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Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions. Paulo Coelho

Sh. Oaks Library front view copy_Schmooze Spotlight

Sherman Oaks Library

On the fourth Monday of the month co-coordinators Karen Sampson and Jennifer S. Pitts gather together with a friendly group of writers and illustrators at the Sherman Oaks Library, in the heart of the beautiful San Fernando Valley. Their goal is to help Schmoozers assuage the solitary art of writing and illustrating while fulfilling their natural human desire to share.

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In the summer of 2014 Karen saved the San Fernando Valley Schmoozers from a fate (almost) worse than death–LA traffic–and accepted the challenge offered by the SCBWI Regional Advisors to start a Schmooze in the valley. After several months of going it alone, Jennifer joined Karen in January of 2015. The enthusiasm of Karen’s recent SCBWI membership coupled with the dedication of Jennifer’s long term membership brings a unique perspective to their Schmoozes. This Yin and Yang of experience allows them to meet the needs of the writers and illustrators at various stages in their journey. In recent months San Fernando Valley Schmoozers have had opportunities to peruse The Picturesque World of Picture Books, question Query Letters That Hooked Agents, investigate The Art of the Literary Critique, and participate in a First Pages Critique Night.

Although meeting in the Sherman Oaks Library prohibits edible treats, Karen and Jennifer still manage to sweeten their Schmoozers experience with PowerPoint presentations and handouts that include key elements from the Schmooze. Their handouts are filled with helpful information such as:


o   Positive comments mixed in with the constructive criticism help maintain a balance with the writer thereby maintaining a happy critiquing relationship (The Art of the Literary Critique – May 2015).

o   Rhythm is a metered pattern of words. This is usually overlooked in beginner manuscripts. Whether fiction on non-fiction it’s important for your manuscript to have this even if you don’t rhyme (ThePicturesque World of Picture Books – March 2015).

  • Quotes

o   “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”– W. Somerset Maugham (Tips for Writers – Jan 2015

o   “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” Neil Gaiman (The Art of the Literary Critique May 2015).

  • Tips

o   Before you begin the query process, have a finished and polished manuscript ready to go. It should be the best you can make it. Only query when you’d be comfortable with your manuscript appearing as-is between covers on a major chain bookstore shelf (Query Letters That Hooked Agents – May 2015).

o   Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.  Zadie Smith (Tips for Writers – Jan 2015).

…and more.

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In June San Fernando Schmoozers were treated to An Evening with Author Catherine LinkaCatherine raffled off one of her books before sharing her journey from writer to author, and all the pitfalls in between. Her presentation left the Schmoozers informed and inspired.

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The SFV Schmooze will be on summer break for July and August, but will return in September to Schmooze about school visits, social media, and more. If you’re in the neighborhood around 6:30 pm on a fourth Monday, drop by the Sherman Oaks Library @ 14245 Moorpark Street in Sherman Oaks, and join them in their Schmoozing journey. If you happen to live in a neighborhood over the hill and through the woods, check out the SCBWI Schmooze page to find a Schmooze near you. If there isn’t one, maybe you too might want to take up the challenge and start your own Schmooze. You don’t have to be perfect, experienced, or published, just willing.

You can reach Karen and Jennifer at sanfernandovalleyschmooze@gmail.com for more information or to join their mailing list.