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Undiscovered Voices 2016

10/06/15

It 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 The more I looked into UV, the more I realised what an incredible boost it could be to an unpublished writer.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.

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?

UV4_COVER

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6 thoughts on “Blog

  1. Pingback: Guest Blog: Matt Ralphs – Everything to Gain, Almost Nothing to Lose | Undiscovered Voices

  2. Brilliant news about your experience and very good luck with the launch next month. Just one thing on your submission: did you enter the first pages or an extract elsewhere? It doesn’t seem to make that clear — although it may do somewhere, I didn’t look that hard!

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    • Thank you. I’m certainly looking forward to getting the book out there.

      I think you can submit any section of the book you like, but it’s probably a good idea to use the opening section. I did because it makes it easier for the judges to get an idea of what the story is about.

      Just make sure to grab their attention right from the start!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Matt. That’s what I thought — so great to have your affirmation. They’ll get it from the top! 🙂

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  3. Hello. I was one of the students in the almost smallish crowd of students at Weatherhead High School. My aim is to be an author. I just wanna ask you, How many words should a chapter have in it for it to be considered a chapter?
    Good Luck in your life! :3

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    • Hi there! Thank you for getting in touch!

      I had such a great time talking at your school!

      Your question about chapter length is an interesting one.

      The simple answer is this: A chapter can be as long or short as you like. I’ve read books where there are chapters that are only one sentence long, some thousands of words, and some books that don’t have chapters at all. So, a chapter can be any length you like.

      So how do you know how long your chapters should be? Well, I like my chapters to vary in length so the rhythm of the book does not get repetitive. I also like my chapters to be like mini stories in themselves, with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

      It can also be good to end chapters with a cliffhanger, something to make the reader turn the page and continue to read. A cliffhanger can be a revelation, an answer to a question, a mystery solved. Or it could be a new problem, setback or danger that your character is confronted with. Or it might be a new mystery or question that must be answered.

      I don’t think a chapter can be judged as ‘finished’ by how many words it contains, but rather by whether it makes the reader want to read further.

      I learned about writing by reading a lot and thinking about how my favourite authors kept me hooked, and then trying out their techniques in my own writing.

      Practice your writing, have fun, and don’t worry about making mistakes!

      I wish you all the best with your writing, and thank you for getting in touch!

      All my best,

      Matt

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