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By Marcelle Greene

awards-and-grantsThe 2017 Sue Alexander Grant contest opens today, offering one SCBWI-L.A. writer free tuition to the Working Writers Retreat. We asked five previous recipients of this prestigious award how winning impacted their writing careers.

karen-jameson2016: Karen Lyn Jameson, Woodland Dreams

Listing the grant among her credits helped Jameson attract her dream agent, Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, whom she signed with this year. They’re putting the polish on Woodland Dreams and other picture book manuscripts before submitting to editors. After Jameson’s win, congratulations streamed in from the supportive SCBWI community. “It gave me the courage to take a big leap,” she said. “I traded in my teacher hat for an author hat and am now writing full-time.”

kes-trester2015: Kes Trester, Collision

Trester’s winning manuscript will be published this spring under the title A Dangerous Year. She’s now working on its sequel and has another completed novel in the hands of her agent. “Winning the Sue Alexander Grant told me I wasn’t alone at my computer anymore. It has given me courage to dream of a career as an author.” As a debut author, she has been invited to speak at DFW Con and hopes for more opportunities to participate on panels and in workshops where she can encourage other writers.

melody-mansfield2014: Melody Mansfield, Between the Wish and the Word

Mansfield had a published adult novel and short story collection when she won the grant, but felt uncertain about her success. “Winning meant I should keep writing,” she said. While the award generated interest in her work, it also taught her about the YA market and remaining true to her vision. She’s published more stories in literary journals since her win–a few are being adapted for the stage as well–but the project that has her full attention at the moment is a prequel to her winning manuscript.

amanda-hollander2013: Amanda Hollander, Crumbs

“Winning the award was a domino effect,” says Hollander. “It enabled me to go to the Working Writers Retreat, where I met my editor, Allyn Johnston, who bought my picture book, Petra the Pirate. I also started working with my agent, Barry Goldblatt.” The completed Crumbs manuscript was recently submitted to her agent, who waited while Hollander completed her doctoral dissertation. While he reviews it, she’s working on a new comic sci-fi epistolary romance and having a blast. “I’m thrilled to be focused on my creative work at last.”

penelope-merrell-cover2012: Penelope Merrell, SQUAWK! (A Graphic Story in Fowl Language)

Squawk! was Merrell’s first manuscript for children. After initial interest from an agent and editor, a deal didn’t materialize. Published authors told her that selling a first book could take five years. “I could do a number of books in that time so I researched publishing as an indie author,” she said. In addition to Squawk, she has a YA graphic novel, Twilight of an Artist, available through Amazon, and is about to release her fourth book for early readers featuring Cecily and Berle.

If you are an SCBWI-L.A. writer, don’t hesitate to apply for the 2017 Sue Alexander Grant contest! Applications must be received by May 10th, 2017 and winners will be announced in July. First prize is free tuition to the Working Writers Retreat and possibly, as many of our previous winners have found, a great stepping stone for your career as a writer.

By Marcelle Greene, SCBWI-L.A. Contest Coordinator

Images provided by each writer.