We are pleased to announce the April 2024 Slush Pile Challenge, set by Deirdre Power, Assistant Agent for Caroline Walsh of David Higham Associates.


 Deirdre Power

Deirdre Power started her career at Curtis Brown as an assistant, and since then she’s worked in children’s editorial at Simon & Schuster and Usborne Publishing. She joined David Higham Associates in January 2023 to assist Caroline Walsh on her phenomenal list.


Prior to working in publishing, Deirdre attended Trinity College Dublin for a BA in English Studies and MPhil in Children’s Literature, and previously worked as a bookseller on Grafton Street in Dublin.


David Higham Associates is one of the leading agencies for writers in the world, managing the careers of authors and screenwriters across all genres in all markets. They have nearly fifty staff working in their modern Soho office across the main departments of Books, Film, TV & Stage, Translation Rights and Accounts.


Founded in 1935 and still independent and thriving nearly ninety years later, DHA has some of the most successful literary careers of the twentieth century in their care. They believe it is their ability to foresee the future whilst safekeeping the past that makes them one of the most successful agencies in the world. Please explore their Agent and Author pages to gain a sense of the range of their work across adult and children’s fiction and non-fiction, poetry, literary estates and scriptwriting.


They promote their clients’ work at the highest level and are known in the industry for negotiating the very best terms available in the marketplace. They are editorially driven, providing personal, hands-on advice and guidance on all aspects of their authors’ careers. In short, DHA clients are at the heart of everything they do. From creative support to focusing on the minutiae of every clause of every contract, they know that their success depends entirely on the writers they represent but also on the level of attention they pay to their careers and the quality of their advice.


DHA agents are at the forefront of understanding and navigating a rapidly evolving digital landscape, monitoring and capitalising upon the new formats and platforms entering the market every year. As a team they collaborate on everything they do, pooling knowledge and experience and supporting each other’s successes.


They aim to ensure their clients’ work is promoted at the highest level. They negotiate on their behalf for the very best terms available in the marketplace. And they provide personal, hands-on advice and guidance on all aspects of a writer's career. 

They are longstanding members of the Association of Authors’ Agents (AAA) of which their colleagues Anthony Goff and Lizzy Kremer have both served as President, and also the Personal Managers’ Association (PMA). They are proud to support the industry-wide commitment to professional behaviour in bookselling and publishing, and although they recognise they are not fully representational, as a company they are working together to change this. 





Deirdre would like to see “First chapter, pitch and synopsis for tween/early teen novels in any genre, aimed at a core readership of 10-14 year olds. I’d specially love to see contemporary/realistic fiction but am open to anything aimed specifically at this age group.”







Deirdre will pick a winner. She will arrange to have a 30-minute meeting with the winner. It will be either in person, Zoom or a phone call.









You need to be an un-agented, current SCBWI member, and resident in either the UK or Europe.


If you win a challenge, you can enter any other Slush Pile Challenges but not with the same manuscript.


To join SCBWI and take advantage of the many opportunities to raise your profile, market your work, meet fellow writers, artists and the gatekeepers to publication, while being supported in the development and pursuit of your craft, visit


If, between submitting your entry and the winner being announced, you gain representation from an agent, please contact us at





1 Check that you are a paid-up member of SCBWI before submitting your entry by going to Any entries received where member's details cannot be found on SCBWI records will not be included as a valid entry.


2 Send in your entry as a single Word document to Submissions to the Slush Pile Challenge should not be sent direct to the agent/editor/judge.


3 The document should only contain THE TITLE and FIRST CHAPTER, PITCH AND SYNOPSIS the judge has requested. Do not include your name, address or email address in your word document or the document name. The word document should be named in the following format – 'your title' April 2024 Slush Pile.doc


4 Please do not insert a header or footer in your submission.


5 In the email please write your full name as it appears in SCBWI membership records and your email address. Also include the title of your work.


6 Shortly after you have submitted your entry you will receive an email from the competitions email address stating, 'Your entry has been received.' If you do not receive this message please send an email to However, we cannot put entries through after the closing date unless your entry is received on or before the closing date.


7 Only the first entry will be considered. Please do not send revisions, multiple entries or multiple attachments.


8 Any entries received after the closing date will automatically be disqualified. The judge will pick a winner and also tell us why. Sometimes he/she may quote a few sentences or phrases from the winner's submission in the blog announcing the winner.





As soon as the competition is closed, it is necessary to generate a random selection using a computer program. All valid and verified entries received will be included irrespective of whether the entry was received on the date of the launch of the competition or on the closing date, or whether the entrant has previously had their submissions seen by an agent/editor/judge. This has to be done to ensure that there is no bias or pre-judging from SCBWI BI/SCBWI BI Words & Pictures editorial team when sending the entries for judging. The terms of the competition are that the judge agrees to read a minimum of fifteen entries from the number of submissions. In many cases the agent/editor/ judge requests to read more. When an agent/editor/judge requests to read fifteen or another proportion of the total entries, those chosen as the first ones to be read by the computer will be sent to him/her. Sometimes the judge may request a further selection of valid and verified entries before making their decision. When this occurs, to avoid bias, the next group of entries from the initial computer generated random selection will be sent to the agent/editor/judge. There are times when the judge requests to read all the entries and these are then forwarded to him/her.


The judge will pick a winner and also tell us why. Sometimes he/she may quote a few sentences or phrases from the winner's submission in the blog announcing the winner.


The winner will be put in touch with the judge so they can arrange the 30-minute discussion by Zoom or on the phone.


Good Luck Everyone!


The Words & Pictures team are aware that our members write for different ages and genres. With this in mind, we endeavour to provide at least one Slush Pile Challenge a year that our un-agented members feel able to enter.

 *Header image: Ell Rose and Tita Berredo



Elaine Cline has been a SCBWI member for over eight years and loves to write picture books, chapter books, and middle-grade books. She lives by the sea and has one dog.


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


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures.
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Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter or
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