Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Benefit of Entering The Southern Breeze Writing Contest (Besides Winning!)

June might mean vacation for the kids, but around Southern Breeze, June means working on manuscripts for the Southern Breeze Writing Contest! 

Southern Breeze sponsors two contests for its members: the Writing Contest (during June) and the Liz Conrad Illustrator Award (Accepts submissions in November and December). We love that we can offer this benefit because our contests provide a great opportunity for our members. How do they help you? Let me count the ways:

1. Our contests are judged by professionals in the industry. For our writing contest, your work is first judged by two published authors of our region. The top 15 entrants go on to the next round. This year, our writing contest boasts three agents from some of the top literary agents for children's authors. Professional feedback is invaluable--and it's free!

2. You are guaranteed professional critique. Southern Breeze uses the Gold Standard for critique which means that every person who enters the contest gets the same level of feedback, and you will receive at least two critiques. If you're lucky enough to move forward, you'll receive three critiques. The more feedback you receive, the more you will grow as a writer. (And the stronger, more sellable your manuscript will be!)

3. Anyone can enter as long as you are a current member of SCBWI Southern Breeze. Whether you are just starting your creative journey or you are a multi-published member who's been around for twenty years, you have the exact same chance of winning. The manuscripts are blind-judged which means that nowhere along the line does a judge know the name on the manuscript. New members can and do win all the time!

4. You can try, try again. It's completely allowable to enter the same manuscript more than once. So take your past feedback, apply it to your manuscript, and try again. (The published authors who judge the first round of manuscripts change every year, so don't worry about entering the same-old, same-old. You will get fresh eyes on your work.)

5. Learn how to do your homework. Research the professional judges in the category you're submitting! If you have several different manuscripts, think positive and send the one that's the best fit for the pro judge. It will be good practice for you when you start pitching your manuscript out into the wide world of agents and editors.

There are probably more benefits to the Southern Breeze Writing Contest but honestly, I have a manuscript to polish and time is running out! (Entries are due by midnight on June 30th. Please see the website here for more information. And good luck!)

~Cathy C. Hall

Cathy Hall is one of the Assistant Regional Advisors in Southern Breeze. She has entered the writing contest since she became a member, and she actually won First Place the first year she entered. She hasn't won since but she's received a ton of great feedback so that's like winning, right?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Joan Broerman Book Basket

If you've attended a Southern Breeze conference in the last twenty years or more, then you've seen the Joan Broerman book basket. You might have even donated a book or two to the basket. But have you ever wondered what the story is behind the book basket?

I love a good mystery, and so a little sleuthing around Southern Breeze was necessary to track down the origin. It all began when then Regional Advisor Joan Broerman (Yep, the basket is named for her!) heard Harold Underdown give a keynote speech at a conference, exhorting attendees to support library funding. And so the idea for the basket was born: at each Southern Breeze conference, attendees are invited to donate books to a basket. At the end of the conference, one lucky winner is awarded the basket, but the real winner is the library or school that receives all the books!

This year at wik'18, Laura Tucker, herself a librarian, won the basket. She delivered books--and there are a ton of books collected!--to three libraries at Homewood elementary schools: Hall Kent, Edgewood, and Shades Cahaba. In Laura's words, "They were beyond delighted by the books and did not have them in their collection due to limited book budgets."

And so the Joan Broerman Book Basket brought a happy ending to lots of readers!

Southern Breeze is proud to support literacy for children, and you can be a part of providing books to kids in Alabama, Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle, too. Check out SCBWI's website for more information and to find members near you. Join us today and bring your story to kids (and maybe donate one of your very own books to our Joan Broerman Book Basket!)