Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI Midsouth Mentorship Program

Date(s) - 10/30/2019 - 11/30/2019
12:00 am - 11:30 pm


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Congratulations to our 2020 Mentoring Pairs:

Hope Bissell, mentored by Sharon Cameron

Erin Bylund, mentored by Amanda Driscoll

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe, mentored by David Arnold

Jackie Laney, mentored by Debbie Dadey

Melissa Lasher, mentored by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Rachael Milligan, mentored by Jessica Young

We hope you have a fantastic year together!

Many thanks to and congratulations to each and every one of you who applied, whether or not you were paired with a Mentor this year. It takes great courage to give your work to others. Each application reflected deep dedication to writing, and we are confident that this dedication will take you far on your writing journey. 



The SCBWI Midsouth Mentorship Program exists to connect unpublished writers with established professionals in their field over a nine-month period. Through the mentoring relationship, mentees will receive critique and career advice to give them a “hand up” in the world of children’s publishing.

Who is the program for?

Current members of SCBWI Midsouth who are writers of picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult novels and seek to be traditionally published. All levels of experience are welcome.

How does the program work?

Writers interested in the program will register, pay a $15 application fee, and submit a completed questionnaire and writing sample between October 30 and November 30, 2019.  Each mentor will choose one mentee based on the application package. Chosen mentees will be announced in December, 2019 and the mentorship period will run from January to September, 2020.

Each chosen mentee will receive four meetings with their mentor. These meetings can be in person, or by phone or Skype. Each mentor will set individual goals for the span of the mentorship based on the needs of their mentee. This will include at least fifty pages of manuscript critique for novelists, and two additional manuscripts for picture book writers. It could also include revisions and/or query letters, depending on the needs of the mentee. Mentors will also give career advice as needed, and be available for questions by email. Mentees will turn in additional pages or revisions as scheduled with their mentor throughout the nine month period of the mentorship.

What does it cost?

If chosen as a mentee, the cost of the program is $325, payable by December 20, 2019. Chosen mentees will also receive a $100 tuition discount on the 2020 SCBWI Midsouth Fall Conference.


Meet our 2020 Mentors!

David Arnold

David Arnold lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with his (lovely) wife and (boisterous) son. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Mosquitoland, Kids of Appetite, & The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik, which has been optioned for film by Paramount. His books have been translated into over a dozen languages. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @roofbeam and Instagram @iamdavidarnold.



Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley won a Newbery Honor award and hit the New York Times Bestseller List in 2016 for her 16th book, the World War II novel The War That Saved My Life. She also gained widespread acclaim for Jefferson’s Sons. For nearly 20 years she’s made her home on a farm in eastern Tennessee with her former high school sweetheart and their two children. She competes in the obscure equestrian sport of eventing, loves to travel, experiments with fiber arts, and never stops reading.



Sharon Cameron

Sharon Cameron is the #1 NYT best-selling author of The Dark Unwinding (2012), A Spark Unseen (2013), Rook (2015), The Forgetting (2016), The Knowing (2017), and The Light in Hidden Places (2020), all from Scholastic Press. Her books have been published in multiple languages and have won the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, the Westchester Fiction Award, earned starred reviews from Booklist, SLJ, and Kirkus, and have been chosen for numerous lists, including Indie Next Top Ten, YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults, and Audible Best Books. When not writing, Sharon can be found shooting her longbow, thumbing through dusty tomes, or continuing her lifelong search for secret passages. She lives with her family in Nashville, TN.

Debbie Dadey

A former first grade teacher and school librarian, Debbie is the author and co-author of 168 traditionally published children’s books. Her first book, co-authored with Marcia Thornton Jones, Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots became The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series with sales of over 43 million.  The Narwhal Problem is the newest in Debbie’s Mermaid Tales multi-cultural series from Simon and Schuster. Debbie’s focus has been on chapter books, but she has published three novels and two pictures books.

Debbie has lived in many states, but now lives in a log cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. She visits schools around the world and speaks to adults at conferences about writing for children. You can find out more about her on, and Photo credit: Don Fields


Amanda Driscoll

Amanda Driscoll was born and raised in Louisville and currently resides in Prospect, Kentucky. Like any good Kentucky-born girl, she grew up drawing horses. Her love of art led her to Murray State University, where she earned a degree in Fine Art/ Graphic Design. She was a graphic designer for years before she had children, rediscovered her love of picture books, and found her true passion. She is the author/illustrator of three picture books: Klondike Do Not Eat Those Cupcakes! (2018), Wally Does Not Want a Haircut (2016), and Duncan the Story Dragon (2015), as well as the forthcoming Little Grump Truck (2021), all published by Knopf. For more about Amanda and her books, visit her website at:


Jessica Young

Award-winning author and teacher Jessica Young writes picture books (Play This BookPet This BookMy Blue is Happy) and chapter books (the Haggis and Tank Unleashed series, the Finley Flowers series). When she’s not writing, she loves sharing the creative process with kids! Find out more:




How do I apply?

The application period for the 2020 SCBWI Midsouth Mentorship Program has ended. Thank you to all who applied!

1. Log in as an SCBWI member and complete the registration form below. There is a $15 application fee, payable through the registration form.

2.  Click here to download the questionnaire and fill it in. You can fill in the answers on the document using Word or Pages (or print it, write in the answers, and scan the pages). Email your completed questionnaire and your writing sample in .pdf format to between October 30 and November 30, 2020. Please put your name and the category of your work in the subject line. (Example: Jane Doe, Picture Book submission)

Writing Sample Submissions:

All submissions should be double-spaced in black, 12 pt Times New Roman font with 1” margins. Please number pages in the header and include a cover page with title, author name, and contact information (cover page will not affect overall page count). Writing samples should be submitted as a .pdf document.

Picture Books:

Please submit one OR two completed picture book manuscripts. Manuscripts should be text only (no dummies), but may include illustrator notes.

Chapter Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Novels:

Please submit up to the first 30 pages of your project. As part of the same .pdf file, also submit a 1-2 page synopsis of your project (synopses may be single-spaced, but should conform to all other formatting).

If you have questions, please contact the Mentor Coordinators at