Network News: SCBWI South East Scotland is Go!

M Louise Kelly 
We have lift off!  On Saturday 26th October SCBWI South East Scotland met for its inaugural workshop and what a launch it was.

Sheila and Louise (the Network Organisers) had been meeting since spring to critique each others work, then were joined by Sean for a planning coffee in June.  Still finding their way, they called in the troops and corralled a few SCBWI stalwarts from other Networks to join them (thanks Maureen, Morag and co.), and anyone else who was interested, to meet at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.  I think they described it as 'profile raising' but there was as much laughter, chat and coffee as there was work!

At the Edingburgh International Book Festivel

Encouraged by this, in September they put out a proper call for a SCBWI meeting in the City Art Centre in central Edinburgh to see what the local appetite for SCBWI was.

Meeting at the City Art Centre
About 10 people turned up, all looking as pleased to have found 'fellow travellers' as Sheila and Louise were. So we swapped our writing journey stories and planned two events: one on-line event and then our first 'Meeting of Substance.'

The on-line event was a presentation and Q & A  with Sarah O'Connor of Hot Key Books. She talked to us via Google hangout and went through the author experience at Hot Key, introducing us the the team of people an author works with on the journey to publication. She also gave us some tips on what editors look out for in terms of  'Plot' -  which was handy... as that's what our planned face-to-face workshop was on later that week!

After securing a beautiful venue (thanks Rachel!) in the boardroom of Edinburgh City Central Library, we hosted our very first Plot Teach-in Workshop.

Plot teach-in workshop
From the planning meeting we realised that there was a lot of experience within the group that would be worth sharing before we even needed to bring in outside speakers so we took a risk and just asked anyone coming to bring along any resources, ideas or experiences they had relating to 'Plot'.  We didn't really know who would bring what or whether it would work, but boy did it ever.

One member (Christina) who has an agent and has extensive experience working on plot, gave us what can only be described as a Masterclass as she talked us through a classic plot text James Scott Bell's "Plot and Structure" and showed how she'd applied it to her work. Everybody learned tonnes from this, I'm sure, and because of the friendly manner in which she spoke, everybody else at the meeting was at ease enough to contribute too. And did so in spades. It was inspiring.

People were at all sorts of levels with their writing and working in a whole range of styles but everybody had something valuable to say.

All sorts of levels and styles 
We also set aside some time for more informal interaction and people found out more about each others' writing (we're short on illustrators! Anyone out there want to come and join our lone illustrator??).  This is probably key to maintaining the supportive nature of the group, so we'll make sure we cater for that in our Network too.

I don't know whether we'd just found the 12 most friendly writers in the whole of Scotland, but so far, those who've attended our Network meetings seemed immediately supportive and willing to share. It feels like a small miracle. One non-member at the meeting was so enthused that she went away and promptly joined SCBWI! And there's lots of room for more. If you live within travelling distance of area, and you're interested in sharing your ideas on writing or illustrating for children do get in touch. We'd love to have you at our next meeting.

Next meeting 14th December 2-5pm, Edinburgh Central Library (this venue is still TBC, but date is set). Theme: Character teach-in and Christmas Cheer.

M Louise Kelly lives in Edinburgh and is working on Rules of Sail By, a YA comic coming of age novel set in Valparaiso, Chile, the Antarctic and Scotland. She's also written for 9-12s. Louise gave up a permanent position lecturing in Psychology and Linguistics to follow a portfolio (patchwork) career: writing fiction; working as publicist for Nicola Morgan; teaching Neuropsychology for the Open University; and being a University Dyslexia Adviser. Some of these pay money!


  1. Lovely post, Louise. Who could resist coming along? I wish I could, I feel like I'm missing out on a lot of fun. I'm so glad it's working out for you all.

  2. Thanks guys! V nice bunch of folk, all willing to share. We'll have to get you both up here at some point to share your expertise!

  3. Huge thanks to Sheila and Louise for getting us all together and sharing information. Not to mention the camaraderie, friendship and acceptance. Looking forward to seeing you all again on 14th :-)

  4. Inspirational Louise and Sheila! Your are stars in the SCBWI universe!


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