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By Karol Ruth Silverstein, SCBWI-L.A. Contest Coordinator

For the past four years, SCBWI-L.A. has been offering mentorships to pre-published members, switching between writers and illustrators. It will be illustrators’ turn again in 2019, and that’s where out PAL illustrators come in!

As past mentors can tell you, the experience is incredibly rewarding. We asked some of them to share about why they decided to throw their hats in the ring and how they’ve benefitted themselves from being mentors.

Here’s what they had to say:


Katherine Kottaras and her mentee Melanie Dearman

2018 Mentor, Wade Bradford: “As cheesy as it sounds, I wanted to give back to this amazing community that, ten years ago, embraced me as a pre-published author.”

2016 Mentor Catherine Linka:  “SCBWI opened up the world of kid lit for me. I can’t even begin to tell you all the opportunities I’ve enjoyed thanks to the members who’ve helped me. So, I wanted to pay that forward.”

2016 Mentor Kathy Kottaras: “When I was first starting out as an aspiring writer for children and teens nearly ten years ago, I didn’t know much about the industry beyond what I could find online. SCBWI provided invaluable information about how the publishing industry works. I wanted to be a mentor so that I could give back and pay it forward. I wanted to do whatever I could to guide an aspiring writer whose story needed to be heard in the world.”

2018 Mentor Andrea J. Loney: “First, SCBWI-LA has helped me so much in my career, I wanted to give back in some way. Also, there were things about the business and the craft that I wish I’d known sooner, so I wanted to share that info with a pre-published author.”


WB: “For me, working with an up-and-coming author has re-affirmed the joy of storytelling.”

CL: “When you’re critiquing someone else’s work, it forces you to think about whether you’re following your own advice on your work in progress. Light bulbs go off, I guarantee! And you learn so much from your mentee. The benefits go both ways.”

Andrea J. Loney and her mentee Monica.

KK: “Working with Melanie Dearman has been an absolute highlight of my writing and teaching career. Not only is Melanie a beautiful writer, she is a caring soul, and happily, after the mentorship program ended, we have continued to keep in touch as friends.

AJL: “Working with my mentee has inspired me to come up with new methods to critique manuscripts. Our regular meetings also have encouraged me to be more on top of my busy writing/teaching/marketing schedule so I could prioritize our meetings.”

Maybe this all sounds amazing, but you’re wondering if you have what it takes. Linka can relate. “When you think about becoming a mentor, it can be intimidating, because if you’re not a NYT best-selling author, you might wonder if you have anything worthwhile to offer. But if you have written a book, found an agent, worked with an editor, and launched that story into the world, you have a lot of hard-earned experience and insights to share.”

If you are an SCBWI-L.A. PAL illustrator interested in mentoring, please the 2019 Request for Proposals on the region’s website. Proposals will be accepted from 12/2/18 through 11:59 PM on 1/14/19. Good luck!

And if you’d like to learn more about how to apply as a mentee next year or other SCBWI-L.A. contests and how you can participate, check our contest page.


For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become a member today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.


Karol Ruth Silverstein writes screenplays and various genres of children’s books. Her YA debut #CURSEDthenovel is due from Charlesbridge Teen in June 2019. She is represented by Jen Linnan of Linnan Literary Management and lives in West Hollywood with her two exceptionally fluffy cats, Ninja and Boo.


Images provided by Katherine Kottaras and Andrea J. Loney

Mentor Photo: original Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash