Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Fall 2014

Hi everyone, welcome to the Fall 2014 Newsletter.

First, we have extended the Rising Kite Contest entry deadline for BOTH the writing and Illustration contests. October 15th for both! Get your entries in today.

Go here for more information.

I hope to see you at our Regional Conference in Miami on January 16 – 18, 2015! Here’s a partial list of our January 2015 speakers:

Chris Cheng
Chris Grabenstein
Verla Kay
Raul Colon
Lorin Oberweger
Laurent Linn
Linda Joy Singleton   


Linda Epstein
Heather Alexander
Ginger Clark

Andrew Karre
Justin Chanda

The Boot Camps Across Florida were a huge success! We had around 90 participants in six different areas of our state this weekend. What a brilliant idea from our amazing SCBWI Florida team. I hope they’ll hold more programs like this soon.


Categories: Picture Book, Middle Grade Novel, Young Adult Novel, Illustration


 Winners will be announced at the SCBWI Florida Annual Conference in Miami in January.

*First place writers in each category will receive a scholarship to an intensive of their choice!

*The first place illustrator will receive a month-long mentorship with E.B. Lewis!

Check out our Facebook page—you’ll find tons of helpful info there, and it’s a great place to hang out with other Florida SCBWI members, ask questions, and participate in discussions. Please follow scbwiflevents on Twitter for the latest conference news and info.


Rob Sanders sends out info about events and shouts out good news for members in your area. Send him an e-mail to be placed on his mailing list:


SATURDAY OCTOBER 4, 2014 * 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Bloomingdale Public Library

1906 Bloomingdale Ave. Valrico, FL 33596-6204



Getting words on paper is the first step in writing a masterpiece. Revision is the second step, and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth. Re-visioning your writing is more than just changing a word here, or a scene there. Revision includes rethinking everything–structure, plot, word choice, and more. In this session, Gaby will discuss not-so-secret ways to effectively revise your writing.

Gaby Triana is the co-regional advisor of SCBWI Florida, and is the author of BACKSTAGE PASS, CUBANITA, THE TEMPTRESS FOUR, RIDING THE UNIVERSE, and SUMMER OF YESTERDAY.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2014, 2:00-4:00



In this session, Augusta Scattergood and Shannon Hitchcock will reveal how they used events that were up close and personal to write their Crystal Kite Award-winning novels GLORY BE and THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL, as well as their current works-in-progress. Augusta and Shannon will interview each other to reveal how writing what you love, finding the hook, and careful research can benefit any manuscript, not just historical fiction. Bring your ideas for your own stories and we'll brainstorm together in this interactive session.

Augusta Scattergood’s next book, THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY, will be released by Scholastic in January 2015. Shannon Hitchcock’s next book is entitled CAROLINA GIRLS and will also be released by Scholastic.


Check out all the active SCBWI FL critique groups on our website! You can contact the leader directly, or e-mail me questions about joining or forming a local critique group. I’m here to help! Shoot me a message or fill in the form at the bottom of the newsletter and send it to me. If you’re interested in an online critique group, we have a few active ones and I’m in the process of putting more together.

I’d love to see every FL SCBWI member in at least one incredible, active critique group! Contact me with any group updates, questions, or to start a group in your area:

We have several online groups that are almost ready to start, but could use another member or two. Please let me know if you’re interested! The groups will be:

Picture books only
MG only
MG and YA
Multi-genre (from PB through YA)

There’s plenty of time to join an awesome new online group and polish up a sub or two for our upcoming conference in Miami on January 16 – 18, 2015!

Charlotte County doesn’t have any active critique groups, and a YA writer is interested in finding one. Contact me so we can start a great group in that area!


Here are some critique groups that are new or are actively looking for new members.


Marcia Nass is starting an SCBWI group in Boynton Beach during the day at Panera’s—either Sunday, Tuesday, or Thursday from 1-3. If interested, send Marcia an e-mail. This group has several interested SCBWI members and should begin soon!


Stephanie is starting a monthly group structured around books the group chooses to discuss; also, sharing news (less specifically for critiques) in Boca Raton. If interested, e-mail Stephanie:


Lynne Marie Pisano is starting a new group in the Cooper City/Hollywood area. Right now, the meeting dates/times are somewhat flexible. Members will bring an entire picture book or five pages of a WIP. The group will be mostly picture books, but MG and YA are also welcome. Contact Lynne for more info:, 754-201-1844 (Rings Home & Cell), 631-838-5300 Text, Cell.


Maureen Bradford is starting a critique group in Winter Haven for picture books through young adult novels. For more information, send Maureen an e-mail at


Critique group starting for children’s books that will meet at South County Regional Library, Estero, FL the first Wednesday of each month from 9-11 AM. Contact: Lisa Batch  508-272-7611.


This new group meets on the second Saturday of each month at the Southeast Branch Library in Room F from 4:00-6:00. Members email up to 10 pages prior to the meetings and bring an entire picture book or 5 printed pages of WIP—picture books, MG, and YA are welcome. If interested, contact Laurie Dennison:, 678-469-3640.


There's interest in a group for critiquing and sharing information about submitting MG short stories and nonfiction articles. Let me know if you'd like to join this group!


It formed right after our FL SCBWI conference in Miami, and is open to new members. I’ve had a chance to see it in action, and am so impressed with the way they’ve been sharing information and feedback with each other and participate in some amazing weekly illustrating exercises. For more information, contact Michael Trujillo (, Jack Spellman (, or Angela Padron (


What is lit agent Tina P. Schwartz looking for?

Due to an overwhelming number of submissions, Adams Literary is now closed to new submissions through the end of the year as they catch up. Visit their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter to learn when they are open to submissions again.

At Lippincott Massie McQuilkin, Amanda Panitch has been promoted to associate agent, focusing on young adult and middle grade fiction.

Rachel Brooks, a Junior Agent at the L. Perkins Agency, is actively building her client list.

At Knopf Children's, Allison Wortche has been promoted to senior editor while Katherine Harrison moves up to associate editor.

Leon Husock joined the L. Perkins Agency as an associate agent specializing in speculative fiction, as well as young adult and middle grade novels. He was an associate agent at Anderson Literary Management. Rachel Brooks joins the agency as a junior agent handling romance, young adult and new adult fiction and select picture books.

Andrea Brown Literary Agency had three promotions. Laura Rennert has been named executive agent; she was formerly senior agent. Jennifer Laughran has been named senior agent; she was formerly agent. Jennifer Mattson has been named agent; she was formerly associate agent.

At P.S. Literary Agency, Carly Watters has been promoted to vp, senior literary agent.

Julia Maguire has joined Knopf Children’s as editor. Previously she was an associate editor at Simon & Schuster Children’s.

Orion Children’s Books editorial director Amber Caraveo is leaving the publisher to become an agent, creating Skylark Literary along with Joanna Moult, officially launching in November. The agency will focus on YA and children’s authors.

The Simon Pulse imprint has promoted Liesa Abrams to vp, editorial director of Simon Pulse and associate editorial director of Aladdin. Plus, Michael Strother is being promoted to associate editor of Simon Pulse.

Rick Richter Joins Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Agency


SCBWI has changed the policies on accepting funds from for-profit organizations. It means some changes to the grants SCBWI awards. Click here to find out more.

Critically acclaimed children’s book author Jane Yolen created this grant to honor the contribution of mid-list authors. The grant awards $3,000 to mid-list authors and aims to help raise awareness about their current works in progress. Nominations will be accepted from June 1 – October 1, applications from nominees are due November 1. Please note that you can nominate yourself for the award.    

LEE & LOW BOOKS, award-winning publisher of children's books, is pleased to announce the fifteenth annual NEW VOICES AWARD. The Award will be given for a children's picture book manuscript by a writer of color. The Award winner receives a cash prize of $1000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $500. If interested, get your sub ready quickly because the deadline is September 30th!

Upcoming contests! Scroll down to view the contests for October through December.

The UCF Book Festival is seeking submissions. For the 6th year, the UCF Book Festival presents national and international authors for a weekend of activities in celebration of literacy. Selected authors will be featured in a panel or solo session based on the recommendation of an Author Selection Committee, appointed by the UCF Book Festival Executive Committee. In addition, authors will have opportunities to participate in book signings, readings, and other special events occurring throughout the festival.

Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books of the Year.

You can click on the links below to check out the honorees for each age group. Congrats to all our SCBWI Florida winners!

  • Under Five
  • Five to Nine
  • Nine to Twelve*
  • Twelve to Fourteen
  • Fourteen and Up

Great Contest News for our Members!

There’s an interview with Shannon Hitchcock about winning The Crystal Kite Award on the SCBWI website! Our hard-working Co-RA, Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld, also participated. Huge congrats again, Shannon, and thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us.


Manuscript Wish List – this site is all about what agents and editors wish they had in their inbox. It’s a searchable database of wishes–tagged by genre, person, and imprint/agency.

Picture Book Builders
How to Sell Your Picture Book
Book Promotion Tips
14 Tips to Surviving Your Book Signing
All About the Offer Etiquette (And How to get a Fast Pass!)
Agent Monday: Profiles on Stephen Fraser and Marie Lamba
Agenting explained, part one: An overview—by agent Carlie Webber
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
What I Learned About Submissions as a Reader for an Agent
Ten Things That Make an Editor Stop Reading Your Manuscript
How To Write A 1-Page Synopsis
The 5 Most Common Query Letter Mistakes…and 5 Query Letter "Do's"
It's better to be a good storyteller than overly realistic
3 Ways You Can Use a First-Person Narrator to Tell a Better Story
Why a good book is a secret door


I’d love to highlight YOUR success story in future issues. It’s always inspiring to see how magical moments happened for other Florida members.  And it’s great to cheer our fellow writers and illustrators on!  So don’t forget to send me your great news…and let me know if you’d like to share your FL SCBWI Success Story.

FL SCBWI Success Story

Christina Farley

These past few months have been nothing short of amazing. My first book, GILDED, was published on March 1, 2014. It hit #1 on Amazon in the teen category, earned a nomination for the Morning Calm award, sold to Germany, and was bought by Scholastic for their book clubs and fairs. It all has been a dream come true.

Yet, it’s important to realize that this was a result of many years of writing, rejection, and hard work. It was one that began seven years ago while I was living in South Korea. I attended the SCBWI L.A. national conference on a layover from Florida to Korea. After that conference, I was not only inspired, but I walked away with an arsenal of information in how to improve my craft as a writer.

My friend, Jenny Desmond Walters, and I started up an SCBWI chapter in South Korea. It wasn’t easy, but it showed me the value of workshops and how essential they were to improve as a writer. When my family and I moved back to Florida, right away I made sure I got plugged in with the Florida chapter.

Often times I found myself getting so focused on finding an agent or an editor at the workshops, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But for myself, I realized that the workshops on the craft of writing are what in the end helped me land my agent and later my editor.

My sequel, SILVERN, was just released on Sept. 23, 2014 and I’m so excited for this next book and continuing in this journey.

If I were to give advice, it would be to never stop growing as a writer. Delve deeper into the craft and always challenge yourself to become stronger. Because when the opportunity presents itself, then you will be ready for that next step.

Thanks for sharing your great news and writing tip with us. And congrats again on your recent and upcoming YAs, Christina! Check out Christina’s website for support and tips for writers. You can also find her on TwitterYouTube, and Facebook. Don’t forget to take a peek at her amazing book trailer!


"Nicole Frail at Sky Pony Press has acquired world rights to Hypnosis Harry by Catherine Bailey, a picture book about a boy whose parents say no to everything. But when he gains the power to hypnotize them he begins to question if he really wants his every wish granted. It's scheduled for winter 2016; Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency negotiated the deal." Huge congrats, Catherine!

Stephanie Salkin shared the great news about the Lee Bennett Hopkins board book anthology in which a poem of hers will be included. It has been renamed from BABY to LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET, to be published by Abrams, NY, finished project due April 2015. It’s chock full of the top children’s poets of the day, so she is really honored to be there.

Huge congrats to Nancy Cavanaugh—THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET has been named to the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) 2014 list of Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts. (This is the same list Sandra Markle's Book is on. Hooray for FL writers.) Nancy was recently featured in The Horn Book!

Here's a link to the author interview by WFSU about RATCHET'S Gold Medal in the Florida Book Awards.

Jayne Moraski, author of How Alligator Got His Smile Back, a modern myth with a science twist received a great review of her picture book tied to Common Core standards


Congrats to all of our amazing authors and illustrators with recent releases!

Huge congrats to Kerry Cerra for the release of her debut MG, JUST A DROP OF WATER, and to Katy Betz for designing the cover. Check out the amazing trailer, created by Kerry herself with the help of Curtis Sponsler.

Christina Farley’s sequel to her debut novel, GILDED, is entitled SILVERN and was just released on Sept. 23, 2014. Congrats, Christina!

Nancy Cavanaugh’s second MG novel ALWAYS, ABIGAIL was recently released. Congrats, Nancy!

THE HERO IN YOU illustrated by Angela Padron was published last month. Congrats, Angela!

Lisa J. Michaels has a new release to celebrate. When Mommy Got Cancer—Creating JOY Together, written by Karen Garcia and illustrated by Lisa, was recently released by Hibiscus Publishing. Congrats, Lisa!

Katheryn Russell Brown’s picture book, LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE was recently published. Congrats, Katheryn!



A Workshop For Young Writers….with gloria rothstein

Wednesday, October 1st * 4:00 to 6:00 pm

So you want to be a writer.  Where do you begin?   And what about the happily ever after?  Bring your imagination and your most colorful pens to this hands-on workshop. Spend time getting ideas, creating characters, and finding new stories to tell.  Have some fun with your writing…and make your writing more fun!

Sugar Sand Park Community Center     (561)347-3900
300 South Military Trail * Boca Raton, Florida   33486

*For  9 ~ 12 year olds
Cost:  Residents:   $35   *   Non-residents     $43.75

Free admission for the twenty-second annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading at the University of South Florida.


140 Seventh Avenue South – at Bayboro Harbor, St. Petersburg
Saturday, October 25, 2014, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

If you have a book sale, publication date, signing, (and are a PAL member who wants to mention a book from a PAL publisher), or you have a contest win, agent news, or an SCBWI Success Story to share, please e-mail the info to me in a similar format to the ones I posted above. It’s easier if you paste it into an e-mail…and it helps to add the links (or list them for me at the bottom of your message).  I can’t wait to celebrate with you! 



Mindy Alyse Weiss

FL SCBWI Newsletter Editor and Critique Group Coordinator 

You can find me on Facebook and Twitter. J


This first form is for critique group leaders to fill out, and it will be used to update our website.

FL SCBWI Critique Group Form



Group name:

Group leader:

Contact info:

Date this form was submitted:

When, where, and how often the group meets: 

Members in group:

Open to new members?

*If not open to new members, what can people do to be put on a waiting list? (You can allow them to come as a guest, e-mail a writing or illustration sample, etc.)

What to bring to meetings:



This next form is for anyone who would like to join a local critique group.

Interested in Joining a Local Critique Group


Contact info:

County and city:


Genre/s you write:

When are you available for meetings?

If there are no open groups that fit your needs near you, would you be interested in starting one?

Would you be interested in an online critique group?


And here is the form to fill out if you’re interested in joining an online critique group.

Interested in Joining an Online Critique Group



Contact info:


Genre/s that you write:

Are you looking for a group for all genres you write, or do you prefer to focus on one, if possible?

If there aren’t any open online groups that fit your current needs, would you consider leading or co-leading a new online critique group?

Short summary of your writing/critiquing experience: