SCBWI + Magazine Merit Award: Nick Cross


Welcome to a new series for Words & Pictures on the various awards, grants, scholarships etc. that SCBWI offer, which you may or may not have heard of. 

When I was first asked to write this, I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely sure where to start. I mean, I knew there was a link on the website entitled ‘SCBWI Awards & Grants’ but, to be honest, I’d never paid it much attention as I didn’t think they were particularly relevant to me. However, this is most definitely not the case.
Although at first glance they can seem fairly US-biased, these supercharged SCBWI benefits are open to any SCBWI member, no matter where you live.

Over the next few months I will be highlighting specific examples, and hopefully speaking to members who have benefited, whether this be for a Work-In-Progress Award, an Emerging Voices Award, the Bologna Illustrator Gallery (BIG), the various scholarships available, or the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant, to name a few examples. 

But first up is the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award. This is awarded for original magazine work for young people in the categories of Fiction, Non-fiction, Illustration, and Poetry, and was won by Nick Cross in 2015. 

SCBWI British Isles' own Nick Cross
Here Nick gives us a little bit of background as to how it all came about.


Back in 2014, I was fortunate enough to land a regular slot in a brand-new UK children’s magazine called Stew. I’d impressed the editor with my ability to write stories that were the length of flash fiction (600 – 800 words), but that also had the beginning, middle and twist-ending structure of conventional short stories. The compact word length was so that the stories could fit comfortably onto an illustrated double-page spread, and my words benefited from some stunning artwork by up-and-coming illustrators. The magazine was published every two months, and I was lucky enough to rack up twelve printed stories over the next couple of years. It was a creatively fertile time for me, as no subject was too out-there to be wrangled into a short tale, from discovering aliens in a 19th-century coal mine to a surprisingly joyous meditation on the end of the world. But during that first year, one story stood out for me – 'The Last Typewriter'. This was inspired by the closure of the world’s last typewriter factory, and it catapulted us into the year 2084, where a teenage boy has broken into the British Museum to write a letter on the only typewriter left in existence. It was a tale that combined a lot of my technological preoccupations of the time, but wrapped them up in a surprising love story.

This is an award that perhaps not many people in SCBWI British Isles are aware of, so can you tell us how you found out about it, and about the submission process?

It’s appropriate that I should be writing about the process on this site, because it was Jan Carr (Words & Pictures editor at the time), who suggested to me that I should enter the Magazine Merit Award. The award was open to SCBWI members who’d had children's fiction or non-fiction articles published in magazines during the previous year.
The submission process was a little complex, requiring me to provide proof of publication, print four copies of everything and post the whole lot to SCBWI headquarters in California. 

How did you feel when you found out you’d won the Magazine Merit Honor Award?

I'd love to say that I forgot all about entering the competition and it was a lovely surprise when I won, but no. I can't switch off like that, and remained acutely aware of the timescales involved. But it was a lovely surprise to win, nonetheless. The news arrived about 9pm UK time, in an email with the pleasing first line: 'YOU ARE A WINNER!!!'

There are two Magazine Merit Awards for each age group, and in truth, I was a little disappointed not to get the category award, which comes with an actual trophy and everything. Instead, I received the honors award certificate, which now lives on my wall alongside a copy of the story itself. And I forgot about the category prize when I discovered that once you've won a writing award – any award – you get to call yourself an "award-winning writer" forevermore! So now I try to do that as much as possible ;-)

SCBWI awards and grants are a great member benefit for the price of an air mail stamp. So, what are you waiting for?

Thanks Nick - congratulations again! And as a special treat for readers of Words & Pictures, you can read Nick's prize-winning story on his website.

The recipients of the 2020 awards for work published in 2019 will be announced in Autumn this year. 

To find out about the recipients of the 2019 Magazine Merit Awards and how to apply for the 2021 awards for work that will be published over the course of this year, see here. The deadline is December, so there’s still plenty of time to get your work out there!


Elizabeth Frattaroli lives by the sea in Scotland with her husband, young twins, and a cat shadow called Willow.  Her current YA work in progress, The Eyelash Dandelion, won the 2019 T. C. Farries prize, and she has written a number of picture books, one of which was shortlisted in the Greenhouse Funny Prize Award.   She has also been known to write poems and short stories, some of which have been published.

Her recently completed YA novel, 16 Again, a modern-day Sleeping Beauty story with a Faustian twist, was longlisted in both the 2018 Bath Children’s Novel Award and the 2019 Mslexia Children’s Novel award.

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter: @ELIZFRAT

Elizabeth's website:

1 comment:

  1. Only just catching up with my blog reading. So pleased you included a link to the actual story – I loved it. This has inspired me. I would love to try writing short stories.


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