Saturday, 28 February 2015

Congratulations Tamsyn Murray

By Charlotte Comley

More good news for another of our SCBWI members.

Tamsyn Murray writes:

I'm delighted to announce the happy arrival of COMPLETELY CASSIDY: ACCIDENTAL GENIUS, the first book in a new series for children aged 8-12. Published by Usborne, it's the story of eleven year old Cassidy and her hilarious, cringe-along search for her special talent, the thing that will make her stand out among her chaotic muddled family. The second book, STAR REPORTER, will be out in July 2015.

This is my first new book for two years and my very first middle grade so I'm even more excited to be welcoming it into the world! Cassidy is a lot of fun to write about and I hope people enjoy reading about her too.

Friday, 27 February 2015

The International Illustrator

Most UK publishers aim to sell rights to overseas markets. Many editors and art directors prefer to communicate by email rather than a phone call, even if we only live a couple of miles away from their office. So in theory it doesn't really matter where we come from, or where we live any more, whether the market is this country or another - or does it?

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Q&A with Eric Huang - Author Masterclass: Picture Books for the Digital Age

Eric Huang Development Director at Made in Me

Network News: North East Event

By Maureen Lynas

Skills Sharing in York 

The York North East Group met up for their very first skillshare/critique event in January and we got off to a great start with lots of chatter from illustrators and writers.

Part of the day was spent catching up with friends, meeting new ones, and finding out what people were working on. We shared general tips on the publishing industry and the trials, tribulations, and excitement of self-publishing over coffee and lunch.

Once we got down to work the writers shared their knowledge of story structures and their methods of planning the novel. Some of the group are planners, but some preferred to write and see what they got.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Proofreading Tips: False Friends -- Heterographs and Homophones

Catriona Tippin

Geyser -- Not to be
confused with a blokey
old bloke!
Following on from the popular False Friends post, Catriona brings us twenty more false friends to be aware of in our writing.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 24th February

It's interesting to question how much responsibility writers and illustrators have towards our audience. Is our work simply about expressing ourselves, or is it about reflecting our world or maybe something more?

Monday, 23 February 2015

Ask a Picture Book Editor

How to Submit Your Picture Book Professionally!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

All mouth and no trousers

It's been the kind of week where lots of things happen but not very much gets done. Re-active rather than pro-active. Sometimes you just have to stand back and watch the days pull themselves loose, float up, up and away.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Results - Slush Pile Challenge January 2015

This challenge was set by Gemma Cooper from the Bent Agency. 


 Submit the opening or scene of a novel aimed at the middle-grade (8-12) audience, where your main character is doing something new or tackling a new challenge. 

Friday, 20 February 2015

ProCATsination, by Jion Sheibani

Click to enlarge

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

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Synopsis Made Simple - Q&A with Nicola Morgan

Are you the kind of writer who could quite happily knock out a 70,000 word manuscript, create a fully fleshed out fantasy world, populate it with a cast of carefully crafted characters but then shrivel at the thought of distilling it into a one page synopsis? Yeah, me too…

Network News: From Our New Networks Coordinator Marie Basting

By Gill James

Marie at the latest SCBWI conference
You may all recall Jan Carr’s fantastic introduction to Marie back in October. Remember this? Marie has now been in post for a few months and so it seems good to do a little catch up and see how it’s all going. This is part of a wider plan to now sweep though the networks and reintroduce our coordinators. I asked Marie the following questions.

 So, Marie, what’s the story so far? How have the first few months been? 

A whirl to be honest. I took up post just before the Winchester Conference, which was great because I got to meet most of the Network volunteers straight away. The downside to this was that I was thrown straight into the deep end - my first real task being to organise and chair the annual Networks Meeting. Thankfully the Network Organisers were all very kind to me and pretended not to notice that I didn’t have a clue about any of the things that were being discussed. It has been pretty much none stop since, November being the time when Networks develop our annual reports and plans and January being when we begin to implement them. It’s all good though. I am working with a fantastic team of volunteers and they have been extremely supportive.


For you, what is the value of the networks? 

For me, the real value of the networks lies in the friendship and support that is to be found there. Each Network offers a range of activities tailored to the specific needs of their local members. Sometimes this might be formal workshops or professional development, at other times it is just a coffee and a natter: a chance to meet up with like-minded people. Lots of organisations deliver writing workshops and events, but the friendships and support offered by SCBWI is where our added value lies.


How did you first come in contact with SCBWI?

 I found out about SCBWI whilst crawling the Internet for writing resources. I was originally looking for local critique groups but SCBWI seemed to offer so much more. I was a bit daunted by the prospect of joining a professional writing organisation, but I had a word with myself about my insecurities and took the plunge. I was really nervous attending my first Network Meeting which was in Waterstones in Manchester. I needn’t have worried, long standing SCBWI members like George Kirk and Steph Williams soon put me at ease and SCBWI has felt like home ever since.


What do you consider the biggest challenge facing you at the moment as Networks Coordinator? 

I think the biggest challenge for me personally is managing quite a large team who all work remotely. I try to check in regularly with Network Organisers but I am conscious there is a fine line between being supportive and badgering people. I think I have go the balance right, now. At least I hope I have. In terms of strategic challenges, joining up members in some of our remoter areas is one of the things I am grappling with. For example, in Wales, we have just a handful of members, who are spread throughout the country. Consequently, geography makes it hard to bring people together physically. I am keen to explore options to connect members in other ways and will be looking into how we can make the most of the technology that is out there to do this.


Are there any areas of the British Isles where we are looking for new network coordinators or members?

 Funnily enough, Wales! Perhaps because of geography and the small number of members we have found it hard to recruit a Network Coordinator here. This in turn has an impact on membership. It is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. We are also looking to recruit two new Network Organisers for London. Longstanding SCBWI volunteer, Anita Loughrey, has done an amazing job but now wants to transfer to the South East so she can deliver network activity closer to home. Because London is our Region’s largest network we want to recruit two volunteers who can work together to further develop our fantastic programme of events.


As you’re also a writer and I know you’re completing a Masters in Creative Writing, how do you manage to ring-fence your time? 

It is difficult, admittedly. Before Christmas I found that SCBWI activity was taking up a disproportionate amount of my time. This was partly due to being new in post and partly due to the fact I started during the annual planning cycle. I am easily distracted, so I found I was concentrating on e-mails and short term tasks rather than getting on with my assignments or writing. I am trying to be a bit more disciplined and have started to block out time for specific activities. I’m also grouping tasks like e-mails and will only allow myself to deal with them at the start or end of day. We’ll see how it goes. All our SCBWI volunteers have busy lives, so I am not on my own. I think when you are part of a great team and you really want to do something you just make it happen.

Thank you, Marie. That’s gives us a great insight into what the networks are all about. A great deal for us all to think about there.

Gill James writes longer fiction for children and young adults, shorter fiction for adults, non-fiction, text books about writing and language learning and academic papers. She is published by Alfie Dog, Crooked Cats, Tabby Cat Press, The Red Telephone, Butterfly, The Professional and Higher Partnership and Continuum.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Going Global With Your Stories

Be the Intrepid Salesman!
The UK and US markets are often the focus of our publishing ambitions, but these only represent a small proportion of the literary scene. In this post, Chitra Soundar takes a look at the wider world view and shares some of her tips for breaking into other English-speaking territories.


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 17th February

It must be Tuesday again, and time for another Blog Break. This week's column takes on such diverse topics as procrastination, business planning, pug racing and (of course) cake.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Through the Looking Glass

In response to our Going Global theme this month, I'm looking at the impact stories from other cultures can and should have on us as readers.

How does that affect the stories we create? And our approach?

And as usual, there's a suggestion or two for you ...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The art of compartmentalisation

I've been reading a writing guide that I found in a second-hand book shop. It's called, 'Writing begins with the breath,' by American writer, Laraine Herring. It caught my attention for two reasons.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Celebrating Sam Zuppardi

By Charlotte Comley

Picture books are hard to write, but I must admit it is the illustrators that put the zing on the page.  So, I am really pleased to announce Sam Zuppardi's fabulous news.  His wonderful illustrations have breathed life into an amazing story for tots.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Author Event Q&A: UKYA Extravaganza

Authors are finding new ways of reaching readers on their own as more and more publishers tighten their publicity budgets. In this feature, YA authors Emma Pass and Kerry Drewery explain how they set up the sellout UKYA Extravaganza event, which will host a number of SCBWI authors this month.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 10th February

My favourite quote this week comes from Sarah McIntyre: "Illustrators have to be business people. We are not free-spirited fairies who live on dew drops." To find out why she needed to say that, read on!

Monday, 9 February 2015

London Book Fair: Getting ahead!

Our New Year’s Resolutions might have flown out the window, but it’s still time to think about the future and getting ahead. Writers all across the UK and beyond will be making the most of an upcoming event which looks to find new talent and publicise industry news from across the world.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The birthplace of children's stories

I've just finished reading Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, first published in America in 1962 and in print ever since. I came across the book listed in a top 10 of children's sci-fi reads. It's a children's story as popular in America as perhaps Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, published in 1964, is in Britain. 

And yet, here I am, only reading Madeleine L'Engle in my middlish forty-somethings ...

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Celebrating Clare Helen Welsh!

I am delighted to share Clare's story of how she met her editor at Maverick...and how 'The Aerodynamics of Biscuits' (Silver medal winner in the 2015 Greenhouse Funny Prize) is to be published later this year...

Friday, 6 February 2015

Featured Illustrator: Yoko Tanaka

For this month's Featured Illustrator, Words and Pictures is proud to showcase the fantastic work of Yoko Tanaka. Having travelled from Japan to study art in the US, Yoko spent some time in Thailand before settling in London, from where she creates atmospheric dream-like gallery paintings for exhibition, and intricate children's book illustrations. See more examples of Yoko's work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Debut Author Series: Rebecca Colby

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, 3 February 2015

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 3rd February

There were so many great SCBWI-BI blog posts this week that I'm reeling slightly from reading them all. It's always hard to choose a handful to feature on the Blog Break, so I hope you enjoy this week's selection!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The mixed metaphor of Pen-Y-Fan

Last Saturday I thought I'd climbed a mountain. It turns out I hadn't. At least, not the right one. I'd driven my son up to the Brecons, dropped him off at his kayaking centre, and stayed over in a local B&B. It was all planned. The next day I'd take myself off to the bottom of Pen-Y-Fan, and walk my way to the top.