January 2016 SCBWI Florida Newsletter
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Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2016 will be an amazing year for all of you, filled with good health, happiness, and tons of great writing and illustrating progress. It’s not too late to join us for the 2016 Regional Conference "Charge Toward Publishing Victory" on January 15th ~ 17th at the Sheraton Miami Airport Hotel. It’s going to be another amazing FL event. Don’t miss it!
The Novel Comprehensive on Friday is full, but there’s still room in the amazing Picture Book and Illustrator Comprehensives. Plus, we always keep our Sunday workshops available for all participants, so you can still choose your favorites.
Here are the conference faculty bios.

FIRST-PAGE CRITIQUES: 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 15. Include the title of the 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 was read aloud at a Comprehensive, please submit a different piece for this panel.

For those of you who thought you’d missed out, we’re offering the mentorship program year-round. If you’re still looking to whip your manuscript into publishable shape, we have esteemed professionals to help.
For more information about how the program works go to our website.

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. Make sure you join our group, so you’ll get up-to-date info in your feed. Follow scbwiflevents on Twitter for the latest conference news and info. You can also find us on the SCBWI Blueboard (along with many helpful discussions about children’s publishing). Make sure you sign onto with your member password, and you'll automatically be able to access the Blueboard by clicking any of the Discussion Board or Blueboard links.
Dorian Cirrone wrote a great blog post series about How to Hook Your Reader at Hello. Here’s part 1, and this is a link to part 2. Scroll through her blog for the rest of this wonderful series of posts.  Dorian randomly chooses people who comment on her blog to win prizes, like critiques, gift certificates, and signed books!
An agent explores why R&Rs often fail
7 Crucial Questions to Ask About Your Manuscript: Take the Picture Book Quiz
Free Picture Book Thumbnail Templates for Writers and Illustrators
Plot Dot Test
Pixar's Storytelling Rules
A Pretty Much Foolproof, Never-Fail, Silver-Bullet Query Opening
Query writing is a very different skill than novel writing.
Agency Lessons: Updating your query lists
Plot Tip for the Middle of a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay
Five Keys to a Quality First Page, and Five Warning Signs of Mediocre Ones
How to Differentiate Your POVs
Research for Nonfiction – Five Tips
The Magic Of Writing For Kids
5 week workshop with Gloria Rothstein
Tuesdays, 7:00 - 9:00     
January 19th ~  February 16th
Whether you’re retelling a favorite fairy tale or looking for a fresh new way to  write about familiar themes, you’ll find inspiration in this hands-on workshop.   Participate in ten-minute writing exercises and book discussions. Take a closer  look at character, setting, and point of view, as you create your own fractured  fairy tales. Learn more about the children’s market and the stories that sell.
Sugar Sand Park Community Center
300 South Military Trail
Boca Raton, Florida   33486
Adults, Ages 19 and up
Residents:  $115  *   Non-residents    $143.75
Picture Book Comprehensive:
  • Bring a picture book WIP to work on.
  • Bring a first page without your name on it for a possible critique in front of the group.
  • Attendees also may want to familiarize themselves with these works as Grace Kendall will be referring to them:
Little Blue Truck (Schertle/McElmurry), A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Stead/Stead), Miss Rumphius (Cooney), the Hot Rod Hamster series (Lord/Anderson), the Pout-Pout Fish series, and the No, David! books (Shannon).
Novel Comprehensive:
A) Write down three immutable laws or “commandments” of your story world.
B) Bring a one-paragraph description of a nonfiction element that underpins your novel (a bit of science, an historical incident, etc.)
C) Bring along a copy of a novel that you found truly page-turning.
D) Bring the opening scene of your novel, along with another scene from the middle of the story, if you have it.
E) Bring in an anonymous first page of a manuscript for possible critique.
The 2015 Crystal Kite Winner for Florida and Georgia is…
Kerry O'Malley Cerra!!
She’ll receive her award in Miami. Kerry does so much for SCBWI-FL. I hope you’ll find Kerry at the conference and congratulate her on this win for her amazing middle grade novel, JUST A DROP OF WATER. 

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, let me know and I’ll see if we have any openings for you or if I can help you start a new online group.   
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:

Here are some critique groups that are new or are actively looking for new members.
SCBWI SoFL PB Critique Group is actively looking for members for their online group. This group will have up to 8 members and submit via a private Facebook page. E-mail group leader Allyson Levitt for more details:
*We have several new critique groups that are starting to form. I’m going to send a newsletter soon that has updated critique group info in it. Please let me know if there have been any changes to your group, or if you’d like to start or join a group. So many members seek critique groups right after a conference, so this is the perfect time to find or start an amazing new group.
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
SCBWI FL Newsletter Editor and Critique Group Coordinator 
You can find me on Facebook and Twitter.
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:
A new year is like an Etch A Sketch—you get to shake things up, clear the screen, and start all over again. Do you want to make 2016 the year when your writing moves to the next level, you secure an agent, sell that manuscript, and/or see your writing dreams begin to come true? Well shake things up, clear the screen, and start the year learning, connecting with other writers, and networking with publishing professionals. In other words, come to an SCBWI Florida meeting.
February 6, 2016 from 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Featured Speaker: Rob Sanders
Topic: Simple Revision Strategies that Really Work
Bloomingdale Public Library
1908 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico, Florida

This workshop will introduce you to thirteen simple, effective revision strategies that will allow you to build a stronger manuscript. We’ll be using the tools we discover during the session—none of that sit-and-get stuff for us. Novelists, bring at least one chapter. Picture book writers, bring an entire manuscript or two. Be ready to work, learn, share, and have a great time together.
Rob Sanders is a former editor, a writing teacher, and a picture book writer. Since getting serious about writing picture books seven years ago, he has sold six books to three major houses, has landed a terrific agent, and has gained unparalleled riches and fame. Ok, the last part’s not true, but everything else is!
March 5, 2016 from 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Featured Speaker: Madeleine Kuderick
Topic: Writing in Verse
Jimmy B. Keel Public Library
2902 W. Bearss Ave. Tampa, FL 33618

We’ve been lucky to have several awesome workshops at the Hagen Ranch library in Delray Beach, and SCBWI FL South Florida Area Coordinator, Allyson Levitt has many more planned. These are FREE for SCBWI members! Contact Allyson if you have any questions or want more information about these events:
The next South Florida event will be either February 6th or 7th. We’ll share the details as soon as they’re confirmed, and hope to see you there!  
Eric Myers formerly with The Spieler Agency, has moved to Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.
FL SCBWI Success Story
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.

Melody Maysonet
It’s been almost a year since my YA novel A WORK OF ART made its debut, but seeing it in the bookstore still feels surreal. Maybe because I spent so much of my life dreaming about becoming a published author, never truly believing my dream could come true.
I had been writing books since I was a teen, but it wasn’t until I began hanging out with other writers who were serious about getting published that I started putting in the work to improve my craft. I joined Joyce Sweeney’s Tuesday critique group, and they were the ones who introduced me to SCBWI, who persuaded me to go to my first conference, and who convinced me to sign up for a critique with (gasp!) real authors, agents, and editors.
That was two years ago, and I was as starry-eyed as they come. Brian Farrey-Latz, editor of Flux books, and Alex Flinn, of BEASTLY fame, were two of the presenters (as well as my critiquers), and I remember watching them in awe and soaking in everything they had to say. I learned so much during that weekend, and I came home with renewed purpose. Getting published no longer seemed like a pipe dream. If other people could do it, then so could I.
Or at least that’s what I told myself on that particular day. On another day, I’d have myself convinced that this whole writing thing was too hard and there was no way I was ever going to get an agent, let alone a publisher—especially given the tough subject matter of my book. “Edgy” YA was a term I’d used to categorize A WORK OF ART, but that didn’t seem to prepare the reader for just how disturbing the subject was. Six months after that first SCBWI conference, I started submitting and I had several agents tell me the book was beautifully written, but maybe it was too dark.
I spent five months querying agents and after all the emotional ups and downs of that, I was ready to put A WORK OF ART in a drawer and chalk it up as a learning experience. But then I followed up on some of the agents I hadn’t heard from, and lo and behold, one of those agents (the wonderful Tina P. Schwartz, of the Purcell Agency) asked to see the first three chapters and then the whole thing and then... (cue music) she offered representation.
Even then, I was prepared for the long haul. I knew a handful of writers who’d been agented for years but hadn’t yet sold. And yet… a mere two weeks after signing with Tina, she told me that two of the three editors she’d sent it to were interested. One of them was Jacequelyn Mitchard of Merit Press, a bestselling novelist in her own right (and one of the key speakers at our June conference). For a week, I tried not get my hopes up, even while scouring the Internet for anything and everything I could find about Merit Press and Jacequelyn Mitchard. Could this possibly be happening? Was it too good to be true? I was sitting in my weekly critique group when Tina called with the good news. Merit Press wanted to buy my book.
So for anyone who thinks this whole getting-published thing is too hard—that it will never happen to them—I say, keep going to those workshops and keep surrounding yourself with good teachers and good writers. I had my best “A-ha!” moments while sitting in workshops, and if it wasn’t for my critique group and the people of SCBWI, I might still be sitting at home wondering if I dared approach an agent. 
Thanks for sharing your great news and inspiring story with us, Melody. I hope everyone comes up and congratulates you after you speak on the First Books Panel at the Miami conference.
The first chapter of A WORK OF ART was recently performed by high school students for their Readers Theater! Click here to check it out.
You can find out more about Melody on  FacebookTwitter, or her website.
The book trailer for A WORK OF ART was created by our very own Curtis Sponsler, Co-Regional Advisor for SCBWI-FL.
Huge congrats to Christina Diaz Gonzalez—her paperback for The Red Umbrella is in its 10th printing!
Rob Sanders is pleased to announce that his book OUTER SPACE BEDTIME RACE has been named to the RhyPiBoMo BEST IN RHYME Top 20 Rhyming Picture Books for 2015 list. The list is posted on the KidLit TV blog. The first place award winner and honor books were announced at the 2015 “Best in Rhyme” Awards Ceremony at the KidLit Studio in NYC on Friday, December 4. You can find the list of the top twenty titles here.
Christy Ottaviano at Henry Holt's Christy Ottaviano Books has acquired author Silvia Lopez and artist Guido Daniele's Handimals: Animals in Art and Nature, a picture book featuring painted and posed animal hand art set alongside facts and photos of the corresponding animals in nature. It's scheduled to publish in 2017; Karen Grencik at Redfox Literary represented Lopez and Tim Mitchell at Tim Mitchell Artist Representative represented Daniele in the deal for world rights.   
Katy Betz—I FORGIVE YOU, written by Nicole Lataif and illustrated by Katy, won a 2015 Christopher Award for Books for Young People. Katy also signed with Chris Ewers at CATugeau Artist Agency. Way to go, Katy!
Toni Buzzeo— Toni's first board book (and first nonfiction book) WHOSE TOOLS? illustrated by Jim Datz (Abrams Appleseed) is out. So far, it has earned a star in Kirkus and has been selected as a prison nursery title for the unPrison Project by the Children's Book Council in honor of Children's Book Week. Yay, Toni!
Joni Klein-Higger—Joni’s picture book, RAINBOW OF FRIENDSHIP (illustrated by fellow SCBWI Florida member, Eileen Goldenberg) was released by Guardian Angel Publishing. Joni’s children’s musical playbook, RED (co-written with Jane Lesh), was also released by Guardian Angel Publishing. Congrats, Joni and Eileen!
ALSC Notable Children's Books Committee has honored Sandra Markle’s book TOAD WEATHER (Peachtree Publishers). Congrats, Sandra!

Congrats to Stacie Ramey for the release her young adult novel, The Sister Pact! Allie's not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister's death or facing her new reality without her.
If you’re going to the conference, you’ll see Stacie on the First Books Panel. Don’t forget to congratulate her.
Jill Dana’s second picture book HER BROWN HAIR was published by Guardian Angel Publishing (May 2015).  A poetic look at friendship through ups and downs: sharing and imagining books, feeling well and unwell, and visiting each other. Through poetic text and mixed-media clay illustrations, this book examines the narrator’s experience through a unique lens. A companion piece to HER PINK HAIR (November 2014).
Congrats to all of our amazing authors and illustrators with recent releases!
**I used to scroll through Facebook trying to gather all the good news for our members, but haven’t had much time and feel awful about missing celebrations with many of you. PLEASE send me your good news for PAL books and magazines, book signings, awards, signing with an agent, etc. It helps if you paste it into an e-mail with any links I’ll need. If I have a lot of good news to share soon after the conference, I’ll send it in a special newsletter blast along with the critique group updates. You’ve all worked so hard, and I absolutely love sharing your writing and illustrating milestones. I hope to hear from you soon! (
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:
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