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by Brenda Scott Royce, SCBWI-L.A. Contest Coordinator

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” — novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

While our annual SCBWI-L.A. Writers Day will look somewhat different this year (we’ll be meeting virtually!), one thing that hasn’t changed is the contest. As usual, the manuscript contest is open to all who register for the event, and there’s no additional fee to enter. Submissions will be accepted in four categories: Picture Book, Middle Grade novel, Young Adult novel, and Other (which includes non-fiction and poetry). Winners receive a free written critique from one of the Writers Day faculty members PLUS free tuition to Writers Day 2022 (or equivalent). Winners and runners-up will be acknowledged in Kite Tales

Winning not only comes with bragging rights, it could also get you one step closer to publication. Just entering could provide the boost you need to polish your manuscript and send it out into the world! I asked last year’s winners to comment on what the award meant to them:

“Being chosen a winner of the 2020 SCBWI-L.A. Writers Day competition for my YA manuscript, Honor Camp, was a tremendous honor,” says YA category winner Virginia Pooler. “The critiques from industry pros helped me to shape my manuscript for submission, and the encouragement they provided was pure gold. I’ve always gained by attending the SCBWI events and look forward to attending again.”

Celia Viramontes won the Picture Book category with Abuelito and Me at the Library—A Bracero Family Story. Celia says, “Winning this award reaffirmed my commitment to stay the course in my writing journey and my determination to tell stories from the heart. I received a valuable review comprised of critique notes and talking points that gave me critical insight on my writing. Since winning in this contest, I was selected as a recipient of a Picture Book Editor-Writer Mentorship Award from The Word: A Storytelling Sanctuary. I’m grateful to SCBWI-LA for seeing the promise in my story and being a crucial part of my writing journey.”

“Winning meant a lot, especially in this pandemic year,” says Wakako Rollinger, whose non-fiction picture book A Cup of Tea With Issa took the top prize in the Other category. “It gave me courage to send my manuscript out to agents. Some replied with kind words, others never responded, but one agent asked me to revise and submit it again after three months. Waiting is hard and sometimes you get shrouded in fog. But it is important to focus on the action rather than self-criticizing. The wave comes and goes. Until the right wave comes, keep polishing your craft and who knows, we might land on a surprise with pleasant outcomes!”

The Middle Grade award went to Jim Cox for Nano. Jim says, “I took a lot of encouragement from the award. The notes I got on the pages were helpful, too. I look forward to attending Writers Day again this year.”

We’re looking forward to seeing all of you (virtually, of course!) at 2021 Writers Day, and remember, you must be registered for Writers Day in order to enter the contest! The contest opens as soon as registration goes live, which will be sometime in May 2021. Please see the SCBWI-L.A. Writers Day Contest page for further information about the contest and instructions on how to enter. Good luck!

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Images provided by the authors.