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Introducing the Rising Stars Picture Book Mentorship

Hello, friends! I hope you're all enjoying the beginnings of summer. I personally adore summer. I love having my kids home from school, fun days by the pool, and lots of time to read!

Today, I am BEYOND thrilled to announce that I've partnered with Ebony Lynn Mudd to launch the Rising Stars Picture Book Mentorship!! This program will be unlike any other PB mentorship, so I hope you'll read all about the process of creating this opportunity and why we're doing what we're doing.

As I listened to the excited buzz surrounding the PBChat Mentorship, Justin Colón's amazing program that has consistently led to book deals, offers of rep, and more, I thought how much I'd love to someday be a mentor in that program... but even with multiple book deals under my belt, I didn't think I'd ever feel "qualified" to mentor at that level. But PBChat was instrumental in my own journey...I was chosen as Bridget Heos's runner up in 2020, and gifted a phone call where Bridget told me my books were ready! It was a HUGE turning point for me. And since then, I've wanted to give back.

Still... the imposter syndrome is real. So I started thinking that it would be great to do some sort of low-stakes mentorship. Something where the person I mentored realized that I was new to mentoring and would be learning the ropes myself. But also something valuable and worthwhile. Something that would help me develop mentoring skills while also providing a meaningful and educational experience for a mentee. Something that would prepare me to mentor in more "official" mentorships in the future.

So I did what I tend to do when these types of ideas pop into my head... I put it out into the universe on Twitter:

And I was beyond humbled by the response! People were so kind and I was blown away by how many people would actually be interested in something like that. And even more exciting? Fellow agented authors with their own upcoming debuts chimed in that they had been wanting to do something similar! How cool would that be?

Ebony Lynn Mudd was one of those authors who chimed in. She and I had connected in the past, so I reached out and asked if she would be interested in partnering with me to make this kernel of an idea into something more official. And I will be forever grateful that she enthusiastically agreed! And not only did she agree, she hit the ground running! She has done SO MUCH to get this mentorship off the ground, and you all are going to be blown away by her. She is a force and I adore her!

Anyways... Ebony and I started gathering mentors.

We knew that we wanted mentors to be agented with book deals. Because we wanted this to be about more than giving critiques. We want mentors who can help mentees navigate things like agent calls, offers of publication, contract language, and more. And let me tell you, the kidlit community showed up! We have the MOST AMAZING mentors lined up, and cannot wait to reveal them!

The idea behind this mentorship is that we want to create a program where new mentors can come and be tutored. Where we will invite experienced authors and mentors to come and teach us how to be the mentors of tomorrow. And where we will get "on the job training" so to speak... learning by doing. So we will each take on one mentee, help them polish and prepare manuscripts for querying, and provide guidance on the industry. Mentees will understand that we are all new at this and learning as we go. This will be a low-stakes mentorship, with no agent/editor showcase at the end. But we do guarantee experienced mentors who will be with you each step of the way. And we do expect mentees to be serious, dedicated to their craft, and willing to work hard to get their manuscripts ready for querying and submission.

So what will this look like?

Well, everything will be happening over on so we hope you will hop on over there to subscribe and follow along.

Then, tomorrow, Saturday the 21st, Ebony and I will start releasing teasers about the mentors. You can follow us on Twitter (@ebonylynnmudd and @Pew Kailei) and make your guesses on each of the mentor teasers.

Then on June 1st, we will reveal the complete mentor list, including what they are looking for in a mentee.

Applications will open on Monday, June 6th and close at midnight on Saturday, June 11th (please see for the eligibility requirements to apply, or scroll to the bottom of this post to see the requirements).

Applicants can apply to up to two mentors.

Mentors will spend 3 weeks reviewing applicants, and may ask for additional manuscripts or even a phone call to help make their decision.

Mentees will be revealed on July 1st and the mentorship will begin officially on July 5th and run through September 30th.

In the meantime... please help us spread the word by using #PBRisingStars on Twitter!

We seriously cannot wait to see how this develops and all the good that comes from it! We hope you will join us for this amazing ride and consider applying to the Rising Stars PB Mentorship! We're so grateful to those of you who have already expressed support and excitement, and even helped us to choose a logo (designed by the amazing Ebony!) through our Twitter poll. We truly think this is going to be a wonderful experience, both for mentors learning the ropes and mentees developing their craft. Thanks for joining us on the ride!


Rising Stars PB Mentorship Eligibility Requirements:

The ideal applicant is serious about their craft, and actively working toward traditional publication. This includes, but is not limited to, participation in active critique groups, participation in webinars, workshops, or classes, and participation in the kidlit community. They have multiple completed picture book manuscripts or dummies.

We especially encourage creators from traditionally marginalized backgrounds to apply.

Applicants may apply to up to two mentors. Applying to more mentors will result in disqualification. Kailei and Ebony reserve the right to read all applications and prescreen applications for any mentors.

Applicants must:

  1. Be currently unagented

  2. Not have been mentored as part of another picture book mentorship within the last year.

  3. Be willing to not query during the duration of the mentorship

  4. Not have been traditionally published with a picture book (Note: if you have self-published in the past, you are still eligible to apply if you are now working toward traditional publication).

  5. Fill out the online application, including an MS or Dummy upload between June 6th and June 11th. (Note: For any neurodivergent or disabled applicants who are unable to complete the full application, please reach out to Kailei or Ebony. We will happily create an inclusive opportunity for you to still apply).

If chosen, mentees will be expected to:

  1. Participate in the full mentorship, running from July 5th through September 30th.

  2. Communicate with their mentor following an established plan agreed upon by both mentor and mentee.

  3. Edit and revise at least one PB MS or Dummy over the course of the mentorship, as agreed upon by both mentor and mentee.

  4. Pause (or wait on) querying for the duration of the mentorship, unless a unique opportunity arises, agreed upon by both mentor and mentee.

  5. Attend the virtual mentee orientation on July 5th or watch the replay within the first week of the mentorship.

Each mentor will choose their own mentee. Both mentor and mentee will have access to either Kailei or Ebony for check ins and can reach out for additional support as needed.



This is so exciting! Thank you for hosting a great opportunity for the PB writing community!


May 20, 2022

Wow Kailei and Ebony! So happy to see your idea will become a reality! Looking forward to this tremendous opportunity! Love the logo that was selected ! :)


Kim-Hoa Ung
Kim-Hoa Ung
May 20, 2022

Awww, can't wait! Love this post, Kailei! Thank you <3


Sara Kruger
Sara Kruger
May 20, 2022

This sounds amazing. I can't wait to see who the mentors are!!


Laura Bost
Laura Bost
May 20, 2022

Thank you for taking the time to be the change you want to see in the world. Mentorship is needed and appreciated in this community!

Replying to

Thank you, Laura! Mentorship really does make a huge difference and we’re thrilled to help!

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