Thursday, January 31, 2019

Spring To Success With SpringMingle'19 and ELLEN HOPKINS (Part II)

In anticipation of our SpringMingle novel intensive (which looks AWESOME), Conference Coordinator Randall Bonser interviewed multiple-award-winning author Ellen Hopkins about her most famous YA book series, and about her practice of writing in verse. She also included the homework she wants attendees to do before the workshop. If you haven't signed up for the novel intensive yet, there are still a few more spots (but they are going quickly, so... ):

Do you find that teens are still reading books? Or has anything changed in teen reading habits in the years you’ve been writing for teens?

Teens are absolutely still reading books, and they prefer print to screen. I think the difference between then and now is the sheer number of choices they have. There are books for every teen. 

What kind of habits would you advise for writers who want to succeed in YA fiction?

To spend as much time around teens as you can, in a number of different settings, if possible. And to read, read, read, YA, in its many forms. 

What are some of the things you’re going to focus on when you teach at Springmingle Atlanta 2019?

On the writing side, the value of imagery, sensory detail, and white space on the page. These things are critical to writing prose as well as verse, and all levels of kidlit. Also, balancing personal and professional time, marketing tips (including a discussion about online platforms), and the importance of inclusion, social justice and activism as writers. 

What are some homework assignments you want to assign to writers coming to your workshop at Springmingle?

I’d like everyone to bring a couple of pages of a WIP (Work In Progress) to my intensive sessions so we can see how playing with those sensory details and white space can create mood, and draw readers closer to the characters. And it would be good for those who already have websites or online platforms to bring laptops so we can look at what they’ve already got and how to spice it up.

Thanks, Ellen, for a sneak peek into what we can expect from your intensives at Springmingle'19. Plus, Ellen Hopkins will be delivering our Keynote at Saturday's conference. So you heard Randall Bonser--spots are going quickly! Register today!


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Spring To Success With SpringMingle'19 and BOOK LAUNCHES AND SALES!

PAL Coordinator Heather Montgomery has this special message for all our published members:

Every year we look forward to celebrating the successes of Southern Breeze members. At Springmingle we do that through book launches and sales. Come hear Breezers share their stories. Get your hands on books nurtured by Southern Breeze. And, take home autographed books!


Friday Signings 

4:00 – 5:00 PM Books by Southern Breezers

5:00 – 5:30 PM Books by Faculty

Saturday Signings 

11:30 – 12:30 PM

5:00 – 6:30 PM

Saturday Book Launches 

12:30 – 1:00 PM

3:00 – 3:30 PM

During book launches, Southern Breezers will each have 3 minutes to share their story. Attendees will hear of the grit it takes to get a book published, glean tips from these published members, and gain inspiration.

Published members, submit your recently released books! Slots for sales and launches are limited and available on a first-come/first-served basis. Please select “Book Sales” and/or “Book Launch” on your registration form and don’t forget:

 • For launches, submit your cover images to by February 15th.
 • For book sales, submit one book via this form:
 • Note: these activities are open to all members who have published books.

But you can't sell your books OR launch your books if you're not at SpringMingle'19! Spots are filling fast so register today--we can't wait to see you AND your books!


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Spring To Success With SpringMingle'19 and ELLEN HOPKINS!

This year's Conference Coordinator, Randall Bonser, caught up with multiple-award-winning author Ellen Hopkins to ask her a few questions about her most famous Young Adult book series and her practice of writing in verse:

What is the draw for writing books in verse? Is this form becoming more or less popular?

For the author, writing in verse is a challenge. Every word must count, and poetic devices such as imagery, alliteration, metaphor, etc. are vital, and must be done well. Verse novels appeal to a variety of readers, however, especially reluctant or hard-to-reach readers, and have become a necessary kidlit format. They are absolutely more popular now than when I began writing them. 

Do you think poetry distances the reader from the difficult action bits, or draws them closer?

Poetry draws the reader inside the characters, so it’s more like living the story than being told the story. This is exactly what appeals to readers who love verse novels. 

Do concrete poems affect readers differently than “free verse” poems? Is there an added emotional layer?

Concrete poems add visual interest to the page, and for younger generations who grow up on a smorgasbord of visual elements (think screens), this adds appeal. 

Why is the plot element of a teen taking drugs important for you to write about?

I think most people know that my first YA novel, Crank, plus its sequels, Glass and Fallout, were inspired by my beautiful daughter’s fall into meth addiction. Watch the downward spiral from straight-A kid to prisoner made me want to change teen lives for the better by showing how easily addiction can happen to even the best and brightest kids. 

What feedback have you gotten from teen readers on the Crank trilogy?

Everything from “I was headed that way, but your books made me change my mind” to “thank you for the insight into my parents’ (or sibling’s or friend’s) addiction.” The books have done much good over the years and continue to do so today. Crank not only remains in print after fourteen years but is regularly replaced in classrooms and school libraries. 

Have you been stigmatized at all by parents or teachers or librarians for your raw coverage of some of these difficult topics?

Of course. However, the pushback was much stronger in the past. I think today people understand the power of novels like those I write to do good.

Come back Thursday for more of Ellen Hopkins' interview, particularly for those who've signed up for her novel intensive. (You'll want to get a head start because pssst! There's homework, y'all!)

And if you haven't registered for Friday's writing intensives, sign up today! There's still room but space is going fast!

                                 CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR SPRINGMINGLE'19 TODAY!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Spring To Success with SpringMingle'19 and WRITING INTENSIVES!

Our intensive menu at SpringMingle ’19 includes full-day programs focused on the needs of picture book writers and novelists. Spend all day immersed in one category or mix it up with one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Here’s a taste of what will be happening in each:

Picture Books: Three indie-pubbed authors will share their knowledge and experience. Agent Kevin Lewis will reveal “The Truth about Trucks, Trains, and Toddlers: Creating Enduring Works for the Very Young.” After lunch Agent Alexandra Penfold will teach on “The Joy of Revision: Precision Makes your Manuscript Shine.”

Novels: Editor Aubrey Poole starts the day with a look at character development using the Hero’s Journey. Then Editor Jessica Anderson will go in-depth on revision. After lunch best-selling novelist Ellen Hopkins will address two advanced topics: the power of white space and a different look at sensory detail.

Both intensives conclude with roundtable discussions with your fellow attendees. Don’t miss out on these opportunities to take your work to the next level!

There's still room in the intensives but they're filling up fast! Take a look at the SpringMingle'19 brochure and check out all the information so you get the most bang for your conference bucks.

And you can save some bucks if you win the Spread the Word Contest! Just tell your friends on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other social media hangouts about SpringMingle'19 and then drop us a line to let us know you spread the word: It's time to Spring to Success with us at SpringMingle'19!

                                            CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Spring To Success With SpringMingle'19 and EDITORS!

We’re delighted to have a dynamic duo of editors presenting at SpringMingle ’19. Here’s a little bit of what we can expect from each of them:

Jessica Anderson is an Assistant Editor at Christy Ottaviano Books (an imprint of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). She is looking for lyrical picture book biographies, quirky middle grade, and gritty contemporary realistic YA. She will be teaching part of the novel intensive on Friday and two breakout sessions on Saturday.

Aubrey Poole is an Editor at Hachette’s JIMMY Patterson Books imprint. She wants commercial picture book, middle grade, and YA projects with authentic, diverse voices, strong commercial hooks, and taut pacing. She will be teaching in both the pro and novel intensives on Friday as well as two breakouts on Saturday.

Both of these talented editors are offering formal critiques, an excellent opportunity to get professional advice on your work. Book yours before slots fill!

And don't forget to Spread the Word! You can win $50 off your Springmingle (which means you can save enough to get one of those formal critiques)! Find more details about the Spread the Word Contest here. But you can't win if you don't register for Springmingle'19!

                                               CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Spring to Success with SpringMingle'19 and the PRO Track!

PAL Coordinator Heather Montgomery sent this very important message:

Calling all published and professional creators! We’ve got something special to look forward to in March.

At this year’s Springmingle, Southern Breeze is offering their first-ever PRO Track Intensive. What exactly is PRO Track? A Friday filled with sessions on advanced topics. Want straight talk on advances, marketing, and longevity in your career? Author/agent/all-around rock star Alexandra Penfold’s got a session on that. How about marketing tips from an author who has had 14 books on the NY Times bestselling list? Ellen Hopkins has got that covered. See, these are topics for folks with experience, from folks with experience.

PRO Track will be Friday, March 15, 2019 and will be held at the Decatur Presbyterian Church, next door to the public library in Decatur, GA. It is open to any attendee who has published work for children.

What if you love the idea of learning at an advanced level, but there’s a topic in the picture book or novel intensive that’s calling to you? Really want to hear Kevin Lewis speak about creating works for the very young? Absolutely can’t stand to miss Jessica Anderson’s intensive on revision tricks? You are in luck. This year when you register for the full day of intensives, you can choose different tracks in the morning and the afternoon. Brilliant! Southern Breeze nonfiction author Jennifer Swanson will be coordinating the PRO Track and she'll be happy to answer any questions you might have about this new feature. You can contact her at

And there’s more. The esteemed Joe Davich, Executive Director of the Georgia Center for the Book, will be leading a session on building connections with librarians – we can all use some of that. Plus he’ll share how books are considered for ALA and state awards. Can any of us afford to miss that!?!

PAL members of Southern Breeze often request the space and time to learn from one another. By sheer virtue of attending together, this intensive can offer that; however, Southern Breeze wanted to offer additional opportunities to engage. The last session of the day will be roundtable discussions, each on a topic of attendees’ choice. Bring your burning questions, pick your colleagues’ brains, leave with fresh ideas and deeper connections.

So this Pro Track has a lot to offer the experienced creator, but don’t forget about the rest of the conference. There will be book launches, book sales on Friday and Saturday, and (thanks to more break-out options this year) Springmingle has several advanced sessions on Saturday.

But, what if you are pre-published? Will you be left out? No worries – there will be plenty at the conference for you. For one, there will be lots of published folks to rub elbows with (and buy books from!). Plus, just look at the master-level sessions you have to look forward to once you get that first “Yes!” Southern Breeze has something for everyone.

It’s called Springmingle, but I think it should be called Springforward. Sure there’s opportunities to mix and mingle, and no fooling we love and need that, but the pace of learning can be lightning fast. We hope to see you at Southern Breeze’s annual conference!

Thanks, Heather! And though the early bird savings have flown away, you can still get a discount on Springmingle if you win the Spread the Word Contest! All you need to do is blog, tweet, update, Instagram...any way you want to spread the word about Springmingle'19 is great! But it won't count for the contest if you don't let us know! So start spreading the word, and then send how you spread the word to Spring to Success at Springmingle'19!

                                    CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY!

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Inside Scoop on Illustrators' Day 2019

Illustrator Coordinator TeMika Grooms is here with all the info on Illustrators' Day:

Join the Children's Book Illustration Community for our day dedicated to The Art of Storytelling.

We will dive into developing craft and the business to building a career as an illustrator in a competitive market. There are many paths to publication. We want you to be a strong visual storyteller no matter what path you choose.

 Keeping your work fresh as you grow your voice is important for illustrators.We'll kick off the day with Mark Braught, Award-Winning Illustrator and Educator. He will break down creating Self-Promotional Pieces Outside Your Client Projects. This insightful presentation will explore the difficult process of creating an illustration for yourself, why it’s important to keep this in your practice and how to approach this daunting challenge.

Maria Middleton, Art Director for Candlewick Press, will challenge us in Quick on the Draw! Hands on Workshop & Critique, a hands-on craft workshop, because illustrators need to work fast in this ever-changing industry. Bring your pens, pencils and sketch pads to gain valuable feedback from Art Director Maria Middleton as she takes you through a hands-on activity and brief review of your work.

She will follow the craft session with a mentorship review that challenged mentees to act as author-illustrators and discover new characters for their work. The Drawing on Discovery Mentorship Review will take a close look at the process of discovering the magical, terrible, wonderful, and shocking world of characters for your next story. The art director will provide a live review of Picture Book spreads and Middle Grade covers created in the Illustration Mentorship. This is a great session for any author-illustrator seeking to learn more about the art of storytelling.

Kevin Lewis, Agent for the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, will delve into the Things Art School Will Never Teach You: Publishing Insights for Illustrators (Especially Those Who Endeavor to Write). This session will give valuable hints from experience as an editor to Loren Long, Tony DiTerlizzi, LeUyen Pham, Kadir Nelson, Cynthia Rylant, Matt Cordell, Brian Pinkney, Antionette Portis, and Dav Pilkey, as an author, and as a picture book fanatic.

We will also announce the 2019 Liz Conrad Award Winner in honor of Illustrator Liz Conrad. Make sure you bring your portfolios to showcase you work during the Portfolio Show and experience the fast-paced Quick Fire Portfolio Review! We’ll round out the day with a faculty panel, with the addition of Monica Odom, Agent for Liza Dawson Associates, as they give us final thoughts on how to position ourselves for success in the kids lit market.

Thanks, TeMika! There's still room for YOU at Illustrators' Day, March 15th in Decatur, GA--click here to register today!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Spring to Success with SpringMingle'19 and a PITCH PARTY!

This year, we’re starting the conference with a pitch party! I'm so excited, I can't stand it! We're all excited! But seriously, I may be a little too excited. And that won't be a good thing because there are rules for the Pitch Party and I need to remember 'em. So do you, if you want to participate. I think we should all take a deep breath and look at how the Pitch Party works:

1.       If you’re interested in presenting a pitch (IT’s FREE!), sign up when you register. Look for the button labeled “Start With a Pitch!”

2.       Perfect your pitch! (For more information about a pitch and what makes a good one, see this excellent post from Paula Yoo atTara Lazar’s blog. Or take a look around and research "giving a pitch" for writers. There's lots of good information available.

3.       Bring your pitch with you when you come for Springmingle’19.

4.       The morning of the conference, we’ll select 15 names from those who have signed up. We’ll announce the names at the beginning of the Pitch Party. YOU MUST BE IN ATTENDANCE AND READY TO PARTICIPATE. If you choose at that time NOT to participate, do not line up.

5.       Each person participating will have up to one minute to make the pitch. You may wish to read your pitch rather than memorize it. Either way, at one minute, you must stop.

6.       Each member of the Pitch Panel may or may not give feedback. Faculty will be given two minutes for the entire panel to respond so please listen carefully.

This is a new feature for Southern Breeze, so we'll be learning as you learn, too. Here’s the plan: we expect each pitch and the feedback to take three minutes. We hope to get through at least 12 pitches in the time allotted for this session. And we hope you’ll love this experience!

Don’t forget about our Spread the Word Contest, Breezers! Every time you spread the word—in a tweet, blog post, update or any social media—you’ll get an entry in the contest. The Breezer with the most entries will win $50 off registration, refunded to you when the contests ends (March 5th). For more details, check out this earlier post from our Southern Breeze blog.

So register today and get Early Bird savings and Spring to Success with SpringMingle'19 at the PITCH PARTY!

(And I sincerely hope no one--and by no one, I mean me--passes out from the excitement of it all!)


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Spring To Success with SpringMingle'19 and AGENTS!

We're so excited to bring a handful of helpful agents to SpringMingle'19! Here's a quick introduction to our stellar list:

Alexandra Penfold is a literary agent with Upstart Crow Literary Agency and an author herself with  a couple of published books. She represents children's book authors and illustrators, and she'll be presenting several sessions on the Friday writing intensive tracks as well as an advanced breakout session on Saturday.

Kevin Lewis is an agent with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, primarily focusing on writer-illustrators and diverse voices. He, too, is an author, with almost a dozen published picture books! He'll be very busy on Friday, with sessions at both the Picture Book Track and Illustrators' Day. And he'll join us on Saturday for a breakout session where he'll take a look at the #OwnVoices movement and other current publishing topics.

Monica Odom is an agent at Liza Dawson Associates where she represents a variety of nonfiction, literary, and upmarket fiction. She is committed to the expansion of diversity and inclusivity in the publishing industry. She's presenting a breakout session on Saturday for all the nonfiction writers out there.

With the ease of online querying, many agencies have found themselves slammed and closing their doors to submissions. And many publishing houses only accept agented submissions! So give yourself a helping hand and attend our conference. You could be the next writer or illustrator to Spring to Success with a little help from one of our agents!

And don’t forget about our Spread the Word Contest! Every time you spread the word—in a tweet, blog post, update or any social media—you’ll get an entry in the contest. The Breezer with the most entries will win $50 off registration, refunded to you when the contests ends (March 5th). For more details, check out this earlier post from our Southern Breeze blog.

Early Bird registration is available now through January 15th! Come join us and Spring to Success with SpringMingle'19!

                                      REGISTRATION OPEN! CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Spring to Success with SpringMingle'19: Early Bird Registration Opens Today!

Are you ready for success? Because Southern Breeze is ready with a SpringMingle bursting at the seams with so much that we had to add more space!

On Friday, March 15, our Illustrators’ Day activities and sessions will be at the Decatur Public Library, while our writer’s intensives—with three different tracks—will be right next door at the Decatur Presbyterian Church. An added feature this year is that attendees for the writer’s intensives can switch it up. You can sign up for one track in the morning and a different track in the afternoon. So you don’t have to choose between picture books or novels—you can do them both! Or you can spend your whole day in one track. Whichever path is going to lead you to success, register early!

Early Bird registration opens today! That means a $25 discount for you early birds. But act fast because Early Bird registration ends January 15th.

And the early bird gets more than a discount. Slots fill up quickly for those additional, optional activities like one-on-ones with an agent, so don’t delay and sign up early to get a head start on your success!

The conference on Saturday, March 16, will take place in both locations. We’ll open SpringMingle’19 in the library auditorium with another new feature: a Pitch Party with our panel of agents! You can find more details at the Southern Breeze website when you register. But you can always get more information when you check in at the Southern Breeze blog all this month for highlights of SpringMingle’19, including more about our Pitch Party.

And don’t forget about our Spread the Word Contest! Every time you spread the word—in a tweet, blog post, update or any social media—you’ll get an entry in the contest. The Breezer with the most entries will win $50 off registration, refunded to you when the contests ends (March 5th). For more details, check out this earlier post from our Southern Breeze blog.

Ready to Spring to Success with SpringMingle’19? Register before January 15th and get Early Bird savings! We can’t wait to see you in Decatur, March 15th and 16th!


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Breezers in Your Neighborhood: JANUARY 2019!

Happy New Year, Breezers!

 And what could be better than starting the year off with your Southern Breeze friends? (Hint: There's nothing better! Unless a contract popped up in your Inbox. A contract might be the teensiest bit better.)

Sunday, January 13

Lisa Stauffer will be at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA at 2 PM for story time. Bring a little one or just bring yourself as Lisa uses song, improv, art, and imagination to explore the often-told Noah's Ark story and how it became something new in Stauffer's Two By Two.

Saturday, January 19

Join our Illustration Coordinator, TeMika Grooms, for a FREE Children's Illustration Critique session. Bring your sketchbooks because they'll be sharing tips to help you find inspiration in your work! And they'll be opportunities for networking and seeing the work of other artists, plus much more.

When: 12:30 to 2 PM

Where: Stonecrest Library
             3123 Klondike Road
             Lithonia, GA

RSVP please! Contact TeMika at for more details and/or RSVP. This event is sponsored by the Dekalb County Library System, Litfest, SCBWI Southern Breeze, and Muse Arts Press.

PAL member Carrie Dalby Cox will be the guest presenter at the Baldwin Writers Group. The group meets at the Daphne Public Library (AL) at 10:00 AM; the meeting is open and free to the public.

Whether you're struggling to find time to write, are in search of fresh inspiration, or trying to increase your daily word count, join Carrie Dalby as she goes through helpful reminders about carving writing space into your life. "Get Possessed with Writing" will inspire you to seek your muse everywhere and drive your project--and word count--to the next level.

Saturday, January 26

Local Liaison Melissa Miles is hosting an event in Savannah, Georgia. As always, these events are free and open to the public.

Who: SCBWI PAL member and author, Susan Montanari

What: Susan will discuss her path to publication, including querying agents and the editing process.

Where: Southwest Chatham Library, Savannah, GA

When:  1:00 PM