Top Tips for NaNoWriMo 2020

Posted by Amy Gerrish on Thursday November 19th, 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!

Kiran Millwood Hargrave

‘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.’

Veronica Cossanteli 

Veronica Cossanteli

‘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.’

Lucy Stange

‘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.’

Barry Cunningham

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.

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The 2021 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition

Posted by Amy Gerrish on Monday October 26th, 2020

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 1 February 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 …

Posted by Amy Gerrish on Friday October 23rd, 2020

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

Posted by Amy Gerrish on Monday October 19th, 2020

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!

Posted by Kesia on Thursday July 7th, 2016

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 ...

Posted by Kesia on Friday June 17th, 2016

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

Posted by Jazz on Monday June 13th, 2016

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!

Posted by Jazz on Monday June 6th, 2016

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!

Posted by Jazz on Monday May 30th, 2016

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!

Posted by Jazz on Monday May 23rd, 2016

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!

Posted by Jazz on Monday May 16th, 2016

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!

Posted by Jazz on Monday May 9th, 2016

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

Posted by Kesia on Friday May 6th, 2016

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!

Posted by Jazz on Friday April 29th, 2016

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!

Posted by Jazz on Thursday March 31st, 2016

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!

Posted by Jazz on Monday December 14th, 2015

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

Posted by Laura on Wednesday November 11th, 2015

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…)

My Top Writing Tips: Lucy Inglis

Posted by Jazz on Wednesday October 21st, 2015

Lucy Inglis is the author of two fantastic Chicken House novels: thrilling fantasy City of Halves and epic romance Crow Mountain. She shares her top writing tips – #TimesChickenHouse entrants, take note!  (more…)

My Top Writing Tips: Lisa Drakeford

Posted by Jazz on Wednesday September 23rd, 2015

Lisa Drakeford, author of the brilliant The Baby, was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition in 2014. One year on we've published her fantastic shortlisted story – here are her top tips for budding authors!  (more…)

Children's Fiction Competition: We're Looking for a Young Judge!

Posted by Jazz on Monday September 21st, 2015

It’s here – we can now announce our VERY exciting Young Judge competition! We’re looking for a brilliant and enthusiastic 14-18 year old guest judge for our Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition – we want YOU to help us choose a winner.