Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Carmen Oliver On-the-Verge Annual Austin SCBWI Conference Scholarship

The Carmen Oliver On-the-Verge Annual Austin SCBWI Conference Scholarship is awarded each year to a children’s book writer who has the passion and desire to pursue a career in this industry. It is designed to give the winning writer a good foundation from which they can continue to learn and grow as a children’s book author.

In Carmen’s words:

As a former Austin SCBWI ARA, I saw and learned firsthand how important it is to be investing in people and how the opportunities to study craft strengthens you as a better writer and a better person. I’m a published author because of SCBWI and a large part of that apprenticeship was a direct result of attending Austin SCBWI conferences and my volunteer leadership roles in the chapter. I guess you could say I grew up and was raised by SCBWI. Along the way, I had many SCBWI members invest in me and coupled with my hard work and determination to get my stories right — I made it. 

In my early years, my family and I struggled financially. I wasn’t allowed to work in the United States for over eleven years until my immigration papers were processed. It was a very difficult time in my life. I felt helpless. I cut back where I could to find the dollars to attend as many writing/publishing SCBWI conferences as possible but there were many times where I had to let go of opportunities because I couldn’t afford to go. We needed the money elsewhere. My hope is that this scholarship will encourage another writer who might be struggling a bit financially to apply and attend the conference. Everybody needs a little help. Everybody needs a friend. And my friends at SCBWI helped me along the way. They were a constant in my life when there were so many uncertainties. This is my chance to give back to the organization that gave me so much. And to help another who might be going through a similar situation or worse.

The recipient receives:

* Full scholarship to our annual conference, held May 2-3, 2020, in Austin (does not include travel, critiques or pitch/consultation)

* Craft and publishing questions answered by Carmen Oliver (author of BEARS MAKE THE BEST READING BUDDIES, A VOICE FOR THE SPIRIT BEARS, and other titles and Booking Agent & Founder of The Booking Biz) as time permits during 2020.

Please note: This scholarship does not include critiques because we don’t want to put pressure on the winner to perform at a certain level. Our aim is to encourage, lift and guide the writer, so they can have a step in the right direction.


Members and non-members in central Texas are eligible. Pre-published, unagented writers only.

Submission Instructions

Prepare one (1) Word document that includes the following:

* Brief cover letter answering these questions (there are no right or wrong answers; we just want to get to know you and your goals):

  1. Tell us about you. What’s your current job or life situation? Have you attended an SCBWI conference before?
    2. Describe your past or current projects writing for children or teens.
    3. Have you spent any time in the past 12 months working to hone your craft? What does that look like?

* One writing sample of children’s literature (fiction or nonfiction, picture book or novel) up to three (3) pages. This should be formatted with standard formatting rules.

Name the file with a keyword(s) from the title of your work (e.g.: HarryPotterSorcerer)

Applications should be emailed to ascbwi-rascholarship @ (remove the spaces around the @). Put your name and the title of your work in the body of the email. Please make sure the title of the work is included on the first page of the document but NOT your name. Make the subject line: On-the-Verge Conference Scholarship.

Application deadline is Feb. 29, 2020.