Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI Midlands Spring Social – Stories and Critiques (April 2019)

Midlands pencil banner

Written by Eileen Moynihan

Midlands social 27 April 2019

Photo (left to right): Ann Gerety-Smyth, Eileen Moynihan, Dan Flynn, Eddy Lane, Annette Corkery, Cara Martin

We held the SCBWI Midlands spring social event between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday April, 27th at the Ardagh Heritage and Community Centre, in Ardagh, County Longford. Some participants brought stories to read aloud, and everyone came to listen and give feedback.

Dan Flynn read his story about a gnome called Pinkus Gonzalez, who gets caught up in netting in the garden. We loved the funny language the gnome used and the quirky sense of humour in the whole piece.

Dan and Eddy

Photo (left to right): Dan listens to Eddy

Eddy Lane told us about his characters Wizzie Wand and Bert Hardy, who happens to be an egg. Wizzie needs Bert’s help as he is getting old, but to achieve this he has to give Bert hands, arms, feet, legs, a brain, and clothes with pockets. When Bert has all these things, they get a call from Santa to help him because his reindeer are sick. Wizzie teaches Bert how to mix and use magic powders to help Santa. The group thought it would be a good idea to put this story into two books and may be have a series.

Cara Martin read out a story that she wrote when she was seven. Her character is also called Cara. Cara sees a wolf outside her window. The wolf was being chased by people who want to cut his glittery whiskers. He is wearing a magic backpack, a green jumper, and shorts, and his name is Ash. Cara hides him behind her doll’s cot and they become friends. We all thought it was a delightful story that just needed a little bit of tweaking.

Eileen and Dan

Photo (left to right): Eileen and Dan

Sally Martin’s story was Charlie and the Sofa. Charlie is a dog who loves the sofa. The children Susan and Pete start bouncing on the sofa with Charlie. Mum comes in and is cross about the state of the sofa. They are all sent outside to play. The dog gets covered in mud, and Aunty Peg visits and slips in the mud too. The group thought it was very typical behaviour for dogs and children. It was suggested that maybe Charlie and the children could have been out in the mud and then came in and made a mess.

My story was called The Land of Nod. It is about a mother reading her children a bedtime story. The bedtime story is like a “Once upon a time…” fairy story. Two of the royal children have never spoken and just nod. So an old lady comes to teach the children nodding language, and then teaches it to the whole kingdom so that they can communicate with the children. Eventually the children move on to actually talking. People in the group thought it would be a pity to lose the nodding language altogether so suggested that people would still use after supper-time until bedtime.

Eileen Moynihan reading

Photo: Eileen Moynihan reading

Everyone enjoyed the morning of listening, feedback, discussion, and refreshments. Thanks to Sally Martin and Eileen for the photographs.

Ann, Eileen, and Dan

Photo: Ann, Eileen, and Dan in discussion


Sally Martin: A very enjoyable morning with very helpful critique and ideas to improve our stories.

Annette Corkery: It was a very enjoyable morning listening to talented story writers. I think giving/getting feedback was a great idea.

Ann Gerety-Smyth: As usual, I had a lovely time at the quarterly SCBWI event. It was relaxed and fun, and the stories were mighty.

Dan Flynn: The meeting at the Ardagh Heritage Centre heard a number of wonderful children’s stories…especially from young Cara, Sally Martin’s granddaughter who delighted us all with a piece she had written when she was just 7. It was a good opportunity to hear the impressions your work made on others who spend so much effort to bring delight and wonder to the world of the young. When you create a story for a child, the greatest reward possible is a look of wonder on a small face with smiling eyes.

Cara and Sally Martin

Photo (left to right): Cara Martin and her grandmother Sally Martin