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By Renee Carter

It began at a chain restaurant. I was meeting with my writers’ group, munching on a salad when suddenly a woman approached.

“That’s me,” she proclaimed, tapping the front cover of the YA novel near my elbow on the table.

I looked at the image of a Latina, teenaged girl on the book cover and turned to the woman. She must have noticed my skepticism because she promptly turned the novel over.

“I’m Elizabeth Briggs,” she smiled. “Do you like my book?”

I must admit that I slipped into fan girl mode. The Future Shock series is a brilliant trilogy with diverse characters. Trust me, you should read it.

Miss Briggs and I chatted for several minutes. I was pleased to learn that she was both a local author as well as a member of SCBWI. As the Westchester Writers Mingle Coordinator, I couldn’t resist asking her to be a guest speaker. I’ll also admit to doing a brief Happy Dance when she agreed.

Elizabeth Briggs

We advertised Miss Briggs’s appearance with the assistance of local libraries. Surprisingly, the turn out for that mingle was low. Enter the gracious author. Miss Briggs allowed the meeting to shift from the planned presentation style into a Q&A session. Our regular attendees were thrilled. She also asked what they were working on and what their writing challenges were.

As the meeting came to a close, Miss Briggs offered a priceless gift: a query review for our attendees. Their smiles and words of gratitude were immense.

The following month our attendees raved about the feedback on their query letters. Miss Briggs’ssuggested revisions were great. They said her visit was one of their favorite meetings.

Meeting Miss Briggs and having her at our meeting offeredseveral lessons:

  • SCBWI members are everywhere.
  • Always carry a YA, MG or PB because you never know when you may run to its author.
  • SCBWI members are some of the best people on the planet. Published or yet-to-be-published, they have generous hearts.
  • Always ask. Even brilliant, New York TimesBestselling Authors may share their knowledge if asked.
  • Go with the flow. Fellow coordinators, please be open to a shift in your meeting. I know that we plan our meetings months in advance, but if it changes into something other than our planned agenda (i.e. a critique morphs into an impromptu query discussion), go with the flow.

Sitting in a chain restaurant with a copy of Future Shock near my elbow, I couldn’t image what was about to happen. Looking back, I can honestly say that meeting Miss Briggs and having her as mingle meeting speaker was a surprise. You could even say that it was a pleasant shock.

Westchester Writers MingleMingle Details

When: from 6:15 PM to 7:45 PM, the first Wednesday of every month EXCEPT July and August.

Where: The Westchester Loyola Village Branch Library,7114 W. Manchester Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90045

Updates, Parking Info, Emails: Visit the LitMingle Calendar


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


What do you get when you mix a reader with a blogger, toss in a love of writing, a dash of Kermit the Frog optimism and add a bit of a stubborn streak? Well, the answer is Renee Carter. She’s a southern California native, writer, read-alholic, blogger, mingle coordinator, and life coach.


Images provided by AW Teen and Elizabeth Briggs.