Thursday, February 28, 2019

New Co-RA For Southern Breeze!

We’re happy to announce that Sharon Pegram is joining Claudia Pearson as a Co-Regional Advisor for the Southern Breeze region!

Sharon has been a member of SCBWI since 2006 and she’s been helping out in various volunteer duties through the years, most recently as Assistant RA. She comes with a ton of all kinds of experience, and she’s eager to bring her talents to this new position. Chances are, you’ve seen Sharon Pegram at any number of Southern Breeze or SCBWI events, but unlike Claudia in her hats, she’s often in the background, getting her jobs done. So we’re pulling Sharon into the foreground so you can get to know our new Co-RA!

First, we want to know about Sharon, the SCBWI member. Are you a writer, illustrator, or both? What’s your genre, your specialty? What brought you to SCBWI in the first place? And what do you want to achieve, your hopes and dreams?

I write weird stuff for middle schoolers (science fiction and fantasy in the dreaded upper MG/ younger YA zone). I will only be called upon to illustrate if the market develops a sudden passion for stick figures. I started writing for children after I left my job as a school librarian to be a stay at home mom and learned about SCBWI in the Writer’s Digest Market Guide. I’m still pre-published, so my dream is to hold a book with my name on it. 

You’ve filled lots of different volunteer positions through the last 12 years! What drew you to volunteering, and ultimately led you all the way to the Regional Advisor position?

My parents are to blame for my volunteering tendencies. They taught, by word and example, that if you join a group and enjoy its benefits, you give back in some way. What led me to this position? I checked the “Yes, I’ll volunteer” box at my second Southern Breeze conference and did something like hand out Post-It notes at a book signing, and that led to becoming a Co-RA. Now no one’s ever going to check the box again! LOL But seriously, each larger job felt right by the time I came to it because it was building on the smaller ones that came before. 

What do you see as the strengths of our region and how do you hope to build on those strengths?

Southern Breeze’s greatest strength is its members: your talent, your hard work, and the community you build with your fellow writers and illustrators. And our volunteers are amazing! Every region has RAs, ARAs, and ICs, but we have so many dedicated regional volunteers in addition to those, the regional coordinators and local liaisons, etc. Having so much help greatly expands what we can do.

What do you see as the weaknesses in our region and how do you hope to make improvements in those areas?

We cover a lot of ground. First, geographically. Even with our local liaisons, it’s hard to get programming spread around the whole region. Second, we cover a lot of ground artistically. We all create for children, but we do it so differently! Writers and illustrators, fiction and nonfiction, PBs to YA and all ages in between, and all experience levels from beginner to multi-published. Balancing programming to support our many needs is an ongoing challenge. 

And finally, what about your hopes and dreams for Southern Breeze? What do you want to achieve as Co-RA?

I want Southern Breeze to grow, numerically of course, but also in diversity of our membership, welcoming all the storytellers and artists who live in our region. I want us to grow in community, supporting each other in this occupation that can feel so isolating and in this industry where it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. And I want us all to grow professionally, becoming ever-better writers and illustrators and better equipped to build successful careers in the writing business.

Thanks, Sharon, for letting us get to know you better! We wish you all the best as the new Co-RA of Southern Breeze! (And P.S. Sharon would love to get to know you better, so please drop her a line or say hello at our upcoming conference. She’ll be the RA not wearing a hat but possibly in the cool shades!)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Breezers in Your Neighborhood--MARCH!

There will be plenty of Breezers in the neighborhood of Decatur, Georgia on the weekend of March 16th and 17th when we Spring To Success with Springmingle'19! Illustrator's Day and writers' intensives are scheduled for Friday and on Saturday, join us for the conference--there's still room for a few more at the conference only so hurry and register here!

But if you can't make the conference or Illustrator's Day, you can still pop in for a visit at our reception on Friday evening! Come and see our illustrators' portfolios, purchase member and SM'19 faculty books, and say hello to our Coretta Scott King Honors Book Award illustrator, Laura Freeman, who'll be joining us to sign her honor book, Hidden Figures. The reception is FREE and we'd love to see you!

What:  SCBWI Southern Breeze Portfolio Show, Reception, and  Book-Signing
Where: Decatur Public Library, First Floor Conference Room
              215 Sycamore Street
              Decatur, GA  30030
When:   4:00 to 6:30 PM


Breezer Kerry Madden-Lunsford and her newly released picture book, Ernestine's Milky Way, will be at the following dates, locations, and times:

Monday, March 4th Alabama Booksmith Birmingham, AL at 5:00 pm
Tuesday, March 5th UAB Professor Book Celebration at AEIVA at 3:30 pm
Saturday, March 23rd Homewood Public Library, Homewood, AL 10:30 am

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Spring to Success with SpringMingle'19 and INFORMAL CRITIQUES!

Last year, T. K. Read, the Southern Breeze Critique Coordinator, came up with a great post all about the Informal Critique process. In fact, it was so nice, we thought we'd run it twice! Here's TK:



____    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?!

If you answered “Yes” to even one of these questions, you need to participate in the Informal Critiques at SpringMingle'19. 

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: 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. See you soon!

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


Nitty Gritty:


WHEN:    SATURDAY, 5:30-6:30 


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 find a spot 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). 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Spring to Success with SpringMingle'19 and VOLUNTEERING (AND A WHALE!)

Valerie Nelan is the Southern Breeze Volunteer Coordinator and she wrote up something special and um...whale-y for you. So here's Valerie:

Okay, there’s no whale. But like any good writer, I went with the first thing that came to mind and decided to see where it went.

Wait! I got it! If you volunteer at the SCBWI Spring Mingle, you’ll have a WHALE OF A TIME!!

No? It was a terrible joke? Okay, you’re right. It was pitiful. And painful. So let’s move on.

One of the best ways to get involved in SCBWI is to volunteer. Writing can be such a solitary pursuit, and by volunteering, you’re basically forced into meeting people. And here’s the thing: the writers and artists you’ll meet at Spring Mingle are bound to be among the best you’ve ever laid eyes on.

I knew absolutely no one my first Spring Mingle, and even though I can chat up just about anyone (hello, outgoing personality!), it was hard at first. Thankfully, by the end of that Spring Mingle, I’d met a whole bunch of people and was invited to be in a local critique group. By the time the next conference came around, I was ready to volunteer, and it was an incredible experience. I met all the conference organizers, and even though that first year my contributions were small, I felt like I’d really made a difference. Even better: I made friends and critique partners who have made me a better writer.

So, are you ready to make a difference? We need volunteers! Roles for our volunteers include working the registration desk, helping with book sales, helping with food (who doesn’t love food?), timing the one-on-one meetings, and more.

Email me, Valerie Nelan, at with your interest. You’ll get my undying love and affection, plus a snazzy little bio in the conference hand-outs! Ready? Go!

(I guarantee you and all the volunteers are going to get along swimmingly--and yeah, Valerie Nelan's going to get me back for that one--but first you have to register for SpringMingle'19. So CLICK HERE AND REGISTER TODAY!)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Spring To Success With SpringMingle'19 and MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES!

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.

SpringMingle'19 registration is open, with critique opportunities still available, but manuscripts have to be submitted by February 8. 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.

A special thanks to Sharon Pegram, Co-Assistant Regional Advisor for Southern Breeze, who shared this experience with us last year--and we thought it deserved a re-run! Sharon writes sci-fi and fantasy and yep, you'll see her at SM'19 with her latest manuscript critique!


                   Click HERE to register for SpringMingle'19!

Monday, February 4, 2019


We don't have any Breezers in the neighborhood for February, but we do have an SCBWI Southern Breeze sponsored event AND an amazing SCBWI member who'll be visiting in Alabama for a super event:

February 9th:

Who: Soniah Kamal on "Getting Published"

When: 10:30 AM

Where: NE/Spruill Oaks Library
             9560 Spruill Road
             Johns Creek, GA

What: With starred reviews in Library Journal and Publishers Weekly for her most recently published book (Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan, Penguin Random House USA) and an Amazon Rising Star Award for her first book (An Isolated Incident), Soniah Kamal is definitely making an impressive mark as an award-winning essayist and fiction writer. Come hear her story of the past six years when she was writing and working toward completion of a Masters in Fine Art from Georgia State University — all toward her goal of “Getting Published.” Plenty of time for questions and answers, too! Reservations required: Call 770-360-8820 or

Or contact Stephanie Moody, Local Liaison/SCBWI Southern Breeze at

Free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Northeast/Spruill Oaks Library and SCBWI Southern Breeze.

February 27th:

Who: Linda Sue Park

When: 3:00 PM/ 4:30 PM (CST)

Where: Alys Stephens Center
             Reynolds Kirschbaum Recital Hall
             1200 10th Avenue S
            UAB Campus
            Birmingham, AL

What: The UAB Writers' Series is an annual offering of the English Department. Nationally recognized authors are invited to give readings and participate in Q and A sessions. Readings are free and open to the public. 

Linda Sue Park was the keynote speaker at wik'18 so if you missed her then, here's your chance to see this amazing SCBWI author!