Thursday, 31 March 2016

Event Report: How To Write For Children and Young Adults by Janey Robinson

Janey Robinson reports from the event, How To Write For Children and Young Adults, held at Bloomsbury earlier this month. The event was organised by The Children's Writers' And Artists' Yearbook. 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Opening Lines with Becky Bagnell from Lindsay Literary


What grabs the reader's attention? 

What immediately draws you in and makes you want to read on?

We are excited to welcome Becky Bagnell from Lindsay Literary to Opening Lines this month. Becky has taken time out of her busy schedule to offer professional feedback on the opening lines submitted by our brave SCBWIs. 

Monday, 28 March 2016

Brightening up

Heart of Ice by Tomibam CC
On 28th March 1944, during WWII in neutral Sweden, a 36 year old secretary began to write children's stories in shorthand. She had sprained her ankle slipping on ice and for something to do whilst she could not move, she wrote down the stories she had told her daughter Karin when she was poorly.

Those stories were published to the delight of millions of children - and over a long life, the writer had sales of over 150 million, saw her work translated into 95 different languages and created over 70 children's titles.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Prince Bob and the Horrible Hagatha by Maureen Lynas

Maureen Lynas

Maureen Lynas
entered our October 2015 Slush Pile Challenge set by Amber 
Caravéo from Skylark Literary. Maureen won this challenge by demonstrating she had a new and powerful voice in her excerpt of no more than 750 words and one-page synopsis.  She tells us why she entered the competition and all about her experience of discussing her submission with Amber. 

Friday, 25 March 2016

Masterclass Report: the Portfolio Intensive

By Melissa Rozario
Imagine this: a Saturday afternoon, a beautiful white studio space at House of Illustration. You, grappling with a selection of lovingly bought cakes. Three of your closest agent pals by your side, pushing wonderfully direct and constructive feedback your way. 

No, this isn’t my way of publicly mocking you about ‘that’ entry in your dream journal. What I’m describing here, friends, is the Illustrator Masterclass. 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Network News: Wales Network 2016

What we do
The Wales network has been small and quiet for a while but we’re looking to change that. Here’s your chance to get in at the start of new and exciting things.

Faber Children's Books - Behind the Scenes

A few weeks ago I attended a book blogging event at Faber and Faber where they showcased the exciting books they have coming out over the next year. As I was also wearing my  Events Editor hat for Words and Pictures, I took the opportunity to quiz Hannah Love, Children's Publicity Manager and Noami Colthurst, Commissioning Editor with some of the questions suggested by SCBWI members. 

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

What is the value of listening to a story? Q&A with Untold Tales

How does listening to a story shape and develop a child's brain? 

I met Nick Vidinsky, CEO of Tales Untold and SCBWI member, at a SCBWI meeting in California and was fascinated by the research and impact of audio books on the child’s developing mind. We got Nick in for a Q&A to find out more. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Alphabet Soup Meets The Phoenix Comic!

Alphabet Soup logo by Paul Morton
Phoenix logo © David Fickling Comics Ltd
Nick Cross writes:
As soon as a children’s comics strand was proposed for Alphabet Soup, the number one publication on my hit list was The Phoenix. Published weekly by David Fickling Comics in Oxford, The Phoenix has recently celebrated 200 issues.

This would be an achievement for any publication, but it’s especially notable because The Phoenix is of such high quality (both in content and presentation), boasting regular contributions from UK illustrators and writers such as Neill Cameron, Kate Brown, Jamie Smart, Laura Ellen Anderson and Adam Murphy, with no less a personage than Philip Pullman contributing a new 30 part series this year. And did I mention that the comic is completely free of advertising too?!
(Full disclosure – I live in Oxford and have been a Phoenix subscriber since issue 6, so may be ever-so-slightly biased)

Monday, 21 March 2016

Meeting the Travellers

by Rosemary Hayes

‘How do you fancy writing some books for us?’

I was talking to Jenny Ertle, Managing Director of the educational publisher Ransom, best known for producing ‘high/low’ stories – exciting and fast paced but with text which is easily accessible to reluctant readers.

Beginnings: why the first 50 words of your picture book must really grab an editor

So, you’ve written a picture book, but does your beginning really grab readers? It must hook young readers and before that, the editor or agent to whom you are pitching, and not let them go!

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Congratulations Illustrator John Shelley
Congratulations to SCBWI member John Shelley whose illustrations are in a new non-fiction picture book for Charlesbridge (Penguin/Random House) on Shakespeare and London's original Globe theatre, out on 22nd March. 
I'm sure you'll agree the front cover looks amazing. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

The Perfect Work Day, by Jane Heinrichs


Jane Heinrichs is a Canadian born illustrator based in London.
Twitter: @janeheinrichs

Jane is posting a drawing a day on Instagram @janeheinrichs

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Undiscovered Voices - An Illustrator's Perspective


Last week we ran a feature on what it is like to be a winning author of Undiscovered Voices. This week I have two winning illustrators, Bing Wang & Andrea Ipaktchi, who were happy to share their experience at the event too.

Network News: Wales

Wales has recently acquired two Network Organisers, Zoë Thomas and Claire Fayers.  

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Proofreading Tips - Constructed Languages

Feeling a bit Elvish?

Ever been tempted to construct a language? 

To con lang? 

The following blog post ‘Inventing Language - Some Inspiration and Guidance’ appeared in ‘SCBWI: The Blog’ in January, and thank you to Lee Wind for his permission to repost. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Alphabet Soup – Making a Wish for Tommy Donbavand

Nick Cross writes:
If you read my blog post yesterday, you’ll know that I’m taking Alphabet Soup down to a fortnightly schedule in order to better balance my workload. But I couldn’t let this week go by without a shout out to Soup contributor Tommy Donbavand, who recently announced on Facebook that he has been diagnosed with cancer. I probably could have picked a more sombre photo, but this one is so Tommy.

Monday, 14 March 2016

When is a joke not a joke?

By Jo Franklin

When is a joke not a joke? Answers on a postcard please.

Funny stories are often cited as a great way to get children reading, yet many authors claim they can’t write humour. I’m not sure I can write anything else!

The first thing to sort out is the voice. 

Friday, 11 March 2016

Norwich Scrawl Crawl

©John Shelley
At the end of February writers and illustrator members of SCBWI mustered at Norwich Castle Museum for a brilliant day of sketching and writing. Inspired by the location, the atmosphere, the people and the things on show, we wandered the Keep, the Museum sections and Art Gallery, sketched the surroundings and objects, wrote and developed story ideas. Here are some of the results.

Thursday, 10 March 2016


Kate Pankhurst, has illustrated for the likes of Judy Blume, Holly Webb and our own Steve Hartley. As if that's not enough, Kate brought her own creation, Mariella Mystery, to life by with her beautiful illustrations.
Clearly, she has an abundance of experience to share with both illustrators and writers, alike.
In this workshop, Kate will share her techniques for generating story ideas, share tips on 'interpreting'  text from the point of view of an illustrator (handy for any picture book and younger reader writers to be aware of too). Kate will also share some of experiences of preparing a story idea for pitching to agents/publishers.
Attendees will get the opportunity to see the development of Kate's illustrations from doodles to the published product. Kate is a big fan of doodling, so will be championing that relevant topic in relation to Chris Riddell's Laureateship.

Book here.

Undiscovered Voices Launch Party - A Writer's Perspective.


Finally we get to see what happens during the Undiscovered Voices launch party. Susan Brownrigg, one of this year's winners tells us all about it.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Writers' Minds - Teri Terry

Illustration by 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. 


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Alphabet Soup - Rapid Prototyping for Picture Book People

Cover illustration by Nicola O'Byrne
Alphabet Soup logo by Paul Morton
Nick Cross writes:
This week's article literally began as an idea down the pub. I was chatting to my friend Nick Bromley - writer of the Waterstones' Picture Book Prize winner Open Very Carefully - over a pint of real ale, and he told me all about the new technique he'd devised for prototyping and visualising picture book ideas. This sounded like something that could benefit both writers and illustrators of picture books, so I asked Nick to tell us all about how Post-It notes changed his life...

Monday, 7 March 2016

A Picture-Book Writing Retreat and What I Learned There

By Fran Price

When I saw a SCBWI link about a two-day course in a beautiful Georgian house by the sea, focussing on nothing but writing picture books, it didn't take me long to sign up. So, last weekend I headed off to Herne Bay in Kent to talk, think and dream about my favourite craft with a few likeminded folks.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Results - Slush Pile Challenge - January 2016

Louise Lamont, literary agent at LBA Books set this challenge.

I’d like to read a blurb and an opening of up to 2000 words for a love story. You can interpret 'love story' in any way you like - it doesn't have to be romantic - and it can be for any age group. Although I am not looking for picture books, there are no other limitations! An opening scene may not get to the heart of the love story, but it should be enough to set up the world, tone and at least one of the main characters.


Friday, 4 March 2016

Featured Illustrator: Rikin Parekh

This month's Featured Illustrator is Rikin Parekh from North London. Many readers will be familiar with his quirky fun-filled pen and ink characters, seen regularly in the SCBWI Illustration Showcase and other selections. But he's worked in a variety of media, with an art career that started in the film business! See a wide selection of Rikin's work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Judith Heneghan: Masterclass: Writing Nonfiction For Children - 19th March

Want to try Writing Non Fiction for Children? The first Masterclass of 2016 takes place on this subject on the 19th March, with Judith Heneghan.  Alison Smith interviewed Judith in the run up to the event.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The Debut Author Series: Olivia Levez

The Island by Olivia Levez

The Learning Curve - Insights from Debut Authors 

by 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, 1 March 2016

Alphabet Soup - The March of Minecraft

Minecraft image © Mojang
Alphabet Soup logo by Paul Morton
Nick Cross writes:
This is my first digital media article for Alphabet Soup, and I thought long and hard about what to cover. But it struck me that there’s one example of digital media that's having a profound impact on today’s children, especially in the primary school age group.

How is the unstoppable march of Minecraft affecting the ways in which our kids play, learn, read and write?