Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Spring 2014

Hi everyone,


Just wait until you see all the good news for our members—including a whole bunch that happened either during or soon after our last conference in Miami. I’m excited to share the faculty for our 2014 Mid-Year Workshop in Orlando. It’s going to be another incredible event, and I hope it will lead to many more success stories for all of you!


Click Here for Registration


Here are the workshops for Saturday, June 7, 2014


Picture Book:


Alexandra Penfold — an agent at Upstart Crow Literary and has been working in publishing for over a decade. Formerly an Editor at Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, she represents young picture books, middle-grade fiction, and young adult. Prior to becoming an editor, Alexandra was a children's book publicist.  


Leslie Helakoski — children's author and illustrator. She is the author of eight award winning picture books such as Big Chickens, Woolbur, and Fair Cow. She has illustrated her three most recent books, including her newest release Big Pigs.  


Frank Remkewicz — author/illustrator who has illustrated children's books by many authors, including Alma Flor Ada and Betsy Byars. His self-illustrated works have met with positive critical reception, but he is perhaps best known as the illustrator for the popular "Horrible Harry" and "Song Lee" series, written by Suzy Kline, and the "Froggy" series, written by Jonathan London. Remkiewicz's drawings have been described by Diane Roback of Publishers Weekly as "bold swatches of color crisply outlined."


Marcia Wernick — an agent at Wernick & Pratt Agency who represents authors whose works range through all genres for children. She currently works with best-selling and award-winning author and illustrator Bryan Collier, Jackie Urbanovic, and flying-start middle grade novelist Kathleen O’Dell, and Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. Marcia continues to love finding new talent, and is always drawn to strong voices and age-appropriate stories that engage, entertain, and amuse the reader. In fiction, strong opening lines and first chapters that compel one to read on are key. She’s a sucker for southern voices, but overall shies away from mean-spirited characters and horror. 


Middle Grade:


Deborah Wiles — author of picture books and novels for young readers including LOVE, RUBY LAVENDER and EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS, a National Book Award Finalist. COUNTDOWN and her newest book, REVOLUTION, are documentary novels, the first of their kind — fiction with primary source scrapbooks and biographies — and are books one and two of "The Sixties Trilogy: Three Novels of the 1960s for Young Readers." She teaches and
writes from Atlanta, Georgia.


Carter Hasegawa — assistant editor at Candlewick Press. Since 2008, he's been a children's bookseller at various independent bookstores in Seattle and in Cambridge, which he still continues to do part-time when not at Candlewick. Some of his favorite, non-Candlewick books include: The Notorious Benedict Arnold, Jellicoe Road, Eleanor & Park, Ready Player One, Three Times Lucky, and many, MANY others. Basically anything that has a great voice, is a good story, and is "unputdownable."


Young Adult:


Wendy Loggia — Executive Editor at Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, where she edits middle grade and YA fiction. She’s especially interested in girl-driven, commercial stories, and there’s really no fiction genre she won’t acquire for, although she’s not really a “high fantasy” person.


Marjetta Geerling — author of Fancy White Trash (Viking), an ALA 2009 Best Books for Young Adults and 2009 Rainbow List selection. She holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Spalding University. Marjetta lives in Miami Beach where she teaches composition at several local colleges as well as private writing workshops for teens and adults.


Common Core:


Melissa Stewart award-winning author of more than 150 nonfiction books for children, including Feathers: Not Just for Flying; No Monkeys, No Chocolate; Under the Snow; A Place for Butterflies; and Animal Grossapedia. Melissa maintains the blog Celebrate Science and serves on the board of advisors for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. 


Sandra Markle — she’s the author of more than 200 non-fiction books for children and has won numerous awards for this work. In addition to her books, she has developed science specials for CNN and PBS. She is also noted for being Ms. Whiz on television in Atlanta, Georgia and for developing two widely acclaimed Internet-based programs for the National Science Foundation: On-Line Expedition: Antarctica, one of the first on-line educational programs from a remote location, and Kit & Kaboodle, an Internet-based science education program that has been used by thousands of schools in all fifty states plus eleven countries.



Tamar Mays, editor for HarperChildren’s fifty year old Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out series, a heavily illustrated science series for elementary school children. Her editorial focus is early childhood, from age four through about third grade.  Tamar edits Harper’s I Can Read! series, many Pinkalicious titles, as well as picture books and first chapter books. Previously, Tamar was the manager for the Lucky School Book Club (for 2nd and 3rd graders) at Scholastic.


Best Self-Publishing Practices:


Steve Mooser, SCBWI co-founder and President and author of more than 60 books for children from picture book titles such as The Ghost with the Halloween Hiccups, to nonfiction, Lights! Camera! Scream!, series and chapter books including The All-Star Meatballs and The Creepy Creature Club, and novels such as It’s A Weird, Weird School and Class Clown Academy. A former filmmaker and treasure hunter many of his adventures have found their way into his books. Among his awards is The Christopher Medal for The New York Kids Book and a 2010 Eric Carle Honor Award as a Mentor. 



Jaimie Engle — an award-winning middle-grade author from Melbourne, Florida. Her young adult novella placed honorable mentions in the 2013 L. Ron Hubbard’s Writer’s of the Future contest and she placed second in the 2012 Space Coast Writer’s Guild short story competition. She is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreword Literary.

Here are the incredible intensives for Friday, June 6, 2014*


Picture book: 


Carter Hasegawa, Leslie Helakoski



Novel Intensive:


Wendy Loggia, Alexandra Penfold and Deborah Wiles



Illustrator Intensive:


Marcia Wernick, Sarah Baker, and Frank Remkiewicz


Sarah Baker is the Director of Illustration and Artist Programs at SCBWI. She manages and develops the illustrator grants, awards, and scholarships, advises and mentors SCBWI illustrator members, and serves as the designer and art director for the Bulletin and all other SCBWI publications. Before coming to SCBWI, Sarah designed children's books for six years at Penguin Young Readers Group. 


*See the Saturday workshop tracks for info about the rest of the intensive faculty members. The full bios for all faculty members should be up on our website soon! 


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:


April 19 — Next SCBWI FL Tampa Bay Writers Meeting

Master Class with Richard Peck via DVD—Writing the Novel for the Younger Reader followed by debriefing and discussion

✑ Saturday, April 19, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

✑ Bloomingdale Public Library, Valrico, Florida


April 26 — Augusta Scattergood—The Journey to Glory Be

✑ Saturday, April 26, 2:00 p.m.

✑ St. Petersburg Main Library

✑ Come hear Augusta in this open-to-the-public presentation

✑ Copies of Glory Be will be available for purchase and to be autographed


May — SCBWI FL Tampa Bay Writers Online Book Study

The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, Third Edition

by Christopher Vogler

✑ The book study will last throughout the month of May

✑ Weekly posts will summarize/discuss each chapter. Participants may read the book, read the posts, and comment to share their insights

✑ The book study will conclude with a face-to-face coffee and pastries or appetizers and drinks get-together




If you’re interested in joining or forming a local critique group, I’m here to help! Fill in the form at the bottom of the newsletter and send it to me. I’m also in the process of setting up online critique groups (yes, there’s a form for that, too, at the bottom of the newsletter). 


We hope to have all our current critique group information on our website soon! Until then, you can check out the list on our Facebook page. I added a few new groups that are starting below since uploading the list. 


I’d love to see every FL SCBWI member in at least one incredible, active critique group! If you want help finding a critique group or have any questions, please e-mail me at:




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


Marcia Nass would like to start 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


Jeanne Kraus and Carol Nevius are starting a group in Tamarac/Broward for picture books through YA. Contact Jeanne at:


Lauri Corkum and Sheryl Hartwell lead this group that meets at the Niceville Public Library, 9:30am every other Wednesday. They’re actively acquiring new members because they have two moving out of their area. Members bring ten pages to be critiqued—they request that you email them out to the members NLT than the Monday before the meeting. PB, MG, YA, paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, dystopian, contemporary–all genres welcome! Contact Lauri: for more information.


Kristin Spero is starting a critique group in Cape Coral for Young Adult novels. They will meet the second Saturday of every month from 1 pm – 4 pm beginning May 10, 2014. Please email Kristin at for the Cape Coral location. The group will submit their works in progress to group members through email and discuss them at the meetings. Bring notes, an open mind and an open heart!


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. 


Laurie Dennison is starting a group for PB through YA, meeting on Wednesday nights or Saturdays. Contact Laurie for more information:, (678) 469-3640.

New illustrator critique group forming in Broward County!


Group leader: Angela Padron

Contact info:

This group meets one time per month, 7-9 pm. Location TBD (I'm thinking of making the group meet at the Nova South Eastern library in Davie because they have study rooms and a large children's book section that we can "research" each month)

Open to new members? Yes, however must have basic knowledge of children's book illustration OR be willing to learn prior to attending their first meeting. Must email sample of a drawing or an illustration or give link to online portfolio/blog with inquiry. SCBWI members only.

What to bring to meetings: Must be willing to bring a character sketch, full sketch or finished illustration each month for critique. 

Focus/Genres: Children's book illustration (including picture books, board books, educational illustration, magazine illustrations, graphic novels).



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 (
Foreword Literary hires Sara Sciuto as Children’s Specialist and Associate Agent

Agent Danielle Smith, formerly of Foreword Literary, has moved to Red Fox Literary.

Kirby Kim joined Janklow & Nesbit on March 18. Kim was at William Morris Endeavor.

Brooks Sherman is now at the Bent Agency. Check out his wish list here. 

Literary agent Kirsten Hall launched a new company, Catbird Productions, which packages books for publishers, as well as operate as a boutique literary agency for children’s book author/illustrators, with an emphasis on previously unpublished authors/ illustrators. Hall is Catbird Productions' sole proprietor.

Little, Brown Children's announced a number of promotions. Connie Hsu has been promoted to senior editor, while Mary-Kate Gaudet moves up to editor. Patti Ann Harris has been promoted to executive art director, while Saho Fuji moves up to associate art director and Liz Casal moves up to senior designer. Mara Lander has been promoted to associate director, brand marketing, while Li Zhang moves up to senior designer, marketing.

Sarah Shumway joined Bloomsbury Children's Books as senior editor on March 3. Previously she was senior editor at Harper Children's Katherine Tegen Books imprint.

Bloomsbury will consolidate Walker Children's Books into the larger Bloomsbury Children's, resulting in the departure of Walker Books publisher Emily Easton, PW reports. 

Capstone Publishing Adds YA Imprint

Rubin Pfeffer Adds a New Cap: Solo Literary Agent

At Candlewick, Mary Lee Donovan has been promoted to editorial director.The SCBWI Work-In-Progress (WIP) Grants assist children’s book writers and illustrators in the completion of a specific project currently not under contract.


Award: Seven Grants of $2,000 will be awarded annually, one in each category. Seven Runner-Up Grants of $500 will also be awarded, one in each category. Authors of other projects cited by the judges as noteworthy will receive a Letter of Merit. In any given year, the SCBWI Grant Committee reserves the right to withhold the grant for that year.

Deadline: Applications may be submitted March 1-March 31

Eligibility: The grant is open to authors with a current work-in-progress. Illustrators can apply for one of the Don Freeman Grants

Winners will be announced in early August.



Text Only:

✑ Picture Book Text (Barbara Karlin Grant)

✑ General Fiction

✑ Contemporary young adult novel

✑ Multi-cultural fiction

✑ Nonfiction research

Additional Text Awards (you may apply for these in addition to the text categories above):

Karen Cushman Grant (for an unpublished author over 50) (To apply for this you will send an additional application to the same address with "Cushman" in the subject line)

Anna Cross Giblin Award for Nonfiction (you do not send an additional application, this is chosen from all applications submitted to the Nonfiction category)

Unpublished Author Award (you do not send an additional application, this is chosen from all applications by unpublished authors across all the other text categories)

For Illustrators:

Don Freeman Illustrator Grants


Each year, the SCBWI sponsors four conference scholarships for full-time graduate or undergraduate students studying illustration. (Two for the New York conference, two for the Los Angeles conference)



2014 Winter Conference in New York: December 1 — January 1

2014 Summer Conference in Los Angeles, March 15 — April 15


Each year the SCBWI sponsors two student writer scholarships to the Summer and Winter Conferences for full-time university students in an English or Creative Writing program. 



Summer Conference in Los Angeles, April 15

Winter Conference in New York, December 15




RhyPiBoMo is a month-long writing challenge for children’s writers aspiring to write rhyming picture books and poetry. It started on March 30th and runs for a little over a month. Check out the awesome calendar of guest bloggers and the lesson schedule. Besides being learning and receiving tons of motivation, you can also win prizes. Click here to register.  


Winners of the Youth Media Awards | ALA Midwinter 2014


Illustration Friday—a fun, weekly illustration challenge



Great Contest News for our Members!


Huge congrats to Nancy Cavanaugh! Her book, THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET (Sourcebook), continues to rack up awards. Nancy just won the Gold Medal in the Florida State Book Awards for Children’s Literature, and will be included on the South Carolina and Maryland state book lists for 2014-2015.


Dianne Ochiltree’s book, It’s a Firefly Night (Blue Apple Books, 2013), won the Florida Book Awards, Silver Medal this year. Dianne recently attended the awards ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee. Her book Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter (Calkins Creek, 2012) won the Bronze Medal in last year’s Florida Book Awards. Congrats, Dianne! 

Marianne Berkes has great news to share about her picture book—Over in a River, Flowing Out to the Seapublished in Fall 2013, won a Mom's Choice Gold Award. It also won the Bronze Medal in the Florida Book Award's Children's Literature Category. 


* We shared the winners of the 2013 SCBWI Florida Writing Contest Rising Kite Awards in a mini news blast. Huge congrats again to all the winners! Here’s a link to the list in case you missed it. 


I have some good news to shout out, too! My middle grade novel, MOM WARS, won an honorable mention in the 2014 Rate Your Story Contest





Writing Group Rules


How To Write Children’s Picture Books


A Story in a 1000 Words or Less – tips for picture book writers


Q&A with Steven Malk of Writers House


What Do Agents Like to See When They Google Writers?


Researching Agents


Should You Write the Whole Book?


100 Magnificent Children’s Books 2013


What's Selling at Children's Book World


Bologna 2014: Realism Reigns


Why Setting Is Important


Is Your Description Helping Your Story or Holding it Back?


What to Include on the News Page of Your Website


Separate vs. Joint Accounting



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 Conference Success Stories! 


We usually have one success story each month, but with all the amazing news flooding in after connections made at our conferences helped members sign with an agent or editor, we have quite a few success stories to celebrate. I’m still happy dancing for everyone, and hope that we’ll have many more success stories to shout out after the Orlando Workshop in June!


Huge congrats to Peggy Robbins Janousky, who had one of the most magical experiences I’ve seen happen during a conference. Here’s what she sent me to share with you:  I have attended many picture book intensives over the years, but this one topped them all. If you haven't taken an intensive before, I strongly urge you to consider it. Intensives are exactly that, intense. They give you the opportunity to delve in deeper and they also give you the opportunity to get to know the presenters on a more intimate level. I came away from this intensive with a new sense of purpose and drive. I also came away with a few good friends. All in all, it was money worth spending.


I have to admit, I almost did not attend the Miami conference. I was having a pity party and I wasn't really up for the company. I had broken my leg in three places. Needless to say, getting around was a wee bit difficult. I was ready to bale. I am glad I didn't. The first page of my manuscript was read during "first page reads". Much to my surprise, the panel loved it. One editor wanted to know who wrote it, an agent wanted to read more, and another editor wanted to acquire it. I have to admit, I was in shock. By the end of the weekend, thanks to the help of a good friend, I had signed with that agent. Just one month later… My bio and picture are up on the East West Literary website. The editor that I mentioned is considering 3 of my manuscripts. And I am still pinching myself. I will tell you that this was not an overnight success. I have attended many conferences and taken copious notes. I have revised, cut, and revised some more. I have also had moments where I was so rejected that I thought I would never put myself through another critique again. So what's the moral of the story? Never give up. Never let pity or self-doubt get the upper hand. Believe with all your heart that your day will come. Then get off your butt and get to that conference. Your happily ever after is waiting for you to show up!


Congrats to Alexandra Alessandri for having a magical moment right after our Miami Conference! Here’s the great news she has to share with us: I've always said I love the SCBWI Florida conferences. I've learned so much in the past few years and met some amazing writers and industry professionals. This conference was not much different, with the exception that because of it, I can now say I’m represented by the fabulous Deborah Warren of East West Literary! My YA novels and picture books are in perfect hands. Thank you to Linda, Gaby, Kerry and the rest of the SCBWI Florida team for the magic you bring to these conferences!



Congratulations to Shannon Hitchcock on the sale of her MG Historical, CAROLINA GIRLS, to Andrea Pinkney at Scholastic. It's the summer of 1969 and a family accident changes Sarah's life. Coping with her sister's health problems, a move to a small farm, and worried how school integration will affect her relationship with her best friend, Sarah will need all the courage she can muster.


I asked Shannon to share more about her sale—which happened because of a connection she made with Andrea Pinkney at one of our conferences! This wasn’t an overnight success story—it took a lot of hard work and dedication. In an e-mail to me, Shannon ended by saying: “Nothing happens easily for me in this business. It's like that Mary Chapin Carpenter song, "Everything I got, I got it the hard way." I love being able to celebrate the results of Shannon’s hard work—what an inspiration to keep at it, because you never know when you’ll have that magical moment.
Here’s the rest of what Shannon said:

I first connected with Andrea Pinkney in Orlando. I believe it was the 2012 conference. I had written a picture book about school integration and specifically attended the conference hoping to meet Andrea. I signed up to have CORN SILK critiqued, but was not assigned to work with Andrea. Not to be deterred, I attended every workshop Andrea taught that weekend. At one point she asked if anyone would like to read their first page out loud to her. I did so, and afterward Andrea gave me her business card and asked to see the manuscript as a formal submission. Deborah Warren subbed it to her. About six months later, Andrea rejected the PB, but said she would like to see a MG novel from me that had the same themes as the PB. The thing was I had a MG novel that featured a friendship between an African-American girl and a white girl. I started wondering if I could combine the two ideas. I drew up a new outline and basically started from scratch. I took a completed draft to a namelos Whole Novel Workshop and worked with the amazing Carolyn Coman. When I felt the draft was strong enough, Deborah subbed it to Andrea. That same day, Andrea asked if I would consider rewriting the manuscript from third person to first person. I agreed to do so. Then Andrea and I spoke on the phone and she shared her vision for the manuscript. I took copius notes and continued to revise. Finally it was ready to send back to Andrea. Deborah Warren shared that Andrea liked the revision, but then nothing happened for a while. Several months later, Deborah called to say it was too close to the holidays and a bad time for Andrea to take the manuscript to acquisitions. We agreed to wait. Deborah, Andrea, and I had a private meeting at the Miami SCBWI Conference. Andrea shared that she would be taking the manuscript to acquisitions and we would have an answer by the end of February. On February 27th, 2014, nearly two years after the Orlando Conference, I got the call. My novel CAROLINA GIRLS will be edited by Andrea Pinkney and published by Scholastic. I am walking on sunshine and it feels good!



Huge congrats to Zebo Ludvicek! Here’s the conference success story she sent me: I am over the moon (and back) to share with all you fellow SCBWIers that I am now represented by Marcia Wernick of Wernick & Pratt agency. I'd like to share how this happened to me, because someday, this opportunity will present itself to you. And you need to recognize it and GO FOR IT! (Just like I did.) The setting: Miami SCBWI Conference January 2013 I am sitting across from Marcia Wernick for a 15 minute critique, trying in vain to impress her with my portfolio filled with entirely wrong images (my murals, pet portraits and puzzle art)….and I know it. But the critique began with Marcia opening my ancient portfolio and snapping the tab off with her hand. So as she sat there aghast with the tab in her hand, I roared with laughter and said "I guess you will remember me now!" It was Marcia's turn to laugh. The critique started on a great foundation. Humor. I had the wrong portfolio but I realized then, I had the right agent….for me. We had a second meeting and as it wound down Marcia asked me to work up an entirely new portfolio for her. "Give me a year," I said. (And meant it). I left that conference floating. Who knew? An SCBWI conference in Miami. A random critique. And now an agent who wants to see more of your work? Floating. The setting: my studio January to October 2013 In front of me on my desk, by my Mac, is a slip of paper on which is written "6:15 today. Marcia Wernick" ….the paper I was given at the SCBWI Miami Conference informing me of my critique time. On top of that is the old, red tab that Marcia broke off my portfolio. I look at this when I 'd rather be outside, over there, anywhere but working on one more illustration on my computer. Another illustration for an entirely new portfolio for an agent who may or may not like it. May or may not email me a pleasantly worded rejection. I look at this to keep me focused. And to simply keep trying. To GO FOR IT! I recognized that the door to my dreams was opened just a crack at that Miami critique. Now it was up to me to do the work required to swing that door wide and walk through. Run through! Finally, in October, I am finished the illustrations. I email her the new work and mention the broken tab, as in "Remember me? You worked havoc on my portfolio?" Ah….humor. And then I wait. Every email notification…is it Marcia? Day after day. We have all been through it. I resist the urge to email her an annoying "Did you get a chance to look at my portfolio?" email. But what I do is email her a picture book manuscript. And wait. Then another. And wait. After that, more illustrations. I email her more work….again and again. Finally, one day, it's HER!!! So, to make an already way too long story shorter, one year, one month and 22 days after my first Miami critique with Marcia Wernick, (but who's counting) a signed contract from Wernick & Pratt arrived in the mail. The right agent. And now, an almost right portfolio. GO FOR IT! (Just like I did). And one more thing……of vast importance. I want to thank Linda Bernfeld for her invaluable help in SO many ways and on SO many levels. This is because of you.


Thanks for sharing your story, Zebo! If you want to check out her current online portfolio, click here



Maria Middleton is doing a series of books with Ethan Long…all because she met him in Orlando last year! Congrats, Ethan. 



More incredible news for our members


Huge congrats to Jaimie Engle! Here’s the awesome news she has for us: I am so excited to share that I am now represented by the amazing Pam van Hylckama Vleig of Foreword Literary for my middle grade fantasy adventure titled DREADLANDS. Pam represents the talented Vivi Barnes and just sold her second book to Entangled. I queried Pam on February 1st and had a very excited full request the next day: “You said Vikings and wolves and JUST SEND IT!!” A month later, she called to offer me representation. I’ve got to say, I thought I was going to puke in the bushes and my mind went completely blank. It felt like getting that phone call from the cute boy in school asking me out when I was in middle school. I totally freaked! And I’ve got to say her two minute phone call made everything worth it: every time I toiled over just the right word or didn’t watch a movie so I could edit or cried over another rejection or wondered why in the world I was putting myself through this insanity. For those of you reading this who are on your journey toward acquiring an agent, all I can say is IT IS SOOOO WORTH IT!!  Thank you to Linda Bernfeld and the AMAZING members of the FL SCBWI for your tireless support, wisdom, and encouragement. Check out my QueryTracker interview and follow my journey to publication at



Stacy B. Davids, Aventura critique group leader, is thrilled to report she has an agent – Eric Myers of the Spieler Agency!  After she accepted representation, two other agents also expressed interest in her nonfiction picture book about cookies. The manuscript won an “Honorable Mention” in the first, annual SCBWI FL Rising Kite Awards. She is happy that her agent also likes her light-hearted, GLBTQ-themed, fiction picture book. If anyone can suggest editors that might want a GLBTQ picture book, feel free to send her their names.



Medeia Sharif has two book sales to share with us. Huge congrats, Medeia! The first is THE WINTER I LOST ALL MY PRETTY HAIR, Evernight Teen, ebook and POD, 2014, Young Adult. Tabby Karim has plans: nab a role in the school play, make Michael hers, and keep bigoted Heather at bay. When a teacher’s lie and her father’s hastiness rob her of her beautiful hair, her dreams are dashed. She spearheads Operation Revenge, which proves satisfying until Tabby’s problems deepen.


And here’s the second sale that Medeia recently made—it should be both in ebook and paperback, but doesn’t have a release date yet. THE ATTIC OF SAND AND SECRETS, Featherweight Press, Middle Grade. Lily, a learning disabled girl, attempts to unravel the mystery of her abducted mother using supernatural clues from an ancient stranger, even when it means posing a danger to herself.



Huge congrats to Angela Padron for all her successes! After graduating in 2011 with her MFA in Illustration, Angela Padron sent out lots of promotional packages, hoping to land an illustration project with a book publisher. Almost two years later, her dream came true not once but twice! First came Free Spirit Publishing who asked Angela to be the illustrator for "My Body Belongs to Me" written by Jill Starishevsky. The book is about guiding young children to understand abuse and that their private parts belong to them alone. It comes out on May 1, 2014 – take a peek inside the book here. A few weeks after that project started, Albert Whitman & Co. contacted Angela to illustrate "The Hero in You" written by Ellis Paul. The entire text of the book is comprised of Ellis Paul's lyrics to songs that he wrote about famous heroes, such as Chief Joseph, Albert Einstein, and Rosa Parks. The book will be released on September 1, 2014 – check out the cover Amazon!



Lisa J. Michaels’ article, “Cashing in by Compromising”, is included in “Art Tips” in the March/April 2014 issue of the SCBWI BULLETIN. Congrats, Lisa!


Huge congrats to Sandra Markle! Her book, THE LONG, LONG JOURNEY (Millbrook/Lerner, 2014), has been included in the CCBC Choice 2014, the annual best-of-the-year list of the Cooperative Children's Book Center!


Congrats, Donna Gephart! On Facebook, she posted: First review of DEATH BY TOILET PAPER from an ARC sent out by Random House. Five lovely stars and this: "I laughed. I cried. This book has so much heart. I will definitely handsell this book." It's scary to read the very first review, so THANK YOU to this bookseller for such a nice review.


Check out this cover reveal for JUST A DROP OF WATER by our amazing Critique Coordinator, Kerry O’Malley Cerra. Kerry’s middle grade novel will be published September 2, 2014 from Sky Pony Press. Set in Coral Springs, Florida, this is the story of two thirteen-year-old boys and how their friendship is tested in the wake of September 11. The incredible cover was created by FL SCBWI member Katy Betz.  


Here's the world premiere of Gaby Triana’s SUMMER OF YESTERDAY book trailer, created by her wonderfully talented friend and fellow SCBWI member, Curtis Sponsler! Gaby does so much for us as Co-FL SCBWI Regional Advisor. She’s also a talented author, and I can’t wait to read her new YA. 


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



Fred Koehler’s picture book, HOW TO CHEER UP DAD, is out! Check out this great PW review! It also received a starred review from Kirkus! 

Join him on Saturday, April 5, 1:00 p.m. at the Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, Florida to celebrate his new picture book!



Aimee Reid’s first picture book, MAMA’S DAY WITH LITTLE GRAY, just released from Random House. 



Erica Cameron’s YA, Sing Sweet Nightingale, the first book in her Dream War Saga was recently released by Spencer Hill Press. Click here to read the first eight pages of chapter one.



Marianne Berkes just had two new informational picture books released this spring: 


The Swamp Where Gator Hides, Dawn Publications, February 2014 and

Daisylocks, Arbordale Publishing (formerly Sylvan Dell Publishing), March 2014



Congrats, Annette Dauphin Simon! ROBOT ZOMBIE FRANKENSTEIN! recently returned in ROBOT BURP HEAD SMARTYPANTS!. Yeah, it's silly. And fun. Also, educational. heh heh.



Christina Farley’s YA, GILDED, was recently released by Skyscape. Check out the trailer for her story about a girl with a black belt and deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows. GILDED hit #1 in YA Kindle book sales! 



Huge congrats to Steven dos Santos for the release of THE SOWING, the second book in his Torch Keeper series.

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



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: