2nd December 2012

SCBWI Dooby Dooooooooo

On the way to the Book Launch Party with Ruth Eastham, Sarah Mussi and Jane Howard.

I’ve done it! My first SCBWI conference. And I survived… yay, of course I did.  For those who don’t know, SCBWI is the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, referred to as ‘Scooby’ and run by a whole host of amazing people who put in hours and hours of work to make this such a fantabulous weekend ~ a gathering of children’s writers and illustrators (you don’t have to be published to join SCBWI) with talks, workshops, break out sessions and the Book Launch Party.  Well, what an experience, one that I will never forget and one that is going to be difficult to summarise in the space of my wee blog.  But I will try!

We were all given a wonderful welcome on Saturday in the auditorium at Winchester Universtiy, followed by a fantastic talk about ‘The Nuts and Bolts of a Writing Career’ from Celia Rees.  There was a choice of breakout sessions – I went for Viv Schwarz, Lizzie Spratt and Ben Norland’s ‘KERPOW! Graphic Novels’, which was truly inspiring!  In the afternoon children’s writer and illustrator, Debi Gliori, gave a wonderful and moving talk, ‘Through a Child’s Eye, Darkly’, and in the evening, we all made our way to The Guild Hall, for the Book Launch Party, which was a whole lot of fun and frolics.  Sunday was ‘intensive sessions’ day, fast paced sessions broken up by a wonderful buffet lunch.  It was a weekend crammed with interesting, thought-provoking, funny and downright hilarious stuff, for example…

Things I learnt
– Sometimes hold ups hold up. Sometimes they don’t.
– Standing on stage in front of a couple of hundred people is dead scary.
– You can sum up your story as X meets Y (c/o Sara Grant in her workshop on plotting.)
– Sleeping on the floor can be dangerous.
– SCBWI peeps are passionate about what they do.
– I am capable of eating half my body weight in crisps.

– Eating half my body weight in crisps.
– The buffet lunches… ooooh, the buffet lunches.
– Thumbing through Viviane Schwarz’s original notebook for ‘Sleepwalkers’
– Meeting Melissa Hyder from Piccadilly Press and Anne Clark, ex Piccadilly Press and founder of Anne Clark Literary Agency.

Cake Books!

– Seeing ‘Buttercup Magic’ become cake!
– Learning that you can express your book in terms of X meets Y.
– Celia Rees’s wonderful talk.
– Debi Gliori’s wonderful and moving talk.
Helen Peters, author of The Secret Hen House Theatre, buying Buttercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan for her daughter.
– Meeting lots of lovely twitter and FB friends.
– The train journey home – and this deserves a whole separate section…

The Train Journey

The train journey to SCBWI was uneventful. The train journey home from SCBWI was not.  This is what I learnt.
– Sunday evenings, when the weather has been pants for days and Big Rain has fallen, is NOT a good time to travel, unless you are some twisted individual who gets their kicks from being huddled in the doorway area with eight other people and eight other people’s luggage, including a man with a black suitcase the size of my writing chair, and a baby in a buggy lying face down and separated from its father (I kid you not!)
– I can run like the wind, from one end of Birmingham New Street to the other end of Birmingham New Street, up a flight of steps and down a flight of steps, and leap on a train, carrying a handbag and stuffed-to-the-brim travel bag in four minutes flat.
– Although I can do all the above, it would NOT be a good idea to repeat it as my body did not like it one bit.
– When bored, tired, aching from standing and a tad fed up, play 20 questions with fellow bored, tired, aching from standing and a tad fed up passengers, and you will laugh until you nearly wee yourself.
– When battling your way to the train toilet (before you wee yourself) even though you are terrified of pressing the electronic ‘lock’ button on the door, it really is a good idea, especially when the toilet is surrounded by a motley crew of dodgy looking men, to LOCK the door!
– train journeys are truly inspiring, as are the diversity of people who travel on them and the situations which occur and which have given me a golden nugget of a writing idea!
– the man who happened to be working on the Birmingham to Chesterfield train last Sunday night was a bit of a gem and took pity on me and one of my fellow bored, tired, aching from standing and a tad fed up passengers, and let us sit for the last half hour in first class!

You can see more about Viviane Schwarz’s ‘Sleepwalkers’  here.
You can see more about the Anne Clark Literary Agency here.
You will be pleased to know that the man on the train was reunited with his baby, and all was good!
Oh, and I came back to something rather lovely – my very favourite shop in Chesterfield, Huckleberry Willow, a really eclectic gift and furniture shop, is now selling these…

‘Ruby and Grub’ and ‘Grub’s Pups’

Yippee!  Thanks to Emma Pass for spotting and photographing them.  And I also came back to this…
Audio Buttercup MagicButtercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan, read by actress Clare Corbett, is now available on Audio download as part of the BBC’s Audio Go… YIPPEEEEEEEE!!!  Link here.

About Abi Burlingham

I write children's books and paint pictures inspired by nature, animals, trees etc, mostly in acrylics. I am a crisp addict.
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15 Responses to 2nd December 2012

  1. Wow, it sounds like such fun and that you learned so much — I really felt like I was along for the ride! I love this: “You can sum up your story as X meets Y,” and I need to learn how to do that. Also, I am jealous of the crisps and buffet and the book cakes looks amazing! I once went to a SCBWI conference and didn’t have nearly this much fun… next time I know who to go with 🙂

    • Hee hee! It really was great fun, and felt like a real honour to be among so many good writers and lovely people. Oh the crisps were heaven 😀 ‘X meets Y’ is great – so simple but really gets you thinking – I will mail you about this!

  2. Jo Carroll says:

    What a wonderful time you had! Fab that you learned loads, as well as the crisps and general fun – conferences can be truly inspiring!

    And I so agree about the triumphs and tribulations of train travel.

  3. Thanks, Jo. It was very inspiring. Train raids… oh yes! How can so much random stuff happen in such an enclosed space? So much writing material from one journey it’s untrue!

  4. Train raids???? 😀 I don’t think THAT happened *rides*

  5. Emma Pass says:

    Sounds like you had a brilliant weekend – love the cakes. And hurrah for Huckleberry Willow and the Buttercup audiobook. Congrats! x

  6. Jenny Alexander says:

    What a great week-end! In passing, Anne Clark was my editor at Hodder for 6 non-fiction books and I totally loved working with her – she’s going to be a wonderful agent!

  7. Martin Shone says:

    🙂 just a smile, because your post made me smile. Congratulations and thank you 🙂

  8. Nadine says:

    My goodness! What a fab weekend you had, even with the hairy train ride back home. Love the highlights. 🙂

  9. Sounds like you had a great time!

  10. It was gooooooooood thank you, Dan 😉

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