Getting Ready for UV2020 – Guest Blog with Sarah Merrett

In our first guest blog by past finalists, Sarah Merrett (UV2018), whose extract was called The Darlington Miracles, talks about how being short-listed opened doors for her and shares tips to get your extract in shape before you’re ready to submit. 

 

 

Preparing your UV submission: things to ask yourself

So, you’re thinking of entering Undiscovered Voices 2020. Should you go for it? Most definitely. It was the best decision I ever made for my writing career. Becoming a winning finalist in 2018 was the stuff of dreams. It really opened doors for me. I had agents asking to see my book without even sending out a query. Lots of agents. I was lucky enough to be offered representation from my dream agency before the UV launch party had even started. I still pinch myself sometimes.

I hope that’s tempted you into giving this a go. After all, you have nothing to lose. So what now? How do you prepare your submission to make it the best it can possibly be? Here are a few questions you might like to ask yourself:

Your first line

  • Is your first line attention grabbing enough? Does it entice your reader by posing a question such as why, what or how?
  • Analyse the opening lines of some successful children’s books. Why are they strong? How do they lure you in?

Your opening scene

  • Could your opening scene be improved by adding more drama, excitement or mystery?
  • Have you shown the unique and interesting aspect of your main character?
  • What’s at stake for the main character if they don’t achieve their goal?
  • Have you portrayed strong emotions?

Your first chapter

  • By the end of chapter one, what has happened to lure your reader into the next chapter?
  • Have you ended with a strong enough hook or cliffhanger?

Your extract

  • Have enough story events happened in your extract?
  • Are things moving along quickly enough?
  • Where have you ended your extract? Is this stopping point the best place in order to leave your reader wanting more?

Your pitch

  • What makes your story different to others in the same genre?
  • You don’t need to summarise the entire plot of your book. Give a sense of the story and its genre, what’s special about it, and give an intriguing hook

And finally

  • Edit, edit, and edit again
  • Put your story away for as long as you can bear, then read it with fresh eyes. Weak areas should become much clearer after a break
  • Proofread, and if possible, get someone else to proofread too
  • Submit and give yourself a well-earned treat
  • Try not to stew over the outcome. Why not start your next story? It’s a great way to set aside your emotions for your competition entry

Very best of luck!

Sarah Merrett

Online Event to Kick off the 7th Undiscovered Voices Anthology

Once again SCBWI British Isles plans to help fresh, new voices in children’s literature find agents and publishers through its Undiscovered Voices project. Authors and illustrators from the six previous anthologies have received publishing contracts for nearly 250 books and have been nominated for or won more than 150 of literary prizes: including the Carnegie Medal, Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, Branford Boase Award, Blue Peter Award, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, and more than 30 regional awards. Click here to discover more about our previous finalists.

The Undiscovered Voices team will launch Undiscovered Voices 2020 with a free, online event on Facebook:

  • Thursday 9 May 2019
  • 7 – 8 p.m.
  • On the SCBWI TV British Isles Facebook Page

The event will consist of a panel discussion with the judges, who will offer valuable advice for those planning to submit to the anthology. To attend, you must be a member of SCBWI in the UK or EU and sign up for the event on the British SCBWI website: Sign up here!

 

We are thrilled to announce this year’s stellar judging panel:

  • Helen Boyle, Literary and Illustration Agent at Pickled Ink
  • Aimée Felone, Co-founder of Knights Of
  • Annalie Grainger, Senior Commissioning Editor at Walker Books
  • Stephanie King, Commissioning Fiction Editor at Usborne Publishing
  • Polly Nolan, Literary Agent at Greenhouse Literary Agency
  • Alice Sutherland-Hawes, Children’s Agent at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency
  • Clare Wallace, Literary Agent at Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency
  • Discover more about our judging panel here.

The Undiscovered Voices anthology will include at least twelve fiction extracts – from early readers up through young adult novels – from SCBWI members in the UK and EU. The anthology will be published in February 2020 and sent free of charge to editors and agents whose focus is children’s literature. The book is produced with the financial support of Working Partners Ltd, a London-based company that creates series fiction.

This Undiscovered Voices anthology will not include illustrations this time. The SCBWI illustrator team is working on creating a programme specifically designed to support SCBWI illustrators.

Submissions will be accepted between 1stJune to 15thJuly 2019 via an online submissions process. There is no submissions’ fee, but only unagented and unpublished members of SCBWI living in the UK and Europe (writing in the English language) are eligible.

We’re making changes for UV2020 – it’s coming soon!

 

Plans are underway for the seventh Undiscovered Voices anthology. Over the past twelve years, the project has launched the careers of 40 SCBWI members in the UK and Europe. In response to feedback from Undiscovered Voices finalists and to further improve our outreach to SCBWI members, we have made a few changes to the next anthology.

The SCBWI illustrator team is developing a new, separate project tailored to the specific needs of illustrators. This means that the next Undiscovered Voices anthology will not include illustrations. We have been thrilled by the success of the 32 illustrators featured in four of the anthologies, but the anthology hasn’t proven to be the best vehicle to showcase illustration talent. As a result, the SCBWI illustrator team is working on creating a programme that we hope will produce even better results for SCBWI illustrators. We look forward to hearing more about what they have planned.

Writers will be able to submit their extracts for consideration in the next anthology between 1st June to 15th July 2019 via an online submissions process. As in past years, there is no submission fee, but only unagented and unpublished members of SCBWI living in the UK and Europe (writing in the English language) are eligible.

We will host a free, online event in May, which aims to reach out to SCBWI members throughout the UK and Europe. The panel for the event will include the agent and editor judges for the next anthology, who’ll be offering advice for those planning to submit. Details for the event will be available soon.

One thing that has never wavered is the amazing support SCBWI continues to receive from Working Partners Ltd, a London-based company that creates series fiction (www.workingpartnersltd.co.uk). Thanks again to Working Partners for making the anthology possible.

All the best,

The Undiscovered Voices Team

UV 2018 Success – Illustrator with a Cape

Deborah Sheehy
Deborah Sheehy

UV 2018 finalist Deborah Sheehy has signed a contract to illustrate a picture book with Starfish Bay Publishers who contacted her after seeing examples of her artwork online. The book is called ‘Ape with a Cape’ (think hairdresser rather than superhero!) and features an array of whimsical fun creatures and is due to be published in 2019.

Deborah is also currently collaborating with a London author on a picture book telling an epic tale of courage and friendship, in which a polar bear cub adventures to the South Pole to reunite with his best friend.  The author had been seeking an illustrator to work with and found Deborah through the 2018 UV Anthology. ‘The Last Iceberg’ is currently under review for publication.

Deborah daily finds herself astonished and delighted at these wonderful opportunities and is deeply grateful to the UV team for the opportunity to be part of the Anthology, as well as their support, sage advice and goodwill.

UV2018 Finalists Announced!

SCBWI British Isles is proud to announce the promising, unpublished writers and illustrators who have been selected from a record number of submissions to be included in Undiscovered Voices 2018.

SCBWI congratulates the following authors and illustrators whose work will be featured in the anthology:

  • Annie Walmsley – Writer
  • Dale Hannah – Writer
  • David Hall – Writer
  • Deborah Sheehy – Illustrator
  • Emily Jones- Illustrator
  • Emma Mason – Writer
  • Hannah Mosley – Illustrator
  • Jacob Turner – Illustrator
  • James Crosland-Mills – Illustrator
  • Janet Catherine Gibson Pickering – Illustrator
  • Kate Read – Illustrator
  • Kathryn Kettle – Writer
  • Katie Hayoz – Writer
  • Laure Allain – Illustrator
  • Matthew Olson-Roy – Writer
  • Monika Baum – Illustrator
  • Nicola Penfold – Writer
  • Peta Freestone – Writer
  • Rachel Lovatt – Illustrator
  • Sally Walker – Illustrator
  • Sandy Horsley – Illustrator
  • Sarah Merrett – Writer
  • Serena Patel – Writer

The Undiscovered Voices anthology is available to download for free from www.undiscoveredvoices.com. A printed copy of the anthology also will be available to purchase from Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/scbwi/undiscovered-voices-2018/paperback/product-23456467.html

The stories and illustrations were submitted anonymously and selected by a distinguished panel of industry experts:

UV 2018’s Judges:

  • Chrissie Boehm, Artful Doodlers
  • Claire Cartey, Holroyde Cartey
  • Erzsi Deak, Hen & Ink Literary Studio
  • Lauren Fortune, Scholastic
  • Clelia Gore, Martin Literary Management
  • Andrea Kearney, Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Sarah Leonard, Orchard Books
  • Joanna Moult, Skylark Literary Agency
  • Polly Nolan, The Greenhouse Literary Agency
  • Gillie Russell, Aitken Alexander Associates
  • Hannah Sheppard, DHH Literary Agency
  • Kirsty Stansfield, Nosy Crow
  • Will Steele, Usborne Books
  • Nghiem Ta, Walker Books

Because the anthology is also designed to be a learning tool for up-and-coming children’s writers and artists, quotes from the judges – discussing the merits of each piece – are included at the end of each illustration and extract.

Working Partners Ltd, a London-based company that creates series fiction for children and teens, provided the financial support that made this anthology possible.

Congratulations to this year’s Undiscovered Voices writers and illustrators!

Undiscovered Voices Writers and Illustrators Longlist Announced 

We are pleased to announce the longlist of writers and illustrators who will be considered for the Undiscovered Voices 2018 anthology. These talented writers and illustrators were selected from a record-breaking number of submissions from SCBWI members in Europe. 

  • Alice Stallard
  • Andrea Fautley
  • Annette Edge
  • Annie Walmsley
  • Ashley Taylor
  • Becky Hamilton
  • Catherine Lindow
  • Charlotte Reid
  • Claire Rollinson
  • Dale Hannah
  • Daniel Greaves
  • David Hall
  • Deborah Sheehy
  • Elizabeth Joseph-Brahy
  • Emily Jones
  • Emma Mason
  • Esther Harvey
  • Georgina Kirk
  • Glen Deakin
  • Hannah Mosley
  • Hazel Murrell
  • Helen Simmons
  • Imogen Foxell
  • Jacob Turner
  • James Crosland-Mills
  • Janet Catherine Gibson Pickering
  • Jennifer Hicks
  • Jessica Chuan Ping Lai
  • Joe Callanan
  • Julia Tuffs
  • Kate Read
  • Kathryn Kettle
  • Katie Hayoz
  • Laure Allain
  • Lily Grigorova
  • Lorraine Cooke
  • Louisa Glancy
  • Matthew Olson-Roy
  • Mireille Lachausse
  • Monika Baum
  • Morgan Jackson
  • Natasha Ellis
  • Nicola Penfold
  • Peta Freestone
  • Rachel Lovatt
  • Sally Walker
  • Sandy Horsley
  • Sarah Merrett
  • Serena Patel
  • Stephen Burgess
  • Susan Harris
  • Suzanne Dore
  • Tera Pruitt
  • Wendy Storer
  • Zoe Saunders

The shortlist of writers and illustrators to be featured in the Undiscovered Voices 2018 anthology will be selected from the list above and announced in early January. 

As ever, the quality of submissions was extremely high and the judges had a very difficult time deciding on a longlist.  

The Undiscovered Voices team endeavours to create an anthology that showcases the variety of writing and illustration available from SCBWI members in the British Isles and the European Union.  The goal of the anthology is not only to help the selected authors and illustrators to find agents and editors, but also to promote the quality of work abounding in SCBWI in Europe. 

The stories and illustrations were submitted anonymously and selected by a distinguished panel of industry experts: 

  • Chrissie Boehm, Artful Doodlers 
  • Claire Cartey, Holroyde Cartey 
  • Lauren Fortune, Scholastic  
  • Andrea Kearny, Bloomsbury Publishing 
  • Sarah Leonard, Orchard Books 
  • Joanna Moult, Skylark Literary Agency 
  • Polly Nolan, The Greenhouse Literary Agency  
  • Gillie Russell, Aitken Alexander Associates  
  • Hannah Sheppard, DHH Literary Agency 
  • Kirsty Stansfield, Nosy Crow 
  • Will Steele, Osborne Books 
  • Nghiem Ta, Walker Books

Congratulations to the talented Undiscovered Voices longlisted writers and illustrators! 

All the best, 

The Undiscovered Voices Team 

Rosie Best, Catherine Coe, Jenny Glencross, Sara Grant, Simon James Green, Patrick Miller, Anne-Marie Perks, Loretta Schauer, Benjamin Scott and Tioka Tokedira 

Undiscovered Voices 2018 – now open for submissions!

SCBWI and sponsors Working Partners are delighted to announce that submissions for the sixth Undiscovered Voices competition are now open. Undiscovered Voices helps fresh, new voices in children’s literature find agents and publishers.

The Undiscovered Voices anthology will include twelve fiction extracts – from early readers up to young adult novels – and twelve black-and-white illustrations. The anthology will be published in February 2018 and sent free of charge to editors, art directors and agents whose focus is children’s literature. The book is produced with the financial support of Working Partners Ltd, a London-based company that creates series fiction.

Submissions will be accepted between 1st July and 15th August 2017 via an online submissions process. There is no submission fee, but only unagented and unpublished members of SCBWI living in the UK and Europe (writing in the English language) are eligible.

From the five previous anthologies, Undiscovered Voices featured authors and illustrators have received publishing contracts for more than 200 books. The authors have been nominated for and won an amazing array of literary prizes: including the Carnegie Medal, Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, Branford Boase Award, Blue Peter Award, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, and over 30 regional awards.

The following judges will select the extracts and illustrations to be included in the anthology:

  • Chrissie Boehm, Artful Doodlers
  • Claire Cartey, Holroyde Cartey
  • Lauren Fortune, Scholastic
  • Andrea Kearny, Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Sarah Leonard, Orchard Children’s Books
  • Joanna Moult, Skylark Literary Limited
  • Polly Nolan, The Greenhouse Literary Agency
  • Gillie Russell, Aitken Alexander Associates
  • Hannah Shepard, DHH Literary Agency
  • Kirsty Stansfield, Nosy Crow
  • Will Steele, Osborne Books
  • Nghiem Ta, Walker Books

Click here to enter your writing submission and here to enter your illustration.

Before You Click Submit, Part 5 – A Book by Any Other Name

As we get closer to the opening of UV submissions, we’re posting tips to make sure your submission stands the best chance of making it into the anthology.

In our final post, we make a final plea to consider your title and its impact on the reader.  

 

Don’t Take Your Title for Granted.

Mumnesia by Katie Dale

Your title is part of your writing. It’s your representative during the judging process, selling your story and ideas as much as the text does. Once you’ve proofread and polished, scrutinise your title.

UV Founder and Author, Sara Grant, says, “Great titles are memorable, distinctive, intriguing, easy to say and clearly indicate the story you will tell. Endeavour to use concrete nouns and active verbs in your title.”

Test your title using the following criteria:

  • Does it match the content of the book? You might like it because it’s quirky or fresh or poetic, but if it doesn’t match the story, don’t use it. You are setting up an expectation about the type and style of the story. Your title should attract the right reader. If there’s a disconnect, you may only disappoint readers. Does it capture the drama, humour, or romance of your work?
  • Is it memorable? Does it sound too much any other book? Will it be confused with too many other titles?
  • Can it capture the reader’s imagination or curiosity?
  • Is it as short or long as it needs to be?
  • Say it out loud again and again – because if it gets published you will be saying it a lot! Is it easy to say with words that won’t be confused at a glance?

You might like a title because it’s quirky or fresh or poetic, but if it doesn’t match the story, don’t use it.

It’s worth taking a look at the titles of books for the age group you are writing for inspiration. Test run your new titles past friends, critique partners, librarians or children and ask them what they think the title suggests about the book. Look for that magic combination that spark interest, prepares the reader for what’s come and arouses unquenchable thirst to find out more.

 

And, finally.

Good luck to everyone who enters from the whole UV team!

 

Submissions for UV2018 will open tomorrow (1st July 2017) and will close 15th August 2017. Why not sign up here for submission reminders?

 

Before You Click Submit, Part 4 – Hunting Mistakes

As we get closer to the opening of UV submissions, we’re posting tips to make sure your submission stands the best chance of making it into the anthology.

In this post, we’re looking at a great way to scrutinise your text, some commons errors and few pet peeves that can let your extract down.

No Place to Hide – Paragraph Swap Around

UV Founder and Author Sara Grant suggests reading your extract out of order. First switch the pages around and read them out of order. Next read the paragraphs out of order.

“It’s surprising what you’ll find when you scrutinize pages and then paragraphs out of context and individually,” she says. “You start considering if every line, word and punctuation mark is correct. Also you may spot words, phrases or ideas you overuse reading in this mixed-up fashion.”

Just make sure your paragraphs are in the right order when you submit.

Find-and-Replace Mistakes

Rosie Best (UV 2012)

Author and Working Partner’s editor, Rosie Best, warns about the sort of errors that come with using ‘find-and-replace’ on the manuscript. “We all use it,” Rosie says, “But you need to check the results for consistency.”

Make sure find-and-replace has caught every version of the word – some find-and-replace software misses out possessive versions of words, or where a different grammatical agreement has been used.

“A common error is when find-and-replace makes a change inside another word entirely. If you’ve changed a character name from Rose to Emily, you may end up with a sentence like this ‘in the morning, Ben aEmily from his bed’.”

“Also double check that you’ve also deleted any obsolete references that may be left over from previous drafts,” Rosie adds. “It can be surprising how many can survive repeated edits.”

Pet Peeves and Common Errors

“We all have writing ticks,” says Benjamin Scott, committee member and creative writing tutor. “Whether it’s a sentence structure we tend to favourite, a set of words we always reach for first, or, some stock dialogue. It feels comfortable to use, but often leads to wordy, untidy writing.”

A good critique partner (or editor) will point these ticks out to you, but there are plenty web-based editing tools (like http://editminion.com/) that use algorithms to suggest potentially useful edits to your text.

Keep looking for ways to tighten your writing and search the web for common errors to avoid. Here are some of our favourite pitfalls to dodge (thanks to Sara Grant):

  • Unnecessary word repeated in short space, or over-usage in the whole piece.
  • Unnecessary phrases – i.e. his heart thumped in his chest, nodded his head, imagined in his mind, blinked his eyes, actual facts, at this moment in time
  • Main character or narrator thinking too many questions in quick succession – i.e. What was he thinking? What could he do? What did it all mean?
  • Not trusting yourself as a writer and not trusting your readers by showing and telling your reader something – i.e. My hands began to sweat. Fear fizzled in my stomach. My eyes widened in surprise. I was scared.
  • Too many competing metaphors or similes in close proximity to each other. Let your best metaphors and similes breathe.
  • Appropriate level of description – avoid either too much or not enough. Tell your readers what they need to know to picture a scene and understand the action.
  • Too specific action that proves unimportant – i.e. He picked up the knife with his left hand and turned counterclockwise.

And, finally, watch out for tenses – nothing is more disruptive that an unexpected and unintentional shift in tense!

Stay tuned for our final tips, coming tomorrow. Submissions for UV2018 will open this Saturday (1st July 2017) and will close 15th August 2017. Why not sign up here for submission reminders?

Before You Click Submit, Part 3 – Eight Ways to Make Sure Your Submission Hits the Mark

As we get closer to the opening of UV submissions, we’re posting tips to make sure your submission stands the best chance of making it into the anthology.

Eight Ways to Make Sure Your Submission Hits the Mark

Shine by Candy Gourlay

Award-winning author and one of the first UV finalists Candy Gourlay has kindly given us eight incredible and direct tips to make sure your submission is ready to wow our judges:

Tip 1: Intrigue starts with your first chapter. No explanations. Make your reader desperate to find out what happens next.

Tip 2: Voice. Everyone talks about looking for a voice. Voice only happens when your characters have come alive. How do you do that? Inhabit your character and build the plot from within.

Tip 3. Setting is context AND character, not information. Stop describing and start characterising. If your setting is alive, your reader will read on.

Tip 4. Cause and effect. If cause and effect is not happening then your chapter is static and your reader has probably died of boredom.

Tip 5. Don’t be anxious to make sure that your reader understands your story in the first three chapters. First chapters intrigue and lead your reader on. They are not there to explain. Trust the judges – they are reading a LOT of first chapters and I’ll bet a lot of them are explaining rather than exciting.

Tip 6. Select the eggs you’re going to offer in the basket. YOU DON’T HAVE TO PUT EVERYTHING INTO THE FIRST CHAPTER. You are more likely to engage a reader with a choice selection.

Tip 7. Make sure you identify WHO you’re writing for and that your sample is appropriate to your target readership. Oh, and here’s a guess … most people submitting will probably be writing YA. Ask yourself, is this the one that will help me stand out in the herd?

When you are editing down your chapter samples, don’t cut for word number, cut for MEANING and DRAMA.

Tip 8. When you are editing down your chapter samples, don’t cut for word number, cut for MEANING and DRAMA. I know so many people who edit down without realising that they are losing the deliciousness of their writing. This means you will have to be wise and practical about choosing what you winnow out of your text.

Check back soon for more top writing tips before you submit.


Candy Gourley was a finalist in UV2008. She has been a journalist, press photographer, web designer, short film maker, radio presenter (well, once) and fake American accent voice talent. She once helped overthrow a dictator (with several million other people). She has now forsworn revolutionary activity to become a children’s author. She is the award-winning author of Tall Story and Shine.  www.candygourlay.com