Friday, November 18, 2016

Finding Fresh Perspective from Writers in Different Genres by Melissa Shanker

I’m beginning my first blog post on The Mitten by stating an undeniable truth: SCBWI is the premier association in the world for writers of children’s literature.

(Can I get a heck, yeah?) If you write for children or young adults, and are not a member of SCBWI, you should stop reading this post immediately, go to and become one. Enough said.

However, if you have room in your life for more knowledge, more camaraderie, and more fun – and come on, who doesn’t? – I encourage you to check out what’s happening at the Capital City Writer’s Association.

CCWA was founded in 2013 by award winning journalist, Louis Knott Ahern. The organization is unique in that it is open to writers of all genres: romance, sci-fi, suspense, non-fiction, mystery, and literary fiction – just to name a few.

What’s happening at CCWA?

  • Monthly workshops are held on the first Wednesday of every month at Schuler’s Books and Music. They cover an array of topics and are open to the public.
  • Finish the Damn Book is a motivating and supportive program, laced with fun incentives to help you finish your [fill in your favorite expletive here] book. 
  • Saturday morning write-ins occur the first Saturday of every month.  Tell your family you have an “important meeting”, and join other writers for a three-hour power session. 
  • CCWA’s two-day conference, Write on the Red Cedar, takes place every January at MSU’s Kellogg Center. Their impressive line up of headliners has included Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest, legendary agent, Donald Maas, and bestselling author and marketing genius, Bob Mayer. This year, famous L.A. writing coach Michael Hauge will bring his Story Mastery to East Lansing and it’s sure to be inspiring. 
Check out all of these events and more at:

Nothing compares to learning firsthand from Newbery award winners, or getting valuable feedback from the veteran children’s authors in my local Shop Talk group, but I have found a way to supplement all that awesomeness right here in Michigan with Capital City Writer’s Association.

In just the last few months, a romance writer helped me beef up my backstory, an author of women’s literary fiction enhanced my editing toolbox, and I developed a new understanding of deep third person POV from a bestselling writer of suspense. Good writers are good writers. The fresh perspective I’ve found from the diverse authors in CCWA has made me a better one.

Melissa Shanker writes middle grade and young adult fiction. She has been a member of SCBWI forever, and sits on the board of the Capital City Writers Association. Melissa lives in Okemos, Michigan with three teenagers who distress and delight her in equal measure, a husband who makes her laugh, and a dog that is often mistaken for a bear.  Her life s swell and she hopes yours is too. Learn more at

Coming up on the Mitten blog: Have you heard about the SCBWI-MI Merry Mitten events? Visit the Merry Mitten website and Like/Share the Merry Mitten Facebook page. Our hard-working PAL Coordinator, Dawne Webber, will be here on Dec. 2nd to tell us more about the PAL program and the Merry Mitten bookstore events happening in December.

Did you know one of our Michigan members won an SCBWI Magazine Merit Award? We'll share his story on Dec. 9th.

And Patti Richards is gathering your good news for another round of Hugs and Hurrahs. Send her an email by December 12th to be included.

We're taking next Friday off to celebrate Thanksgiving. Time to step away from our computers, enjoy our family and friends, and read a good book.

BUT, if you're venturing out to shop that weekend, don't forget about Small Business Saturday and Indies First on November 26th. Many independent bookstores will have authors on-site to assist with book-selling. I'll be with author Heather Smith Meloche at Pages Bookshop in Detroit from 10:00-12:00. If you'll be at another bookstore in Michigan, let us know in the comments, so we can direct shoppers/visitors your way!

AND, SCBWI is gearing up for the Winter Conference in New York in February. Here's an amazing scholarship opportunity for SCBWI-MI members:

Kristin Lenz


  1. I completely agree with Melissa! And, I'd add, attending sessions for illustrators is also enlightening for writers . . . and poetry slams . . . and listening to MOTH stories, or TED talks, etc. The world is full of words and images--keep your heart and head open and you'll be nourished and grow in whatever endeavor you're passionate about.

  2. Heck yeah, Melissa. Earlier this week I was talking with a Michigan author, who shall remain anonymous (but whose initials are Charlie Barshaw) and we had this flash realization of what a wonderful group of people make up SCBWI-MI. It was fun to go on to realize that we'd had the same aha moment many times in the past. (For me, that's good part about getting older--every time I remember something it's all new to me--like summer reruns.) CCWA in Lansing has been a source of joy and increased productivity for me, too. Thanks for spreading the good word, Melissa.

  3. Thanks so much Melissa and the wonderful folks at The Mitten for an informative look at CCWA. As an attendee and presenter at CCWA, I've been very impressed with their commitment to writers at every level and genre. I love when our Venn diagrams intersect!

  4. Great post! Thank you Melissa for sharing this information.