Conference Round Up - #scbwicon15 Meet the Newbies!

Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre
Keynotes #scbwicon15

How was it for you?

Meet three intrepid reporters as they give us the lowdown on #scbwicon15.

Thank you Natalie Yates, Katherine Lynas and Anna Mainwaring for sharing your first time with us.

Natalie Yates:

I made the good decision after four hours on the train to walk to the hotel – the crisp cool air and Christmas lights lining the cobbled streets on route simply heightened my excitement for the weekend ahead. Less than an hour after arriving, I met with Catriona Tippin for the proofreading workshop, successfully avoiding the magnetic pull of the mulled wine stall on the way. Over tea and cake a group of twelve Scoobies shared their methods and secrets with proofreading, with very helpful prompts from Catriona. What a wonderful start to the weekend, and the official conference programme hadn’t even begun yet! 

The Hook Panel

To summarise the conference for me – Saturday was more of an entertaining run of events and Sunday was a day for learning. Saturday’s highlights have got to be without a doubt watching the delightful mix of McIntyre and Reeve sharing their history and stories (I must remember to add a ukulele to my Christmas list), then in the afternoon five intrepid authors stepped up to pitch in public for The Hook. The day was bought to a very satisfying close with the pirate themed party – complete with tricorns, dreadlocks, lobsters, mermaids, fishnets and island-mapped dresses. 

Pitch Battle - The Hook

David Fickling woke us all up on Sunday morning twisting and promising us that You Never Can Tell, we could all be Uma Thurmans and John Travoltas. On to more serious stuff for me at Publishing 101 with Julia Churchill and Penny Holroyde, but the cone of silence over the room forbids me to reveal any of the precious content. Finally, Candy Gourlay shared her route to publishing and the story structure methods that have worked for her. Many of the audience were led to re-evaluate their story structures, but came away buzzing with ideas as to how they could do this. 

Sheila Averbuch - Winner of The Hook!

So all-in-all, I just have one question – how soon can I book for next year? 

Katherine Lynas: 

Katherine Lynas - Pirate Party Mode
'Arrr Pieces of Eight
So, how did I find my first SCBWI Conference? 

It’s hard to sum up, but my partner received the following texts over the weekend. 

Friday: ‘I’m having the best time! I’m so excited!!! I may soon burst and splatter everywhere!!! SCBWI Con, woo hoo!’ 

Saturday: ‘Awesome!’ 

Later that day: ‘AWESOME!!!’ 

Sunday: ‘Still awesome, but very sleepy.’ 

SCBWI con was filled with interesting discussions and workshops, fantastic keynote speakers and brave Hook participants, but the best thing of all was the people. 

Thank you to all the funny people, the friendly people, the map dress appreciators, but most of all to the volunteers. You are what makes SCBWI special. 

Warning: Attending SCBWI conferences can result in excessive use of exclamation marks. 


It took me a while to take the plunge to book my slot at the conference. A relatively new member of SCBWI, I had only joined in January 2015 having just finished my MA with the Writing School at MMU. I wasn’t really sure what the conference was all about or whether I would enjoy it. But encouraged by George Kirk, Marie Basting and Catherine Whitmore and emboldened by realising that a number of people I knew in real life and on Twitter and Facebook would be there, I booked my slot. 

Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve

How glad I am I jumped at the chance. Otherwise I would have missed out on Candy Gourlay’s fabulously informative session on plotting and Jasmine Richards’ practical advice on the obligatory scene. Who knew that I could write a haiku on my work in progress in order to turn it into an elevator pitch? I would have not been inspired by Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve and also by the indomitable Johnny Duddle. Who could have guessed that David Fickling would start his talk with a gangster dance and then move on to Tudor sonnets? Or that so many adults actually love nothing better than to party as pirates in a library? Even though I didn’t have enough time to talk to enough of you, I knew that I had found my kind of people: supportive of writers; passionate about books; endlessly creative; perhaps more than a touch bonkers. 

The North West Crew
(with a couple of welcome interlopers from Central & London)

So if in doubt when the emails start to come about SCBWI Con ’16, maybe think about leaping aboard too. You’ll never know what amazing experiences await you.

Thank you Natalie, Katherine and Anna. More conference tales on Monday! Stay tuned... 


  1. Thanks you guys, you were great jumping in feet first!Though I hope no one actually did burst and splatter!

  2. That's it. Your conference cherry is well and truly popped :-) Glad you all left inspired - see you next year...

  3. It was so much fun. Though I think these conferences could become a little bit addictive!


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