Results - Slush Pile Challenge October 2015

Amber Caravéo from Skylark Literary set us a wonderful challenge for October 2015. 


I'm looking for a new and powerful voice for any age group, so I'd like to see a one page synopsis and an excerpt of no more than 750 words.  

The excerpt can be any part of the story that really demonstrates a distinctive, powerful and engaging voice. It could be first person, from the point of view of the protagonist, and thus showcasing their voice or it could be third person and demonstrating the narrative voice of the novel. It could be funny, witty, quirky or dark, but it must be engaging and unique.  


Amber Caravéo
We received twenty nine entries from members across the British Isles and Europe for this competition. Amber agreed to read all the submissions and now we have a winner! This is what she told us when announcing the results:

I enjoyed reading the submissions and, am pleased to announce that my winner is  PRINCE BOB AND HORRIBLE HAGATHA by MAUREEN LYNAS

This completely fulfilled the brief. I
was very impressed with the voices 
that came through in the writing.

The winner manages to convey the different personalities really clearly through their dialogue and actions. For example, the king uses lots of quirky terms of endearment for the queen. Phrases such as my little dumpling, my little jammy doughnut, my little lollipop convey his fondness, but also make his voice within the story very recognisable. The queen also has a clear voice of her own. We quickly learn how organised she is when she is checking her list for the party. For example, ‘Wishing cake - three layers - chocolate, carrot and fudge,’ said the queen. ‘Tick.’ And so on.  

The narrative voice of the story is unique and distinctive from the very first line when the prince is introduced. The author's voice was so strong that it even came through in the synopsis.  

An honourable mention must go to THE DOG-WALKING CONSORTIUM. The protagonist has his own unique voice and made me laugh when he started recounting the horrors of monstrosities (dogs!). Also, FINDING FINCH and TRAITOR’S DAUGHTER both feature protagonists with authentic voices that feel nicely tailored to their period or setting. 

In terms of the other submissions, it was interesting to see all 29 competition entries because they were so varied. There were lots of different voices – clever, funny and moving – and some that struggled to find a strong, distinctive voice, which goes to show how very difficult it can be. 

A huge thank you to all the SCBWI members who sent in entries. As ever, they were completely fascinating and inspiring.

Congratulations to Maureen from all of us at Words & Pictures. We hope she's well on her way towards getting her novel published.
Congratulations to Barbara Henderson for getting an honourable mention for THE DOG-WALKING CONSORTIUM. Well done to Lindsay Littleson - FINDING FINCH and Susanna White – TRAITOR'S DAUGHTER for getting recognition for their entries.

Thanks to everyone who entered. Keep writing and we hope you will be encouraged to try your hand at more competitions.

Until leaving to set up Skylark Literary, Amber was the Editorial Director at Orion Children’s Books where she was privileged to work with some of the best authors in Children’s and YA fiction.

With over 25 years in the children’s publishing industry, Amber Caravéo and Joanna Moult formed Skylark Literary to seek and support the very best writers for young people. They specialise in nurturing talented authors, helping each to find their voice and develop their writing skills.  

Elaine Cline has been a SCBWI member for over 3 years and loves to write picture books, junior fiction and middle-grade. She lives by the sea and has two soft and silly cats.

Elaine is a member of the Words & Pictures' editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge for writers.


  1. Congratulations to Maureen for winning this challenge. Thank you to Amber Caravéo at Skylark Literary for setting this challenge.

  2. Congratulations Maureen. I enjoyed reading an excerpt of this for our critique group, it was very polished.

  3. Enormous congratulations, Maureen - and many thanks to Amber, and Elaine.

  4. Lindsay Littleson29 November 2015 at 10:22

    Congratulations Maureen! Very well deserved. Huge thanks to Amber and Elaine too for organising the competition. It's really good to know I'm on the right track with my character's voice in Finding Finch.

  5. Thanks everyone. And thank you so much for organising this Elaine and thank you to Amber for picking me!

  6. Gripping beginning. Well done Maureen. Looking forward to reading rest of the chapters.

    1. Thanks, Susmita. I hope you get to read them one day in a real book!

  7. Congratulations Maureen! Very brilliant news indeed!

    1. Thanks, Jan. It was lovely spending time with you at the conference.

  8. Well done :) I love the voice of the queen, and the polarity between her and the king.

    1. xxx My writing is what it is because you challenge me xxx

  9. Hurray Maureen! I've been a big fan since reading part of another book last year! Well done!

    1. Thanks so much, Julie. Witch School Sucks is ready for a re-write in January. Should be fun.

  10. Hurray Maureen! I've been a big fan since reading part of another book last year! Well done!


We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.