Sunday, 31 May 2015

Can the story survive the digital age?

Driving home on Friday evening, I tuned into Front Row on Radio 4, broadcasting from the Hay Festival. If you didn't catch this, it's well worth a listen. The question up for debate, by Samira Ahmed and the panel of industry insiders, was: Do we publish too many books?

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Around the world with scbwi

Have you ever wondered what SCBWI members are up to across the world? Each month we will be globe-trotting to take a look. This is a perfect chance for us to keep in touch with our SCBWI neighbours. Third stop: Japan

Friday, 29 May 2015

Featured Illustrator - Heather Kilgour

As Featured Illustrator this month we welcome Heather Kilgour, who many will recognise as a familiar face on SCBWI's Illustration Committee. Originally from New Zealand, Heather has been an SCBWI member since settling in the UK, and recently completed an MA in Children's Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University. See more of her work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Cut to the Chase - Books that sell, and sell well.

Lil Chase

Commercial Fiction – Masterclass Event with Lil Chase. Event report by Olivia Levez.

It’s almost midday, and twenty or so writers cluster around a table at the top of the Theodore Bullfrog pub in Charing Cross, London. It’s time for Lil Chase’s popular and regular event, where we all hope to learn the secrets behind high sales in children’s fiction. 

Network News: News from Central East

Critique Groups Update
By Helen Moss, Central East Co-coordinator

Earlier this year we decided to branch out by setting up our first two Cambridge-based critique groups, one for Middle Grade writers and the other for Picture Book writers and illustrators. Armed with the SCBWI Book’s guide to starting a critique group and lots of enthusiasm, three brave volunteer stepped up to the plate. They have kindly provided an update of how each group is going so far.
If you are interested in joining either group please do let me know. As numbers increase we may look to start further groups. Both groups are primarily face-to-face rather than on-line, so at the moment will only suit those within travelling distance of Cambridge. We hope to be able to set up groups in other parts of the network area soon.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Buzz - Everyone's talking about... Vlogging

Illustration by Whizzy Barr

By Larisa Villar Hauser 

Every now and then a story explodes in the papers and TV about the latest bestseller to spring out of digital media. More than ever, publishers are looking to the Internet for new material. And why wouldn’t they? 

Whether blogger, vlogger (video blogger), fan fiction writer, or writer on a reading platform such as Wattpad - people who mega-successfully hook into digital media come with huge fan bases that are a ready-made audience for a print book. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Blog Break Interview with Sarah Broadley

Welcome to the second of our monthly features about blogging and blog techniques. After talking to the all-knowing Candy Gourlay last month, I wanted to get the perspective of someone who’s at an earlier stage of their writing journey. So I’m delighted to be talking today to Sarah Broadley.

Monday, 25 May 2015

A new kind of publishing: Time Traveler Tours makes its debut

I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. But then I realised that those of us trying to live by our art must act as our own little businesses – in contrast to, say, Michelangelo’s age, there are few patrons like the Medicis today.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Beware your inner fan club

We all know about the warnings to push aside the doom and gloom of our inner critic. But what about our inner fan club? Read on to see what happens when they start cheering a little too loudly ...

Friday, 22 May 2015

Open Sketchbooks Part 2

Here are some more terrific working pages hot from the sketchbooks of industrious SCBWI illustrators. Our previous selection, Part 1 can be found here.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Writers' Retreat - Event Report

Dunford House

Alex English reports back from the 2015 SCBWI Writers' Retreat at Dunford House, deep in the Hampshire countryside. 

When I'd first gone on the SCBWI writers' retreat in 2013, I'd arrived with a blank notebook and no idea what I'd write. I came away with the first 1,000 words of a middle-grade novel set in a Venetian pizzeria. Now, in 2015, I arrived at the writers' retreat with the goal of finishing what I'd started two years ago. Unfazed by the fact I'd forgotten my laptop lead, I cracked out my fountain pen for a long weekend of low-tech writing bliss. 

Pulse Comes to the North West

SCBWI is delighted to announce our new partnership with the Manchester Children's Book Festival; a partnership that launches our Pulse presence in the North West and brings with it a range of opportunities designed to support the professional development of our published members. 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Proofreading Tips: Commas.

By Catriona Tippin. 

Grammar bug -
The Comma Butterfly

Here’s a look at proofreading your commas. 

This isn’t a complete grammar lesson on weak interruptions, non-restrictive relative clauses and all that jazz. It’s a reminder of four of the main uses of commas and some hints on errors to spot.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 19th May

Welcome back, blog lovers! Picture books seem to be a dominant theme this week, with a side order of crusading journalism and some very silly ways to announce your holiday. Read on, why don't you...

Monday, 18 May 2015


I feel I should be wearing a Stetson to say that.

The cowboy style expression is a variation of the old English greeting 'How d'ye do?' I've often wondered ' How do I do what?' in reply. It's an endlessly fascinating topic ...

Sunday, 17 May 2015

How to be discovered

Undiscovered Voices 2016 launched last Thursday. Read on to find to find out exactly what it is the judges are looking for, to appear in the new anthology. 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Small Big Celebrations

Three SCBWI members are celebrating the launch of Litmus 2015 ~ the anthology of new writing from MA Critical and Creative Writing and MA Writing for Children students at the University of Winchester.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Mudpie Mo, by Anna Violet

This week we welcome the launch of a new comic strip, created by the ever resourceful imagination of  Anna Violet. Welcome Mud Pie Mo, Episode 1!


Anna Violet is a freelance author-illustrator based in Manchester.  Check her portfolio website here, and her blog here.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Elizabeth Wein: World Building - Event Report.

Making time for world-building By Fiona McKeracher 

I'm about to start writing a new book, an exciting but daunting place to be. All I have is a germ of a premise and some very loose ideas. Staring at my screen for hours, I found my ideas were not exactly fanning into flames in the way I'd hoped. I needed inspiration -- something to kick-start some proper progress – so it was with some relief that I spotted the workshop on world-building by Elizabeth Wein. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Lost the Plot? Plan your way to success!

Help! I'm plotting mad...

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Me? I'm a shocking pantser. I try to plot - I do. I do, I swear! But I quickly lose it, as I take a tangent here, and wind my merry way there... 

Inspired by all our talented SCBWI authors who plot and map and colour code their way to success, we've brought together some great advice to help with plotting. 

Come on, take a look at other writer's planning boards, you know you want to take a peek.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 12th May

You join me from Hamburg in Germany, where I'm travelling for work. But due to the wonders of Wi-Fi, I'm pleased to be able to present you with another set of great posts by our super SCBWI bloggers!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Ask a Picture Book Editor

What makes a good cover and title? 

In a market place full of beautiful, well-designed books it’s imperative that your book makes a big impression. This month we’re going to take a look at: 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Become a Discovered Voice

This is a unique opportunity for SCBWI BI members. Don't worry if you can't make the launch this coming Thursday. Next Sunday I will report on all the fabulous advice given by the competition judges. You've then got until the 16th August to submit your work. Go on - you could be in the anthology Undiscovered Voices 2016.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Small Big Celebrations! Alex English signs with new agent.

By Charlotte Comley

I'm super excited to announce a new feature on the Celebration Page, it's called Small Big Celebrations! It seems that some of our readers feel that only a book deal is a reason to celebrate! But no, there are lots of occasions that need a fanfare! Today on the Small Big Celebrations! Alex English writes about signing her new agent.

Friday, 8 May 2015

SCBWI Portfolio Intensive

In the wake of another SCBWI Portfolio Intensive there were mixed emotions: happiness, elation, relief, joy and feeling deflated in some cases.  It was a day of positivity and focus, but also packed a punch or two.  ‘Intensive’ is the perfect description. By Trish Phillips.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Philip Reeve in Exeter: Travelling faster than light

 Event report by Lesley Moss

Railhead by Philip Reeve

It was a bright, breezy day in spring, and the city of Exeter was ready to devour the wise words of one of the UK’s top authors... Prepare to weave through the creative brain of Philip Reeve... 

Balanced stone at Bellever Tor 
by Philip Reeve

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Debut Author Series: Lu Hersey

Nicky Schmidt

The Learning Curve - Insights from Debut Authors  

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 May 2015

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 5th May

Just a quick reminder of the competition to design a new logo for this column. You've got until the 17th May, so you'd better hurry up, because otherwise I'm going to draw the new logo myself. And nobody wants that!

Monday, 4 May 2015

How to publicize your book for the maximum impact

Stop! There may be better ways to publicize your book.
Emma Donnan, who runs Busy Bee PR, a public relations agency for books, answers some questions for Words and Pictures.

Have you seen more authors using a publicist in recent years?
I have seen a lot more having to take on their own publicist. The changing market means there is not always the budget for a publisher to put an in-house publicist on to a book for as long as an author may wish. And of course self-publishing means an author has no help at all without hiring someone, and with so many thousands of new books coming out yearly, making your book stand out from the crowd is becoming ever more important.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Less donkey, more blossom

This past week has been chock full of deadlines. Early on Tuesday morning I found myself proof-reading my daughter's dissertation on the rights of children. It was about to go to print, and then on a mad dash on the train to London to be handed in. I remained in the after-shock of panic and despair, scribbling madly to submit to three deadlines of my own, albeit self-imposed, but none the less important landmarks in the otherwise vast wilderness of writing. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Featured Illustrator - Melany Pietersen

This month's Featured artist is South African born illustrator Melany Pietersen. An internationally published artist, Melany's work drew much attention at the SCBWI Winchester Conference. Click here to see more of her work in her Featured Illustrator Gallery.