Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Mentorship Opportunities

SCBWI-MI has offered a mentorship program for its non-Published And Listed (non-PAL) members since 2000. The mentorship rotates on a yearly basis between the genres of picture book text, illustration, and novels. Program details, including eligibility requirements and category of competition, are announced in early spring, and the submission window is in June. The winner is announced in the fall, and the year-long mentorship runs from January to December of the following year.

Starting in 2018, SCBWI-MI offers an additional mentorship for Published And Listed (PAL) members. The genre and submission window may vary from year to year.

You must be a member with primary residence in Michigan to be eligible for either mentorship. Other requirements are listed within the details of the current year’s program. If you have suggestions for improvements or additions to the mentorship program or questions about upcoming programs, please contact SCBWI-MI Mentorship Coordinator, Jennifer Whistler,  Special thanks to Ann Finkelstein, mentorship coordinator, for her role in making this mentorship program run smoothly.



Mentorship Program History:

The 2022 mentorships were for novels. The winner of the mentorship with Patrick Flores-Scott is Heather Brewer with her manuscript We Are Wanderers. Runners-up are Shanti Thirumalai with her manuscript The Elephant’s Child and Lisabeth Posthuma with her manuscript Chastity Dixon is Going to Hell. The winner of the mentorship with Kelly J. Baptist is Joan Donaldson with her manuscript Brotherhood. Runners-up are Pat Trattles with her manuscript Stephen, Me and the Cave and Betsy McKee Williams with her manuscript Falling Out of Time.

In 2021, we held two illustration mentorships.

The winner of the 2021-2022 picture book illustration mentorship with Dow Phumiruk is V Gray. Runners up are Rachel Seeger and Anna Lunt.  The second half of the mentorship was completed by Anna Lunt.

The winner of the 2021-2022 middle grade-young adult illustration mentorship with Bea Jackson is Rebecca Howe.
In 2020, we held two nonfiction mentorships.

The winner of the nonfiction middle-grade/young-adult mentorship with Stephanie Bearce is Sarah Lynne John with her proposal for Becoming an Inventor: Train Your Brain to Invent & Explore Your Creativity. Runners-up are Susan Santone with her proposal for A Taste for Change and Tammy Layman with her proposal for Pantry Raid.

The winner of the nonfiction picture book mentorship with Patricia Newman is Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw with her manuscript The Expedition of CubeSat RAX. Runners-up are Carol Doeringer who wrote The Living Tree House and Melissa Bailey who wrote A Bright Thread: the story of Marguerite Angeli.

The winner of the 2019-2020 PAL picture book text mentorship with Kelly DiPucchio is Buffy Silverman with her manuscript Loon Song. Runners-up are Patti Richards with her manuscript Cupine’s Perfect Dance Partner and PJ Lyons with her manuscript Alien Invasion of the Little Sister.

The winner of the 2019-2020 non-PAL picture book text mentorship with Lisa Wheeler is Katherine Gibson with her manuscript Of Dragons and Princesses. Runners-up are David Stricklen with his manuscript Poodle Foolery and Marty Bellis with her manuscript Sally and the Snowman.

The winner of the 2018-2019 PAL Novel Mentorship with Leslie Connor is Kristin Bartley Lenz for her novel The Door Swings Open. The two runners up are Charlie Barshaw for his novel Aunt Agnes and Margaret Mason for her novel Is My Name.The winner f the 2018-2019 non-PAL Novel Mentorship with Kelly Barson is Danielle DeFauw for her novel Victory Stumbles. The two runners up are Isabel O’Hagin for Chavela’s Quest and Susan Santone with The Shape of Change.

The winner of the 2017-2018 Illustration Mentorship competition is Sara Kendall who won a year-long mentorship with acclaimed illustrator Kirbi Fagan. Basya Cohen is the runner-up.

The winner of the 2016-2017 Picture Book Text Mentorship competition is Jennifer Burd for her entry When You Sit in One Place.  Jennifer won a one-year mentorship with picture book author Deborah Diesen. The two runners-up are Sue Agauas for her entry, How to Wash Your Elephant, and Jayne Economos for her entry, Nan’s Magic Carpet.

In an effort to increase the number of children’s books with diverse themes and/or characters, the 2015-2016 mentorship focused on entries at any age category including multicultural characters and/or topics. Congratulations go to the winner, Daniel Burns, for his entry Out of the Shadows. Daniel will benefit from a year-long mentorship with celebrated author and We Need Diverse Book mentor, Patricia Hruby Powell. Runner up was Ann Dallman for her entry Looking For Ben.

The 2014-2015 SCBWI-MI Novel Mentorship Competition winner was Wendy Sherrill with her submission Playing Dead. She was mentored by novelist, Edie Hemingway. Second place went to Ann Finkelstein for The Wind Djin and third to Magdalena Roddy for her manuscript, Certain Exceptions.

A special illustration mentorship was given to Jeff Morissey at the 2015 Spring Hook of the Book Conference. Lucky Jeff won a year to work directly with award-winning artistrator, EB Lewis.

The 2013-2014 SCBWI-MI Picture Book Mentorship Competition winner is Ashley Potts with her submission Charlotte’s Sleeping at her Desk. Second place was awarded to Diane Tomczak, followed closely by Patti Richards in third. Ashley began her one year mentorship with Boni Ashburn in January.

At our SHINE 2 conference in June 2012, several talented illustrators competed “Illustrator Idol” style for our 2013 mentorship with published illustrator Wendy Anderson Halperin. Our judges had difficulty deciding among all the wonderful work, but the recipient of the mentorship was Bradley Cooper from Howell, Michigan.

The judges also awarded two runner-up prizes; the winners received phone consultations with this year’s mentor, Wendy Anderson Halperin, and previous mentor Cyd Moore. These talented winners were Amy Hofacker of Grand Rapids and Hannah Gregus of Charlotte. Congrats to these winners and our admiration to everyone who entered the competition!

Our 2012 Novel Mentorship was with author Kristin Wolden Nitz. Twenty-five writers applied and the winner of the year-long mentorship was Melissa Shanker. First runner-up was Jennifer Whistler and second runner-up was Susannah Nichols. Congrats to the winners and thanks to mentor Kristin Nitz and coordinator Catherine Bieberich!

In 2011, our  Picture Book Mentorship was with author Crystal Bowman. The winner of a one-year mentorship was Rachel Anderson. First runner-up was Wendy BooydeGraaff (one hour consultation) and second runner-up was Micki Huysken. Congrats to the winners and thanks to mentor Crystal Bowman and coordinator Ryan Hipp!

Our 2009-10 Mentorship Competition was for Illustrators, to be completed under the guidance of Cyd Moore, widely acclaimed illustrator of over 40 books, including I Love You, Stinky Face, Granny’s Dragon, and Willow. Our grand prize winner was Kenneth Kraegel; first runner-up was Steffane McClary and second runner-up was Amy Nielander. Thanks to mentorship coordinator Rachel Anderson and of course our mentor Cyd Moore.

For 2008-2009, the Mentorship program was offered to SCBWI-MI novelists; winners were announced at the Fall 2008 conference on September 27. First Place Winner Tracy Bilen won a year-long mentorship with professional novelist and picture book author Shutta Crum. Runner-up Rachel Anderson received a full scholarship to the SCBWI-MI Fall 2009 Conference. The five top winners also received three free submissions on CreativeByline for their winning manuscript. The competition was open to unpublished writers (those who have published/contracted for a book as author or illustrator were ineligible; magazine and anthology work okay). All entries received feedback from judges. Thanks to our Mentorship Coordinator, Gail Flynn.

In 2007, our Mentorship Competition was for Picture Book Writing, with the winner mentored by Newbery Award-winning Author Lynne Rae Perkins. Winner of our one-year mentorship was Carrie Pearson, whose manuscript was titled LIZZIE AND THE TWISTED SISTERS. Molly Zink was the first runner-up with THE WALKING STICK, and she received a voucher to attend our 2009 fall conference. The program coordinator was Susi Walter. We had four finalists this year instead of three, as two finalists tied.

  • Alicia Comer for THE LUCKIEST TREE
  • Mary Jaroche for PEANUT: THE DOG DETECTIVE
  • Kathleen Dergis for PRINCESS GIGGLES

In 2006, the Mentorship program was offered to SCBWI-MI illustrators; winners were announced at the Spring conference, June 10, 2006. First Place Winner Heidi Woodward Sheffield won a year-long Mentorship with professional picture book illustrator Susan Kathleen Hartung. Runner-up Susan Miller received a certificate of recognition and a gift certificate to a future SCBWI-MI event. The competition was open to unpublished illustrators (those who have published/contracted for a book as author or illustrator were ineligible; magazine and anthology work okay). All entries received feedback from judges. We thank Mentorship Chairperson April Gaff for facilitating the Mentorship.

In 2005, the Mentorship program was offered to SCBWI-MI writers; the genre was novels. Winner of our one-year Mentorship was Micki Huyksen, who was mentored by Sue Stauffacher, author of Donuthead. The program coordinator was Mindy Krasner. Rachel Anderson was first Runner-up and was awarded a certificate to our 2005 Fall Conference. Other runners-up (in alphabetical order) were Kristen Bros, Laura Handy, Kristin Lenz, and Jennifer Porter. Congratulation to Micki for her winning entry–and thanks to our mentor Sue, and our program coordinator Mindy, for their work.

In 2004, the mentorship program was offered to writers of picture book text. Our 2004 Mentor was Rhonda Gowler Greene. Congratulations went to our winner, Shanda Trent. Our Mentorship Program Coordinator for 2004 was Rachel Anderson, and thanks were extended to both Rachel and Rhonda for their commitment to this program

In 2003, the mentorship program was offered to illustrators; a competition was held in conjunction with our April event, “Celebrate Creativity Workshop.” Our winner was Leslie Helakoski, who was mentored by Lori McElrath-Eslick. Thanks went to our 2003 Mentorship Chairperson, Nancy Shaw and our 2003 mentor, Lori McElrath-Eslick, for their work and dedication to this program. They were the backbone of the program in 2003.

In 2002, the mentorship was again offered to writers, the allowable genre was novels. The winner was Catherine Bieberich, for her manuscript “Dandelion Fuzz.” Catherine was mentored by Audrey Couloumbis, Newbery Honor author of Getting Near to Baby. Congratulations were also extended to our runner-up, Carol Anahid Azizian, who won a scholarship to our Fall Retreat.

In 2001, the manuscript competition for writers was held in conjunction with the June “Picture This!” event. Any unpublished SCBWI-MI member could enter; the allowable category was picture books. Our 2001 runners-up (in alphabetical order) were Deborah Briney, Pamela Eicher, Marissa Penrod, and Shanda Trent. Michele Root-Bernstein took first place; Michelle’s mentor was Ann Tompert.

In June of 2000, Michigan launched its mentorship program. A handful of other SCBWI chapters had begun mentoring programs; all were enthusiastic. How wonderful for a member to receive encouragement and direction, one on one, from a nurturing professional. We wanted to offer this to our Michigan membership, but how? Michigan Adcom member Brenda Shannon Yee raised her hand. She would further investigate what other chapters were doing, what worked, what didn’t, and design our Michigan program. In this, our first year, a writing mentorship was offered. Manuscripts were restricted to either picture book or novels. A panel of pre-judges were chosen and the winner selected through a manuscript competition. Member Susan Talanda was pronounced winner of the competition for her outstanding novel entry, and although there were a few bumps, the program was a wonderful success from everyone’s point of view.

All programs offered by SCBWI-MI are a direct result of volunteer effort.