Writing and Falling in Love with Nigel Kennedy: How UV changed one writer’s life.

Shirley McMillian
Shirley McMillian

UV 2014 finalist Shirley Anne McMillan blogs about how Undiscovered Voices led her to a community of writers through SCBWI!

The other great thing about writing is that everyone sees it as a solitary occupation, and in some ways it is like that- there is nothing but you and your mind. But in other ways it also opens up a world of social interaction that is a bit different and a bit similar to making friends- you put yourself out there and sometimes people reach back and let you know that you’re alright. Without that element it would be very lonely indeed. Thanks, then, to those people who reach back to me. It means more than you know.

Check out her blog post here!

Guest Blog: Matt Ralphs – Everything to Gain, Almost Nothing to Lose

Matt Ralphs 2015It was August 2013. I had a nearly finished manuscript, and a plan.

I was aiming to submit my children’s novel, Fire Girl, to literary agents after Christmas and then cross my fingers. I was braced for the wait. The rejections. The Battle Scars. It’s what all writers go though, right?

And then a friend – who I am now forever indebted to – suggested I enter my novel to Undiscovered Voices. She said this unique competition was an opportunity not to pass up. After all, many previous Undiscovered finalists had been well and truly discovered.

Discovered meaning that magical word: published.

What the hell, I asked myself, did I have to lose? He who dares wins. Fortune favours the brave. Carpe diem. And other clichés.

So began a feverish two weeks cutting, polishing and shining my words to within an inch of their lives. Then I sent it off and promised myself I’d forget about it and get on with my life.

At this last point, I failed miserably. The more I looked into UV, the more I realised what an incredible boost it could be to an unpublished writer. If I was selected as a finalist, it could be life-changing.

I waited…

And waited…

Until I received the best email ever. I’d been chosen for the longlist.

More waiting until I got the best phone call ever. I, along with eleven others, had been chosen as a finalist.

Undiscovered Voices 2014

Things happened very quickly after that. The UV14 anthology was published. It was sent out into the world. Agents got in touch with me (I repeat: agents got in touch WITH ME) to ask if I was going to the anthology launch party.

At the party we chatted and they asked to see the whole book. The very next day I sent it out. Most got back to me and suggested we meet over lunch to discuss representation.

Which landed me with a rather surreal conundrum. Which of these industry experts was I going to pick? In the end I made my difficult choice and after some tweaks to the manuscript, my new agent submitted the book to publishers.

To my astonished delight my book found a happy home at Macmillan Children’s Books. (Who are publishing Fire Girl on August 13th 2015. Thanks for asking!)

It sounds like I’m showing off, doesn’t it? Well, I suppose I am.

My point is, Undiscovered Voices and the amazing team of volunteers who work their selfless socks off made all this possible for me. And they can make it possible for you too. So go on. Cut, polish and shine your entry, take a deep breath, and send it in.

What have you got to lose?
Fire Girl by Matt Ralphs 2015Matt Ralphs’ first novel, Fire Girl, featured in the 2014 Undiscovered Voices Anthology. Soon afterwards he signed with the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency. Two months later Macmillan Children’s Books bought Fire Girl (pub Aug 2015) and a sequel, Fire Witch (pub June 2016).

You can comment on this blog post at Matt Ralph’s own website here.

Undiscovered Voices Writers and Illustrators Longlist Announced

UV12We are pleased to announce the longlist of writers and illustrators who will be considered for the Undiscovered Voices 2014 anthology. These talented writers and illustrators were selected from more than 200 submissions from SCBWI members in Europe.

Congratulations to the following twenty-seven longlisted writers:

  • Farina Ackerman
  • Emma Bayley
  • Jane Baird Warren
  • Kathryn Leigh Berry
  • Katrina Charman
  • Christian Colussi
  • Sarah Dalkin
  • Rachel Davison
  • Rose Margaret Deniz
  • Claire Fayers
  • Allison Friebertshauser
  • Catherine Jacob
  • Emma Higham
  • Mary Hopper
  • Georgina Kirk
  • Shirley-Anne McMillan
  • Catherine Miller
  • Karen Moore
  • Matt Ralphs
  • Gita Ralleigh
  • Rachel Rivett
  • Joanne Romand
  • Bronwen Roscoe
  • Susan Sandercock
  • Tioka Tokedira
  • David Thomas
  • Imogen White

Congratulations also to the following eight longlisted illustrators:

  • James Brown
  • Heather Chapman
  • Dave Gray
  • Maika G. Montava
  • Olivia Palmer
  • Sarah Palmer
  • Elizabet Vukovic
  • Julia Walther

The twelve novel extracts and five illustrations that will be featured in the 2014 Undiscovered Voices anthology will be announced in early January.

The quality of submissions was extremely high this year 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:

  • Gemma Cooper, Literary Agent, The Bent Agency
  • Helen Graham-Cameron, Graham-Cameron Illustration Agency
  • Ben Horslen, Editorial Director, Puffin
  • Sarah Lambert, Editorial Director at Quercus Children’s Books
  • Francis McKay, Francis McKay Illustration Agency
  • Polly Nolan, Literary Agent, The Greenhouse Literary Agency
  • Sara O’Connor, Editorial Director for Print & Digital at Hot Key Books
  • Martin Salisbury, Professor of Illustration; Course Leader, MA Children’s Book Illustration, and Director of The Centre for Children’s Book Studies
  • Samantha Smith, Fiction Publisher, Scholastic
  • Sallyanne Sweeney, Literary Agent, Mulcahy Associates
  • Ngheim Ta, Senior Designer/Digital Content Coordinator,Templar Books

Congratulations to these talented writers and illustrators!

All the best,

The Undiscovered Voices Team

Sara Grant, Catherine Coe, Benjamin Scott, Sarah Levison, Tioka Tokedira, Anne-Marie Perks and Loretta Schauer