One Writer’s Journey

June 18, 2018

Mentorships, Part 2: A Great Opportunity to Grow as an Illustrator

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This is so embarrassing that I’m literally red in the face.  Last week I blogged about the KS-MO SCBWI writing mentorship.  I completely left out the illustration mentorship.  So embarrassing.

Like a writing mentorship, an illustration mentorship allows a less experienced artist to learn from someone with more experience. It is a great way to learn what pieces make good samples and how to put together a good portfolio.

In this particular program the winner will work with our mentor to improve a single illustration over the course of the mentorship.  That may seem trivial (one illustration!) but learning how to change and improve your work is vital to making a sale.  Vital.

I can’t emphasize that enough.


Our 2019 Illustration Mentor is Maja Anderson. Maja is the illustrator of the first 3 books in the Keeker and the Sneaky Pony series for Chronicle Books. In addition, she is currently illustrating a grammar book for Pelican Books. This book will come out this Fall. She has also worked on several gift books with Hallmark Cards.  Visit Maja’s site to check out her illustrations.  I wish I could draw!

Why can apply?  Any current Kansas/Missouri SCBWI member who has not yet published in children’s book illustration although other types of publication (newspaper, greeting card, etc) are acceptable.  Not sure if you are out of the running?  E-mail your question to KS-MO illustration coordinator Amy Kenney at  Maja will critique the illustration twice during an agreed upon timeline, not to exceed one year.

The winner will also receive a scholarship covering registration cost to the Kansas/Missouri SCBWI Middle of the Map conference in 2018.

Don’t dawdle.  Deadline to enter is June 30, 2018.  For more information, visit the KS-MO SCBWI website.


June 11, 2018

Mentorships: A Great Opportunity to Learn and Grow as a Writer

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:42 am
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In a writing mentorship, a less experienced writer gets to work, often one-on-one, with a more experienced writer.  It is an opportunity to get personalized feedback from someone who has come to know your writing.  That’s so important because they know what your weaknesses are and can offer advice tailored to overcoming these issues. Critique, advice, reading and more are part of this type of relationship.

Often these types of relationships are informal.  I learned a lot from Pat McKissack who taught the class I took on writing for children.  Over the years, I could count on her for advice and a gentle nudge whenever I got discouraged.

The Kansas/Missouri Region of the SCBWI has a mentorship opportunity for writers.  The mentor for the upcoming year is young adult author Cynthia Leitich Smith.  Cynthia is the New York Times best-selling author of the award-winning Feral series and Tantalize series. Both adventure-fantasies were published by Candlewick Press in the U.S., Walker Books in the U.K. and Australia/New Zealand, and additional publishers around the globe.  In the fall of 2018, she has another contemporary YA coming out – Hearts Unbroken also from Candlewick. I’m eager to see this one because the protagonist is Native American and Cynthia hasn’t had a book with such a main character since 2002.

Cynthia has also published picture books, short stories, nonfiction essays, and poetry for young readers. I’ll leave you too look that up on her website because the mentorship this year focuses on young adult. To be eligible, you must be a SCBWI member living in the KS-MO region who has not yet published YA.  Applications must be turned in by the end of the month and include 10 pages of a manuscript and a synopsis.

This is program is free and I would strongly encourage any and all who are eligible to take advantage of this opportunity.  You can find out the details here.



December 7, 2017

Mentorships: An Opportunity to Learn One-on-One

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One of the best ways for a writer with experience and some know-how to improve their writing is to work with a mentor.  Working closely with someone means that you get targeted feedback and they get to know you and your writing quirks.

If you are a picture book writer or illustrator, author Tara Luebbe has an amazing opportunity for you.  The Writing With the Stars (WWTS) mentorship program pairs one lucky winner up with one of sixteen mentors.  Each of these people is a publishing professional who is ready to help someone else improve their craft.  Among the mentors for the upcoming year are:

Jody Jensen Shaffer.  Frankly, if I was eligible, I would apply to work with Jody. She is the author of 30+ children’s books, writes, picture books, poetry and nonfiction.  I’ve worked with Jody in the past and she is marvelously insightful.  She is taking applications from writers of prose, non-fiction, rhyming, lyrical or religious picture books.

Andrea Loney.  Does that name look familiar?  It should if you are up on recent picture books that are generating a buzz.  She is the author of Bunnybear.  Andrea graduated from the MFA program in Dramatic Writing at New York University.

These are just two of the 16 mentors.  The mentorship runs from February 1 to April 30, 2018.  Applications will be received January 8 to January 13.  And the best part?  If you can’t make up your mind you can apply with three different mentors.

Are you qualified?

Application is open to both writers and illustrators.

All applicants should be working to publish traditionally.

They should be accomplished writers with three to four completed picture book manuscripts or dummies or an online portfolio.

They must also be unagented and unpublished.  Magazine sales are ok.

For check out the bios of the mentors and for details on how to apply, click here.  This is definitely an amazing opportunity.  I’m just a teeny bet jealous.


May 8, 2015

Mentorship: YA writers have the chance to work with Jennifer Brown

AuthPhotoOne of the best things about going to the Missouri SCBWI Retreat is having the chance to work with and learn from my fellow writers. But why wait until the next retreat to seize this kind of opportunity?  If you are a young adult writer, an SCBWI member and living in Missouri, you can apply for the 2016 YA Mentorship.

The mentorship allows one lucky writer to work for one year with a knowledgable, published writer.  It is an amazing opportunity!

This year’s mentor is Jennifer Brown. Brown is the author of the Hate ListBitter EndPerfect EscapeThousand Words, and Torn Away. Her debut novel, Hate List, earned three starred reviews and was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA” Perfect Ten,” and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Bitter End also received starred reviews. That not enough for you?  Jennifer’s debut middle grade novel, Life on Mars, was released in 2014, and her second middle grade novel, How Lunchbox Jones Saved Me from Robots, Traitors, and Missy the Cruel will be released in summer 2015. She also writes women’s fiction as Jennifer Scott.

Check out the application procedures on the SCBWI web site (you’ll have to log in first) and be sure to get your material together and turned in by June 30th.  This is a fantastic opportunity and I know someone out there will benefit greatly from Jennifer’s wealth of knowledge, you lucky dog.



June 4, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:21 am
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BUGS by David L. Harrison

One of my favorite books by David Harrison.

How often have you found yourself wishing that you could ask a more experienced writer a question about your manuscript?  Or about submitting your work?  Or a particular market?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a brand new author or someone with a bit of experience, this feeling isn’t unusual.  Fortunately, I know a host of writers, all with multiple books to their credit, that I can go to with these questions.  Some of them are in my critique group.  Some of them are people I’ve met at various writing events including the recent Missouri SCBWI Advanced Writers Retreat.

One of them is David Harrison.  I got to know David when I was the SCBWI regional advisor here in Missouri.  He quickly became one of my Springfield contacts and my go-to person for questions about picture books and poetry.  Then he heard me call myself a poetic-null and had a tiny tantrum.  That’s my polite way of saying he was slightly miffed. Poetry is so important to him that he just couldn’t wrap his head around my feeling that I just don’t get it.  Thus began my education.   David started recommending poets to me.  I read, he recommended, and I read some more.  As far as I can tell, he didn’t even cringe when I told him my favorite poet was still Shel Silverstein.    What can I say?  I like my poetry the way I like my greeting cards.  A little offbeat, not too long, and humorous.   I like David’s poetry for the same reason I like Silverstein’s.

Whether or not you’re a poetic null, David is a great resource and, if you are a SCBWI member who lives in Missouri, you have a great opportunity to work with him as our next writer’s mentor.  You can find out all you need to know here.  They are taking applications through the end of June.  Why not send in an application and take advantage of this amazing opportunity?


April 17, 2014

Mentorship: Here’s the chance to learn from picture book author David Harrison

Do you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall with your picture books?  You’ve read all there is to read about writing picture books.  Your critique group likes your work. Yet, you still can’t sell.

David 2013One of the best ways to get past this point is to work with a mentor.  A mentor is an more advanced author who works closely with you to help you develop.  The good news for picture book writers is that the Missouri Region the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has an annual mentorship.  The mentor for 2015 is picture book author David L. Harrison.

Frankly, I’m jealous.

He is the author of eighty-nine books including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for young readers as well as educational books for teachers. He is the poet laureate of Drury University, and David Harrison Elementary School is named for him. You can find his work in 120 anthologies, 12 languages, sandblasted into a library sidewalk, painted on a bookmobile, and presented on television, radio, podcast, and video stream. His poetry collection, Pirates, was the Missouri book at the 2013 National Book Fair in Washington, D.C.

pirates book coverJealousy.  Not of David but because I want to work with David.  (Hear me whine.)

If you are an SCBWI member in the Missouri Region, you can win the chance to work with David.  Sorry, but if you’ve already published a picture book, you aren’t eligible.  But if you’re still trying to break into the market, this is a great learning opportunity.

Applications are accepted from May 1 through June 30, 2014.  Your application must include one full-length picture book manuscript and a brief cover letter that gives the judges a taste of your writing style, your writing habits, and reasons why you want the mentorship.

There are more rules to this but I’ll let you read them for yourself here.  If you live in Missouri but aren’t an SCBWI member, you have time to join.   You probably even have time to smooth out the wrinkles in a manuscript that is almost ready.  Take advantage of this opporunity.  You owe it to yourself.





September 8, 2010

Do You Wish You Had a Writing Mentor?

Do you feel like your manuscript is good but just not quite good enough?  Do you wish you had someone you could talk to about your work?  Someone who would help make it better?  Then you’re in luck.  Why?  Because you have until Sunday to enter the Missouri SCBWI mentorship program.

One Missouri SCBWI member will be selected to work with author Cindy Reeg throughout 2011 on a picture book project.


Seriously, I would love to have this opportunity.  Cindy is a top notch writer who gives the most insightful critiques.  The chance to get feedback from Cindy over the course of a full year is well worth the effort it would take to put together your application.

So if you have a picture book project that is good but somehow falls just short of being submittable, why not work up your application?  You can find details on what you need to include in your e-mail submission here.

Applications will be taken through this Sunday, 9/12.

And if you win, you’ll be thanking me.  I’m sure of it.


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