Win Win Win with UV2018!

Submissions for the next Undiscovered Voices open on Saturday! To celebrate, UV founder Sara Grant is giving away books this week. It’s her chance to support her fellow Undiscovered Voices writers and indy bookshops. Follow her on Twitter @AuthorSaraGrant for details and a chance to win books from Imogen White, Simon James Green, Dave Cousins, Kate Scott, Katie Dale, Claire Fayers, Candy Gourlay, Jane Hardstaff, Sarwat Chadda, Jane Benson McLoughlin & Shirley McMillan.

Undiscovered Voices helped launch the careers of 37+ writers with more than 200 books sold worldwide. We can’t wait to see who we will discover next!

Tonight, Monday 26th June, Sara Grant, Benjamin Scott, and Loretta Schauer will be taking questions as part of a live chat from 8pm to 9 p.m. for any last minute Undiscovered Voices questions.

Getting Ready for UV2018 – Guest Blog with Kate Scott

In our fifth guest blog by a past finalist, Kate Scott, who was featured in the first UV anthology back in 2008, talks about saying yes to changes and inspiration. 

The Magic of Saying Yes

I have a good friend who has taken improv classes for years (‘improv’ being the obligatory shortening of ‘improvisation’ – those extra three syllables being presumably too taxing [or uncool] for those who have been initiated into the process’s dark arts).

As I understand it, taking improv classes involves being willing to writhe on the floor, stick chewing gum in your ear, or arrange chairs into endless representations of impromptu and entirely imaginary cars, airplanes or art sculptures. I am not brave enough to undertake any of those actions (On stage? With witnesses? The horror!) but there is one thing about improv that I do understand and try to emulate.

The one rule when improvising is that you say ‘yes’. Yes to all possibilities. Yes to all avenues. It’s essentially acting out the words ‘why not?’ (It’s also related to perhaps the most basic building blocks of storytelling, the ‘what if?’)

It was ‘why not’ that led me to enter the very first Undiscovered Voices competition.

I said ‘yes’ even though I had no idea (and no confidence) that entering my three chapters would get me anywhere. Where it got me was the most important ‘yes’ of my writing career to date – an inclusion in the Undiscovered Voices anthology. That in turn led to other yes’s (along with many, many no’s). That one yes is the main reason I (eventually) became a published author and a full-time writer.

Where it got me was the most important ‘yes’ of my writing career to date – an inclusion in the Undiscovered Voices anthology.

Holding ‘yes’, or at least, ‘why not?’ in your mind is also helpful when it comes to the editorial process. It particularly comes into its own when someone makes a radical suggestion about changing your story.

Your first instinct might be to say something along the lines of ‘You think I should give my superhero protagonist a flying-dog sidekick with a flatulence problem? You great, galumphing fool!’

But if you give it time and an open mind sometimes you’ll discover that you agree with them – and that they’ve just helped you to make an enormous improvement to your work. (Note: sometimes the suggestion is just that of a great, galumphing fool though. Not everyone likes flatulence in stories, even coming from a flying-dog sidekick.)

You don’t have to writhe on the floor or stick chewing gum in your ear to become a good writer – but you do have to say ‘why not’.

You don’t have to writhe on the floor or stick chewing gum in your ear to become a good writer – but you do have to say ‘why not’. You do have to take a chance on yourself. So take your writing, believe in it, and enter the UV2018 competition. Say yes. Because you never know, they might say yes too.

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?


 

Kate Scott has written over 25 children’s books (trade fiction, educational fiction and non-fiction) and over forty children’s television scripts. She is also a script editor and consultant for children’s film and television; a published/broadcast poet; and a playwright. Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights won a Lancashire Fantastic Book Award in 2015. Her latest children’s book, Giant, has been longlisted/nominated for two awards. Another standalone novel, Just Jack, comes out in 2018.

Agents: Eve White at Eve White Literary Agency (Books) and Jean Kitson at Kitson Press Associates (Scriptwriting)

Websites: www.evewhite.co.uk and www.kitsonpress.co.uk/

Twitter: @KateScottWriter

 

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 Jane Hardstaff

In the third of a series of guest blog by past finalists, Jane Hardstaff, talks about the twisty-turny route to becoming a published author, and almost not entering Undiscovered Voices 2012!

When I was sixteen years old, I had a weekend job as a waitress in a hotel in the small market town where we lived. The hotel restaurant was the place you ate if you were old-school posh. It had a veneer of class (avocado vinaigrette, Dover sole and grouse in season), but underneath it was kind-of seedy with many unpleasant tasks for a waitress. It was my job to pick the flies out of the vinaigrette with a teaspoon. To descend to the creepy cold store, always worried I’d lock myself in. To clean up after the very hairy hotel dog. Every Friday and Saturday night, I’d arrive home stinking of grease and cigar smoke and I guess you could say this was a pretty uninspiring job. I wasn’t being mentored on some amazing internship. I was hiding from the sleazeball barman and developing an addiction to prawn cocktail.

At sixteen years old I had no particular ambition to be a writer. All I knew was I didn’t want to be a waitress. Fast forward a couple of decades. I’d travelled a twisty-turny route through several jobs, discovering along the way that the one thing that made me happy (and also weirdly unhappy) was writing.

If you are wondering (as I did) whether to enter Undiscovered Voices, then you probably should.

What has any of this got to do with Undiscovered Voices? I guess what I want to say is, it can take a long time to find your voice. And it can take just as long to pluck up the courage to get it out there. If you are wondering (as I did) whether to enter Undiscovered Voices, then you probably should. You are probably your own worst critic. Enter, because you have nothing to lose. And if you’re not longlisted, keep going. Write a better book. Write the book only you can write.

It may take half a lifetime to get there, but it will be worth it.

 


The Executioner's Daughter
The Executioner’s Daughter by Jane Hardstaff

Jane Hardstaff (UV 2012) is the author of The Executioner’s Daughter and River Daughter (published by Egmont UK and Lerner Books USA). Longlisted for the Branford Boase, winner of the Salisbury Schools Book Award and selected for USBBY Outstanding International Books List 2017.

 

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?

Get the Scoop from the Illustration Masterclass on Black and White Illustration

Imogen Noxell reports in Words & Pictures on the recent SCBWI Masterclass on black & white illustration at the House of Illustration, in preparation for #UV2018. Anne-Marie Perks, Loretta Schauer, and Patrick Miller share their inspiration, working materials and top advice. Check out the write up here.

UV2018 Buzz Round Up

A buzz is building about #UV2018 and we’ll be capturing blog posts and reports here.

Missed the Undiscovered Voices Masterclass about writing Young Fiction? Check out this report in Words & Pictures by Marianna Reed Barber who shares some of what she learnt from UV committee members Catherine Coe, Sara Grant and Benjamin Scott. This piece is packed with excellent advice on creating fiction for young readers with hook, heart and longevity: http://www.wordsandpics.org/2017/05/undiscovered-voices-masterclass.html

Want to catch what the judges said at the UV Kick Off event, then track down the livestream video on the SCBWI British Isles Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/122794234418913/videos/

Former UV finalists have been blogging about their writing journeys and how being featured in the anthology was an important step in their careers.

Em Lynas talks about her tenacity and enduring dream to be writer that lead to become both an honorary mention and a finalist in Undiscovered Voices. Her hard work and patience is finally paying off, find out more in her blog here: http://www.notesfromtheslushpile.com/2017/05/the-writers-journey-how-long.html

Finally, Katrina Charman talks about her career really took off when she became a UV finalist and has now become the author of eleven books (and rising!). You can read about her blog and encouragement to writers to enter UV here: https://katrinacharman.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/undiscovered-voices/

 

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

Twitter Chat Q+A #scbwichat on #uv2018 – 11th May, 8pm.

We are excited to announce that hot on the heels of the Undiscovered Voices 2018 launch, we’ll be answering questions as part of the very first #scbwichat from 8 to 9pm on Thursday 11th May. Answering questions for both writing and illustration will be:

  • Jenny Glencross
  • Benjamin Scott
  • Rosie Best
  • Anne-Marie Perks
  • Patrick Miller


This is an excellent opportunity for everyone to catch up on all the information that was given at the UV launch (especially for those who couldn’t make it) or to clarify things that were talked about. The committee will also give some hints and tips on putting together a great submission and will share some of the advice that was given by the judges on the launch day.

Undiscovered Voices is an initiative by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) British Isles to help fresh, new voices in children’s literature – both writers and illustrators – find agents, publishers and ultimately readers.

See you from 8 to 9pm on Thursday 11th May on twitter as part of #scbwichat.

Honorary Chairs Announced!

We are delighted to announce that Frances Hardinge and Alexis Deacon are to be UV2018’s Honorary Chairs.

Frances Hardinge – Honorary Author Chair

Frances Hardinge, (c) David Levenson

Frances Hardinge was brought up in a sequence of small, sinister English villages, and spent a number of formative years living in a Gothic-looking, mouse-infested hilltop house in Kent. She studied English Language and Literature at Oxford, fell in love with the city’s crazed archaic beauty, and lived there for many years.

Whilst working full time as a technical author for a software company she started writing her first children’s novel, Fly by Night, and was with difficulty persuaded by a good friend to submit the manuscript to Macmillan. Seven of her books have now been published, all aimed at children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Lie Tree, won the Costa Book of the Year Award, the fiction category of the Boston Globe Hornbook Award and the 12-16 age category of the UKLA Awards.

Frances is seldom seen without her hat and is addicted to volcanoes.

Alexis Deacon – Honorary Illustrator Chair

Alexis Deacon is a writer and illustrator of children’s books. His first book, Slow Loris, was published in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award. In 2015 it was named one of the hundred best children’s books of all time by Time Magazine.

He has twice been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal and is a two time recipient of The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award. In 2014, The River, won the Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize.  In 2008 he was chosen by Booktrust as one of the ten best new illustrators of the preceding decade.

Alexis’ latest book, Geis, Nobrow Press, is the first in an epic trilogy genre-spanning a mix of supernatural, historical fantasy, action and folk tale.

UV 2018 Launch Event – 2nd May 2017

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) British Isles will once again help fresh, new voices in children’s literature find agents and publishers through its Undiscovered Voices project.

The Undiscovered Voices anthology will include twelve fiction extracts – from early readers up through young adult novels – and up to 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 to 15th August 2017 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.

Authors and illustrators from the five previous anthologies have received publishing contracts for more than 120 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 more than 30 regional awards.

The Undiscovered Voices team will launch the project with an event:

  • Tuesday 2 May 2017
  • from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • at the Hachette UK Head Office (Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0DZ) in the 6th Floor Storey Café

The event will consist of two panel discussions – one for writers, one for illustrators – in which the judges will offer invaluable advice for those planning to submit to the anthology. Tickets are free but you must sign up for the event on the British SCBWI website: https://britishisles.scbwi.org/events/undiscovered-voices-2018-kick-off-event-2/. You must be registered for the event to attend.

The following judges will select the stories 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

For more details about submitting to UV2018, click here.

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/