Ten-Minute Blog Break - 9th April

Heavens, has another week gone past? I'm really glad all of our clever Scoobies have been blogging so hard this week, because it gives me plenty to talk about. So without further ado...

In the world of children's writing, we men often feel like an endangered species, so it's good that Mark Jones is joining me to bring up the testosterone levels (a bit). A self-styled Book Monkey, Mark has fearlessly continued his Amazing Writing Advice column this week, covering the tricky subject of book translations and how to do them on the cheap using Babelfish (I can only hope that his rampant xenophobia is meant to be ironic, or I'll have our illustrious Words & Pictures editor chasing me with a very large red pen). Mark's ramshackle advice is both useless and hilarious, and you can read the entire series by clicking here. Look out for the genius idea that is Game of Phones and find some simple but foolproof tips for increasing your word count (sample advice: "Make one of the characters a teenage girl. They never shut up.")

Not content with hogging the limelight a fortnight ago, Sally Poyton is at it again, starting a brand new group blog called Space on the Bookshelf. Together with fellow SCBWI members Jo Wyton and Nicki Thornton, Sally is looking to create a niche in the crowded world of children's book blogging, by offering in-depth coverage on each book via a range of perspectives. The first selection is My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by SCBWI-BI's very own Mo O'Hara, and it receives reviews by the site bloggers and also by a real live child (who contributes some fetching drawings). In addition, Space on the Bookshelf offers interviews with Mo and her editor at Macmillan Books, as well as an innovative Spotlight on Writing feature that analyses the book from a children's writer's perspective.

In general, writers have been making a lot of noise this week, none more so than Jane McLoughlin (and if you've met her, you'll know that that's not an insult!). Over a couple of posts, Jane has been telling the alternately sad, bizarre and hilarious story of why she stopped writing for five years and how she started again. But our SCBWI illustrators have also been beavering away quietly in the background - our featured illustrator Bridget Strevens-Marzo gives us a whirlwind round-up of her recent projects, Trish Philips shows us step-by-step how she created a stunning mixed media artwork, and Sam Zuppardi (another man, hooray!) has found something very nasty living in the wallpaper.

Elsewhere, it's been a sombre couple of weeks for the arts, with a raft of much-loved people passing away, including brilliant actor Richard Griffiths and quintessential American film critic Roger Ebert. Like many others, I was greatly shocked by the news that author Iain Banks is "officially Very Poorly" with terminal cancer. Banks is one of our greatest living novelists - let's hope this advance notice will give us the chance to celebrate that fact before it's too late.


Nick Cross is a children's writer, blogger and all-round digital guru. In 2010 he was a winner of Undiscovered Voices with his zombie comedy Back from the Dead.

Read Nick's latest blog post on The Art of Transgression.


  1. Thanks Nick, a very useful round up. I can't believe how busy Sally Poynton must be! What with working with her on the London Prof series and her blog too - how does she find time to watch the footie?

    1. HI Nick,

      Another great report. I've been enjoying Jane's posts, and a few of the others I'm going to check out now. Also, thanks for featuring,Space on The Bookshelf,us three tons (poyTON, WyTON and ThornTON) are very excited about it. Of course featuring Mo's 'My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish' was a joy as it's so much fun to read!

      David, - Busy is good I always think. However sad to report I don't watch the fottie, tried watching the 1998 world cup on a tiny black and white telly and it really put pay to my football viewing enjoyment!

    2. To be honest, that's totally understandable. Black n white TV is so last century. Perhaps try the IPL cricket, the coloured pyjamas they play in are awesome!

  2. Men are awesome! Even the French ones!

  3. Well, that was fun & I didn't get further than the first on the list. I'll have to return in my next tea break!

  4. thanks so much! brilliant round-up ... and yes, some sombre news in the book world too. it had me gravely pondering.

  5. Thanks Nick, I enjoyed all your links, though saddened by the last three.

    (I urge readers to catch up on all of Mark's 'Amazing Writing Advice' to be sure of his irony!)


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