SLUSH PILE CHALLENGE - April 2019 Winner - Harriet Worrell

Harriet Worrell

Harriet Worrell, winner of the April 2019 Slush Pile Challenge, tells us why she entered the competition and about her experience of discussing her submission with Rachel Mann, of Jo Unwin Literary Agency (JULA Ltd).

Harriet won this challenge by submitting a synopsis and up to 2000 words of a middle grade story with an immediately compelling, sparky and original voice. Rachel was especially on the look-out for funny at that moment in time, so if that was you then all the better - but the voice was the thing, and Rachel was not averse to a bit of grit, either. The manuscript had to be complete at the point of entry.

Rachel chose The Good Child Serum by Harriet Worrell for "totally nailing the brief – James’s cheeky voice leapt off the page from the opening lines, and it’s clearly a really funny and well plotted story, too. There’s an immediate sense of place, a well-drawn cast of characters, and a wonderfully jaunty sense of mystery – I think there’d be a clear place for this in the children’s book market and I’d love to read more!


I entered April’s Slush Pile Challenge with no expectations but plenty of hope. As the days went on and there was no news, my hope dwindled until I received an email saying I’d won – with lovely comments that swelled my heart!

Of course I was giddy with excitement (at my age I don’t usually get excited) but what counted the most was that someone in the business rated my writing. It doesn’t get much better than that, except for maybe a publishing deal.

Rachel Mann asked for my full MS and once she’d read it, we had our chat. She suggested a few tweaks, e.g. change one of the male characters to female, add some world building. All of course very valid and helpful.

Whilst waiting to speak to Rachel, I’d entered the same story into UV so here’s to more ‘no expectations but plenty of hope’ and I have just found out it’s on the longlist. There’s still hope then…

Thanks so much to Rachel Mann for setting this challenge and her valuable feedback about my writing also to SCBWI BI volunteers for organising competitions for unagented members.  
                                                                                                      Feature photo: Harriet Worrell

The Words & Pictures team wish Harriet all the best with polishing her manuscript. A special thanks to Rachel Mann, of Jo Unwin Literary Agency (JULA Ltd) for setting the competition, judging it and providing such valuable feedback to Harriet.

Elaine Cline has been a SCBWI member for over six years and loves to write picture books, middle-grade and teen books. She lives by the sea and has one dog and one cat. Elaine is a member of the Words & Pictures team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge.

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