Network News: On Teens, Treats and Peeking into Picture Books in Central North.

By Liz Miller

We’ve been a bit spoilt in recent months in Central North with not one, not two, but three visiting speakers who kindly agreed to come and share their expertise and work with us. First up were uber- experienced editors, Non Pratt and Emily Sharratt who came to talk to us about ‘How to Get Your Teen Novel Published’ as part of the Lincoln Inspired Festival. Except they didn’t just talk to us, they made us work as well!

Creating characters and voice 
Non and Emily contemplating what to ask us to do next.

Non spoke about creating characters and voice and then got us to do a couple of writing exercises to work out our own strengths and to help us to consider what we needed to be focussing on to create that all important ‘voice’.  Heads buzzing, Emily then moved onto plot and considered the narrative arc and journeying between each point of the arc before setting us another exercise. Heads whizzing, we moved onto themes and finding the ‘heart of a story’. Then, more writing but this time with a lucky dip bag!
Our thanks to Non and Emily for a thought provoking event. Yes we had to do our bit as well but we were all much the wiser for doing so. 

'Peek into Picture Books'

Our notebooks barely made it back into bags before we were welcoming our next visitor. This time it was our much anticipated ‘Peek into Picture Books’ with award-winning children’s illustrator, Lynne Chapman. Lynne is a member of our Lincoln SCBWI Facebook group and we were looking forward to meeting her in person. 
Lynne gave us an engaging, funny introductory talk about her journey to children’s book illustration. Essentially, her journey involved a lot of hard work, a touch of serendipity and holding a cat to ransom! Not a real cat you’ll be relieved to know and thankfully there was a happy ending to its briefly worrying predicament. 
Checking out Lynne's sketch books
Next, we moved over to the tables where Lynne had brought along a selection of early sketch sheets, roughs and finished artwork. She talked through the stages in her illustration process and we were soon poring over her work, fascinated by it and feeling very privileged to get such a treat! Lynne told us that one of the ways she keeps her illustration work fresh is by sketching outdoors, for the fun of drawing. So after a brief pause for lunch, we had more treats looking through her sketchbooks and her impressively light (and very ingenious) sketch kit. I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of her sketch kit though I did jot down its components! 
From sketch sheet to finished art work 
You can learn all about Lynne and her work from her website and blog; both are a treasure trove of insights, illustrations, sketches and generously shared resources. But in Central North, we feel rather fortunate to have had a closer peek.  Thank you for sharing your journey and work with us Lynne!


Liz Miller joined SCBWI in 2010. She likes to make lists and is one of life’s volunteers.  When she is not making lists and volunteering for things, she writes picture books. Her picture book Farm Zoo Hullaballoo was Commended at the Winchester Writers’ Conference this year, which made her very happy!


  1. Great piece! Gosh, things are on the move in Central SCBWI!

  2. Sounds like an amazing event. Have worked with Emily--a fab editor with great insights for you all, I'm sure.

  3. Thanks Liz. You have some great in events in central north - inspiring!


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