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Welcome to Schmooze Land!

Once upon a time there were two SCBWI schmoozers who had a dream: Renee Carter and Saundra Davis imagined a schmooze centrally located in Los Angeles where fellow children’s book authors, librarians, and children’s literature fans could gather. Here they would exchange ideas to conquer the dreaded enemy, writer’s block, discuss the questions that plague many authors (to plot or not to plot), and munch on cookies. After all, Renee and Saundra had grown while attending the Westside Schmooze under its wise and creative coordinators, Rita Crayon Huang and Lee Wind. They had flourished under the the spunky and ingenious next team of Karol Silverstein and Charlie Cohen. Surely there were other children’s lit writers who could benefit from an additional schmooze.

With excitement rivaled only by a kid hyped up on a giant bag of Halloween candy, they approached the Los Angeles chapter of SCBWI. Renee and Saundra were encouraged to launch the new schmooze and learned that others were also sprouting up throughout the Southland. Gleeful yet tentative, the coordinators found a location, purchased cookies, created colorful signs, and launched the Westchester Writers Schmooze.

It has been several months, and the journey along the schmooze road has been colorful. Their first meeting, two people attended. The small but enthusiastic group had Renee and Saundra’s complete attention. The following month, there were a few more people. The coordinator danced a jig for joy (after the meeting, so as not to scare the group). By the third meeting, there were enough people to fill several tables and consume a basket of cookies. Let’s just say that Renee and Saundra were pleased that fellow schmoozers were discovering the venue.

Each month news of the Westchester Schmooze goes out far and wide. Upcoming dates and topics are posted on the SCBWI-Los Angeles chapter’s Web site on the Calendar. The coordinators email SCBWI members and send reminders to attendees. Word is spreading! The Westchester Schmooze is growing.

Writers of children’s literature are encouraged to keep coming. Fellow Schmoozers are waiting to share ideas and support one another on the road toward publication. Coordinators regularly set up stations with bottled water and cookies to help scribes keep up the strength to keep writing.

At its core, an SCBWI schmooze is a safe and magical place, designed for a unique tribe. It is a gathering point for people with ideas that may evolve into picture books, authors who spin words into young adult romance/sci-fi/fantasy, as well as middle-grade writers. These scribes are warm, shy, creative, and bold, and have each made friends with their inner child. (Hence the cookies.)

SCBWI schmoozes, like writers, come in a variety of sizes and flavors. Renee and Saundra encourage you to try them all, especially the Westchester Writers Schmooze!

The Westchester Writers Schmooze meets the first Wednesday of every month from 6:15-7:45 pm at the Westchester Loyola Library, 7114 West Manchester Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90045. Here’s a sneak peek at their upcoming meetings: a guest speaker, “Brainstorming Session: Climbing Out of Writers Quicksand,” and “Gender Lit: The Birds, Bees & Everything In-Between.” Renee and Saundra can be reached at socalkidslit@aol.com.

So what are you waiting for? Go to the SCBWI-LA website, scope out the Calendar, and pick a Schmooze. You’re guaranteed a seat, name tag, cool info about the children’s book industry, and smiling coordinators. Did we mention there will be cookies?

Renee Carter

Co-Coordinator of the SCBWI-LA Westchester Writers Schmooze