And the winner is ...
There's been lots of lively discussion this week as our panel of judges gathered to discuss this year’s incredible Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition and IET 150 Award shortlists. The journey to choosing our winners was no easy task ... (more…)
Introducing the 2021 Times/Chicken House and IET Competition Judging Panels!
Our Times/Chicken House and IET Competition judging day and winners’ announcement is right around the corner ...
We’re very excited to be announcing the winners of our Times/Chicken House and IET 150 prizes NEXT WEEK – yippee! So, we thought we’d better introduce you to the clever publishing folks helping our Publisher, Barry Cunningham, decide on our winner ...(more…)
Introducing our Shortlistees!
The moment is finally here! Curious about who made it onto our Times/Chicken House and IET shortlists? We’ve got your back. Choosing our top favourite manuscripts was no easy task this time around - the talent on display in our submissions gets greater and greater as the years go on. With that being said, here are the eight shortlisted authors who made it this year, a little bit about them and a teaser about the books themselves. Congratulations, all!
Our IET competition shortlistees are ...
The Remarkables – Alison Stegert
At age 12, Alison read The Secret Garden, a book she credits with unleashing her desire to write, her urge to travel, and her fascination with the UK—all unusual interests for a country girl from small-town America. At 18, she began travelling and acquiring languages. In China, she fell in love with an Aussie whom she married (best souvenir ever)! After raising three remarkable daughters and retiring from school counselling, Alison now focuses on her writing. She's the state director of the Queensland branch of SCBWI ANZ.
The Remarkables is YA historical fiction with a STEM twist:
#19thCenturyGirlGeniusProblems: When your new job as gadget inventress to Queen Victoria’s League of Lady Spies clashes with your dream opportunity at the 1889 Paris World Fair.
The Cipher Engines – Henry Coles
Henry grew up in a small village in Yorkshire, then studied in Nottingham before moving to Edinburgh, where he lives with his wife and daughters. After dropping out of both a chemistry degree and a PhD in powder metallurgy, he became a computer programmer. He started writing fiction at 12:48 on the 4th of March 2017 and hasn’t stopped yet.
The Cipher Engines is a story of secrets, cryptography and calculating engines, set in Victorian England. It follows thirteen-year-old Ada Halting as she searches for her missing mother, aided by a mysterious talking crow who insists there is no such thing as magic.
Jeremy Gill is Not the Chosen One – Jackie Jones
Jackie’s a Barbadian-British writer using her cultural background, experiences, and imagination, to develop stories and screenplays. Based in Belgium, the former journalist enjoys researching advances in science and tech, history, and lore, as inspiration for her work. While much of her writing falls into the speculative fiction genres, she has creative nonfiction pieces in two anthologies, has written for World Footprints, Fame Focus, and Destination Tips to name a few, and has created courses on copywriting, budget business, and remote working. Nowadays Jackie’s focused on creative content development in multiple mediums, and often indulges her soft spot for ducks with feeding days by the lake.
In Jackie’s shortlisted novel Jeremy Gill Is Not the Chosen One, twelve-year-old mecha pilot trainee Jeremy rebels against being the people’s chosen one, gets in way over his head and when all he cares about is in jeopardy, must fight to make things right.
And our Times/Chicken House competition shortlistees are ...
The Vengeful Son – Amie Jordan
Amie is a freelance artist who lives in Salford, Greater Manchester with her son, dog, and grumpy cat. She designs children’s knitwear and oversees art workshops in primary schools through the day, then writes away whilst drinking endless cups of tea into the night.
Studying film at university, all forms of story telling have been her passion since childhood – tens of boxes under her bed hide long-winded manuscripts: evidence of her child and teenage attempts.
Amie recently discovered the Golden Egg Academy and with the optimism and support she found there mustered the courage to enter her first competition. She is beyond thrilled to have now reached the short list.
Amie’s shortlisted novel, The Vengeful Son, is a classic whodunit interspersed into a contemporary fantasy setting. Sage is a nineteen-year-old werewolf and a dreamer, but when her chance to join the Arcānum and fight crime comes at last, the race to end the case before it ends her is on.
The Flood Child – Emily Randall
Emily trained as an actor, and spent years touring in classic novel adaptations with a merry band of players and the set in a horse box. She's also been an Historical Interpreter (one of those in Georgian dress at Hampton Court) and worked for the National Trust, where she created trails and exhibitions for all ages. In fact, it was producing an interactive murder mystery that ignited a love for writing twisty tales for older children. She now writes alongside raising two tiny people, one of whom lent her middle name to the main character.
The Flood Child tells the story of Autumn, a thirteen-year-old who can see the dead. When her father drowns and he’s the one ghost that doesn’t appear, she must solve the mystery of his death before his past comes hurtling into her present.
Fatima and the Invisible Necklace – Laila Rifaat
Originally from Sweden, Laila moved to Cairo, Egypt, in her twenties to explore her father’s native country. She was supposed to stay for four years to finish her university studies but fell in love with the country (and with her husband) and ended up staying. Although she’s lived in Cairo for over twenty years now, she still thinks of the city as an enormous, historical trifle, with layer upon layer of rich, delicious story. As such, it remains a main source of inspiration for her stories. Laila has an M.A in English and Comparative literature and has worked as an ESL and IGCSE teacher. Nowadays she’s a stay-at-home mom to her four kids and writes whenever they give her a moment’s peace.
Fatima and the Invisible Necklace is the story about a girl who inherits her late mother’s necklace, only to discover that it carries a magic wish that will strangle her unless she carries it out! Fatima’s quest to be free of the curse takes her on quite an adventure: She goes to a time-travel hub in a parallel universe where she meets characters from all over Egyptian history, including some very naughty flying carpets and a pair of sphinxes with a penchant for squabbling and knitwear.
The Portland Place Mystery – Nicola Whyte
Nicola has been writing since she was very young and studied Drama at university, before going on to work as a bookseller. In 2008, she became a web developer and now runs a small digital agency. She writes short stories and novels for both children and adults, and completed the GEA Foundations course last year, working with editor Abigail Kohlhoff on a YA novel. Nicola is also a member of SCWBI, The Golden Egg Academy, and volunteers with the Write Magic writing collective on Facebook. Nicola currently lives in Wiltshire with her partner, daughter and two demanding tabby cats.
The Portland Place Mystery is a contemporary mystery story about a group of twelve-year-olds about to make the transition from middle to secondary school, keen to cement their friendship and make their summer count. When they meet ARLO, Professor Ken’s top secret robotic research come to life, and the only witness to a crime they decide to investigate, can the friends piece together the clues and track down the missing scientist before it’s too late?
Obsidian Heart – Philippa Peall
Philippa is a writer, singer, and theatre-lover who, despite her best efforts to escape, keeps finding herself living in Essex. Her writing is influenced by the training she received during her BA in Journalism – you don’t quickly forget a coarse Yorkshireman yelling at you that stories should be brief and moist! By day she works in marketing for an outdoor opera company. By night she reads and writes children’s books, and occasionally procrastinates by watching people play video games on the internet. As a queer woman who didn’t truly understand her identity until her early twenties, Philippa’s ambition as a writer is to help populate young people’s bookshelves with a rainbow of queer stories.
In Philippa’s shortlisted novel, Obsidian Heart, asexual teen Lizzie accidentally reawakens her world’s dormant magic as she goes on a quest to find her own version of ‘true love’, and free herself from the curse that’s stopped her ever telling the truth.
Our winners will be announced next week, so keep your eyes peeled and watch this space ...
Top Tips for NaNoWriMo 2020
Writing for NaNoWriMo can feel like a real mission – but here’s the help you need to see the month through.
Somehow, we’re halfway through National Novel Writing Month! Whether you’ve strictly kept to word-count-tracking, or just using the time as an opportunity to get into the habit of writing daily, we’ve dug through the archives and found words of writing wisdom to share with you.
And don’t forget – if you have a completed manuscript that you love, the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition is now open for submissions!
For now, let’s hear from those that really know what they’re talking about: our authors!
‘Call yourself a writer. No philosophically bellyaching around whether you ‘count’ as a writer yet. If the label is useful to you, use it.
‘Don’t stop reading. Every writer is different, but in my opinion stopping reading something for fear you'll ‘copy’ it suggests you don’t have an idea or voice strong enough yet. Reading is the only way to see what’s out there, and what you could do better. Plus, reading is a lifeline – it keeps you learning, keeps you humble.’
‘Don’t get bogged down trying to make your first draft stylistically perfect. If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up jettisoning half of it. The longer you’ve spent polishing chapters 1 and 2, the more annoying it is when you realise your story actually begins at chapter 3!
‘My greatest sin ... DO NOT ALLOW RANDOM CHARACTERS TO WANDER INTO YOUR BOOK. Sadly, this includes those with four legs. As above, if they’re not a necessary link in the plot, send them packing. If you don’t axe them, your editor will – and the longer you have lived with them, the more it will hurt. Console yourself with the thought that it doesn’t have to be goodbye forever: their turn may come.’
‘Find a story that you need to tell and give it time to settle and develop in your mind. I find a lot of 'writing' needs to take place in my head before I can start actually writing.
‘I never listen to the radio, podcasts or watch TV etc. before I start writing - I find it drowns out the narrative voice in my head with other people's voices.’
Okay, okay, Barry isn’t an author, but he is the Publisher and Managing Director of Chicken House. If there’s someone that’s truly able to recognise good writing, it’s Barry. Here, he shares some of his top tips for writing something brilliant. Enjoy!
Submit to the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition here.
The 2021 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition
Hot on the tail of our 2020 winner announcement, we’re so excited to declare the new Times Competition OPEN!
This year, we’re introducing a brand new prize in partnership with the wonderful Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). Here are the basics about the two prizes on offer in 2021…
The Times/Chicken House Prize
The prize you already know and love – a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House with a £10,000 advance (subject to contract) for a complete fiction manuscript of any genre for children aged 7 up to YA. The winning entry will be the novel that, in the opinion of the judges, demonstrates the greatest entertainment value, quality, originality and suitability for children.
The IET 150 Award
A brand new prize to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the IET in 2021! The IET 150 Award will be awarded to a complete fiction manuscript for children aged 7 up to Young Adult that broadly explores or celebrates Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. The prize is a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House with a £10,000 advance (subject to contract).
The good news is, you don’t need to do anything extra to be considered for the IET 150 Award; simply enter the competition as normal and our expert team of readers will do the rest. Simple!
The deadline is 14th May 2021 at 11.59pm GMT. Time enough to polish off that manuscript you’ve got languishing in the bottom drawer… or maybe even to write a new one…
For more details on the competition, both prizes, and instructions on how to enter, please visit our submissions page. We can’t wait to read your novel – good luck!
The Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition 2020 winners are …
After a great deal of um-ing, ah-ing and lively discussion by our panel of judges on our incredibly competitive shortlist, the moment has finally arrived ...
Introducing the 2020 Times/Chicken House Competition judging panel
The Times/Chicken House Competition judging day and winners’ announcement is upon us again!
On Friday, two of our five talented shortlistees will win a publishing contract – and the life-changing decisions about who will win rest on the shoulders of seven prestigious industry experts … our marvellous judging panel! (more…)
The 2017 Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition is now open!
Calling all children’s fiction writers! We’re super excited to announce the opening of this year’s children’s fiction competition. And because we’re committed to opening our competition to writers everywhere, we’ve introduced online entry and payment for the first time – yippee! For full details on how to enter, plus our submission requirements, please see our submissions page. (more…)
And the winner is ...
On Monday at the Savile Club, in the downpour of the British summer, our ten judges sat down over coffee and biscuits to decide on the winner of the 2016 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. The debate was heated: every one of our shortlisted novels received passionate support. But ultimately, there can only be one winner. And the winner is … (more…)
Passing the Crown
Laurel Remington won the 2015 Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition with The Secret Cooking Club, which will be published by Chicken House in August 2016. Here she tells us what her publishing journey has been like, and her advice for the final five. (more…)
Meet our final shortlistee!
This week we're introducing our fifth and final Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition shortlistee. Nicki Thornton's novel The Firefly Cage is a middle-grade murder mystery with a magical twist: kitchen boy Seth must solve a murder at a convention of magicians in order to prove himself innocent. (more…)
Meet our fourth shortlistee!
Each week we're introducing one of the five brilliant authors shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition. Up this week is Jamie Smith, author of Frostsliver – the story of one girl’s extraordinary survival when caught in a mountainside avalanche atop a sentient glacier.
Meet our third shortlistee!
This week we're introducing Julie Mee, our third Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition shortlistee. Julie is the author of Project Cat's Away, which follows 12-year-old junior CIA agent, Emma, who struggles to maintain her work-life balance when a friend discovers her secret. (more…)
Meet our second shortlistee!
Each week, we're introducing you to one of the five fantastic authors shortlisted for this year's Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition. This week it's the turn of Tracy Darnton, author of Milo and Operation Stepdad, which follows Milo’s funny and heart-warming quest to find a partner for his single mum. (more…)
Meet our first shortlistee!
Each week, we'll be posting a profile on each of the authors shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition, so you can find out more about them and their book before the final winner announcement in mid June. First up is Janine Barnett-Phillips, author of Asterix Clementine – a gritty love story between two teens with an unexpected twist. (more…)
Reaching the shortlist
As our 2016 shortlistees draw towards the final leg of their journey and the uber-exciting WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT (squee!), we Chickens feel incredibly privileged: we’ve got five amazing manuscripts on our desks, and we’re publishing one of them. It’s impossible to guess which the judges will choose! But what does it really take to make the final five or six in the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition? I’ve been investigating competition data from the past eight years, and I’ve discovered some interesting facts … (more…)
Our shortlist is here!
From the huge amount of entries we received to this year's Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition, we've managed to narrow it down to just five! It was a tough job - each of this year's longlistees were truly fantastic, each story filled to the brim with originality, outstanding writing and completely riveting plots. Each longlisted submission left our team of readers glued to the pages, and it was no mean feat to whittle 20 stories down to five. So without further ado, here they are! (more…)
We have a longlist!
We're very pleased to be announcing the longlist for the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition! Our team of experienced readers read every single submission – and there were lots! – and along with Barry Cunningham and the Chicken House team have drawn up a longlist of the twenty very best submissions. So, here they are! (more…)
Introducing our 2016 Young Judge: Orli!
Hi there! I’m Orli, and I was fortunate enough to be chosen to be The Times and Chicken House’s Young Judge for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2016. I’ll try and tell you a little about myself, just to hopefully persuade you that I’ll be worthy of the role! (more…)
Decoding Publishing Jargon: Sales
Sales is a crucial part of the publishing process (well, obviously!), and as sales tends to be publishers and booksellers talking to other publishers and booksellers, jargon is rife! We've broken down some of those trickier terms for any aspiring authors ... (more…)