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By Ann Rousseau Smith, SCBWI CenCal News Liaison

The SCBWI Central-Coastal Region held its Writers’ Day webinar, Perfect Your Pitch, on Sunday, July 10. Lynn Becker, author of Monsters in the Briny, and Lisa Kerr, author of Wake, Sleepy One: California Poppies and the Super Bloom, were our Spotlight Speakers, sharing their paths to publication. Agent Joyce Sweeney from The Seymour Agency offered advice on composing pitches and gave live feedback on a handful of pre-selected pitches.

A highlight of the event was the announcement of the winners of the writing contest.

Congratulations to all our contest participants, including our winners! See the judges’ comments below:


Most Promising: Between Midnight and Three, by Rachel Waterstone

Architect. That’s Jonathan’s future career. Everyone in his family expects him to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather to become a successful architect. Well, almost everyone. On graduation night, Jonathan finds himself at the once grand but now abandoned Majestic Theater where he learns of another family occupation from the mysterious Great Sebastian: magic! Rachel Waterstone’s Between Midnight and Three has just the right mix of intrigue, atmosphere and paranormal activity.

Special Mention: Twisted Cross, by Anita Perez Ferguson

Though the devil whispered to Salvador during the dark, quiet nights on his pilgrimage, the real evil, cloaked in white vestments at the altar was far more dangerous. The theme of challenging authority runs through this work of historical fiction about a teen who escapes abuse to labor aboard a Spanish galleon in the late 1700s before finding his purpose in life. Congratulations Anita Ferguson for her special mention for Twisted Cross.


Most Promising: Glued To Her Seat, How Claudette Colvin Battled for Equal Rights, by Eloise Freeman

Writing historical fiction requires a delicate balance of skills—including the ability to combine research and storytelling to create a compelling narrative. In Glued To Her Seat, How Claudette Colvin Battled for Equal Rights, the author introduces readers to fifteen-year old Claudette Colvin, who refused to give up her seat on the bus, held firm to her Constitutional right, ultimately taking her fight to the Supreme Court, that ruled public buses must be integrated. The author writes: Claudette read the Constitution of the United States. It said all people were created equal. But in the 1950s—in Claudette’s life and in her town of Montgomery, Alabama—that wasn’t true. Claudette couldn’t sit inside the ice cream parlor to eat her cone. She couldn’t swim at city pools. And when she wanted to buy a pair of shoes, she wasn’t allowed to sit or try them on for size. It was called segregation. The prose is crisp and clean in this beautifully crafted, well-researched picture book. Facts are interwoven with passages that offer insight into Claudette’s heart and soul. We feel her fear, her anguish, and her resolve. Young readers will not just be introduced to Claudette, they will know her—and will be inspired by the remarkable teen who changed her world for the better.

The Award for Most Promising Picture Book goes to Eloise Freeman, for her manuscript, Glued To Her Seat, How Claudette Colvin Battled for Equal Rights, co-authored with Doris Imahiyerobo.

Special Mention: This is la Casa That Diego Built, by Judith Torres

A fresh and engaging re-imagining of the classic cumulative tale, This is the House That Jack Built, the honorable mention manuscript, This is la Casa That Diego Built, is rhythmic and playful like the original, but incorporates Spanish vocabulary in the familiar format. This bilingual story is ideal for a read-aloud. Youngsters will be engaged from the first line. This is la casa that Diego built. This is la enchilada, that lay in la casa that Diego built. This is el gecko, that nibbled la enchilada, that lay in la casa that Diego built. The author includes a glossary of Spanish words appearing in the text, providing a learning opportunity for parents, teachers, and young readers. The author’s carefully crafted text provides ample opportunities for an illustrator to enhance with subtext.

The Special Mention Award for Picture Books goes to Judith Torres for This is la Casa That Diego Built

Join us for more upcoming events:

SCBWI Los Angeles/CenCal Agent Pitches Online, Sunday, October 16, and SCBWI LA’s Writers’ Day in person, with assistance from the CenCal region, Saturday, October 22.

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.

Author photos provided by the contest winners.