Spark Mentoring

Working one-to-one with a children’s author, receive ongoing developmental editing, writing advice, publishing insights, and direct feedback on your manuscript to help you elevate your writing craft to the next level

Starting at only £30 a month, Spark is both affordable and accessible, with bespoke options that range from single chapter edits to full manuscript feedback

Spark is a flexible mentoring service with no long- or fixed-term obligation. We are here to adapt to your needs and are always happy to chat about bespoke options

With a choice of over 20 mentors from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, get the tailored support you need to finish and polish your children’s fiction manuscript

Is mentoring right for you?

  • You’re writing or wanting to write books for children and/or teens (Picture Book, Chapter Book, Middle Grade, Teen and Young Adult. Read definitions for each of the age categories).
  • You have at least a solid story idea and an initial piece of writing. However, our mentors can support writers at any stage of manuscript development, all the way up to completed books.
  • You’re open to receiving constructive feedback on your writing and have a desire to improve your craft (Read Melissa Wellivers’ top tips for receiving feedback).
  • You’re committed to your own writing and current project.



Middle Grade and Young Adult mentors

Find the mentor that best fits your story idea and writing style

Tanya Byrne

Biography

Tanya’s debut Young Adult novel Heart-Shaped Bruise earned her a nomination for New Writer of the Year at the National Book Awards. She has written three more novels and contributed to several short story anthologies including A Change Is Gonna Come, which was named Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week and honoured with a Special Achievement Award by the YA Book Prize.

What is your mentoring style?

My strengths lie in getting manuscripts back on track, especially when writers hit the 25k mark and begin to lose momentum. I also understand how hard it is to write around a full-time job and other commitments so I’m an excellent cheerleader when time – and motivation – is sparse.

As a brown, queer, working class author, I am determined not to pull the ladder up after me, so I am passionate about encouraging authors from marginalised backgrounds to tell their own stories and making publishing open to everyone.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

After eight years at BBC Radio, I left to write my debut young adult novel, Heart-Shaped Bruise, which earned me a nomination for New Writer of the Year at the National Book Awards. Since then, I have written three more novels and contributed to several short story anthologies including A Change Is Gonna Come, which was named Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week and honoured with a Special Achievement Award by the YA Book Prize. My next novel, Afterlove, is published by Hachette Children’s Group this summer.

Age group

Young Adult

Carolyn Ward

Biography

Carolyn Ward writes Middle Grade and is represented by Northbank Talent. She became a mentor in WriteMentor’s first year, working closely with three talented writers and enjoying every second. 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.

What is your mentoring style?

I am pretty much always on the internet, open, friendly, honest, supportive and inspirational. I’m here to help you in whatever way you need to be helped. Once I am your mentor I am 100% with you to work together to get closer to your writing dreams, whatever they may be. I work quickly and can adapt easily to any deadlines you have. I love to stay in touch with my mentees and editorial clients and follow their journeys. It is so wonderful when they get signed or a deal, I feel all the joy! 

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I have written short stories, poetry, NF, CNF, flash, PB, CB, MG, Teen and YA. I’ve even self-published a flash fiction collection. Happy to read anything and everything, I am well-connected within the writing world. I subbed out lots before getting my agent, and have masses of editing experience in the kidlit world in all genres and age groups. It can be terrifying to send work out, and I know the power of fresh eyes to spot tiny inconsistencies. I’ve been a reader for the WriteMentor competitions, so I sense instinctively what shines and what needs a little more polish.  Getting to work with anyone on their book is a delight. It is an absolute honour to be trusted with your words, and I love every part of it. I am represented by Hardman & Swainson.

Age group

Chapter Book, Middle Grade, Teen and Young Adult

Client testimonials

“I just wanted to say how brilliant [Carolyn] has been!! It’s been a fantastic experience […] we’ve nearly completed my book together.” – Emma Wood

A M Dassu

Biography

A M Dassu is a magistrate and a freelance writer. Her first piece for The Huffington Post, for whom she was a featured writer, was published on the front-page, alongside Barack Obama and Lenny Henry. She is the Deputy Editor for Words & Pictures, the magazine for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, British Isles. A M Dassu’s previous work experience includes project management, marketing and editorial work at Reader’s Digest. She writes children’s fiction and nonfiction. Her MG novel is due to be published in 2020. 

Age group

Middle Grade and Young Adult

Emma Finlayson-Palmer

Biography

Emma is represented by Laura West at the David Higham Agency, and mainly writes for children, but also writes short stories and flash fiction. Emma is the creator and organiser of the fortnightly writing chat called #ukteenchat on Twitter. Emma is a mentor on both the WriteMentor summer programme, as well as a reader for the WriteMentor children’s novel award.

What is your mentoring style?

My mentoring style is to be eternally optimistic! I’m very thorough in my approach but my feedback will always be constructive. My goal is to make your writing the best and sparkliest it can be.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I have been writing since childhood with my earliest piece being published when I was 8 on Ceefax. With years of experience with submitting to agents, I have been with two different agents myself. I have a wealth of experience with a whole range of genres and types of writing and have been published in magazines and news papers such as The Weekly News, Fate and Fortune Magazine and Anorak magazine for children, as well as in anthologies and being placed in competitions such as Mslexia’s Children’s Novel Award in 2019. I have experience of working on edits with publishers and have worked on edits with other writers for many years, including with SCBWI critique groups.

Age group

Chapter Book, Middle Grade, Teen and Young Adult

Client testimonials

“I’ve learned a lot about my writing strengths and weaknesses. I’ve discovered how much I enjoy the whole collaborative process of discussing the plot, my characters, where my book would sit in the market et cetera, et cetera. Bouncing ideas around is fun and hugely beneficial and having someone who knows my book inside out to call on for support and advice is invaluable. Oh, and my editing skills have improved A LOT!” Debbie

Chio Zoe

Biography

Chio Zoe is a fantasy writer inspired by multiple cultures and folklore across the world. She also dabbles in other genres. She started writing at a young age and gained the interest of a publishing house for a children’s horror story. Choosing not to start a major career in writing at the time, she focused on ghostwriting and entering writing contests. After placing as a finalist in the Break Through Novel Awards, she went ahead to publish her YA fantasy novel, Memory of Stone.You can often find her bent over her laptop working on her books, or with her nose in a sketchpad coming up with new clothing designs for her fashion line. When she isn’t doing that, she spends her time teaching Nigerian writers and young writers through her youtube channel, which was inspired by her time mentoring at Write Mentor Spark.

What is your mentoring style?

I enjoy working closely with my mentee to understand what areas they want help with and what areas they should focus on through sample pages sent in.

Through this, I can brainstorm with my mentee to come up with areas of concentration, and draw up a custom schedule fit for my mentee’s needs and our time management.

I believe that relatable characters make any story worthwhile, so I enjoy fleshing out characters.  

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I’ve spent a lot of time ghostwriting for others and working on my own books with beta readers and editors, so I have the advantage of understanding different people’s points of view. I am lucky to be able to teach writing through my youtube channel and one on one conversations as that has made me learn more in order to properly teach.

Age group

Young Adult

Julie Marney Leigh

Biography

Julie writes funny contemporary novels for teens, and is represented by Hannah Weatherill at Northbank Talent. She has a PhD in English Literature and is an alumna of the Curtis Brown Creative Writing for Children Course. Julie adores being a mentor, and has been a mentor with WriteMentor since our inception, helping many writers reach their writing goals and sign with agents.

What is your mentoring style?

I adore being a mentor and relish the opportunity to provide advice, support and encouragement. I like everything about the creative process – the brainstorming of ideas and the writing of stories. But, without question, my favourite part is editing. I enjoy structural edits, finer more detailed edits and even line edits. Above all, I love working with other writers. There is so much to be gained from the process of sharing and critiquing work, not just from the development of a writer’s skills but also from the whole aspect of being part of a writing community.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

In studying for my PhD and becoming a lecturer in English, I gained a lot of experience teaching other adults and loved discussing all aspects of writing with them. I loved working with students and supervising projects, and I find mentoring very similar. It’s so exciting to work with an author and to see their writing skills develop. I have been a mentor with WriteMentor’s Summer programme for the last three years, and my mentees got many agent requests in the showcase and two have since signed with agents. I have also been a mentor with WriteMentor Spark since its inception, and I have read for the WriteMentor Children’s Novel Award every year. 

Age group

Middle Grade, Teen and Young Adult

Aisha Bushby

Biography

Aisha was born in Bahrain and has lived in Kuwait, England and Canada. The first novel she ever worked on was a piece of fan fiction, based on her favourite book series, which she stayed up all night to work on when she was thirteen. Aisha now writes children’s books, sometimes with a little bit of magic in them. Her next novel, Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found, is out in August.

What is your mentoring style?

I see my role as a mentor to help the authors I work with achieve their vision – they take the reins, but I’m there to offer directions.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I’ve been through the submission process a number of times (both successfully and unsuccessfully), but I’ve also worked on the other side of the industry, at literary agencies. 

Age group

Chapter Book, Middle Grade and Teen

A.J. Sass

Biography

A.J. Sass is a fiction-writing figure skater, inclined toward adventures of a traveling nature. He is autistic, non-binary, and keen on exploring how gender identity and neurodiversity impact character narratives. An avid figure skater, A.J. is a US Figure Skating double gold medalist in Moves in the Field and Free Skate, a silver medalist in Ice Dance, and a member of the 2018 national bronze medalist and 2019 national silver medalist Masters synchronized skating team, IceSymmetrics. 

A.J. grew up in the Midwestern US, came of age in the South, and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his boyfriend and two cats who act like dogs. A.J. is represented by Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. His middle grade debut, ANA ON THE EDGE, will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in Fall 2020.

What is your mentoring style?

I aim to provide a positive mentoring experience, with an approach that provides constructive feedback along with the utmost encouragement. Writers often seek mentorship to identify problems in their manuscript or to hone their writing craft, which I’m enthusiastic to help with. Letting a writer know what’s already working and noting areas they can feel proud of is a crucial part of my process, along with providing more constructive feedback. I want a writer’s mentorship experience to be educational, actionable, and also uplifting.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I was once a mentee myself (in WriteMentor’s summer 2018 mentorship program!). Back then, I was incredibly shy about sharing my writing; the stories I told felt deeply personal and I was hesitant to have them torn apart or criticized. But I soon learned that it’s all about the execution: how feedback gets delivered and what you as a writer choose to do with it is what matters. If feedback is offered in a way that builds a writer up and celebrates a story’s potential rather than tearing them down, it can lead to great things. My writing improved as a result of this approach, as did my understanding of how to craft a story. Now I take these experiences and apply them as a mentor myself in various programs such as Pitch Wars, Author Mentor Match, and WriteMentor. I’ve learned that there’s no reason the journey to get where we want to go with our writing should be anything other than affirming. 

Age group

Middle Grade and Young Adult

Client testimonials

“Mentoring helped me validate that my stories are needed and allowed me to understand my weaknesses so I could work on them.”Anushi Mehta

M. Dalto

Biography

M. Dalto is a fiction author of adventurous romantic fantasy and her bestselling debut novel, Two Thousand Years, was a 2016 Watty Award winner on Wattpad.com. She continues to volunteer her time as both a Wattpad Ambassador and a WriteMentor mentor, where she hopes to engage, assist, and inspire new writers. She spends her days as a full-time residential real estate paralegal, using her evenings to pursue her literary agenda. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, playing video games, and drinking coffee. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband, their daughter, and their corgi named Loki.

What is your mentoring style?

I love to work through a mentee’s manuscript as a beta reader, a critique partner, and a copyeditor. I feel with those perspectives, it can help the write look at their work from different angles they may not have considered while writing on their own.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I have been on both sides of the desk, so to speak, through mentorships and working on my own editing experiences. Because of that, I hope to share my personal and professional experiences with mentees who are just beginning to become accustomed to the writing and editorial process. 

Age group

Young Adult and New Adult

Emma Read

Biography

Emma Read is the author of Middle Grade debut, Milton the Mighty – shortlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award, published by Chicken House in 2019. She is a mentor with WriteMentor Sparks and runs creative writing workshops for children in KS2.

What is your mentoring style?

In a nutshell, frank and honest. I aim to squeeze plenty of opportunities for growth from a submission, so I make lots of comments and suggestions, using tracked changes. This often results in an alarming amount of red! I like to invest in a MS as if it were my own and chat through ideas with my mentees, brainstorm with them to grow the story until the mentee is satisfied with the end result.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I’ve been mentoring and critiquing for three years, and have worked with lots of writers, across multiple genres, on everything from first page extracts to entire manuscripts, Chapter Books to YA. I also write across this spectrum too.  Writing is a continual learning process  – whether with a mentee or working with my agent and editors (in house and freelance) on critiques, structural, copy and line edits, the process is mutually beneficial. My goal is to share the experience so we can all help each other.

Age group

Chapter Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult and New Adult

Emma Smith-Barton

Biography

Emma is the author of Young Adult novel The Million Pieces of Neena Gill (July 2019, Penguin Random House). She has a BA in English and Creative Writing from Warwick University and a Creative Writing MA from Bath Spa University. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies such as Mslexia and The Bristol Short Story Prize 2016.

Age group

Middle Grade and Young Adult

Kathryn Clark

Biography

Kathryn’s short stories and flash fiction have been published online, in writing magazines and anthologies. She regularly edits, critiques and proofreads for fellow YA and MG writers, in a variety of genres. Kathryn has a degree in English Studies, and an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University. She was one of three co-editors of the 2016 course anthology.

What is your mentoring style?

My mentoring style is kind and constructive. I’m very flexible and happy to help with line edits, brain storming, or specific aspects of craft like plot, character or voice. My aim is to build confidence and improve craft.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I have been writing seriously for over twelve years and during that time I’ve worked with other writers in writing groups, workshops, the MA in Writing for Young People and as a mentor on the WriteMentor Summer Programme. I know it can be difficult to receive feedback about your writing  – I’ve been there – and so I always aim to be supportive and honest. Writers I’ve worked with have gone on to have agent offers and book deals.

Age group

Middle Grade and Young Adult

Melinda Salisbury

Biography

Melinda is the bestselling author of YA fantasy The Sin Eater’s Daughter series, the political fantasy Sorrow duology, and most recently Scottish folk-horror, Hold Back The Tide. She’s been nominated and shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Carnegie Medal twice, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and the Edgar Awards in the US. She is a fierce advocate for working-class writers.

What is your mentoring style?

I have a buffet-style approach to mentoring – a bit of everything. Although if there’s a particular area the author has concerns about or would like me to focus on I’m more than happy to, and if I feel there’s something in particular they need to work on, I’ll flag it! Primary areas of expertise are world-building, character development and making sure the dialogue, language and voice sound natural and engaging, so I’m an excellent mentor for that! 

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

My mentoring personality is honest, but kind. I will tell them straight if I think something doesn’t work, or if something needs to be cut, or changed or added or built upon. I won’t pull punches or gloss over areas that don’t work for me, but I will explain my thinking, so they can hopefully understand my concerns and have an idea of ways they can address them (should they agree!) That said, I am as eager to point out the stuff that really works as I am the stuff that doesn’t – I want to be a good and effective cheerleader for them! My main aim is for them to leave me feeling confident, both in themselves and their work, and also in the edits and changes and routes they could talk to make their work the best it can be! 

Age group

Teen, Young Adult and New Adult

Melissa Welliver

Biography

Melissa Welliver writes speculative fiction about how the End Of The World is never really the end of the world. After studying MA Creative Writing under Jeanette Winterson at the University of Manchester, she went on to complete Curtis Brown Creative’s Writing for Children course. Her work has listed in Bath Novel Award, Mslexia, the Hachette Children’s Novel Award, and the Wells Book for Children Competition. She has been published in two short story collections and is an avid member of the Twitter writing community. Born in Stockport, she now lives in the High Peak with an assortment of doggy friends. The Undying Tower is her first novel.

What is your mentoring style?

I’ve been a mentor with the WriteMentor Summer Programme for four years now, and I absolutely love interacting with my mentee and helping to make their manuscript the best it can be before submitting to agents. As a speculative writer, I work best with Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Urban Fantasy, Dystopian and Cli-Fi manuscripts. My previous mentees have gone on to gain agent representation and one even won the Writementor Children’s Novel Award.

When I mentor I like to set flexible goals that can be adjusted to suit the mentee’s pace and lifestyle, while also pushing to get the work done. I’m happy to answer questions about my experience gaining agent representation, being on submission, and I’ll try to demystify the publication process. I focus heavily on voice, and want to bring out the best possible way for your MC to tell me their story.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I’ve been agented with Peters, Fraser & Dunlop for three years and my agent is Lucy Irvine. Speculative Fiction is my wheel house, and the first in my YA dystopian debut trilogy, The Undying Tower, comes out with Agora Books in September 2021. I’ve also just come off the back of submission, so I’ve experienced all the highs and lows this author life has to offer. 

I’ve been professionally editing manuscripts freelance since June last year, and have so far been lucky enough to give feedback on over thirty clients’ manuscripts. I have a masters in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester, which has really helped to hone my critical eye. I like to work with the author to make sure their artistic vision matches up with what I see as the crucial commercial elements, and I hope my editing style reflects that.

Age group

Middle Grade and Young Adult

Client testimonials

“Melissa has a laser focus when it comes to comments, but what has been even more useful are the conversations we have around those points. That interaction has given me the tools and the confidence to know when to double down on something in order to make my vision clear, when to stick with my gut, and when to accept that something just isn’t going to work.” Steve

Lindsay Galvin

Biography

Lindsay Galvin is an author writing for middle grade, teen and adults. A qualified teacher with 20 years experience, she loves to visit schools. She is also a WriteMentor tutor, mentor and staff writer, and provides manuscript services. Lindsay lives on the south coast with three boys, two cats and one puppy. 

What is your mentoring style?

My mentoring style is honest, supportive and approachable. My aim is to identify clear points for improvement and to discuss ways forward, encouraging a dialogue. I’ll also always note what I’ve enjoyed, what’s working, and the mentees strengths for us to build on. 

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I am an experienced mentor, having been with WriteMentor from day 1. I have been working with Spark mentees since the programme began, I also tutor the successful Upper MG Write Master courses and ran a WriteMentor weekend. My 16 years as a teacher, and working with professionals editing my own book have fed in to my editing experience, plus I am a long term critique partner for two successful published authors. 

Age group

Middle Grade

Simon James Green

Biography

Simon James Green is an author and screenwriter. His young adult novels include Noah Can’t Even (long listed for the Branford Boase and also published in Poland, Brazil and France); Noah Could Never; Alex in Wonderland (nominated for the Carnegie medal and selected as one of the top 20 LGBTQ+ books of 2019 by Attitude); and Heartbreak Boys. 2020 also saw publication of his first picture book, Llama Glamarama, illustrated by Garry Parsons, and Life of Riley: Beginner’s Luck, his first middle-grade book, which has been shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2021.

What is your mentoring style?

I aim to work with mentees collaboratively, to really understand the story they want to tell and their unique voice. I believe a friendly and fun approach brings the best work out of people, and my notes will be a mixture of wider structural issues, technical advice and tips, and finer detail line edits, when appropriate. 

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I’ve published six books and have a further five under contract, across picture books, MG and YA. I’ve also been on the committees and judging panels of several competitions for new writers. I’m experienced in what agents and editors are looking for and can help my mentees hone their ideas and stories in order to take them to the next stage. 

Age group

Middle Grade and Young Adult

Lydia Massiah

Biography

Lydia completed the Curtis Brown Writing for Children online course, but it was being selected as a mentee for WriteMentor in 2018 which made all the difference. Now she’s represented by Jo Williamson, from Antony Harwood. Her Upper MG horror adventure is in the pipeline. She also runs a SCBWI South West critique group for MG and YA writers, and is a SCBWI Network Organiser.

What is your mentoring style?

My mentoring style is based on many years of encouraging others to love reading and creative writing as much as I do! I’m always supportive but also analytical of what is or isn’t working. Since 2017 I have run a monthly SCBWI South-West critique group for MG and YA writers, which means I’ve covered plenty of critique-miles. I’ve also worked with editors developing a manuscript, and know their priorities. I see the role of mentor as someone for a mentee to bounce ideas off and share excitement with as plans take shape.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I’ve experience of critiquing MG, Upper MG/Teen and YA fiction, and read and write across this age range, though older MG is my natural home. I love originality in concept, setting, and voice – anything that catches my interest – and enjoy a range a genres. I’m drawn to historical, speculative, supernatural or magical tales, but horror, thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy are all within my remit. What matters is the power of the story and the characters involved.

Age group

Middle Grade, Teen and Young Adult

Marisa Noelle

Biography

Marisa is the writer of middle grade and young adult novels in the genres of science-fiction, fantasy and mental health. Her books include The Shadow Keepers and The Unadjusteds. The Mermaid Chronicles – Secrets of the Deep is due out Spring 2020. She is a mentor for the WriteMentor summer mentoring program that helps aspiring children’s fiction authors.

What is your mentoring style?

I would say I don’t have any one style, and that I fit myself to whatever the author needs. When I look over the mentees I’ve hade, both in the summer program and in Sparks, there is a variety of strengths and weaknesses that I’ve been able to help. I have some authors who’s craft is more basic and they need helps with advanced methods, other authors who are very polished in their writing but the structure is a mess, or character development is needed. Other mentees need confidence, they are afraid of querying, of the rejections, feel guilty about carving out the time to write. So I’m really good at boosting confidence in these areas too. 

I can talk a mentee through the whole process and give honest truths about the publishing industry. Not only do I look at full manuscripts, but I can help with pitches, query letters and synopses. Often I will throw in ad hoc exercises into a mentorship as and when I feel they are needed, with to address all areas of writing to help an author grow. I will also point out your strengths and I won’t skim over weaknesses, and I will keep coming back to them until I feel the growth has happened. 

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

My experience has been very bumpy, as is the norm for most authors.  I have spent years in the querying trenches and I’m on my third agent so I can advise of all the pitfalls here. As a self-published and published author with indie presses and on sub with traditional publishers, I speak to this entire process. I also run ads for my self-published book on Amazon and Facebook so can give you advice here. 

I’ve been around the block a few times, had my fair share of rejections and kicks in the teeth. I know how down you can feel, and I’m here to help you feel confident in your writing and be honest with you when you’re ready. Then you’re in for life and I don’t stop cheerleading! I have also done a few school visits – I just started before lockdown, so I can talk about what’s involved here and how to tackle the nerves. So, in summary, I have knowledge of every step of the process and can help a mentee navigate any stage.

Age group

Middle Grade, Teen and Young Adult

Rachel Faturoti 

Biography

Rachel Faturoti is a British-Nigerian author, poet and freelance editor, committed to broadening the scope of authentic Black representation in YA and children’s fiction. She works as a sensitivity reader specialising in race and gender issues. Her debut Middle Grade and Young Adult novels are out in 2022.

What is your mentoring style?

My mentoring style is to provide constructive and practical feedback to help bring out the best in my mentee’s writing. I love to brainstorm and have sessions with my mentee where we talk about their strengths and areas that they want to improve in.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I have experience critiquing a wide range of manuscripts through mentoring and sensitivity reads for various publishers. I was previously a copy editor for a magazine so I am able to provide line edits and support with the finer details. I have an agent and have been through the submission process. Also, I’m currently completing an MA in Creative Writing.

Age group

Middle Grade and Young Adult.

Justin Davies

Biography

Justin writes middle grade fiction which he hopes will have children laughing their socks off. His debut novel, Help! I Smell a Monster, was a Fantastic Book Awards winner in 2021. Having hung up his flight attendant wings after twenty-five years smiling in the aisles, Justin now splits his time between writing and working in his local primary school. He lives in Scotland with his husband Andrew and greyhound Sally. Justin’s third book, a darkly comic adventure mystery with a dash of paranormal, is out in 2023.

What is your mentoring style?

Above all, I aim to offer a collaborative approach to the mentoring process with a focus on open and honest communication. Writing can be a lonely occupation, so I will bring not only a fresh pair of (objective) eyes to your manuscript, delivering constructive feedback where appropriate, but also all-important encouragement and cheer-leading.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

Basically, I’ve been – and am at – where you’re headed! I’ve been writing for many years, honing my craft whilst searching for my writing voice. Every step of the process towards finding an agent, then publication deals, and on to working with several editors, has been an education. Along with this experience, I have also been a beta reader and attended critique groups. Above all, I spend half my days working with children – if standing in a cold playground trying to work out the intricate rules to their games can’t help me with my writing, nothing will.

Age group

Middle Grade

Cat Weldon 

Biography

Cat Weldon is a children’s author who writes funny, Middle Grade fantasy stories with a particular interest in off beat fairy tales and world mythology. Her hilarious Viking Series, How To Be A Hero is published by Macmillan Children’s Books. With a master’s degree in Scriptwriting and a background in Children’s Theatre, Cat now splits her time between teaching, writing and trying to round up her collection of delinquent chickens.

What is your mentoring style?

Writing can be a lonely experience and it is all too easy not to be able to see the wood for the trees. I can provide an outside perspective to help you find your way to the heart of your story. I love a bit of planning and structure to really pull a story together. Something has to underpin all the craziness! 

I have over ten years teaching experience, so I know how important it is to offer feedback in a constructive and targeted way to achieve the best results. Having said that, I’m happy to be led by the mentee, let me know what you would like to me focus on and I’ll start with that!

You can expect detailed feedback on your manuscript and a fun, collaborative approach. Writing should be enjoyable!

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I know how tough it can be to let someone else see your writing, it can feel like the inside of your head is being opened up. I have been through various different types of creative writing programmes (good, bad and ugly) and am able to pull together the best parts from those different experiences. I promise to be constructive and to focus on how to make your story the best it can be, while retaining the essence that it is your story.

I have previously worked as a scriptwriter, so I am able to use that experience to add further depth to my feedback. This is particularly helpful in developing interesting characters, unsticking plot points, and writing dialogue.

I have also done a number of school visits and have dealt with the really tricky questions like, why are you funny? And the dreaded, but what is your book about, actually?

Age group

My specialities are humour, fantasy and historical, or a combination of all three! But if you think I would be a good fit for your writing I’m happy to take a look at other genres. I write primarily for upper middle grade (ages 8-12). 



Picture Book mentors

Find the mentor that best fits your story idea and writing style


Susannah Lloyd 

Biography

Susannah Lloyd is the author of four picture books; Oh Monty, Here Be Dragons, This Book Can Read Your Mind and The Terribly Friendly Fox, with another two on the way in 2023. Her books are published by Pavilion, Frances Lincoln, Simon and Schuster and Nosy Crow. Her books have been translated into four languages. Susannah’s stories are inspired by old black and white movies, dusty stuffed animals in museums and all things small in the world. 

What is your mentoring style?

I am big fan of learning through other picture books, and so my mentoring process starts with finding out what makes you tick as a reader as well as a writer. We will explore what features you love to see in a picture book, as well as finding out what you dislike.  I hope to help you to shape your own personal mission statement, identifying what you want your own writing to bring to the picture book table. My focus will be on supporting you to take creative risks within the parameters of the picture book format.  I also aim to support you to give the readers of your picture books plenty of space between your text and the illustration, in which to use their own imaginations. 

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I am extremely passionate about picture books and about sharing what I have learned from my own journey as a writer. I stopped writing for pleasure when I was 12 years old, due to a fear of taking risks creatively, only picking it up again once I turned 40.  Thankfully I have abandoned my fears and I will be encouraging you to do the same, to take risks and embrace the joy of a messy first draft. I have learned so much through trial and error in my own picture book making, as each of my books has given me new challenges and new problems to solve. I look forward to helping you navigate this process with your own books.  

Client testimonials

“Being mentored by Susannah has been a brilliant experience from the get-go. I jumped at the chance to work with her because I love how the text and illustrations in her own picture books interplay and hoped she could help me develop that in my own stories. She certainly has! Susannah helps me to think of ways I can really craft a story and her feedback is honest and insightful. I love how she always considers the child reader and what they will find satisfying in a book. Her mentoring has allowed me to dig out the bolder, quirkier texts that I’d shelved and get excited about taking them forward again. Thank you Susannah!” – Tracy Curran

Catherine Emmett

Biography

Catherine Emmett used to work in the City, but quit her job to move to the countryside and write children’s books. She writes rhyming and prose picture books, which are funny and heart-warming, with twisty plots and endearing characters. Her first book was published in 2020 and she has books in development with Simon & Schuster and Macmillan.

Katrina Charman

Biography

Katrina is a full-time children’s author and has written over thirty books ranging from picture books to middle grade. In 2013 she was a recipient of the SCBWI’s Margaret Carey grant, and in 2014 she was a winner of SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices competition. She is represented by Gemma Cooper at the Bent agency, and published books include Car, Car, Truck Jeep series with Nick Sharratt, published by Bloomsbury and shortlisted for the Booktrust Storytime Prize in 2020 and 2021. The ABC Factor published by Farshore books. The bestselling Last Firehawk series with Scholastic Branches in the USA. The Survival Tails series, with Little, Brown Young Readers. The Poppy’s Place series published by Stripes. She has books coming out with Nosy Crow, and Hachette in the next few years. 

What is your mentoring style?

I like to cover everything from the very large, broad ideas, to looking at the smaller tiny details that go into making a book work and making it marketable/submission ready. From generating ideas, focusing on rhyme or prose, picture book layouts, , editing/copyediting to help with submission packages.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I have written books in many different genres and for a range of age groups, and with editors with varying editing styles, so one of my strong points is to really be able to help my mentee focus on their audience, style, and find and bring out that special something in their writing that editors and agents are looking for. 

Donna David 

Biography

Donna David is the author of Trains, Trains, Trains! Farmer Llama and Oh No, Bobo!  She has three more picture books in development with Macmillan to be published over the next two years.  Donna writes in prose and in rhyme, she writes funny and serious books, books with a message and books that are completely ridiculous!

What is your mentoring style?

When it comes to critiquing a text, I like to look at plot, setting, characters, narrative arc and story structure.  These can be tiny tweaks or huge big rewrites but I’ll work with my mentees throughout every step.  

As well as looking at individual stories, I’d also like to set exercises and homework for my mentees to help them constantly improve their craft. Having one great picture book just isn’t enough – I’d like my mentees to have the skill set to produce a catalogue of submission-ready stories. 

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I have been submitting my stories since 2015 and I picked up so many valuable tips from the whole process.  It was a long and bumpy road to my first book deal and I learnt so much along the way.  I’d like to share my tips on overcoming rejections and reframing them as positive steps towards the ultimate goal. 

It is a huge privilege to work closely with fantastic editors and my wonderful agent, Becky Bagnell.  Through these relationships, I have learnt so much about standing out in a crowded market.  I’m excited to pass on what I’ve learned to my  mentees.  

Rachael Davis

Biography

Rachael Davis is a mixed-raced Black-British children’s author. She grew up in a low-income single-parent family and studied Mathematics at Oxford University before doing a masters in English Literature at Surrey University. She writes inclusive and empowering books for children of all ages, both fiction and non-fiction, and is passionate about showcasing diversity, STEM and mental health. Her debut rhyming picture book, I am NOT a Prince, is a twisted fairy tale, illustrated by Beatrix Hatcher (Hachette). Rachael was a judge for the inaugural Jericho Prize and runs the children’s review site Picture Book Perfect. She has books in development with Quarto, Flying Eye Books, HarperCollins and Storymix.

What is your mentoring style?

My approach will be guided by the mentee because all writers have different creative processes, strengths and weaknesses. That said, I am a plotter and I believe it is important to have a solid understanding of the “rules” of picture book structure (even if you decide ultimately to break them!). Working long-term with a mentee, we would explore everything from the pitch to characterisation, structure, voice, plot, pace, and for rhyming picture books metre and scansion. Whenever I give advice or feedback, I always keep in mind what story/message the writer wants to tell/share, and how to make that as commercially attractive to agents/publishers as possible.

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

Finding your unique angle as a writer is key to standing out in a competitive market and I hope to be able to bring that out of my mentees. I read and review around 150 newly released children’s books a year on my website Picture Book Perfect, and read many more, which means I have a good sense of the children’s publishing market, including books outside of the genres/topics I write. This helps me to think strategically about how texts can be developed to stand out to agents and publishers.

Naomi Jones 

Biography

Naomi has over eight years’ experience working in children’s publishing. She began her career at Puffin (Penguin Random House) before moving to Orion and then Hachette Children’s Group. Her previous experience as a Rights Manager brings invaluable insight into maximising a book’s sales potential and she has worked closely with both UK and international editors to develop a good knowledge of global publishing markets and trends. Naomi was the children’s book reviewer for award winning family travel blog Mini Travellers for over three years. Naomi has been working as a freelance editor and mentor helping other children’s writers to develop their manuscripts and craft for over four years. Her debut picture book The Perfect Fit published in March 2021 and it will be followed in 2022 by One More Try and The Odd Fish. Her books have now been published in 12 languages.

What is your mentoring style?

I am always keen to understand an author’s goals so that I can better help them work towards them. I really enjoy working collaboratively with authors and find it immensely satisfying to see their manuscripts and writing style evolve during this process. I am happy to look at everything when I work with an author from the specifics of a text itself e.g. exploring areas like voice, characterisation and narrative structure as well as ensuring their bigger picture goals are being worked towards, e.g. thinking about commercial appeal and developing a submission package.

I’ve personally found that my own writing has improved immeasurably based on feedback from my writing group, agent and all of the editors I’ve worked with, so I know how invaluable this experience can be. 

How can your experience help your mentee with their writing?

I’ve always been passionate about children’s literature and have a wide range of experience within the Children’s Publishing industry – I am a published author, mum of two, avid reader, book reviewer, editor and have a background working in house for some of the biggest publishers in the UK. I will draw on this diverse background when helping you work on your manuscripts. It has always been my dream to write children’s books, and I would be delighted to work with you if this is your dream too.

Looking for a fuller editorial report and still unsure about a monthly commitment? 

Our mentors also offer editing services via WriteMentor’s Quick Spark. Includes submission package read throughs all the way up to partial or full manuscript developmental editing. Quick Spark gives you access to one-off editing without ongoing time and financial commitment.

Find out more about Quick Spark here.

Or, if you’re not ready for editorial feedback…

Spark mentees who have landed themselves an agent…

“Having someone in my corner made a huge difference to my moral. Each month Emma helped me first with the opening to my novel, then my synopsis and lastly my agent letter. She was supportive, encouraging, and gave lots of practical support and advice. I’m very grateful to her and Spark.”

Camilla Chester

“Mentoring helped me validate that my stories are needed and allowed me to understand my weaknesses so I could work on them.”

Anushi Mehta

“WriteMentor is such a warm and welcoming community where established children’s authors mingle freely with new and aspiring ones.”

Piu Das Gupta

“Mentoring demystifies the writing industry and makes it accessible to people who may otherwise feel that writing is not for them.”

Emily Kenny

Light your spark

You don’t have to be great to get started but you have to get started to be great.

Plus, fill in the form below….

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: