NB Editors share their publishing plans

Posted on: April 1, 2017

NB Editors share their publishing plans Michelle Cooper Head of the Children’s Section and of the Tafelberg imprint, Simone Hough (H&R) and Thea Korff (Best Books) gave us an interesting and informative overview of the publications they have lined up for 2017. A very exciting array. They also brought along some of the recent publications. It was great to see members, Helen Brain (The Thousand Steps), Karen Ahlschager and Marjorie van Heerden (Storiemuis) and Samantha van Riet (Rympies vir pikkkies en peuters) featuring prominently. Helen’s dystopian novel (the first in a series of three) for young adults has done particularly well and is already into reprint. The bold advertising used on the sports channels of DSTV seems to have paid off.

It was great to see Samantha featuring in the 2017 line-up as well.

Success in having your book or your illustrations is all about targeting the right publisher. The presentation gave us a good opportunity to see the particular niche that each of their imprints has. If the 2017 offering is anything to go by, Tafelberg  and H&R are open to a number of illustration styles.

It seems that the best bet for illustrators is to send a selection of your very best illustrations, either to show your particular style or your range. Just remember – the file must not be more than 5 megabytes. The three editors have a very good working relationship and happily send on work to each other when they think it might be of interest. Those writing for the trade market can post their work to Michelle or to Simone or send it electronically. See the NB website for their preferred modes of submission.

Thea Korff had very good news for those who make their bread and butter from education books –   It seems that there will be a call for submissions for textbooks later this year.

The morning was not only a chance to make personal contact with the editors and to gauge their interest in one’s work, it was also a chance to find out about submissions made and to network. Thanks to SASNEV for allowing us to hold the event in their wonderfully central venue.
We were sorry not to see Charles Siboto. But we don’t blame him for preferring to go to his own wedding!  Our very best wishes to you and your bride, Charles. May you have a long and happy life together.  

8 March: First Open Studio 2017

Posted on: April 1, 2017

Thanks to Paddy Bouma, our first Open Studio for the year was a visit Alex Latimer’s studio in Glencairn.

Shannon, Alex’s wife managed the many stragglers with aplomb, guiding us down and then up stairs. Alex’s desk in his studio is positioned to allow him to have a perfect view of the mountains. And he is no distance at all from the beach walks or mountain biking trails he so enjoys.     

It is entirely our gain that Alex decided two weeks into his first year of advertising that writing adverts was not his dream. He exchanged writing adverts for writing books. His dream now is to write one of every kind of book there is. He describes himself as being well on track to do this. You won’t find Alex Latimer books only in the children’s section. His first adult novel, The space race, was published recently by Umuzi.

His career as an illustrator and writer (as opposed to being a writer only) began when his brother Patrick had not yet found time to illustrate his book – after nearly a year. Alex decided to do it himself. He describes his art as largely self-taught, but it clearly helps to have the natural talent that comes from having the right genes. He practised for a year, consciously stylising his drawings. Now he likes to get his drawings right the first time – minimum effort for maximum impact is his motto. Hard to believe that this laid back man is as impatient as he says he is!

His routine is to work on his books from 8 to 12 am. Alex uses two pencil crayons for his drawings – orange for warmer tones and blue to show the play of light. He then scans his drawings into photoshop and burns in the colours. He is clearly a very skilled user of photoshop. We watched in fascination as he demonstrated how he uses photoshop to get to the effect he wants. He was remarkably open to suggestions made and was quite ready to show how they would change the overall effect. Always graciously.

He made his road to success as an illustrator and writer seem so easy. Just three steps. He sent his work to Oliver Heffer, whose work he admires. Oliver sent it to his agent. Oliver’s agent became his agent as well. No hint of just how tough it is to find an agent, unless you are really good.

Alex’s quirky humour and captivating stories have won him a wide readership. In 2014 he was awarded the Hampshire Picture Book Award for Lion vs  Rabbit, which The Telegraph reviewer described as “one of those rare funny books that appeals to the child in the adult as well as the one on your lap”.

We know that many people were disappointed not to make the cut. For the lucky ten it was a fascinating experience. As one person said, “This is a dream come true”.  

SCBWI SA: Nominating body for the Astrid Lindgren Award

Posted on: January 24, 2017

As one of the nominating bodies for the Astrid Lindgren Award, SCBWI SA selects makes four nominations each year. Two in South Africa and two in the rest of the world.

South Africa

Niki Daly

Rest of the world

Margaret Meek
Shirley Hughes

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Happy 2017 to SCBWI!

Posted on: January 24, 2017

2017 ChickenBest wishes to you all for a happy, productive and fulfilling year. May many exciting and challenging opportunities come your way!

Elaine Ridge and Marjorie van Heerden

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Congratulations to our members!

Posted on: January 15, 2017

LYLE-CROCODILE-ENG-COV-MediumCongratulations to illustrator Joan Rankin on the publication of LYLE THE CROCODILE by Dianne Stewart (Jacana 2016)

Available in Afrikaans, isiXhosa and isiZulu.

Congratulations to these members who made the Bookchat List of Highly Commended books published in 2016

Picture books

Mr Hare meets Mr Mandela by Chris van Wyk, illustrated by Paddy Bouma (Jacana)
Nombululo and the Moth by Susie Dinneen, illustrated by Maja Serada (Puffin)

Books for older readers

Elevation 1: The thousand steps by Helen Brain (Human & Rousseau)


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Posted on: November 26, 2016

We celebrate the achievements of our members:

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SCBWI Writers’ Retreat Presented by Alan Durant (Award-winning British Author)

Posted on: October 20, 2016

The Retreat was greatly enjoyed by all participants.  It was a wonderful combination of good food, a range of interesting participants, a delightful venue and Alan Durant, who proved once more what an excellent facilitator he is.

This amazingly generous man has not only offered to read our books when they are ready for publication, but as a parting gift, he allowed us each to choose one of his books as a present.

Some of the responses to the weekend:

Have been thinking about the weekend and trying to determine how I feel about our two days together. I'm still unsure. Suffice it to say that even though it seemed more solemn and subdued than last year (and that may be in part because the real world was never far from us  in our broken humanity), I  still feel amazed at how much we explored and discovered…. I am lost in a world of poncy chameleons, flying rabbits, bald eagles who care, inventive polar bears, shells and  kisses on beaches, not to mention subversively wicked nursery rhymes….

Lynette Afonso

It was an absolute pleasure! I so enjoyed our fun weekend and learning more about crafting great stories. Thanks, Alan, for the fun exercises and for gifting us with books.

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SCBWI Workshop for Writers Presented by Helen Brain (I October at SASNEV)

Posted on: October 20, 2016

Helen Brain"Let your protagonist struggle and fail many times against her opponent. Raise the stakes by giving her a cause worth fighting for. Then, when she eventually overcomes the odds, it will make the triumph worthwhile."  (Helen Brain)

Helen Brain’s workshop was highly entertaining, illustrated with hilarious yet moving anecdotes from her own life as an author. At the same time, participants gained important insights into the nuts and bolts of writing professionally.  Helen offered very useful advice on key aspects like how to identify a gap in the market, what you need to know about and the skills you need to have to meet the requirements of a particular genre, the important role of conflict, how to establish and maintain a writing routine and how to lift the quality of your writing. In particular, she helped us to explore the value of allowing emotions to drive your writing – I don’t think any of us will be able to view tennis again without thinking about Tangy (the rescued teddy bear).

The SASNEV venue lent itself to easy networking during coffee breaks and later over lunch.
Participants had this to say:  

Thanks for organising the wonderful H.B. event on Saturday. As always, Helen was full of energy; honest, practical, funny and generous. What an inspiration to us! It was very nice to meet the other writers, too, some of whom I had not met before. – Pam Lourens

Dear Elaine and other emotionally charged fellow tennis players
Thank you for a most interesting and illuminating day. It was exciting to see how Helen’s brain works and I was moved by her willingness to be vulnerable with a group of strangers. Very encouraging to hear that even famous and successful writers suffer from doubts and fear that their bloodsweated work may be rejected. – Lynette Afonson

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Reflection by ARA Jenny Hatton on Jozi Book Fair

Posted on: October 15, 2016

The Jozi Book Fair took place from 1-4 September at the Wits Science Stadium, a lovely open and sunny venue surrounded by tutorial rooms. The theme  was “Youth Rising” and young people were in evidence everywhere, singing, dancing, acting and talking about books and reading. Young people were invited to send short stories  in to a school competition. Ten of these were selected by Jenny Hatton, Mohale Mashigo and Joan Rankin the book was launched at the fair.

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An Opportunity for Professional Development for Illustrators

Posted on: September 14, 2016

Marjorie van Heerden

SCBWI SA is committed to offering opportunities for professional development to our members, both illustrators and writers. An example of this is the recent two-day SCBWI SA workshop on how to draw children, starting with the newborn baby up to children of 16 years old.

It was presented by Marjorie van Heerden, Co-Regional Advisor, an acknowledged expert in the area of drawing children. (She has presented the Stellenbosch University Spring school/Creative Workshop on Children’s Book Illustration for some years now.) Illustrators who participated, profited greatly from the workshop. Thanks to a grant from SCBWI HQ, we were able to make it a free event.

On the first day, Marjorie raised awareness of how important it is to have sound knowledge of the physical growth and development of children. She led those of us fortunate to be able to be there through a fascinating exploration of the anatomy of child, with diagrams and accurate pictures of the skeleton at various ages. As Marjorie put it, you have to start with the child ‘unclothed’.

Other pictures of children in different poses, dancing, jumping, stretching, walking helped to show what children are able to do and, perhaps even more importantly, not do at various stages of their development. By contrasting adults and children’s bodies, the striking differences in proportions at different ages were illustrated, and how these differences determine the ways in which people at those ages are able to move.

Seeing the implications of mistakes is also valuable. Using her extensive collection of picture books, Marjorie was able to highlight the common mistakes that illustrators make when drawing children. At the same time, she was not doctrinaire. She pointed to features of the style of brilliant illustrators like Quentin Blake and Maurice Sendak in which they ‘break’ the rules.

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