Friday, 31 July 2015

Featured Illustrator - Rebecca Gerlings

This month's Featured Illustrator is Rebecca Gerlings. After many years' experience as an editor in children's publishing, Rebecca is now focusing with great success on her own picture books and illustration. See more of Rebecca's work in her Featured Illustrator Gallery.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Network News: London

Welcome Karen and Tania 

We are very excited in the networks team about the appointment of our two new London Network Organisers, Karen Taylor and Tania Tay. As our London members will already know, Anita Loughrey has done an amazing job there, but, living in the South East, wanted to concentrate her future efforts closer to home. It has taken us a little while to find a replacement for Anita, but it was worth the wait as we now have not one but two brilliant new volunteers to take the London network forward. Both Tania and Karen have been active SCBWI members for a while now, and whilst it was always going to be hard for anyone to follow in the footsteps of the ‘perfect hostess’ Anita, we know they’ll do a great job. You can find out more about Tania and Karen below.

Troll Hell: do you keep quiet or fight back against social media nasties?

By Candy Gourlay (@candygourlay)

Troll Hell panel: Nick Cross, SCBWI blog network editor; Nicole Burstein, author of Othergirl; and Liz de Jager, author of the  Blackheart Legacy books 
Mo O'Hara (@mo_ohara) and I organised the Troll Hell event on 28 July after reading that John Green, the celebrated author of A Fault in Our Stars, had been subject to a rant on Tumblr accusing him of being the equivalent of 'that dad of a kid in your friend group who always volunteers to “supervise” the pool parties and scoots his lawn chair close to all the girls'. Green responded in robust fashion - 'I do not sexually abuse children ... Throwing that kind of accusation around is sick and libelous and most importantly damages the discourse around the actual sexual abuse of children'.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Rowena House interviews Kathryn Aalto.


Landscape designer and historian, Kathryn Aalto, has created an “amiable field guide” to the Hundred Acre Wood, where Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet once wandered with Christopher Robin. 

She talked to Rowena House about the inspiration she finds in nature and her ambition to honour author A.A. Milne and illustrator E.H. Shepard with her book: The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 28th July

Logo by Melany Pietersen
I'm back, although you may not have noticed I was missing (given that K.M. Lockwood did such a great job with last week's Blog Break). I'm also a bit distracted, having rashly agreed to be on the panel for tonight's London Pulse event on trolling (see here for more details about that). Must. Try. To. Focus.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Social Media for SCBWI: Twitter for Writers (and Illustrators)

On Twitter we get excited if someone follows us. In real life we get really scared and run away.― Anonymous

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Out of the quicksand by Jennifer Burkinshaw

Jennifer Burkinshaw entered our April Slush Pile Challenge set by Julia Churchill (A.M. Heath).  

Julia asked for a paragraph or two in the voice of the main character about what is it they want most and why.

You'll find out how Tess's voice and what she wanted most won Jennifer her meeting with Julia Churchill.

You can read about the competition and why Julia chose Jennifer as the winner for this challenge here

Now over to Jennifer to talk about her experience of entering the challenge, winning it and meeting with the judge.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Margaret Carey Scholarship ~ apply now!

Desperate to come to the annual SCBWI conference in November but resources are tight? Then the Margaret Carey Scholarship might be for you. 

Friday, 24 July 2015

Mervyn Peake on illustrating fiction

In 1947 the author and illustrator Mervyn Peake gave two presentations on BBC Radio, in which he took the opportunity to share his thoughts on the subject of book illustration. His insights still have significance for any author/illustrator collaboration today.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Creating Characters – From Inception to Compelling Protagonists

Illustration: Paul Morton
By Kate Walker

Books are crammed with characters, drawing readers into their worlds and emotions. But how do writers create them? Can you harness a persona to fit a plot line? Do the same tactics work across genres? 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 21st July

Logo by Melany Pietersen

Apologies if you were expecting Nick Cross - you get me today. I've taken the opportunity to indulge my inner twitcher. I have searched out some of the more infrequent posters - the Lesser Spotted Bloggers. Get your drink and snack of choice - and have a good read...

Monday, 20 July 2015

Part of it

The creative life can seem like tackling one hill climb after another. Some times you can be trudging, almost crawling, up the steep ascent of Pen-y-Ghent; others, it's the long old haul along the vast ankle-grabbing limestone pavements of Ingleborough. You might see breathtaking vistas or sheeting rain on Whernside - then wrap your hands around a pint pot of tea at Horton-in-Ribblesdale in celebration.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Weave it in

I'm not talking about hair-dos. I'm talking about unconscious creativity. The point where you find yourself sitting down to write, without thinking about it, without dreaming about it. You just sit down and do it.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Industry Insiders event report

For illustrators who may have missed it last week, here once more is Sarah Underwood's report of the recent SCBWI Professional Series Industry Insiders talk discussing picture books and young readers. Held at the Savoy Tup, just off the Strand in London, on the panel were Emma Layfield, Picture Book Publisher at Hodder Children's Books, the founder and director of Plum Pudding Illustration Agency Mark Mills, and Sara Grant, much published author and co-founder of SCBWI Undiscovered Voices. Our host was the former International SCBWI Illustrator advisor, author-illustrator Bridget (Strevens) Marzo whose new picture book is just out with the Tate.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Event Report - Manchester Children's Book Festival Panel

MCBF Panel Event
On 26 June the North West branch of SCBWI hosted a panel event at Manchester Metropolitan University as part of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival. 

The topic up for discussion was: ‘When Are You Going To Write For Grown-ups?’ – What is the worth of creativity for children? 

The event was chaired by our very own Marie Basting and the panel consisted of: Julia Churchill – literary agent with AM Heath, Jon Mayhew – author (published titles include Mortlock, The Bonehill Curse and The Demon Collector) Kate Pankhurst – illustrator (she has illustrated stories by the likes of Judy Blume, Anne Fine and Steve Hartley) and is now an author-illustrator (of the Mariella Mystery series).

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Proofreading Tips: Book Review

Accidence Will Happen: The non-pedantic guide to English usage 

Summer’s here – how about some holiday reading? Published recently by Weidenfeld & Nicolson there’s Accidence Will Happen: The non-pedantic guide to English usage by Oliver Kamm – and it’s full of food for thought. 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 14th July

Logo by Melany Pietersen
Welcome to another Blog Break, and I've got a diverse palette of subjects for you: dreams, prizes, Scottish language mash-ups, terrible picture books and tips to survive rejection. Pull up a cup of tea and let's get reading!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Ask a Picture Book Editor

A picture book story - from start to finish!

For July’s blog, we’re going to take you on the journey of the birth of a picture book – from first draft to publication (and beyond). 

This month sees the publication of the fabulously funny Poo in the Zoo by Steve Smallman and Ada Grey.

It's a romping, rhyming text!

Sunday, 12 July 2015


I am a collector of things. Of things deposited along the edges, on shorelines and footpaths. Stuff left behind by the sea, or by creatures other than us.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Mudpie Mo, by Anna Violet


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

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Industry Insiders - Event Report


I recently attended a talk at the Savoy Tup, just off the Strand in London, for the first of what I hope will be a long series of Industry Insiders talks as part of the London Professional Series discussing picture books and young readers.

On the panel were Emma Layfield, Picture Book Publisher at Hodder Children's Books, an imprint of Hachette Children's; the founder and director of the Plum Pudding Illustration Agency, Mark Mills and much published author Sara Grant, and co-founder of SCBWI Undiscovered Voices. Our host was the former International SCBWI Illustrator advisor, author-illustrator Bridget (Strevens) Marzo whose new picture book is just out with the Tate.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Writers' Minds - Keris Stainton

Image Credit: Whizzy Barr
Ever wondered what makes a writer tick? What cogs of creativity whirr to bring stories to life? We take a peek into the minds behind the craft and probe for creative rituals, routines and inspiration hunting. 


This month, Keris Stainton, author of five books for teenagers, including her latest book, SPOTLIGHT ON SUNNY, has dropped by to give us an insight into her writer’s mind. Keris, before you dash off to interview Judy Blume (twice!) – are you ready for our quick fire questions…? Fingers on buzzers... 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Ten-Minute Blog Break - 7th July

Logo by Melany Pietersen
You may be lucky to read this at all, as my internet connection seems to be having a "technical moment." I suppose, if all else fails, I could ring each of you up personally and narrate it down the phone, although that may take a while. How does a Ten-Hour Blog Break sound?

Monday, 6 July 2015

Writers and diaries

Nulla dies sine linea. No day without a line. 
–Pliny the Elder, quoting the ancient Greek artist Apelles

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Friday, 3 July 2015

Featured Illustrator: Deborah Allwright

This month's featured artist is London based illustrator Deborah Allwright. Since her debut book commission Grunter, Debbie has established a long and successful career illustrating picture books with a string of successful titles, her latest being Doctor Molly's Medicine Case, written by Miriam Moss. See a wide range of her work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Debut Author Series: Ruth Fitzgerald

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.