It takes a village…

Chris Bell SCBWI meeting 2The thing I love about being part of SCBWI (Vic) is the support of fellow creationists who share and care and encourage each other. So standing up to speak in front of a large group of them last Saturday to share my Varuna Fellowship experience was a real pleasure, actually fun, and not at all fearful. Though I do recall that six years ago, as a relative newcomer, I was knock-knee terrified when I stood up in front of a similar group of SCBWI fellows to share my writing journey to that date.

scbwilogoI’m sure that becoming more confident in my writing, and more a part of the SCBWI community over the years since, (including more recently as assistant to SCBWI Vic ARA, Caz Goodwin) helped any likely nerves immensely, not to mention seeing so many familiar faces, and lots of new ones too, in the audience.

Having such a wonderful subject as Varuna meant I had plenty of fuel to speak of, but I always think the best industry talks are those where the audience come away with some little insight or new aspect to explore for themselves beyond the speaker’s experience.

I was fortunate at Varuna to have a chance to chat with CEO Jansis O’Hanlon, who generously shared her insights into the application process and criteria and, from some of the keen scribbling during my talk, I was happy to see that some of Saturday’s meeting attendees seemed to find her nuggets the same gold I did.

Sherryl Clark - SCBWI Member SpeakerMy fellow speakers made the day too: Prolific, award winning author Sherryl Clark speaking about her hybrid/self publishing experience producing an Australian version of her (U.S. published) YA novel Dying to tell me, a fast-paced mystery now on my TO READ pile. And the very delightful Susannah Chambers, Commissioning Editor for Children’s Books, from Allen and Unwin sharing her insights into the U.S. YA publishing scene, research gleaned through her recent Beatrice Davis Editorial Fellowship.Susannah Chambers - Allen & Unwin

A great afternoon in every way, organised by our lovely ARA Caz Goodwin, topped off by wonderful social chit chat time, aka afternoon tea, and the chance to catch up with both some old and new faces.

Maybe it takes a village to raise a writer too!



Varuna logo


Grateful appreciation to Jansis O’Hanlon, Varuna CEO, for generously sharing her time, insights and advice for SCBWI Vic Varuna applicants. 


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Leisl Leighton" alt="Leisl Leighton">

Leisl Leighton

So glad you had such a lovely time. You certainly have lots to talk about and lots of experience to pull from. I can’t wait to hear more.

June 18, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Ann Dawson

Chris, sounds as though your speech went down a treat, so pleased to hear you had a great afternoon. Thanks for letting us hear the trial run.

June 18, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Ann Dawson

PS. Love the picture

June 18, 2014 at 10:04 pm
Corinne Fenton" alt="Corinne Fenton">

Corinne Fenton

I’m pleased it was such a positive experience for you Chris and so wonderful to share such important information. It sounds like it was a great meeting too – about the first one I’ve missed in 8 years or so.

June 19, 2014 at 7:25 am
1caz" alt="1caz">


I agree, Chris. I’m sure it takes a village to raise a writer, and in my experience, SCBWI is a big part of that village. Congratulations and thank you for your talk on Saturday – informative, interesting and very entertaining.

June 19, 2014 at 2:18 pm
Cecilia" alt="Cecilia">


It was a lovely afternoon and I am so glad you shared about your Varuna experience Chris because I am going to try for it. Thank you for speaking and sharing the information. That was my first SCBWI event and you all made it a wonderful experience for me. Thank you

June 19, 2014 at 5:45 pm
christinemareebell" alt="christinemareebell">


Hi Cecilia. Welcome to SCBWI. It was wonderful to meet you. I know you’ll get so much out of the SCBWI community, especially the more of us you get to know. So glad you enjoyed the meeting and feel encouraged to try for a place at Varuna. Go for it. Varuna offer so many opportunities and each is a fantastic experience. Plus a great boost progress-wise and excellent to add to your resume.
Best wishes, Chris.

June 19, 2014 at 10:21 pm

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