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Writing with the Stars 2017 Winners!

We wanted to start by giving a great big “Thank you!”  to everyone who applied to Writing with the Stars. For a first-year contest, we had a great turnout, with 850 manuscripts entered. Every single mentor told me how hard it was deciding, because there was so much talent among the applicants. In the previous blog post, Katy Duffield gave a wonderful description of her experience and I would encourage everyone, whether you were selected today or not, to read it.

Some of the mentors wanted to give critiques on work that stood out to them, but that they ultimately didn’t pick. So some lucky people will still receive a critique of their submitted manuscript from one of our mentors.

Please remember to support these mentors for their generosity in any way you can. I am already looking forward to next year as we’ll be back to do it all again.

So, without further ado, I am happy to announce the mentee class of 2017.


Andrea Zuill’s mentee is Rebecca Rhodin.


Peter McCleery decided to take two mentees, running concurrently.

Peter’s first mentee is Vicky Fang.

Peter’s second mentee is MK Resk


Paul Czajak’s mentee is Debbie Day.


Camille Andros’s mentee is Carolyn Le.


Melissa Iwai and Denis Markell’s mentee is Cassandra Federman


DJ Steinberg is also taking two mentees running consecutively.

DJ’s first mentee is Susie Sawyer. (February-April)

DJ’s second mentee is Suzy Levinson. (May-July)


Vanessa Brantley- Newton is taking three mentees!

Vanessa’s first mentee is Mariana Ikuta. (February-April)

Vanessa’s second mentee is Andrea Osiek. (May-July)

Vanessa’s third mentee is Thrace Mears.  (August-October)


Megan Bryant is taking two mentees to run consecutively.

Megan’s first mentee is Lindsay Metcalf. (February-April)

Megan’s second mentee is Jen Bagan. (May-July)


Lori Richmond’s mentee is Lauren Soloy.


Katy Duffield’s mentee is Colleen Paeff.


Penny Parker Klostermann’s mentee is Amanda Sincavage.


Laura Gehl’s mentee is AJ Irving.


Pam Calvert’s mentee is Derick Wilder.


Marcie Colleen is taking two mentees running consecutively.

Marcie’s first mentee is Kirsten Bock. (February-April)

Marci’s second mentee is David McMullin. (May-July)


Stacy McAnulty’s mentee is Samantha Altmann.


Beth Ferry’s mentee is Melanie Ellsworth.


Congratulations to all! The mentors will be in touch to kick off the mentorship.


  1. MK Resk says:

    Oh my goodness! In all of my thank yous on Facebook and Twitter and whatnot I missed this post until now. Thank you, Becky, Tara, and all of the mentors, for your creation of this gem of a program. I am so grateful for this opportunity and have tried to make the most of my mentorship. Peter McCleery is such a kind, creative, funny, smart, insightful, and immensely patient person!!! Good luck to all future applicants to this program. I highly recommend it!

  2. Diane Hanington says:

    Thank you so very much!!! I took a look at the website and am eager to enter this contest in August. I did not previously know about Pitch Wars and may have missed it so again thanks for the tip. I enjoyed entering your contest and though I didn’t win I enjoyed it and if it is the same contest that is held in December I will try again.

  3. Heather Pierce Stigall says:

    Congratulations to all the winners! This is a great opportunity — thank you for offering it to us! I hope to hear more about the mentor process.

  4. Nancy Rimar says:

    Congratulations to all the winners! Thanks Tara for this great opportunity. And a big thanks to the mentors that read my work. I guess it’s back to square one for me.

  5. Nancy Rimar says:

    Congratulations to all of the winners! And a big thanks to Tara – what a great opportunity. And thanks to the mentors for looking at my work. I guess it’s back to square one for me.

  6. Ingrid Boydston says:

    I learned so much from this process! Even though I wasn’t selected, I feel like I’ve benefited tremendously. Plus it was just plain fun! Thanks again for the opportunity!

  7. Jennifer Fier says:

    Congratulations to all the winning mentees! And mentors, too, as it sounds like you found great talent! Best of luck and looking forward to reading ALL of your work in the near future.

  8. Jim Chaize says:

    Congratulations winners! I know this will be a very special opportunity for you all, maybe the last piece of the getting published puzzle. Congratulations non-winners! We had the experience of applying, and in doing so learned important things, from reading mentor’s books to writing essays to preparing a story to submit. Congratulations mentors! You are people who choose to give back to others, who say, “I want to help someone else move ahead.” Congratulations Tara and Becky! You made all of the wonderfulness happen. Writing With The Stars is amazing!

  9. Melanie Yost says:

    Congratulations to all of the lucky, gifted winners! A great big thanks to Tara, Becky and all of the generous mentors willing to give of their time, talents and expertise! So happy to be in on the debut of this fantastic program, as it means I’ll have another chance next year! 😉 Can’t wait to see what you all contribute in the future!

  10. L. Michelle Quraishi says:

    Congratulations to all the mentees and best wishes for fruitful partnerships. Thank you Becky and Tara for hosting this opportunity!

  11. Jill Proctor says:

    Thank you to Tara and all the wonderful mentors. This was such a wonderful opportunity! And congratulations to all the awesome winners! I’m already looking forward to December.

  12. Linda Hofke says:

    I wasn’t chosen but want to thank you, Becky and Tara, for organizing this. And thanks to the mentors for their time and efforts.

    I hoped that if I wasn’t chosen that someone I knew would be picked. Oddly enough, that’s exactly what happened. She’s the only person on the list that I know and was chosen by the mentor I applied to. I am so happy that she has this opportunity to better her writing and wish her (and all the other mentees) a great learning experience.

  13. Amanda Sincavage says:

    Thank you Tara and all the mentors for these incredible opportunities! I am still in shock that I will be working with Penny and can’t thank you enough for the time, energy and dedication this must have taken. Thank you, thank you!

  14. Kathy Derrick says:

    Congratulations to all the new mentees. What a wonderful opportunity. Even for those of us who didn’t quite make it the experience has been well worthwhile and the generosity of everyone involved much appreciated.

  15. Joy Main says:

    Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to Tara and the mentors for the great opportunity. I’m already looking forward to next year’s WWTS!

  16. evelyne holingue says:

    Any opportunity to send our work is good. But this event is particularly special. Although I am not part of the selected writers I was asked to send more of my work last week and the request encourages me to return to work.
    I want to thank Becky and Tara for organizing this generous event and Beth Ferry, Megan Bryant and Katie Duffield for reading my work.
    And now, best of luck to the mentees. You rock!

  17. jeanne curtin says:

    Seems like there’s this ripple effect of goodness spreading throughout PB land. Thanks, Tara, for throwing the stone to start it all. And thanks to all the mentors who have generously donated their time and talents, too.

    Congrats to all the winners (including anyone who applied and tried).

    This whole event was exciting from beginning to end!!!

  18. Susie Sawyer says:

    Oh my goodness. Woohoo!! Thank you, Tara and Becky, for putting this together, and thank you, D.J. STEINBERG for picking meeeee!! I feel so excited and privileged to be a part of this. Thank you!!!

  19. Peter McCleery says:

    I’d just like to add that I was blown away by the talent and dedication I saw in the applications. I wish I could have taken on everybody. All of you are doing all the right things. Just keep on keeping on!

  20. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Another round of congratulations to the mentees and thanks to the mentors for sharing the most precious commodity—their time. And a thank you to the fabulous organizer extraordinaire, Tara, who also must have watched many hours slip away while running this contest. Until next year!

  21. Colleen Paeff says:

    Thank you for putting this together and thanks to all the mentors who took the time to read our applications and manuscripts and agonized over their decisions. I know the work of a few people who applied, so I know it must have been incredibly tough.

  22. Lauren Soloy says:

    Oh, wow, I can’t tell you how excited I am! What a wonderful opportunity this is – thank you Becky, from the bottom of my heart, for organizing this, and thank you to everyone who participated. It will be exciting to see all the books that come from this! And I can’t wait to get started with Lori!

  23. Elizabeth steffenson says:

    Congratulations to all of those immensely talented Winners! What an ocean of talent out there! And, thank you again, mentors, for being so gracious to allow us this opportunity and Tara who instrumented it all!! Finally, to all the other applicants who also didn’t make it this time: different road, different timing, but perhaps the same destination!! As I always tell my daughter after a deafening defeat in Candyland, “You’ll get ’em next time for sure!”? It was an honor being a part of the inaugural class of WRiting With the Stars! What an incredible experience!

  24. Traci Bold says:

    I know so many mentee names on this list and proud of all of them! Congratulations to all mentors and mentees. 🙂
    And a big thank you for Tara for creating this opportunity and to all of the mentors for your generosity and paying it forward. Best of luck to you all!

    #justkeepwriting #justkeepwriting

  25. Claire Bobrow says:

    Congratulations to all the winners – so exciting!! And a big thank you to Becky and Tara for putting this contest together. It was a fantastic opportunity for all of us, and much appreciated!

  26. Claire Bobrow says:

    Congratulations to all the winners! I look forward to finding your book(s) in a bookstore or at the library one day. Tara and Becky – thank you so much for putting this contest together. It was a fantastic opportunity for all of us, and so exciting to watch this morning as the results were announced!!

  27. Tanja Bauerle says:

    Congratulation to all the winners and thank you so much. Tara, for organizing this wonderful program. Happy creating to you all. T

  28. Diane Hanington says:

    I want to congratulate all the winners of the contest. Best of luck to all of you. I had fun submitting my work and this will be something that I will do again next year.

    Tara and Becky, will there be a similar contest this year for middle grade submissions and mentorships?

  29. Laura Gehl says:

    I have to echo what Katy said in her blog post…this was an incredibly difficult decision, because THE APPLICANTS WERE FANTASTIC. I was blown away by the dedication, the talent, the humor, and the heart. I would say “Don’t give up,” but I already know you won’t–I saw your commitment in your application essays and in the quality of your work. I look forward to seeing books on the shelves by all of you in the future.

    • Carol Samuelson-Woodson says:

      Thank you, Becky and Tara. Although not chosen, I loved the chance to apply to your contest and plan to be back next year! And thanks to the mentors for their generosity in giving their time and talent to help others along the way!

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