Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Diversity Initiatives: SCBWI Illinois’ Many Voices Outstanding Manuscript Prize

Today’s post is from SCBWI Illinois Diversity Committee Chairperson Susanne Fairfax, who writes in to tell us about their Many Voices Outstanding Manuscript Prize:

Graphic created by Diversity Committee member Cedric Gilane

The burgeoning initiatives of the SCBWI-IL Diversity Committee include the second annual Many Voices Outstanding Manuscript Prize. The MVOMP, funded in part by an anonymous donor, is to be awarded to a manuscript that features a diverse main character or is written by a diverse author. This contest gives SCBWI Illinois members an opportunity to win a written critique of the submitted manuscript and a 30-minute phone/Skype call with Marietta Zacker of Galt & Zacker Literary Agency.

As part of this initiative, the Diversity Committee wanted to encourage people to do the research, reading and thinking necessary to truly understand diversity and inclusion in children’s literature rather than seeing “diversity” as the latest trend. We combined resources that we had gathered with contributions from Marietta Zacker:

Understanding marginalization and privilege requires deep work. Writing outside one’s own lived experience takes great care. This is especially true when writing diverse characters that have historically been stereotyped, misrepresented, subjected to erasure, etc. We hope these resource lists can facilitate rich understanding among our membership.

The first MVOMP was initiated in March 2016 at Creating Stories for Every Reader, an event that ramped up our region’s conversation on diversity and inclusion. The 2016 MVOMP winner, Katie Otey, received a critique and call with agent Adriana Dominguez of Full Circle Literary. Katie submitted an excerpt from her YA novel, Crossroads.

The deadline for submission to the 2017 Many Voices Outstanding Manuscript Prize is March 15. Marietta Zacker will announce the winner via Skype at the SCBWI-IL event, Spring Thaw: Pitch Perfect. We’ll let you know who wins.

If other regions have questions about our SCBWI-IL diversity initiatives and our process around diversity, inclusion and intersectionality, give a holler. You can email me at susannefairfax (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll bring it to our committee.

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