Jen won a mentorship with author Cate Berry in the 2019 WWTS contest. Here are a few words about her experience.
I was deeply honored to be chosen by Cate as her mentee. With the many rejections and downs of this industry, just being picked was a huge affirmation of my children’s book writing dream. It also meant so much that someone was willing to take a chance on me.
Cate was warm, generous, accessible, and fun. She’s a teacher of picture book writing, so she brought many gifts and strengths to the mentorship. Most of all, she impressed upon me the need to bring a sense of play to writing. For instance, she had me reading fifteen minutes of poetry each day and doing both poetry and free writing exercises. This helped boost my imagination, creativity, and language. She also helped me get in touch with my senses and emotions, which translated into richer picture books. Cate encouraged me to read and analyze many picture books in-depth.
I really hit the jackpot with having Cate as my mentor! During the internship, we emailed, texted, and spoke on the phone. Once per month, Cate critiqued several of my manuscripts and reviewed my picture book analyses and writing exercises. She gave me frequent recommendations of picture books and craft books to read, as well as new picture book structures to try. Cate also challenged me to query. Widely.
It was a privilege to work (virtually) alongside and get to know Cate as a mentor and friend. She expected a lot from me, but I was enthusiastic to soak up as much from our time as possible. What I loved most was how Cate kept telling me in a dozen different ways how much she believed in me. Her faith instilled greater confidence in my abilities. As I told Cate, now that I know I have the skills and talent, I will never give up!