Ssssh, we've just come back from the old cathedral city of Winchester (which used to be the capital of England at one time, ooh err) and Gadzooks is napping - listen... zzzzhrrr, zzzhrrr - so I'm doing the blog this week. (Mrs Author has just lain him down on a cushion. Aah.) He's had a very busy two days observing writers and illustrators doing what they do best - hanging out with other writers and illustrators at a conference. The acronym SCBWI means Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - but no one calls it that of course. They shorten it to 'Squibby' or 'Scooby' (I never did quite work it out, and it felt impolite to ask). Anyway, what does an author like me do at a conference like 'Squibby'? Well, one thing all you budding scribblers will quickly discover is that writers like to be with like-minded people. Writing is a solitary business. So it's fun to breakaway from the 'typeface' sometimes and just go and share your experiences with people you know will understand them. And the sweet thing is, you never get bored, because although we all know the basic stuff, the building blocks of how to put a story together, we are endlessly fascinated by how other people go about it. Remember this next time you lift a pen: there are as many different ways of writing as there are people out there doing it. Okay, that sounds a bit Yoda-ish. (Well, no, this sounds a bit Yoda-ish: different ways of writing there are, doing it many people.) But this is the appeal - for me - of a conference. It's just interesting to mingle with fellow authors and see how much planning they do, for instance, or how much research, or how they deal with writers' block, or how much time they spend on their blogs or their facebook pages or on twitter (41 followers now. Keep them coming!) And you can sometimes mingle with influential people, like editors or agents. OR you can simply make friends with pleasant folk who happen to share your passion for drawing or telling a story. And that's the point I really want to make. All you youngsters reading this will be thinking: Yeah, but, I'm only twelve. How would I get to anything like a Scooby conference? Well, you won't, sorry. But there's nothing to stop you getting together and swapping stories with friends. It can be very rewarding. If you want to be a little bit nerdy, try creating a powerpoint presentation about how you came to write your latest story - then show it to your mates. Have your own Squibby, and you too can experience, in miniature, that particular aspect of being an author. Until next time, when Gadzooks will be back, happy reading. Oh, and thank you to everyone at Squ- SCBWI for a fabulous weekend. Hi to all the lovely people I met - and thanks for all the unexpected name checks! (You had to be there.) Hrrr!