Sunday, 31 August 2014

Stories Really Are Everywhere!

Has it ever occurred to you how similar Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is to The Hunger Games?  Two stories each set in a bizarre and brutal gaming arena that follow a group of young people as they're gradually picked off, observed by detached and largely callous adults?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

SCBWIs Scoop Greenhouse's Top Prizes!

It's a serious business making readers laugh; Swapna Haddow and Clare Welsh are seriously good at it, officially! Please lob great big guffawing congratulations to Swapna, winner of this year's Greenhouse Funny Prize and to 'close second', W&P's own, Clare. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

ProCATsination, by Jion Sheibani

A new regular comic strip for Words & Pictures? Why yes, and it starts today! Earlier this year Jion Sheibani was our Featured Illustrator. Now her deft hand has turned to ProCATsination!

click to enlarge

Jion's Illustrator Showcase Gallery is here, She can be reached at
Click here for her personal website.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Author Masterclass: Successful primary school visits with Jane Clarke

Jane Clarke has been an archaeologist, a teacher, and a library assistant, but is now a full time children’s writer with over seventy published books and hundreds of poems in children's anthologies. Her picture books include the award-winning Gilbert the Great series, Stuck in the Mud, and Knight Time. She writes for reading schemes and ghost writes for several series for the Key Stage 2 age group with Working Partners, Random House and OUP. 

Jane does around 30 author visits to nursery and primary schools a year and counts them as an important part of her income as a writer.

Alison Smith caught up with Jane in advance of her upcoming London Masterclass Workshop on Successful Primary School Visits on 13 September 2014 to find out more.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 26th August

I'd like to start this week's column with a special message for the Space on the Bookshelf team. Stop writing so many interesting posts! It'll be your fault if no-one gets any further than paragraph two on this week's Blog Break.

Monday, 25 August 2014

“There’s a Story in That” by Mo O’Hara

“There’s a story in that!” How often have you said that phrase? Maybe you were looking at an image, overhearing a bit of conversation (We all do it, it’s ok, we’re writers) or maybe you just spotted something lying on the ground. Whatever it was, your writer brain kicked in and you thought, “There’s a story in that!”

Sunday, 24 August 2014

More Unmissableness

I'm at the foot-stomping cider-swigging Internet-lacking Purbeck Folk Festival this weekend, so before I drive off to a windy hillside, plant my festival flagpole and pull on my wellies, here's some more unmissableness....

Saturday, 23 August 2014

SCBWI Reception Rocks Edinburgh International Book Festival!

This week it's HUGE Congratulations to..... 
SCBWI British Isles! 
Specifically to Natascha and South East Scotland, in the shape of Sheila Averbuch and Louise Kelly, for engineering a great big Sparkly SCBWI arrival at Edinburgh International Book Festival. Sheila has written a spectacular report, here it is....

Friday, 22 August 2014

Croquet, Lindy Hop and Other Stories - Interview with Alexis Deacon

At the recent Picture Book Retreat Anne-Marie Perks had the opportunity to work with and interview award winning author illustrator Alexis Deacon, here's what she found out.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Network News: On Teens, Treats and Peeking into Picture Books in Central North.

By Liz Miller

We’ve been a bit spoilt in recent months in Central North with not one, not two, but three visiting speakers who kindly agreed to come and share their expertise and work with us. First up were uber- experienced editors, Non Pratt and Emily Sharratt who came to talk to us about ‘How to Get Your Teen Novel Published’ as part of the Lincoln Inspired Festival. Except they didn’t just talk to us, they made us work as well!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 19th August

August is one of those rare times of the year when living Down South seems like a disadvantage, as the various Edinburgh festivals take centre-stage. I'm hoping this isn't the last year that this cultural smorgasbord is held in the United Kingdom!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Telling Tales

Abu Shady the last professional hakawati
or traditional storyteller in Syria 
In most cultures, the storyteller has an honoured place. Abu Shady here sits in the Al-Nawfara Coffee Shop Damascus. The reciter of Beowulf would have been given a warm spot by the fire. The whole horde in the great hall would fall silent when the first word 'Hwæt' was spoken and the well-known story 'held children from play'.

Ask a Publisher: David Fickling, Publisher, David Fickling Books

David Fickling, @DFB_storyhouse talks to @CathJacobNews

This interview was recorded at
David Fickling Books, Oxford
on 20th June 2014.

Sunday, 17 August 2014


Sometimes soldiering on is not an option and last week was one of those times - I languished on a cliff top on the very windy Isle of Wight nursing a very sore head. Consequently this catching up post will be a list of unmissables from the last fortnight!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Ten Huge Congratulations to Mike Brownlow!

Many congratulations to Mike Brownlow on the publication of Ten Little Princesses, a fantastic companion volume to Mike's very successful Ten Little Pirates! These lovely ladeez are fearless and intrepid in the face of terrible danger and give pink the kudos it deserves. 

Over to Mike for how the Princesses arrived in a bookshop near you and some more exciting news...

Friday, 15 August 2014

Featured Illustrator: Dave Gray

This month Featured Illustrator welcomes Dave Gray, one of the illustration winners of this year's SCBWI Undiscovered Voices anthology. From his studio in the West Midlands, Dave uses both traditional and digital media to produce energetic characters and settings. See more examples of his work on the Featured Illustrator Gallery page.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 12th August

After a quiet last week at the offices of my day job, there's been a sudden return of people from holiday. I hope the same is true of you SCBWI folks and you're all out there raring to read another Blog Break!

Monday, 11 August 2014

An Interview with Robert Muchamore - Part Two

The SCBWI interview with best-selling teen author Robert Muchamore (author of the Cherub series) continues…

Friday, 8 August 2014

Picture Book Retreat 2014 – a Novice’s View

After excitedly anticipating this event for over six months, the day had finally come to embark on SCBWI’s Picture Book Retreat. I did not know what to expect, but having gone to lots of other fantastic SCBWI events organised by Anne-Marie Perks and Bridget Strevens, I knew that we would be in for a treat! By Shana Nieberg-Shuschitzky

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Network News: The Big Edit

This is something I do with my students at the end of each module and I thought it might be something some of our network groups might like to try. It’s somewhere between speed-dating and a normal critique session.  
One module I’ve used it with recently is Writing Novels for Young People. Students have to produce a 500 word synopsis and 3000 words of the novel. If the 3000 words ends mid-scene they may, outside the word count, add a contextualising note. For all sorts of technical reasons they may not write just the first 3000 words. In SCBWI groups we’re more likely to be dealing with a synopsis and the opening three chapters. This will work just as well.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Debut Author Series: Christina Banach

The Learning Curve - Insights from Debut Authors 

Nicky Schmidt

For many the road to publication is long and fraught. For others, a publishing deal comes relatively easily. Those who are still trudging the path may find it hard to imagine what it’s like to be a debut author, and authors with a few books to their name may only dimly recall the original experience. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 5th August

A big thanks to Philippa for holding the fort so expertly last week.
I'm just back from holiday and still catching up on stuff, but I've prioritised the two most important activities - booking my place at the November Conference and writing this!

Monday, 4 August 2014

An Interview with Robert Muchamore - Part One

Robert Muchamore is best known for the CHERUB series of books. He wrote the first instalment CHERUB: The Recruit in 2001 after his 12-year-old nephew told him that he couldn’t find any books he wanted to read. Thirteen years on and Robert has just launched Lone Wolf, the 16th Cherub title – so it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about what makes a good story, and a good series… 

Sunday, 3 August 2014


Home again from the city of fun, so wish I could have stayed for weeks. I saw some brilliant shows even got a free ticket for Potted Sherlock the latest 'potted' show from CBBC's Dan and Jeff. They attempt and succeed in covering a whole body of work, on stage, in an hour. Here's a potted clip of their first show…

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Badges Badges Badges 2014!

Kathy Evans
Once again I'm hijacking Celebrations to give you all a chance to win something! The Amazing SCBWI British Isles Annual Conference has already been announced, which means it's time for me to announce the highly popular badge design competition!

Last year's gorgeous illustrations and witty writing-and-illustrating-related slogans were truly fabulous and I know this year's will be just as good. Everyone can have a go as long as you're a SCBWI member. So what are we looking for?