Happy New Year! I hope 2015 will be wonderful for you, your family, and your writing/illustrating career. I’d love for you all to send me great news to shout out.
I can’t believe the Regional Conference in Miami is almost here. We need help with folder stuffing, editors and agents picked up at the Miami Airport, the registration desk (on Friday and Saturday), autograph party helpers and other FUN JOBS!! It’s a great way to meet lots of wonderful SCBWI FL members (and possibly faculty members, too) and the perfect way to give back to our local SCBWI chapter so they can continue to put together these amazing events. Please contact Co-Regional Advisor Gaby Triana as soon as possible if you can help us.
I hope to see you at our Regional Conference in Miami on January 16 – 18, 2015! If you haven’t signed up for the conference yet…it’s not too late! All the workshops and intensives are open, except for the Novel Intensive. Check out the amazing Illustrator Intensive which lets you work in a small group with an amazing illustrator and the Art Director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. The Picture Book Intensive is led by award winning author, Chris Cheng, Verla Kay (author and founder of the very popular message board called the Blueboard that recently merged with SCBWI) plus agent Heather Alexander and Editor Stacey Barney.
Illustrator Intensive: Presented by Laurent Linn and Raul Colón, this intensive is specifically designed for illustrators only! Come learn the ins and outs of creating stunning and memorable artwork for children’s books in a close-knit, hands-on setting. (Limited to 15 participants)
Picture Book Intensive: Presented by Chris Cheng, Heather Alexander, Stacey Barney, and Verla Kay, this amazing workshop will guide participants through an in-depth, hands-on look at successful, classic picture book writing and illustrating in today’s market. (Limited to 25 participants)
*Think of examples of books where the protagonist is a child or teenager in age but not in culture or behavior. In other words, can you think of a book where the only reason we know a character is a teenager is because the author told us?
**Please bring the first page of your novel (without your name on it) if you'd like a chance to have it critiqued in front of the group
*Please bring two copies of two short paragraphs or verses from a picture book work in progress for a writing exercise.
**Please bring the first page of your picture book (without your name on it) if you’d like a chance for a critique in front of the group.
****Please bring in two ideas (and some thoughts on content) that could be used as subjects for non-fiction picture books. We will choose a few examples and discuss how you would use those ideas.
If you’re attending Friday night, don’t forget to bring the first page of your manuscript, double-spaced, 12-pt. type, one page only (starting at the top of page) to the registration desk before 4:30 PM on Friday, January 16. Include title of piece and genre at the top. No name. Panelists will select a few anonymous submissions to read aloud and critique on Friday at 5:00 PM. If your submission is read aloud at an intensive, please submit a different piece for the panel. LIMIT ONE (1) SUBMISSION FOR FRIDAY’S PANEL and ONE (1) SUBMISSION FOR FRIDAY INTENSIVES. All submissions will be recycled afterwards.
Here’s a list of our January 2015 speakers. Click here to check out their bios!
Our dear friend and SCBWI member, Susan Shamon, from Miami, FL, passed away on January 1, 2015. Susan was a member of the original Miami critique group with Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld, which began a new era of regional conferences in Florida. She wrote middle grade and YA novels, was a talented artist, an occupational therapist, and a humanitarian toward animals and people alike. She is survived by her children, Sabrina Shamon and Danny Templegod. We will miss this modern-day Renaissance woman with all our hearts!
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: SROBERT262@aol.com
TAMPA BAY AREA WRITERS MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
Thursday, January 22, 4:00 p.m.
The Way to Stay in Destiny Book Party with Augusta Scattergood
Saturday, February 7, 1:00 p.m.
Outer Space Bedtime Race Book Launch with Rob Sanders
Wednesday, February 11, 7:00 p.m.
The Way to Stay in Destiny Book Launch with Augusta Scattergood
Saturday, February 21, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
SCBWI FL Tampa Bay Area Members Meeting
Guest Speaker: Dorian Cirrone
Saturday, March 21, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
SCBWI FL Tampa Bay Area Members Meeting
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: Mindyaweiss@yahoo.com.
*We’ve had a lot of interest in online critique groups. Some are already in action, and it’s taking me a bit longer than expected to put the rest of them together. I hope to be able to announce new online groups in every genre plus one that covers PB through YA as well in the next newsletter. If you’re interested in an online or local group, please let me know!
**I’m so excited that we have brand new critique groups starting in the Tampa/Carrollwood area and in Volusia County. Keep an eye out on our website for information about more new groups soon! Please contact me if you’re interested in a critique group but don’t have an open one close enough to you. I’d be happy to help you start one that works well for you.
Here are some critique groups that are new or are actively looking for new members.
There's a great new critique group for PB, MG, and YA led by Stacie Ramey and Gail Shepherd. They meet the first Thursday each month from 6:00-9:00 at the Wellington Barnes and Noble. Contact Stacie or Gail if you’re interested!
TAMPA WRITERS GROUP
A new group for fictional MG and YA is starting in this area! Contact Stacey Goldstein for the Carrollwood location or more info: email@example.com (please put something about critique groups in your subject line so she doesn’t delete it as spam!). The group will meet at 6:30 pm on the second Wednesday of the month starting February 11, 2015. Bring several copies of the first 10 pages of your work. Laptops are optional but recommended.
VOLUSIA COUNTY CRITIQUE GROUP
A new group for MG and YA is starting in this area! Contact Elizabeth Vollstadt for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org. The dates will be determined, but the group plans to meet every three weeks. Place–open to meetings in a location within 30 minutes of DeLand (from Daytona Beach to Lake Mary). Bring 10 pages of manuscript you are working on.
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 email@example.com.
LEE AND COLLIER COUNTIES
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com, 678-469-3640.
WE HAVE A GREAT ONLINE GROUP FOR ILLUSTRATORS!
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Jack Spellman (email@example.com), or Angela Padron (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Stephen Barbara will move to Inkwell Management on January 5 after six years at Foundry Literary + Media, and he will be followed by all 50 of his clients. He says in the announcement, "It's an agency I've long admired, and I couldn't miss the chance to work with such a world-class group of authors' representatives."
Sara Megibow (formerly of Nelson Literary) has started her own agency and is now open to queries.
New agent at the Bent Agency: Molly Ker Hawn (looking for YA, MG, chapter books)
Kimberly Brower of Rebecca Friedman Literary Agency – Seeks YA
Jill Corcoran Literary Agency is closed to unsolicited submissions. Agency is open to submissions by referral from dramatic rights, publishing and licensing professionals.
So, You’ve Written a Children’s Book…Now What? This is a great post from a Chronicle Books editor with advice on how to make your submission stand out from the roughly one thousand unsolicited manuscripts they receive each month.
Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for any Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop. (For a complete list of workshops, visit http://www.highlightsfoundation.org.)
All entries must be postmarked between January 1 and January 31, 2015.
We welcome work from both published and unpublished authors. All submissions must be previously unpublished and not found online. Stories may be any length up to 750 words. Indicate the word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of your manuscript. No crime, violence, or derogatory humor. Manuscripts or envelopes should be clearly marked FICTION CONTEST. Those not marked in this way will be considered as regular submissions to Highlights. Click here for full details.
Second Annual ReviMo – Revise More Picture Books Challenge, January 11th-17th, 2015
Feb. 1-28 Picture Book Marathon–Write a picture book draft each day of the month
Barbara Walsh is proud and deeply honored to share her news: “I won the 2014 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for my non-fiction article “The Poppy Lady” that appeared in Highlights for Children last November. It's a result of a promise I made to my Dad, and he got to read the article in Highlights before he passed away last December.” Congrats, Barbara, and thanks for sharing your sweet story with us.
Check out this great blog by local author Dorian Cirrone. She’s a fantastic workshop leader and shares helpful advice, including an entire series for how to come up with great ideas for novels and picture books. Plus, leaving a comment enters you for the chance to win prizes (which include a 10 page critique from Dorian).
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.
I was a professional rejection collector for eight years. In the beginning, the rejections came in on 1/4 page slips of paper with Dear Author smeared near the top and the same ink-blotched print at the end, Signed, No One In Particular. I eventually graduated to 1/2 page paper Sorry, not sorry! rejections and couldn’t help secretly applauding the conservation of trees by these million dollar companies. When snail mail gave way to electronic rejections a few years later, I’ll admit I printed the first few anyway, not because of some masochistic tendency, but simply because I believed that every rejection meant I was one step closer to acceptance. Those who are diligent enough to endure the often torturous process to publication, who continue to learn the craft, who read books, who can handle critique, and mostly who never give up hope are the ones who—no doubt—get published.
So, yeah, my process was long, but it most definitely wasn’t one-note, as were my early manuscripts according to many of those rejections. At one point, I signed with an agent, only to have my dreams dashed once again when we split a year later. I plugged on, continued to attend SCBWI conferences, and continued to want that contract enough to never give up. This is where many writers fail. They stop believing in themselves because the process can be so, so sucky! But, you gotta push through because you are the only one who can make it happen.
My story is almost laughable. Jennifer Rees—formerly of Scholastic and always of The Hunger Games fame—was scheduled to come to our Florida SCBWI conference in June of 2009 in Orlando. Linda sent out an email asking if anyone could pick her up from the airport. I thought for sure this opportunity would get snatched up right away, but no one could do it. So, Linda put out another request, and another. I was so tempted to miss the last day of school for my own kids just to arrive in Orlando a day earlier and pick up the editor who happened to work for my dream publishing house. Mom duties always win out, though. So, when Linda put out her last desperate email, I wrote to her and said that my parents lived in Orlando (that’s where I grew up, by the way!), were both retired, and if she was really in that big of a jam, I’m sure they’d be happy to do it. Turns out, Linda was in that big of a jam and my parents agreed to help out. One massive lightning storm and luggage delay later, Jen was enroute to the most magical place on earth in the company of my awesome parents.
When I finally sat with Jen for my own critique the next night—it was the first chance I’d had to meet her as we’d both been so busy with the workshops—the first words out of her mouth were, “Your dad is sooooo funny!” Surely she wasn’t referring to my father. But, alas, she recounted how she told my dad, during small talk, that she was living in New Jersey and my dad replied with, “I’m sorry.” He could get away with it because he’s also from Jersey, but thank the Lord baby Jesus I wasn’t in the car because I might’ve jumped out the window as he spewed more random small talk and jokes that apparently Jen found very funny. She loved my mom, too. It was a great ice-breaker for my critique, which she then—very nicely—proceeded to rip to shreds. I loved her honesty and her humor and we completely hit it off during our fifteen minutes together. From there, we kept in touch, and every so often she would graciously allow me to submit my work to Scholastic via her desk. Always with the same—paperless—rejection. Then one day she wrote to tell me she was leaving Scholastic to freelance and have her third baby. We kept in touch. We met up when I’d visit my family in Jersey. She even agreed to let me hire her for my I-know-this-manuscript-is-sellable-but-it’s-missing-something-and-I-may-chuck-it-in-the-garbage-soon-if-I-can’t-figure-out-the-problem WIP. One 20 page editorial letter, and 6 months of revision later, I wrote to her again to thank her profusely. I’d nailed it because of her comments. She then told me she reads for an agent and if I wanted to sub to that agency, she’d make the recommendation on my behalf. This was without her ever rereading my book. I was nervous…remember that bad agent experience I’d had before? I was thinking of going about this on my own, subbing to houses that didn’t require agents or going back to editors I’d met at conferences. But, my gut said to give it a shot and my gut is never wrong.
Within a week, Liza Flessig, of the Liza Royce Agency, had my manuscript and said it would take at least five weeks for a response. Four days later, sitting at my daughter’s soccer tournament in Tampa, I decided to check my email at halftime to find a note from Liza saying she was on a ski trip with her family and that, even though she wasn’t finished reading the MS, she couldn’t put it down and knew she had to represent it. She told me to let the other agents know that an offer was made and she agreed to Skype with me the next night, once she’d finished reading—which required her to skip a family dinner. I wanted to jump up and down, not only because of the offer, but because she “got” my manuscript in a way no one else had. And, I loved that she was considerate of my hearing loss and offered to Skype so I could read her lips (if this were an Olympic sport, I’d win a gold medal!), rather than talk on the phone. This had been a big issue with my former agent.
Fast forward four months and I had two potential offers, but my gut knew there was really only one choice for me. Julie, at Sky Pony, was and is my soul-editor. (Is that even a thing? Because she is!) And knowing my book would come out a year later—rather than the standard two—was the vanilla in my chai tea latte!
Even though I met Jen Rees at an SCBWI conference, and her part in the story is integral to where I am, the real SCBWI success in this story is the outlet we are provided as writers to continue to learn and improve our craft at conferences and workshops here in Florida. The success is in the support of friends who get our struggles when the rejections pierce our hearts. And the success is in the hope SCBWI gives us when we feel like quitting. I’m happy to say my time as a rejection collector has ended, but my time with SCBWI is forever. I wish each of you the same triumph, and if you feel like chucking your head against the wall and never opening your laptop again, give me a holler!
Thanks for sharing your great news and inspiring story with us, Kerry. Since Kerry wrote this, she had even more fantastic news—her middle grade novel, Just a Drop of Water, went into a second printing. Wahoo! Kerry does so much for SCBWI FL by carefully matching the conference critique subs with wonderful critiquers and making sure the critique sessions run smoothly. If you see Kerry in Miami, try to hop over to congratulate her and thank her for all her hard work.
I’m thrilled to share the fantastic news that our Co-Regional Advisor, Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld, has sold a poem to Babybug Magazine. She’d like to thank Margaret Mincks for passing it on to Babybug. Linda works so hard for all of us, it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate her sale!
Annette Pollert-Morgan at Sourcebooks Fire has bought Stacie Ramey's debut novel, The Pact, in which two sisters vow to take their lives together. Told from the perspective of the sister who lives, the teen spirals into grief, prescription pill abuse, and mysterious visions, which lead her to uncover unexpected secrets. It's scheduled for fall 2015; Nicole Resciniti at the Seymour Agency negotiated the deal for world rights. Huge congrats, Stacie!
Congrats to Christina Farley on the sale of another book in her GILDED YA series! Now, she has GILDED and SILVERN, plus a contract for book number three. I was going to share the title with you, but she has such an amazing reveal on her blog, that I’ll give you the link and hope you hop over there to read all about her exciting news.
AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) has included two of Sandra Markle’s books on their 2014 recommended holiday gifts for children list: THE CASE OF THE VANISHING LITTLE BROWN BATS and THE CASE OF THE VANISHING HONEYBEES. Congrats, Sandra!
Huge congrats to Stephanie Salkin for all of her amazing news. SPIDER Magazine has accepted her dragon ballad. That means she has a story going into their sister publication LADYBUG as well as the ballad in SPIDER. Plus a poem in the Lee Bennett Hopkins board book anthology, LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET (a bucket list achievement, Stephanie says) and a poem in a Canadian anthology called DEAR TOMATO. This year, she also won an honorable mention in the RhyPiBoMo rhyming picture book Golden Quill contest. Wow, what an amazing year! Here’s what she’d like to share with all of you: “I’d really like to thank Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld for the wonderful meetings she puts on twice a year. I would never have made these connections without the conferences, where I met people like Lee, who is wonderful at encouraging new poets, or Margaret Mincks of SPIDER, who passed along my story to LADYBUG and helped me revise my dragon ballad, before accepting that one herself. And I’d never have met Joyce Sweeney, either, if it had not been for the conferences. Joyce is a great mentor, and I hope that someday I’ll earn one of her magic beans.”
"Happy Reading," says First Coast magazine in a December article featuring noted area authors including our own Annette Simon, who credits SCBWI for her success.
Congrats to Jen Swanson for all her amazing successes. She has so much to celebrate! Her first trade book will be released in September 2015. Brain Games by National Geographic Kids is a fast-paced interactive book will take you on a topsy-turvy trip through the fastest and most extensive super computer in the world — your brain. Based on the popular National Geographic TV Show called Brain Games, this fabulous book will show you the ins and outs of why you think and act the way you do. She also had four books release in 2014—and three of them received great reviews with School Library Journal (one hasn't been reviewed yet).
Top Secret Science: Projects You Aren't Supposed to Know About (Scary Science) — Capstone Press
Metamorphic Rocks – ABDO Publishing
Amazing Feats of Electrical Engineering
Smart Strategies for Turning an Idea into a Product or Service
Two other books will release in 2015:
The Wonderful World of Wearable Devices — Rosen Publishing
To Be Named — Britannica Kids
PUTTING THE FUN IN FUNNY
Bring your ideas, your playful spirit and your sense of humor to this hands-on
Sugar Sand Park Community Center (561)347-3900
JANUARY 20 TO FEBRUARY 25, 2015
West Miami Middle School 7525 Coral Way, Miami, FL 33155
Tues @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm or Wed @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
(The morning class is sold out, but the evening class is still open!)
You’ve always loved to write. You enjoy reading kid or teen literature. You’ve never taken a class on how to become an author, but you’re ready to start. Is this you? Award winning author, Gaby Triana, teaches this beginner’s course on how to write fiction for a middle grade (ages 7-11) or young adult (ages 12-18) audience. Through private instruction on plotting, characterization, dialogue, pacing, sharing aloud, and receiving constructive criticism, you will learn professional writing tips for your target audience, what sells, what doesn’t, and tons of important market information from a published YA author. By the end of this course, you will have written 3 chapters and an outline for the rest of your new novel. $195 / 6-week session
Register at www.GabyTriana.com or Email: GabyTriana@gmail.com
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!
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
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
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
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: