• An Introduction to Writing Picture Books With Author and Co-ARA Nikki Shannon Smith
  • Let's Take an Art Walk
  • Critique Group Information


Take a look at the map of our region. It is vast, extending from the Oregon border southward to Kings, Tulare and Inyo counties. Endless inspiration abounds from such majestic sites as Yosemite, the Eastern Sierra, South Lake Tahoe, the Mendocino coast, Lassen and Mt. Shasta, not to mention the

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News & Regional Updates

MARCH 2016


Can you believe next month is our Spring Spirit conference? We’ve planned all year for it and we hope you’re as excited as we are. If you’ve registered already: hooray! If you haven’t: what are you waiting for? We’re expecting to sell out so PLEASE hop online and get your pretty little self registered already.  https://canorthcentral.scbwi.org/events/spring-spirit-2016/ **AND don’t forget we have a special limited-edition surprise for all attendees this year. You only get it if you attend!

Some Spring Spirit conference enticements:

  • We have 14, yes, FOURTEEN amazing faculty members eager to share their expertise with you. You might recognize ourkeynote Bruce Hale from, believe it or not, McDonalds! His “Clark the Shark” series was chosen to be included in the first-ever Happy Meal book giveaway. HarperChildrens Senior Editor Tamar Hays launched Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious, and has six NYT best sellers (yours might be next!). Our resident artist Joy Allen is so talented and prolific, she not only has her own line of logo’d materials (think Joann’s Fabrics and Michaels), she has a book on Oprah’s Young Reading List. Maybe you’re looking for tips on creating suspense, writing the perfect query, or how to organize your day for the best work/life balancePoetry, book promotion, record keeping, picture books finesse…? Well we’ve got all that and a bag of chips! And don’t forget we’ve added a set of new night-before workshops that offer something for everyone, from beginner to seasoned, writer to illustrator. Our prices are the best in town (less than half of what you’d pay at many other conferences!). Bring a friend and get ready to be wow’ed! https://canorthcentral.scbwi.org/events/spring-spirit-2016/ 
  • If you haven’t sent in a manuscript for critique, you’ve missed that deadline. BUT don’t despair! We have a “First Pages” at lunch where EVERYONE can bring the first page of their work, or a page of artwork, and we’ll have a faculty member and your peers seated at your table to give you feedback right then and there. Don’t forget to bring 10 copies! (If it’s art, you just bring the original and pass it around.) It’s all detailed on https://canorthcentral.scbwi.org/event-spring-spirit-2016/conference-schedule/
  • We’ll be doing some super fun Facebook giveaways as incentives to register, because we really don’t want you to miss this. Check Facebook every week for a new prize. The first prize is FREE CRITIQUE from Bethany Telles! Get thee registered by March 10th to be entered to win! https://www.facebook.com/groups/CANorthCentral/


Who’s getting down to business? We are!

We're starting new, quarterly meetings in our region! What are these meetings, you ask? Part support group, part cheerleading, part show & tell…where our regional members mix and mingle and share expertise. No set agenda, except for general announcements (such as publishing news, local book signings, upcoming events). We'll set up a Brag Table for you to bring your latest releases or works in progress, maybe your portfolio or latest bookmark. Come ask questions, share stories, make a friend. We’ll be setting them up in the north section in Redding/Chico, the mid section in greater Sacramento area, the south section in Modesto/Fresno, and the coastal section in Mendocino County. Our first meeting is 9:30 am on March 26th at the El Dorado Hills Library [**NOTE: we moved it up a half hour so people will have plenty of time to attend and still make it to the Critique Group Meeting in Natomas, which will start at11am]. Register now, IT’S FREE!  https://canorthcentral.scbwi.org/events/regional-meeting-sacramento-area/ More meetings in more sections to come so keep an eye on the calendar.

March 26th is a busy day, with our first quarterly meeting AND our monthly Critique Carousel meeting on the same day, in different locations. We massaged the times to ensure you’ll be able to attend them both. Please register for either, or both, so we know who’s coming. https://canorthcentral.scbwi.org/events

Our northern section is eager to stay active. We had a dozen people in Redding at the Critique Carousel meeting last month. It was a fabulous time discussing the ins and outs of clichés, and how to avoid them like the plague. Because everyone got along so fabulously, we’re meeting in that area on a regular basis, probably once every other month. Lovely coARA Bethany Telles will be taking the Redding/Chico lead and will update our Facebook page and regional calendar once more north area details are ironed out.

The southern part of the region kicked off 2016 with a New Year's mixer in Modesto featuring author Sarah Jamila Stevenson. Sarah inspired the intimate crowd with advice on how to refill our creative wells and tap into our imagination. Modesto is in the planning stages of hosting coffee gatherings, to mingle, critique, and connect with our local writers. There was a nice critique group meet up in Clovis that will be meeting the third Friday of every month at 6:30pm at the Book Barn.  Fresno held a picture book workshop (part II) run by author Joan Schoettler. These workshops have been so successful that Joan and her Fresno PALs are looking into offering them regularly. Keep an eye out for more details. Thank you Suzi Guina for orchestrating so many great events for our south region!

Our coastal gatherings are heating up too!  There were six eager people at February’s Casual Coffee. Meet ups will be moved to the library and will now be called “Mendocino County Meetings.” Members discussed works in progress, queries, getting an agent, submissions, writing conferences and other helpful topics. Saturday, March 12th will be a 2-hour Write-In. Thank you Natasha Yim for being the driving force on our coast. Here is a photo of the Mendocino County group:


Changes and Updates and Opportunity:

·         Our Illustrator Coordinator Rose Cooper has stepped down. We won’t be filling the role, but rest assured we will continue to provide learning opportunities for our illustrator members! We welcome any and all ideas on the art side of things, and of course, volunteers that can help implement those fab ideas. In the meantime, please join me in thanking Rose for her efforts and work she brought us this past year. <cue applause!>

·         With the departure of our IC, we regret that we are unable to implement the annual L.A. Grant Contest that we usually hold. The good news is we are storing up those funds and will look to offer TWO grants next year, with the second grant being a new, diversity-related conference travel grant. We’ll announce more details in the fall, and look to open the contests early 2017.

·         We have a new ACORN newsletter editor! Member Jen Barton will be volunteering to take on the role of our regional newsletter. It will have a slightly new format and will be emailed out every other month. You’ll love it! Welcome, Jen Barton.

·         Are YOU looking for a way to volunteer? Would you like free annual membership ($85!) and other sweet perks? If you’re a great organizer, and would like to step up and become an official part of our year round volunteer team, we are looking for an events coordinator. It would take anywhere from two to ten hours a month, helping organize and implement conference and workshop details. Interested? Have questions? Email canorthcentral@scbwi.org.


Other Good Stuff:

·         Pens for Paws is an online auction put on by member and Twitter Twitterer Angelica R. Jackson, with donations from pros in the publishing community to raise funds for a local cat sanctuary in El Dorado County. There are critiques like one from Kat Rushall that you can bid on, as well as art, books, and swag. The auction runs May 2-6, and can be found here.

·         Speaking of Twitter (were we?), look at these numbers: in Feb, our @SCBWINorthCal account had 96 tweets with a total of 17,500 impressions, 443 profile visits, 46 mentions, and 39 new followers. Not bad, eh? One tweet alone got almost 1,000 impressions! A top tweet by @SarahJClift earned 48 engagements…which means it was forwarded and then reforwarded or replied to 48 times. If you’re not following us, what are you waiting for? J

·         Have you heard of the Local Author Festival Sunday, April 10, 2016, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria? The Sacramento Public Library is hosting a local author festival to celebrate our area’s writing talent. Authors must live in the Sacramento region (Sacramento and surrounding counties) and have been published within the last two years (January 1, 2014 to present). Apply online by March 7, 2016 http://www.saclibrary.org/authorfestival/ Thank you to member Hazuki Kataoka for letting us know about that opportunity.

·         The Whiting Foundation has launched the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant, which will award $35,000 each to as many as three writers, currently under contract to a publisher and at least two years into their work. The foundation will accept submissions for works of history, cultural or political reportage, biography, memoir, the sciences, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, and personal essays, among other categories until May 1. The grantees will be announced in the fall.

·         Did you know Random House opens their doors to the public once a year, giving an inside look into a day in the life of an editor? It’s all the way in NY, but still, so cool:  http://www.randomhousebooks.com/event/openhouse/

·         Tell there isn't a great plot line waiting to happen in this setting!! http://www.wired.com/2016/02/kai-caemmerer-unborn-cities/?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits#slide-1

·         Super big congrats to members Jessica Taylor and Loretta Ichord that had some nice contracts signed this month, and to Kim Zairns that had her first book come out!  



March 7: Local Author Festival deadline (NOTE: not an SCBWI event!) http://www.saclibrary.org/getdoc/24b64f9b-bce0-49d3-b017-c55148450a24/Local-author-book-festival-(1).aspx/

March 15: Deadline for you to pay for your Spring Spirit portfolio to be critiqued (not be postmarked!) **If paying by check, please note our new PO Box address, listed online and below.  

March 16: Conference refunds 50% if cancelled March 16th or later. No refunds on critiques.

March 31: Last day to enter to earn an SCBWI WIP Grant. There are several, so look into it. You’d be surprised at how few enter given how big we are, so your chances are pretty good! http://www.scbwi.org/awards/grants/work-in-progress-grants/   



Are you Twitter happy? Facebook addicted? So are we! Join us and follow us online.

   >> On Twitter, we're @SCBWINorthCal. Our official "hashtag" for our upcoming Spring Spirit conference is #SCBWISpSp16, so do a scan for it every now and then to stay on top of things. And don't forget to follow @angelicarjaxon because she keeps our Twitter account fat and happy with tips, tricks, news and details! Thanks, Angelica.

   >> On Facebook, find us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CANorthCentral/ or search for the public group SCBWI CA North/Central, which is over 650 members strong! Thanks to co-ARA Bethany Telles for keeping things running smoothly.

Keep in touch!!