5 Things I Brought Home from the 2013 SCBWI British Isles Conference

Monday, 25 November 2013

This was my third SCBWI conference and the best yet. There was a great mix of speakers, amazing co-delegates and to top it all, excellent weather! As always, I had lots of good intentions to take stacks of photos, say hi to everyone I knew and get a decent amount of sleep. Sadly I didn't achieve any of these, but I did manage to bring some fantastic mementoes and memories home with me to Buxton. Here's this year's stash (in no particular order):

A SCBWI conference wouldn't be complete without badges. I liked all the designs, but these were my faves. I especially love my volunteer's badge. If you're considering signing up to volunteer with SCBWI then I highly recommend it. It's fun, friendly and relaxed. You can find the vacancy list here.

I made sure that I had enough room in my bag for books this year. After all, that's what SCBWI is about. Four of them are signed by the authors - result!

Cryptic Notes
Every year I take copious notes and every year I struggle to decipher them. Must remember to bring my laptop next time.

Luckily some of my notes do make sense though. I learnt powerful new techniques and approaches from both Malorie Blackman's Creating Plot and Character workshop and the Dialogue intensive run by Sophia Bennett and Samantha Doland-De Vaux. I can't wait to include these in the revision plan for my WIP.

This time, I also decided to use the writing exercises to explore the seeds of a new novel. I'll be storing this flash fiction until next year, but it's great to know that it's there.

Friendships (no photos I'm afraid - too busy chatting!)
Last, but not least, I met some wonderful people this weekend - new faces and old (not literally of course!). It was particularly lovely to meet friends who I'd only talked to online before, especially all the amazing Words & Pictures editors and contributors. Thanks so much for your help this year!

SPOTLIGHT: Authors for the Philippines

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Want to donate money to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and win great bookish prizes at the same time? Well here's your chance. YA writer, Keris Stainton has set up Authors for the Philippines, an online auction site offering an amazing selection of lots - from manuscript critiques to tea parties to acknowledgements from bestselling authors.

Here are some of my top picks:

34: Manuscript critique by Editorial Director for Random House Children’s Publishing, Becky Stradwick
50: Candy Gourlay will visit a school of your choice in the Philippines
56: Picture Book Critique by Sarah McIntyre
85: Your name as a character in Patrick Ness’s next book
100: Afternoon tea with authors Joe Craig and Holly Smale
117: Inspiration, on my Little Island with Malachy Doyle
132: A place on The Golden Egg Academy’s Action and Dramatic Workshop
139: Two invitations to the official launch party of Three Hares Publishing, 2014 + manuscript critique
140: Early manuscript of How I Live Now (from 2003) by Meg Rosoff.
220: ‘Find out the sales & marketing potential of your children’s manuscript’ with Kate Manning (Sales & Marketing Director at Hot Key Books) and Sarah Benton (Head of Marketing, Print & Digital at HKB)
260: Be a ‘halfman’ in Melvin Burgess’s next book.

The full list can be found here. Bidding is open worldwide and will finish 8pm GMT on Wednesday 20th November (all bids to be made in £).

TRAVELS: Doxey Pool: The Only Inland Mermaid Legend in Britain?

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Doxey Pool can be found on the path that runs across the top of the Roaches, a gritstone escarpment not far from the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border. The area is rich in myths and legends, but I particularly love the stories surrounding this strange body of water (which allegedly never dries up even in a drought). 

Some accounts maintain that it's bottomless, others say that it connects to Blake Mere, another nearby tarn, via a deep subterranean passage. Both pools are reputed to house a malignant mermaid. In 1949, a Miss Florence Pettit claimed to have witnessed a weird creature emerge from the water just before she was about to take a morning swim. Here's her description of the event:
…a great ‘thing’ rose up from the middle of the lake. It rose very quickly until it was 25 to 30 feet tall. Seeming to be part of the slimy weeds and the water, yet it had eyes, and those eyes were extremely malevolent. It pointed its long boney fingers menacingly at me so there was no mistaking its hostility. I stood staring at the undine, water spirit, naiad or whatever it was while my heart raced. Its feet just touched the surface of the water, the weeds and the air. when I dared to look again, the creature was dissolving back into the elements from which it had formed.
Sadly I didn't see anything odd when I visited, but there's definitely a haunting stillness surrounding the mere. It's easy to understand why locals are wary of the spot and continue to avoid the pool, especially at night.

READS: October Round-Up

Saturday, 2 November 2013

The quality run continued throughout October with some absolutely cracking reads. 3 out of the 4 books were UKYA. I bought The Bone Dragon, More Than This and Stolen were review copies. I discovered City of Bones on the Kindle that my mum gave to me last year.

If it was hard to pick a favourite last month, it was impossible this time around. All of the novels were fantastic - well-written with great characters - and so different from one another. I've walked by moonlit Cambridgeshire Fens, baked in the Australian Outback, wandered through deserted streets in suburban England and hunted demons in New York - not bad for a month's work.

I'm doing most of my reading at night in bed, 30-45 minutes before lights out, but I've also managed to find an extra window while I'm feeding Tiny M (thanks to the Kindle). Hard copy is still my preference, but I'm planning to try out a few e-novellas in November to see if I can increase my reading time further.