NESCBWI Four by Four Mentorship

The ball was nowhere to be seen.

I had heard from SCBWI that joining a critique group was a good idea, and I viewed this idea as “good,” somewhat in the way going to the dentist is a good idea. But  since I’ve gotten together with Friends With Words, I’ve been surprised to discover that our meetings have become my favorite get-a-way, and source of inspiration, and team of cheer leaders to help bounce back from the pile of rejections that sometimes don’t have the ring of achievement. I opened up my email last week to gushing, delighted congratulations from my team.  And what better way to find out good news? The official notice was further down in my feed:

“Congratulations to all the recipients of the 2017 New England SCBWI Four by Four Mentorship Program:

James Ryan will work with E.B. Lewis
Rebekah Lowell will work with Brian Lies
Marcia Z. Parks will work with Heidi Stemple
Kari Percival will work with Ashley Wolff.”

And what does this mean, exactly? That’s just what I wondered myself. Here is the schedule from NESCBWI:

  • “July 7-12: Mentors and mentees choose a date to discuss the entire manuscript, picture book dummy, or portfolio (by email, phone, or Skype) before it is sent.
  • By July 15: Manuscripts or portfolios are in mentor’s hands.
  • By August 15: First round of written comments delivered to mentee (in person, by phone, on Skype). For writers, comments are global, not line editing. For illustrators,
  • Mentor and mentee choose an aspect of the work on which to focus for the rest of the mentorship.
  • September: Mentor and mentee choose a day for the mentor to answer questions (in person, by phone, on Skype).
  • October 15: Final version of agree-upon work (portion of a novel, [number of picture book manuscripts, number of illustrations?]) is delivered to mentor.
  • November 15 (on or about): Final written comments are discussed (in person, by phone, on Skype).
  • After November 15: Mentees will submit their work to either Jim Hoover, Art Director at Viking Children’s Books), or Julie Bliven. They will receive feedback before the end of January (we’ve made allowances for the holidays).”

I am so excited and grateful for this opportunity. Thanks so much to Kathy Quimby Johnson, for facilitating the mentorship, and illustrator Ashley Wolff, for choosing my portfolio! I look forward to our collaboration. And thanks again to my sweet heart Greg and my critique group Friends with Words, for all your encouragement!