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Month: May 2018

WWTS Mentee Update: Catherine Friess

Catherine Friess won a Writing the Stars mentorship with author Lori Degman. Here are a few words from Catherine about her experience.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Tara for organising the #PBWWTS contest and to Lori for choosing me as her mentee. I couldn’t believe it when I first saw my name on Twitter, it was a wonderful surprise!

I applied for a mentorship with Lori because I felt that I needed help with my rhyming picture books, and her picture book Cock-a-Doodle Oops is so easy and fun to read. I enjoy writing in rhyme and although I knew that I needed to make improvements I wasn’t sure how. Lori gave detailed comments in her critiques and showed me how and where my rhymes didn’t work. I now feel that I have a better understanding of how to write in rhyme.

At the beginning of our mentorship Lori and I had a Skype call, which gave us an opportunity to get to know each other and decide how we could use our time. At first we focused on the story that I had originally submitted. We also worked on a novelty picture book based on a poem that I had written, which I had put away in a drawer while I decided whether it would work as a book. Thanks to Lori, both stories are now ready to submit.

Lori also critiqued picture book pitches as well as more of my picture books. Her comments were insightful and led to changes, which also led to me rewriting two picture book endings. She also suggested where I could submit work and how/where I can get more information about the US market, and it was useful for me to learn how US submissions can differ to those in the UK. When critiquing, Lori also indicated where I could change British English to American English so that I can tailor my submissions where necessary.

I have really enjoyed working with Lori and her critiques have helped me to move my work forward to a point where I can start submitting. Being chosen as her mentee gave my writing confidence a huge boost and we achieved a lot in three months. Lori is lovely and very easy to work with, and it’s fabulous to have made a new writing friend too! :o)


Thank you Catherine! 

WWTS Mentee Update: Elaine D’Alessandro

Elaine D’Alessandro won a three month mentorship with author Annie Silvestro. Here is an update from Elaine on her experience.


As a chosen mentee for the 2018 WWTS contest, I had t  he honor of working with Annie Silvestro over the last few months. I received valuable and in-depth feedback on two of my manuscripts and their accompanying queries.  Annie and I spoke on the phone at length about both of my stories before she critiqued them. She also gave me new suggestions and various venues for my agent searches, and counseled me on my query hooks to entice an agency.

The first draft for one of my stories, a multicultural themed manuscript, originated about six years ago. After many rounds of critiques through my writing groups and a professional editor, I found an agent that liked my story and submitted it to a few publishers seeking multicultural picture book manuscripts, but received no positive results. The agent then decided she wasn’t the right person to find it a home. I submitted it to many other agents, but kept receiving rejection after rejection. I came to the conclusion that something was missing in my story, but I couldn’t pinpoint it. After Annie and I discussed my history of submissions, she studied my manuscript and provided constructive and insightful feedback. She gave my main character a few more tasks before he solved his dilemma.  The outcome is the same, but the reader gets to know the main character even better. I will now submit it with a newfound enthusiasm.

My other story has two main characters—siblings dealing with the recent death of their grandmother. One is more demonstrative and wants to celebrate their grandmother’s birthday, just like they always had. But her sibling is sad and doesn’t want to participate.  Annie helped me with my word count. And she made concrete narrative suggestions that provided a role reversal toward the end of the story, resulting in the girls working together to celebrate their grandmother’s birthday.  As I edited and revised. I was very pleased with the results.

I am so appreciative of the time and personal effort Annie provided me, making both my stories stronger and submission-ready again. And she boosted my confidence as a writer with her words and actions.