#SCBWICon19: Tips for Newbies #Writing #Illustrating #Conference #Agents

I had a wonderful weekend at the SCBWI conference in Winchester and thought I’d share my experience with you.

It was a first time for me and I have to say it was such an amazing conference.

For newbies there is a wealth of support, including a SCBWI Newbies & Lone Rangers Facebook group which I joined a bit late, so here’s the link: Newbies & Lone Rangers SCBWI group

On the first day of the conference, Friday 1st of November, there were arrangements to meet up and gather newbies together to help them out. Unfortunately, I missed the earlier part of these, as I struggled to find my airbnb which was a little out of the centre of Winchester but I did catch up with the newbie crowd later at 5pm.

TIP: book your accommodation early and try to find a hotel, or airbnb in the centre of Winchester.

It’s a full-on conference with so many seminars and talks plus the invaluable one-to-ones with agents too.

TIP: keep an eye on your one-to-one times. If like me you get really engrossed listening to a speaker talking about i.e. your first page of your manuscript you might just miss your all important one-to-one like I did! That was so embarrassing! But, the lovely conference organisers managed to reschedule my one-to-one with agent Catherine Pellegrino who (was lovely.) We chatted after I’d sneaked away for a much needed calming down/don’t panic lunch. And wonder of wonders Catherine said that she liked my writing style and my characters, so I am submitting the first few chapters of my first novel and synopsis to her soon. Wish me luck!

All the conference goers, helpers, etc… are so friendly that it is easy to make new friends wherever you go and you might even find yourself dining with fellow authors you’ve never met before as I did prior to the fancy dress party on Saturday night. That was such fun! I love dressing up… I went as the black cat Shadow in my book.

TIP: talk to everyone!

Highlights for me were:

  • The Hook which was judged by the following agents: Amber Caraveo (Skylark,) Megan Carroll (Watson Little,) Gemma Cooper (The Bent Agency,) and Clare Wallace, (Darley Anderson.) They are looking for submissions particularly in the YA romance category.

All four hook contestants were amazing but my two favourites were YA authors: Helen MacKenzie SCBWI Scotland who was in my Friday night critique group (and she won first prize,) and Ellie Rose McKee.

Here’s a Twitter announcement from Ellie’s feed:

Ellie had a terrible cold throughout the conference. I had huge respect for her that she managed to get on stage and deliver a pitch whilst feeling so poorly.

TIP: bring drugs/sweets/comforting elixirs to combat viruses, warm clothes, etc. Just in case you or someone else needs them.

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More Highlights…

  • The Friday Night Critique with Matt Killeen, Helen MacKenzie, and Angela Murray which I found really helpful.
  • Geraldine McCaughrean’s Keynote Speech.
  • The one-to-one that I had with agent Catherine Pellegrino.
  • The ruthless revision workshop with Sara Grant – which I found very useful as I am in the editing phase with the second book in my series The Curse of Time.

 

There are many awesome videos of the conference on the Facebook KidLit TV page which are well worth perusing. The link is here: https://www.facebook.com/KidLitTV/

I have come away with lots of positive vibes about the conference and the experience in general. Oh, and Winchester itself was a lovely place to visit, but the weather could have been better! Here I am looking particularly windswept and wet waiting for a bus…

Wait a minute… across from the bus stop I spotted this tree with its lovely heart.

So that’s why I walked in the rain!

I’ve found my tribe… I have two now! The Bloggers Bash Tribe who I meet up with every year in London at the Bloggers bash https://twitter.com/BloggersBash and now I have the SCBWI tribe too: https://www.scbwi.org/

Other posts about the conference:

Words and Pictures SCBWI Conference

Helen Murzin SCBWI-BI Conference 2019 — Curiouser and curiouser

Finding your Tribe: http://www.bbtaylor-books.com/finding-your-tribe/

Preparing for a writers conference: https://catherinerosevear.wordpress.com/2019/10/25/preparing-for-a-writers-conference/

Are you intending on coming to a SCBWI conference?

Or were you at this year’s conference? Do let me know in the comments below.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Curse-Time-Book-Bloo…/…/1999822439/

My social media links:

Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time

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SCBWI Event: From Tots to Teens Why Children’s Literature Is So Important.

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Yesterday I attended a wonderful event at Cambridge Central Library in conjunction with The Society of Childrens’ Writers and Book Illustrators: SCBWI.

I had the opportunity to hear from not one, not two, but three authors: Rosemary Hayes, Gillian McClure, and Pippa Goodhart who are all based in East Anglia and published by http://www.troikabooks.com/

Rosemary Hayes happens to be the same age as my mum and writes for young adults (11+) my preferred writing age range!

Who says we are ever too old to read, or to write YA! Never…

All of these age groups offer differing opportunities and challenges, from picture books to teens,  authors have the power to capture and keep a reader’s attention.

How inspiring is that?

Gillian McClure

Gillian McClure kicked off the panel discussion by talking about her journey into writing and illustrating picture books. Her advice for picture book writers is simple: focus on seeing the world from the 2 – 6-year-old child’s point of view. Imagine what it is like to be a small person in a big world. Be aware of the things in their immediate vantage point, such as a dog on a pavement.

Begin by using a blank dummy with post-it-notes so that during the creative process you can move the words around and find their best placement.

Pay attention to pace and tone, e.g. starting and stopping to create a sense of flow.  Or using two characters, one to speed up the pace and the other to slow it down. Or perhaps introduce one character to pose a question and the other to deliver an answer.

Think visually if you can and make sure that the words flow well on the page so when adults read aloud to children the experience is delightfully seamless.

For a shorter story format use minimal text and the present tense. Sometimes it is useful to use the past tense for scary scenes to bring the young reader out of the sense of immediate danger.

The ending should suggest that any underlying fears are resolved and there should be a sense of hope conveyed.

https://gillianmcclure.com/

Pippa Goodhardt

Pippa Goodhardt joined the discussion next, with her experiences of writing for MG – (7 to 9-year-olds.)

Her introduction focused on the importance of encouraging a reading habit in young children, validated by her own experience as a poor reader and writer as a child. Opportunities and the right environment can change a poor reader into an enthusiastic one, or may even encourage a poor reader to become an author as it did in Pippa’s experience.

This age group has huge potential, this is when readers are made and begin to choose their own books. There is a growing sense of independence characterised by sleepovers and the like. Characters aren’t expected to be saintly, and should be given the opportunity to explore, and have independent adventures. More serious topics can be explored, (in an imaginative and perhaps fantastical way,) but with an awareness of what is appropriate to the age of the child.

http://www.pippagoodhart.co.uk/

Rosemary Hayes 

Rosemary Hayes continued the discussion with her thoughts on encouraging empathy in children and fostering reading in the teenage age group.

Twelve to fourteen-year-olds question the world around them and are sensitive and impressionable. Consider various aspects when writing for this age group e.g. Do they interact well with their peers?

Authors should be encouraged to explore more challenging, edgy content as long as this is thoughtfully done. Focus on what you care about. Be passionate, grab the readers’ attention fast or they will lose interest. Be careful about the use of language – slang and the like can become out-dated very quickly..

Don’t write down to your readers, treat them with respect, write about what inspires and intrigues you and this should in turn intrigue and inspire them.

http://rosemaryhayes.co.uk/

This event was organised by SCBWI – The Society of Children Writers and Book Illustrators: https://www.scbwi.org/

To find out more please follow the link, or leave a comment below.

I would be happy to answer any questions you have about this wonderfully supportive group.

 

Bye for now,

A magical blog of books, writing and inspiration

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Buy Book: myBook.to/TheCurseofTime

Unique Selling Point: Unique, Imaginative, ‘Charming, enchanting and richly layered this is purely delightful.’

Social Media Links

Authors Websitehttps://mjmallon.com
Collaborative Bloghttps://sistersofthefey.wordpress.com
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
#ABRSC: Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook
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#SCBWI Author Event – Cambridge Meet Your Local Children’s Authors #Library #Authors #Illustrators #YA #MG #PB

I am thrilled to say that I am one of several SCBWI MG and YA authors and picture book illustrators at this very special event in the central library in Cambridge.

Doesn’t it sound just amazing?

If you happen to be in Cambridge on the 9th of February do pop over to the central library and say hello!

 

If you’re interested in finding out more about SCBWI, (a fantastic group for writers and illustrators.)  Here’s a link: https://www.scbwi.org/

 

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Buy Book: myBook.to/TheCurseofTime

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July 12: Flash Fiction Challenge – Carrot Ranch

 

 

My idea for this particular piece of flash came from Benjamin Scott’s SCBWI – Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators workshop I attended today on writing a pitch for my novel. I’m not saying that I am now cured from my fear of pitching, but I am a step closer to that fence tumbling down!

So, here is my flash:

The stony-faced agents sat together in neat chairs, tables locked, faces fixed with false smiles. 

As I approached I imagined an insurmountable stone fence, groaning under the weight of their nervousness and my self-doubt. 

My eyes locked on my chosen agent. She gestured to me to come over. I feared nothing could save me but as I spoke the stones tumbled down leaving me with an open gateway, an opportunity to shine.

I grabbed my pitch and went for it, galloping over my doubts. The fence of agents lay in tatters but my idea was met with cheers. 

 

 

July 12, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a broken fence. You can mend it, leave it, or explain its place in a story. Go where the prompt leads.
Respond by July 17, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

https://carrotranch.com/2018/07/12/july-12-flash-fiction-challenge/

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Buy Book: myBook.to/TheCurseofTime
Unique Selling Point: Unique, Imaginative, ‘Charming, enchanting and richly layered this is purely delightful.’
“This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family hostage. A captivating tale!” – Colleen M. Chesebro (Editor)

Social Media Links
Media kit: https://mjmallon.com/2018/02/13/media-kit/
Collaborative Blog: https://sistersofthefey.wordpress.com
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
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SCBWI: Lunchtime Social Self Publishing with Debra Edwards and Camilla Chester

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On Saturday 11th March, I attended my first SCBWI event: The Lunchtime Social – Self-Publishing Discussion with Debra Edwards and Camilla Chester, held in Cambridge at De Luca Italian restaurant. Author Helen Moss coordinated the event.

First to arrive, Alex Mellanby, author of The Tregarthur Series, followed by Peter Hayward, writer of educational stories: Learn with Alex and Anna, Jamie Stevenson, picture book illustrator, Caroline Laidlaw, educational materials author, and two new members Dan Greaves, and Tanya Farrugia, illustrators and picture book enthusiasts.

Norfolk children’s fiction and YA author, Debra J Edwards began the discussion by regaling us about her inspiring journey to writing. She left school at the age of fifteen and returned to University, graduated and became a primary school teacher. In 2003 she made a resolution – to write a novel. Not only did she accomplish this, but she has now written four: a trilogy about tooth fairies, Aggie Lichen: Pilp Collector, Aggie Lichen, Pilp Collector: Hero Required, Arty’s Revenge, and Marvin’s Curse her first YA novel.

Initially, Debra’s route into publishing was plagued by rejections which she kept and placed in a folder. Undeterred, she secured an agent but lost her. She is now a proud member of Golden Egg, an initiative overseen by Imogen Cooper, previously Head of Fiction for Chicken House Publishing.

‘Golden Egg provides talks, workshops, and one2one editorial support.’ Golden Egg Academy.

Debra admitted that she chose the self-publishing route because she is a ‘control freak.’ She did just about everything she could herself, apart from employing a book cover illustrator. She set up her own publishing company: Purple Ray Publishing, organised a business account, ordered ISBN’s, bought barcodes, (simple mistakes can happen so authors make sure you put the correct bar code on the right book!) She opened an account with Waterstones, as well as Gardners Wholesalers – and negotiated a wonderful deal, 35% rather than the industry standard of 55 %.) The only relinquishment of control came in the form of her first book cover. She had intended a fairy image on the front cover of Aggie Lichen, but soon realised that this wouldn’t be cool for young boys so instead she decided upon a star! Now that Debra is an established author, she has reverted to her initial idea of fairies. Debra comes with a plethora of promotional material to hand out at schools: bookmarks, postcards, business cards, and ‘a don’t forget to review note,’ etc. She has discovered that E-books haven’t been very lucrative, and neither have bookshops, as they normally take a cut of 50%. Instead, she has made most of her profit from attending schools, doing talks, and workshops. This involves a lot of time, and personal engagement with schools – she’s a busy lady emailing up to three hundred schools a week.

Next up to join the illuminating discussion, author, dog walker, Camilla Chester whose debut novel Jarred Dreams is suitable for ages 9 and above. Her second book, EATS ‘is a culinary adventure tale, full of twists and turns that will have the kids on the edge of their seat.’ Camilla followed in Debra’s footsteps but took a slightly different route. Camilla was shortlisted in the 2015 New Author Prize with the National Literacy Trust and Bloomsbury. Initially, she also secured an agent but found that this didn’t magically produce a publishing contract. So, she joined SCBWI and met Debra. Thereafter, she accepted an invitation to her daughter’s school to talk about writing. This positive experience acted as a catalyst; Camilla found that the children were so encouraging about her book. So with this positive reaction from her intended audience, she made the decision to self-publish with the support of Matador Self Publishing. Matador expects their clients’ work to reach a certain level of quality and in return for a fee they simplify the process for their clients. If your work is accepted Matador quotes a price based on word count. In Camilla’s case the cost to get her book produced was £700. This is the set-up fee; it doesn’t include structural editing or a proofread. Nevertheless, Camilla decided this suited her style of authorship. She stressed that Matador doesn’t free you from promotional requirements. There is still considerable marketing to do, and you must believe in yourself, and ultimately believe that you are a children’s author. The downside to self-publishing is cost; you have to pay for it all. The book cover to Jarred Dreams cost Camilla £500, and she purchased 1000 copies, at a cost of £1,610 (to break even and recoup her outlay she would have to sell 603 books,), as well as this Camilla spent £280 on promotional material. To counterbalance these costs Camilla set about recouping some of her expenditure by charging for talks.

Camilla closed the discussion by sharing her thoughts on the pros and cons. Self-publishing enables you to produce books more quickly – there are no soul destroying rejections or disappointing agents but it is expensive and there is no guarantee that you will get your money back. Don’t expect to sell your much-loved books to lifelong family friends! Camilla found this out the hard way. It tends to be difficult to sell to a wider market, international sales are notoriously hard to achieve, so like Debra, Camilla has benefited by targeting schools, bookshops, and her local community.

Author Links:
http://www.camillachester.com/
www.purpleraypublishing.co.uk

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Camilla writes for 8-12s. She has always written but after moving to Hertfordshire with her family in 2010 she enrolled onto an OU Creative Writing Course (receiving a distinction), joined several writing groups and then discovered the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) before publishing her debut, Jarred Dreams in 2016. Camilla’s second book EATS is out at the end of April 2017 and her third, Thirteenth Wish is due to be published in April 2018. In addition to being a Children’s Author Camilla runs a small dog walking business.

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Debra J Edwards is a children’s/young adult writer living in Norfolk. She is a long time SCBWI member and part of the Golden Egg Academy. Her first writing outing produced an MG fantasy series, Aggie Lichen. The books tell the story of a gang of feisty tooth fairies trying to save their world. They are both funny and ridiculous. I mean, teenage tooth fairies indeed. Debra has also published her first young adult novel, Marvin’s Curse, as an ebook. She worked secretly under cover as a ghost whisperer in order to bring something extra to her central character. Debra is currently at dragon slayer bootcamp perfecting her new YA novel, The Iron City.

Marjorie Mallon
Blog: https://kyrosmagica.wordpress.com
Twitter: @marjorie_mallon
My New Author Support Club: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club

Fellow administrators of the Rainbow Support Club: Authors Colleen Chesebro, and Debby Gies: D. G. Kaye Writer.

This report is featured in the SCBWI – Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators online magazine – Words and Pictures.

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#WeekendCoffee Share: Ely Eel Festival

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If I was having coffee I’d say that I’ve been consuming some interesting beverages recently, a mocktail, comes to mind.

Yesterday I was at Grand Central Ely  (my daughter’s recommendation,) an authentic American style restaurant right by Ely waterfront. My daughter and I sampled their tasty burgers and also had some lovely mocktails, (no alcohol!) We both opted for a Cotton Candy – A sweet blend of coconut cream, pineapple juice and grenadine. It was delicious!

I’m not sure if I could replicate that mocktail but I do have a smoothie maker! Otherwise would a humble old coffee do ? Don’t worry I promise not to serve it in a bucket!

Yesterday my daughter and I’s visit to Ely coincided with the Ely Eel Festival. We had quite a day.

We watched Morris Dancers – more about that and our day on my post for: Hugh’s Photo Challenge so do stop there do and take a look!

We saw dancers, young performers, singers, men and women in Medieval costume, Morris Dancers, people eating Eel…  the DJ wasn’t impressed – he spat his out! I bought some pot plants, and a cute cuddly cactus which sadly I lost somewhere… either on the grass, Tescos, or the train, I’ve no idea. So if you find my pot plants – do take care of them..

I had to share these particular photos of the event:

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Who are these ladies in long black dresses you might ask? I was thinking the same thing until they put their tassels around their hips and then it clicked. Belly Dancers! These are the Elysian Belly Dancers, swaying their bellies and hips in tune to the music. Well done them, so brave to show off their Arabic dancing talents in public.

If you’d like to join in the fun here’s the link to the website: Elysian Belly Dancers. I have to say I was tempted, but I have writer’s meetings once a month on a Thursday evening! I co-coordinate the Cambridge Writer’s writing for children group: Cambridge Writers, so if I want to belly dance I might have to find another class! C’est La Vie!

What else have I been up to?

On Wednesday night I usually go to my Tai Chi class but I was invited by  fellow writer –  Alex Mellanby – author of The Tregarthur Series: Author Alex Mellanby – Amazon Profile along to an interesting, and enlightening SCIWBI event at Heffers Childrens Bookshop, Trinity Street. The guest of honour – Clair Goodhead, The Bookshop Manager, enlightened us about the history of the bookshop and gave us an insight into how passionate they are about books in general, and championing local authors. These type of events are excellent for networking, and finding out more  about the bookselling industry.  I met the co-coordinator of the Central East SCWBI network Helen Moss, writer of Adventure Island Books.

More about Helen here: Children’s Author: Helen Moss

This experience has made me consider joining The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, here’s the link to find out more: SCBWI.

More about Diana’s #WeekendCoffeeshare:

Part Time Monster Weekend Coffee Share

#WeekendCoffeeShare Link Up Post

Do you like to eat Eel, belly dance or have any unusual hobbies? Are you a SCBWI member?

Don’t forget to comment, and do have a lovely bank holiday weekend.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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