Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Mentorship Contest Winners: 2018

Jennifer Fitzgerald

Winner of mentorship with PAL member Wade Bradford

Most of Jennifer’s professional experience comes from the comedy world, as both a writer and performer, although she’s been writing short stories of all kinds since childhood and has always loved creating worlds to get lost in. However, making a living and life in general often gets in the way of her creative writing. “Carving out the time to write seriously can be a challenge for me,” Jennifer explains. “I am someone who desperately needs deadlines to keep me on track and keep my focus, and I hope to gain that through this mentorship.”

Jennifer counts her comical ideas, economy of language and an ability to draw readers in among her strengths. “Comedy is where I started, and that’s where I will stay. Grown-ups may discount the funny side as frivolous, but children don’t. The well-placed laugh is often the best door into worlds of deeper situations and emotions, without it being too on the nose for kids. That’s what I strive for in my work, that intimacy, that community.”

Jennifer’s goal for the six-month mentorship is to have her early chapter book “written and edited and sweated over enough” to consider sending it out on submission.

Monica Mancillas

Winner of mentorship with PAL member Andrea J. Loney

A music educator and songwriter, Monica has penned over a dozen picture book manuscripts and several short stories and is currently working on her first novel. Her work was recently featured in the online Litzine Beautiful Losers and took first place in the Pacific Sun Flash Fiction contest.

Regarding the mentorship, Monica says, “I am eager for the perspective of a published author who can help me to both improve my writing and guide me toward publication.” She considers exploring “…topics related to compassion, empathy, honesty, and a celebration of difference” to be a priority. “My dream project would not only be beautifully written, illustrated, and edited, but would help in some small measure to make this world a better place for our children.” She counts her five-year old daughter among her muses, saying her daughter’s “boundless imagination and silly antics have been the inspiration for many of my stories.”

With the help of her mentor, Monica plans to strengthen her manuscripts and begin querying agents and publishers. By the end of the year, she hopes to be signed with an agent and have at least one manuscript placed with a publisher.