Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Everything You Wanted to Know about the Mentor Program…

2014 was SCBWI Carolinas inagural mentorship program. Four mentors worked with four mentees to help  bring their work closer to the point of publication. You will have the opportunity to hear from all eight individuals at the panel moderated by John Claude Bemis on Saturday night. 

According to Stephanie Greene, coordinator of the newly-developed program, "It certainly seemed, from everything both the mentors and mentees said to me, that it was a great success."

Here are some comments from the mentors: 

Lisa Kline, why did you want to do be a mentor? 

I was actually approached by Stephanie Greene about being a mentor, and was very honored to be asked. I have participated in the SCBWI Critique program, and have also critiqued manuscripts for other writers for quite a few years, and have always enjoyed reading and thinking about my colleagues' work. I also teach workshops, and enjoy being able to make suggestions that might help another writer move forward. I love seeing the evolution of a colleague's work. Experienced authors have helped me in the past, and I like being able to pay it forward and do my best to help someone else. It's helpful for my own work, too, to see how other writers handle certain types of scenes, situations, and writing problems.  
What was good about the program? 
I think the program offers a wonderful opportunity for SCBWI members. How often do you get a chance to work with another writer over the course of several months, almost like an MFA program? So many workshops focus on the first three chapters, or the first ten pages, or on the query letter or the pitch, and often writers don't have a chance for someone to read and comment on large sections of their novel manuscripts. I always yearned for that. I wish I could be a mentee!

Seriously, I had an excellent experience with my mentee. I became deeply engaged in her manuscript and am excited to see where she goes with it.


Linda Ashman, why did you want to be a mentor? 

It can feel a bit overwhelming trying to navigate the publishing world, particularly when you're just starting out. I really enjoy being able to help writers on their journey, especially those who take it seriously and are willing to work hard.
What was good about the program?
It was fun and gratifying to see Sallye's stories evolve and improve over the course of the program. And having to analyze someone else's manuscripts each month forced me to think about what makes a story engaging, and what makes it work (or not) as a picture book — lessons that apply to my own projects.
Kelly Starling Lyons, why did you want to be a mentor?

When I started out, so many people helped me. It's an honor to pay that kindness forward. I loved the idea of being able to help an aspiring children's book author's work grow.

What was good about the program? 

My favorite part of the mentoring program was working with my mentee to hone her work through multiple rounds of revisions. One rewrite is never enough. My mentee did her assignments promptly and thoroughly. She took each revision seriously, using the suggestions that resonated with her and staying firm on parts she felt strongly about. It was rewarding to see her story bloom.

Another great part of the program was that it wasn't limited to critiquing stories. I encouraged my mentee in other ways including giving her tips on reading and dissecting picture books like a writer and polishing her cover letters. The mentorship program was a wonderful experience. I would be happy to participate again. 




Monika Schroeder, why did you want to be a mentor? 

I am interested in teaching writing and helping others improve their manuscripts so the mentor program was a good opportunity to try myself out as a teacher.
My approach to writing is very analytical and I have probably made all the mistakes people make when they first start out.
That might also be a good prerequisite for being able to effectively help others.
What was good about the program?
 I very much appreciated Stephanie's clear guidelines. I thought that the time frame was well set and I was lucky, because my mentee worked VERY hard and handed everything in on time.
I also think that the relative freedom we had in how to approach our time working together was good. That allowed each mentor to work out a specific plan with their mentee.

Stephanie Greene concluded, "A feeling of success and progress was shared by both the Mentors and their students during our first year of the Mentoring program. From conversations I had with all of the mentors, it's obvious that they felt their students had worked hard, made considerable progress, and were all left in a good position from which to complete the revision of whatever manuscript they'd spent the four months working on together. In their comments to me, the students indicated that they felt it was a rigorous program, complete with ambitious deadlines they'd set with their mentors, and that their schedules had led to real and serious revision work.

"Revision is the most important part of the writing process. It's very exciting to have completed the first year of our Mentoring program and we're all looking forward to next year."