My one year anniversary with SCBWI is fast-approaching and I feel so lucky to have discovered this absolute treasure of a group of kidlit creators.
The SCBWI events I've attended in the last twelve months have opened the (often closed) doors to publishing houses, so I've been able to hear from publishers and editors about how to navigate the industry, and of course, the million dollar question: what are publishers looking for? (NB: It's usually the indescribable and non-specific "x-factor" (sigh)).
Plus, I got to spend 48 hours on a SCBWI writing retreat learning from the legendary and incredibly humble Bruce Whatley. (A red-bellied black snake and scorpion were also in attendance but that is another story ...)
And to top it all off, I got to spend my birthday at Jackie French's cabin with 50 other writers, literally soaking in her every word like a sponge.
Another way in which I've benefited from SCBWI this year is through their critique groups. I am actually in two (greedy, I know!); one online group and one formed at the Bruce Whatley retreat. The critiques I get from my writing buddies are like little golden nuggets. And I know that I'm growing as a writer providing feedback to others, plus I get so much joy celebrating the multiple contracts and books sprouting out of our amazing groups.
Recently, I was the cause for celebration when I signed a contract with Omnibus/Scholastic for my debut picture book which is due to come out in 2019 (so exciting!).
I am very grateful to the SCBWI team (who are themselves producers of award-winning and best-selling books) for the knowledge and support they've offered me. What a tribe! And did I mention they are also hilarious? I often leave SCBWI events with tummy-muscle ache from all the laughing ... !
Victoria Mackinlay has been writing since she worked out how to hold a pencil and copied out the letters from a milk carton on the breakfast table. She has over 7 years experience working for Google in Europe and APAC and as Head of Strategic Partnerships for Google APAC, Victoria led and set strategy for a team of 27 account managers who consulted with and supported websites such as Expedia and Lonely Planet on their ad serving strategies. During her maternity leave, she became more serious about her writing, freelancing for Fairfax, News and SBS and fell truly, madly and deeply in love with kidlit. Her first picture book with Scholastic is coming out in 2019.