In January I entered the Writing with the Stars contest run by author Tara Luebbe. This contest is for aspiring picture book writers and illustrators to win a free three-month-long mentorship with a published author or author/illustrator. This is the third year this contest has been running, and it is an amazing opportunity. It gives writers and/or illustrators the chance to work and learn from someone in the industry. The mentors help critique manuscripts, answer questions, and give valuable advice. This is not something very many aspiring writers get to do. It is definitely a unique and incredible opportunity.
When I was looking over the mentors chosen for this year, I was surprised and excited to find that my favorite picture book author, Tammi Sauer, was on the list. I knew immediately that I wanted to enter. Tammi is an amazing author, and the thought of her sharing her expertise with someone like me made me so excited. Of course, I had reservations. I kept thinking about what were the odds that she would choose me. However, I knew she had to pick someone, so why not me?
Each person entering the contest can submit to three different mentors. They can only win one mentorship, but they can apply to three different mentors. I, however, only wanted to work with Tammi, so I only submitted to her. I knew she would be the best mentor to help me improve my craft and further my writing.
I got right to work reading and polishing my best manuscript. When I felt like it was ready to go, I sent it off with the application cover page. I tried not to think about the contest too much, but it was on my mind every day. I kept thinking about how amazing it would be if she chose me. I tried not get my hopes up, but let’s be honest, that is no easy task. My mind tends to run away with all of the possibilities and opportunities. It is probably the writer in me, but I definitely spent a lot of time fantasizing about the what ifs.
About a week after I sent off my application, I got an email from Tara Luebbe telling me that Tammi wanted to see more work from me. She told me to email her two more picture book manuscripts for Tammi to review. I was elated, but I also knew that Tammi had most likely asked for more manuscripts from other writers. I tried to keep my excitement in check, but it was hard. My mind was really running away with me. I just kept thinking that maybe she would pick me.
I then had the agonizing task of deciding which two picture book manuscripts to send to Tammi . It’s hard to know exactly which of my manuscripts were the best ones to send. I read and reread everything I have ever written. I went back and forth. Finally, I knew which ones I wanted to send. I sent them off, and waited for the day the winners would be announced. It was so hard to wait.
When January 31 arrived, I could hardly stand it. I checked Twitter every few minutes. I didn’t want to miss the announcements. I was on my way to Target, when I finally saw the announcements being made. As I scrolled down through each one, I could hardly breathe. When I came to Tammi’s name, I could not believe that my name was next to hers. Tammi Sauer had chosen me. Me! It was a dream come true. I was going to work with, and learn from my favorite picture book author.
I am so grateful for contests like Writing with the Stars. It gives people like me opportunities that we would not otherwise have. I am so thankful to Tara Luebbe and Tammi Sauer for being so generous and kind. They sacrificed and gave up their time to help others. They are amazing. I can’t thank them enough. I am one lucky writer.
Now stay tuned for my next post, when I talk all about my mentorship with Tammi. She is the most amazing mentor, and I feel truly blessed to have worked with her.