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SCBWI Undiscovered Voices story

undiscoveredvoices_blackA short while after finishing the second draft of The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43 (see “The Writing Process”) I received an email from the literary consultancy Cornerstones, telling me about a competition run by the SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). They were launching their first anthology competition – and twelve lucky winners would get to see their pieces of work (about 4000 words of their novel or short story) in a special anthology. The judges of the competition would be a collection of well-respected agents and publishers.

I dithered.

The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43 was, after all, the very first thing I had ever written. Was I really ready to throw myself into the lion’s den?

Then again, this was a golden opportunity. At least this way my work would actually get under the noses of all those agents and publishers, rather than sit festering on the slush pile (for those of you who haven’t come across this horrible term, it is the name given to the manuscripts that lie untouched and unlooked-at on the agent’s/publisher’s floor.)

WHAT DID I HAVE TO LOSE? (except for my pride, perhaps?!)

And so I packaged up my precious first 4000 words and sent them off into oblivion…

About six weeks later, I was sitting at my desk, flicking through the Writers and Artists’ Yearbook and wondering whether I dare start sending my manuscript out to the list of recommended literary agents, when the phone rang.

“Hello,” said a friendly-sounding voice on the other end of the line. “Am I speaking to Harriet?”

“Yes,” I answered, still thumbing idly through the Yearbook.

“This is the SCBWI here,” the voice went on. “May I ask you one or two questions about your recent submission to us?”

“Er – yes,” I replied.

Had I submitted the wrong number of words, perhaps? Had I forgotten to enclose my author biography? Had I sent them the school dinner money by mistake?

The Yearbook now lay forgotten on the desk beside me.

“Have you ever been published before, Harriet?”

“No,” I said.

“And have you received any offers of publication since submitting your entry to us?”

“No,” I said again. (As if…)

There was a brief pause.

“In which case,” said the voice. “I am delighted to be able to inform you that you have been selected as one of the twelve winners of our anthology competition.”

The Yearbook dropped to the floor.

And that was the beginning of everything…

Added: June 30, 2009     Comments (10)



  1. Even the news story is well written. Can’t wait to read the boy who fell down exti 43

  2. Sue Eves says:

    You are an inspiration to us all. Good luck on your journey to The Other Side of publication,

    Sue Eves

    p.s. I love the welcoming and green of your pages

  3. Tracey Brereton says:

    Hope you go a long way with your book. Love from Nicole

  4. Nicole Brereton says:

    To Hattie, If my mum remembers we will come to the launch. Can’t wait! Nicole

  5. harriet43 says:

    Look forward to seeing you there, Nikki. There will be some yummy cakes.

  6. What an achievement! I feel very proud and privileged to have Harriet as a friend. Knew you could do it!!

  7. harriet43 says:

    Thank you, Cath. What a lovely message! Love, Hat x

  8. Carol Savage says:

    This is a fantastic story. You deserve every complimentary word. Looking forward to the 24th. Love Carol x

  9. michael says:

    Brill!! She came to our school and signed my book!

  10. layla says:

    Hey Harriet! Thanks for coming to Bishop Lonsdale – it was great! The book is really interesting!

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