“I honestly believe if I hadn’t found WriteMentor, I would have given up after receiving so many rejections. I would have continued to believe that I wasn’t good enough. I owe any successes so far to the team at WriteMentor and I will always support and love this place.”
Writer Arden Jones describes how being part of the WriteMentor community via the Hub membership platform helped her secure agent representation
Tell us about your writing journey from the start until now
I’ve always written. I started making up poems since I can remember. My sister came home from primary school one day and said that she needed to write a poem about the weather. I was 4-years-old at the time and I shouted,
‘I have a poem! –
The wind is strong
The wind is fast
It blows you over
On your arse!’
I’m quite proud that at 4-years-old I had good meter! But awful language by the sound of things!
As I got older, I started rearranging song lyrics, writing my own lyrics and poems (generally about teenage heartbreak & my abusive stepfather). There were thousands!
In 2020, I picked up a beautiful book called The Girl and the Dinosaur by Hollie Hughes and Sarah Massini. I was immediately drawn to the front cover; it is truly stunning. There’s a gorgeous long neck dinosaur, I’m saying a Brontosaurus, but I should probably check now with Hollie or Sarah…with a girl with beautifully flowing red hair against the light of a full moon. So gorgeous! And the story is just as gorgeous too. It’s written in beautiful rhyme and it’s a story my daughter and I go back to regularly. I then looked up Hollie and Sarah’s other books and found out that Hollie lived rather local to me and has a working-class background too. This really shocked me – in a good way! I always thought to be a published writer, you’d have a middle or upper-class background, MA’s in English/English Lit or Creative Writing, which I could never afford,plus without a doubt, I’m totally not intelligent enough to gain an MA. This leads on to the fact that I’d never really believed in myself and I certainly never believed I could ever be a ‘real’ writer. I still don’t most days. That imposter syndrome is a total pain sometimes.
So, I have a special place in my heart for Hollie and Sarah, whom without their wonderful book and extreme talent, I would not have thought, “I can write a children’s book!” Thank you both so much.
That began my PB writing which then led on to a young fiction CB series, short stories and a YA novel that I received Arts Council funding for this year. I am 12k words in and working with Melinda Salisbury via WriteMentor Group mentoring. I have plans and plots written out for 2 further YAs too.
My political satire short story The Death Strike has recently been published by Northern Gravy.
Why did you decide to join WriteMentor’s Hub?
Thank you Twitter! I found WriteMentor via Twitter after seeing the WMPitch one day. I had some pitches (bad ones) for some stories (bad ones) and gave it a go. I began following WriteMentor and discovered how supportive the organisation was and wanted to get involved. I haven’t looked back and I am always recommending writers to join.
What has your experience of like so far?
Nothing short of amazing. I’ve won #PitchHero twice, gone through all the brilliant modules available on the hub. Met lifelong friends, taken the Picture Book course with Clare Helen Welsh, met amazing authors on the workshops and webinars and learnt so much that has helped me grow as an author.
Can you tell us a little about the book you signed with and how you came to secure representation.
At the time of querying, I was only writing picture books and had only written half of my young fiction chapter book – The Broom Academy. So I was querying 3 PB texts at that time I signed with my agent. These were:
A sleepy bedtime story called The Yawnicorns – a story about a group of yawnicorns who sprinkle magic on children’s yawns but have all but one accidentally sent each other to sleep. One Yawnicorn can’t travel around the world all by themselves, so they need to find a way to wake the others, so all children can get to sleep.
A ‘fartastic’ laugh out loud story called The Pop Monster – a story about a girl who has a very windy bottom but blames her stink on the imaginary Pop Monster.
A heart-warming story about grief called Nan’s Shirt – a story about a girl whose Nan has died and all she thinks she has left is her shirt. When she notices holes and tries to fix it, but makes it worse, she comes up with a plan of how to turn Nan’s shirt into a special keepsake cushion.
I’m signed with Molly Jamieson at United Agents! She’s great and I feel incredibly lucky! That was all thanks to WriteMentor. I booked an agent 121 with her as I’d heard such wonderful things about her via two friends – thank you Chris Modafferi and Jess Bleakley! So, the minute the 121s went up, I made sure to nab one with her straightaway!
Luckily, we got on so well and had a great rapport and she LOVED my stories. Phew! She gave some fab constructive feedback, which I got to work on straightaway and she also asked if I had any more stories. After just over a month of not hearing anything, I had a wonderful email which simply asked, if I was available to have a chat that day. Of course, yes! I would’ve made myself free even if I wasn’t. She then offered me representation. I knew already that I wanted to work with her, that I immediately said yes!
What is your best piece of writing advice?
Believe in Yourself! Believe you are good enough! I’ve never believed in myself, so this is huge for me. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I’m a brilliant writer, or that I think I’ll be a bestseller. But being part of this community and being on this journey with so many different people, with different experiences, different approaches to writing, different stories to tell; I’ve learned that we all have our place. That our stories are important, that we are the ones to tell it and we are good enough to write them.
Why do you think it’s important to be part of a community?
So many reasons – Encouragement, friendship, support, honest feedback, sharing advice, and opportunities, learning from others, fun. Finding likeminded people, kindred spirits has pushed and encouraged me to continue writing. I honestly believe if I hadn’t found WriteMentor, I would have given up after receiving so many rejections. I would have continued to believe that I wasn’t good enough. I owe any successes so far to the team at WriteMentor and I will always support and love this place.
Join the WriteMentor Hub
Develop writing craft, receive critique on your work from peers and kid readers, pitch your manuscript to agents, and learn from and network with industry experts through monthly workshops, webinars, and chats. Most importantly, foster life-long friendships with fellow writers.
Read more success stories
Since 2018, over 100 WriteMentor writers have signed with agents or secured publishing deals like Melissa via our summer mentoring programme, novel awards and membership to the Hub. Could you be our next success story?