What we do

SSWAG is a group of children's writers and artists. Our members write for babies right through to young adults. Some are published but most of us are learning how the process works. We use forum meetings to hone our writing, our illustrations or both. More experienced members share their knowledge and new members bring fresh perspectives to the group. We pool our experiences of pitching to industry professionals and demonstrate the right and wrong ways of going about it!

We're from all professions and use SSWAG in a variety of ways. Our core activities are forum sessions, submission preparation, professional development and book group.

Forum sessions meet once a month to rigorously crit each others' work. Members aren't expected to attend every month and they don't have to submit work to be part of the crit. There are rules for forum sessions which are explained in our pdf available to members (Forum Session Rules).

Submission preparation meetings are held prior to competition entries; or if a number of people are ready to send work to a publisher; or if an event is coming up where members will have the opportunity to be in front of industry professionals - The London Book Fair for instance. Small groups focus on the work they will submit.

SSWAG takes professional development very seriously. We take part in workshops, classes, events and residential courses. However, most that are related to publishing are based in the south, and even stalwart Swaggers don't have the means to get to all of them. When we do, we share what we've learned. We've already organised successful workshops locally and our main aim for the next few years is to invite more speakers and teachers to the beautiful north east, and to stage events that are accessible to children's writers and artists in the north.

Book group meets regularly to discuss children's literature. Visit our Facebook site to find out what we've been reading.

SSWAG are a friendly bunch and members are encouraged to organise 'inspiration days' when we meet to visit a gallery, an exhibition or perhaps see a film or play. We've had some great visits behind the scenes at our local museums and a private seminar with playwright Ann Coburn, who is also one of our patrons. Our members are from such a diverse range of professions that our connections spread far and wide!

Our name

Until 2013 the SSWAG acronym stood for Seven Stories Writers and Artists Group, as the group was formed some years ago by request of Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books. Our first members attended a writing class at the Centre for Lifelong Learning and jumped at the chance to be involved with Seven Stories, a vibrant organisation with a wonderful building. Strong links with Seven Stories remain, but in 2013 an ever-growing SSWAG became independent and it made sense to keep our acronym as we'd networked energetically over the years and were known by that name - more often than not it raises a smile!

It took a long time, but we plumped for Swagbag Stories Writers and Artists Group, inspired by a lovely illustration that was originally our logo.