Conference 2010: Top Ten Tales of the Unexpected

By Teri Terry
First published in Notes from the Slushpile

I just spent the weekend at the 10th anniversary celebration and mass book launch that was the SCBWI British Isles Onwards and Upwards conference

It was brilliant time catching up with friends old and new, and I even learned a few things along the way. Some are not what you’d expect, at all….


1. A two hour journey on motorways on a rainy Friday afternoon takes over four hours.
2. Do not – under any circumstances – take the wrong path. In a graveyard. Alone. In the dark, in the rain, when you are late and don’t have time to retrace your steps. This is a very, very bad idea.
It is also good not to read anything written by Nick Cross before this walk...

3. Watch out for the Undead (see no. 2), and strange eyes that follow you late at night, from under the stairs.
OK, I feel your skepticism. Believe me: this looked much scarier
in the dark at 2 a.m. after walking through a graveyard

4. There are four P’s, and they are important to story: Plot, Pace, Place, and People. Marcus Sedgewick says so, and as well as inspiring and clever, he is rather divine. This was universally agreed in the back row at his keynote.
The Divine Mr M

5. The guys wear the best shoes.

6. An editorial director at a major publisher – no names dropped, here – can be rather lovely, and encouraging, and positively wonderful. In fact, a few ideas were born, and the whole process is looking more of a hill than a mountain.
Rebecca Hill for Usborne, Kayt Bochenski for Harper Collins, Tom Truong forStripesSarah Lilly for Orchard, Brenda Gardner for Picadilly, and Bella Pearson for David Fickling Books

7. Purple is The Colour of 2010.
Julienne Durber & Philippa Francis:
on trend in the colour purple

8. It is ok to be an Internet Slut, Fetishist, or Experimentalist.It is also ok to update your Facebook status while attending a talk on Social Networking. In fact, it is practically required.
Keren David can't control herself (neither can I)

9. There is a bell in case of emergencies. I’m not sure what happens if you ring it, but it is good to know it is there.
It was outside my door at my B&B : it was SO hard not to ring it!

10. Helium filled balloons may be pretty, but they don’t make good travelling companions in the back of a car.
They just refused to duck down! Imagine!

Of course, there were also the Expected.
The conference was run like a well organized machine by dedicated SCBWI volunteers; the speakers were inspiring; everyone was there ready to work and play hard. The editor and industry panels told all their secrets. My talented and understanding critique group got on just fine without me as I dealt with motorways, and the Undead.
So hard at work! Lucy van Smit, Kathryn EvansMariam Vossough, Linda Lawlor and friends

Party time! John ShelleyCandy Gourlay & Benjamin Scott

Special thanks to Bex Hill, Benjamin Scott and all the other lovely SCBWI volunteers involved in making the conference such a success; to Paula Harrison for getting me there and back, with only a few wrong turns, red light and balloon-related incidents; and to Candy Gourlay for putting together such an amazing video of Scooby-ites working hard at their craft ( I don’t think anyone could watch it without feeling proud to be a part of SCBWI, and a little choked up.

Our amazing conference chair, Bex Hill, and party guru, Benjamin Scott

Now for the big question: how are we ever going to top this next year?


  1. Lovely write up Sarah, I'm cursing myself now that I was so fractured during the whole conference I hardly took any photos at all, thus almost nothing to put on my blog except links to other sites like yours!

  2. Love the sketches BTW!!!!! Did you draw these during the workshops live as they spoke? The drawing of Tim is uncanny!


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