Category Archives: #WriteMentor

On Dealing with Rejection by Hannah Kates

The first time I got punched in the face, I cried.

To be fair, the day was kind of rough to begin with. I’d lost everything—my family, my livelihood, my freedom, my name—and my opponent knocked my contact lens straight out of my eye. On top of being reduced to the gangly, cluelessly flustered #150600, I was now half-blind.

Bloody brilliant.

I remember turning to the boxing coach in that moment. He must have looked back at the sniveling, watery-eyed newb and seen everything I was thinking.

This is a mistake. I’m not cut out for this. This hurts too bad. Can I go back to my summer job?

The old man leaned over the ropes and squinted beneath the brim of his ballcap. “Well,” he said, “aren’t you gonna hit back?”

The first time I received a query rejection, I cried.

I remember that day just as fondly, and if I could collage every gut-wrenching, whiplash moment of my young adult life, I might glue those two gems right beside one another. You pour your heart and soul into a manuscript, spent hours meticulously crafting of the perfect query, then nibble your fingernails down to bloody stumps as you wait for those polite “no’s,” form rejections, or maybe even nothing at all.

Honestly, I prefer getting punched in the face.

I wish someone would have told me how awful rejections are—how much they hurt, grate, and grind you over months of breathlessly refreshing your inbox. Maybe a sagacious writing wizard could have warned me, prepared me, or figured out how to soften the blow. But once the rejections start, they don’t end anytime soon. If you’re anything like me, telling yourself you can only stand one more hit, you’re in for a rough fight.

The only way to categorize my boxing is amateur. I’m freakishly tall, hopelessly uncoordinated, and tragically unathletic. No matter how good I get at blocking, dodging, screaming, or wincing, I keep getting hit in the face.

If you’re waiting for the sports analogy, this is it: Hit back.

I remember the first day I actually listened to the Naval Academy boxing coach. It was in the middle of being pulverized, pummeled to a pulp by a lacrosse player. (And, let me tell you, if you’ve never fought a female lacrosse player, beware. They have deceptively powerful thighs.)

I remember being angry and frazzled. Panicked, and slightly woozy after that last punch to the jugular.  

Why am I doing this? This hurts so bad.

The pain would end if I quit. I could flee the ring whenever I wanted and banish this nonsense from my life. Maybe if I bellowed like a whale, sank to the mat, then curled myself into a ball…

But then I hit back. It wasn’t a very good hit, but it did surprise her. Even more than that, it surprised me.

Hitting back felt good.

I lost the fight, but I went down swinging. The next time, I came out swinging, and I still lost—though not as quickly as previous fights. Every new opponent socked, battered, and bruised me, but every opponent who beat me taught me something about strategy, technique, and my own physical limitations.

Sometimes, I’d win. More often than that, I’d lose. But the more I fought, the better I boxed. The better I boxed, the more often I’d win. (Not often often—just often enough to show things were getting better.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. Being hit in the face hurt just as much as it did the first time it happened. The pain didn’t change. I became more skillful at handling it.

If you step into a boxing ring, you’re going to get hit. If you query a book, you’re going to get rejections. As much as it hurts, that’s the game we’ve chosen to play. It’s very easy for me to look at authors more advanced in their careers—agented, published, renowned authors—and assume that hurt stops. But the farther I toddle along, the more I realize this just isn’t so.

I’ve written nine novels, sent hundreds of query letters, and received just as many rejections. My mentor has written nineteen novels. She’s still receiving them, too. After signing with an agent and going on submission for the first time, I thought the sting would ease, but now I’m getting rejections from publishers.

What happens after publication? What if you get a nasty review? What if the public response isn’t what you hoped for? Just where does this vicious cycle of hope, rejection, and rejuvenation end?

If you’re still in the ring, I think you can assume the answer.

As a young, starry-eyed author, I’m constantly searching for that magic bullet. (Maybe this contest, this program, this agent, this manuscript…) I’ve met many of my goals and improved my skill exponentially, but the rejections haven’t stopped. The recruit #150600 in me wants to cower, run away—do anything to shield myself from disappointment—but I just can’t help but think of that weathered old man in the boxing loft.

What can you do when you’re being pummeled?

My first publishing deal fell through months before its debut. We had a cover, illustrations—the whole wazoo. In the midst of grieving that book, I hit back—signed up for #WriteMentor, where a kindhearted, acutely experienced author helped me whip up another manuscript to take to the fall showcase.

A big part of me wanted to see #WriteMentor as my silver bullet. This was the place where dreams came true. I saw my friends, peers, and contemporaries celebrating great success. My fairy tale ending had to be somewhere in the stack of rejections…


I wasn’t agented during the #WriteMentor showcase, and, if I’m going to be completely honest, something about that crushed me. It had nothing to do with entitlement or a sense of obligation. I’d just always been told if I hoped enough, worked hard, and got myself in the right place and the right time with a good product, things would turn out splendidly.

But that’s not how publishing works. I was in a fantastic place with fantastic agents and a fantastic manuscript, but it didn’t come together. No matter how good you are, if you enter the ring, you’re going to get hit.

There’s only one thing to do when that happens.

I drafted up a new book in a month. In another month, I was getting full agent requisitions. Fast-forward a month, I was taking multiple calls from agents.

Was it a better manuscript? Maybe. Was it being in the right place at the right time? I honestly couldn’t tell you.

All I can say for sure is the encouragement, support, and skillsets from #WriteMentor helped me to pick myself back up and try again—to use what I’d learned to come back with something just as strong. There were so many times I wanted to throw up my hands and walk out. My #WriteMentor family came alongside me time after time. They reminded me I still had the strength to keep fighting.

I’m sure glad they did. In December 2018, months after the first showcase, I signed with a literary agent.  

To try to giftwrap an anomaly—a stroke of fortune, a lucky break, a hard-earned milestone, or whatever you want to call it—is difficult, so let’s run the boxing analogy just a tad bit further: If you keep hitting, something’s going to land.

If you keep hitting stronger, faster, and a little better each day—if you keep learning, reaching out to other authors, diving into materials, and connecting with the community on platforms like #Writementor, you’re going to get there. If you keep pushing, muscling through the heartbreak, disappointment, and mountains of rejections, you will reach your goal.

I can’t say how. I can’t say when. But you will. The question is whether or not you can persevere until it happens.

A large part of this business is being kind to yourself. I tend to self-depreciate with every new “no” in my inbox, but if I keep beating myself up like this, the other guy won’t have to throw a single punch. Rejections are inevitable. Learn to see them as the single step they are. Feel free to sit with the disappointment as long as you’d like, knowing it’s there for as long as you keep it.

Then get up and hit back.

Resiliency is the name of the game. Knowing how to take a hit is just as important as knowing how to dish one out.

For the record, you don’t need to churn out a new novel every month or put yourself on a crazy deadline. I’m a fast writer. It’s just what I do. Working on a new project during my querying/submissions process has been vital for me because it allows me to see beyond a temporal moment of sadness and disappointment.

One project didn’t work out? You can write another. One person said no? There are many, many people to ask.     

There’s nothing out there—pitching contest, seminar, class, or even #WriteMentor—that’s an easy, step-by-step, rejection-free path to glorious publication and oodles of money. You may be chosen for the symposium, but you may not be. You may be chosen for the symposium, then not receive any requests. You may sign a publishing deal, then lose it within a year.

I haven’t been at this for a long time, but I have learned this. Whether you’re rejected, chosen, selected, answered, telephoned, dropped, signed, agented—

Keep swinging. Connect. Get involved. Write. Read. Expand. Explore.

The next time I step into a boxing ring as a contender, I’m likely going to be punched in the face. The next time you and I send a query, it’s even more likely we’ll receive some form of rejection. All we can do is stay in the ring, learning from our experiences and getting that much better for it.

Maybe we’ll lose, but maybe we won’t. You’ve got to stick around long enough to see.  

#WriteMentor Children’s Novel Award – THE SHORTLIST

After 7 reads in round 1, and another 4 reads in round 2, we feel confident the 6 selected novels for our shortlist really deserve it!

Of those 6 selected, they had either 10 or 11 YES votes from their 11 readers.

So take heart if you’ve missed out this time – there’s 11 people in my writing group and I’d guarantee you that Harry Potter would not get 11 YES votes from them!! 😂

And remember also, that every entrant will get their feedback, both from round 1 and this latest round of reading (unless you’ve made the shortlist).

Those on the list, are now being sent onto our judge, Chloe Seager, to read and consider, before choosing her winner. The date for this is not finalised, but we will keep you informed.

Well done once again, to all 6 who have made the list. As usual, please don’t attach your name to your title, but do feel free to shout about making the SL everywhere. Celebrating your successes (which are few and far between) is what we want, and it’s what other people who follow you also want to hear.



The Curse of the Weird Wolf

The E.G.A. (Exceptional Gamers Academy)

The Shape of the World

Whisper Pier


Sarah Barkoff Palma – #WriteMentor Success Stories

Congratulations on signing with Evernight Teen for you novel, THE WANDERERS! 🎉

Sarah, what about Brandy’s bio convinced you to sub to them? 

Well, I was looking for someone who was offering a full manuscript package, because I’d been through several rewrites on my own at the time of applying. I knew I needed someone to take me step by step through several problems I was having with the plot. After Brandy hosted a Q & A session on Twitter, prior to the time of application, we went back and forth with tweets–I liked her vibe and felt like we were old friends right off the bat. She answered any questions I had, and I knew I’d be in good hands with her. Plus, in her bio, she mentioned liking gritty and emotional books, so my story fell into that category.

Brandy, what made you fall in love with The Wanderers?

I knew it was something special right away. The emotions it drew forth were both gritty and raw, and once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I think I read the entire manuscript in the space of one afternoon. It had that vibe of a Girl, Interrupted with some deep family mystery thrown in, and of course, a sweet Southern boy, which was the cherry on top of the sundae for me.

Sarah, looking back, what was your favorite part of the #WriteMentor experience?

Easy. The people. Prior to #WriteMentor, I hung in the background on Twitter, kept my profile private, and basically just followed a few agents and publishers I was interested in working with. I had no idea there was this whole community of people. Still, it was hard to put myself out there and make my profile public. I still remember switching that button over–Ha! I was nervous to be exposed. But from the time I applied for #WriteMentor and to when the mentees were finally selected, I’d met so many awesome writer friends. When selection day for mentees came, I remember thinking–Even if I don’t get picked, the people I’ve met along the way have made it all worth it. After being selected, it was just the icing on the cake.

Brandy, tell us what it was like working with Sarah.

Sarah was a dream! I felt like we had instant rapport, and I immediately recognized her working style was very similar to my own. She was diligent and a super hard worker, even revising while packing up the family and making a major move! I feel like through the process we became friends and remain so today. 

Sarah, what was the most surprising part of the #WriteMentor experience?

The most surprising part was how emotional draining it was from beginning to end. Almost as soon as the real work for #WriteMentor started, I was moving from New York to Ohio with two toddlers while my husband had to work up until the day before our big move. Even though I knew the timeline while applying, when I was chosen and it all became real, I felt a mounting pressure like no other. All I wanted to do was get to work on my book, but I had to unpack an entire house once we arrived in Cleveland and get my kids settled in while my husband started his new job. My parents came to help me several times while I worked on my rewrites, but I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to finish the edits in time for the agent round. The whole summer was a blur, but somehow I finished in time, and when it was all over, I was so glad I fought for it.

Sarah, the revision process is only three months and can be intense. Tell us about your revisions and how you dealt with constructive criticism from Brandy.What advice do you have for future mentees?

The revision process was beyond intense, but I knew going into it that it wasn’t going to be an easy rewrite. I knew major parts of my book would be rewritten from scratch, and I think I ended up rewriting everything but that last 50 pages. Brandy’s editorial feedback was spot on, and as soon as I read the edit letter and spent a few days mulling over ideas, I knew what had to be done. But that doesn’t mean I sat down and rewrote this thing while the words flowed like an ocean! Nope, nope, nope. Some of her ideas posed major issues later on in my book, but with several phone conversations, Brandy and I brainstormed until we came up with the right solutions. Still, throughout the process, there were days when I thought I’d never find the missing puzzle pieces and that I should just quit. But I’m no quitter, and quitting was never an option. On the hard days, I took it one page at a time, sometimes one paragraph at a time, and on really challenging days, one sentence at a time. My advice to future mentees is to go into it knowing it’s bound to be emotional for a whole host of reasons, but never stop fighting for it. It’ll be worth it if you keep at it. 

Sarah, after #WriteMentor, you signed with Evernight Teen. Give us all the details of “The Call.”

Well, there wasn’t a call. It was an email and I got it while watching The Bachelor at 10pm!! I almost died, honestly. My husband said I went into shock. I was shaking and couldn’t believe what I was reading! I’d waited for that moment for so long, and when that breakthrough came, it didn’t seem real. The email said they wanted to publish my book. I’d been talking to Haleigh Wenger (Brandy’s other mentee) earlier in the day and kind of lamenting about nothing happening. So when I got the offer, she and Brandy were the first people I told. I emailed each of them and said, “You’re never going to believe this! I got an offer!!” Then, over the course of the next few days, I received several other offers. I was floored, humbled and honestly so thankful. I’ve been at this a long time.

You’re on deadline! What are your go-to writing snacks?

S: My writing snack is exactly the same every single time. Because I exclusively write while my kids are napping, which is typically around lunchtime, it’s a cup of coffee with Italian Sweet Cream coffee cream and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything different.

B: Are we talking about regular writing or stress writing/editing, because those are two very different answers! LOL For the most part, I try to eat fairly healthy, so on a good, easy writing day I’d say some carrots and hummus or a cheese stick. There’s also the morning and late afternoon writing sessions with a nice, hot cup of coffee with Oreo creamer. If it’s a stressful day? I’ll be the first to admit I’m an emotional eater so if there are Cheetos, Cheez-Its, or Pringles in the house, they better watch out because Brandy’s coming for them! 

What fictional character would you like to spend a day with?

S: Jo March! I’ve loved her ever since I read LITTLE WOMEN in the 4thgrade. She’s my spirit animal with her big opinions, passionate writing aspirations, and stubborn demeanor. I feel like we’d be besties. 

B: Truvy, Clairee, and Ouiser from Steel Magnolias. I mean, come on, how much fun would that be? Can’t you just imagine all that juicy Southern gossip and laughing all day? 😊

What author has most inspired you, and why?

S: This is hard, but probably Jeffrey Eugenides. After I read MIDDLESEX, I knew I wanted to write a book and I knew I wanted some of it to take place in Michigan where I’m from, much like Eugenides did in MIDDLESEX. I love his writing style and voice.  

Tell us about your favorite writing spot.

B: Oh my gosh, I have so many! If I say my favorite, I’d have to claim that as my front porch swing. It really gets those Southern vibes going. If I say the place I get the most quality rhythm going, I’d say my designated home office space. And if I say where I actually do the most of my writing, then that’d be the school car line!

What fictional world would you most like to live in?

B: I’m not a fantasy reader, so can I go with another time period? 😊 Because I’d definitely love to live in the 1950’s and 60’s at the birth of rock-n-roll and drive-ins and American muscle cars.

What is your favorite book (or series). Why?

S: With fear of being super basic, GONE GIRL. Whoa. That book floored me. Gillian Flynn’s voice stunned me from page one. Amy Dunne was a wicked bitch, but I swear I couldn’t help but love her all the same. The book just freaked my freak in a way I can’t even explain. I. Couldn’t. Put. It. Down.

Where does your inspiration come from?

S: It comes from all sorts of random things, but mostly television, films, and music. Honestly, with two little kids, I watch a lot of Disney movies and have seen Toy Story and Finding Nemo dozens of times. Though I studied Creative Writing in college, I’ve learned so much about storytelling, plot structure, and character development from watching those two films. Both movies are so tight, and in my opinion, flawless in terms of story and character.

Also, the songs America by Simon and Garfunkel, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths, and Into The Ocean by Blue October greatly inspired this book. I spent a lot of time on walks with my kids and dog, listening to those songs and plotting out THE WANDERERS. 

In general, though, here’s a random list of people and things I draw inspiration from: Ani DiFranco, Cameron Crowe, M. Night Shyamalan, Fiona Apple, HBO Girls, Breaking Bad, Paul Simon, Joan Didion, New York City, Fleetwood Mac…and the list could go on and on!! 

B: I think life begets art, and, in turn, great art begets other forms of art. That’s all a really romanticized way of saying that my inspiration comes from real life and other forms of art. My stories don’t start out so much with a concept as they do with an emotion, and from there, the story blossoms. Music is a definite inspiration for me, and more than once, a favorite song has spurred an entire idea that built and built until it became a story. November Rain was a huge inspiration while plotting MEANT TO BE BROKEN and Incubus’s Drive was a pivotal song I played on repeat while plotting my newest novel AS MUCH AS I EVER COULD.

Sarah Barkoff Palma

Sarah Barkoff grew up in Detroit, Michigan, but spent most of her childhood traveling the United States as a child actress in various Broadway tours. A former New Yorker for nearly seventeen years, she earned her BFA in Creative Writing from the New School and studied musical theater at the American Musical Dramatic Academy, both in NYC. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.

Brandy Woods Snow

My name is Brandy Woods Snow, and I write YA contemporary and contemporary romance. I’m one of those people who always knew she wanted to write, even from the time I was six years old, though when I went to college, everyone told me that I was crazy to major in creative writing. You can’t make a living writing books! (That’s what they all said.) So, I diverted paths a bit, majoring in English and minoring in Writing/Journalism. For 19 years since, I’ve worked a slew of writing jobs, from international corporations to my own clients in a small LLC, with my work falling into the marketing, PR, and business development categories. During those same 19 years, I’ve freelanced for many magazines, including Greenville Business, Columbia Business, Home Design & Décor (Charlotte, Raleigh), and Delta Sky. Despite the extensive career in journalism, creative writing has always been my first love. I wrote my first book in 2015, a YA contemporary romance MEANT TO BE BROKEN, and it was published in 2018 with Filles Vertes Publishing. My second book, a YA contemporary romance AS MUCH AS I EVER COULD has an offer on the table, and I’m 50,000 words into my newest WIP, a YA contemporary.

Hannah Kates – #WriteMentor Success Stories

Interview by KC Karr

Congratulations on signing with your agent!

Hannah, what about Marisa’s bio convinced you to sub to her?

Thank you for the kind wishes! At the time I submitted to #WM, I had just lost my first published book deal. I was reeling. I didn’t think I had the strength or the stamina to start from square one. 

Then I read Marisa’s bio, and I saw she’d gone through something similar and triumphed in a blaze of glory. I was floored. Marisa had a strength about her that I didn’t see in myself. Her resilience, enthusiasm, and attention to craft yanked me straight out of mourning. 

Marisa, what made you fall in love with Sweetblood?

The MS Hannah subbed was actually different to the one we ended up working on together. She subbed a kick-ass MG that, after losing the publishing deal, had left her deflated. But in those pages was another character that needed her own story at the YA level. Gilly is a tough, but damaged heroine who is so different to any characters I’ve come across in a long time, I knew I had to meet her. Hannah took a vampire trope and turned it on its head, and I’m a sucker for vampires at the best of times (ha ha ha).

Hannah, looking back, what was your favorite part of the #WriteMentor experience?

The people. Far none.  I not only connected with beta readers and critique partners—I met writers who became lifelong friends. I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am without them. They coached me line by line, talked me down from hysterical meltdowns, and challenged me to develop my craftsmanship. The folks in the #WM community are the most gracious, giving people I’ve ever met. 

I don’t feel like I’ve achieved anything. I feel like my team boosted me past the goal line. 

Marisa, tell us what it was like working with Hannah.

Hannah was such a joy to work with. She took everything I had to say on board and never complained. Mostly. Snarf. Sometimes she’d have a meltdown and we’d brainstorm ideas and have a back and forth until she felt comfortable with the direction we were taking the novel. And writing something entirely from scratch during the process was great as we got to work with a blank canvas. She’d give me chapters as we’d go, and I’d suggest which areas needed work and give her exercises to help drill into her weaknesses, all which she tackled with grace and positivity. 

Hannah, what was the most surprising part of the #WriteMentor experience?

How cool the people were. Honestly! I know I keep harping on this, but I had no idea Marisa would go through, chapter by chapter, as I wrote an entire book. The other #WM mentees surrounded me with love and support, editing, critiquing, and helping me prepare for submission. This team invested hours of their own time to help me reach my goal. I’m so thankful to be a part of this family. 

Hannah, the revision process is only three months and can be intense. Tell us about your revisions and how you dealt with constructive criticism from Marisa.What advice do you have for future mentees?

I have to be painfully honest. My experience wasn’t like most mentees. I didn’t end up submitting the book I queried. We wrote a completely new one. 

So here’s me, moving halfway across the world from France to Savannah, Georgia, trying to wrap up a novel in a genre I’ve never written before. It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but Marisa was with me every step of the way. Chapter drafts, rewrites, outlines, character arcs—she gave me feedback on everything. Her guidance made it possible to put such a massive project together in such a short amount of time, but there was also a point where I had to let go of my own pride. 

I’m not naturally gracious. I’ve had to learn how to take criticism. There was a point (I remember very distinctly—it was in the airport.) where I had to decide: Am I doing this to get better, or am I doing this for validation? 

The answer made all the difference. I’ve never looked at feedback the same, and I am infinitely better because of it. My advice to future mentees is to question your motivations each and every day. I know I have to.  

Hannah, after #WriteMentor, you signed with Lynnette Novak of The Seymour Agency. Give us all the details of “The Call.”

Let’s set the scene: I was sitting in a rental apartment wearing a pair of fake eyebrows while a life-sized Deadpool mannequin leered over my shoulder. 

Antiheroes aside, I had just taken another call that didn’t end the way I’d hoped, so I was super nervous. Like, pee my pants nervous. But as soon as I got on the phone with Lynnette, I knew it was a perfect partnership within ten minutes of our conversation. 

She started her introduction by discussing my author career goals, then immediately dove into how much she loved the book. I was floored. My crippling self-doubt kept telling me it was too good to be true, so I piped up with parts of the book I thought needed work. (Awkwardly shirking compliments is always a failsafe defense method.) 

Lynnette wasn’t having any of it. She stopped me dead in my tracks and asked, “Will you let me talk for a second about how much I love this book?” 

I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. Her insightfulness and expertise were exactly what I needed. Lynnette is an unparalleled professional, a razor-sharp editor, and a tireless champion for the work she represents. I’m so honored to be a part of her team. 

What does your writing process look like?

Hannah: Ha, ha, ha. (Syllables. Not laughter.) 

I write fast. I write often. I write whenever I have a waking moment to spare. SWEETBLOOD took me a bit under ninety days, then I turned around and wrote SKIN AND BONES in twenty. The SWEETBLOOD rewrite set a new record—80k in fourteen days. 

I’m naturally a fast worker, but in order to keep quality up with quantity, I create full, excruciatingly-detailed outlines by hand. 

I believe significant amounts of my brain have since oozed out my ears, but as Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Quantity has a quality all its own.” 

Marisa: Well. It’s absolutely changed over the years. When I’m planning a new book, I let the idea circle in my head for a couple of weeks before I write anything down. Usually either a plot or character will come to me and I pull at the threads for a while. I spend another couple of weeks making notes, giving a general outline and getting to know my character. After that I spend some time on a spreadsheet planning out each scene. This is never set in stone, and things always change, but I love to have a guide to follow and it allows me to get down a heavy word count. For instance, in my latest WIP, I’ve recently discovered my MC has mild depression, which I didn’t know until I started writing! Hannah and I are very similar with our productivity. I can write up to 10k a day, but sit more comfortable between 3-5 and will often write a first draft in a few weeks. I don’t get hung up on the quality and let the creativity take over. 

What fictional character would you like to spend a day with?

Honestly? Edward Cullen. Give me 24-hours with that sparkly nincompoop. 

Firstly, we’d discuss how stalking your partner is not romantic, how it is NEVER okay to take away someone’s decision because you don’t think she’s making the right one, and how breaking into a seventeen-year-old’s bedroom to watch her sleep is both illegal and creepy.

Then we’d sit down and hash out a five-year life plan. I mean, the poor kid’s lived for a century and all he can do is go back to high school? He needs guidance. 

Marisa: So many! But I think I’d go for Hannibal Lecter. The criminal mind has always fascinated me. I studied psychology at university with the view to get into criminal profiling (Didn’t quite go to plan) and once tried to get work experience at Britain’s most notorious criminal mental asylum. I’d love to sit there like Jodi Foster did in Silence of the Lambs and pick apart his brain. 

What fictional world would you most like to live in?

The Shire from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Pre-Saruman, of course. I would love to live in a world where I can settle in a hole, eat six meals a day, while away my evenings with a pipe and/or pint, and have virtually no expectations put upon me beyond the radical fireworks at my eleventy-first birthday party. 

I’m also 5’11” (180 cm), so I would SLAY at hobbit basketball.  Plus, I’d love to see Isengard. 

Marisa: OMG, Hannah – you went for REALLY hard questions! Fictional World…I’d like to think I was brave and kick-ass and could survive in something life Divergent or the Hunger Games, but in reality I’d need something soft and sweet that would be so boring that it probably wouldn’t even make a book! Westworld would be awesome – I’ve always been fascinated by AI, and it might be the topic of my latest book…

What is your favorite book (or series). Why?

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman. *Squee!* I could pontificate for a whole article (, but it’s the purest paradigm of children’s literature since THE JUNGLE BOOK. Here’s a perfect example of why stories must be beautiful, honest, scary, and maybe even sad. 

Why? Life is beautiful, honest, scary, and sad. 

Marisa: I’d choose either The Hunger Games of Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials Trilogy. Both of them pulled me so far into the story that I forgot to even think about the writing. That’s true genius. Those rare books where you want to be in the world, be the hero, make it your real life. 

Where does your inspiration come from?

Childhood trauma. 100%. Looking back, my real life is far stranger than my fiction. Between being raised in the boondocks by a combat medic, serving as a naval warfare officer, living as an expat, and taking my current position at America’s most actively haunted mansion, I don’t have to stretch my imagination very far.

Do you find that as frightening as I do? 

Marisa: I actually don’t even know. Most of my book ideas come to me in a flash with a fleshed out plot just waiting for me. I’ve always been drawn to the dark and twisted. When I graduated from Nancy Drew, at age 10, I jumped straight into Dean Koontz, who remains my favourite author of all time. He is a master of pace, tension and character and I get completely swept away by his novels. I also love horror movies. Not bloody, slasher ones, more of the creepy spine tinglers like A Quite Place. I think I’ve read and watched so much of this genre over the years that it’s now just how I think and what I’m most comfortable writing. I don’t enjoy long, meandering, contemplative novels, but prefer to get right into action. The more supernatural and mysterious, the better. 

And like Hannah said, childhood experiences. I was shot at, my brother’s best friend was murdered, and I became obsessed at age 7 about a girl on the news who’d been abducted. I had huge abandonment issues and all of this leaks into my novels. 

Hannah Kates

HANNAH KATES is a young adult and middle grade author—but also a professional troublemaker. After graduating from the world’s premier military institute, she got out of war games and into the world of children’s literature, which she considers to be significantly more fun. An avid explorer, she’s chalked up all sorts of misadventures—from being shanghaied by the French Foreign Legion to accidentally being locked inside a medieval Montenegrin castle. As a wanderer, songwriter, and collector of stories, you can find her skulking around cemeteries or giving tours in America’s most haunted manor.  

Marisa Noelle

Marisa Noelle always has a story or two screaming to get out, but it wasn’t until she completed a few courses, including the acclaimed Curtis Brown Writing for Children, that she nabbed an agent here or there and her books began to get noticed. 

Her debut, a YA sci-fi, comes out with WritePlan publishing late next summer. She has been long and short listed in a handful of competitions and was proud to be part of the UK WriteMentor program in its inception year. 

She lives in the UK with her husband and three sons.

#WriteMentor Children’s Novel Award – THE LONGLIST

Below you will find the Longlist, then a list of Notable Mentions, who just missed out, and finally a list of Readers’ Favourites (those who did not make the LL).

Right, time to get serious – this was so hard to do – the list is longer than I planned because there were so many novels we couldn’t say NO to!

Missing out on this long list is not a reflection of quality, simply the old combination in any creative pursuit – LUCK, TASTE and TIMING.

There were at least 40 more novels that could have gone onto this list and not reduced the quality in any way.

That said, the novels that did make it were INCREDIBLE.

How did we decide?

Entries were read 7 times (5 adult readers, 2 kid readers) and to make the list, you needed to get 6 or 7 YES votes!!! I KNOW!!!

When you receive your personalised feedback, you’ll get the number of YES votes with it – if you had 4/5, know that you just missed out and that this is still a great achievement – most of your readers wanted to continue. That’s a win in my view.

We also averaged the scores given by the 7 readers – the top 20 average scoring entries also all made the LL, regardless of YES votes, but mostly these overlapped.

Then we had our Readers Favourites – each reader told us their favourite and we took this into account in composing the list. Ultimately a few didn’t make it – we have listed them at the bottom. 4 novels got 2 readers favourite votes. Those were also added to the list if they hadn’t made it on other criteria.

So, I think you’ll agree, we’ve been thorough, we’ve done all we can to reduce the subjectivity of a single reader or 2, so we hope this has created the strongest possible list.

Of course, we are bound to have missed a few off here which will go on and be successful. See above comment on LUCK, TASTE and TIMING. If you weren’t successful this time, it’s due to that, not a lack of ability or promise in your novel.

Thank you to everyone who entered, and we hope if you’re not on this list, you’ll find the feedback we send useful, or at least enlightening. All I ever want to know when I miss a list, is how close I was and what did the readers think, and you all now have that chance, if you chose it at entry.

If you are on here (or even if you’re not) feel free to tweet about it using #WMCNA but if you’re on the longlist, do not tweet your title. You may tweet your title if you are on the bottom two lists.

Without furthering the agony, here is the list of novels (anonymous to allow impartial judging) that made it onto our long list.


A Broken Sound
Against All Odds
An Unquantifiable Spark
Cheese Boy
Daughter of No Temple
Follow The Silence
For Never Was A Story
Generation 13
Ghost Town
How NOT to Grow Parents
I Land
Miss Alexandra Twopenny Plays Doctors and Corpses
My Life Without You
Patsy Scribble
Rumi and the Cats of Istanbul 
Searching for Stones in the Sand
Summoner’s Revolution
The Colour of Words
The Curse of the Weird Wolf
The Darkest Corner
The Definition of Thomas Stonefeather
THE Dragon’s Suicide
The E.G.A. (Exceptional Gamers Academy)
The Fabulous Freddie
The Failed Genius Club
The Fiend of Aviary Mountain
The Glass Hotel
The Impure
The Keeper of the Books
The Lion’s Mouth
The Shape of the World
The Sluagh at Strange Garden
The Song of Anubis
The Time Thief
The Wonderful, Whimsical Wall
Title Pending
Tulip Finola Barnacle
Two Like Me and You
Viva La Valiants
Whisper Pier


Alex AtkinsonThe Girl Between
Amanda ThomasThe Stealth Pigeon
Carolyn de la HarpeOne Egg Short in Ballymory
Devyani KothariThe Girl who saved Daro
Hannah DunnThe Boy From The Mist
Helen GordonThe Ragged Gull
Julie Farrell FRACTAL
Katie MasonThe Girl Next Door
Laynie Bynum Child of Night
Lorraine J DaggettA Boy Made of Sand
Michael MannThe Ghostclouds of London
Nadine RajehDinosaurs And Demons
Nicola KellerThe Old Oak Hotel
Rachel HanvilleHere Comes the Sun
Rebecca EnglishForest School
Ross HarringtonThe Child of Fire & Fear 


Alex MarchantThe Order of the White Boar
Andrew FrenchThe Queens of Heaven
Annie WalmsleyJedediah Dreaming Ransome
Debbie RoxburghHUNKY PUNK MOON
Joan HaigTiger Skin Rug
Katherine LathamAtlas of the Darkside
Melissa CharlesR.I.P. (REAPER IN PROGRESS)
Nicola KellerTraitor’s Eye
Phillipa BaylissThe Time That Wasn’t
Sharyn KonyakThese Pieces of Me
Tess BurtonThe Young Volcanoes of Tenemere

Interview with #WriteMentor Candace Robinson, Author of Clouded by Envy

Congratulations on having your novel, Clouded by Envy, published. Tell us a little about the novel.

Clouded by Envy is told in dual POV from twin bats, which are fairy-like creatures from another world called Laith. The twins escape their world through a portal of sorts and wind up on Earth in the year 1995. Brenik is one of the main characters, and with growing up on Earth and being the only one of his kind, except for his sister, has driven his envy a bit too far. Bray is the other POV and she’s just the sweetest little peach in the world, opposite of Brenik. Think Crysta from the movie Ferngully. However, Brenik just wants to be human and he finds a way, but there is always a price, isn’t there? I seriously love these two characters so much!

Where did the idea/inspiration come from for Clouded by Envy?

So I drew inspiration from The Pictures of Dorian Gray and Dracula for Brenik’s character. I wanted a story a bit dark but also with my usual quirkiness and romance. So you’ll see all of that!

27654619_10155885468080751_8308789254962904984_nTell us about you…

I’m a stay at home mom who really got into writing a little over two years ago after my dad passed away. I’ve known since I graduated high school that I wanted to be a writer just didn’t know how to go about it. Beside that, I love watching horror movies, looking at Bonsai trees, and eating cheese (lots of cheese!). Oh and of course 70s, 80s, and 90s music!

Where and when do you write?

Morning sessions are my jam. During the week its easy since my daughter is at school, and if its on the weekends, I try to write while she’s asleep. I need the radio silence! However, I do have my handy dandy Slinky in hand for when the times get tough!

What are you working on now?

I actually just finished the companion for Clouded by Envy. Don’t worry, both are stand alone books and can be read in reverse order if chosen! I also have a couple unpublished manuscripts I’m figuring out which route to take them in!

Desert Island books?

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (Warner is my boy!), Trick by Natalia Jaster (Poet is my personal jester!), and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (Rhysand, enough said!)

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

First draft is exhausting for me. I feel like it’s a chore because I’m one who wants to finish stuff in a day. And with a book I can’t do that, so I feel as if I have to rotate batteries in and out to keep myself going. Now second draft is something I love because I can put the pieces together or shuffle them around!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Reread your manuscript! You can’t just write it and think it’s good to go! Also, the writing world is very, very hard, so remember to keep writing for yourself because there will be so many rejections along the way.

What is the first book that made you cry?

I feel as if movies make me cry more than books. The only book I can recall off the top of my head is The Midnight Star by Marie Lu. That was a perfect conclusion to her trilogy. Now, if we are talking movies then the scene between Artax and Atreyu in the NeverEnding Story! If you’ve seen it then you know what I’m talking about! I think I’m crying right now!

Finally, where can we get your book?

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks. But if you can, please add to Goodreads!

Author Bio:

Candace Robinson spends her days consumed by words. When she’s not writing stories, she maintains a book review blog. Her life consists of avoiding migraines, admiring Bonsai trees, and living with her husband and daughter in Texas—where it can be forty degrees one day and eighty the next.

Clouded by Envy Links: 

Add to Goodreads:





Social Media Links:






#WriteMentor Success Stories – Jenny Pearson

Interviewed by K.C. Karr

Jenny, what about Carolyn’s bio convinced you to sub to her?

Carolyn was a ninja, so I couldn’t sub to her. She had to pick me, and I am very pleased she did.

Carolyn, what made you fall in love with Daniel Strange and the Prime Minister’s PLOP?

Jenny’s book made me laugh. It was ridiculous and different and very hooky. I loved so much about it, that I couldn’t not choose it. Her energy, her observations, her sense of fun; all made it magical for me.

Jenny, looking back, what was your favorite part of the #WriteMentor experience?

My absolute favourite part has been getting to know Carolyn and her other mentee, the very talented Tess James-Mackey. I love our chats which usually start about the craft and descend into some properly strange places.

An also, all the super-valuable feedback Carolyn gave me alongside her unwavering support.

Carolyn, tell us what it was like working with Jenny.

Jenny was a dream to mentor. She got her edits done at high speed and was incredibly open to new ideas/ moving her work forwards. She is a primary school teacher, and her understanding of children and how they think really comes through in her work. I was so lucky to have Jenny and Tess, and to co-mentor Michal Lunsford. All such lovely, open people.

Jenny’s right- our conversations with Tess are hilarious and dark and often very sweary.

I think overall the best thing about Jenny is her honesty. She has had an incredible journey and she deserves every success that comes her way. It’s been a delight to try and support her through all that’s happened – and now I need her to mentor me!

Jenny, what was the most surprising part of the #WriteMentor experience?

How many talented writers and excellent stories are out there. I mean, I knew this was a crazily competitive industry, but when I read all the starting pages I was blown away by the talent.

Jenny, the revision process is only three months and can be intense. Tell us about your revisions and how you dealt with constructive criticism from Carolyn. What advice do you have for future mentees?

I think I work quite quickly so I didn’t find the deadline an issue. With regards to criticism, I’d say that you just have to go with it. For me, the course wasn’t about bagging an agent so much, as getting my book in the best possible shape. And to do that you have to take on board what you’re being told.

Jenny, after #WriteMentor, you signed with Sam Copeland of Rogers Coleridge & White. Give us all the details of “The Call.”

I’d sent Sam my #writementor manuscript and he’d sent me back some revision suggestions. In the meantime, I’d written another book, THE SUPER MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF FREDDIE YATES. I emailed that over to him too and that was the book he ended up signing me for and I couldn’t be more thrilled. He is not only a magnificent agent but an author too. His book CHARLIE CHANGES INTO A CHICKEN is out now and hilarious. You should all go and buy it.

You’re on deadline! What are your go-to writing snacks?

Jenny – If I’m in a savoury kind of mood:

Ham spread with marmite and rolled up with cream cheese and capers.

Crab sticks with piccalilli and/or lime pickle.

Walkers ready salted crisps dipped into this whizzed up dip which consists of olives, mayo and grated cheese.

Broad beans in sweet chilli dipping sauce, vinegar and mayo.

Celery, Branston pickle and tabasco sauce.

And if I fancy something sweet:

Chocolate orange slices with squirty cream.

Melted Curly Whirly with squirty cream. Be careful not to put the Curly Whirly in the microwave for too long as it gets lava hot and it WILL stick to your tongue and take of a good few layers of tongue skin when you wrench it off.

Peanut butter straight out the jar. Sometimes I use a spoon.

Carolyn – I find writing makes me crave sweet things… a chocolate orange or a Toblerone would be the dream but it’s often Lidl’s own chocolate bars. Jenny and Tess sent me some designer brownies as a thank you – damn. They tasted like dreams and holidays and chocolate heaven.

Jenny’s snacking (above) is super serious. If I’m feeling savoury I’d go prawn cocktail crisps or those tubs of green olives with feta.

All of this food-talk is making me hungry.

What author has most inspired you, and why?

Jenny – Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Because the man is a genius. You can see how much he likes kids from his writing. His books are so full of heart and humour. And he seems like a genuinely decent human being.

Carolyn – Enid Blyton’s Famous Five because yes, they are worthy and old-fashioned… but they are also gripping thrillers! I also love Michael Crichton for his science-fact/fiction blurring. I’m inspired every day by the fabulous authors on Twitter- so kind and fun to interact with. I read quite a bit of adult too – so anything involving Lee Child gets my vote. I’m already so addicted I could go on Mastermind with Jack Reacher as my favourite subject.

Tell us about your favorite writing spot.

Jenny – Any place where I don’t have one of my kids swinging off me.

Carolyn – In the corner of the lounge with the canary for company.

What fictional world would you most like to live in?

Jenny – I kind of like this world.

Carolyn – I wouldn’t mind a day trip to Charlie’s Chocolate Factory. I’d swim in that river until my bits were wrinkly.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Jenny – I’m lucky in that I have been a teacher for thirteen years. That has meant I have met thousands of inspirational kids.

Carolyn – I’m inspired by all sort of things. I wrote a short story that got in my local newspaper after I watched a walking group wander past me, looking at birds. I started to think about what they’d do to a member of the group if they were annoyingly loud, scaring all of the birds away. They’d kill him, obviously.

My imagination is a very scary place.

Jenny Pearson has been awarded with six mugs, one fridge magnet, one wall plaque and numerous cards for her role as ‘Best Teacher in the World’. While she has not met the rest of the teachers in the world in contention for this title, she believes the evidence is stacking up in her favour.

When she is not busy being inspirational in the classroom, she would like nothing more than to relax with her two young boys, but she can’t as they view her as some sort of human climbing frame.

In her free time, if she isn’t writing, she can be found doing something sporty.

She has recently moved to the North East of England and while she has yet to meet Ant or Dec, she has learned how to use canny in a sentence. Which is dead canny, like.


Carolyn Ward writes MG and is represented by Chloe Seager of Northbank Talent. Living near Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, Carolyn has an English degree and works in retail.

She became a mentor in Write Mentor’s first year, working closely with three talented writers and enjoying every second. She went on to develop her editing skills and now freelances for Bamboo Editing.

Three years ago she co-founded a local writing group based in a community pub and is also on YouTube as half of the Word Witches writer support duo. Between the MG edits she writes flash fiction and can be found all over the internet and on LingoBites foreign language app.

In her spare time she runs a telephone reading group for lonely older people with the charity Independent Age.

For more look on Twitter for: @Viking_Ma, @bambooediting, @WitchesWord and @CarolynWardWriter on FB.

Search ‘Introducing Word Witches’ on YouTube.

To find out more about being a telephone volunteer with Independent Age check out their website.

Haleigh Wenger – #WriteMentor Success Stories

Interview by KC Karr

Haleigh, what about Brandy’s bio convinced you to sub to her?

Brandy writes YA contemporary romance and so do I, so right away I knew we’d be compatible. What really got me excited, though, is when I read an excerpt of the first chapter of her debut, Meant to be Brokenthat she had posted on her website. Her words swept me away, and I could tell I had a ton to learn from her.

Brandy, what made you fall in love with Where the Tide Takes Us?

Haleigh had me at the title of the manuscript, Where the Tide Takes Us. I mean, a contemporary romance at the beach?? YES, PLEASE!! That is my absolute jam. Then I dug into reading her sample pages, and yet again, she hit me square in the feels as her protagonist is dealing with a family loss and on top of that, it is set in the South. Haleigh’s book checked all my favorite boxes right out of the gate. After asking for the full and reading her words, I fell in love with the story, what it was and what it could be. Immediately, I saw a path for moving forward and could tell from her writing style that Haleigh was both talented and determined enough to do what it took to polish the manuscript. It was basically love at first sight (read)!

Haleigh, looking back, what was your favorite part of the #WriteMentor experience? 

It sounds cliché but finding a writing group has definitely been the best part of the whole experience. 

Brandy, tell us what it was like working with Haleigh.

Haleigh was a dream mentee. She listened to my thoughts on her manuscript, we chatted at length about vision, and she never once complained when I gave her the BIG homework to do. She was a champ! She dove into the manuscript with a vengeance, and she turned out a beautiful story that tugs at all of the heartstrings. 

Haleigh, what was the most surprising part of the #WriteMentor experience?

The most surprising part was how much I learned about writing and about my own writing voice. I went into it assuming my MS would get better, not realizing in order for that to happen I’d have to grow and change as a writer.

Haleigh, the revision process is only three months and can be intense. Tell us about your revisions and how you dealt with constructive criticism from Brandy.What advice do you have for future mentees?

Brandy offered up a ton of great ideas, but she ultimately left all the big decisions up to me, which I truly appreciated. She did a great job of guiding me in the right direction while reminding me that in the end it was my story to tell. The best advice I can offer is to be willing to make scary changes, because they will likely be for the best!

Haleigh, after #WriteMentor, you signed a contract with Literary Crush Publishing. Give us all the details. 

I connected with my publisher when they liked one of my pitches during #KidPit. Less than two weeks later, they sent me an email saying they loved my story and wanted to publish it. I loved the direction they want to take the story, as well as the idea of a publisher focused specifically on what I love to write. A few weeks after that I signed the contract!

What does your writing process look like?

Haleigh:I typically word vomit a first draft over the course of a month or so. I have a pitch in mind and usually an ending, but for the most part I’m completely pantsing it. After I let my first draft sit for a few weeks, I pick through it slowly, fixing obvious mistakes. Then I send to CPs, making big picture changes once they’ve sent it back. Rinse and repeat until I can’t stand to look at the story another second. 

Brandy:Ha! Y’all don’t want to know because I go against all the common advice. LOL It takes me around four months to generate a first draft. With that being said, my first drafts are generally more like 2ndor 3rddrafts before they’re complete? Why? Because I’m an edit-as-you-go sort of girl. (I know, I know – grab the torches and pitchforks!) I literally cannot do the first draft traditional let-it-pour-out-of-you thing. It causes me too much anxiety! LOL And expanding on that more fully, I used to be a total pantster but now I find myself making detailed beat sheets before starting. I’m still not a total plotter, though, and more than once, my characters have taken off on their own tangent! Another key part of my process is to find images online that “look” like my characters and to make Spotify playlists I listen to before writing. It helps set the mood for the scene I’m currently involved with.

You’re on deadline! What are your go-to writing snacks?

Haleigh:So much chocolate! And lots of water.

Brandy: If I could buy stock in Cheez-its, I would! Oh, and don’t forget the whipped cream cheese to dip them in!

Tell us about your favorite writing spot.

Haleigh:I have a nice desk with a bookshelf above it filled with my favorite books, but I end up writing most often in bed.  Once everyone else is asleep, it’s much easier to write in the quiet!

Brandy:I have a writing desk and area where I feel most comfortable, though I have been known to curl up in my front porch swing with my laptop.

What is your favorite book (or series). Why?

Haleigh: It’s so hard to pick a favorite! The big nostalgic ones for me are Harry Potter, Little Women, and Ella Enchantedbecause they remind me of the magic of falling in love with reading for the first time.

Brandy:Well, I’m going to go total predictable here with the first one: Pride and Prejudice. Can you write romance and NOT love this story? Another all-time favorite book is Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides.Southern and full of family drama? Yep, that has Brandy written all over it!

Where does your inspiration come from?

Haleigh:A lot of my inspiration comes from reading other books, watching movies, and talking to other people. I often see questions I have about life and the world around me reflected in the themes of my novel.

Brandy: Life in general, including news stories, music, personal stories, etc. It can’t go without saying that my characters’ internal journeys always do have a twinge of “Brandy” in them as well. It sort of bleeds in. 😊

Haleigh Wenger has been creating new worlds since she could talk. Born with a vivid imagination, she became enthralled with reading and from there hoped to create books of her own someday. Some of her favorites include Little Women, Ella Enchanted, Harry Potter,The Raven Cycle series, and anything by Morgan Matson, Jenn Bennett, or Kasie West. When not reading or writing, she enjoys baking, hiking, and spending time with her sons and husband.
Brandy Woods Snow is an author and journalist born, raised and currently living in beautiful Upstate South Carolina. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Writing from Clemson University. While creative writing has always been her first love, the media has been her home for more than 17 years, during which time she has built a strong platform that includes articles in Delta Sky, Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Home Design & Décor magazine (Charlotte, Triangle). She has also worked in corporate communications, public relations and business development for international and regional companies. Her first novel MEANT TO BE BROKEN, the first book in the Carolina Clay series, was published by Filles Vertes Publishing in July 2018. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA).
@brandy_snow (Twitter)
@BWSnowWrites (Facebook)
@snowbrandy (Instagram)

#WriteMentor 2019

Information page for 2019 version of the #WriteMentor summer mentoring programme.

See our regularly updated list of participating agents for 2019 here:

And here are the Mentors!

We are making changes to how we run the programme. This is based on feedback from mentors/mentees last year but also based upon making it increasingly flexible for all involved.

We are changing to a bi-level structure.

This means there will be two options you can apply to.

A. submission package/partial

B. full manuscript

A. submission package/partial

If you apply for the sub package/partial option, you will work with a mentor on those aspects but we forsee this taking much less than 4 months, so you’d be free to query once you’re done. If you apply for this option, there is no agent showcase at the end.

I would imagine your mentor will help you with querying at this stage, but this option is for those who don’t want a complete overhaul (or are not able to commit to overhauling a full ms in the summer).

Picture books mentors/mentees are likely to apply for this option, unless they are working on/willing to work on several picture books (in which case you may apply for option B).

B. full manuscript

For those applying for a full manuscript mentorship, this will mean a full 4 month commitment to overhauling your manuscript to make it submission ready for the agent showcase.

The expectation is that you will be open to making larger changes to your manuscript and spending all/most of your summer making your manuscript the very best it can be. If this is not possible for you, no worries, but do apply for A instead.

This is not the option for those who aren’t able to work intensively or are not responsive to making large changes to their novels. You are going to receive 4 months of mentorship from an experienced writer, so the expectations are greater.

We have extended the overall period of this years programme.

This is again in response to feedback we received from last years mentees. This extra time should allow for not only large structural overhauls, if they are needed, but also the finer elements.

I have to honestly admit, as a mentor myself, that I struggled with the timeline, to fully help my mentees, and so others have said. I don’t want to compromise the quality of this programme by imposing restrictive timelines. This extra month should help.

Smaller application window

Again, in the interest of the applicants welfare, we have reduced our application window, and also our reading window (a little!). This is to ensure that the painful wait between applying and receiving a decision is reduced and less stressful/anxious.

There were many positives last year, but we also appreciate there are things we could have done better. We will address all of those suggestions and will endeavour to improve the programme in every aspect this year.

For the prospective mentors

A few words on mentors and those considering applying. I am VERY open as to who we take on as mentors. We probably can’t say YES to everyone who applies, but if you’re on the fence, go for it, or chat with me. Don’t self-reject.

So many of my writing friends told me last year that they didn’t think they’d be any good or be able to help their mentees. Imposter Syndrome struck hard. But they had a go anyway and the feedback from their mentees blew the imposter out of the water!

Please trust in yourself and your experience and ability. I certainly will, if you apply, and are successful. We are looking for writers with experience and skills to help another writer. Who have great values and altruistic reasons for applying.

We are looking for agented/published writers, editors, anyone who works in the industry and has experience of working with writers and feels they can offer valuable skills and experience to improve another writer’s craft and manuscript.

While we are primarily looking at MG/YA, this year I’d love to have a few mentors for the younger end of children’s fiction, i.e. chapter books, or even picture books (these would most likely fall into the A category). If you write either, do consider applying.

What do I need to apply?

You will need to have a completed manuscript.

You will need to send us a query letter, 1st chapter (double-spaced, 12″ TNR), and 1-page synopsis (single-spaced) along with your application, so ensure these are as good as they can be.

You can apply to 3 mentors. So be sure to research them thoroughly and chat to them during our Twitter Mentor chat week, starting 8th April.

It is 1 application (1 novel) per person.

Full timeline is below:

Chloe Seager – Interview with our #WriteMentorCNA SL Judge

What are you particularly excited to find in the shortlisted novels?

A strong concept. Brilliant writing. Characters that breathe. And preferably all three at the same time!

What are  your  top 3 tips for those  entering to get an agents attention?

I often see writers cramming too much into their opening scenes, (especially in competitions), as if they think if they don’t explain everything on page one the reader will immediately lose interest. Whilst I don’t want books that start too slowly, trying to communicate everything straightaway leads to a lot of telling instead of showing and can be overwhelming. You don’t need to explain everything in the opening – that’s what the synopsis is for! Equally on the synopsis, I’d say don’t try to be too interesting with the way you write it – that’s what the writing is for! Just make sure you detail all the key points of the plot.

What are the top 3 mistakes to avoid? 

Synopses that are blurbs, not synopses. Cover letters that are too long. Cover letters that focus too much on an author’s personal story, and barely mention the book!

What do you think are the benefits of novel awards for writers?

Although at the end of the day agents care more about the book itself than a writer’s credits, anything that can set you apart from the pile of submissions they see every day can only be a good thing. Also getting yourself together to submit for a novel award can give you a goal to work towards. Depending on the novel award, there can also be mentoring, feedback and development up for grabs. 

For those who don’t make the LL or SL, what kind of thing would you like submitted to you?

I have pretty broad taste so I wouldn’t rule out anything, although I have been looking to develop the darker side of my list – for instance middle-grades rooted in creepy, lesser known folklore or sharp, feminist YA. I’d also love something that defies my expectations… For instance, I would drop everything for a Georgia Nicolson character in a fantasy world!

Top 3 reads of 2018.

This is hard! As soon as anyone asks me this I forget everything I’ve read, but The Stormkeeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle and The Extinction Trials by S.M. Wilson are springing to mind. And, if I can have an adult one?!, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. 


Chloe is responsible for the agency’s children’s and young adult book business as well as science fiction and fantasy.

In children’s, we represent all genres of young adult, middle-grade and age 5-8 fiction and non-fiction.

Chloe is herself a published author of young adult fiction, with her first novel Editing Emma published by HQ in 2017 and the sequel Friendship Fails of Emma Nash published in 2018.

Having previously worked at Titan Books, she is also our resident expert in science fiction and fantasy.

« Older Entries