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by Jennifer Rawlings

I know applying for the Sue Alexander Grant is scary, but ignoring your dreams and goals is even scarier.

Not only did I not tell a single soul I was applying for the Sue Alexander Grant, I wrote an entire novel in secret. That’s right. Not even my husband knew I was writing a YA Novel—I just wanted to do the work then hope and pray someone liked it.

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

So whether you have a large support group that is reading your work or you have taken a more clandestine approach, your book needs to go out into the world. Don’t wait for your fifth rewrite or until every word is perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist.

There is a deadline for applying. This year the Sue Alexander Grant is open for submissions March 30 to May 11, 2020.

Deadlines are magical. It forces the manuscript out of your head and into the hands of readers. Isn’t that why you are writing anyway, for people to read?

Once you push send, be prepared to gnaw on your cuticles a little bit as you worry and fret about the pages you submitted. Should I have changed the opening line? Did I follow the directions? Why haven’t I heard?


When I received the email letting me know that I won the Sue Alexander Grant, I started crying. I was so happy and honored to have won the award. I printed the email, and it is pinned to my bulletin board to remind me to be brave and push send even when I’m nervous and insecure.

The prize for winning the Sue Alexander Grant is that you get to attend the Working Writers Retreat for FREE!

The Working Writers Retreat is a three-day, life-changing event. Three days and two nights where all you do is focus on becoming a better author. Your work will get stronger, you will make new friends, and you will have your book critiqued by the best agents and editors in the business.

Mark the date in your calendar and don’t miss submitting for the Sue Alexander Grant.

The world wants to hear the stories that only you can tell, and so do I.

For eligibility requirements and specific entry instructions, please refer to the SCBWI-L.A. website SAG page.

Best of luck to all applicants!

SueAlexanderAuthor Sue Alexander was a founding member of SCBWI and was instrumental in the formation of the L.A. region. Her clear vision of the need for an organization to support children’s literature made her a vital force in establishing the early structure of SCBWI and growing it into the international society we enjoy today. For 35 years, she mentored writers, illustrators, librarians and teachers — always nurturing, but setting the highest standards for the craft. Established in her memory, this grant brings her encouraging spirit to one promising writer.

If you’d like to learn more about 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 member today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.

Jennifer Rawlings photo

Jennifer Rawlings, winner of the SCBWI Karen Cushman Award & SCBWI-LA Sue Alexander Grant for her YA novel EMPTY.

Jennifer is a storyteller. She’s appeared on numerous TV shows including Comedy Central. You can watch her TEDx talks or stream her directorial debut “Forgotten Voices: Women in Bosnia” on Amazon.

 Jennifer’s written for TV, film, and publications such as The New York Times.


Photos provided by Jennifer Rawlings and SCBWI-LA archives.