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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Event Report: How Does Your Book Get Onto Their Shelves?

Jul
29

I had a lovely evening at independent bookshop Tales on Moon Lane last month* in Herne Hill, south east London, venue and host of the first SCBWI Industry Insider event of the year. 

Tamara Macfarlane set up Tales on Moon Lane thirteen years ago and joined the evening’s panel alongside author Mo O’Hara (My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish), publishing director Bella Pearson (David Fickling Books) and author Clare Stanhope (Brenda’s Bottom and her Birds).  We were welcomed by Mandy and Jess, SCBWI Industry Insider organisers, who led the panel. Here are the highlights.

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Event Report: London Book Fair 2016

May
06

What business does a writer have at the London Book Fair? None. A better question might be how relevant are writers at the London Book Fair? Very. This goes for illustrators too.

As one of the authors of the day Tracy Chevalier put it, “it’s nice to have that layer of fairy dust, that is the novelists, sprinkled all over the book fair.” She’s talking about the big names, but I think this encompasses all creatives. We’re not expected to do anything, other than keep creating.

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Event Report: Writing Non-fiction For Children

Apr
28

I’ve not written any children’s non-fiction before so I’m excited to learn something completely new as I arrive for today’s SCBWI Author Masterclass in a room above a pub, five minutes walk from Trafalgar Square. There’s a full house of writers as we’re welcomed and introduced to our guru for the afternoon, Judith Heneghan , by SCBWI masterclass series organisers Alison Smith and Cath Jones. It’s clear from Judith’s credentials that we’re in good hands: former commissioning editor, published author of over 50 non-fiction titles, award winner, senior lecturer and director of the annual Winchester Writers’ Festival – definitely guru material.

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Event Report: How To Write For Children and Young Adults

Apr
04

Arriving at the Bloomsbury Publishing offices on a peaceful square in central London I’ve long forgotten the earlier unwelcome alarm clock and feel an excited anticipation for the annual How To Write for Children and Young Adults Conference. Ringing the doorbell a friendly Writers & Artists staffer invites me in and directs me towards the noise of sixty other writers and a cup of tea.  (more…)