Leaping into 2024 with my original publisher Chicken House!

2024 is a leap year, which means we all get an extra day in February to write our next masterpiece. This extra leap day, which was proposed by Julius Caesar more than 2000 years ago to keep our calendar in sync with the seasons, is traditionally added at the end of the month on February 29th. But I am mentioning it now because there is a rare open submission event happening on that day at Chicken House, the original publisher of my debut novel Song Quest.

For 24 hours only, debut authors of fiction for young readers are invited to enter their (finished or unfinished) first novel into Chicken House's Open Coop.

Open Coop 29th February 2024

Although there wasn't an official Open Coop back when I submitted Song Quest (Chicken House itself was still an idea in an egg at the time), I followed a similar route to publication by sending in the early chapters of my book myself. In those early days I had no agent and knew nobody in the business, so I simply worked my way through the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook starting at 'A'. I was prepared to go all the way through to 'Z' in my quest for a suitable publisher, but in the end I didn't have to send out that many proposals, which was probably just as well since back then we didn't have email, which meant everything had to go by post lovingly wrapped in padded envelopes. You really felt as if you'd made a submission in those days.

In his coop/editorial office at what was then Element Books, Chicken House's founder Barry Cunningham picked my manuscript off his 'slush pile' to take on a fabulous journey that resulted in Song Quest winning the inaugural Branford Boase Award in 2000. The book went on to enjoy publication in America with Scholastic US, on the way securing me a lovely agent in the late Maggie Noach, who at that time agented Anthony Horowitz and David Almond among other names far more talented than me. In other words, it was a fairytale beginning to my career.

So if you're a debut children's author with an unpublished manuscript burning a hole in your computer, don't delay because this is an 'eggs-ellent' opportunity not to be missed!

 (paperback edition currently on special offer at Amazon)

Two further books in the Echorium Sequence, Crystal Mask and Dark Quetzal, were also first published by Chicken House and are available as ebooks or print-on-demand paperbacks.

You can discover more about my award winning trilogy on the Echorium Sequence page