Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Arrhhh! Fabulous weekend at the SCBWI Conference 2015

British Isles
Where to start???

This being my fourth (or is it fifth?) conference, I decided I would be part of the volunteer team and give something back to the amazing organisers who regularly make the conference such a spectacular event. They do it for free too. All that work on our behalf, for free.

Volunteering is great and you get a badge!!!! After checking in with the unflappable Suzie, I found myself on registration duties; ticking attendees off the list, giving out name tags and conference booklets.

Then it was down to business and the conference began in earnest. After the opening remarks by Regional Advisor, Natascha Biebow, the conference was kicked off big time by author/illustrator team extraordinaire, Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve. It was so good to get an insight into how these two talented people work together.

A quick coffee break then we were into the industry panel session. I had opted for one entitled: Hooking in New Readers. Some great tips and I was pleased to see so much emphasis placed on author talks in schools seeing as I spend so much time trying to get that right.

I had to dash off at 11:30 for a quick 1-2-1 (The Iron City) with an editor. The feedback from her was not too bad although the synopsis I provided was a complete disaster, (darling). Still, I got lots of great pointers on improving it and that's what it's all about.

Lovely lunch at 12:00 with time to visit the onsite bookshop to buy some books.

Another of Jonny's titles
Then it was on to the next session with illustrator keynote, Jonny Duddle who took us through how he came to be an author/illustrator. He had some great tales of how he actually worked on a pirate ship and was a children's entertainer. He read The Pirate Cruncher which was so good I had to buy a copy. (And I admit to hounding Jonny at the evening party until my book was signed.)

After a quick break, we all piled into the auditorium for the announcement of the Crystal Kite Award
which was followed by The Hook where five delegates pitched to a panel of agents. Scary!
Congratulations to both winners.

Time for a rest then as we all had to get ready for the pirate themed evening paaaarrrrty. This was a time to mingle and meet new/old friends plus a chance to sidle up to an agent and pitch a book or two. Incorporated into this was a mass book launch for all scoobies who had a book published this year. A great opportunity for everyone to share in their success and offer our congratulations.

And that was just Saturday...

First thing Sunday we all had a quick network meeting giving us all the opportunity to catch up with our regional scoobie friends. This was followed by the Outstanding Contribution Awards for all the wonderful volunteers who make SCBWI British Isles run so brilliantly.

We then had a great treat as David Fickling took to the stage...and started dancing. Encouraged, the whole auditorium was up and boogied to a Pulp Fiction dance excerpt. It certainly woke everyone up. He gave a great talk about being an independent publisher, what it entails and more importantly, how it compares to the much larger publishing houses.

After that, we were straight into our break-out sessions. Mine was Publishing 101 with agents Penny Holroyde and Julia Churchill. This was incredibly useful as it covered what agents do, what authors should do, submission guidelines, the importance of pitching, what publishers do, what agents look for. A huge amount of information was given out and gratefully received.

The final session came after lunch and this was with Candy Gourlay looking at story structure, This was another hands-on session and we all came away with a really useful way of focussing on how stories should be structured. I realised then that mine needed a complete restructure - argh! (or should that be 'aaarrrhhh!')

Coffee and cake followed as I said goodbye to friends, old and new. I left excited, inspired and eager to work on my manuscript, hoping to bring my writing to the best I possibly can.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Great Writing Workshop at Downham Library

I'm pleased to say that the writing workshop at the local library went rather well. Children actally turned up - 10 of them in fact. I'd have visions of no one coming and me sitting there like an idiot all on my lonesome.
I'd worked out an activity based on using WANTED posters to create character profiles. I read a page or so from Hero Required (Book 3 of the Aggie Lichen triology) where a poster of a wanted criminal is found. Then we had a 'real or no real' look at wanted posters I had found on the internet. I threw some funny ones in just to break the ice.


I shared a wanted poster for my dog Buster, which made them laugh. We chatted about keeping bullet points short and concise so that just the important information was shown. Then it was time to get down to creating some of their own. The results were great and quite a few chose younger brothers or sisters for their posters.
   The final part of the session was to take a bullet point or two and expand it into a sentence to start forming the character profile. At this point there was complete silence as the children worked. They all shared what they had done with each other at the end and there was time for a quick Q & A with me. I sent them home happy with a goody bag and had lots of lovely feedback from both parents and children. The librarian even asked if I'd go back to do another workshop. All in all, a good day.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Great Uncle Arthur's role in my new book - Circus of the Damned

I am continuing with my MG novel, Circus of the Damned. despite the fact that I have a half edited YA novel sitting on the computer. I decided to take a break from the editing of the Iron City as it's NaNoWriMo month and I wanted to try to get as much done on the MG novel.

    I did some further research on one of the characters, Arthur Margery, who was actually my great uncle. I found that he was one of 13 children and a twin. He is listed on the 1901 census as a 'Professional Society Entertainer', which was great to see as I knew he was a magician. 

Arthur Margery

I also found out that in later life, he had a bookshop in Bromley, UK which stocked over 6000 books on magic. When Arthur died in 1945, they were sold by his brother Henry to Foyles, London for just £100.

Lots more to discover, I hope!