Believe Scholarship"You will see it when you believe it." ~ Wayne Dyer
Want to donate to the Believe Scholarship?
You can send a check to Denise Vega, P.O. Box 101596, Denver, CO 80250-1596 with BELIEVE SCHOLARSHIP in the memo line. I can also accept direct payments via Zelle (please note that it’s for the Believe Scholarship):
I am unable to accept credit card payments for donations at this time.
BLACK STORIES MATTER
I support the Black community and abhor the injustices and violence that the community has endured and continues to endue. I am committed to helping raise up Black voices and am offering scholarships to residents of Colorado and Wyoming who identify as Black to the Letters & Lines Fall Conference, presented by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) for at least the next two years. I hope to extend the scholarship to those who are not yet SCBWI members starting in 2021.
A frank conversation about YA literature, police brutality, and the nuances of Black storytelling (Entertainment Weekly, June 9, 2020)
Thank you so much for stopping by to find out more about my Believe Scholarship. Believing in ourselves as writers and creatives is a vital part of moving forward on our journeys. I want you to know that I believe in you and support you and that’s one of the main reasons I set up the scholarship. That and to give back to a community that has and continues to be a tremendous support to me as a writer. You can read a little of the history about how the scholarship came to be below.
Before the events of May 2020, I had begun shifting my scholarship focus to support diverse and marginalized voices of all kinds to give those writers an opportunity to attend the RMC-SCBWI Letters & Lines Conference. There were many reasons for this–talking to writers whose stories deserve to be shared with a wider audience, listening to author and artist Grace Lin talk about windows and mirrors and how we all need those in the books we read—here’s her TedX talk which has the same content—flipping channels or scrolling online entertainment and noting the lack of diverse faces, and more. Diversity comes in many forms and I wanted to support voices that have struggled to be heard or have been silenced.
I am still sensitive and supportive of all marginalized groups but for now my focus will be on Black writers.
Thank you, Traci!
I’m so happy to have my friend and award-winning author, Traci Groff-Jones, joining me to evaluate applications for 2020. Hopefully I can convince her to stay on. 😉
I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I will be partnering with The Word for Diversity, a wonderful Denver non-profit to help implement the scholarship and spread the news about it. However, due to COVID-19, I had to delay this partnership until 2021. But please support this wonderful organization!
If you feel so called, please consider donating to The Word.
I established the Believe Scholarship in 2015 to support one or two writers who are members* of the SCBWI and reside in the Rocky Mountain region. I have been a member of SCBWI for over 25 years and it has been the gift that keeps on giving—in friendships, information, support, networking, and more. I wanted to give back and support writers as I have been supported over the years. Each year I plan to give at least one scholarship to a picture book and/or novel writer who is at a place in their writing journey where attending the RMC-SCBWI Fall Letters & Lines conference will help them get to the next level.
The scholarship will pay for:
- full tuition for both days (early registration)
- $150 stipend (use as needed for hotel, travel, child care etc)
- a manuscript critique or coaching session if the recipient wants one
- The intensive of the recipient’s choice if the recipient wants to attend one
This is currently a $530 total value per scholarship (in-person. Online conference will vary)
Things to Note
Conference tuition, critique and intensive fees will be paid directly to RMC-SCBWI. I will send the stipend check for $150 directly to the recipient(s).
I reserve the right not to award one or both scholarships in a given year.
What’s Different About the Believe Scholarship
What makes my scholarship a little different is that I focus not only on where you are on your journey in terms of your writing, but also where you are on your journey as a writer. The application will ask you to evaluate some things about yourself as a writer because for me, it’s only when we define who we are as a writer and what our purpose as writers is that we can be truly happy on our journey. Sure there will be bumps in the road and your purpose may change as you change and grow, but it’s something I believe is important to visit and revisit as we go.
Believe in yourself, believe in your stories and keep writing. Only you can tell the stories you have in your heart and soul.
Black Stories Matter (2020, 2021, and perhaps beyond)
I am currently supporting Black voices with the scholarship for at least the next two years.
Black Stories Matter
Due to time constraints, for 2020 only, applicants must be current members of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the SCBWI. For 2021, I look forward to reaching out to those who are not yet members and offering them an opportunity to apply.
You should be an Associate Memrer, a Full Member, or PAL Member who has NOT had a book traditionally published or one that is currently under contract (if you aren’t sure if you are eligible, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
What I Look For
- Clear, impassioned goals and purpose as a writer
- Clear explanation of the benefits of the conference for your craft and your career
- A commitment to your craft
- A writing sample that shows you are ready to take the next step
The sample doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does need to show that you have a sense of the category for which you are writing and that you’ve developed some skill. If this is your first story and you’ve never attended a class or received feedback on your work, I would encourage you to hold off applying and consider taking a class and/or getting professional feedback before taking this step.
Writing sample mechanics:
- Please submit only the first 500 words or less of your story, not counting illustration notes for picture books. Find a natural stopping point. It’s better to include a few less words rather than have closer to 500 and stop in the middle of a sentence!
- Follow standard formatting. For examples, go to: https://www.denisevega.com/writers/free-tools/
- IMPORTANT: Make sure your name is NOT anywhere in your sample!
- You will email your writing sample in MS-Word format for easier formatting on our end.
You may know that I teach and consult quite a bit so I ask that if you have worked with me in one of those capacities, try to avoid submitting a sample of your work I may have seen so I can judge your application strictly on its merits (all applications are anonymous). If you really want to submit something you think I’ve seen, please note that on the application and we will have someone else evaluate your writing sample.
One entry per person for either picture book or novel. Please don’t submit to both, in spite of this talent!
To apply, click here.
July 15, 2020, 5:00pm MDT
July 19, 2020
I reserve the right not to award a scholarship if I don’t feel any of the applications meet the requirements or aren’t ready for the next step a conference can bring.
Picture Book Scholarship Recipient: Sandy Perlic
Sandy received free conference tuition, one-on-one critique or coaching session, an intensive of her choice, $150 stipend.
Picture Book Scholarship Runner Up: Meghan Campbell
Meghan received a one-on-one critique or coaching session.
Chapter Book/MG/YA Scholarship Recipient: Natasha C. Fisher
Natasha received free conference tuition, one-on-one critique or coaching session, an intensive of her choice, $150 stipend.
Chapter Book/MG/YA Scholarship Runner Up: Mariko Tatsumoto
Mariko received a one-on-one critique or coaching session.
Picture Book Scholarship Recipient: Jennifer Blanck
Jennifer received free conference tuition, one-on-one critique, an intensive of her choice, $150 stipend.
Picture Book Scholarship Runner Up: Rachel Funez
Rachel received a one-on-one critique.
Chapter Book/MG/YA Scholarship Recipient: Jacqueline Peveto
Jacqueline received free conference tuition, one-on-one critique, an intensive of her choice, $150 stipend.
Chapter Book/MG/YA Scholarship Runner Up: Catherine Ringler
Catherine received a one-on-one critique.
Picture Book Scholarship Recipient: Nina Little
Nina received free conference tuition, one-on-one critique, an intensive of her choice, $125 hotel stipend.
Picture Book Scholarship Runner Up: Erika Henhart
Erika received a one-on-one critique.
Chapter Book/MG/YA Scholarship Recipient: Joanna Cook
Joanna received free conference tuition, one-on-one critique, an intensive of her choice, $125 hotel stipend.
Chapter Book/MG/YA Scholarship Runner Up: Ann Morris
Ann received a one-on-one critique.
Because of generous donations from the RMC community, I was able to add intensives to the package this year!
Picture Book Scholarship Recipient: Kristen Olsen
Kristen received free conference tuition, one-on-one critique, an intensive of her choice, $125 hotel stipend.
There was no picture book runner up in 2016
Chapter Book/MG/YA Scholarship Recipient: Stephanie Johnson
Stephanie received free conference tuition, one-on-one critique, an intensive of her choice, $125 hotel stipend.
Chapter Book/MG/YA Scholarship Runner Up: Cara Davies
Cara received a free conference critique.
Picture Book Scholarship Recipient: Kristen Foote
Kristen received free conference tuition, one-on-one critique, $100 hotel stipend.
Picture Book Scholarship Runner Up: Ann Kelley
Ann received a free conference critique.
Chapter Book/MG/YA Scholarship Recipient: Kellye Crocker
Kellye recieved free conference tuition, one-on-one critique, $100 hotel stipend.
Chapter Book/MG/YA Scholarship Runner Up: Alda Dobbs
Alda received a free conference critique.
The team is me, Denise Vega, and award-winning author Traci Groff-Jones! You can check out my bio elsewhere on the site. Here’s some info on the fabulous Traci:
Traci is an award-winning author whose first book, Standing Against the Wind (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award in 2006, a national award that is occasionally awarded to new authors. Two more books with FSG followed in 2010 and 2011, Finding My Place and Silhouetted by the Blue. In 2018 she signed with Metamorphosis Literary Agency and is shopping her fourth and fifth manuscripts and she is currently working on her sixth manuscript. Traci has a BA in Psychology from Pomona College, Claremont, CA and earned a Creative Writing Certificate from the University of Denver.
Traci is on faculty for the Mile Hi MFA in Creative Writing program at Regis University in Denver, Colorado, where she teaches young adult fiction as well as on faculty at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. For more on Traci, visit her website.
Conference Experiences from Recipients
One of the most valuable things I took back from the conference was the effect of being surrounded by so many creative aspiring (and inspiring!) writers. There was an energy and excitement in the group as a whole, and it has given me that extra bump I needed to keep pushing my writing to the next level.
My one-on-one critique with Deborah Warren was invaluable as well. She pointed out exactly where my manuscript was lacking, and also gave me the encouragement that what I am working on is worthwhile to keep pursuing. As someone who LOVES to write in rhyme (in an industry where attempting rhyme is generally highly discouraged), I was so pleased to hear from someone in-the-know that my rhyme is good and I should continue to write that way 🙂 It’s exactly that kind of encouragement that I can turn to when I am feeling unsure of myself.
The workshops I attended gave me a fresh perspective on the writing/creativity process. Getting to hear actual editors go through what they do on a daily basis, and how they revise a manuscript to get it to it’s best, gave me incredibly valuable insight. This info will help me to get my works polished as much as they can be, BEFORE they are ever seen by an editor. It’s these tips, tricks, and knowledge that I believe will get my manuscripts eventually recognized over the slush.
Basically, attending the Letters and Lines conference gave me the confidence and knowledge to continue on my writing journey. I met so many great people and was able to connect with other successful professionals who can help me on my way. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity!!
Why I Founded the Scholarship
In the past belief—or really lack of belief—has been an obstacle in my writing journey. I often didn’t believe I had the ability to write at a certain level that a particular idea required or that I could actually tackle a new genre. I didn’t believe I was worthy of success in all its forms–completing a book, getting it published–any kind of monetary success and so forth.
And then, by taking time to really look at myself and my work, I started to believe in myself more and my approach to my writing and my career shifted dramatically. I began to detach from what are often called “external outcomes” such as publication and book sales and focused on the writing itself. The joy–and sometimes frustration–of it and found I was happier in the world at large. Not that I didn’t want to continue to publish or that when I did, I wouldn’t work hard to help the book succeed, but I no longer gave them the power to define me anymore. My success and who I am hinges on what I believe about myself and the things I can control in my life, things like whether I finished a chapter, whether I revised a scene to the very best of my ability, whether I was fully present and a good listener when teaching a class or consulting with a writer.
In 2020, I’ve been moved by the #blacklivesmatter, #0wnvoices, #metoo, and #weneeddiversebooks movements and more. I feel called to change the Believe Scholarship focus. I believe in you and I believe in your right to be heard.
Congratulations to the 2020 Recipients!
Meet Illustrator Dow Phumiruk
Get into the mind of this creative genius.