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By Karol Ruth Silverstein, SCBWI-L.A. Contest Coordinator

To deem the results of the 2018 Sue Alexander Grant a “close call” would be putting it mildly. The top five manuscripts all ranked within a point of one another, with this year’s winner just edging out the runner-up.

Speaking of the winning manuscript, one of our anonymous judges noted, “It has all the pieces: Great voice, unique world-building that is nicely integrated into the storytelling, a cliff hanger ending, great humor mixed with tension and good dialogue.” Another judge added that it was the “most original manuscript of the group” and a “perfect middle grade” story.

The cherry on top? This year’s winner was last year’s runner-up!


Julia Edwards, a playwright and teacher, is the 2018 Sue Alexander Grant winner for her manuscript Anno Catti. Here’s Julia’s pitch for her winning manuscript:

OK, which is worse: an evil geneticist who wants to make a super race of humans? Or an angry Egyptian cat goddess who wants to smite all of mankind? Survey says…they both kinda suck. But what can an 11-year-old kid who’s plagued by nightmares do about it?  

Julia attended the 2017 Working Writers Retreat and said, though the First Pages Panel was the stuff of nightmares for her, “Hearing other writers’ first pages, witnessing their feedback, and processing my own made me realize that I need to hook the reader from those first words or my manuscript will never end up on a bookshelf.” She’s lost count of how many times she’s rewritten the first chapters of Anno Catti, but obviously the rewriting has paid off.

She wins free tuition to the 2018 Working Writers Retreat where she can continue her revision efforts with feedback from fellow writers and industry professionals.

Our first runner-up this year is Moni Ritchie for her picture book manuscript, Zan and D. Her pitch for the manuscript is as follows:

What happens when a child’s daddy transitions to female? Five-year-old Zan balances on rocks. Her daddy balances in heels. Sometimes kids have questions. Sometimes, Zan has questions.

One of our judges said, “Zan and Dis genius in how brief and simple the text is in contrast with how deep and complex the substance is, reflecting the mysteries and wonders of human biology, of self-discovery, and the challenges to self and loved ones. The perfect structure and minimalistic style of the text inherently suggests that love remains constant, steadfast, and strong. It’s an important manuscript well done.”

Moni believes her twenty-five years of teaching children with special needs gives her a unique perspective when writing for kids, but says it was her daughter’s relationship and experience with her transgender parent that inspired this manuscript.

Three other manuscripts tied for third place this year. In no particular order, they were:

Call Me Evaby Cambria Gordon. Judge’s comments: “A well-crafted, page-turning YA historical fiction; promises lots of family & personal conflict as well as a glimpse into 15th century Spain.”

Sora’s Seashellsby Helena Ku Rhee. Judge’s comments: “A well-plotted picture book story that tugs at the heartstrings.”

Dark Star Warrior: The Morian Treasure by Robert Sidney Mellett. Judge’s comments: “The world building and the voice were exceptional.”


If you’d like to learn more about next year’s SAG award or additional SCBWI-L.A. contests and how you can participate, check our contest page.


For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become a membertoday! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.


Karol Ruth Silverstein writes screenplays and various genres of children’s books. Her YA debut #CURSEDthenovel is due from Charlesbridge Teen in June 2019. She is represented by Jen Linnan of Linnan Literary Managementand lives in West Hollywood with her two exceptionally fluffy cats, Ninja and Boo.


Photo by Arek Olek.

Author photos provided by authors.