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Month: June 2018

WWTS Mentee Update: Becky Scharnhorst

Becky won a mentorship with author Laura Gehl. Here are a few words from Becky about her experience.

When I found out that Laura Gehl had chosen me to be her mentee for the WWTS contest, I completely flipped out. In a dignified way, of course. I’d always admired Laura’s succinct writing and humor, and was also impressed with her ability to convey emotion with so few words. I was grateful and honored to be picked by her, and I knew this opportunity would have a huge impact on me and my writing.

Soon after the results were announced, Laura contacted me by email and asked what I’d like to focus on during our time together. We decided on a plan of action and hit the ground running.

First, Laura critiqued several of my manuscripts. She helped me decide which ones were ready for submission and which ones needed more work. She also critiqued my query letters and helped me with my pitches. She said writing pitches was her super power. She wasn’t kidding! Soon I was referring to her as “the amazing Laura Gehl” all over social media and in person to anyone who asked. And even to some who didn’t.

In addition to working on manuscripts, Laura helped me create a submission plan. I made a list of 30 agents I was interested in querying and added notes detailing what they were looking for and why I thought we might be a good match.

After reviewing my notes, Laura pointed out that many of the agents on my list were looking for character-driven manuscripts. She encouraged (pushed) me to step outside my comfort zone and write one. After my first miserable attempt, she kindly told me to toss that one and try again. After my second slightly less miserable attempt, she encouraged me to revise and try again.

I’ve now written three character-driven manuscripts, each one a little better than the last. It was frustrating and difficult and I ate way too much chocolate. But I’m so glad I did it! Laura was there to offer support, encouragement, and honest feedback every step along the way. She was quick to respond to my questions, generous with her praise, and kind in her critiques. I could not have asked for a better mentor.

I will be forever grateful to Tara for creating the WWTS contest. As expected, it had a huge impact on me and my writing. I revised old manuscripts, wrote new ones, stepped outside my comfort zone, grew in confidence, and gained a new writer friend. Thank you, Laura, Tara! For everything.




WWTS Mentee Update: Jolene Gutiérrez

Jolene Gutiérrez won a Writing with the Stars mentorship with author Stacy McAnulty. Here are a few words from Jolene about her experience.

My time with Stacy McAnulty has been such a gift. This mentorship has been like winning the lottery—when I saw the tweet saying Stacy had selected me as her mentee, it was one of those out-of-body moments. I felt like the entire world was vibrating, moving in and out of focus.

My husband isn’t a writer or a picture book reader, so when I told him I’d been chosen as Stacy’s mentee, he didn’t understand the magnitude of this event. I said, “This is a really big deal!” He just nodded, and I knew he wasn’t getting it. If I could explain it in terms of money, I knew he’d understand that, but as I tried to estimate a value for this mentorship, I struggled. The truth is, a WWTS mentorship is priceless. Stacy has given so much of her time, expertise, and support. She’s been incredibly patient as I’ve taken my characters on adventures that don’t work and played around with scenes that aren’t serving the story. She’s reminded me that characters need to solve their own problems and of the power of three attempts before success—make that character work for it! Sometimes, I feel like I’m stumbling along in the darkness, but Stacy has taken me by the hand and guided me. She has given me a key that is unlocking my talent and opening doors. So slapping a monetary value on this mentorship doesn’t work. I finally told my husband, “Look, Stacy is a really successful and busy author. She’s working on her writing all the time and has books in various stages of the publication process. And she’s interrupting her work to help me with my books. She’s doing everything she can to make sure I’m successful and supported.” Then, my husband understood, at least a little bit. In the business world, people don’t want to interrupt their own work for months at a time by tying themselves to beginners. But through the supportive community that Tara has created, numerous authors do just that, joyfully and willingly.

I am so grateful to Tara for offering this incredible opportunity and to all of the mentors—especially Stacy—for giving of themselves like this. You’ve given me focus and you’ve changed my world.

Jolene Gutiérrez