Monday, May 2, 2016

The Nevada SCBWI Mentorship Experience- Part I

Motivating. 

Inspiring.

Validating.

That about sums up my Nevada SCBWI Mentorship Experience.



The Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program runs from October through April. I was fortunate to have been selected for the six-month program. As a mentee, my mentor takes me under his wings and shares his expertise to help me become a better writer.

I was over-the-moon when I found out Jim Averbeck would be my mentor. Jim Averbeck is the author of ONE WORD SOPHIA, IN THE BLUE ROOM, and more.

Picture Books by Jim Averbeck:
One Word from Sophia (2015)
The Market Bowl (2013)
Oh No, Little Dragon (2012)
Except If (2011)
In a Blue Room (2008)
http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Room-Jim-Averbeck/dp/015205992X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462058879&sr=8-1&keywords=in+a+blue+room


Many of you have asked me about the details of my experience so I am sharing it with you today. Here is my story.


THE NEVADA SCBWI MENTORSHIP EXPERIENCE

MY STORY


The Beginning

The kick-off of our mentor program took place in Reno, Nevada. I was nervous about my meeting with Jim. I've seen him on occasion at local and international SCBWI conferences, but that's about it. One time I actually grabbed him without even introducing myself and asked someone to take a photo of us. I'm sure he doesn't remember this. Bold, but worth it.

SCBWI LA, Black and White Ball 2013

I digress…

My first introduction to Jim was a face-to-face critique of my manuscripts. We got down to business quick. The set-up was exactly like the LA SCBWI conference critique where you introduce yourself to your critiquer, shake hands, and wait for them to offer you to take a seat in preparation for the 

leg-shaking, 

             palm-sweating,

                         lip-biting feedback.  

Needless to say, it wasn't that bad. After my meeting with Jim, I stood up and my heart rallied. 

"Let's do this!"

Later, I met the other mentees who have been assigned to Jim. We dubbed ourselves Team Averbeck. Though I secretly wanted to be called the Robins since Jim was our Batman. He's cool like that.
With co-mentees Louise Henriksen and Lisa Crawford

The rest of the kick-off weekend was spent listening to speakers about the craft of writing. 

Being in a room with a select group of aspiring authors made me feel like part of a special forces unit in which only the elite come to train. As a writer whose been through many ups and downs, this experience was validating for me.

The Middle

I felt fortunate in that my mentor happens to live in close proximity to me so we were able to meet in person. It was nice to be able to bounce ideas off each other, clarify a comment, and get a reaction from my mentor.

Jim and I met at a local café overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We sat on comfy sofa-chairs sipping hot lattes- Chai tea latte for me, steamed milk for him. I was in writer's heaven. We engaged in a little small talk and dove right into my manuscript for a productive one hour.


Throughout the course of the mentorship, Jim assigned me a few writing exercises such as writing a letter from my protagonist to my antagonist. The exercises he gave me were so valuable in the construction of my manuscript. I appreciated that Jim took his mentorship seriously to help me become a better writer.

We went on to meet at the same café once more. The 6 month period was spent on writing and revising in-between critique sessions. Our last meeting was in Virginia City where he got to go over my manuscripts one last time for a total of four meetings.

I came into this program with what I thought were three polished pieces. It's amazing how much improvement can still be made on it. Jim helped me tighten my story more than I thought possible. My stories now have a clearer focus and streamlined story arc. My mentor Jim is intuitive, smart, and helpful. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor than him!

The End

The final retreat, held in Virginia City, was a nice way to cap my six-month long mentorship program. The weekend was spent listening to speakers (mentors), getting final critiques, socializing, and having fun.

Some of the fun things we did was tour historic downtown Virginia City, drink wine, and eat chocolate! We also shared ghost stories. After all, a weekend at the haunted St. Mary's Art and Retreat Center would not be complete without a ghost story.


At the final retreat, we all felt like one big happy family. The fact that our retreat took place in a haunted house made it feel more intimate. When things go bump in the night, you can't help but grow close very quickly.


The Attic of St. Mary's...BOO!

Because of the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program, I've gained new insights to my writing, created memories, and made lasting friendships. It was an amazing experience!

2015-2016 SCBWI Nevada Mentees

Want to take part in the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program?

Stay tuned for part II of my Nevada Mentorship Experience on how to apply, what to look for in a mentor, and general tips.

6 comments:

  1. This brings back so many memories. I'm so glad for you. It sounds like you learned so much and I know Jim is a wonderful mentor. Can't wait to hear about the next step in your career!

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    1. Thank you, Sylvia. You are my inspiration!

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  2. What fun to follow your journey on this Mentorship Program! How cool you were able to get Jim for a mentor! I've not really considered doing it since I don't like being away from home for that long. I have a FB friend who did this program with you and got signed with an agent!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Teresa! It's really only 2 weekends 6 months apart so it isn't that bad. We did have someone sign up with an agent during our retreat! The agent happened to be her mentor. He reps. graphic novels. She writes graphic novels. How cool is that!

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  3. This sounds fabulous Romelle! Thanks for telling us about it. Can't wait to see these manuscripts in print:)

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    Replies
    1. Me too! Thats another hurdle I have to jump over.

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