It’s November y’all which means it’s time for giving thanks. This year I am grateful for the #PBchat mentorship and all the wonderful people who have been a part of the experience. The experience is too grand for one post so I am writing it as a three part series.
This was my third year applying to the #PBchat mentorship. For any readers that are not familiar, the #PBchat mentorship is a 3-month picture book mentorship run by Justin Colón where unagented writers/illustrators can work with and learn from a published picture book author/illustrator. You can learn more about the mentorship HERE.
The first year I entered with the first picture book I had ever written. Rookie mistake, but hey, I’m an optimist. It was a Christmas picture book and while working on that text I learned about layers in picture books. Since there are so many Christmas picture books on the market, it needed another hook to stand out. And I just couldn’t make it work. So, I shelved that manuscript.
The second year I applied with a social emotional learning (SEL) picture book about a little girl afraid of the dark. I was writing SEL because most courses for beginners tend to guide you towards those kinds of stories. So, that’s what I wrote. Took a ton of webinars on beginnings, ending, writing with heart, but it still felt like something was missing from my stories. I followed all the picture book writing “rules” but that spark was missing.
This year I applied with a humorous picture book. I submitted a story about a ghost haunting a bathroom. When going through the applications, I had considered sending an alternate text to Dev Petty because her mentor fact sheet said she liked twist endings and I had one with a twist but it was too weird. I had written it a year prior and shelved it right away. Didn’t send it to CPs. Figured it would never see the light of day. So, I used my ghost story for all three applications.
While waiting for #PBchat announcements I dug out my weird story and decided to work on it. I sent it to Rate Your Story and got some helpful feedback and did a little tinkering. Still weird but it looked a little better. I was on vacation in FL for my brother’s graduation when I got an email from Justin for more materials for Dev. I sent three stories one of them being my too weird tale.
Forward to announcement day. I told myself I wasn’t going to watch the announcements. If I was selected, I would have multiple notifications to alert me and if I wasn’t selected, well the silence would comfort my disappointment. It would hit harder knowing I was so close. I was working and picked up my phone to check the time and saw a Twitter banner that read 19 notifications.
That’s an unusually high number for me, especially on the morning of mentee announcements. This had to be it right?! It was me right?! I checked. My jaw dropped and the only thing that stopped me from crying was the ringing through my headset. I had a customer and I needed to answer. Didn’t they know that I had just received life changing news? The nerve.
The kicker was that Dev chose me because of those additional manuscripts. I didn’t believing that other people would get the humor in my story, and so I tried to bury it. But that was self sabotaging. I didn’t learn my lesson because I tried to bury it one more time. I originally selected a different story for the mentee showcase and Justin felt it was the right one to lead with. Each time I tried to hide the story away someone or something kept dragging it back out. Well, now I’m finally listening. And I am leading with that story as I query. So wish me luck.
To make a long story short, don’t doubt yourself. Clue was weird. People hated it. And yet, it’s a cult classic. Those who got it, loved it (and now the clue gifs make sense). I wasn’t a 2019 or 2020 mentee because I hadn’t even realized I was a humor writer yet. Although deep down, I’m sure I always knew.
If you enjoyed this post, let me know in the comments below. And if you want to be the first to know when I post part two, which will be all about craft, hit subscribe. Until next time, friends, stay creative!