Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Illustrator’s Lounge

Welcome to the Southern Breeze

Illustrator’s Lounge

You’ve come to the right place for the latest information on regional events and to learn more about visual storytelling. Take a look around to learn more about what we do in the Southern Breeze Region.  Southern Breeze provides many opportunities for writers and illustrators to practice their craft and network within our region.

Our typical illustrator events include:

  • Critiques
  • Sketch crawls
  • Gallery and museum visits
  • Illustrator art shows
  • Networking events
  • Annual conferences and Illustrator’s Day

We are always trying to come up with events to keep everyone connected. If you have ideas, questions or would like to volunteer, please let us know how you would like to be involved.  Please take a look below for some of the upcoming opportunities in Southern Breeze.

Stay Connected and see ya’ll soon!

Southern Breeze Illustrator Coordinator

Upcoming Events

Sketchbook Challenge with Mike Lowery

“How Keeping a Sketchbook Changed My Life”

In this event, Mike will talk about how keeping a sketchbook launched his career and will challenge attendees (regardless of their creative focus) to keep a daily sketchbook diary . This event isn’t just for illustrators! It’s for creatives of all types at any stage of their artistic journey.

Mike Lowery is a New York Times bestselling illustrator as well as an author of many, many books. Whether you’re an illustrator OR a writer (or both!) this is a session you won’t want to miss. (But if you do have to miss, there will be a recording available to members for 2 weeks afterward). Make sure you are logged into the site and go to the Members Only page to access the Zoom link.


Applications Open for Liz Conrad Award – Nov. 15 – Jan. 15, 2023 (Submissions for 2023 are closed. Stay tuned! The winner will be announced at Spring Mingle on March 25.


In honor of our dear friend, Liz Conrad, who created many wonderful children’s books, the Southern Breeze chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has established a merit based Award for our regional illustrators. This award is now the only contest offered to our illustrators as we have moved to a single regional conference each year. The Liz Conrad Award will be given to one promising illustrator in the children’s book field and will provide:
*One-year free SCBWI Membership
*Review comments from the Judge determining the recipient of the Award

This Award is open to Southern Breeze SCBWI members only and is an impressive honor to add to one’s resume. Applications may be submitted beginning November 15th of each year. The deadline for submissions is January 15th.


The judge will look for images that tell a visual story or incident with clarity and nuance. The images should reflect a range and progression of mood and emotion. The narrative qualities of the submission will be considered, as will the effectiveness of the design and composition of the image. Whether you choose to submit three images or four images will not factor into the judging.


  • You must be a current SCBWI member of the Southern Breeze Region to submit.
  • Submissions due by January 15th. (The winner will be announced during the Spring Conference)
  • Title the PDF as follows: last name_first name.pdf (e.g. baker_sarah.pdf)
  • Submit one PDF of your 3 – 4 images. (Maximum file size 20 MB)
  • Each page will include one piece of art
  • The submission will consist of either three or four images, without text.
  • Your art style and visual story must be appropriate for one of these two specific audiences/book genres (Choose one): 
    • Full color, intended for a picture book for 4- to 7-year-olds – OR –
    • Black and white, intended for a middle grade book for 8- to 11-year-olds



Q. Is the competition open to everyone – published and pre-published?

A. Yes! This is open to anyone who is a current SCBWI Southern Breeze member, whether you are published or pre-published.

Q. Do the three images have to tell a complete story? 

A. No, your three images can portray a smaller moment within a bigger story.

If you have any questions please email  Southern Breeze Illustrator Coordinator at

MEET OUR JUDGE:  Shanda McCloskey

Shanda (rhymes with panda) McCloskey comes from a whole family of different kinds of artists and entrepreneurs! She studied art in Atlanta and New York City. But before writing and illustrating kids books, she taught art to high-schoolers. Shanda now lives in Ball Ground, Georgia with her husband, daughters, and dog. She is also co-creator of the Author Visit Podcast and Author Visit Central.
Shanda’s award-winning STEM-friendly picture books (DOLL-E 1.0 and T-BONE THE DRONE) have taken her to wonderful people and places!

Fun Facts about Shanda:
In 4th grade Shanda made personalized rings from pipe cleaners, sequins, hot glue, and colorful uncooked alphabet pasta (which spelled out each recipient’s first name) and sold them to her classmates for 25 cents each! It was glorious until she sold one to her friend, Allison, whose mom was the teacher. Shanda got in trouble for running a business at school and had to shut it down.
In elementary school (maybe 3rd grade), Shanda started The Dazzlin’ Club with her cousin, Audrey. The club had its own self-inking stamp, so it was pretty official. They wanted to adopt a whale, but never had enough money. However, they did produce a newsletter for the 12 or so members, thus the need for the stamp. Truth be told, the administration (paperwork) of the club was Shanda’s favorite part of it all … nerd alert!
The photo above is a selfie Shanda took at a Waffle House after she got new bangs 🙂
Below are some mermaids Shanda drew in 3rd grade which won honorable mention in the Reflections Art Contest.
Shanda only took ballet at a very young age, but she still loves to dance – especially the robot!


Illustrator Breakout Table during Informal Online Critiques

What are you working on? Do you want feedback? How about a portfolio review? We will be having a breakout table once a month during the Online Informal Critiques. Visit the Members Only page, and scroll down to the “Online Informal Critique Groups” section. The date for Illustrator Critiques is designated there. Check back regularly, as we update it monthly. See you there!

Opportunities with Deadlines

Check out the SCBWI web site for award/grant submission opportunities and deadlines.

“Draw This!” monthly art prompt winners are published in the SCBWI publication Insight. Two winners are featured in Insight, on the website, and social media. The November 2022 prompt is WARMTH.

Submit your work for consideration in the Bulletin. Each issue features a winning “Art Spot” illustration. The winner receives $100 for their winning piece. Each issue of the Bulletin also features many pieces of spot art submitted from members. Members receive $50 for each piece that is used. SCBWI retains only the first-time rights, the artist keeps all other rights to use the art. All SCBWI members are eligible to enter by submitting one or more spot illustrations following the guidelines here. 

Always Relevant

Need Resources?

Click Here for Books on Children’s Books!



Portfolios & Postcard Tips

Postcards – Learn more about preparing your postcards and portfolios to be seen by industry professionals.

TeMika Grooms has a great video about different swag you can create to give away.

Portfolios – Learn more about preparing your portfolio for the upcoming conference

Tips & Tricks – from Elizabeth Dulemba

Portfolio Show Guidelines – SCBWI National Portfolio Show Guidelines

Query Letter Example

Click the link to see a query letter template for your next children’s book dummy


Key things to do as you prepare your query letter:

  1. RESEARCH – Research agents and editors to determine their submission process, genre, and what they want to publish.  Check out their websites, Manuscript Wish List, and respectfully engage with them on Twitter posts.  Do your research to find the best fit before you submit.
  2. COMP TITLES – There is almost nothing new under the sun.  Do your research and find comparable book titles that are similar in topic within your story’s genre. Start by reading a lot of children’s books. Do a basic internet search on the topic of your story.  Also, consider doing a subject search on Amazon, Goodreads and the library system.
  3. THEME and PITCH – What is the theme of your book?  Can you summarize it into one word? Also, consider a one to two-sentence pitch of your story.  Distilling the story down into a few sentences can help to contextualize it for an easier sell to the publisher, their sales team, and book distributors.
  4. WHY YOU? WHY NOW? – It can be nice to let the agent or editor know why you are the person to write this story at this time in history. Very briefly talk about your inspiration to write this story – only a couple of sentences are needed.
  5. PUBLISHING HISTORY – If you have published books in the past or won awards, feel free to briefly mention that here.  You may also consider mentioning your career goals as an author-illustrator.
  6. THANK YOU – Lastly, provide a nice thank you and closing to this one-page letter.   Make sure the letter is professionally written and proofread.  Most importantly, make sure your manuscript has been critiqued, reviewed, and edited to bring it to the best quality that you can make it at this time.  A picture book dummy, if applicable, only needs line sketches and two interior color images to show the vision for the book.  Don’t rush the process. Create great stories.


 Know Your Illustrator Coordinators

Kathleen Bradshaw,  Southern Breeze Illustrator Coordinator

Kathleen has been a long-time member and volunteer within the Southern Breeze Region. 


 About Kathleen:

Kathleen has always enjoyed a good story. As a child she would pretend to be her favorite characters from books and TV shows. Then, she began creating her own characters with stories. She discovered that the right words combined with the right image made magic. She says, “One doesn’t write stories to tell a truth. One writes stories to ask questions and find a truth.”

Kathleen’s journey toward working professionally took her through the University of Georgia, where she earned a degree in Graphic Design. Since then, she has attended the Illustration Academy and continues to study with Visual Arts Passage and the School of Visual Arts Continuing Education online. When she’s not in the studio orchestrating words and pictures, Kathleen enjoys hiking, playing tennis, and volunteering in her community. She takes a sketchbook with her wherever she goes, because stories are waiting to be captured everywhere.

Tay Berryhill,  Southern Breeze Assistant Illustrator Coordinator

Tay is also a long-time member and volunteer. Because the IC role has expanded over the years,  Tay Berryhill serves as the IC Assistant to support illustrators within our region.

About Tay Berryhill:
Tay Berryhill loves nature and writing about it. Her sci-fi and fantasy novels explore animal sentience, ecology and social justice. When illustrating picture books, she especially enjoys drawing dogs, wacky villains, and rowdy goats. She lives in Alabama with her husband and divine muse-cat Dali. 

Archived Information

Region Wide Sketch & ScribbleJoin us on Sunday, November 6, for an informal, region-wide Sketch & Scribble. We will be in different places, but meeting at the same time – Artists and Writers together for a fall afternoon of creating for the fun of it. Bring your sketchbooks and pencils, pads and pens, and dress for the weather. We’ll wander the grounds wherever we are, and find what inspires us.
If you care to share on social media, use #SBSketch&Scribble.
Check out the Members Only page for designated locations.


Introductory Meeting December 18th at 2 pm EST/1 pm CST

(meeting will be recorded if you cannot attend)

Limited Registration Open to the first 10 Illustrators


The Mentorship and the Illustrator Intensive will both be hosted online with recordings available one month after the event (no in-person events).

Adela Pons, Art Director Peachtree Publishing

Join us for our annual Illustration Mentorship with Adela Pons, Art Director for Peachtree Publishing. The 3-month mentorship will take 10 participants through the experience of working with an AD to create a visual narrative for a book. You will learn the steps of moving your visual storytelling from a spark of an idea to finished art.  Mentorship begins on December 18th.  

Registration is Limited, Sign up Early

Mentorship Overview:

Participants would choose to develop one of these 4 projects, depending on their interest on the different market categories:


Project 1: Reimagine a Board Book: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. (34 pages, trim size 6×5)

  • You’d need to come up with: thumbnails of the cover and all spreads; tight(er) sketches of the cover and all spreads; color palette; and finished color artwork for cover and one interior spread.
  • If your style is bold and graphic, this will be the ideal project for you.

Project 2: Reimagine a Picture Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. (32 pages, trim size 12×8)

  • You’d need to come up with: thumbnails of the cover and all spreads; tight(er) sketches of the cover and all spreads; color palette; and finished color artwork for cover and one interior spread.
  • If your style is slightly more detailed, this will be the ideal project for you.

Project 3: Reimagine a Middle Grade Book: Matilda by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake. (240 pages, trim size 6.5×8)

  • You’d need to come up with: character studies of Matilda, Miss Honey, Miss Trunchbull, and Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood; thumbnails of the cover; tight sketches of the cover and 15 spots (to accompany the interior text, your pick of which chapters!); finished color artwork for cover; and finished grayscale of two interior spots.
  • If your style is more detailed, your characters look “older”, and you can provide finished grayscale artwork, this will be the ideal project for you.

Project 4: Reimagine some YA book covers (CHOOSE 4:) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi + The Fault in Our Stars by John Green + The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger + The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas + To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (trim size for all 6×8) + The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien + The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins + A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

  • You’d need to come up with: At least five thumbnails of the cover; color palette; a tight sketch of the cover; and finished color artwork for cover. (All this for each of the 4 previously chosen)
  • If you feel confident about summarizing a story in one image, this project is ideal for you. Hand lettering is always a plus!

Mentorship Schedule:

Dec 18 at 2pm on Zoom – We will meet on December 18th to touch base explain the assignment. (Mentees will decide which project they’d like to work on).  Zoom link will be sent prior to the meeting.

Jan 15 – First assignment due  –

Project 1 & 2 – Thumbnails and/or character studies 

Project 3 – Character studies of Matilda, Miss Honey, Miss Trunchbull, and Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood; and a couple thumbnails for the cover

Project 4 –  Thumbnails for the 4 covers (minimum 5 thumbnails for each cover)

Jan 18 – Adela will send back a pdf with comments

Feb 12 – Second assignment due – 

Project 1 & 2 – Tight sketches of cover and all spreads, and color palette

Project 3 – Tight sketches of cover and 15 spot illustrations for the interior

Project 4 –  Tight sketches of all 4 covers and color palette

Feb 13 – 20 – Adela will send back a pdf with comments

March 5 – Third assignment due – 

Project 1 & 2 – Final color artwork for cover and one spread due

Project 3 – Final color artwork for cover and final grayscale artwork of 2 interior spots

Project 4 –  Final color artwork for all 4 covers due

Mar 19 Illustrator‘s Intensive – Final Art Review – Adela will present a review of the work during the presentation to talk about the final art.



Level Up: Moving Your Craft towards Mastery

All Online Sessions March 19, 2022

A full day about the craft and business of illustrating books for children. Faculty includes Adela Pons, art director, Peachtree Press, and Dr. Elizabeth Dulemba, award-winning author, illustrator, and teacher.  They will also be joined by children’s book editors Sarah Rockett and Foyinsi Adebogmire to answer your questions about the acquisition process.
The Illustration Intensive will include:
  • Presentations by our Faculty
  • Live Review of the final art from the 3-month mentorship during this event.
  • Portfolio Reviews
  • Q&A and feedback from the Faculty
Dr. Elizabeth Dulemba, Illustrator, Educator, Speaker

Elizabeth is an award-winning illustrator, author, teacher, blog influencer, and speaker (including TED), with three dozen books to her credit, from board books to a novel (awarded Georgia Author of the Year). She left her position as Illustrator Coordinator for Southern Breeze in 2014 to pursue an MFA in Illustration from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD in Children’s Literature from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. She also holds a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Georgia. Her recent picture books as illustrator were written by New York Times Best-selling author, Jane Yolen, with whom she often collaborates. “Dr. e” is Associate Professor of Illustration at Winthrop University and, in the summers, Visiting Associate Professor in the MFA in Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating programs at Hollins University. Learn more at and subscribe to her newsletter for which she interviews authors and illustrators and discusses “Creative Thinking.”

Adela Pons, Art Director Peachtree Publishing
Adela Pons, Art Director, Peachtree Publishing Adela is a Venezuelan designer, illustrator, and art director currently based in Atlanta.
After getting her BS in Graphic Design in her home country, she moved to the US to get an MA in Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design and pursue her dreams of working in the children’s books industry. Her illustration experience has helped her to become a better art director and designer, and her design experience has helped her to become a better illustrator. Visit Adela online at

 Sarah Rockett, Editor, Sleeping Bear Press

Sarah has been working in the children’s publishing industry for more than a decade and truly believes that picture books have the power to change the world. She loves traveling, spending time outdoors, and–of course–reading. She lives in Michigan with her husband, young son, and lazy cocker spaniel.


Foyinsi Adegbonmire, associate editor, Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. 

Foyinsi acquires middle grade and young adult fiction, from contemporary to mystery to grounded science-fiction, and enjoys lighthearted stories with conversational narrative voices. She was named a 2021 PW Star Watch Honoree and her acquisitions include New York Times-bestseller Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. She’s in love with romance and forever searching for fluffy YA contemporary romances. When not reading or thinking about her very large TBR pile, she can be found watching Black sitcoms from the 90s/early 2000s and fictional crime shows, or obsessing over journals and bullet journaling. Learn more about Feiwel & Friends here.



JOIN THE Southern Breeze Illustrators Facebook Group 

Are you looking for other illustrators in the Southern Breeze? 

Join our Facebook group where you can share your work for feedback and get to know the other illustrators in our region.

Check out our Southern Breeze Illustrators Gallery

Illustrators, please update your portfolio  – Art Directors and Editors are checking out your work here!



Let’s finish 2021 Strong!
  • Review The Book to research the market
  • Submit to SCBWI Grants, Draw This!Art Spot and Featured Illustrator
  • Join a Critique Group
  • Take the Daily Creative Challenge
  • Post your Work-in-Progress and Finished Work online
  • Update your website and social media
  • Create a book dummy
  • Join the Twitter community be aware of KidsLit industry talk
  • Submit to Agents, Editors and Art Directors to Share your work
More to Come as we plan events for 2022 – Stay Tuned!



Illustrator Critique Session

Saturday, Dec 11th at 11 am EDT/10 am CDT

Bring your latest illustrations, book dummies or portfolio for a group review of your latest work.

Bring your art to share.  Ideally, we would like to share on-screen to make it easier for everyone to review your work.  Please prepare a jpeg or pdf file that can be shared on the screen for everyone to give you feedback.

Bring good intentions, the “sandwich method”, and an open mind to give and receive feedback from your peers to help you grow in your craft.

Members must log into their SCBWI account to access the Member’s Only Page to retrieve the Zoom Link for the Critique Session on the SCBWI Southern Breeze Members Only website

More information on critique groups can be found in THE BOOK.

You can also read about “Critique Manners” and learn more about how critique groups work HERE (Many thanks to our Los Angeles Chapter!)

#ScbwiArtober – 31 Days of Illustration Prompts

October 1 – 31, 2021 

Inviting all of the illustrators, sketchers and hard-core doodlers to get in on the fun for #ScbwiArtober!

Check out the webpage for the list of prompts:

Join the SCBWI Illustration Community in October for 31 days of illustration prompts under the hashtag #ScbwiArtober!
Each day will feature a prompt to inspire your daily practice. You can choose to use any art materials during the month. We encourage you to experiment with different media. Play with media you have never tried before. Post the art when you can or post it daily with the #ScbwiArtober hashtag. The main goal is to develop a daily practice of creating new art.
– This is not about perfection. The goal is to develop a daily practice.
– We encourage you to try new media.
– Share you work on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #ScbwiArtober.
– Go to the hashtag to see inspiration and cheer on other SCBWI Illustrators.
– Play and have fun each day!
Remember to use the hashtag so that fellow illustrators can find you!

Southern Breeze Conference Brochure Cover Art

Featured Artists:

David SanAngelo (2020)

Shannon Day (2019)

Maegan Penley (2018)
 Melissa Schultz-Jones (2016)
 Blythe Russo (2015)
Please use email subject:  SM22 BROCHURE
  • SCBWI Members can submit work to be featured in the 2022 Spring Event Brochure!  This will put your work front and center to be seen by Children’s Book Publishers, Editors and Agents.  Send your website, social media or SCBWI Profile link with work that may be a good fit for the brochure cover.:


Please use email subject:  SM221 BROCHURE

 InkTober Online Share

Southern Breeze Illustrators joined in the InkTober festivities online!

The 30-day list of prompts were geared to help us work on:

  • Theme Constraints
  • Accountability
  • Goals
  • Quotas
  • Growth and
  • Habits – All the things you need to develop a strong art career.


 Thank you for joining us and please check out more of their work on Instagram under the hashtag:#SCBWI_SouBreeze  


Illustrator’s Day 

Illustrator’s Day is one of our favorite times of year as it allows our Illustrator’s to gather to focus on craft and the business of visual storytelling!

The day typically features art directors, agents, editors and illustrators ready to share insight and inspiration on improving your art for children’s books.  The day features presentations, Quick Fire Portfolio Reviews, craft workshops, a portfolio showcase and so much more!  Join us!


Annual Gallery Show at Decatur Arts Festival

Our annual gallery show features the Southern Breeze Regional Illustrators.  Come out to see the framed art work from the featured published books.  The gallery show is sponsored by the SCBWI Southern Breeze and the Georgia Center for the Book during the Decatur Book Festival – one of the largest art festivals in the Atlanta metropolitan area.  The opening night is the Friday before Memorial Day and runs the month of June.  Join us and meet the artists at this family-friendly event!

Sketch Crawls

Practice! Practice! Practice! An artist’s work is never done!

Join us for one of our sketch crawls as we meander through spaces and places looking for inspiration and networking with other artists.  This event is open to writers and illustrators of all levels.  Join us at the next museum, live drawing session or town square!



Resources & Information

Southern Breeze Illustrator’s Gallery

Have you added your artwork to your SCBWI Profile?  If you do, there is an opportunity to be a Featured Illustrator.

To add your art to the SCBWI-Southern Breeze Illustrator Gallery, login to your SCBWI account and upload files from the Illustrations section of your Member Profile page.Here’s a video, from our webmaster Tracey M. Cox, showing you how to upload your images: