Home » Archives for September 2018

Month: September 2018

WWTS Mentee Update: Bennett Dixon

Bennett Dixon won a Writing with the Stars mentorship with author Alastair Heim.  Here are a few words from Bennett about his experience.

Has it really been six months?

Time flies when you’re having fun, and working with Alastair Heim has indeed been fun. A good thing when you loathe making revisions as much as I do.

Yet here we are, nine revisions later, with a fully-polished manuscript (and query letter) ready for submission. How did Alastair do it?

I could say it was due to his creative talents as an author. I could say it was because of his first-hand experience bringing numerous picture books to life. Or his spot-on editorial insight and hard-won understanding of the publishing world. Or maybe his mad FaceTime skills. All of these things would be true, but they wouldn’t explain what made the process of revision so much more enjoyable for me.

Rather, I think it was because Alastair challenged me to try things I probably wouldn’t have dared (or even thought to try) on my own. Because he set ambitious goals and urged me to stretch for them. Because he encouraged me when I was down. And because he gave me unfiltered honesty—in both compliments and criticism.

But perhaps more than any other reason, I think it was Alastair’s sense of humor, generous spirit and genuine interest in helping another author. That’s really why I always looked forward to our FaceTime sessions (the accompanying glass of wine also helped).

I’ve been lucky getting to work with Alastair and getting to know him, and I highly recommend you get to know him, too. A great place to start is http://www.alastairheim.com/. Alastair’s Hello Door is a favorite in our household.

Similarly, I‘ve been fortunate getting to know Tara Luebbe, creator of the Writing With the Stars contest. From all of us who’ve participated—thank you, Tara. Be sure to check out the latest work from Tara and her writing partner (and sister!) Becky Cattie at https://beckytarabooks.com/books/ .

My sincerest thanks to Alastair, Tara, Becky and all the other talented authors who’ve generously given their time to Writing With the Stars. May the good fortune I’ve come to find here extend to others who aspire to create children’s books.


Thank you, Bennett.

WWTS Mentee Update: Vicky Fang

Vicky Fang won a mentorship with author Peter McCleery in the inaugural Writing with the Stars 2017 season. Here are a few words from Vicky about her experience. 

Well, here I am, a 2017 WWTS mentee sneaking in my blog post with the 2018 class. What took me so long? In truth, I did write a blog post last year, but I was too embarrassed to post it. I overthought it A LOT… mostly because I didn’t want to write something so lame that it would be an embarrassment to my amazing mentor, Peter McCleery.

But now I find myself, one year later, in a position where I owe so much to my experience with the WWTS mentorship that I have to say THANK YOU!

When I applied for WWTS, I had very little idea of how to write an actual story. I had manuscripts, but not really stories. This mentorship truly opened my eyes to the craft of storytelling. Peter reviewed my manuscripts, identified the ones he thought had potential, and pointed out what he saw as my strengths and weaknesses as a writer.

I spent the next couple of months struggling quite a bit. I churned out some half-hearted manuscripts that never really made it past an early draft. And I started to feel dismal, like I was wasting this amazing opportunity because I was so incapable of writing anything, let alone anything decent.

But Peter was patient and waited for me to get through it. He took the time to help me past creative blocks, pointed me to resources to help my craft, and gave spot-on feedback that forced me to improve. His guidance enabled me to turn concepts into actual stories. He shared his insights and experience from pitching his hilarious book series, Bob and Joss Get Lost! (if you haven’t read them, go get these books now!). And I got to watch the exciting and eye-opening process of his debut book launch.

With Peter’s help, I finally had a breakthrough and drafted a story we both really liked. I continued to hone and revise that manuscript, with the help of critique partners, agent reviews, and editor feedback until—finally, it led me to my amazing agent, Elizabeth Bennett at Transatlantic Agency. And last month, I signed the contract for that very same story, now set for publication in fall of 2020!

In the past year, I’ve continued to grow and explore as a writer. I love being a part of the kidlit community. I have several other projects in the works, from board books to early chapter books. The WWTS mentorship continues to be a strong part of my writer life, with the 2017 crew keeping in touch and providing each other with updates and support.

None of this would have been vaguely possible without the amazing opportunity that WWTS provided, the hard work and generosity of Tara Luebbe, and the talent and generosity of Peter McCleery. I am a writer today in huge part because of this program and these people. THANK YOU.

Before I overthink this, it’s time to hit send.



Thank you Vicky.