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By Ann Rousseau Smith, SCBWI CenCal News Liaison

Rediscovering Your TRUE Voice with Robin LaFevers, by Andrea Custer

Equal parts group therapy and expansion of craft, the Voice Workshop with Robin LaFevers, held on April 29, explored the concept of voice in all its forms: writer, character and story.

The main objective of the day was to help us identify our unique writer’s voice by connecting with our core selves. To accomplish this, Robin led attendees through a series of writing exercises that revealed our emotional truths.

Robin LaFevers

Under Robin’s guidance, we reflected on these writings, and in doing so, I began to see the unconscious themes that occupy my mind, and how they relate to the pieces of my own journey I have always been trying to make sense of through the act of writing. My experiences have left their imprint – they are the underlying reasons I tell the stories I do. Through the process Robin used, I came to appreciate the symbiosis between the author’s voice and the thematic resonance of the story.

As we shifted from author to character voice, additional writing exercises allowed us to dive into the secret world of our characters, and understand them in ways that perhaps we hadn’t been able to before. I learned to appreciate the events from my past as pathways into the timeless commonality of human experience – avenues by which our readers can connect with the stories we tell. I am grateful to Robin for providing a creative and nurturing environment where the initial introduction to my writer’s voice, and renewed understanding of character voice, could take place.

We ended the day on the question: “If you could only write one story for the rest of your life, what would it be?” Thank you, Robin, for helping me to know what that story is and the reason behind the need to tell it.

Andrea Custer holds a certificate in creative writing from the UCLA Writers’ Program. Her upper-middle-grade manuscript Any, Remixed, won First Runner Up in SCBWI Los Angeles’s Writer’s Day fiction contest (2014). Andrea’s work has also been nominated for the James Kirkwood Literary Prize (2015) and the Allegra Johnson Prize in Novel Writing (2016). You can find out more about her current projects at AndreaCusterWrites.com.


SketchCrawl: Fillmore Train Trip, May 20, 2017. Kathleen McIntosh, Christy Merwin, Mary Ann Fraser, and Linda Legman sketch and write to the clickety-clack of riding the tracks.


For more information, go to http://cencal.scbwi.org

September 23, 2017

PAL Workshop – Free
Getting Ready for School Visit Season: Promotion and Presentation
California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks

Join instructor Alexis O’Neill for some hands-on exercises and resources to help PAL members shape dynamic presentations and reach schools. The business side of doing school visits will also be covered. For details and registration, go to https://cencal.scbwi.org/events/pal-workshop/

October 14, 2017

Writers’ Day 2017
Brave Heart, Brave Start!
California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks

Bravery starts with a first step. This year’s full day of activities include:

Feature presentations by John Rudolph, agent, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret Literary Management; Aubry Poole, editor, Hachette’s JIMMY Patterson Books Imprint; Lynne Polvino, editor, Clarion Books; and Leila Sales, associate publishing manager, Viking Children’s Books, Penguin Random House.

Spotlight talks by Barbara Bietz, Cindy Rankin, and Jason Gallaher.

Free writing contest; illustrator portfolio showcase; editor’s panel and first pages; book sale and display; and manuscript and dummy critiques.

Registration opens August 1. For more information, go to https://cencal.scbwi.org/events/wd17/


Book Talk is a monthly book discussion group taking place on the SCBWI Central-Coastal California listserv. Discussions begin on the first of each month, facilitated by Lynn Becker. To become a member of the listserv, go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/SCBWI-CCal/

AUGUST: Scythe, by Neal Shusterman (YA)

In the future, when death has been defeated, only scythes may take a life. What could possibly go wrong?

SEPTEMBER: Mrs. Bixby’s Last Day, by John David Anderson (MG)

Sixth grade teacher Mrs. Bixby has cancer, and devoted students Topher, Steve, and Brand aim to honor her with a “frawsome” party.

OCTOBER: The One Memory of Flora Banks, by Emily Barr (YA)

The only thing Flora remembers since her brain tumor is kissing Drake, so she follows him to Svalbard.

For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area, check here.

Images provided by SCBWI Central Coast Region.