SLUSH PILE CHALLENGE January 2020 Winner Lesley Scriven

Lesley Scriven

Lesley Scriven, winner of the January 2020 Slush Pile Challenge, tells us why she entered the competition and about her experience of discussing her submission with Becky Bagnell, of The Lindsay Literary Agency.

Lesley won this challenge by submitting the following:

The first 1,000 words and ½ page synopsis of a middle-grade adventure that had a child and animal friendship/relationship at its heart. This could have been a contemporary, historical or fantasy adventure - so the animal didn’t need to exist in the real world. For inspiration Becky was looking for anything along the lines of One Dog and his Boy or The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson or something magical like His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. 

Becky chose Izzy Piper: Apprentice Mathemagician by Lesley Scriven as "it was the descriptions of Chester, the Canadian automaton palm-reading bear and his relationship with Izzy that initially intrigued me. The Extraordinary Vintage Emporium is so perfectly described – for instance I loved, ‘…the tiger skin rug that snarled when you stepped on its tail.’"


When I saw that Becky Bagnell was looking for a middle-grade adventure with a child and animal friendship at its heart, I couldn’t resist sending in an extract of Izzy’s story. Okay, so Chester the Canadian automaton palm-reading bear isn’t your everyday animal – being mounted and filled with mechanics back in 1903, not to mention sprinkled with magic, he couldn’t possibly be – but he and Izzy do have a special relationship. 

Preparation for entry was minimal; just that week I’d queried selected agents, so I had everything I needed to send to Elaine. And the process was painless: she kept in touch throughout, even emailing from an airport in Tenerife to confirm she’d received my entry – how’s that for commitment!

Winning came as a surprise, not least because I’d forgotten I’d entered. It was great news though, and Becky’s comments in the Words & Pictures article about the world I’d created in the Extraordinary Vintage Emporium were a super confidence boost. The one-to-one was equally encouraging, and her feedback was balanced, detailed, and incredibly helpful. I’ll be putting it to use in time, but first I need to complete my new work in progress, which, incidentally, also has a strong child/animal dynamic. Happily, Becky wants to see that too, and I’ll be sure to apply her advice to increase my chance of success.

Whatever happens next, I’ll always look back on this and smile. And I’ll always be grateful … to Becky, for generously sharing her expertise, to SCBWI and Elaine, for organising the competition, and to my Edinburgh MG crit group buddies, for being brilliant cheerleaders. I can’t thank everyone enough.

Photo: Lesley Scriven

A special thanks to Becky Bagnell, of The Lindsay Literary Agency for setting the competition, judging it and providing such valuable feedback to Lesley.

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 editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge.

No comments:

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.