Getting Ready for UV2018 – Guest Blog with Katrina Charman

In our fourth guest blog by a past finalist, Katrina Charman, who was featured in the UV2014 anthology, talks about her UV experience.

Take a Chance

When I sat down to write this blog post I had part of an Abba song repeating in my head – Take a chance, take a chance, take a ch, ch, chance chance. I don’t even like Abba that much, but the point is that when I entered Undiscovered Voices 2014, I honestly didn’t think I had much of a chance. But if you don’t try you don’t get, right?

So I polished up my submission as best I could and sent it off and then went on to my next WIP to stop me from agonising about all of the mistakes I might have made or thoughts of should I have edited more, or changed the opening . . . and on and on.

Then I got THE CALL from the lovely Sara Grant, saying that I was one of the finalists and I honestly couldn’t believe it. Things moved very swiftly from the UV14 launch party to being offered representation from multiple agents and then signing with my fabulous agent Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency.

But it was not all smooth sailing from there. My entry into the competition, a YA, went out on submission and it didn’t sell. I could have let it get to me (and believe me it hurt) but after a few weeks of feeling sorry for myself, I worked on something else.

Inspired by a workshop run at my agent’s writing retreat, and by my fellow Team Cooper writers, I wrote something completely new and different to my usual YA.

A picture book.

It sold at auction to Bloomsbury and is going to be illustrated by the inimitable Nick Sherratt. This spurred me on to try genres that I had never written in before and to write for different age groups, so I wrote another book – an early reader, and it sold. So I wrote something different, and when it didn’t sell, I wrote something else. Since Undiscovered Voices 2014, I have contracts for 15 books and counting. I am now able to write full time because of the opportunities that the SCBWI and Undiscovered Voices created.

If there is one piece of advice that I can give any aspiring writer or illustrator thinking of entering Undiscovered Voices (and you absolutely should!), it is to keep going. Don’t give up.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that writing is less about talent and more about luck and perseverance. If there is one piece of advice that I can give any aspiring writer or illustrator thinking of entering Undiscovered Voices (and you absolutely should!), it is to keep going. You will get rejections, over and over again. But don’t give up. Try something new – a different genre, age group, a poem. You never know what is going to get you there. Take every opportunity that comes your way, even if you think you have no chance.

You never know where it might lead you.

Take a chance*.

(*Apologies for the earworm!)


Katrina Charman is the author of eleven published books including The Ninjabread Man (Franklin Watts). Poppy’s Place series (Stripes), The Firehawk series (Scholastic) and two picture books to be announced. She lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband and three daughters. In 2013 she was a recipient of the SCBWI BI Margaret Carey scholarship and is lucky enough to be represented by super agent Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency.

 

Submissions for UV2018 will open on 1st July 2017 and will close 15th August 2017. Why not sign up here for a reminder when submissions open?

 

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/

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”!

The Magical Voyage That Comes After Being a UV Finalist

Claire Fayers
Claire Fayers (UV 2014)

The thing they don’t tell you about Undiscovered Voices is how it turns your writing life upside down. I’d been writing for a long time before I became a 2014 winner, and I knew the process. You write a novel. You edit the novel. You edit some more. Then you send off queries to some carefully-chosen agents and wait while, one by one, the polite rejection notes come in. Then you repeat.

Yet within days of the Undiscovered Voices 2014 longlist coming out, I had a query from an agent. (Don’t they know how this is supposed to work? I’m supposed to query them, not the other way round.) And when the shortlist was published, it all went a bit mad. Not just agents, but editors – real, live editors who weren’t just having a laugh, but sounded really serious about wanting to read my book.

And this is where I discovered the real strength of Undiscovered Voices – the organisers. Their patience is endless and I couldn’t have managed without their advice and support. Over many phone calls and email exchanges, they never once made me feel like my questions were silly or a waste of time. Everything from what should I wear to the launch party to how on earth do I go about choosing an agent when everyone is so brilliant.

The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers
The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers (US Edition)

The launch party is the most amazing, exhilarating, terrifying experience. Hundreds of agents and publishing people all wanting to talk to you about your book. And once again, the organisers are on hand to steer you towards the right people and make sure you’re never left standing on the side-line. As someone who has spent every party ever standing on the side-line, this was something new.

I came away from the launch part with multiple offers of representation and spent weeks agonising over a decision before signing with Gemma Cooper of the Bent Agency. It still hadn’t occurred to me that my book might actually sell, but this is what happened here.

Less than a month after going on submission, my book sold at auction in a transatlantic deal. Not just the first book, but two more books that I hadn’t even written yet.

Almost exactly one year after the UV2014 longlist came out, I gave up work to write full-time.

The Accidental Pirates: Voyage to Magical North will be published by Macmillan in the US on the 5th July and the UK on the 14th July this year. Book two will be out in 2017.

My advice to the 2016 finalists is: celebrate, keep writing, ask all the questions you want and take your time with everything. Enjoy the magical adventure.

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.

How to Write a Winning Opening: Claire Fayers shares her tips!

Claire FayersA finalist in the last Undiscovered Voices, Claire Fayers now has an agent and signed contract for her novel, The Accidental Pirates: Voyage to Magical North, due to be published by Macmillan next year. She’s been blogging over over at Middle Grade Strikes Back about writing a winning opening and sharing a few pointers that she’s learned through Undiscovered Voices and beyond.

As she says, “2015 is a good year to write middle grade fiction. Actually, any year is a good year because where else can you spend your days in the company of pirate ships and man-eating penguins, but this year is particularly good because it sees the launch of a new Undiscovered Voices.”

Two of our favourite tips from Claire are:

  • “When you think you’ve finished, put your opening chapters away for a week or two, then read them again.  Read out loud.  I use an electronic text-to-speech voice because nothing highlights dull writing like hearing it read in a robotic monotone.”
  • “Don’t hold back. Know what you’re aiming for in terms of genre and tone, and go at it like a bull in a red-flag-and-china shop… be yourself.  Be dark, be funny, be scary, be ridiculous, be anything except the same as everyone else.”

You can read the rest of her amazing tips at: Middle Grade Strikes Back

Undiscovered Voices 2014: The Finalists!

SCBWI British Isles is proud to announce the promising, unpublished writers and illustrators who have been selected from hundreds of submissions to be included in Undiscovered Voices 2014.

SCBWI congratulates the following twelve authors whose novel extracts will be featured in the anthology:

  • Phoenix by Katrina Charman, Wokingham, Berkshire
  • This Grimm Life by Christian Colussi, London
  • Vickery Barnet Recurring by Sarah Dalkin, London
  • The Voyage of the Onion by Claire Fayers, Cardiff
  • The Wing Giver by Emma Higham, London
  • A Good Hiding by Shirley-Anne McMillan, Maghera Village, Castlewellan
  • Fire Girl by Matt Ralphs, Old Wives Lees, Kent
  • Traitor Girl by Rachel Rivett, Basingstoke, Hampshire
  • Atticus Trump and the Astro Fart by Bronwen Roscoe, Effingham, Surrey
  • Southend Loaded by Susan Sandercock, Canvey Island, Essex
  • The Stone Cutter by Tioka Tokedira, Paris, France
  • Shadow Inclusions by Imogen White, Hove, East Sussex

 The following five illustrators will have an illustration featured in the 2014 anthology. These artists created black and white drawings in response to a series of original scenes created by past Undiscovered Voices writers.

  • James Brown, Nottingham
  • Dave Gray, Coventry
  • Olivia Palmer, London
  • Sarah Palmer, Coventry
  • Julia Walther, Germany

For the first time the Undiscovered Voices anthology will be available to download for free from http://www.undiscoveredvoices.com/. A printed copy of the anthology also will be available to purchase from Lulu. The anthology will be available from the website by the end of next week.

The submissions were anonymously selected by the following panel of editors, agents and art directors:

  • Gemma Cooper, Literary Agent, The Bent Agency
  • Helen Graham-Cameron, Graham-Cameron Illustration Agency
  • Ben Horslen, Editorial Director, Puffin
  • Sarah Lambert, Editorial Director, 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, 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

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!

Keep coming back to see how they get on!

SCBWI British Isles is proud to announce the promising, unpublished writers and illustrators who have been selected from hundreds of submissions to be included in

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

#UV2014 Twitter Q&A – July 25th, 1pm GMT!

UV14 The co-creators of British Isles UNDISCOVERED VOICES anthology — Sara O’Connor and Sara Grant — will host a Twitter Q&A session on Thursday 25th July. Tweet your questions after 1 pm GMT using #UV14 and follow @saramoohead and @authorsaragrant.

Just search for the hashtag #UV14 to listen into the conversation. You follow the chat using your own timeline, or you can use a website like Tweetchat.com (or an App like Hootsuite) to follow the posts. You can post questions by simply add #UV14 to your tweets (when the chat is in progress).