2022 Roundup: WriteMentor Community Learning Hub
Celebrating a year of learning, growth, and connection on our membership platform for children’s writers
Welcome to our end of year round-up. It’s been a busy and incredibly emotional year over on our Hub.
We’ve had the highs of many members signing with agents and publication deals, coupled with the tragic death of our Novel Writer-in-Residence, Marcus Sedgwick. We shared some of our memories in the newsletter a few weeks ago, but below you will read more tributes for Marcus, and Rashmi, our Picture Book Writer-in-Residence, and the many other agents and publishing professionals who joined us for sessions this year.
Before the WM team round up of the year, let’s hear from the people who make the Hub possible – our wonderful members.
“I”ve loved the ‘beyond the agent’ chats – Really insightful especially from senior editors and commissioning editors”
I’ve loved the ‘beyond the agent’ chats – really insightful especially from senior editors and commissioning editors (Nosy Crow and Guppy Books for example) It’s fascinating to see how independent publishers work so collaboratively and get an overview of the whole. Also loved meet the author – Manjeet absolutely topped it for me – felt like such a natural chat but with so many rich pickings to takeaway. Also love her books. Time prevents me from accessing more so I’m sure there’s much more top notch stuff that I’ve not mentioned. Oh and last shout out to Melissa Welliver plotting session – that was super helpful and so blooming concise. Love the hub. Thanks for all you’re doing team! – Natasha
“Thanks for all your good work WriteMentor“
I’ve loved Rashmi’s dissecting PB segments workshops, the agent-querying channel, the competitions channel for keeping an eye on what’s coming up. Also loved the workshop where Florianne interviewed her agent Chloe Davis, as I think any opportunity to ‘get to know’ an agent is hugely useful. Will definitely dip into more Beyond The Agent stuff. Thanks for all your good work WriteMentor. – Zoe
“It reminds me there is more to me then my job”
Loved PitchHero, the writing sprints and most of all Rashmi’s workshop. I think celebration Friday is such a good idea. Makes me feel great when I look at it at break time at school – it reminds me there is more to me then my job. – Jessie
“I’ve loved getting know my critique group”
My favourite thing from the Hub this year… Hmm… I might have to say my favourite things! The Beyond the Agent chats have been great. Emma Finlayson-Palmer’s workshop on chapter books also stood out as there seems to be little insight into this area right now. And I’ve loved getting know my critique group, reading their stories and following their journeys through this sometimes murky, sometimes magical world of children’s publishing. – Tracy
“This place is my warm, writing, comfort blanket.“
I loved Marcus’ and Rashmi’s workshops. Also Florianne’s chat with her agent Chloe Davis, the writing sprints, the competitions and opportunities channel, the agent querying channel (where it really feels like we’re in it together), and the wealth of information and comradeship. Thanks to Stuart, Melissa. Florianne, Emily, Sophia, and all the great writers on here. This place is my warm, writing, comfort blanket. – Ian
“I loved the Nano encouragement, and I do think I would have given up without it”
I loved the Nano encouragement, and I do think I would have given up without it. Also enjoyed all the vids on the hub which I’ve been working through. The agent chats but also the Canva one was great. The plotting one was really helpful. The zoom chats that make me feel like I have writing buddies instead of just doing this all by myself. – Carrie
“I want to say how grateful I am for how accessible and inclusive WriteMentor is”
So much to love, and so much to be thankful for! I really loved Emma Finlayson-Palmer’s chapter book presentation – I was blown away by how much I learned! The beyond the agent chats are always amazing, and I especially loved the most recent one between Emily Randall and Nosy Crow’s Tegen Evans. I can’t get over how much they covered, and it was wonderful to hear more about how publishers work with organisations such as the National Trust and the British Museum, and touch on narrative non-fiction and non-fiction too. I really enjoyed Catherine Emmett’s really open ‘ask me anything’ style session, and how it (and the whole of WriteMentor really) felt like such a safe space, where there’s no such thing as a silly question. I want to say how grateful I am for how accessible and inclusive WriteMentor is. The fact you make it possible to access everything you do around whatever we have going on medically, financially or personally, is incredible. And I’m enormously grateful. – Judy
“I’ve loved just being in contact with other writers”
Overall I’ve loved just being in contact with other writers and not feeling so alone in querying, writing and the whole flood of emotions that comes with the writing journey! – Daisy
“I’ve loved being part of a community of really kind and generous people“
I have loved the live workshops with Rashmi and Sophia – I’ve learned so much from them and from all the brave writers who were willing to share their work. Clare Helen Welsh’s workshops are always so insightful and Catherine Emmett’s ‘Ask Me Anything’ was brilliant and illuminating! There have been so many amazing talks with editors, agents, booksellers etc. (far too many to list) – collectively they have given me a much better sense of how the publishing industry works. I feel so much better-equipped to venture into the query trenches. My critique group too is invaluable. WOWCON, the writing weekends, opportunities for agent 121s and Pitch Hero…All of it, enormously helpful stuff. But most of all, I’ve loved being part of a community of really kind and generous people. – Joanna
“We’ve been chatting on a monthly basis for nearly two years and I really feel we all know each other”
I love it all, which is why I’ve been a member of the hub since it first started. The agent querying channel has been great for when I’ve been down about rejections or want to share I’ve had full requests; the talks have been so interesting – particularly the WOWCON ones; the celebrations channel is always a lovely read on Fridays; and I love the monthly chats with you, Melissa – especially if I’m feeling down about the writing journey or have anything to celebrate…Finally, I love my MG critique group. We’ve been chatting on a monthly basis for nearly two years and I really feel we all know each other – and each of our writing styles – so well now, which is lovely. – Natalia
“The Hub means even on housebound weeks I’m not alone with my writing”
The Hub means even on housebound weeks I’m not alone with my writing. There’s always so much going on to join in with and learn from. I love the short workshops offered like the short story and Canva ones. Plus the talks with authors and agents Emily organises. WOWCON is the highlight of my year, giving me a chance to experience a writing conference. The first WOWCON was also the first ever conference I’d been able to be involved with. Each year it has grown and is arguably one of the best available conferences full of tons of workshops, talks and panels with amazing authors and publishing professionals. It is certainly the most accessible for me. I loved the accountability and daily support during NaNo. Similarly the writing sprints are one of my favourite regular channels to engage with. I’ve written many thousands of words with them. All in all, I don’t know what I would’ve done without WriteMentor and it’s Hub this past few years. The support, friendships, fun and learning are invaluable. Never underestimate the importance of the amazing work you all do. You’ve helped me improve my writing and also provided company, community and encouragement during hard personal times. Without which I may have succumbed to self doubt, isolation and exhaustion, resulting in much fewer words written. – Marnie
“The warmth and help and support is wonderful and needed when we often feel alone”
I wasn’t sure at first about Slack, how I would connect to people and the whole WriteMentor ‘thing’. I joined for the competition last year and then decided to stay on because of Marcus – he was brilliant and the workshops as well as the videos were inspiring and a focus that I needed. I learnt so much from him. But other things began to happen (I still find Slack tricky, but I think I may be getting there!) the novel weekend, the pitch to agents and then WOWCON were bonuses. Emma’s chapterbook session and her reaching out to me was something I will never forget (hugely grateful to her) and I love the fact that the community does that. The warmth and help and support is wonderful and needed when we often feel alone. Then there’s my crit group who are all so different and yet so helpful, caring and inspirational. It has made me decide I have to factor in staying on WriteMentor. Thank you Stuart, Emily, Melissa and all the rest of you who make this possible. It is a brilliant space. – Marnie
“I love just being a part of something with other people who find writing for children as special as I do”
It might sound odd but I love just being a part of something with other people who find writing for children as special as I do. Seeing other people’s stories, queries, excitement, recommendations makes me feel less alone. You really have nailed your slogan ‘writing can be lonely but it doesn’t need to be’ with this club. – Jenny
2023 Hub roundup
This year we’ve been blessed with a veritable plethora of industry professionals, and it’s been a huge honour to drink in their wisdom. We’ve welcomed booksellers, bloggers, agents, marketers, editors, designers, authors, and more, all of whom shared their expertise of all aspects of the publishing industry. While these industry chats brought transparency to a world that can seem opaque, our Meet the Author and Open Surgery sessions gave Hub members the opportunity to get up close and personal with published writers. We equipped our writers with additional skills through our toolkit workshops that covered topics from managing wellbeing and creating author newsletters to using design platforms and writing short stories.
As well regular events, Hub members took part in entire writing weekends centred around writing novels and picture books, featuring both panels and workshops. Due to their success, we’ve organised both a traditional and self-publishing weekend in the first half of 2023. And, if our Hub members were still hungry for industry insights, they enjoyed a member discount on our annual writing conference, WOWCON, starring leading talent in the children’s writing.
Hub members reinforced knowledge learned from these events with online modules available with their membership, taking them through various aspects of writing children’s fiction. Plus, Hub members could seek advice from their peers, from questions about craft to querying agents and being on submission with publishers, and gain feedback on their writing in their critique groups.
Another great highlight of this year was our PitchHero initiative, where our Hub writers had the opportunity to pitch to guest agents. This event brings our members together as they share each other’s pitches for critique, cheer each other on, and celebrated the writers picked by the guest agent as the best pitchers.
We were absolutely blown away in November by the sheer amount of words our members wrote for NaNoWriMo. We put everyone into teams to boost morale and each Hub team member was able to set their own, flexible goal to match up with their lifestyle. It meant we got many words closer to The End and everyone who took part felt a real sense of achievement within their writing projects by the end of the month.
During Nano, we utilised a tool we use all year round on the hub – daily writing sprints. At least three times a week we organised a 30 minute window of completely procrastination free, blissful writing time. We ran a strict timer and at the end of thirty minutes, everyone keeps themselves accountable by sharing how many words they’ve done. Whether it’s a page or a chapter, we cheer on anyone that takes on the challenge of banishing blank pages from our word documents!
On the first Monday of the month we hosted a catch-up chat, usually themed with a topic, to come together and ask all the writerly questions! The best bit was hearing about everyone’s writing journey since last month, plus the ups and downs of their current project. It’s a fantastic safe space to share knowledge, let off query-related steam, and just generally hang out with a bunch of like-minded writers.
As well as the event timetable, our Level 2 members enjoyed monthly workshops and webinars led by our Novel and Picture Book Writers-in-Residence, Marcus Sedgwick and Rashmi Sirdeshpande. Rashmi’s picture book workshops have been a beacon of light throughout the year. Her feedback is always so kind, considered, and full of hope, and you can tell that she truly believes that there is room in the industry for all of us. Her advice can be so easily applied to all writing styles, and there have been so many opportunities to ask an array of questions during the live sessions. Rashmi has always found time for every single one – what more could you ask for!?
Our sessions with Marcus were a little like the man himself: clever, warm, inspirational and multi-layered. He gave us new ways to plot and graph, creative and (sometimes zany!) ways to editION that opened up a whole new world of possibilities, creative prompts that stretched and challenged us and answered our questions with thoughtfulness and respect, always. Above everything else, he asked us to think differently about our work. To approach it sideways, upside down and inside out, all to provoke us to think about writing and editing differently, step out of our comfort zones and produce work we didn’t know was possible. Thank you, Marcus. If only you were here for us to celebrate you.
We’ve loved watching our Hub writers grow from strength to strength both in terms of craft Sand confidence. Together, we’ve celebrated so many successes this year, from completing books, listing in competitions, signing with agents, and publishing debuts.
We’re so proud of our writing community, and we can’t wait to grow next year, both in terms of welcoming new members and expanding what we offer.
2023 has so much in store, both building on the success of the last 2 years and building upon new directions and ideas to ensure we cater for the many facets of being a writer and the career you choose to pursue.
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