SCBWI Writers’ Conference, Southern Style

Sher A Hart here. I (almost) can’t believe I didn’t post yet about the Springmingle Conference I attended for the Southern Breeze region of the Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators (SCBWI). But it took a while to take care of the most pressing concerns once I got home. I’m still not going to say much about the details of conference because most of the information belongs to the presenters, authors Nikki Grimes, Carmen Deedy, and Beck McDowell, illustrators Will Terry, Mark Braught, and Chad Beckerman, Creative Director at Abrams. I can’t skip the agent, Jill Corcoran of Herman Agency, or the editors, Katherine Jacobs of Roaring Book Press and Dianne Hess, Executive Editor of Scholastic Press. Wow! The list alone is almost saying too much.

I’m so glad I went. Although I don’t belong in the Southern Breeze region, their conferences in Birmingham and Atlanta are closer to Florida’s panhandle than the Florida region’s in Orlando and Miami. First, I thought I’d die laughing and then crying during Carmen Deedy’s opening keynote. The below picture is the one on her website’s bio page, which I hope you will take the time to read.

What a great storyteller! You should have heard the voices Carmen did and seen all the actions too.  I wanted to drag hubby in to listen–but not bad enough to get up and find him. She is the most entertaining speaker I’ve ever heard, bar none. Check her speaking schedule here, and you’ll be glad you went. I wish I’d bought her latest book, The Cheshire Cheese Cat, pictured below. Next conference, I won’t miss it. I’m not an autograph seeker, but I want hers. You can either click here or click the picture to see all her books on her website.

My favorite workshop was “First Reads, First Looks” where we got to submit pages for the staff to analyze. As usual, there was a big difference in what the one guy liked and what the women liked. He wanted to know more about the strange flash in my book’s opening. The women wanted more characterization before the action. Is that any surprise? Not to me after raising four sons and taking my middle grade fantasy through a seventh grade and a fifth grade class. It’s a boy book. Next up, another attempt at blending characterization into the action and mystery. Thousandth try?

Informal critiques ran a close second as my favorite activity. I ended up in a group with a writer who I’d met earlier during the conference. If all goes as planned, we’re going to exchange critiques online. I’d be glad I went to conference even if all I got was new connections with other writers and illustrators. For the first time, I had a business card to hand out. But I took so long designing it, I had to get color copies made and cut them myself. 

I will add that every children’s book writer of picture books up through young adult needs to join SCBWI and get involved in all the learning activities. From critique groups to workshops and conferences, active SCBWI membership is the best way to improve your writing. What do you have to lose if you don’t join or go to any activities? Readers–and a lot of fun.

If you’ve attended a writers’ conference, what did you like most?

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.


  1. Sounds like it was productive and fun 🙂


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