Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2023 Mentorship Contest


Six-month mentorship with Cara J. Stevens. The mentorship will include six months of interaction and critiques, including weekly email check-ins and a monthly video meeting via Zoom. Cara will also be available in-between meetings to answer questions or provide clarification as needed. She adds, “I’d love to have the opportunity to meet in person a couple of times, too, if possible.”


The contest is open to picture book writers. The mentorship will focus primarily on craft-related issues and fine-tuning manuscripts.

After assessing your manuscript for story structure, pacing, character development, age/grade readiness, word choice, tone, and freshness, Cara will walk you through a 20-point checklist she created to assess and develop your manuscript to get it ready to query. Along the way, she’ll help you develop valuable skills and techniques to assess your future manuscripts.

“We will work exclusively on one manuscript at a time; however, if time permits, we can work through a second manuscript once the first has been put to bed. I’ll be available for the full six months!”
—Cara J. Stevens


1. You must be a member in good standing of the SCBWI-L.A. or Cen Cal region.
2. Associate or Full members may apply.
3. Limited to one entry per person.

*SCBWI membership levels: PAL (published and listed), Full (published unlisted), Associate (unpublished)


1. DO NOT contact the mentor directly.
2. Applicants not in compliance with the rules or that do not adhere to the application instructions will be disqualified.
3. To ensure fairness to all, no questions will be answered.


Your submission will consist of two parts:

I. Written responses to the following:

1) Share a brief bio.
2) Tell me about your inspiration for writing this picture book.
3) Give me an “elevator pitch” version of your story in one to two sentences that would get someone excited to read it.
4) What are your most pressing concerns or uncertainties about your manuscript or the writing process in general?
5) What else would you like me to know about your book?
6) What are you hoping to take away from this mentorship experience?

II. Your Project

Please submit one picture book manuscript. Please share your work in MS Word or Google Doc format. We will work on text only, not the images.


1. Your submission must be emailed with the subject line MENTOR CONTEST to:

2. In the body of your email include:

– Your current SCBWI member name
– Address
– Phone numbers
– Email address

3. Provide your written answers to the questions in Roman numeral I (above) as a PDF or Word attachment. Name your file: LAST NAME_ANSWERS. Example: Smith_Answers.pdf

4. Provide your manuscript sample described in Roman numeral II (above) as a Word attachment or link to a Google doc. Name your file: LAST NAME_MANUSCRIPT. Example: Smith_Manuscript.docx

5. Entries must be received by 11:59pm on 2/16/23.