Find Mentors after Pitch Wars?

If Pitch Wars 2017 seems too far away or too selective for you, you can always try out other mentorship programs available online.

Some are free and some come with a fee. I have listed both below.

But first….

What should you expect from a mentor?

A mentor is a professional who is ahead of the game and understands the industry better than you. By definition, a mentor advises, guides.

However, a mentor is not your friend, like a CP (critique partner) could be. A mentor is NOT someone with a magic wand like a Book Doctor or a Ghost Writer.

A mentor will point out what you need to work on, and will give you pointers and references.

Mentors will talk to you periodically, from just a few hours up to a year.

Finally, a mentor will be most helpful if you’ve tried your best, maybe won a few awards or competitions, sent a bunch of queries that did not amount to anything, and you’re now ready to move to the next level.


Writing with the stars is a mentorship opportunity for intermediate picture book writers and illustrators. 3 months mentorship. <>

AWP Mentorship: Every Spring and Fall. The program matches new and established writers for a three-month series of modules covering topics from craft to publication to the writing life. <>

Australian Society of Authors (ASA) mentorship. The ASA offers paid mentorships to all published and unpublished writers and picture book illustrators with a work-in-progress. <>

CBS Diversity Institute’s Writers Mentoring Program (script writing) Will help you get your TV show on the way. <>

Gemini Ink Mentorship Program: Spring. Apply to the Gemini Ink 2016 Mentorship Program and be one of four writers chosen to work one-on-one over a six month period with a nationally recognized author on a book-length project, free of charge. <>

SCBWI Mentorship Programs. Any SCBWI regions offer mentorship programs that match established members with up-and-coming authors and illustrators. Some of these programs are open to just members in a particular region, others are open to any SCBWI member. <>

WNDB (We Need Diverse Books) Mentorship Program: October.  For the 2017 year, WNDB is offering mentorships to ten upcoming voices—eight aspiring authors and two illustrators—who are diverse or working on diverse books. <>

Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Your Novel Year: Summer. Arizona State University. Online Certificate Program in the country for those looking to write Young Adult novels. <>  

Leigh Shulman’s Women’s Writing Mentorship Exchange. For women. Will read through answers and choose 65 people to work with the mentors. Results come in June. <>

The WoMentoring project. Accessible to only women, especially women who cannot afford a traditional mentorship program. This organization depends entirely on volunteers. <>  

1st 5 Pages Writing free Workshop. Will workshop your first five pages with authors and an agent. <>


Inked Voices. An online group gathering professionals (agents, editors, writers) and a selective number of writers in a critique group.<>

UCLA’s One-on-One Mentorships. Mentorships give you access to an instructor Monday through Friday for 4 full weeks.  You receive feedback every 12-24 hours for most work and 24-36 hours for longer material. <>

Amanda Hampson’s The Write Workshops, promises to complete your first draft in 12 months with a writing mentor. Affordable monthly fee (about $100). <>

Novel in a Year Mentoring Course. In twelve monthly sessions, you will be able to submit instalments of up to 10,000 words for your editor to assess as you go. First month free. <>  

The Dzanc Creative Writing Mentorships is an online program designed to allow writers to work one-on-one with published authors and editors to shape their short story, novel, poem, or essay. Has an extensive list of authors ready to work with you. <>  

Creative nonfiction offers its own mentoring Program, at <>  

The NSW Writers’ Center Mentorship. A NSWWC mentorship is an opportunity for you to work one-on-one (either face-to-face, by email, Skype or over the phone) with an experienced writer or editor. <>  

Blue Pencil mentorships. Professional children’s authors and illustrators who are Members of CANSCAIP will give a critique and answer five follow-up questions. You need to be a current CANSCAIP member before applying. <>  

Bespoke Mentoring. Mentoring for 3, 6 or 12 months. They will support you every step of the way, from structuring your novel to advice on where to go next with the final product. <>

Australian Writers Mentoring Program to offer high-level mentoring to new and emerging writers of fiction and non-fiction.  The program runs over six months,  providing five one-on-one meetings with an established, award-winning writer.  Before each meeting the mentor will read up to ten thousand words of your work-in-progress. <>  


For parents with young kids. <>


Find a writing coach. <>

Mentoring and coaching. <>


If you liked this article, visit Sussu Leclerc at Novel Without Further Ado.

A follow up on Twitter or Pinterest is always appreciated.

Author Interview–Julie Leung


We are thrilled to have on the blog today Julie Leung, a debut author whose middle grade novel releases on October 4th. MICE OF THE ROUNDTABLE: A TAIL OF CAMELOT is an epic new middle grade series in the tradition of Redwall and Poppy, based on Arthurian legend and told from the perspective of Camelot’s most humble creatures: mice. Young mouse Calib Christopher dreams of becoming a Knight of the Round Table. For generations, his family has led the mice who live just out of sight of the humans, defending Camelot from enemies both big and small. But when Calib and his friend Cecily discover that a new threat is gathering—one that could catch even the Two-Leggers unaware—it is up to them to unmask the real enemy, unite their forces, and save the castle they all call home. The book has received positive reviews from both Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal!

“A winning new adventure featuring a stalwart warrior mouse, heroic knights, and magical Camelot.” (Kirkus) “Leung employs classic language, with regal terms to re-create the timeless feel of Camelot.” (School Library Journal)

What drew you to this story for a retelling?

I grew up on a steady diet of the Redwall series. I checked out every book from the library and savored every feast scene and battle. And like most fans of fantasy fiction, my first taste of it came from tales of King Arthur and his knights. So when Paper Lantern Lit approached me with the project for Mice of the Round Table, I knew this was the perfect fit for me.  

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of retelling a story?

My favorite thing about writing an Arthurian retelling is that I can bake in references and literary Easter eggs that will hopefully pay off when the reader continues to explore the legends in their own right. On the flip side, I have to ensure that my story arc follows the trajectory that everyone expects—for the most part at least, I like to throw in some surprises. 😉

How much research did you do?

My research was twofold. I did a lot of digging into Arthurian legends themselves. But I quickly found that the versions we have come to know as canon have also been modified and tweaked through the ages. Different authors left in their own details and flourishes which I found fascinating.

I also refreshed myself on a lot of “rodent-as-hero” stories like Poppy, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and other classic tales. One of my biggest challenges was to correctly scale mice in a world built by humans.

What are some details you included to evoke the time period?

I tried to place the story in a timeless and familiar fairytale setting. That meant excising any words or terminology that sounded too modern and paying attention to the descriptions food and clothing to make sure they felt grounded within historical reason.

Why do you write middle grade?

The books that truly turned me into an insatiable reader for life were read when I was 8-12 years old. I wanted to write for this age because I could incorporate a sense of innocent wonder and adventure but at the same time introduce more complex themes.

What was your favorite book when you were a kid? 

Ozma of Oz by Frank L. Baum

How about a favorite middle grade that you’ve discovered as an adult?

I read the Tale of Despereaux for a college class and have been craving soup ever since.

What is your favorite piece of writing advice?

Write like you’re running out of time, adapted from the Hamilton musical. To keep myself focused on the goal of finishing a manuscript, I cultivate this sense of urgency in the back of mine: No one can tell your stories but yourself, and you owe it to your stories to see them to realization.   


JULIE LEUNG was raised in the sleepy suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, though it may be more accurate to say she grew up in Oz and came of age in Middle-earth.

By day, she is a senior marketing manager for Random House’s sci-fi/fantasy imprint, Del Rey Books. She is also the mother of, where she interprets her favorite books into outfits.

In her free time, she enjoys furtively sniffing books at used bookstores and winning at obscure board games. Her favorite mode of transportation is the library.

You may accost her in the following formatsTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.

Katharine Manning has a soft spot in her heart for mouse stories, dating back to third grade when she first read about Ralph and his motorcycle. She writes middle grade stories about brave girls, friendship, and occasionally, magic. She blogs here and at The Mixed-Up Files, and is thrilled to be a 2016 Cybils judge for poetry and novels in verse. You can see her middle grade book recommendations at Kid Book List, and can also find her at and on Twitter and Instagram

Interview with NYT Bestselling Author Megan Shepherd

Today, I’m excited to chat with Megan Shepherd. She’s well-known for her brilliant, edgy young adult fiction, but her latest novel, THE SECRET HORSES OF BRIAR HILL, is an unforgettable middle-grade story that reads like historical fiction rolled into a sweet magical fantasy.

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There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.

One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own.

Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?

“Magical, terrifying, and full of heart. Open these pages, and ride true.”-Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor-winning author of The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

 “Emmaline’s narration is unreliable, flawlessly childlike, and deeply honest; her faith in magic brings her solace and, possibly, healing. The magical realism is reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia, Elizabeth Goudge, or a child’s version of Life of Pi…Readers will love this to pieces.” Kirkus Reviews, Starred review

 “Endearing characters, metaphors for life and death, and a slow revelation of the horrors of war give this slim novel a surprising amount of heft.”—Booklist, Starred review


pre-order now and releases on October 11th!

GoodreadsBarnes and NobleAmazon |   IndieBound

The historical aspects of THE SECRET HORSES OF BRIAR HILL are woven into the story so well that I was truly transported back in time. The setting details are careful chosen and beautifully described. The emotion is pure, sweet, and oh so real. The author drives the plot using not one, but two ticking clocks––the cycle of the moon and the main character’s rapidly declining health.

The ending of the story is both heartbreaking and beautiful, and it can be interpreted many different ways. Due to its historical significance and use of symbolism, THE SECRET HORSES OF BRIAR HILL is an excellent book for classroom discussion. Also, it is a great read-together book for parent and child.

This lovely novel of love, hope, magic, and true friendship is historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, and thriller all rolled into a story that reads like a classic tale that should be on every child’s bookshelf.

Okay, that’s enough gushing from me. Let’s talk to Megan Shepherd!

I adored the Author’s Note at the back of the book where you describe how this story came to you, the personal ties between this story and your grandfather, and all the research that went into the story. Reading THE SECRET HORSES OF BRIAR HILL feels very authentic, and I think this is because you’ve put so much of yourself into the storytelling. Can you tell us what that was like for you?

Megan: It does feel like a very personal book to me, without actually being autobiographical at all. I certainly wasn’t a child patient during WWII, nor have I ever seen winged horses! But I connected a lot with Emmaline, the 10-year-old main character. When I was young, I was often so frustrated by the mundane, regular world. I wanted adventure, magic, winged horses! I was also a very determined child. I refused to listen to anyone who told me I couldn’t do something. In fact, when I was eight, I wanted a horse very badly, but my parents wouldn’t let me have one. (In hindsight, this makes sense, as we lived right in town.) But I decided that I’d just get one myself, and when we took a trip to Ocracoke Island, where they have wild ponies, I brought my lasso and cowgirl boots and fully intended to catch one and bring it back in our minivan.

THE MADMAN’s DAUGHTER trilogy is young adult gothic horror. THE CAGE trilogy is young adult sci-fi. THE SECRET HORSES OF BRIAR HILL is middle-grade historical fiction with a touch of magic. Is there anything you can’t write? How have you managed to write in three different genres for young adults and children?

Megan: For some reason, I don’t quite know why, all my books feel similar in my head. They’re placed on different genre shelves in bookstores, but to me, they’re all exploring the same topics: looking at our society from the outside, the relationship between young people and animals, finding wonder and magic in the real world, especially in the darkness. Though it does feel very different to write YA, which is wonderfully angsty and tense, and MG, which is quite a bit sweeter.

All the scenes are exquisitely written and truly transported me back in time to WWII. Can you give us a couple of tips/tricks for achieving scenes like that?

Megan: Thank you! Luckily I had some great contacts in the UK to help advise me, and I’ve spent a bit of time there traveling and studying, and I’ve always been captivated by the setting. Whenever I write historical fiction, I do preliminary research to make certain my premise is plausible, and then I shut off the “research” part of my brain and just focus on mood while writing the story. Then, during editing, I turn back on the research part and comb through my manuscript to find any historical inaccuracies.

The ending! Oh, wow! There are so many different ways to interpret what happens. For me, I really liked that the story felt ended, but still felt alive somehow, like fantasy stories should. Did you know all along how you wanted the story to end?

Megan: The ending came as a surprise to me. In the original outline, the story had a different, slightly more definitive ending. But once I had worked through the first parts of the story, I knew that it could only end one way (ironically, in a way that is open to interpretation!).

This is your first published middle-grade story, but you actually started out as a middle-grade writer. Which do you think is more difficult to master, middle-grade voice or young adult voice?

Megan: The middle grade voice, definitely. Middle grade needs humor, even in dark books like mine, and it’s challenging to work in humor authentically without resorting to easy jokes or humor that seems to “talk down” to young readers.

So true! What is your work/writing schedule? 

Megan: In general, I try to keep normal working hours of Monday-Friday, 9-5. I love having weekends off. In the early mornings I work out and tend to the gardens, then I’m cleaned up and at my desk by 9 or 10, where I write for 2-3 hours, take a break for lunch, and then write or handle business issues for another 4-5 hours. But in reality, it varies greatly! Many days I’m traveling for work or teaching classes, which throws everything off. Other days I’m handling business all day. And still other times, I’ll dive into an intense writing session for several days of 12+ hours.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

Megan: I work best when my dog is in the office with me. I don’t know why, but it’s comforting to have another creature snoring away! Otherwise, I tend to be set in my ways, needing to be alone, have some tea and chocolate-covered espresso beans on hand. I’m in awe of authors who can write from anywhere or while on the road—that isn’t me at all!

What can you tell us about what you’re working on now?

Megan: I’m working on both a new middle grade stand-alone, and a new young adult series. Both are in the early stages so I don’t want to say too much! One takes place in the Appalachians, where I’ve lived most of my life, and the other takes place in a cool foreign city.

Yay on both accounts! Okay, here comes the lightning round. *hands you a slice of warm toast with homemade peach marmalade*

Wooden pencil or mechanical? Wooden!

Coffee or tea? Tea

Sweet or salty? Sweet

Dog, cat, horse, chickens, or other? (I believe I’ve seen a picture of a live chicken in your kitchen somewhere. Ha!) All of the above. Seriously, I could never chose! (And yes, there are chickens in our house far too often.)

Plotter or pantser? Plotter

Whew! Alright, last question. Any advice for all those aspiring authors out there?

Be willing to put in the time. Not just the actual time writing, which can be hard enough, I know! But the time to grow as a writer, too. The years it takes to find your voice and to craft a story that really hasn’t been seen before, even if you’re writing about a common topic, like navigating high school, or werewolves. You can do it, but it requires patience. And this is coming from the least patient person in the world!

There is much wisdom in those words. Thanks so much for the interview, Megan!

Megan: Thank you, Michelle! These were fantastic questions! So nice to work with a fellow NC girl, and I am thrilled that you loved the book!!

After you add this to your TBR list, you’re going to want to head straight to Megan’s THE SECRET HORSES OF BRIAR HILL website where you can download coloring pages adapted from the beautiful illustrations in the book!


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New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is the author of several acclaimed young adult series and the middle grade novel The Secret Horses of Briar Hill. She now lives and writes on a 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, two cats, and an especially scruffy dog. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and at



Michelle Leonard is a chocolate biscotti baker, a math/science nerd, and a middle-grade fiction and nonfiction writer. Connect with her on Twitter: @MGYABookJunkie.

Birthday Shopping for My ‘Tween Bookworm

I love buying books as gifts. What else can provide so much joy for so little money? Okay, the best things in life are free, as they say. But for things that have a price tag, books are really high on the entertainment value/dollar meter. I’m reminded of this every Christmas and every August when my soon-to-be-twelve-year-old bookworm makes a wish list.

Her wish list was not only books, but it was dominated by them. It included:i read past my bedtime

  • A pre-order of Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • An “I read past my bedtime” T-shirt (Thanks to Abby Cooper for rockin’ that shirt on Pitch Wars live!)
  • The Divergent Series in DVD (the books have already been read several times over)
  • The Sequels to Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  • LOTS OF BOOKS (all caps by the bookworm)

The first four of these are easy. The “LOTS OF BOOKS” request is a bit more challenging. My daughter reads so much it’s tough to keep track of what she’s read and to find something new. Luckily I have suggestions from buds at The Winged Pen, books by presenters at the New England SCBWI conference, and Twitter suggestions cataloged on my Goodreads TBR. I set out to spend $50 on books. How many books do you think that got my little bookworm?

The BFF Bucket List by Dee Romito – $6bff bucket listi'm with cupid

I’m with Cupid by Anna Stanizewski – $8

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee – $8

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry – $7

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – $8under painted sky

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson – $7the scandalous sisterhood

Six book, untold hours of fun and adventure, all for $48. It’s a bargain! If only everyone I give gifts to loved books as much as my daughter!

So here’s a shout-out to these authors, as well as the authors whose books already sit on her shelf, for the joy they bring to children! (And to me, ‘cause another thing about buying books for my bookworm is that I get to read them too!)

What books are on your kids’ book list? I need to recharge my TBR now. Help me out with some suggestions in the comments!

Photo by Pam Vaughan
Photo by Pam Vaughan

REBECCA J. ALLEN writes middle grade and young adult stories that blend mystery and adventure. Her best story ideas come from her two crazy kids. She’s on Twitter and her website is here.

Jen Malone Book Review Twofer – THE SLEEPOVER and MAP TO THE STARS

I picked up a copy of Jen Malone’s At Your Service at the 2015 New England SCBWI Conference after attending her great talk on middle grade voice. (Find the book review here.) I enjoyed the story and my 11-year-old daughter became a fan. She now knows to ask for Jen Malone books when I’m heading to the conference, so this year she got The Sleepover and Map to the Stars. Here’s what we thought:

Jen Malone’s The Sleepover is billed as The Hangover for the middle grade audience. It doesn’t disappoint! Twelve-year-old Meghan has never made it through the night at a sleepover, but she’s determined to make it through this one. Her two besties, Anna-Marie and Paige, promise it will be EPIC!

It turns out to be a little too epic. The girls wake up to a disaster of a basement and no recollection of what happened the night before. One of Meghan’s eyebrows is missing…and so is Anna-Maria! The girls need to straighten out the hijinks of the night before, all the while collecting clues about what happened to their missing friend, and they have only a couple hours until the parents show up for pick-up.

The Sleepover is great fun! Jen Malone nails the voice of her tween characters as well as their insecurities. The messes that the girls have gotten themselves into and their plans to fix them will make you squirm. The book ends with an invitation to another sleepover. Does this mean there will be a sequel? I hope so!

Find The Sleepover on:
Barnes & Noble

I couldn’t help but dive right into Map to the Stars. Annie, the main character, gets dragged to L.A.the summer before her senior year of high school following her Mom’s career as a make-up artist/hairstylist. But she can’t spend the summer worrying about new friends and a new school because she’s drafted into assisting her mom on a round-the-world publicity tour for teen-heart throb, Graham Cabot, the boy plastered in posters all over her best friend’s walls and ceiling.

Annie is anything but a star-struck fangirl, but she finds it hard to keep her heartbeat from speeding up when forced into close proximity to Graham  – particularly after he rescues her from an attack by his crazed fans at Harrods. Graham’s attention lingers on her, but a relationship between the them is complicated by paparazzi and a publicist set-against Graham having a girlfriend.

Jen Malone pulls you into the hearts and lives of Annie, a very likable and relatable character, and even Graham, who initially comes off as arrogant and annoying. She brings the reader along for a ride through heady emotions of a complicated first love. Map to the Stars is a page-turner, a great summer read.

Mom note: Map to the Stars is a young adult book, but is great for tweens who read up as it’s a step up from the world of middle school but doesn’t get more heavy than a couple kisses.

Find Map to the Stars on:
Barnes & Noble

RSA final for blog
Photo by Pam Vaughan.

REBECCA J. ALLEN writes middle grade and young adult stories that blend mystery and adventure. Her best story ideas come from her two crazy kids. She’s on Twitter and her website is here.