Blog Tour: Katie Dale share 10 tips for would-be UV finalists!

Kate Dale (UV 2008)
Kate Dale (UV 2008)
“Imagine my euphoria when I received an email telling me that I had been chosen as a winner of the SCBWI 2008 Undiscovered Voices competition! How utterly amazing! The only problem? I was in Vietnam, having just started on a belated GAP Year trip. Oh, and I hadn’t finished the book…”


Katie Dale, author of Someone Else’s Life and Little White Lies, shares her UV journey and her top ten tips for writers entering the Undiscovered Voices competition this year. Read more on her blog:

How to help our Judges… Submission Instructions for Writers

We’d really like writers who are about to submit work to the anthology to follow these additional instructions just to make things easier for the editors and the judges:

1) Please make sure your submission has page numbers and the title of your piece in the header or footer.

2) The title of your file should match the title of your submission.

3) Please do NOT include a title page.

Many thanks  for your cooperation and for submitting to Undiscovered Voices.

Best wishes

The Editorial Team.

How UV literally changed my life! by Sharon Jones

Lucy Jones (UV 2010)
Lucy Jones (UV 2010)

In the week that UV 2014 opened to submissions, DEAD JEALOUS by Sharon Jones was published in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Sharon was a UV2012 finalist. Here’s the story how Sharon had her arm twisted (really!) to enter the competition and an interview with her agent, Jenny Savill, one of the past UV judges – including a valuable tip for would-be entrants!

One thing leads to another

Kate Scott (UV )
Kate Scott (UV )

I remember seeing the ad for the first Undiscovered Voices and being delighted to see a competition exclusively for children’s writers. While there are dozens of competitions for short story writers, novelists and poets, there are far fewer aimed specifically at children’s writers. So I was determined to make use of the chance.

The inaugural Undiscovered Voices competition didn’t require you to have finished your book in order to submit. This was just as well, as I hadn’t even started one.

But . . . knowing about the competition led to thinking about the competition . . .

And while doing something extraordinarily glamorous like mopping the kitchen floor, or maybe my baby’s mouth (both were unfailingly smeared with food), I came up with an idea for a dystopian story for teens. I wrote and polished three chapters and sent them off. I was slightly crazed by lack of sleep (I’m looking at you, kids) and just wanted to be writing again after a (hopefully temporary) baby-induced creative lobotomy.

That entry, written solely for the competition, led to the phone call telling me I was one of the 2008 winners. I was stunned. (I know people always say that but I really was – I was expecting a call from the plumber. NB: Sara’s message was a lot more interesting.)

The shock quickly led to (slightly hysterical) excitement when I began getting messages from interested editors and agents. This was it! This was the breakthrough I’d been longing for!

Well, not quite.

My hastily finished manuscript had a few holes in it. The way a colander has a few holes in it.

So my manuscript was not snapped up after a frenzied bidding war with editors gripping the manuscript with white-knuckles and bared teeth.

But . . . it did lead to me discovering Cornerstones, who helped me produce something that could be fairly described as a story, rather than a pile of paper with words on it.

And that led to Cornerstones sending the manuscript out to agents. I ended up with two offers of representation. Two! This was it! This was the breakthrough I’d been longing for!

Well, not quite.

My lovely agent, Eve White, sent the manuscript out to editors. There was a lot of interest. (This was it! etc. etc.) There were some very close calls – but my dystopian story was not destined to join the ranks of The Hunger Games, or indeed any ranks at all.

But . . . having an agent led to writing jobs I wouldn’t have had a chance of getting beforehand. And it led to a talk with Eve where I mentioned this idea I’d had about a boy who discovers his parents are spies and has to go undercover…as a girl. She loved it, I wrote it, she submitted it.

The submission story had its own winding plot but . . . it did lead to happy ever acquired with Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights being taken by Piccadilly Press and a sequel, Spies in Disguise: Boy in a Tutu being commissioned for publication next year.

One thing leads to another. The Undiscovered Voices Competition 2014 could be the start of your straight-pathed or windy-laned journey to publication success.

But first, you have to enter.


Blog post by Kate Scott. Kate Scott is a published poet and her poetry and fiction have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She also writes scripts for children’s television. Two of her radio plays have been shortlisted for writing awards. Since being included in Undiscovered Voices, Kate has written a phonic reader (HarperCollins), three books in a 7+ commercial series (Hodder), two books for Pearson Education and a teen dystopian project for an IP company. Her comedy-adventure, Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights, is published by Piccadilly Press (2013) and the sequel, Spies in Disguise: Boy in a Tutu, will be coming out in 2014.

Agents: Eve White at Eve White Literary Agency (Books) and Yasmin McDonald at United Agents (Scriptwriting)


Twitter name: KateScottWriter (tweets writing competitions in all genres)


Stephanie Thwaites, Agent.
Stephanie Thwaites, Agent.

Stephanie Thwaites, Children’s Agent at Curtis Brown UK sparkles with good advice as she delves into the secrets of what makes a good opening. She explores three key components and some fantastic examples of how to grab the reader and start off with a bang!

UV 2014 – Writers Bonus – The Panel discuss their recent acquisitions and why they loved them!

Please note: this video relates to the 2014 Undiscovered Voices judging panel.

As part of the Undiscovered Voices competition launch on April 18th 2013, we asked the fiction judging panel who were present about their most recent acquisitions. What followed revealed a lot about the role agents and editors in the acquisition process and how important it is for there to be a personal connection between the reader and the characters. It’s not just about being commercial and marketable, but about making the reader excited into enter into the world of the book. In comes as no surprise to anyone who has watched the previous videos that the role of voice ruled supreme.


UV 2014 – Writers Bonus – Ben and Sam discuss “Is there ever a time for Info dump?”

Please note: this video relates to the 2014 Undiscovered Voices judging panel.

In this bonus video from our fiction judging panel, Ben Horslen and Samantha Smith talk about how characters can be used to impart information and getting around problematic exposition (as known as “Info Dump”). Please check out our other Undiscovered Voices videos.

UV 2014 – Video for Writers: The Final Words of Advice from our Judges

Please note: this video relates to the 2014 Undiscovered Voices judging panel.

In our final clip from the Undiscovered Voices competition launch meeting on April 18th, we asked the fiction judging panel who were present for some words of advice and tips for writers. As Gemma Cooper starts off the discussion about how to get voice right by encouraging writers to listen to their work aloud (whether recording yourself reading it or getting someone else to read it). The panel then share their top tips for writers, from making sure you write the book you want to write, through to letting the readers use their imaginations.

UV 2014 – Video for Writers: Judging Panel’s Mistakes to Avoid and Advice on Genre

Please note: this video relates to the 2014 Undiscovered Voices judging panel.

Here’s our second clip for writers from the Undiscovered Voices competition launch meeting on April 18th. We asked the fiction judging panel who were present what mistakes writers should avoid and what advice they had on writing in popular genre. The panel start by talking about the obvious mistakes to avoid such as starting off with a character waking up or putting “info dump” in the first chapter, but soon start talking about how to bring something new to a genre you love. Our editors and agents also talk about how work for younger fiction is in great demand – especially in the Undiscovered Voices anthology!

Blog Tour: Behind the Scenes of an Illustrators’ Competition

annemarieperks-biopic2UV illustration champion and SCBWI BI Illustrator Coordinator Anne-Marie Perks introduces the illustration judges, shares behind-the-scenes of  the evolving illustration  side to the UV competition and reveals some top tips of aspiring and pre-published illustrators hoping to enter. Click here to read more in the Big Little Tale Blog: