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Month: July 2019

WWTS Mentee Update: Laura Lavoie

Laura Lavoie was the recipient of a mentorship with author Jason Gallaher. Here are a few words from Laura about her experience.

I’ll never forget the moment when I found out Jason Gallaher picked me to be his mentee. One of my critique partners sent a message to our group chat around the time Tara was making the announcement that read: Get. On. Twitter. My CP Jen Broedel, who is amazingly talented, had also applied for a mentorship, and I immediately saw that Tim McCanna had selected her. I figured that was the big news, so when I scrolled and saw that I’d been chosen by Jason, I literally slid out of my chair and onto the floor. Winning a mentorship felt like a huge vote of confidence for my writing career.

One of the best things about working with Jason was how he automatically got my sense of humor. I write funny picture books, so I knew I needed a mentor who would appreciate my cheesy puns and quirky characters. For the first six weeks of the mentorship, I sent Jason one manuscript per week for critique. After I’d read through his written feedback, we’d hop on a video call and discuss what was or wasn’t working. Jason is a fantastic brainstormer, and talking things through with him gave me so many “Aha!” moments. We then picked the strongest four manuscripts to revise, knowing that I planned to start querying at the conclusion of the mentorship. Jason also helped me with my query letters and let me barrage him with general questions about publishing. His genuine enthusiasm for my work meant the world to me. I felt like I had my own personal cheerleader heading into queries, and knew that I was absolutely putting my strongest work forward.

Shortly after sending my first batch of queries, I was offered representation by my now-agent, James McGowan of BookEnds Literary. I’d admired BookEnds for a long time, and had my sights set on James from the moment he announced he’d be taking on clients. I signed the contract a few days before my last video call with Jason, so we got to live-share our excitement!

Writing with the Stars was truly transformational. I feel like I’ve come leaps and bounds from the writer I was just six months ago. My first drafts feel stronger, and I’m able to absorb feedback more quickly and run with revisions. I’ve also connected with several of the other mentees, and it’s great to have a whole new batch of talented writing buddies! A huge thanks to Tara, Jason, and all the WWTS mentors who donated their time and expertise. I’m so grateful to have had this immensely valuable experience!




WWTS Mentee Update: Leigh Anne Carter

Leigh Anne was the lucky recipient of a mentorship with Author/Illustrator Melissa Iwai and author Denis Markell. Her are a few words from Leigh Ann about her experience.


As an author-illustrator, I was very honored to receive the mentorship with both Melissa Iwai and Denis Markell. My mentors provided illustration and writing advice on my manuscript.

We met over Skype, and while you may think two-on-one critiques of your work would feel overwhelming, I was pleasantly surprised by how wonderful, candid, and helpful Melissa and Denis both are. They guided me to focus my manuscript down to my main theme, advised me to amp up the emotions in the language, and also told me what was and wasn’t working in my illustrations. Not once did a reassurance go wasted, and my shaky author-illustrator legs found solid ground to stand on. My manuscript is now well on its way to being a completed dummy, which I will be querying soon to agents.

Another great thing about being on Skype was that Melissa was able to share on camera some of the stories she was working on—seeing another illustrator’s visual thinking was an added benefit of this mentorship.

The check-ins were great incentives to work extra hard, find the perfect word, and create the perfect image. Each time I got great advice, and that made me strive harder with each revision. Having a team behind my story and supporting my efforts was the icing on the cake.

Thank you, Melissa and Denis, for sharing your time, your talent, and your guidance.

Thank you so much, Tara and Becky, for all of the hard work that goes into creating this mentorship program and giving us the opportunity to grow and learn!