Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Ask an Agent - with Gemma Cooper and Molly Ker Hawn, from the Bent Agency

Are you looking for a query critique from those in the know? Or do you have a question you've always wanted to ask an agent? Each month, agents Gemma Cooper and Molly Ker Hawn from The Bent Agency are offering just that.

This month, they critique two very different queries sent in to us by our readers.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Ten Minute Blog Break - 30th of July

By Candy Gourlay
Acting Nick Cross Clone

So Nick Cross has gone off on an amazing adventure holiday but the Ten Minute Blog Break must keep going ...  so you guys are stuck with yours truly. (Unlike Nick, I rather like using photos in my blog posts, so please do not be alarmed by the number of unauthorized images below.)

This week, our bloggerati have been posting stuff that, if one were in a plotting mood, could be plotted nicely on a SCBWI wannabe to publication story arc.

Monday, 29 July 2013

“No holidays, no country.”

Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity, c/o Good Reads.

As holidays are pretty much common to all countries and communities in one form or another, they can work for different periods in history – or futurity – and be a point of reference in fantasy. Dragons might like a day off, too.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Tap Tap Tappity Tap...

Can you hear it? The tap tap of keyboards up and down the land honing 4k word opening extracts for Undiscovered Voices. Illustrators, how are you perfecting your entries? The scratch scratch of pencil, the splash of ink or slide of a mouse? I do know writers who've submitted already - maybe they've reached the point where after a tour of the thesaurus they're switching words and ending up with the one they first thought of?

The Chalkface Challenge: The Shadowing Results

So far no one has told me that the Chalkface Challenge isn't the only kidlit competition wholly judged by children so, so far, we are! Half way through the preparation for our first Chalkface Challenge I thought wouldn't it be interesting to find out if some industry professionals chose the same as the children....

...or not.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

How entering Undiscovered Voices could bag you an agent - even if you don't win...

This week I'm excited to crack open the bubbly and say a big congratulations to Christina Banach. She truly is a testament to Never Giving Up. Even though she entered Undiscovered Voices twice but didn't win, Christina carried on writing and working on her craft. And I’m delighted to tell you she has now been signed by agent Yasmin Standen of the Standen Literary Agency, for her 11+ novel, Minty.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Duck & Bear Episode 5

It's here! The climax of the tale. Will Duck's epic tale see the light of publication? What has Bear been cooking up? Find out here!

In the concluding (for now) episode of Amanda Lillywhite's adventures, Duck and Bear are Taking it Further!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Network News, Featuring Ellen Renner South West Network

Ellen Renner on SCBWI and the writing life - in conversation with Lesley Moss
Ellen Renner has been a South West Network Organiser for SCBWI_BI since 2006. She talks to Joint Organiser Lesley Moss about volunteering for SCBWI, her writing career, and her latest book.
 Ellen was born in the USA, but came to England in her twenties, married here, and now lives in an old house in Devon with her husband and son. She originally trained as a painter and surrounds herself with sketches of her characters as she writes. She spins wool as well as stories, knitting and weaving when time allows. She plays the violin, fences (badly!) and collects teapots and motorcycles.
 Her first book, CASTLE OF SHADOWS, won the Cornerstones Wow Factor Competition, the 2010 North East Book Award and was chosen for both the Independent and London Times summer reading lists and, along with the sequel CITY OF THIEVES, was included on The Times list of best children's books of 2010.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Team Cooper's Agent Retreat - Part Two

by Gemma Cooper from the Bent Agency, Team Cooper and Benjamin Scott


One of the many cakes!
Following on from Part One of Team Cooper's Agent Retreat, this week members of Team Cooper - Robin Stevens and Mike Revell, and honorary member - Benjamin Scott, talk about their experiences of the retreat.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 23rd July

I'm sure I can't be the only one wilting from all this heat, but our SCBWI bloggers march on regardless.
Grab a tall glass of iced tea and let's see what blog-sized treats are on the plate this week.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Social Sheila Video: how to claim Google Authorship as a writer

Have you heard about Google Authorship? It's part of Google Plus, and it's something you need to know about if you are a children's book writer or illustrator.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Fresh From the Chalkface

It's so exciting to publish the results for our first Chalkface Challenge.

It's a win-win-win kind of competition. The children comments are all very warm and encouraging so I hope those not shortlisted have still won a wonderful confidence boost. Teacher friends have done a similar thing for me and hearing a child describe an incident in your story that they particularly enjoyed, is great. Not only did the children enjoy the reading it sounds like they enjoyed the whole process.

The Chalkface Challenge: The Results

There were 27 entires for the first Chalkface Challenge - the only writing competition judged entirely by children*. The judges were year 5 children from St. Edwards' Catholic Primary School, Swadinlcote, Derbyshire

The children, supported by their teacher, Celia Anderson, excelled themselves in their conscientious reading, their warm and helpful comments to the authors and their enthusiasm for new stories. Thank you!  You can see the children judging in this week's editorial.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Sam Hawksmoor and Teri Terry battle it out at the Amazing Book Awards

And the results? The Gold went to Teri Terry's Slated and the Bronze to Sam Hawksmoor's The Repossession. Has Teri got enough room on her mantelpiece for all the awards Slated has been winning across the country? And did Sam mind Teri beating him again? Read on...

Friday, 19 July 2013


Illustrator Jane Heinrichs has crossed the globe from her native Canada to South Africa, but is now firmly based in London. She's also is this month’s Featured Artist! See her web portfolio in our Featured Illustrator Gallery

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Team Cooper's Agent Retreat - Part One

by Gemma Cooper from the Bent Agency and Team Cooper

The night the retreat idea was born
I have SCBWI totally to blame for my client retreat! Discussions started after the mass book launch party at last November’s annual conference. I was surrounded by my clients all drinking late into the night, and someone (I have no idea who) said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if we could all get together for a whole weekend?’ ‘What, like a retreat?’ said someone else (rumoured to be me). And this started the wheels in motion...

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 16th July

After me complaining last week that there wasn't enough new blog content, suddenly there's too much! Still, as problems go, it's definitely one I can live with...

Monday, 15 July 2013

Ask A Publisher - Q&A with Sara O'Connor, Editorial Director at Hot Key Books

Welcome to our monthly Ask A Publisher feature, hosted by Sara O'Connor, Editorial Director, Print and Digital at Hot Key Books.

This month there's a bumper crop because Sara's just received the next list of questions and she's dying to answer them! You'll have to wait til next month to get answers to questions like: what are your options when you are offered a book deal?

Sunday, 14 July 2013

A missed celebration, an unchallenging pizza and a load of great stuff in between...

We've had our 100th W&P day and I didn't spot it! It was Tuesday, 2nd July. For me, Tuesdays are busy work days. I run a club called Learn 2 Love Learning for a lovely group of adults who for whatever reason don't want to do anything too challenging at the moment.  So on the 2nd, I was preoccupied with community centre stuff. I'm irritated that I missed our 100th day but the bicentennial is Thursday October 10th and it's on the calendar!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Let's drink a toast to Lydia Syson, and celebrate with Gladiators and Summer Explorers

Don't you just love to sip at something cold and fizzy on a hot day? I'm so excited to crack open the champers and celebrate this week's sparkling SCBWI successes. First, a huge Hip Hip Hooray for Lydia Syson who, with her editor Sarah Odedina, was Highly Commended for A World Between Us at the Branford Boase Award ceremony on Thursday. You can read about Lydia’s book here if you missed it. And then raise your glasses to Marnie Riches and Cath Howe whose books have just launched.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Picture Book Basics - Understanding Format

In the first of a series of articles on picture book basics, Words & Pictures Illustration editor John Shelley offers some beginner guidelines to format.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Network News: In the Summer-time

By Gill James
School will soon be out. Families will be going away on holiday. It may get too hot to move and you may not want to be indoors for any length of time. For some this may be a time when you get more writing done and for others it will be a time when there is frankly no chance: the children need entertaining and attendance at any network meetings may be a little thin. Even the online interaction will probably slow down.
But do we have to give up that connection completely? Here are a few ideas...

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 9th July

If I hadn't realised it was summer from looking out of the window, I'd certainly have noticed from the sudden drop off in new blog posts!

Fortunately, the content is out there and I have found it...

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Buzz in Sunny Norwich (photo update)

So wanted to post these with my weekly round up on Sunday but the interweb was not playing nicely. Now back home, posting problems resolved and catching up.

Working with more than one publisher

It's over to Andrew Weale, author of Spooky Spooky House and Nora, for the third of our guest blogger features.

In this post, Andrew writes about working with several publishing houses, the wisdom of agents and how to deal with a world domination complex.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Buzz in Sunny Norwich

On one of the best weekends of the year to be in Norwich - guess where I am!
I've just had coffee with our excellent illustration features editor, John Shelley in the garden of the Britons Arms at the top of Elm Hill, a medieval cobbled street in the heart of the old city. Norwich is buzzing with the Lord Mayor's celebrations, music markets processions, fireworks all manner of festivity has hit the streets. Right now after a short walking tour with John, ( If you're ever in Norwich, book John, he's a brilliant tour guide.) I'm sitting in the the foyer of the Forum which houses among other things the BBC and Norwich's Millennium Library - the busiest library in the country and the venue for The Authors and Illustrators Day on July 27th and the Illustrators Print Exhibition, 26th July – 9th August.

Slush Pile Challenge - July 2013

We are pleased to announce the July 2013 Slush Pile Challenge

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Hurrah for the Patron of Reading Denyse Kirkby

Congratulations and Hip Hip Hooray for Denyse Kirkby, who has been newly appointed as the Patron of Reading for Beacon View Primary Academy. She is the school's special author and will work closely with them to make reading exciting. Denyse aka Dee Kirkby, writes the Portal series of adventure fantasy stories for ages 7 plus.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Plaister Press

Author-Illustrator Gillian McClure has enjoyed a long career working with publishers creating children's books - and then she began publishing herself. Here she offers the story behind Plaister Press.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Network News: networking in the networks

By Gill James
We’ve talked about the types of critique groups that exist in the networks and some of the venues where network meetings take place. This week I want to summarise how people use their networks and how they perceive them to be useful. I’d also like to find out more about how widespread this is and what else folk would like from their networks. I guess I’m also using the word “network” to mean more than just the regional groups of SCBWI members; indeed SCBWI-BI and SCWBI generally are enormously helpful networks.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Ask an Agent: How Not to Write a Query

In our Ask an Agent feature this month, agents Molly Ker Hawn and Gemma Cooper from the Bent Agency have written a post about what not to say in your query, and why.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 2nd July

As you know, we try to be as diverse and inclusive as we can on Words & Pictures (and in SCBWI more generally), so I'm pleased to kick off the Blog Break with a couple of great posts dealing with diversity issues.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Pictures, Books and Ancient Inspiration

By Philippa R. Francis [K. M. Lockwood]

Our ancestors held no prejudice against illustrated books for adults. Art and words were beautifully combined in sacred texts like the Lindisfarne Gospels. For a wonderful programme about these by David Almond, follow this link to the Radio 3 site.