Network News South West Round-Up, 2013-14: To Bristol – And Beyond!

Lesley Moss

Into Wonderland –
photo by Jo Thomas
Trip to the
Oxford Story Museum

A distant rumble from the Bristol and Bath area last autumn (hmm, it HAS been a long time!) informed us of many members longing to get together. All that was needed was someone brilliant, talented and awfully well organised ...  and on the spot ... step forward Jo Thomas. Professional writer, editor and children’s author Jo had no sooner joined SCBWI than she was persuaded to arrange meet-ups for a mix of published and emerging writers and illustrators, which she has done with aplomb.

Jo says: 
Since starting the Bristol group last autumn (2013), we’ve had several get-togethers and we keep each other up-to-date with any interesting book-related events through regular group emails. There are over 30 members on the mailing list now and we’ve had a good turnout at each of our meetings, with people coming from further afield as well as from Bristol and Bath. 

We’ve met in a different venue each time and tried out different ways of sharing ideas and catching up. Our first meet-up was in a café in a yurt and we had a good time telling each other about what we write and what we’d like to get out of the group. In early 2014, we met up at the Folk House for a chat and lunch and some gentle goal setting! 

Another gathering was at the end of March at Bristol Museum, where we did a short sketch/scrawl around the weird and wonderful exhibits and then had a nice catch up over coffee and cake. This sparked a plan for an outdoor walk and talk sometime over the summer, and we had the idea to organise a trip to the new Story Museum in Oxford. 

SCBWI in Narnia – photo by Jo Thomas
Bristol and Oxford SCBWI’s met up in Oxford.
Oxford Story Museum
Elen tries costume and the Story Loom – photo by Jo Thomas
At the Oxford Story Museum
And the Road Trip took place – complete with car mints!

The late Richard Masson, Undiscovered Voices winner and published author of Boonie (Hot Key Books), came up from Cornwall for the first Bristol meet-up in the yurt cafe, and it was a delight to meet him and talk about his life’s journey and his books. We are sad to lose him, but were so glad to have had the opportunity to meet him – and that he was able to bring his writing to the world, via SCBWI, UV, and Hot Key.

Meanwhile, over in Exeter, we held our very first masterclass, From First Draft To Gold, with the very lovely and skilful author/editor Lil Chase (Secrets, Lies and Locker 32, and Boys For Beginners, published by Quercus).

Lil has a wide range of editing experience with different publishers, including Working Partners, which she shared generously with us. A year later, we’re still feeling inspired ... unfortunately, some of us are still clinging to our adjectives and haven’t quite managed to let go of that vital ten per cent in our edits! But we are definitely using both sides of our brains  ... now where did I put that plot outline ...

After a cocktail-filled December Seasonal Social, Amelia Mansfield kindly arranged our next batch of Exeter write-ins for 2014, and somehow managed to fight her way through the storms to be there to host them, despite all rail links being cut off.

Our write-ins have continued to be popular, including plot discussions, publishing gossip, advice on WIP’s and even agony aunts to proffer support over rejections as a side order to the main event: writing together while consuming coffee and cake.

Recently, we have begun more focused write-ins in a new venue – with set times for silent intensive writing interspersed with coffee breaks. This is a change from our usual cafe drop-in and chat/write sessions, and we’re aiming for a combination of the two, as both have their advantages.

It’s always exciting to hear of our members’ publications and contracts, such as:

Sandra Greaves The Skull In The Woods (Chickenhouse),
Cecilia Busby’s Deep Amber (Templar),
Ellen Renner’s Tribute (Hot Key Books),
Rowena House’s The Marshalling Of Angelique’s Geese, in the War Girls anthology (Anderson Press), and 
Clare Helen Welsh’s first picture book contract, following her second place in the Greenhouse Funny Prize! So do let us know your good news so we can celebrate!

With the imminent demise of our Ning Network group, we now have our own Facebook group, SCBWI SW Chat & Info, which is great for virtual meet-ups and getting to know each other - do join us there. It’s a useful way of organising informal get-togethers – for example several Exeter members arranged to meet recently at a local YA festival. 

We can also check out who else is going to national SCBWI events, such as the Conference or Masterclasses and arrange to meet there or travel together.

Newsflash: Another new group: a critique group has begun in Marlborough, Wiltshire, run by Wendy Allen. Contact us on the email below for information.

I think that is all for now – if you are a South West SCBWI_BI member, do get in touch at and let us know if you have any questions, or any news and events to be included in the next South West round-up! 

Lesley Moss is the joint SW network organiser.

Jo Thomas, writer and editor,  is currently coordinating
meetings for Bristol and Bath



  1. Wow, lot's of great things happening there. Thanks Lesley and Joe for updating us and for all your hard work in the south west x

  2. What a brilliant update choc full of great get together ideas!
    Brilliant Lesley and Jo!


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