Janey Robinson

My First Picture Book Retreat, What a Treat

Aug
12

Last month I joined the SCBWI Picture Book Retreat in rural Worcestershire to hone my writing skills and learn from a raft of writing and illustrating pros. It was my first writer’s retreat, or retreat of any kind in fact. I think, like many, my preconceptions of a retreat was full of negative connotations. Awkward meal times, bunking down with snoring strangers, barefoot hippy types who would surely try to convert you to something, stuff like that. But like most unfounded assumptions I was way off.

Mealtimes were delicious and a racket of chatter, always overrunning as conversations were reluctantly paused. We had separate rooms, phew. No new age conversions, only a collective hope that everyone else’s brilliance would rub off on each other by the end of the weekend. I’ll note that some of us, including me, spent time barefoot, the countryside demands that.

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5 things I learned at the Emerald Street Lit Fest

Jul
01

Last month I attended the Emerald Street Literary Festival on a damp Saturday at the Royal Geographic Society in London. I’d pre-booked three sessions and brought my notebook for any writing opportunities. Here is what I have mulled over and taken away from the day.

There are always rules with writing.

It can be overwhelming, you write because you have to write. Then you seek to learn how to write better and each time come away with a new set of commandments until every notebook you own has “must do’s” from all sides of the publishing industry. The Faber Academy’s Richard Skinner shared his 5 tips for writers (see below) during his The Bare Bones of Stories workshop. They are a little elusive in that you have to think about each one to really decipher them. My new approach is to listen to any new rules, decide if they make sense and are of use to me, then move on, keep writing and stay focused. (more…)

Note to Self #1

Jun
17

It’s ok to be in the dark

I went to Letters Live in March, an annual event series to celebrate remarkable letters that deserve to be heard. Benedict Cumberbatch and friends lent their voices. I was aware of the basic concept of the event but nonetheless found myself feeling unnerved without an order of events. At ten minutes in during the first piece of music, yes music, I reprimanded myself at being so boring in always wanting a heads up on proceedings. I relaxed my shoulders and let the show unfold in whatever way it wanted to. By the end I was convinced it was one of the best things I’d been to in a long time. I’d actually relished the unknown and how it made me feel: alive. (more…)

About a Girl

Nov
25

There once was a girl who lived in her dreams, forgetting the world around her, believing only in make believe. It was never lonely and always fun, but as she grew older she discovered she’d been missing out on the world she’d shunned. Opening her eyes she saw people were all around, she was inspired by them, learned from them, grew strength from their love. The girl’s life is now technicolour and her dreams have become real, she writes about the world around her and how it can make you feel.