Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A Scoobie Do to Remember

Three amazing things happened to three of my lovely SCBWI friends at this year's BI SCBWI conference and I thought I would share my happiness with you.

by Maureen Lynas

SCBWI friend one is Rachel Turner

In my last post I suggested that people have a pitch ready just in case they were in the queue for the toilet and someone said the dreaded words, 'So, what are you writing?'

Well, this is what happened to Rachel, author of Dragonflu.

# I'manauthordon'tsue: The facts are true, the words have been altered for comic effect and no real person, not even Rachel, has been hurt in the making of this scene and I have no idea who the 'Woman next to Rachel' is.       

Scene: The cloakroom queue at the conference party (NB not the queue for the toilets, so make sure you are ready for anything in ANY queue.)

Woman next to Rachel: Have you come far?
Rachel: No, not very, I'm local. (She tries to squint at name badge but it's twisted and she can't see. Oh no! She tries to remember the faces of the agents and editors she's been stalking on facebook and decides this woman has Caroline Sheldon's eyes, Anne Clarke's nose and Barry Cunningham's ears.)
Woman next to Rachel: (running out of idle chatter rather quickly in my opinion) What are you writing?
Rachel: (Oh oh, I have no idea who I'm talking to and she's asking THE question!  Oh well, here goes. She takes a deep breath and launches into her pitch) It's a fantasy adventure book for 9 to 12 years called Dragonflu. A young boy steals a dragon and he has to enter a dangerous world to try to save it from a deadly virus. It's quite fun and action-packed, but a bit heartbreaking sometimes as well.
Woman next to Rachel: Oh, I'm not into dragons. They've been overdone haven't they, really. Bit like vampires. And it's no good doing anything emotional for that age group. They just want farts or fairies. I'm writing a YA. It's a sort of Watership Down meets Starwars with a sprinkle of Horrid Henry, set in regency times. It's 1,000,000 words, I'm hoping for a three book deal with a film franchise. I'm after an agent, have you got one? 
Rachel:  (Phew, she's not an agent then!) No, I don't. I've self-published Dragonflu. 
Woman next to Rachel:(who has no understanding of the concept of polite) Oh, I would never do that. I think you've just made a huge mistake. No one will EVER take you on now.
Rachel: Oh. I thought it was a good idea. I just wanted to 'get out there' and practise marketing and generally have a go.
Woman next to Rachel: (slowly shakes her head as if Rachel is a right newbie.)
Just then there's a tap on Rachel's shoulder - from behind.
Agent: Hi, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to eavesdrop but I do love the sound of your Dragonflu book. Would you like to send it to me?
Rachel: (gulping, nodding and speechless)
Agent: Great. Here's my card.
Woman next to Rachel: (splutters) But...

So, the moral of this first scoobie story is -  When at a SCBWI conferences - speak loudly! You never know who's listening. Good luck, Rachel.

SCBWI friend two is Jion Sheibani

A few years ago I was lucky enough to attend an Arvon course (highly recommend) and met some wonderful authors who subsequently joined SCBWI. One of those was Jion, a pre-published (Lin Olivers term) picture book author who I was delighted to meet again at the conference, along with the course tutor Julia Goulding, and fellow students Juliet Clare Bell, Liz Miller and Joalin Kufeni.

We had lots of hugs and catch ups then later, as I joined in with the judging of the illustrator competition at the conference party, I stopped in front of an amazing illustration. It had the title of Love, and was a tiny boy looking up at a gigantic heart. It was only as I picked it as one of my three winners that I noticed the illustrator's name - Jion. Well the chances of there being two Jions at a BI SCBWI conference was unlikely, so I tracked her down and she admitted the illustration was hers and she'd only just go to the stage where she dared to show her illustration work in public. She'd also taken a very deep breath and submitted her portfolio to the portfolio review competition.

So, I was absolutely delighted when Benjamin Scott (SCBWI volunteer extraordinaire) announced that Jion Sheibani was the winner of the 


So, the moral of this second scoobie story is – Take that very deep breath and show your stuff!

SCBWI friend three is Briony Stewart

Briony is an author/illustrator who was awarded an Arts Council grant to come over to the UK from Australia. Although she's been based in Edinburgh Briony was also working at Seven Stories for a month and emailed me to say 'Hi, Where are all the UK scoobies? Can we meet up?' So, we did. We met up with some other members at Seven Stories for a coffee and a look around the How to Train Your Dragon exhibition. We shared what we were up to, who was published, who was pre-published. What was happening in other regions. 

Briony showed us photos of the fantastic retreat island that SCBWI Western Australia use – this is definitely top on my wish list of scoobie doos. I told her about the upcoming Winchester conference and with only hours to spare before the bookings closed, she'd booked her place and taken up my offer of the spare bed in my accommodation. So we were all set to have fun at the conference.

Briony is published in Australia but really needs contacts over in the UK to develop a bigger market for her books. So, like Jion, she also submitted her portfolio to the competition. Over to the lovely Benjamin Scott for another announcement – Briony Stewart winner of the 


So, the moral of this third scoobie story is – Say hi to scoobie people wherever you are in the world. You have no idea what might happen.

Well done to you all, it was an amazing conference and your successes put the icing on the conference cake for me.

And I want to say a big thank you to the wonderful  SCBWI volunteers who put together such an amazing conference. Never underestimate the opportunities you create.


PS Jion made me add this - Jion would like to add that it is thanks to Maureen that she (and practically everyone else on that Arvon course) signed up to SCBWI. So really, none of this would have happened without her. Thank you lovely Maureen!
PPS - I'd like to add Juliet Clare Bell to that - we did a good job of recruiting that week!

Maureen Lynas also blogs on her own blog which she creatively named - Maureen Lynas


  1. was so excited to hear Briony won portfolio competition!
    Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!!
    (Yes I was sharing the same house)

    1. She was so lovely too. I wanted to keep her.

    2. Maureen, is that why you were putting furniture in front of the doors?

  2. Wow, this is fantastic. Go Scoobiers!

  3. Oh wow! And that's just three good stories from the conference. Bet there are many more!

  4. I didn't realise that both Jion and Briony had a 'history' with us even before meeting them both for the first time talking the them both as part of the SCBWI Portfolio Display. Jion is also in the SCBWI Illustrators' Showcase. It was so fun giving them both the good news and I hope the agent appointments that are being arranged for them as we speak works out for both. Fingers crossed!

  5. Great stories, especially the One In The Queue. Good luck to DRAGONFLU: it sounds lovely. I had a terrific time at the conference, thanks to all involved!

  6. Some inspirational stories here. Thank you!

  7. I LOVED this write up Candy - perfectly reflected a buzzing conference where a lot of good things happened. I cam away thoroughly motivated and energised.

    1. It was me :) I was thoroughly motivated and energised too but now I think I'm hitting worn out!

  8. Great post, Candy! Hehe the first story made me chuckle. Wishing Rachel lots of luck with her submission, and congrats to Briony and Jion for winning the portfolio comps. :) I am having post conference blues now, I want to go back already!

  9. Ooops I mean great post, Maureen! (Sorry just read the Scbwi feed!)

    1. Awww I was beginning to enjoy taking all the credit for Maureen's wonderful work!

  10. Congratulations Briony! You're a wonderful ambassador for Australia. We miss you, hurry home.
    Frané RA Australia West

    1. She was an excellent ambassador, and a delightful room mate. Hopefully she'll be back one day. Or maybe I will get to that awesome retreat island.

  11. Sounds like a brilliant conference! Sounds like everyone made the most of the opportunities on offer! Good luck Rachel with your agent!

  12. Fantastic conference - brilliant buzz and massive enthusiasm from everyone. Really well organised and excellent sessions - cake, too. Thanks to all the scoobies who worked so hard to get it all organised, running so smoothly and making sure everyone had a good time.

    1. Thank you, Celia! You were an epic keynote speaker!

  13. I second that! I really enjoyed Celia's talk. It was a great start to the conference!
    Also MASSIVE thanks to everyone who organised such a fab weekend. Still can't get over the fact that it is all achieved through volunteer work! Amazing!

    1. It is amazing, Lucy and I'm always very conscious that they use up their writing time to do it as most of them hold down jobs too.

  14. What great stories and morals Maureen!
    Loved seeing Jion's and Bryony's portfolios and meeting them -
    hope to see their books and Rachel's, in print over here soon -
    and yes,
    I dream of time on that island with Frané too!

  15. Maureen, I dropped by to read the advent blog posts and found this. How could I have missed a post where there's a picture of me?! It was so lovely to see you all in Winchester and Jion is right to credit you and Clare with that post-Arvon surge in SCBWI memberships! Your enthusiasm for SCBWI was infectious and I will be forever indebted to you both for pointing me in the direction of this brilliant community!

    Congratulations and lots of luck to Rachel, Jion and Briony. I'm sure we'll be hearing and seeing lots more from them all :)

  16. Three doors opened for me and I'm going to reveal once I know where the doors lead to. :)


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