you have any special projects or work coming up that you’d like to share?

I’m working on two books right now. One book is with Nancy Paulsen at Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House and one with Boyds Mills Press. That’s about all I can say right now...but I’m really looking forward to both of these books when they come out.

 Where can we learn more about your work?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

PALing Around

So, say you are a Southern Breeze member who happens to have a book/magazine article/illustration published. So what? Congratulations is what! And I hope you are PALing around with the Southern Breeze PALs.

The PAL membership category within SCBWI stands for Published and Listed. To learn more, visit As the PAL Coordinator for Southern Breeze, I help PALs get what they need from the organization. If you are pre-published, don’t worry, you aren’t being left out – the PAL activities are specific to their needs (you probably don’t want to sit through a long discussion on how to manage an option clause for a 5th book).

Some current SB PAL activities:

·         Facebook Southern Breeze PALs: A great place to ask questions. And learn about resources like the YALSA List of YA Authors by State.

·         KidLit Connects: Periodic online chats with librarians on topics of interest to people deeply involved with kidlit. Recent topics: censorship, presenting to librarians, story time at the library. Have a topic you’d like to discuss? Contact Heather.

·         AJC Decatur Book Festival: Southern Breeze is working on hosting a booth at this fabulous book festival. A great option for PALs to sell books and pre-published folks to learn more about book selling.

If you have questions about any of this, if you are a PAL and not receiving periodic emails from me, or if you have ideas about how we can better serve PAL members, please contact me, Heather L. Montgomery, sipsey21 (at) Hotmail (dot) com.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Southern Breeze Writing Contest

Remember "if-then" statements? Like "If you read the Southern Breeze blog, then you're going to know what's going on in SCBWI in Georgia, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle."

And here's one more for you: If the Show-Mo events have started near you, then the Southern Breeze Writing Contest is coming up! Every June, you're invited to send in your manuscripts in the hopes that our judges will award you a prize. This year, we've lined up a slate of super judges!

For Illustrated Text (Includes fiction and non-fiction picture books, early readers, leveled readers, and illustrated chapter books):

Lara Perkins, Associate Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency

For Middle Grade (Includes novels in verse):

Hannah Fergesen, KT Literary Agency

For Young Adult (Includes novels in verse):

Elizabeth Bewley, Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

Check out the judges and see what they like! Because if you do your homework, then you might find the perfect manuscript to send to the contest. And please check the Southern Breeze website here for details about the contest like formatting, word count, and where to send the manuscripts. All the rules are there, including this final if-then:

If you are a member of Southern Breeze and/or attended wik'18, then you may enter the Southern Breeze Writing Contest. (And if you are not a member, then what are you waiting for? Come join us today!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Breezers in the Neighborhood: SHOW-MO May!

Show-Mo's starting early this year with events all over our region! Come join Breezers at these free events, and remember, you do not have to be a member of SCBWI Southern Breeze to attend a Show-Mo; we'd love for you to see what SCBWI Southern Breeze is all about! (However, you MUST be a member to participate in the Southern Breeze Writing Contest this June.)

So on with the Show-Mo!

For illustrators in ALL areas of Southern Breeze, Temika Grooms has something special planned. She'll have an online review, 5 to 7PM on Sunday, June 3. Please contact Temika for more details with attn: #ShowMoILL18. (


When:      Saturday, May 19th
                10 AM to Noon

Where:     Earnest & Hadley Booksellers
                 1928 7th Street
                 Tuscaloosa, AL

Contact:    Monique Fields


When:      Wednesday, May 23
                 1 to 3 PM

Where:     Hoover Public Library
                 Birmingham, AL

Contact:   Claire Datnow


When:       Wednesday, May 2

Where:       NW-Florida

Contact:     Suzanne Purvis


When:       Saturday, May 5
                  10 AM to 11:30 AM

Where:      Troup-Harris Regional Library
                  115 Alford Street
                  LaGrange, GA

Contact:     Bobbie Weldon Canada

(Please note that this event serves the Alabama/ Opelika area as well as Georgia/Pine Mountain.)

When:       Saturday, May 12
                  10 AM to 12 Noon

Where:      915 Commercial Street
                 Conyers, GA

Contact:   Tk Read

(Please note: TK's second event has been cancelled. Check out some of the other Show-Mo events nearby!)

When:      Saturday, May 19
                 11AM to 1 PM

Where:     Southwest Chatham Library, Children's Activity Room
                 Savannah, GA

Contact:    Melissa Miles


When:      Saturday, May 19
                10 AM to 4 PM

Where:     Sautee Nacoochee Center
                 Sautee, GA

Contact:   Paula Puckett

(Please note: Paula's event is "Write-In, Draw-In." Please contact her for more details about this fun day for writers AND illustrators!)


When:     Saturday, June 2
               10 AM to 1 PM

Where:    Five Forks Public Library
                Lawrenceville, GA

Contact:  Cathy Hall

(Please note: Cathy's event includes guest speaker Rebecca Petruck, who'll help get the bugs out of your manuscripts!)

Contact the Local Liaisons listed for more details re: what to bring and how a show-mo works for you. Hope to see you (and your fabulous manuscripts) soon!