NETWORK NEWS August 2018

New Network News Editor, Ann Brady, brings you up to date with all the happenings around our busy networks.

South East Scotland

SCBWI SE Scotland has sprung into summer on the back of a couple of busy months.

In an event for PULSE members: "Survival of the Imaginative", Linda Strachan, author and chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland, helped us navigate the choppy waters of life as a published author.

Courtesy of Lynda Strachan
Dave Gray, illustrator and SCBWI member, made the trip to Dunfermline to host "Wonderful Words; Powerful Pictures". This hands-on session for writers and illustrators was held at the fabulous Carnegie Library and Galleries.

We were delighted to chair an event at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival. SCBWI authors Candy Gourlay and Elizabeth Wein joined author Lari Don on stage for "Freedom to Read; Freedom to Write". A number of SCBWI authors also had events scheduled at the festival, and our various critique groups held meetings at, or around the festival venue, where the feverish literary atmosphere had seeped into our own works in progress.

Upcoming events

* September sees a much-anticipated event with Patrice Lawrence in Edinburgh. "Other Lives, Other Voices" will explore ways to create characters from different backgrounds.
* SCBWI SE Scotland will be sending an enthusiastic delegation to the annual conference in Winchester. Over the years, we’ve devised ingenious ways of cramming our Saturday night party costumes into our carry-on airline luggage...
* In November, the utterly fabulous, wonderfully enthusiastic SCBWI sensation, Sarah Broadley, will step down as our co-coordinator. Elizabeth Frattaroli and Justin Davies will continue to steer the good ship SCBWI SE Scotland onwards into 2019.
* And finally, on December 1st, we will come together for our annual Christmas social, where we will eat, drink and be merry, while toasting success and laughing in the face of rejection.

Remember, we love visitors to these northern shores, so if you’re in the area, please let us know. There’s bound to be someone around for a blether!
Contact: Justin or Elizabeth at

North West

We hold our monthly meet-ups at Waterstones Deansgate, Manchester, most months attempting to fit in a morning critique followed by an afternoon member-led activity. We’ve also been busy with events ranging from taking part in Jayne Fallows’ free-writing class, to joining SCBWI and MMU graduate, Matt Killeen, at the Lancashire YA Lit Festival along with Terri Terry, Lauren James and Annabel Pitcher.

We hosted a sell-out craft event, "Character is Destiny" with CM Taylor, in partnership with Manchester Children's Book Festival and Manchester Metropolitan University. It was a great day, well supported and really informative.

In April, freelance editor Tilda Johnson gave a fascinating and honest presentation about the journey of a book from idea to publication, drawing on her extensive industry experience (David Fickling Books, Penguin Random House Children’s, Hot Key Books and Piccadilly Press).

Our May and June crit meetings were followed by a special workshop by author Steve Hartley and his actor daughter Connie Hartley. The NW group was joined by members from other networks for the superb "Acting Up" workshop which uses performance techniques to bring characters to life on the page.
SCWBI members Mo O’Hara, Chitra Soundar, George Kirk, Marie Basting and Elton McKenna portray animal types trapped in a lift, watched by author Steve Hartley and actor Connie Hartley at the Acting Up workshop. (Photograph by Susan Brownrigg)
In July, members were offered the opportunity of a 1:1 Skype meeting with agent Alice Williams, who has recently launched Alice Williams Literary after ten years with David Higham Associates. She also shared her insightful and generous feedback on a number of picture book and middle grade submissions.

We are sorry to say that Marion Brown is stepping down as joint NW Network Organiser. Marion has helped build up the region, bringing innovative opportunities to our members for which we thank her. However, we are thrilled that Susan Brownrigg is stepping up as our new Network Organiser. Susan has lots of fresh ideas, has been a member of SCWBI for a number of years and will work alongside Catherine Whitmore.

Upcoming events

* Our next meeting is September 8th, at Waterstones Deansgate. Anne Boyle will deliver a workshop on writing character back stories inspired by postcards of art works.
* Bookings are now open for our writers' retreat at Gladstone Library on 20th October. This is an informal get-together/write-in at this beautiful library, broken up by ridiculous amounts of food and coffee and evening chats. Members can book directly with the library.
* We will be discussing the upcoming SCWBI BI conference at our October 6th meeting at Waterstones.
Contact: Catherine or Susan at

North East

We had a great time at our recent illustrators workshop and are planning more events. Details will be announced as they are organised. In the meantime, we currently hold critiques, skill-shares and socials in both Newcastle and York. We share work by email before our critique sessions and offer advice on how to critique and how to respond to a critique. Non-members are welcome to join our group once to see if they would like to join SCBWI. We are very friendly as we know what it's like being a nervous newbie. A warm welcome will be there, whichever group you visit.

Seven Stories, Newcastle

Marie-Claire Imam-Gutierrez and Claire O'Brien hold monthly critique/skill-sharing sessions at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books. 
Contact: Claire at

Central Library on Museum Street, York

A critiques and skills share group. Michael Cail and Catriona Tippin organise the York group. Maureen Lynas (for authors) and Katherine Lynas (for illustrators) run the sessions. We meet every two months approximately.
Contact: Marie-Claire at

Central North

July saw Central Northerners go on a jolly to the Newark Book Festival! We had our own stall, promoting SCBWI and selling members’ books; took part in a fascinating discussion about the shortlisted titles for the Kate Greenaway Medal and went to a very special book launch. Oh, and there might have been lunch … and cake, of course!

Margaret Connor, Addy Farmer and Alan Gidney pause for a picture by the SCBWI stall (credit: Angus Townley)
Joining Addy Farmer on the panel discussion were illustrator Bridget Marzo, and the Kate Greenaway Medal judge for the East Midlands, Chris Bertenshaw. Chris gave an overview of the judging criteria, then each title was considered by the panel and the audience, culminating in the winning book. It was good to get the full range of views: writers and readers, but especially Bridget’s illustrator perspective and Chris’s knowledge of the judging process. A little bit of insight went a very long way to helping us all enjoy and appreciate both the discussion and the merits of the winning book.

A quick room rearrangement and we were ready for Addy to launch her latest book, the delightful picture book, A Place Called Home, illustrated by Louise Gardner. We blasted off into space and visited amazing planets as Addy captivated her young (and not-so-young) audience with brilliant storytelling. And what better way to end than with rocket cakes and a rocket launcher craft session!

Rocket launching with Angus (credit: Alan Gidney)

Upcoming events

* Join us for Brunch in Nottingham, 11am – 1pm on Tuesday 11th September.
* We are delighted to be welcoming author Kate Scott to Lincoln for a children’s writing workshop on 29th September.

For more details on these events and other happenings in Central North, contact: Addy Farmer and Liz Miller at

Central West

Central West organised a very successful writers retreat in February, staying at the beautiful YHA in Stratford-Upon-Avon. It was a social event with loads of time for writing.

Clare’s Picture Book group did "speed dating" on our pb ideas: spending an hour going through 30 or so of our ideas. The best ones were pitched to the group who chose which they thought was the strongest and we’ve agreed to write that one for our next session.

Natalie’s Young Adult and Middle Grade novel group each asked pressing questions, answering them and sharing best practices, etc.

Here is some information on our two critique groups of when and where we meet:

* The Picture Book Group will be meeting from 10am – 1pm on the study floor of Waterstones in Birmingham City Centre on the following dates: 30th September, 28th October, 16th December, 6th January, 3rd February, 3rd March, 14th April, 12th May, 7th July.
* The Middle Grade/YA group will also meet from 10am – 1pm at Waterstones in Birmingham City Centre on the following dates: 30th September, 16th December, 3rd March, 12th May, 7th July.

Contact to confirm dates but please feel free to come along and sit in on one of the sessions or just swing by and say "Hello".

Happy writing and/or illustrating!
Contact: Natalie Perry or Clare Bell at

Central East

Central East continues to grow and has run several exciting events this quarter. April saw many members attend the Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture where children’s author, Frances Hardinge gave an inspiring talk.

Our second Scrawl Crawl took place at the Museum of Zoology in Cambridge. Alina Surnaite reported, "Despite being rather crowded and rainy it didn't stop these brave enthusiasts from scribbling and sketching and also chatting with curious little visitors!"

Jenny Duke, Anna Cole, Clare Yerbury, Caroline Laidlaw, Shelley Ann Jackson with daughter Harper, Bernie Shaddock, Debbie Edwards, Bridget Strevens-Marzo (Photo credit Jeff Crosby)
In May we held "Meet Rosie Pike – School Librarian Extraordinaire" in which we heard about the joys and challenges of being a school librarian and how a school organises author visits. Rosie also shared stories about the thriving book clubs at her school, and explained how she goes about choosing authors for the Bishops Stortford Literary Festival which she organises.

Rosie Pike (Photo credit Debbie Edwards)
As Cambridge enjoyed the hottest July day of the summer, Alina took a small but enthusiastic group of SCBWI writers and illustrators to Pembroke College gardens for the afternoon. Don’t be fooled by the blank sheets in the photo - the sun dazzled their prose and verse efforts.

Alina Surnaite, Marjorie Mallon, Anna Cole, Jeff Crosby and Caroline Laidlaw (Photo credit Jeff Crosby)
July also saw a brilliant Pitch Fright workshop taking place at Cambridge Library. Benjamin Scott certainly worked us all hard, summarising our stories and telling the idea to a partner. Said partners feeding back the important elements they had heard. It was a truly great day.

Upcoming events

25th August: Member visit to Talliston House.
TBA: New Book Group venture.
TBA: Autumn Scrawl Crawl.
TBA: Author panel event with local authors.
Contact: Debbie Edwards at

South East

There’s been another change of staff at South East HQ. We’re delighted to welcome Susan Renshaw who will be taking over from Jane Haryott and working alongside Fiona Barker to coordinate the busy SCBWI South East region. Sue, a librarian based in Hampshire, writes picture books and MG. She’s looking forward to helping other writers in the South East.

To follow up on our last network news, South East YA author Clare Rees was short-listed for The Times Chicken House prize. She didn’t win but was successful in securing representation. We’re looking forward to exciting things from Clare in the future! Congratulations also to Donna David who has worked with the military family’s charity Little Troopers to publish the picture book series Dear Daddy and Dear Mummy. She’s showing her versatility too with the publication of Bruised, a 4000-word YA, as part of Badger Learning’s Two Sides series.

We’re looking forward to several upcoming book launches too with Philip S Davies (Destiny’s Ruin) and Fiona Barker (Danny and the Dream Dog) scheduled for the autumn so more news on those and hopefully many others in the next update.

With such a large geographical area and large membership in the South East, it’s incredibly important that our individual critique and social groups continue to thrive. It was a particular pleasure therefore to visit the inaugural meeting of a new Winchester group run by Lu Fraser.

Upcoming Events

We have a number of events happening in and around our region. For more details on how you can join in some of them please check out the What’s On page on SCBWI British Isles: or email us for further information of a specific event.
Contact: Fiona Barker at


We’ve had a busy summer in London meeting SCBWIs old and new. We were thrilled to invite publisher, Sarah Odedina to join us as our special guest at the ever-popular daytime brunch, hosted by Annette Caseley.

The Industry Insiders Panel "Writing Other Lives" was hosted by Mandy Rabin and Jenny Rees with guests Candy Gourlay, Lisa Williamson and their editor, the wonderful Bella Pearson from David Fickling Books. Candy Gourlay and Mo O’Hara also hosted a controversial PULSE Carnegie discussion, with guest Lissa Evans and the Carnegie judges.

Finally, at the Book Club, hosted by Kate Abernethy, debut author Emily Thomas gave a fascinating insight into her semi-autobiographical novel, Mud, followed by pub drinks and socializing.

Upcoming Events

* September starts with a bang with literary agent Felicity Trew’s "Dos and Don’ts of a Submission Letter" workshop and a Masterclass with Joseph Coelho (both are waiting list only).
* The now famous SCBWI Agents' Party is on September 28th.
* We’ve arranged an Improv Workshop with a great improv coach on 3rd November at the City Lit.

The first brunch will be on September 21st at the British Library café. And look out for the book club and socials, coming soon. Email for more details of upcoming events or how to join in the fun.
Contact: Tanya Tay at

South West

Covering a large area, Exeter and Bristol/Bath are the central meeting hubs for the South West Network. We hold a variety of events and meet-ups including the following:

Bristol & Bath

* Kid Lit Coffee – a monthly meeting held on the last Saturday of every month, alternating between cities. Rita Lazaro hosts meetings in Bath where she also convenes illustrators, and Helen Liston hosts meetings in Bristol. We are often joined by a guest from the industry. Previous guests have included Greet Pauwelijn from Book Island, author Jo Nadin and Gill McLay from Bath Literary.

A very casual pitch! Greet Pauwelijn from Book Island (bottom left) with SCBWI members in Bristol
* Critiquing – Our critique groups meet to review samples of work in all genres on a bi-monthly basis. These friendly and supportive feedback sessions get members to share their writing wisdom in order to help one another improve their practice. Please get in touch if you’d like to join.


* Socials – The occasional weekend meet-up, in which we discuss a theme or talk generally about our writing and illustrating. We also arrange to meet as a group at local writing festivals and book launches.
* Picture-bookers – There’s a regular meeting for members working on picture books, allowing like-minded members to meet in person and subsequently exchange work online. The Picture-bookers meet at weekends usually monthly.
* Write-ins – These happen every 6-8 weeks, although members are free to organise their own write-ins and often do. Critique partnerships and feedback opportunities evolve naturally. There is time to socialise while taking coffee breaks, and we find it productive to work away from our habitual environments from time to time.

For details of any of the above or to join us please feel free to contact us.
Contact: Helen and Rita

Ann Brady is the new Network Newsletter Editor. Four times a year she'll be compiling all the latest from around the regions with the help of the Local Network Organisers. If you've already made future plan, make sure you let Ann know, so she can include them in her next post in November. Thanks!

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