Network News, Central East, Cambridge Group

In keeping with the age-old tradition ...
by Helen Moss
Christmas feels like a distant memory. But before it sinks without a trace beneath the mists of time, here is one last brief reminder of those far-off festivities.

In keeping with age-old tradition, the SCBWI Cambridge Christmas Social took place around the mince-pie-and-mulled-wine-laden table in my kitchen (okay, we’ve only done it twice before, but that makes it an age old tradition in my book!) 

Seven of us gathered to look back over our year and to welcome new members. The super-crumby conversation (I’m talking about mince-pie-pastry-issues here, not the quality of the discourse) ranged from submissions to deadlines to school visits, and much in between. 
We ended with our (also traditional) World’s Least-Secret-Secret-Santa Book Swap. It always starts off so well – everyone stealthily slipping the anonymous gift-books into the basket - but as soon as the books are pulled out, no one can resist cries of “Ooh, I thought of that one for you!” and “I absolutely love this book which is why I . . . oops, at least that’s what I heard from Santa . . .”
Books and secrecy don’t mix! There’s just too much to say about them.

Outside of mince pie season, the Cambridge group generally meets upstairs at CB2 Café in central Cambridge, on a Tuesday evening, once every two or three months. If you are not already receiving e-mail notice of meetings, and would like to, please do let me know (e-mail address at end) and I will add you to the mailing list. Our gatherings are informal – a chance to catch up on news, share and celebrate successes, and support each other through the inevitable setbacks along the way.  
Now and then we branch out to a slightly more structured event. Last summer we had a lovely “guests of honour” evening, when Cambridge-based agent, Anne Clark, and editor, Robin Stevens, joined us to field a barrage of questions.  The meeting was well attended, and everyone found it hugely helpful and enjoyable, so we’re planning to hold several more this year. Possible topics include picture books, self-publishing and school visits.  Details of the first events will be coming soon.
We’re also trying to gauge interest in setting up critique groups in the Cambridge area. If this is something you would find useful, please do get in touch and let me know. If there are too few members with similar interests to put together groups, it might be still be possible to pair people with writing/illustrating partners who could share feedback on each other’s work, either in person or on-line. 

The Cambridge group is part of SCBWI's Central East network, jointly run by Helen Moss and John Shelley in Norfolk. This year members in Norfolk will run informal monthly get-togethers. Other volunteers have also kindly stepped up to be local contacts in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and Suffolk. Please email us to get in touch to find out what is happening in your county. Finally, you can keep up to date with what's going on via the Central East Facebook Page. It's a closed group, so please email if you would like to join. 
Helen Moss Co-co-ordinator (with John Shelley), Central East Network
Looking for Clues in Egypt

Helen Moss has organised SCBWI Cambridge socials for several years and has recently joined John Shelley as joint co-ordinator of the Central East Network. She writes Middle Grade mysteries, including the Adventure Island and Secrets of the Tombs series, and dreams of one day following footprints into a secret tunnel and uncovering a band of dastardly but ever-so-slightly incompetent smugglers. Her website is

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