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By Gwen Dandridge

I’m the manager of the listserv in the CenCal region.

For those of you unfamiliar with a listserv, let me explain: a listserv is a program that automatically redistributes e-mail to names on a mailing list. This allows the quick flow of information to like-minded people. On an SCBWI listserv you get information about local children’s writers’/illustrators’ events, achievements, sorrows, and joys.

We share information about such diverse subjects as carpooling to Writers’ Day, who are the up-and-coming agents, and which publishers are taking un-agented manuscripts. There are often news articles about writing issues as well as notice of local book launches. It’s a place to ask questions about anything related to children’s writing and books.

We’re fortunate in our group, CenCal/SCBWI, to have Lynn Becker lead a monthly book discussion. She’s up on all the newest books. At the beginning of each month, many of us chime in with our thoughts on the monthly book selection.

As a member, you can sit on the sidelines and quietly take in this information or jump in and add your opinion.

I’ve been doing this job for over ten years now. I was lucky to be recruited by the esteemed Alexis O’Neill, regional adviser to CenCal during the early 2000’s. I was working as a programmer with much time spent messing with a computer. It was nothing to notice the occasional request for help from a new person. As a life-long introvert this seemed to be a perfect fit.

My main job is to be the polite gatekeeper to the listserv, vetting each request for entry. I sometimes have to check why the gate is stuck, examine the gate to see why it isn’t working the way it should, and sometimes politely restrict entrance to those who aren’t members in our area (nor have attended any of our events).

Occasionally—and fortunately rarely needed with SCBWI writers—I intercede as a Miss Manners, not that my manners are anything to “wave about,” but because I’m there to intercede in the case of egregious forum behaviors.

I also help with various gatherings, hosting our Holiday Party each year, running the occasional critiquenic and, this year, organizing (along with Angela Russell) gatherings of Santa Barbara writers.

Personally, I have LOVED being part of this community: getting to know writers and illustrators and soaking up the varied creativity that pours forth from all of you. In my small role, I hope to aid in making our region welcoming and helpful to all children’s writers.

CenCal/SCBWI actively wants your participation and creativity. Get involved. Let us know what you need in your region.


Gwen Dandridge has two fantasy books out: The Dragons’ Chosen and The Stone Lions. She’s a lover of Golden Retrievers, maker of excellent pastries, breads, and funky art. She’s also gone to Outward Bound, jumped horses, solo backpacked and done many daring things—including writing.


Images provided by Gwen Dandridge.

You can learn more about volunteering with SCBWI, all the great perks and freebies it entails, and what positions are open from the links below. We need everything from graphic designers to social media coordinators to event hosts. If you want to give back, we’ll find a place for you!

Los Angeles Region

Central/Coastal California Region

SoCal Region (email for info)