Getting Ready for UV2018 – Guest Blog with Imogen White

In the first of a series of guest blog by past finalists, Imogen White, whose debut book The Amber Pendant launches in June, talks of her emotional Undiscovered Voices journey and her tips for writers preparing to enter UV2018.

 

When I entered the first 4,000 words of my book (then called Shadow Inclusions) to the Undiscovered Voices 2014 competition it was a big moment for me. It was the first thing I had EVER put out there publicly.

I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it. For me it was more about getting over my jitters and taking that first bold step of pressing the ‘SUBMIT’ button. After all, what did I have to lose?

The moment I learnt I had been selected for the longlist remains my most thrilling memory. Thoughts like there must have been some terrible administrative error were eventually replaced with sheer joy, and tears too, if I’m honest. It was the first time that I felt like an authentic writer. All those embarrassed conversations over many years with family and friends playing down why I dedicated so much time to writing when I had nothing tangible to show for it, were finally laid to rest. The more I thought about it the more my head spun. Would I now be put to the top of the slush pile when I eventually put my work forward to agents and publishers? That was the pinnacle of my aspirations.

Then, quite unexpectedly I got “THE CALL!” from the lovely Sara Grant letting me know that I had been chosen to appear in the Anthology. WOW! What a total privilege. Now the beast of my writing ambitions had become something else; it had grown arms and legs and had a momentum all of its own. Actually, I was also pretty terrified! I felt like a total fraud compared to the other worthy winners, especially as I am mildly dyslexic and had no previous writing experience. But as soon as I met the wonderful Sara Grant and team, I was put at ease. They led us all through the whole process – and best of all my work was printed in the Anthology.

It really is the most brilliant competition. I met so many industry people at the launch party, including the amazing Anna Power from Johnson & Alcock, who became my agent. I feel so fortunate to have met Anna, she believed in my work from the very beginning and her expert editorial advice helped me tidy and develop my story.

So, I am absolutely delighted to announce that the first book in my series of historical mysteries, is to be published by the fantastic team at Usborne in June 2017.

None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t entered Undiscovered Voices. And if it happened to me, it could happen to you too. Go for it!

Imogen White’s Undiscovered Voices Tips:

  • Start with a bang! – Open your submission with a moment of great mystery or high drama, and don’t get bogged down in boring details. Grab the judges’ attention from the off.
  • Get other writers to critique your entry before you send it. These 4,000 words must be the very best you can present. You want honest and considered feedback (not undiluted sunshine!) from people who write themselves and whose opinion you trust. I need help with my punctuation and spelling – so this was a must for me! Thankfully I had a fabulous writing group to share work with.
  • Do a final line edit to make sure every word has earnt its place.
  • Take a deep breath. Press “SUBMIT.”

GOOD LUCK!


Imogen’s debut The Amber Pendant will be published by Usborne, June 2017. the first of the The Rose Muddle Mysteries. It features the plucky workhouse girl, Rose Muddle, whose world is turned upside down when she is given a magic pendant. It is a tale full of necromancy, shadows and adventure. As Rose bravely tries to unpick the clues set in and around Edwardian Hove, she must find out who the baddies are and stop them before an unimaginable evil is let loose… Becky Walker, Usborne Fiction Editor, writes, “The Rose Muddle Mysteries have everything I look for in a series – full to the brim with magic, mystery, myth and history, and pacy stories that are impossible to put down.” You can follow Imogen on Twitter at @imo0030, or visit her website: https://mysteryverse.wordpress.com/author/mysteryverse/

2016 Success Update: Scholastic UK announces acquisition of NOAH CAN’T EVEN by Simon James Green with pride

UV 2016 finalist Simon James Green has signed a two-book deal with Scholastic for NOAH CAN’T EVEN (previously called Nuts), and a follow up title.

Linas Alsenas at Scholastic UK bought World Rights from Joanna Moult from Skylark Literary, having been captivated by painfully geeky protagonist Noah Grimes.

Simon James GreenAuthor Simon James Green says: “Being published by Scholastic is a dream come true, and it’s an honour to join their list of such wonderful authors. The Scholastic team are fantastically supportive, and I’m really looking forward to working with them to bring this funny, confused, complex mess of a teenage boy into the world. All of this was possible thanks to Undiscovered Voices and I’m incredibly grateful for everything the team at UV have done for me.”

Linas Alsenas, Commissioning and Development Editor – Fiction for Scholastic UK, says: “I often hear editors say something along the lines of “As an editor, I live in hope that a book like this will cross my desk,” but in the case of Noah Can’t Even, there’s no other way to put it. I. Love. This. Book. It gives me all the feels, but most of all a steady stream of genuine, snort-out-loud laughs. The plot twists are shocking and mad – poor Noah – and yet the characters never cease to be real and fully drawn. I’m really looking forward to readers getting to know Simon, who is just as hilarious and fabulous as you would expect from his writing.”

Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green publishes in May 2017.

2016 Success Update: Book Deal for Sophie Cameron

A two book deal for Out of the Blue, and a second title, has been announced by Macmillan Children’s Books. The title will be published in the UK in spring 2018.

You can read more about this exciting news in The Bookseller:

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/sophie-s-choice-macmillan-416486

Congratulations Sophie!

A Message from Sally Gardner – Honorary Chair 2016

We’re proud to post a message from Sally Gardner shared with our finalists at the launch of this year’s anthology.

Sally talks about her journey to becoming a writer and questions an unhelpful educational focus on the qualifications of being writer (like spelling!) rather than the importance of story and inspiration. She speculates whether one of the greats of English literature might well have been found today thanks to Undiscovered Voices. As a ‘fell-walker’, Sally talks about the difficulty of the creative process and how much luck is needed after the difficult climb up the mountain of ideas.

We’d like to thank Keith Rogerson for recording and editing this video and thank Working Partners for hosting the interview!

 

The 2016 Success Story that Almost Never Happened: Patti Buff

Patti BuffSix out of twelve writers among the Undiscovered Voices finalist have now been signed by agents, but the latest signing is one that might have never have happened!

“Most people don’t know this, but I almost entered a previous version of my novel for the 2014 anthology, but decided at the last moment that my story wasn’t working,” confesses finalist Patti Buff. “So I tossed the entire book and started over from scratch. I am so glad I listened to my gut and reworked Requiem because being chosen for the anthology has paid off a thousand-fold.”

A Chance for Immortality

Requiem introduces Rix, a street-wise seventeen-year-old, who has a chance to earn immortality by working for the feared and powerful Cathari family. She just needs to do everything that they ask her to do, but when they kidnap her supposed-to-be-dead boyfriend, she finds herself in the middle of a century old feud. Will the lure of immortality be trumped by the love for a boyfriend who abandoned her?

This irresistible tale told with an amazing voice attracted agent Hannah Sheppard from DHH Literary Agency as soon as she read it in the Undiscovered Voices anthology. “I knew I wanted to talk to her [as soon as I had finished reading Requiem]. We bonded over Midwest America (where Patti is from and where I spent a year as a teenager), blizzards and speech team competitions. We met again at Bologna once I’d finished reading (and loved) the full manuscript to discuss Patti’s future ideas (which I’m incredibly excited about) and that confirmed for me that Patti was someone I’d very much enjoy working with. I was delighted when she agreed to sign with me at DHH Literary Agency.”

Dream Fulfillers

From Patti’s point of view, she felt something click as soon as author and agent spoke to each other. “Not only had she been to the frozen tundra I call home, but she even liked it and remembered it fondly,” Patti tell us. “Hannah told me her vision for both Requiem and my future projects and I knew that I’d found the perfect partner for me and my books. A huge thank you to everyone involved with Undiscovered Voices for making all of this possible. You’ll always be known as the ‘Dream Fulfillers’ to me.”

We’re as glad as Patti that she finally entered her book into Undiscovered Voices and is beginning to see her dedication to her craft pay off!

Getting Prepared for UV2018

For currently undiscovered writers out there, UV2018 will be launching in Spring 2017, so now is a perfect time to start something new in time for the competition or reassess your work-in-progress for the sort of changes that can transform it into a book worthy of the shortlist. Make sure you sign up for email alerts here.

Best of luck from the “Dream Fulfillers”!

2016 Success Story: Angels and an Agents for Sophie Cameron

Sophie CameronWith her gripping story about angels falling from sky, it wasn’t going to be long before someone snapped up finalist Sophie Cameron. We’re delight to share the news that she has been signed by Hellie Ogden at Janklow & Nesbit.

Sophie, who wrote Out of the Blue, says, “Undiscovered Voices has been an amazing boost, both to my writing career and to my confidence! I really didn’t expect to be selected, so to make the anthology and then to get such a great response from agents and publishers was hugely exciting.”

Out of the Blue follows the story of Jaya MacKenzie combining a personal tragedy against a global phenomenon of falling angels. With her dad determined to capture one of the angels alive, will Jaya and her family ever get a chance to come to terms with her mum’s death? As one of the judges said, “a very original premise pulled off skillfully.”

Meeting at the launch party, Hellie and Sophie hit it off straight away. “I felt sure she was the right agent for me,” Sophie says. “As well as being really lovely, she has such a fantastic vision for ‘Out of the Blue‘, and I know with her editorial help it’ll be a much stronger novel.”

And, agent Hellie Ogden couldn’t be happier. “I am a huge fan of Undiscovered Voices; the talent is always exceptional so it’s a really important resource for agents,” she says. “I was blown away by the quality this year and to find, and then get to represent, the incredibly talented Sophie Cameron is really exciting. Sophie is one to watch.”

We couldn’t put it better ourselves. But we’ll leave the last word to Sophie: “Getting to meet the other writers and illustrators was great, too – I’ve loved hearing their success stories and am excited to see their work in print! It’s been a brilliant experience and I’m so grateful to the organisers and to SCBWI British Isles for the opportunity. Thank you!”

2016 Success Story: Kerry’s Fairytale Agent in Judge Kate

Kerry CassidyOne of our lovely judges, Kate Shaw of The Viney Agency, has signed up author of The Thread Fairy, Kerry Cassidy. Both are mothers of boys and have loved escaping the football, rugby, cricket in this delightful fairy adventure.

Kate says, “Kerry’s fairy story is fresh, charming, sweet, funny… gorgeous! Gabriella is a lovely heroine and I have a good feeling about The Thread Fairy…”

The Thread Fairy is the story of Gabriella, the class prankster, who discovers she is in fact one of rarest of magical beings – a thread fairy. Whilst her heart is in the right place she manages to cause trouble wherever she goes. Throughout this story readers learn with Gabriella the importance in life of understanding what others are thinking and feeling but they’ll have lots of fun along the way.

When Kerry first got the phone call from Sara Grant to say she’d been short-listed for Undiscovered Voices she didn’t really believe it. She had only entered the competition after a friend convinced her it was worth a try. “When I got the news I just kept smiling to myself but couldn’t believe that this list of judges had picked out my story,” she says. “The team at Undiscovered Voices and the judges were giving up their time to help unpublished writers like me. When I met Kate I knew instantly that we’d work well together and thank goodness she felt the same. I am delighted to sign with The Viney Agency and thrilled to be represented by Kate who I feel has been in my corner from the outset.”

Kate wants to tell other writers not hold back. “Next time around enter Undiscovered Voices and you just never know what might happen…”

We couldn’t agree more!

2016 Success Stories: An Agent goes Nuts over Simon James Green

Simon James GreenIt’s the early bird that gets the worm, although in this case it’s the Skylark that gets the promising undiscovered voice. We’re thrilled to hear that Simon James Green, author of Nuts, has signed with Jo Moult at Skylark Literary.

“I clicked with Jo immediately,” says Simon. “I am so thrilled to be represented by such a fantastic agent at a dynamic and exciting agency. I’m now looking forward to working with Jo editorially on the manuscript before we submit to publishers and am very excited about the projects we will work together on in the future.”

The feeling is mutual as his new agent, Jo Moult, says, “I’m so delighted that Simon has signed with Skylark Literary. He has huge writing talent with a wonderful gift for humour. We definitely feel there are exciting times ahead for Simon!”

Nuts is the story of fifteen-year-old Noah caught inadvertently snogging his best mate Harry and that’s only one of the many strange situations he gets himself into in a book described by one the judges as an Inbetweeners-style teen boy comedy.

However, it’s not just about scoring a top agent. As Simon says, “Undiscovered Voices has been an amazing experience. Thanks to the dedication and support of the wonderful volunteers who run the competition, I’ve had my work read by top agents and publishers. Undiscovered Voices has also given me the opportunity to meet other fabulous folk from the world of publishing, including the wonderful team at Working Partners as well as all the other brilliantly talented writers and illustrators whose work was included in the anthology. So to Sara Grant, Sara O’Connor, the UV committee and Working Partners, I just want to say a massive thank you and I definitely owe you all a drink!”

Well, three cheers to that! Congratulations Simon!

2016 Success Stories: Thrilling Surprises for Anna Bowles

Anna BowlesПоздравления (pozdravleniya) to Anna Bowles, author of Steel Tanya, who has just signed with Jenny Savill at Andrew Nurnberg Associates. She’s the second of our Undiscovered Voices 2016 finalists to sign with an agent in the last few weeks.

Used to more unsavoury surprises when writing about her character’s life in Leningrad during Stalin’s Purges, Anna is “very excited to be working with Andrew Nurnberg Associates. I signed up just a few hours after visiting their offices – it was clear they were the right agency for me! Jenny’s enthusiasm for STEEL TANYA, and that of the whole team, was obvious. I know they’ll find Tanya a good home.”

Anna’s novel follows the life of seventeen-year-old committed communist Tanya whose dreams of becoming an engineer are shattered when her parents are arrested.

“I’m so thrilled to be representing Anna – she writes superbly!” says agent Jenny Savill. “We are a very good fit for her here at Andrew Nurnberg Associates, with our shared love of history, great writing for Young Adults – and all things Russian.”

We can’t wait to see what is next for Anna. All that’s left to say is: Удачи! (Udači!)

2016 Success Stories: The Evolution of Rose and her new Agent!

Rose Margaret DenizHotly following on from the launch of the Undiscovered Voices 2016 anthology, we’re delighted to share the news that Rose Margaret Deniz, author of The Evolution of You Me, has signed up with agent Jo Williamson at Antony Harwood Ltd.

“I always look forward to receiving the Undiscovered Voices anthology as it is packed with such talent and this year’s more than lived up to my expectations,” Rose’s new agent said.

“I particularly loved Rose’s The Evolution Of You And Me which is a high-concept love story.  I was intrigued by the idea of love surviving in different guises across different dimensions. The characters of Pree and Kenner, though altered as their circumstances changed, remained steadfastly vivid and I was rooting for them both throughout. I am a sucker for a good love story and this novel took things to a whole new level with passages set in space as well as on Earth.  I felt Rose was always in control of her ambitious story and really pushed the boundaries, writing a novel that felt fresh and exciting.”

Delighted, Rose describes signing with Jo as just the beginning of an amazing journey. “Jo reached out to me within days of the anthology being released. From our very first contact, her interest and excitement about The Evolution of You and Me was palpable. We just seemed to click when we talked on the phone, and after meeting in person, I could imagine no better champion for this story than Jo.”

There’s also hope for writers who have been honorary mentioned as Rose was counted amongst them in the last anthology. “I would strongly encourage other writers and illustrators to believe in their work and never give up. After being long listed for another manuscript in 2014, I hit the page even harder, and took the chance to submit again this past year. I’m so glad I did. It is thanks to this incredible opportunity from SCBWI BI and Working Partners that I can share the news that I am now working with Jo!”

While we’re off celebrating Rose’s news, we’ll leave the last word to Jo Williamson, “I am so thrilled to be working with Rose and can’t wait to get The Evolution Of You And Me on to bookshop shelves and into the hands of readers who are in for a real treat.”