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Month: December 2019

WWTS Mentee Update: Becky Shillington

Becky won a mentorship with Pam Calvert in Writing with the Stars 2019. Here are a few words form Becky. 


Earlier this year, I was thrilled and honored to be chosen as Pam Calvert’s Writing with the Stars mentee. From day one, it was clear that Pam and I were a perfect match. Her kids are a little older than mine (I have 17-year-old twin boys), so she understands the current stage of “mom life” I’m in. We both have Texas roots and an affection for the Lone Star State. And our writing styles and interests are very similar (I love all of Pam’s books, but the first time I read PRINCESS PEEPERS, my little five-year-old-heart glowed!). To say I was excited to be chosen is an understatement!

Pam began our time together by reading several of my picture book manuscripts and choosing the ones she thought she could help me with the most. Then she sent me my first critique, along with lots of resources and suggestions of comp titles to read. I was so ready to get started, and studiously requested every book she suggested and read every resource she pointed me toward. Then I tackled my manuscript with renewed energy and focus. From that point on, we went back and forth with the first manuscript until she was 100% happy with my progress and thought it shone bright enough to submit to agents and editors.

We repeated this process several times, until we’d polished several of my picture books. Through each book’s revision, I gained new insights from Pam and learned more about her writing process and style. Her suggestions were consistently thoughtful, detailed, and fully explained. She encouraged me to think deeper, expand my use of language (which I loved!), and to step away from my manuscript and look at it through a different lens. She was also super excited about a new project of mine and coached me as I cultivated that idea from tiny seed to full draft. Pam’s positivity, encouragement, and energy was inspiring and helpful on so many different levels!

Going into this mentorship, I decided I would set aside all my other projects and focus solely on picture books during those months. I’m so glad I invested this time, and so appreciative of Pam for investing her time in me. I know I’ll continue to reap the benefits of this mentorship as I move forward in my writing career, and I hope that one day I can pay it forward and help other writers as Pam has helped me. Thank you so much for mentoring me, Pam! This has truly been a gift.

I would also like to say a huge thank you to Tara, as well. Since the inception of Writing with the Stars several years ago, she has spent countless hours recruiting mentors, sorting files, and performing all kinds of behind-the-scenes tasks. She has poured her heart and soul into this contest, creating a program for the kidlit community that hadn’t existed before. I know I am not alone when I say how much you are valued and appreciated, Tara!