Monday 15 November 2010

SCBWI British Isles is Ten!

This is actually a momentous occasion, folks: the very first post by my new blogging partner Teri Terry! That's her pictured right. Now that my fortunes have changed, I've started a new blog (please follow me, so I don't look so unloved). The blog is targeted at readers. Notes from the Slushpile has always been focused on writers and so shall it remain. I think in this new age where there are so many voices on the internet, it would be a waste to give up this blog which has run for six years, with a peak audience of 2,500 readers a day. The audience has drooped as my blogging dwindled because of writing commitments - but have no fear, we have a plan. To start with I have recruited Teri Terry to blog with me ... but eventually I hope to turn Notes from the Slushpile into an online magazine, open to contributions and wisdom from all you other travellers out there who have experience of the slushpile. Onward and upward! Candy Gourlay

I am fired up, raring to go, and excited about writing, and it isn’t just because Candy has let me loose on her blog! I just spent the weekend at the 10th anniversary celebration and mass book launch that was the SCBWI British Isles Onwards and Upwards conference.

It was brilliant time catching up with friends old and new, and I even learned a few things along the way. Some are not what you’d expect, at all….


1. A two hour journey on motorways on a rainy Friday afternoon takes over four hours.

2. Do not – under any circumstances – take the wrong path. In a graveyard. Alone. In the dark, in the rain, when you are late and don’t have time to retrace your steps. This is a very, very bad idea.

It is also good not to read anything written by Nick Cross before this walk...

3. Watch out for the Undead (see no. 2), and strange eyes that follow you late at night, from under the stairs.

OK, I feel your skepticism. Believe me: this looked much scarier
in the dark at 2 a.m. after walking through a graveyard

4. There are four P’s, and they are important to story: Plot, Pace, Place, and People. Marcus Sedgewick says so, and as well as inspiring and clever, he is rather divine. This was universally agreed in the back row at his keynote.
The Divine Mr M

5. The guys wear the best shoes.

6. An editorial director at a major publisher – no names dropped, here – can be rather lovely, and encouraging, and positively wonderful. In fact, a few ideas were born, and the whole process is looking more of a hill than a mountain.
Rebecca Hill for Usborne, Kayt Bochenski for Harper Collins, Tom Truong for Stripes, Sarah Lilly for Orchard, Brenda Gardner for Picadilly, and Bella Pearson for David Fickling Books

7. Purple is The Colour of 2010.
Julienne Durber & Philippa Francis:
on trend in the colour purple

8. It is ok to be an Internet Slut, Fetishist, or Experimentalist. It is also ok to update your Facebook status while attending a talk on Social Networking. In fact, it is practically required.
Keren David can't control herself (neither can I)

9. There is a bell in case of emergencies. I’m not sure what happens if you ring it, but it is good to know it is there.
It was outside my door at my B&B : it was SO hard not to ring it!

10. Helium filled balloons may be pretty, but they don’t make good travelling companions in the back of a car.
They just refused to duck down! Imagine!

Of course, there were also the Expected.

The conference was run like a well organized machine by dedicated SCBWI volunteers; the speakers were inspiring; everyone was there ready to work and play hard. The editor and industry panels told all their secrets. My talented and understanding critique group got on just fine without me as I dealt with motorways, and the Undead.
So hard at work! Lucy van Smit, Kathryn Evans, Mariam Vossough, Linda Lawlor and friends

Party time! John Shelley, Candy Gourlay & Benjamin Scott

Special thanks to Bex Hill, Benjamin Scott and all the other lovely SCBWI volunteers involved in making the conference such a success; to Paula Harrison for getting me there and back, with only a few wrong turns, red light and balloon-related incidents; and to Candy Gourlay for putting together such an amazing video of Scooby-ites working hard at their craft ( I don’t think anyone could watch it without feeling proud to be a part of SCBWI, and a little choked up.

Our amazing conference chair, Bex Hill, and party guru, Benjamin Scott

Now for the big question: how are we ever going to top this next year?


  1. Am I the first to comment on the new joint venture? I'd better type quickly or someone else will get in before me.

    Just LOVED the conference and it's been so…well I'd say 'inspiring' but really it was more 'kick-up-the-whatsit-ing … but in the best possible way. I love SCBWI!

    Great to meet you in person Teri!

  2. Splendid post but my god - that doll! Lovely to see you at the conference. Glad you had a good time!

  3. Thanks! Jane, you are the first!
    And Sue: honest-to-gosh that doll scared the life out of me: in near darkness its little face glinted. I had to sleep with the light on.

  4. i don't know what was more scary the motorway, the graveyard, the doll or maybe those shoes ...

    Great post, Teri!

  5. That's an amazing graveyard shot. Personally I try to avoid physical exercise when I'm at a conference. It doesn't go well with my bad diet.

  6. That's the scariest doll I've ever seen. And the pram just takes it to a whole new level of horribleness...

    I think I may have swallowed some of that helium because I haven't quite come back down since my brilliant Saturday spent at the conference. Thanks so much to everyone who made it possible.

  7. I also walked among the dead...all alone on Friday night, wind hallowing, rain pelting the sound of imaginary footsteps following me. Took me two days to calm down.

  8. I can't believe you didn't ring the bell! You could have rung it and run away like a naughty schoolkid.

    I thought the doll was pretty awesome, actually. And did you know I'm chiselling a first edition of my book on the gravestones of Winchester?


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