Network News: North-east

A Thank You to Maureen Lynas – A Networks Legend!

 An update from your Networks Coordinator, Marie Basting 

Whilst the networks team had a brilliant time at the SCBWI Winchester Conference last weekend, we also came away feeling kind of sad. You see Winchester, marked the end of an era, as we said goodbye to Maureen Lynas, one of our longest standing network coordinators.
Maureen’s amazing contribution to British SCBWI was celebrated at the conference, when she was awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award (Networks), but we wanted to tell you more about this networks legend.

Maureen the Networks Legend 
Maureen joined Scoobie in 2008, and finding that most of the events were in London, she decided to tackle this head on by pioneering our SCBWI activity in the far North. Under Maureen’s careful watch, the North East Network has grown, from a few isolated members, to a strong vibrant community of writers and illustrators.
A real team player, Maureen has built a strong support team around her and is so committed to looking after her local members, she’s even organised her own replacements. But more about them next time. Today is all about the legend that is Maureen. She tells us more about her time with the networks below.

How long have you been the Network Organiser for the North East? How did this come about? 
I took over from Addy Farmer in 2009. I think. It's all a blur. She may have hypnotised me. I just remember my 'Yes' was based on frustration. I was a needy scoobie who used to wail, 'Why is everything in London!' Then I realised that the events in London were created by volunteers who lived in London. London was their local group. If I wanted events near me then it would need a volunteer near me to organise them. So...

What have you enjoyed the most about the role? 
It's been a very important confidence builder for me. I had been a primary school teacher until 2000. Unfortunately, I developed an exaggerated stress response. Most people have a flight/flight response. I flop. Like a possum. Joining SCBWI coincided with the beginning of my recovery process (after 15 years of the misdiagnosis of M.E.) Running the group allowed me to put myself into (perceived) stressful situations and reframe them as fun and enjoyable - organising events, negotiating with speakers, running courses, sharing skills, speaking in public, developing IT skills. I honestly don't know how I would have practised these skills and engaged with people again if I hadn't volunteered for SCBWI.
How have things changed in the networks since you took up post? 
The network groups have gone from strength to strength. More and more events are being organised from skill shares to agent's 1 to 1's. I'm particularly pleased that I was able to support Louise Kelly and Sheila Averbuch as they created the new South East Scotland group. They've made super connections with the Edinburgh Book Festival team, it's a regular scooby do now.

We have a number of new Network Organisers? Do you have any advice for getting the most out of the role? 
Keep it manageable. Start slow and build a core group who meet regularly. They can then support you as you organise speakers etc. Network with the other volunteers. Draw on their experience. If you see something good happening in another local group - copy it. With permission.

And what about members who may not have been along to a Network meet-up? Why should they go along?
Support and chat. Support and chat. Support and chat! There's such a lot to learn, the group will help you. SCBWI is a giving organisation, the members are incredibly generous. There are so many ups and downs in the process of becoming an author and/or illustrator and friends who understand that are invaluable. Plus when you do have some success you get to celebrate with people who know how hard you've worked to achieve your finished manuscripts and images.

You are stepping down to spend more time on your other commitments. What does the next year have in store for you?
 Lots! I'm planning on being very productive. I've just finished a redraft of my UV win To Destiny or Death! - renamed Prince Bob and the Horrible Hagatha. So that's looking for a home. I have two silly poetry books almost finished Potty Pirates and Who Cut the Hamster's Hair? I'm going to enjoy writing more of those. Plus I have a redraft planned for Witch School Sucks! a middle grade novel, the York critique group have been very helpful with their suggestions (visit your local group!). I'll also be continuing to promote The Action Words Reading Scheme (pub 2000) and the funeverse poetry site.
I'm very excited about the funeverse. It's great working with such a talented group of authors and illustrators and I've just received news that a VIP guest has agreed to share his images with us. I'll let you guess who he is. It's a bit of a riddle!
And, of course, there's blogging on Notes From the Slushpile. So, it's going to be a busy year filled with loads of fun.
 So, on behalf of all the network volunteers, and indeed the wider Scooby community, a huge thank you to Maureen. You will be missed but your legend will live on.



Maureen Lynas has a very large slushpile which she hides in a cupboard in her house by the sea (it can be seen from the attic window). Sadly, she owns no dog, cat, rat, budgie or hamster, but is lucky enough to have one husband and two children. She writes because she loves the laughter on children's faces. She is currently looking for representation by someone who enjoys her silliness.

After many years of working as a Change Manager, Marie Basting decided she fancied a change herself. So she took redundancy and signed up for the MA Creative Writing at Manchester Writing School. She now spends her days in imaginary worlds with imaginary people, coming back to reality occasionally to read dubious academic journals. Marie is the SCBWI British Isles Networks Coordinator. She lives in Manchester with her husband, son and a stuffed koala called Tommy.


  1. She definitely is a network legend and we've been so lucky to have her in the Northeast for so long! Thanks for all your hard work, Maureen! You'll be a hard act to follow!

  2. She is indeed! She tells me she'll still be around though, Rebecca.

  3. Fantastic, Maureen! What a lot you've achieved - so inspiring X


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