Slush Pile Challenge - October 2013

We are pleased to announce the October 2013 Slush Pile Challenge

This time the challenge has been set for all fiction writers by Mara Bergman of Walker Books. 

Photo Copyright Ellen Montelius 
Mara Bergman is a Senior Commissioning Editor at Walker Books. She is also the author of many picture books. She commissions and edits fiction, primarily for teens. Her authors include Martyn Bedford, Veronica Bennett, Jon Blake, Mary Finn, Sonya Hartnett, Edward Hogan, Y.S. Lee, Rob Lloyd Jones, Deborah Noyes, Mal Peet, Robert Rigby, Ann Turnbull and Atinuke (picture books and young fiction).

The first chapter of a junior, teen or YA novel; no dystopian, fantasy, vampires or zombies.  Please keep the length of a chapter to less than 2000 words.

Mara Bergman will pick a winner and arrange to have a meeting with the winner by phone or in person for 30 minutes.

Send in your entries by 31st October 2013.


Who is eligible?
  • You need to be a current SCBWI un-agented member, resident in the UK. 
  • If your entry is selected for a given Slush Pile Challenge, you will not be able to enter for any other challenges.
To join SCBWI and take advantage of the many opportunities to raise your profile: market your work, meet fellow writers, artists, the gatekeepers to publication, while being supported in the development and pursuit of your craft, visit

What do you need to do?

Send in your first chapter (as Word Document) to 
by 31st October 2013.

The word document should only contain the first chapter with its title. Do not include your name, address or email address in the word document.

In the email - please write your full name as it appears in SCBWI membership records, title of the book  and your email address. 

The Process

We will choose 15 entries randomly and send to the editor for review.
The editor will pick a winner and also tell us why.
The winner will be put in touch with the editor, for a 30-minute phone / personal meeting.

Good Luck Everyone!

Chitra has published over 20 books in Singapore, UK, USA and India. She loves writing picture books, folktales and is also working on fiction for 7+ with a lead character brightly named Aurora. Chitra is a member of the Words & Pictures' editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge.


  1. When it states Junior, what sort of age group would that be? Thanks

  2. Maybe a wee edit for clarification please? 'First page of first chapter'? or is that just an accidental repetition?

    1. Thanks for spotting the duplication Louise:)
      Yes, it's first chapter.

  3. I'd guess: Junior 9-11, Teen 12-14, YA 14+?

  4. Yes, I'd agree broadly with those age bands though sometimes junior is 8-12.

    This challenge is more specific about content i.e. no vampire zombies in dystopian fantasy worlds.

  5. Is this a novel that has already been completed or can one send in the first chapter of a work in process?

    And...sorry to be dim. "If your entry is selected you will not be able to enter for any more challenges"? Do you mean selected as in one of the 15 random chapted or selected as the winner?

    1. Apologies for the delay in replying Caroline.
      Firstly I think it can either be from a complteted MS or a WIP - it depends what you want to gain from the 30 minute meeting if you win.

      Secondly - not being dim at all ! It isn't clear. I am fairly sure that only the winner would be ineligible for future Slush Pile Challenges. Chitra will correct me if I'm wrong but in the meantime please do send in:)

  6. What about something that's been submitted for this year's Undiscovered Voices?

  7. I write short stories for teenage reluctant readers. Can I enter?

  8. Sorry I haven't responded to so many queries - for some reason I don't get alerts when comments are posted.

    Junior is 7+ (not just MG),
    You can send in if it is a work in progress - unless of course you risk the situation that if Mara likes it and wants to see it - you will not be able to show your entire work.

    As long as the first story or the first chapter of the story is up to 2000 words.

    What was submitted to undiscovered voices is great - but I need to check if Undiscovered voices had explicit no-no about that - ie, if you win this and you are in the short list for Undiscovered - not sure if there is an issue. You will need to check with Sara Grant on that.

    Selected - means winning - I'll change the language of the T&C next time.

  9. We've received 6 entries so far! Are you entering?

    1. Hi Chitra, I have just tried twice to send in my entry for the Slushpile challenge to and it has been refused. Can you help.

  10. All, everyone who entered should have received an email from me telling them whether the entry was amongst the randomly chosen ones to be sent to Mara or not.

    We received around 2 dozen entries. Good luck to the 15 random entries that were chosen.

    Results hopefully by end of the year - if there's a delay - I will let everyone know.


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