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Calendar of upcoming events

5th May: Book Club with Serena Patel (for Hub members)
7th May: #WMPitch (Twitter Pitch Party!)
16th May: Novel-in-Development Award closes for entries
27th May: WriteCharacter starts
1st June: WriteMaster MG/YA starts
2nd June: WriteStart begins
10th June: WriteRhyme starts

Summer Mentoring Programme

862 applicants. 64 mentors. 4 months of mentoring. 2 weeks of deliberation. 1 agent showcase.

On Friday, we announced the Summer Programme pairings!

Full list here.

Community Learning Hub

Come join us; writing can be lonely, but it doesn't need to be.

More information on the hub here

Online Courses

We have a new page for all our online courses! 

We hope it's much easier to navigate now. Read below to see how you can be the very first to sign up for newly published courses and established 5 star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ courses.

Children's Novel-In-Development Award

Entries are open until 16th May, 2021.

Read more about the award and it's eligibility criteria and rules here.

WriteMentor Magazine Issue 5 is on sale!

Featuring:
Elle McNicoll
Genevieve Herr

Nizrana Farook
C.G. Moore
Hannah Gold

…Why critique groups are important for writers
…The witticisms of our Honest Writer
…The winning entries for our flash fiction and short story competitions under the theme of New Beginnings
…Your recent writing achievements.

Buy here.

Other Opportunities

Spark Mentoring

WriteMentor Spark is a monthly, online one-to-one mentoring service. Working with a children’s author, you will receive ongoing developmental editing, writing advice, publishing insights, and direct feedback on your manuscript to help you elevate your writing craft to the next level.

Spark Mentoring is always available if you need extra help or support each month.

 
A fantastic opportunity with this long running novel competition run by Chicken House Books. They are looking for completed manuscripts and it's £18 to enter.

The competition will close for entries on 14 May 2021 at 11.59pm GMT.

For more details and to enter, look here: https://www.chickenhousebooks.com/submissions/
The Jericho Prize for children’s writing, open to Black-British writers with great stories to inspire children aged 4 years plus and 7–9.

Open for submissions 2 August 2021.
 

Submissions

We're looking for manuscripts aimed at young readers and your work must fit into one of these two categories:

1. A picture book for 4 years plus. No more than 800 words OR

2. A short chapter book for the 7–9 age range between 10,000–15,000 words

All manuscripts must feature a Black or mixed-Black main character. (Read our FAQs for more guidance.)

The prize

The winner of each category will receive:

After that, if you manage to publish your book you'll also receive:

  • A listing with inclusive-led bookshop Round Table Books in their physical and online stores

  • A book review published on Candid Cocoa plus six month's promotion on Candid Cocoa's social media

Are you an aspiring children’s or young adult book writer from an underrepresented background?

The brand-new All Stories mentorship programme could be for you!

This is a unique and free opportunity to be mentored by an expert editor, with 14 mentorships on offer to underrepresented writers unable to pay for support.

Applications are open until 31st May, with the mentorships running from September 2021 to February 2022. Find out more and apply at www.allstories.org.uk 
@AllStoriesWrite #AllStoriesMentorship #representationmatters
Undiscovered Voices

A competition for unpublished and unagented children's fiction writers living in the UK and the EU. Submissions open 14 June 2021!

*Please note that SCBWI are offering free memberships and workshops to underrepresented writers.

Check out the website here.
THE GUPPY OPEN SUBMISSIONS MIDDLE-GRADE COMPETITION IS BACK!

We're throwing open the portholes between 7th and 11th June for unpublished and unagented authors of middle-grade fiction for children - for more info, please visit https://guppybooks.co.uk/its-time-for-the-guppy-middle-grade-open-submission-2021/…
We also have a whole page on our website with links to competitions and mentorship programmes. Click here.

Final word from...

ON DEALING WITH REJECTION BY HANNAH KATES
 

The first time I got punched in the face, I cried. 

To be fair, the day was kind of rough to begin with. I’d lost everything—my family, my livelihood, my freedom, my name—and my opponent knocked my contact lens straight out of my eye. On top of being reduced to the gangly, cluelessly flustered #150600, I was now half-blind. 

Bloody brilliant. 

I remember turning to the boxing coach in that moment. He must have looked back at the sniveling, watery-eyed newb and seen everything I was thinking. 

This is a mistake. I’m not cut out for this. This hurts too bad. Can I go back to my summer job? 

The old man leaned over the ropes and squinted beneath the brim of his ballcap. “Well,” he said, “aren’t you gonna hit back?” 

The first time I received a query rejection, I cried. 

I remember that day just as fondly, and if I could collage every gut-wrenching, whiplash moment of my young adult life, I might glue those two gems right beside one another. You pour your heart and soul into a manuscript, spent hours meticulously crafting of the perfect query, then nibble your fingernails down to bloody stumps as you wait for those polite “no’s,” form rejections, or maybe even nothing at all. 

Honestly, I prefer getting punched in the face. 

I wish someone would have told me how awful rejections are—how much they hurt, grate, and grind you over months of breathlessly refreshing your inbox. Maybe a sagacious writing wizard could have warned me, prepared me, or figured out how to soften the blow. But once the rejections start, they don’t end anytime soon. If you’re anything like me, telling yourself you can only stand one more hit, you’re in for a rough fight. 

The only way to categorize my boxing is amateur. I’m freakishly tall, hopelessly uncoordinated, and tragically unathletic. No matter how good I get at blocking, dodging, screaming, or wincing, I keep getting hit in the face. 

If you’re waiting for the sports analogy, this is it: Hit back. 

I remember the first day I actually listened to the Naval Academy boxing coach. It was in the middle of being pulverized, pummeled to a pulp by a lacrosse player. (And, let me tell you, if you’ve never fought a female lacrosse player, beware. They have deceptively powerful thighs.) 

I remember being angry and frazzled. Panicked, and slightly woozy after that last punch to the jugular.  

Why am I doing this? This hurts so bad.

The pain would end if I quit. I could flee the ring whenever I wanted and banish this nonsense from my life. Maybe if I bellowed like a whale, sank to the mat, then curled myself into a ball…

But then I hit back. It wasn’t a very good hit, but it did surprise her. Even more than that, it surprised me. 

Hitting back felt good. 

I lost the fight, but I went down swinging. The next time, I came out swinging, and I still lost—though not as quickly as previous fights. Every new opponent socked, battered, and bruised me, but every opponent who beat me taught me something about strategy, technique, and my own physical limitations. 

Sometimes, I’d win. More often than that, I’d lose. But the more I fought, the better I boxed. The better I boxed, the more often I’d win. (Not often often—just often enough to show things were getting better.) 

Now, don’t get me wrong. Being hit in the face hurt just as much as it did the first time it happened. The pain didn’t change. I became more skillful at handling it. 

If you step into a boxing ring, you’re going to get hit. If you query a book, you’re going to get rejections. As much as it hurts, that’s the game we’ve chosen to play. It’s very easy for me to look at authors more advanced in their careers—agented, published, renowned authors—and assume that hurt stops. But the farther I toddle along, the more I realize this just isn’t so. 

I’ve written nine novels, sent hundreds of query letters, and received just as many rejections. My mentor has written nineteen novels. She’s still receiving them, too. After signing with an agent and going on submission for the first time, I thought the sting would ease, but now I’m getting rejections from publishers. 

What happens after publication? What if you get a nasty review? What if the public response isn’t what you hoped for? Just where does this vicious cycle of hope, rejection, and rejuvenation end? 

If you’re still in the ring, I think you can assume the answer.

As a young, starry-eyed author, I’m constantly searching for that magic bullet. (Maybe this contest, this program, this agent, this manuscript…) I’ve met many of my goals and improved my skill exponentially, but the rejections haven’t stopped. The recruit #150600 in me wants to cower, run away—do anything to shield myself from disappointment—but I just can’t help but think of that weathered old man in the boxing loft. 

What can you do when you’re being pummeled?

My first publishing deal fell through months before its debut. We had a cover, illustrations—the whole wazoo. In the midst of grieving that book, I hit back—signed up for #WriteMentor, where a kindhearted, acutely experienced author helped me whip up another manuscript to take to the fall showcase. 

A big part of me wanted to see #WriteMentor as my silver bullet. This was the place where dreams came true. I saw my friends, peers, and contemporaries celebrating great success. My fairy tale ending had to be somewhere in the stack of rejections…

Right? 

I wasn’t agented during the #WriteMentor showcase, and, if I’m going to be completely honest, something about that crushed me. It had nothing to do with entitlement or a sense of obligation. I’d just always been told if I hoped enough, worked hard, and got myself in the right place and the right time with a good product, things would turn out splendidly.

But that’s not how publishing works. I was in a fantastic place with fantastic agents and a fantastic manuscript, but it didn’t come together. No matter how good you are, if you enter the ring, you’re going to get hit. 

There’s only one thing to do when that happens. 

I drafted up a new book in a month. In another month, I was getting full agent requisitions. Fast-forward a month, I was taking multiple calls from agents. 

Was it a better manuscript? Maybe. Was it being in the right place at the right time? I honestly couldn’t tell you. 

All I can say for sure is the encouragement, support, and skillsets from #WriteMentor helped me to pick myself back up and try again—to use what I’d learned to come back with something just as strong. There were so many times I wanted to throw up my hands and walk out. My #WriteMentor family came alongside me time after time. They reminded me I still had the strength to keep fighting.

I’m sure glad they did. In December 2018, months after the first showcase, I signed with a literary agent.  

To try to giftwrap an anomaly—a stroke of fortune, a lucky break, a hard-earned milestone, or whatever you want to call it—is difficult, so let’s run the boxing analogy just a tad bit further: If you keep hitting, something’s going to land. 

If you keep hitting stronger, faster, and a little better each day—if you keep learning, reaching out to other authors, diving into materials, and connecting with the community on platforms like #Writementor, you’re going to get there. If you keep pushing, muscling through the heartbreak, disappointment, and mountains of rejections, you will reach your goal. 

I can’t say how. I can’t say when. But you will. The question is whether or not you can persevere until it happens. 

A large part of this business is being kind to yourself. I tend to self-depreciate with every new “no” in my inbox, but if I keep beating myself up like this, the other guy won’t have to throw a single punch. Rejections are inevitable. Learn to see them as the single step they are. Feel free to sit with the disappointment as long as you’d like, knowing it’s there for as long as you keep it. 

Then get up and hit back. 

Resiliency is the name of the game. Knowing how to take a hit is just as important as knowing how to dish one out. 

For the record, you don’t need to churn out a new novel every month or put yourself on a crazy deadline. I’m a fast writer. It’s just what I do. Working on a new project during my querying/submissions process has been vital for me because it allows me to see beyond a temporal moment of sadness and disappointment. 

One project didn’t work out? You can write another. One person said no? There are many, many people to ask.     

There’s nothing out there—pitching contest, seminar, class, or even #WriteMentor—that’s an easy, step-by-step, rejection-free path to glorious publication and oodles of money. You may be chosen for the symposium, but you may not be. You may be chosen for the symposium, then not receive any requests. You may sign a publishing deal, then lose it within a year. 

I haven’t been at this for a long time, but I have learned this. Whether you’re rejected, chosen, selected, answered, telephoned, dropped, signed, agented—

Keep swinging. Connect. Get involved. Write. Read. Expand. Explore. 

The next time I step into a boxing ring as a contender, I’m likely going to be punched in the face. The next time you and I send a query, it’s even more likely we’ll receive some form of rejection. All we can do is stay in the ring, learning from our experiences and getting that much better for it. 

Maybe we’ll lose, but maybe we won’t. You’ve got to stick around long enough to see.  

Do YOU want to be the star of this newsletter?

Do YOU want to have the final word?
 
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