Danette Byatt was the recipient of a mentorship with the talented Deb Pilutti. Here are a few words from Danette about her experience.
I am thrilled to have been chosen by Deb Pilutti and am so grateful for all of the time and expertise she gave me as her mentee. Thank you so very much, Deb, for your insights; it’s been a wonderful experience! And thank you to Tara, as well, for making WWTS a reality.
I applied for a mentorship with Deb because I was immediately drawn to her work. She’s not only an author-illustrator, but like me she’s also a designer, and all three of those aspects are very apparent to me in her books. Sparse, poignant text combined with endearing illustrations are laid out so effortlessly on the page and paced perfectly throughout her books. Two books of hers that brilliantly capture all of these things (the pacing is so great!) are Bear and Squirrel are Friends and The Secrets of Ninja School. I was also lucky enough to see some sneak peeks of the printer’s proofs for an upcoming book of hers and I’m so excited for it to hit shelves! It looks so great.
Right off the bat we had a lot in common as author-illustrators (and designers!). We met a number of times over Skype during the mentorship to discuss my goals (what I needed help with most), her feedback on my stories, and things about the industry in general.
Going into it, I leaned towards needing more help with writing than illustration, since I’ve been writing for a shorter amount of time. But of course, as an author-illustrator, much of the storytelling is done through the illustrations as well, so while we were more focused on the writing side of things, we did discuss both. I also wanted her thoughts on which stories of mine I should scrap – I had a hard time discerning which were my best story concepts and which should be laid to rest. Of the initial 7 stories I sent Deb, she identified 3 that she thought were my strongest and we moved forward with those. Her feedback was spot-on! She was able to offer so many amazing insights I hadn’t noticed or thought of before, and I was able to go back and revise based on her suggestions.
I am now starting to query literary agents and am confident with my submissions, knowing that I have a strong arsenal of stories ready that Deb helped me to revise if an agent asks to see more of my work. I’m so appreciative to her for everything she’s done for me. She’s a kind-hearted person who’s friendly and easy to work with, as well, and I’m sending her much loving gratitude and joyful vibes from the bottom of my heart.