Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A New Release, Virtual Mentors for Writers of Color

Usually on Tuesday, I list children's and young adult new releases with kids of color or featuring a diverse cast. I had to skip last week because I had already listed what came out on Jan. 18th, the week before. This week I only found one new release.

I know there are new middle grade and young adult new releases that feature diverse casts, but unless someone tells me or I've read the book, I won't know. Since it's just one book, I was tempted to skip this week as well. Though I decided not to for two reasons. 1) the book has a great trailer, 2) This feature ties in will with a small new project author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich has started.

The Cazuela That The Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos. illus. by Rafeal Lopez
The author and illustrator talk about the story behind the book. Its so good.

Author Rhuday -Perkovich had a great middle grade debut last year (a favorite of mine) called 8th Grade SuperZero. The author is launching a small project called Patchwork Collective Virtual Mentors.

The Patchwork Collective for Writers of Color is accepting
applications for its Virtual Mentoring Program! If you are a writer of
children’s literature looking to improve your craft and get a better
understanding of the children’s publishing industry,
read on.

A great list of children's and young adult authors will be participating.

Mentors include authors Kelly Starlings-Lyons, Y.S. Lee, N.H. Senzai,
Ebony Joy Wilkins, Jerry Craft, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Neesha
Meminger, Christine Taylor-Butler, Jennifer Cervantes, Crystal Allen,
and Rachel Renee Russell.

When asked if I could help spread the word about this, of course I said yes. Though I wanted to do a little more, so I quickly sent off a few questions.

Hi, Gbemi - This is a great idea. When did you decide to start Patchwork Collective Virtual Mentors? And Why

I thought of it last autumn, just as part of thinking of ways that people of colour in the industry can support each other, take responsibility for one another, and move ourselves forward in the

How long did it take you to put it together?

It took a couple of months to figure out. These wonderful authors have been so gracious and generous with their time, and I wanted to do my best to structure it in a way that was manageable and effective. It helped to start this way, as a very small pilot.

A lot of great author's have signed on to be mentors. Were you surprised by your peers willingness participate in something so new?

Not at all -- I had a good idea of how fabulous they are! :D I'm so grateful for their kindness, talent, patience, and serious generosity. And I know some other amazing authors and professionals who I will be asking to participate in scheduled group chats/discussion.

How will you gauge the outcome of the program?

I'll start with feedback from the participants, on both sides

(I thought I'd ask a few questions apsiring authors might have. )

Can I submit my work if I write children's nonfiction?

Yes, but remember that there are a limited number of mentors, and I will do my best to make the most appropriate matches.

Can I sumbit my work if I have a great idea for a story, and an outline?

Sure, just send that along. I won't be evaluating or critiquing your work initially. We just want an idea of the genre/age group you've been working in, in order to make the best matches, and a good sense of where you are in your pursuit of a career in children's lit -- listservs, groups, organizations, conferences, courses, etc.

Will not having a Web Site, count against me?

No, but an online presence also helps me to verify your identity. If you use a social network, etc. you can include that information.

I am familiar with the works of many of the mentor authors. Can I list one or two authors, I would like to be matched with for the program?

You can, but I will be matching according to genre first.

How often will I discuss my WIP with my mentor or the group?

Mentors have agreed to a time commitment of up to one hour a week. You
can submit work for critique ONCE during the session (10 pages or 1 picture book), and I expect that participants will be respectful of others' time and space (i.e. ten emails in one day will not be a good look).

How do I know no one will steal my idea?

As with the submission process in general, you don't. I don't think
anyone will. But if that's a big concern for you, you may not want to

What is the start and end date of this program?
Feb 7th - April 1 Submissions are from Feb 1-4th. Send ASAP!

Why is this only for children's Writers of Color?

It's just a small way of doing something to help increase our presence and the multitude of stories that we have, in the children's publishing industry. I so appreciate the encouragement and sound advice that I've gotten from so many in the kidlit community; this is
not easy work, and can be isolating. I think it's vital that we work collectively, and take the lead in addressing the challenges that we face.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

Yay, the mentoring project sounds fabulous!

Doret said...

It sounds great and starting small is very smart.

Anonymous said...

Very nice, thorough interview! You know I'll be linking!! Gbemi, this is such a good opportunity for writers!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful initiative and kuddos to all the mentors. Doret, Thank you for the interview! :)

Anonymous said...

Note: I didn't realize the application window was so short. Doret, I will refer to your post on today's entry on MR.