Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Laney Nielson wins first Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award

Laney Nielson

Laney Nielson

Novelist Laney Nielson is the winner of Austin SCBWI's inaugural Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award. Congratulations, Laney!

"Laney's manuscript, SHATTERED, was chosen as the winner due to its charm, humor, and kid appeal," said Cynthia.

Laney was one of eight finalists, announced during the 2014 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference in February.

Finalists were nominated by the conference faculty critiquers for the professional level of their writing. This year's finalists also were Jayme Allen, Miranda Koerner, Carmen Oliver, Melinda Payne, Gayleen Rabakkuk, Ramona Siddoway and Charles Trevino.

As the winner of the Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award, Laney gets a year's mentorship with one the Austin SCBWI chapter's top writing mentors, and for the inaugural year, Cynthia herself is the mentor.

"The quality of finalists' writing, obvious potential, and wide variety of their works made for a difficult decision," Cynthia added.

A best-selling and award-winning author, Cynthia Leitich Smith is an inspiration in the Austin children's book writing community, and a long-time member of our chapter. Her books include picture books JINGLE DANCER and SANTA KNOWS, middle-grade novels RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME and INDIAN SHOES and the TANTALIZE and FERAL young-adult series. She also runs the Cynsations blog, a must-read for anyone interested in  children's book publishing.

The Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award will continue to be an annual honor at the Austin SCBWI conference.

Congratulations again to Laney and all our 2014 nominees.


Cynthia Leitich Smith and the Writing Mentor Award finalists

Cynthia Leitich Smith (4th from l.) stands with the 2014 Writing Mentor Award finalists