Network News: Sobriety and Shakespeare in Central North

Liz Miller and Gill Hutchison

Sadly I couldn’t make Central North’s recent Christmas bash due to a family wedding. Fortunately, Gill Hutchison stepped once more into the breach and sent me this report so that I didn’t have to renege entirely on my network reporting duties. (There was a suggestion that I might want to make it sound sober and sensible but why would I do that when the reality was so much more fun?)

On December 14th, Brown’s Pie Shop on Steep Hill, Lincoln, hosted a Christmas party for current SCBWI members, some we haven’t seen for ages and some we hope to convert to the SCBWI cause. Best behaviour, then? Well, you can if you want to, but at the atmospheric Brown’s anything untoward can always be blamed on Humphrey, their resident Poltergeist!

Christmas cheer

Even at Christmas, we take our writing seriously and many useful critiques were exchanged, such as: “You know my new (hic) shtory? Ish about a boy wizzy…wizzy…wishard.” “Thasha shuper idea, Sho orig’nal…” and so on. Secret Santa gifts were exchanged, including a Dragon Tooth, a set of Great Literary Moustaches and something which I did not see but which by the next morning had apparently rendered the inside of Alan Gidney’s nostrils “like Formula One piston shafts” 

Gill and Norah entertain
Thank you to all the Secret Santa participants who put so much thought and/or humour into their choices!

The theme of Gill Hutchison’s special crackers this year was “Rude Shakespeare”. 

The answers to the first three questions were Bottom, Titania and Coriolanus. You get the picture. There was also a competition to select the best Shakespearean oath, but the typeface was a bit small and by dessert, it was easier to focus on Norah “Mother Christmas” Pellatt’s outsize card game! (with prizes). 

It’s a far cry from the days when our Christmas party was a small, all-female affair with a couple of sheepish husbands whose idea of a great children’s writer dates back to Richmal Crompton. All four of our literary men turned up! Sam Hawksmoor was even brave enough to sit between Norah and Anita ‘Fred’ Yorke. Addy Farmer, wedged so tightly in the centre that it was almost impossible for her to use her knife and fork, presided benignly over the proceedings. As ever, Addy has everyone’s grateful thanks for her wisdom and support over the past year.

My thanks go to Gill for making my job this month very easy and for saving me a rude cracker! And now for the sober and sensible bit. . .

Upcoming in Central North this year:
  • Our Monthly Critique meetings at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life
  • Picture Book and YA Workshops 
  • Lincoln Inspired Festival in May • New for 2014 – Goal Setting Brunches in Nottingham • Schools’ Challenge
  • Travelling Critique Groups and Mini Critique 
  • Summer Scrawl Crawl 
If you’d like to be sensible (or not) with us in Central North or would like any other information about the group and upcoming events, contact Gill Hutchison and Addy Farmer at centralnorthATbritishscbwiDOTorg

Gill Hutchison joined SCBWI in February 2006. Her contribution to the world of writing up to that point had been yearly school shows, press reports for her sport of tenpin bowling and songs for her comedy folk band.
Gill enjoys everything about SCBWI, from the critiques and workshops to the friendship and support within our Central North group – and of course the wisdom of guru, Addy. She won Sarah Frost’s July 2013 “Slushpile Challenge” with My Mum’s bigger than your Mum.

Liz Miller has been a SCBWI member since 2010. When she is not making lists and volunteering for things, she writes picture books. One of these, The Pirate who Liked Pink, was Highly Commended in the Winchester Writers’ Conference 2013. This made her very happy!


  1. Thank you very much Gill and Liz. Yep, Central North is a fun place to be! I love reading about what you've been up to.
    Also, I'd love to know more about 'Travelling Critique Groups and Mini Critique?

    1. Hi there:
      Whereabouts do you live? Liz is just setting up a travelling group in Nottingham for February 5th and our next official meeting is at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life is on January 25th. However, the mini critique groups are a purely private arrangement between two or three individuals and are a moveable feast as regards time, date and venue as we all have our own commitments. We really do get a lot done in the minis! Find me on Fb or e-mail me at if you would like more details.

    2. Jan, the Travelling Critique groups is an idea Addy proposed to try to reach our members who can't' get to the monthly meetings in Lincoln. We tried it before in Nottinghamshire and it was successful and fun to go somewhere new. So if there are any Central Northerners out there, particularly in East Riding and South Yorks, and you'd like us to come to a venue near you please get in touch!
      The Mini Critiques are where some of the group have got together in smaller numbers during the week. So they're mini by number but the critiques still major!

    3. Just like buses - you wait an hour and then two come along! Sorry for the crossed post Jan but hope that helps explain it. The new meet in Nottingham is going to be a Goal Setting Brunch along the lines of the London ones I hope. I'll be posting details very soon.

    4. Thanks Liz and Gill.
      travelling and mini are good ideas:)
      I'm too far away in Southampton to take part in central North fun!


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