Friday, February 06, 2015

There's Still Time to Register for Springmingle '15 -- Writers' and Illustrators' Conference in Decatur, Georgia

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

A heads up for writers in the Southeast! If you're a kidlit writer or illustrator (picture books through young adult novels), and you're looking for a fun and informative conference, then consider attending Springmingle '15 in Decatur, Georgia this March. The conference is presented by Southern Breeze, the GA, AL, Florida Panhandle chapter of SCBWI (The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), and it's a great opportunity to meet and network with some local writers if you live in the area.

Southern Breeze is my own local chapter of SCBWI, so I can say firsthand that you're not going to find a more welcoming and helpful bunch of people. I look forward to Springmingle every year, because it's a more laid back conference and I get to catch up with friends and colleagues, enjoy the sessions, and not feel rushed like a bigger conference can sometimes be. They're serious about the "mingle" part, and you get plenty of time to chat with your fellow attendees and the faculty. The sessions are always great, too.


They have a fantastic line up this year for writers and illustrators of all levels. Every session, every speaker, every moment is designed to help writers and illustrators improve their work.

This year's conference faculty includes: Giuseppe Castellano, Art Director at Penguin Young Readers Group; Karen Grencik, Literary Agent/Co-Founder of Red Fox Literary, LLC.; Elise Howard, Editor, Algonquin Young Readers; Bill Mayer, Award-winning Illustrator; Meg Medina, Award-winning Author; and Neal Porter, Publisher, Neal Porter Books, imprint of Macmillan Children’s Book Group.

There are nearly a dozen workshop sessions, including:
  • 101+ Reasons for Rejection: Literary agent Karen Grencik covers the most common reasons a manuscript gets rejected, and how writers can avoid that fate.
  • Writing La Vida Loca: Young adult author Meg Medina discusses cultural identity and writing fiction for young readers at a time when diverse children’s literature is critically needed.
  • Traditional Picture Books in a Digital Age: Publisher Neal Porter gives an in depth look at visual storytelling and learn how character development, story structure, and the almighty page turn still matter in a time of ever-decreasing attention spans. 
  • Marketing With Meaning: Meg Medina discusses how to restructure your marketing vision to keep you focused and sane.
  • Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Working with An Editor But Were Afraid To Ask: Elise Howard discusses the editor/author relationship and address how to handle all kinds of situations.
Visit their website for a complete listing of workshops.

Springmingle '15 takes place on March 13-15, 2015 in its brand new Decatur Library venue, so it's a great weekend away as well as a conference, and you'll want to hit the shops and restaurants in Decatur, all within walking distance. (Personally, I highly recommend Squash Blossom for unique clothes. I find cool stuff there every time I go in)

For the more workshop focused, Springmingle also offers one-day optional sessions on Friday, March 13:

The Writer’s Intensive with Author Meg Medina: Mining for Stories. Meg Medina leads you through exercises to access your memories and find your authentic voice, story lines, and characters.

Illustrators' Day. Take a peek into the day-to-day inner workings of a children’s book art department. Neal Porter will share tales and tips on how to make an illustrator's work appealing and visible to gatekeepers of the daunting, and often infuriating world of children's book publishing. Guiseppe Castllano will discuss what his art department looks for in illustrators and what methods he uses to find them. The segment will also cover best practices in being a freelance illustrator.

There's also manuscript or portfolio critiques, as well as agent one-on-ones and mentorships.

Advance registration is required and spaces are limited, but membership to SCBWI is not required. Early bird tuition is $195 for SCBWI members, $235 for non-members, or $215 for students. After March 9, registration is $275. For those from outside the Decatur area, a limited number of discounted hotel rooms are available at the Courtyard Atlanta Decatur Downtown/Emory.

Not a member of SCBWI? Join for just $85. You’ll gain access to important industry updates, be eligible for contests and awards, and receive a bi-monthly magazine filled with useful information. And you’ll be part of the largest organization for writers and illustrators of children’s books, with 22,000 members worldwide.

Hope to see some of you there!

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