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)