WriteMentor Spark is a monthly, online one-to-one mentoring service. Working with a children’s author, writers receive ongoing developmental editing, writing advice, publishing insights, and direct feedback on their manuscript to help them elevate their writing craft to the next level.

Anushi Mehta took part in Spark and was mentored by A.J. Sass, author of Ana on the Edge. Anushi shares her experience of mentoring and how it helped show her that her stories are needed

What made you apply for the WriteMentor Spark programme?

I applied for the summer mentoring programme for my chapter book, but while I got some lovely, kind feedback I didn’t get in. Either way, I was subscribed to the weekly newsletter and ‘SparkMentor’ kept popping up. It seemed like an affordable option to have a professional pair of eyes on my chapter book before going into the querying trenches. 

What was your experience like?

I was keen on working with Andrew Sass ever since the mentorship, but he wasn’t a mentor for Chapter Books, so I couldn’t apply to him. Spark gave me the chance to connect with him. The process was seamless. I told Stuart that I wanted to work with Andrew, sent in my draft and within days got my feedback. 

I must say that I did not opt for the monthly plan. Initially, I sent Andrew the first half of my manuscript because I just wanted to make sure his feedback style worked. Andrew is prompt, detailed and really thorough with his feedback (with lots of smileys). He would give me a timeline for feedback and always stick to it ! I knew I wanted him to have a look through the entire manuscript to clarify and make suggestions with pacing, character arcs and overall plot. Of course, after he gave me the feedback for my manuscript, I couldn’t resist the temptation to send him my query letter and proposals for the following books. 

Andrew is a friend and I still reach out to him if I have any doubts. I am sure I will be contacting him for more guidance as I delve deeper into this profession.

Tell us about your writing journey from start until now?

I started writing about three years ago, but only got serious about it over the last 18 months. I immersed myself in craft workshops, writing communities of my genre and kept looking for ways to improve my stories.  I have written four picture books, one chapter book and am working on a middle grade. Currently, I am excited about developing the second book for my chapter book series and researching a non-fiction project.  

Andrew is a friend and I still reach out to him if I have any doubts. I am sure I will be contacting him for more guidance as I delve deeper into this profession.

Can you tell us a little more about the book you worked on and signed with?

We worked on a book called MUBEEN’S GLOBE. 

Here’s a short description: Eight-year-old Mubeen lives among the incalculable millions in Mumbai. He counts on the 193 countries outlined in his globe, his twelve brown color shirts and the strength of Abba’s (his father) two loving hands. But, then, Abba coughs. Weak lungs. Mubeen has to step into his shoes and run Murad Retailers. Loud noises, misplaced items and bizarre customers overwhelm Mubeen, but his elder sister, Miriam, protects him through it all. After a series of incidents that drive customers away from the shop, Miriam questions Mubeen’s intentions. If Mubeen doesn’t find strategies to cope with his fears, not only will his relationship with Miriam be ruined, his family’s store won’t earn enough to pay for the medical treatment Abba desperately needs.

I won a DVPit give-away with Joyce Sweeney from The Seymour Agency. She had a few suggestions, but welcomed me to query her. The rest is history. Of course, Andrew was one of the first people I emailed when I signed.

Why do you think mentoring is important for writers?

When I look at some of my earlier manuscripts and drafts, I realise how important feedback and guidance is. My stories would be very different if I didn’t armour myself with my wonderful critique partners and senior writing mentors like Andrew. To be honest, I don’t even know if I would have had the skin to weather this stormy journey without my support system. Mentoring helped me validate that my stories are needed and allowed me to understand my weaknesses so I could work on them. 

Twitter: @Anushi_mehta

Need some writing support? A.J. Sass is offering mentoring via our Spark programme. Find out more here.