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by Ann Rousseau Smith, SCBWI CenCal News Liaison

Kari Sutherland, Charlotte Wenger, agents, Rachael Stein, editor (1)

After numerous wildfires and road closure scares, we had a lovely, informative, and inspiring Writers’ Day on Saturday, October 12. Faculty included Kari Sutherland from the Bradford Literary Agency, Charlotte Wenger with Prospect Agency, and Rachael Stein, editor at Sterling Children’s Books. We also heard emotion-filled, inspiring speeches from three spotlight speakers: Nikki Barthelmess, Karen Jameson, and Karol Ruth Silverstein. After speeches, first page panels, and a writing contest, what’s the next step or steps a conference attendee might pursue?

Next Steps:

1) If you received a written critique, take a day or two to absorb the comments. After letting the critique sink in, you can calmly decide which comments to follow and which to ignore, according to your vision for your manuscript.

2) Send out your finished manuscript as soon as possible to any appropriate visiting faculty, especially if the speaker asked to see your work. Be first in line and beat the rush. Demonstrate that you are prompt.

3) Sort through your notes. Update any list you have for books or articles to read. Putting notes from several different conferences into one place will help you locate important information when you need it.

4) Create an action plan—steps to take after the conference. These might include submitting a manuscript, revising a piece of writing, checking blogs or websites of speakers and publishing houses, and sending emails to people you met at the conference.

5) Take time to unwind. Don’t stress. Take what you can from the experience and move on.


Winners! (1)

Brenda Royce, Scott Slater, Eloise Freeman, Gwen Dandridge, Jane Meyer, Anne Boydston

Young Adult

Most Promising: Janet of the Apes, by Brenda Royce

Special Mention: Peshmerga, by Gwen Dandridge

Middle Grade

Most Promising: Fenelon, Small and Mighty, by Anne Boydston

Special Mention: The Truth about Tracy, by Jane Meyer

Picture Book

Most Promising: Down the Hole, by Scott Slater

Special Mention: The Sparkling Gleam of Imagination: The Fantastical Fairy World of Arthur Rackham, by Eloise Freeman

Congratulations go to Anne Boydston for being chosen for the Carol Heyer Mentorship. Carol will be guiding Anne in developing an illustration portfolio and online presence. After losing her home and most of her artwork in recent fires, Anne is anxious to continue her creative work in both writing and illustration. (Anne also won Most Promising Middle Grade manuscript—go Anne!)

Carol Heyer Mentorship Winner (1)

Anne Boydston and Carol Heyer

Congratulations to Charlie Perryess, our 2019 Alexis O’Neill Volunteer of the Year. He is the embodiment of the ceaseless volunteer—our regional schlepper (his words). Charlie is always calm in a crisis and brings a comforting can-do spirit to all things CenCal.

Alexis & Charlie (1)

Alexis O’Neill and Charlie Perryess

Join us next October for CenCal Writers’ Day 2020!

For information on SCBWI CenCal events (open to all SCBWI members!), go to http://cencal.scbwi.org


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.

Photos provided by Joan Bransfield Graham, SCBWI CenCal Historian/Photographer.