An all new mentoring program from SCBWI Carolinas

    Congratulations! You finished your rough draft of your picture book, chapter book, middle grade,young adult novel, it may be fiction or nonfiction, and…

It’s revision time. Sometimes, revision is downright painful. But ask any author and they’ll tell you it’s then that the real work is done. It’s when a manuscript is pulled apart – one sentence, one scene, one chapter at time. It’s the only way writers can see whether they’ve done what they set out to do, or not.

"The SCBWI-C mentorship program was great! For four months we worked on POV, character development, plot structure, story and character arcs, and fine-tuning my prose. My mentor helped me see my manuscript with a different lens so I could better understand how my characters functioned within their world. What a fruitful and fabulous experience!" – Mentee




Event sign up opens January 10, 2017 at Revision Quest 

Do not miss out on this amazing new mentoring program offered by SCBWI Carolinas.

     During the four-month Revision Quest program, writers will work one-on-one with a published author to analyze every aspect of their manuscript, looking to answer such questions as:

·      How early in the story does the main conflict appear? (Hopefully, on the first page.)

·      Is my protagonist’s motivation as compelling as it needs to be? Does his or her problem matter to my target audience? How could it be made stronger?

·      Have I created a series of hurdles my protagonist must overcome and which move the story along?

·      Have I chosen the right format for my picture book (rhyme vs. prose, concept book vs. classic story structure?)

·      How’s my pacing? Where is the story slow and where can it be speeded up?

·      Do my characters talk in language appropriate to the age I say they are? Does the dialogue work to keep the story moving?

·      Are my scenes well-rounded? Is there a real need for each scene I’ve created? How does each one move the story along? Is the text as tightly written as it could be?

·      Have I missed “hot spots” – those places where I could have ramped-up the drama with more emotional detail?


In the 2017 Revision Quest program:

·      Picture book mentors will offer guidance on 2-4 manuscripts over a four-month period. Through editorial feedback and craft development “homework,” mentees will end with more refined manuscripts and a deeper understanding of the genre, writing process, and their own authorial perspective.

"The SCBWI mentor program was a valuable experience for me. My mentor critiqued three manuscripts for me, one of which was created in one day from a complete re-write. We even tackled rhyme! The guiding questions she posed with each critique proved to be instructive and allowed me to tighten my work. I also learned when I have come to love my words too much and when they need to be sacrificed. I recommend the mentor program to anyone who wants to improve their craft. - Picture Book Mentee

·      For novel writers, mentors will read a large section of the student’s manuscript each month. They’ll review the manuscript for both big picture and finer issues, and write a detailed editorial letter. Students will submit both new pages and revised pages in each packet. So much more than a simple critique, this process allows students and mentors to immerse themselves in the world of the manuscript. The student, with the mentor’s guidance, can hone it to be the best it can be.

"My mentor was what I needed at just the right time in my writing journey. She struck the perfect balance between pushing and praising. She especially helped me to see what in my story could stay and what could go. She also helped me develop my characters' emotional arcs. I will always be grateful for the experience." – Novel Mentee









We are winding down, the SCBWI Carolinas equipment is stored on the shelves, the final checks written and mailed, the reports done and in to HQ.


Handouts for The Power Of Story conference on the handout page, well, all the handouts we were given. Any presentations that the faculty wanted to share are there also. All are in PDF format and downloadable.


One of the questions was how would the faculty member know that the submission was a result of this conference. And so we asked the faculty.  When submitting via email or USPS they may write in the header or on the envelope 2016 SCBWI CAROLINAS CONFERENCE


Jill Davis asked that we notify all participants that her job parameters have changed at HarperCollins and she is now interested, in addition to middle grade, in accepting submissions of picture books.  Her submission information remains the same.  

Correction to the Submission Guidelines:

We appreciate your participation and your enthusiasm for our regional events.  

2017 is our 25th Anniversary and we have been planning the conference for months. The dates will be August 25-27 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Charlotte North Carolina.

Look for our Call For Proposals in 2017.

Log on to and check out our chapter page for the latest updates on events; workshops, webinars and retreats—we are working on it all.

  • Your regional team,
  • Teresa Fannin, Regional Advisor
  • Bonnie Adamson, Assistant Regional Advisor
  • Deborah Johnson, Illustrator Coordinator. 



This year, SCBWI has amended its policy regarding book sales to include self-published and independenly published books to be sold at conferences and other SCBWI sponsored events. 

All members with books in the bookstore may participate in the Autograph Party.


Since 1971 SCBWI has been dedicated to ensuring the quality of children’s books in the marketplace. The primary mission is to act as a consolidated voice for writers and illustrators of children's books worldwide and to continually update and reevaluate polices to meet the changing needs of writers, illustrators, and translators.

With the initiation of the Spark Award in 2013, SCBWI acknowledged there are many paths to publication. And, this year SCBWI has amended its policy regarding book sales to include self-published and indie children’s books to be sold at conferences and other SCBWI-sponsored events. 

We are excited to be able to offer each PAL or Full member attending the regional conference in September is invited to display ONE book for sale in the conference bookstore. There will be no distinguishing between PAL and Full titles when books are displayed. All SCBWI members with books in the bookstore are eligible to participate in the Saturday evening Autograph Party.

For information about adding your book to our fall conference bookstore, see instructions on the website HERE.

We have always maintained a reference table for those books related to the art and craft of writing, illustrating and publishing in the children's market. In addition, we will now feature the books published by our presenting faculty along with a general section for participating members books. 

We have not engaged in consignment sales in our bookstore in a number of years. This upcoming 2016 conference will be a 'pilot' program in procedures and we ask your cooperation and patience as we work through process of meeting both the spirit and reality of this new policy. 

Teresa  Fannin

Regional Advisor Carolinas






 P&P masthead

KidLit Drink Night


An interview with the Carolinas crew behind the popular podcast

by Bonnie Adamson

A group of writers and SCBWI members in the Carolinas have parlayed a common love of children’s literature and a talent for witty and insightful commentary into a monthly podcast which now attracts listeners from as far away as Europe and Asia. As a huge fan of the Kidlit Drink Night podcast, I am so excited to interview the team responsible.

Let's start by introducing the Super-friends:

AMY: Hi! I'm Amy Kurtz Skelding, creator and host of the show. I format agendas and write middle grade fiction. Thanks for interviewing us and for listening to the show! 

KAREN: Hi! I’m Karen Staman, the sweet one who curses on the podcast. I write middle grade fiction and a bunch of science-y stuff.

GWEN: I'm Gwen Holt. I come for the free food. Amy's amazing in the kitchen.

How do you define the podcast? What do you hope to achieve with this format?

AMY: My elevator pitch for the show is always, "We're a podcast for grownups about children's literature. And it's for grownups because we drink and swear." Frankly, the name says it all. 

What I wanted to achieve with the show is this: I know that writing is a solitary business. Sometimes writers – especially kidlit writers – feel like an island. There are few people in their lives with whom they can talk shop and geek out about these great books we read and write. Some of us are fortunate enough to have an in-person writing community, but for those who may not, this show is for them. We're your virtual, geeky buds.

You guys have obviously been hanging out together for a while–when did you discover you had the kind of chemistry to go public? And how scary was that?

KAREN: Here is our origin story: I am a regular attendee of the SCBWI-Carolinas conference. Years ago, when I didn’t know anyone, it was kinda exhausting. It’s like going around all day and saying, “I’m cool. I promise. I’m writing a real live book.” Then the next year, repeat. “Hey, remember me? I’m cool, remember?” Then I would go back to my room, alone, and stare at the ceiling.

It seemed so crazy to me that we only saw each other once a year. I wanted to make us more of a community. I started a Facebook page (Kidlit Carolinas: it’s a private group, but I let anyone join. Want to?) We meet for drinks once a month in Durham, and it’s where we all really got to know each other. 

AMY: Your first question – the idea had been tumbling around my brain for months last year, because of the wonderfulness of those in-person kid lit drink nights in Durham. When I finally gathered the courage to pitch the podcast concept to Michelle Leonard (one of our original Super-friends), Gwen, and Karen, I was astounded by their positive reaction. I picked this crew because I had a hunch that the difference in everyone's personality might make for a fun show.

Your second question – Very. It still is scary but exhilarating at the same time. I am by nature a cautious person, but sometimes in life, you have to close your eyes and jump off the cliff.

KAREN: When Amy approached me about the podcast, I was really excited. It didn’t occur to me to be scared until after we’d recorded the first one. Lucky for me, Amy cuts all the parts where I sound like an idiot.

GWEN: So, this super cute lady comes up to me in a bar and says, "You ever wanted to do a podcast?" I say, "Sure. What's in it for me?" She says,  "Cookies." I say, "Sold!"

And yes, I'm terrified of everything that comes out of my mouth, but Amy is an editing goddess. I trust her completely with my faux pas. 

What has been your biggest challenge in producing the podcast?

AMY: My biggest challenge in podcast production has been just that – the production. The non-glamorous stuff: learning the audio software, working through the audio editing process, webhosting, etc. Sitting down in front of a microphone talking books with my buds is the best gig in the world, the easy part.

KAREN: I am so grateful to Amy for doing all the hard work.  

GWEN: I think the biggest challenge for us (excluding all the drudgery Amy has to deal with) is scheduling. We all have extra-super-duper busy lives. We literally have to sit down with calendar and plan months in advance when we can meet to record.  

I truly feel as if I'm sitting at the table with you, and I think what I enjoy most is that you don't seem to be self-editing as you go . . . how much ends up on the cutting room floor?

AMY: To be frank, much of what's cut is because we want the show's format to be about an hour or less. Every time we're together we generate scads of material. Karen wrote a little ditty that we all sang for the February apocalypse episode that I hated to cut!

Sometimes I have to cut down the amount of laughter any given joke has gotten, because it can go on for a long while. We're pretty impressed with our own jokes.

KAREN: Amy always cuts my interpretive dancing. 

I think a lot about the topic and what I am going to say before the podcast starts. Amy sends around an agenda beforehand, and we talk in Amy’s kitchen before each show too.

GWEN: I have to self-edit ALL. THE. TIME. Karen hits really hard, and after the first time I realized I had the power to save myself. 

Amy, given that you're the tech guru and the acknowledged hall monitor, I'm casting you as Monica. Which of you is Rachel and which is Phoebe? (Unless one of you would like to be Ross or Chandler or Joey, of course.)

AMY: I've been called a lot worse than 'Monica', so I'll take it! I'm curious to hear what the others say on this, but for me, I think Gwen has a Ross/Phoebe vibe, while Karen feels more Rachel/Chandler-y to me. And wouldn't we all like to have a little bit of Joey? Let's share him, shall we? How YOU doin'?

KAREN: I love so much that we are always sorting ourselves.* I’m Chandler, for sure. Well intentioned, dorky, and vaguely anxious.

GWEN: I'm definitely Phoebe. 100%. Love all, serve all, try not to trip. 

*They’re not kidding about sorting. Below, l-r: Gwen (Hufflepuff), Amy (Slytherin), and Karen (Gryffindor).

KLDN_Hogwarts sweaters

As another proud adult reader of kidlit books, I appreciate the personal recommendations–especially the "what we're crushing on" feature. Beyond your obvious enjoyment of the genres you discuss, do you each have secret agendas? Types of books or causes you feel need a spotlight?

AMY: GREAT question. I don't know if I'd call it an agenda per se, but (spoiler alert!) I'm very passionate about the books that I fall in love with. Of course, I love a lot of the massively produced/promoted books (like Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Where the Wild Things Are, etc.) and I'm certainly going to discuss them on the show. There are other books that I love just as much that for whatever reason, haven't reached commercial saturation, so I'm going to use whatever platform I have to tell people about them. A couple titles/authors that come immediately to mind are TEA CAKES FOR TOSH by Kelly Starling Lyons and THE DEATH OF YORIK MORTWELL by Stephen Messer. (See? I'm even doing it in your interview!)

KAREN: This question goes back to the sense of community for me. We kid lit writers are part of one big community, and I want to support all of us. I happen to know more about what’s happening in the Carolinas, so I mention those books slightly more often. And of course, some of those authors are my actual friends. But I never, never, never recommend a book that I don’t love.

GWEN: Unlike Karen, you can mail me a check or send me payment via PayPal if you'd like me to mention your book on the show. I'll even take a cashier's check from Uganda. Ha! Not really. 

I have a deep love for hard working authors and illustrators, kind people with talent who do not give up. I love to see them make it big, or make it small, and I try to give them shout outs too. I like to read the back stories of the authors as much as I love to read the fiction. It's so rewarding to see them grow and accomplish much with persistence. 

Will you be sticking to the monthly schedule?

AMY: Yes, unless in the unlikely event that some wealthy benefactor begs us to quit our day jobs and bankrolls us to do a weekly show. Until then: Monthly. The only exception to this being that we may occasionally issue a short podcast between our monthly scheduled shows called a “quickie-cast”. We reserve this quickie-cast format for when something short and awesome happens that we’re just dying to tell you about, like when we participated in Oak City Comicon back in April.

Any sneak peeks you can give us for what's coming up on the podcast?

AMY: We have a great June episode where Gwen interviews MG and YA author Matthew J. Kirby, and Karen gets emotional and then starts swearing 30 seconds later. It's so great! (Is it gauche to be entertained by your own podcast?) In the coming months, we've got more author interviews, ridiculous quizzes, and an episode spotlighting picture books. We're heading back to another Comicon in November, and I'm looking forward to what madness that will bring! I'm already designing my cos-play.

KAREN: [Bleep.]

GWEN: Karen will probably say that more than once and I will eat the last brownie without offering it to anyone else.

AMY: "Probably"?! That's funny.

Thanks, guys! We’ll be looking forward to future episodes—and, Gwen, my check is in the mail, so we’re good, right?

How to access the podcast:

On the KidiLit Drink Night website; or

Via an app on your smartphone or tablet. The podcast is available on both iTunes and Stitcher: search for “KidLit Drink Night.” Click on the show and all the episodes appear.

Don’t want to miss a single monthly episode? Click the “subscribe” button in the apps or on the website. Each episode will be automatically delivered to your app every month.

If you’d like to hang out with the KLDN crew between episodes you can find and like them on Facebook, Twitter (@KidLitDNPodcast), or Goodreads, where all the books discussed on the show are listed.


An Open Letter To SCBWI Members

We, your regional SCBWI Carolinas team, take seriously our fiduciary responsibility to adhere to all the contracts and agreements we have signed. We are honor bound to the members of this region as well as to the mission of SCBWI to make sure that the best conference we can put together happens.

2016conference logo for MailChimpContinuing to present the 2016 The Power Of Story conference in Charlotte North Carolina was a consensus decision made by the regional team in consultation with the international SCBWI leadership.

No conference comes together in a few short months. The planning of a regional conference develops over a twelve to eighteen month time period prior to the event date. In good faith we signed contracts with the venue. In good faith we secured agreements with writing and illustrating professionals. In good faith we contracted with editors, agents and an art director. And, in good faith we announced the conference in our newsletter and on our chapter website.

There is turmoil in the state of North Carolina at this time over HB2. We know one of the amazing things about the community of writers and illustrators in the Carolinas region is the commitment to diversity and equal rights. With this understanding, we contacted all faculty and volunteers who signed commitments to participate in person in our conference giving all the option to rescind the agreement, without penalty, based on their personal convictions. A listing of the faculty who will participate can be found at Our 2016 Faculty.

We value the members of our region. Some of you may be weighing your participation in the Charlotte conference against your own convictions. And, we understand. No one has a crystal ball, us least of all, and we have no clue as to how this action between the North Carolina state government and the city of Charlotte will be resolved or when. However is our belief that in continuing with our conference in September we are supporting diversity, equal rights and the people of Charlotte.  

Our conference focuses on the art and craft of writing, illustrating and publishing in the field of children’s literature. The basic truth is that we do believe in the Power Of Story—its amazing ability to entertain, inform, enlighten and even change stereotypes and bias.

As our registration opens May 3, 2016 we hope you will take this information to heart and join us. We look forward to greeting old friends and meeting new ones in September!


  • Teresa Fannin, Regional Advisor
  • Bonnie Adamson, Assistant Regional Advisor
  • Deborah Johnson, Illustrator Coordinator

Polish Your Manuscript in Your PJs

We're still not sure how many participants took us up on the PJs part, but we KNOW that many came away with a true understanding of how 

  • to identify a high concept–an easily phrased sentence that sums up the story,
  • what it takes to have a well thought out plot, not just the trajectory of increasing conflict for the character but what a Tent Pole means to the coherence of the story, 
  • how well described setting can ramp up the excitement and pacing of a story,
  • what it means to understand your character's ability to function in a particiular role and impact the other stories of the character, 
  • and finaly, when  believable dialogue can initiate tension and give your characters a clear voice. 

 A huge thank you to Carolinas PAL authors Megan ShepherdAlan Gratz,David Macinnis GillRebecca Petruck and Kami Kinard, whose presentations on hook, plot, setting, character and dialogue provided valuable information and frequent "Aha!" moments for participants.

For those who registered, there was the opportunity to listen live to the presentation and/or to go to the recording. My own personal learning style was to listen live and take minimual notes, then go to the recording days later getting indepth wealth of information. I think I will be processing my notes for a while. 

We have an amazing, talented group of authors and illustrators who presented on topics that are basic to forming story. We are excited to be able to offer programs such as this online series, the mentor progam and the option of spring intensives and our fall conference. We trust that we are finding way to connect with many members of our region and that there is value in the varied ways we provide presentations on the art and craft of children's publishing. 

Teresa Fannin

It’s February. Time to Submit to the Art & Writing Contest

This is your opportunity to have your work seen by an art director or an editor at a major publishing house.

This is our 7th Annual Art and Writing Contest.

This contest is a membership benefit for those SCBWI members on the SCBWI Carolinas roster.

Submissions are accepted starting Monday February 1, 2016 through Monday February 29, 2016 at

Please read the contest ART or the WRITING rules carefully for complete information.

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Pen & Palette

SCBWI Carolinas's improved blog space.   

Please visit our CHAPTER PAGE for information about our programs and events. 



Participants completed a six week course.

October 6-19: Story In this section of the challenge participants took a critical look at our manuscripts to determine how they conform to generally accepted picture book criteria for plot and theme.

Monday, October 13, 9:00-10:30 pm (Eastern): Webinar with John Cusick, Greenhouse Literary Agency

October 20-November 2: Structure In this sesion challenge participants learned how to use a storyboard and dummy to refine the pace and flow on the text.

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▪ Have you read Tips, Tidbits and The Inside Scoop Blog?

▪ Check out our To Tell A Tale Conference Information Page For all the download information.

▪ Brush up on the conference activities, schedule and faculty bios so you can get the most out of the conference.

▪ THE BOOK BASKET PROGRAM. Please bring a new or gently used book for the Child Care Resources Inc., an agency that provides services for Child Care Centers and Family Child Care Homes. The licensed Family Child Care Homes serve children 0-12 years of age in homes.

▪ PARKING: The Crowne Plaza Hotel was chosen for it’s easy access off Tryon Blvd and Exit 5 of I-77. The parking lot surrounding the hotel is for all attendees and parking is FREE.

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One of the biggest reasons I come back to our SCBWI-Carolinas Fall Conference year after year is for the conversations. The presentations are always wonderful, but what can I say? I’m a yacker. I love getting together with all you creative types and hearing about new projects, talking about issues of craft and publishing, and swapping stories.

For the past several years, the PAL (published and listed) members of SCBWI-Carolinas have held an authors’ roundtable to offer insights and answer questions. In addition, we’re going to have a conversation with those PAL members who were in the first Mentor Program.

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Everything You Wanted to Know about the Mentor Program…

2014 was SCBWI Carolinas inagural mentorship program. Four mentors worked with four mentees to help bring their work closer to the point of publication. You will have the opportunity to hear from all eight individuals at the panel moderated by John Claude Bemis on Saturday night.

According to Stephanie Greene, coordinator of the newly-developed program, “It certainly seemed, from everything both the mentors and mentees said to me, that it was a great success.”

Here are some comments from the mentors:

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We’re all about children’s books, and especially those books published by SCBWI members who are participating in our conference. We are proud of the number of published authors and illustrators in our region.

Writing and illustrating can be a very solitary endeavor. The annual conference Autograph Party gives us the opportunity to shine the spotlight on those who have succeeded in attaining publication.

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you’re an illustrator just starting out, you need to get used to displaying your work. At the very least, putting together a portfolio for others to see is a great exercise in self-editing and refining your voice.

If you’re a seasoned illustrator, this is an opportunity to define (or re-define) yourself, to demonstrate how your style is adaptable to a range of projects—or to focus on the type of work that excites you most. And, not incidentally, of course, you may just catch the eye of an art director, editor or agent—though we make no guarantees!

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Recently, I asked Gretchen Griffith about why she wrote The Inside Track. Here is her response:

I was mostly interested in developing a guide for conference newcomers because of my own experiences at my first SCBWI conference years ago in Clemmons, NC where I had no idea what to expect, what to say, what to wear even.

After a few sessions and many friendly greetings that weekend, I realized my fears were unfounded, my ideas taken seriously, and my clothing the least of anyone’s concern. Yet had I been aware of certain elements of the conference, I would not have missed out on valuable information and on available networking with other authors. Through the years I’ve gained a little insight into making the best of a writer’s conference, so when I was in Charlotte a couple of years ago talking with first timers, I did what other SCBWI members once did for me. I helped them.

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Is this your first conference? Are you new to writing and illustrating for kids? If so, you’ll want to join me for “Your Career Starts Here,” on Friday at 4 PM for a nuts and bolts beginner-level session that will answer all those burning questions you have: Like

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It’s All About You: How to ‘Take’ a Portfolio Review

As an illustrator submitting your portfolio for review, you are not so much in the position of a proud parent—it is you, yourself, under the microscope. Your portfolio is you. It defines you. It’s a promise to whomever will listen of what you can do if given the chance. It’s your i.d. card, your resume, and your autobiography all rolled into one.

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First Impressions is a conference session in which images from illustrators are projected onto a screen so a panel of publishing professionals can comment on them “cold,” sharing the thoughts and reactions they might have in response to an illustrator’s samples arriving unsolicited on their desks at work. It’s the illustrator’s equivalent to the First Pages event for writers.

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At every conference we collect new and gently used books for a deserving school in the metropolitan Charlotte area. This year all books will be donated to

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Interview with Emma Dryden

Over the course of three intensive and interlinked sessions—Writers as Atlas Makers, Writers as Architects, and Writers as Re-Envisioners—we will start by exploring various tools and techniques for world building in our work—the external world-building of setting, landscape, and geography, and the internal world-building of our characters’ voices and emotional engagement.

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Illustrators! Let’s Get Intense!

One of the highlights of the conference experience is the opportunity to take advantage of one of three four-hour Intensive Workshops on Friday morning. Each workshop is an immersive experience that explores a subject in depth–and is well worth the nominal add-on fee.

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Where: In the Conference Bookstore, courtesy of Quail Ridge Books and Music
When: Before and during the SCBWI Carolinas Fall Conference
– To boost our fellow authors and illustrators
– To start conversations between those who have published and those who are working on it;
– To spark connections between undiscovered sisters of the ink, brothers of the brush, compatriots of the keyboard and sibling of the stylus

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PROMO POSTCARD Opportunity for Illustrators!

ALL CAROLINAS ILLUSTRATORS (members current as of conference dates in September) are invited to submit a packet of 20 promo postcards. One card from each illustrator participating will be added to a gift packet for each member of the visiting conference faculty.

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Count ‘Em, Two Live Chats!

The first will be held on Thursday, July 17, at 9 pm EDT, and is for illustrators thinking about attending the conference.
The second Live Chat is for everyone registered for the conference. It will be held on Thursday, September 11, at 9 pm EDT. This will be your opportunity to ask any last-minute questions, from what to wear (layers! the meeting rooms are cold!) to where to grab lunch Friday before the festivities start, and to get a better idea of what to expect from the conference schedule. Everyone registered for the conference as of the day before the chat will receive an invitation with log-in information.

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Refer to guidelines in the Conference Information download for addresses and details on formatting.
Please be aware: Intensive Programs fill up fast, on a first-come-first-served basis.

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Spring Writing Retreat!

It was a perfect southern spring weekend in Chapel Hill North Carolina with moderate temperatures and flowers abloom as twenty six writers met for a weekend of writing, talking about writing and hearing about writing. SCBWI Carolinas returned to the Aqueduct Conference Center May 2 for a weekend writing retreat with Jill Santopolo, Executive Editor, Philomel.

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PAL Mentoring Program

SCBWI-Carolinas is excited to announce the first-ever Carolinas Mentor Program for 2014. Our mentors will work with writers on picture books, middle grade novels, and historical fiction. The program will run from February until June, with a monthly exchange of manuscript pages and revision between the mentor and writer.

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The Carolinas web site is new home for good news from Carolinas members!

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