The Black Creatives Mentorship will introduce aspiring Black authors to the ins-and-outs of the publishing industry through one-on-one mentorship and programming with other industry professionals designed to develop their networking skills and hone their craft.
Shantal Dea was born in Toronto, Canada to first-generation parents hailing from the beautiful island of Trinidad and Tobago. As her mom can attest, growing up she had a potent love for storytelling that manifested itself in different ways throughout her adolescence, from devouring young adult novels to writing stories of her own—one of which granting her the honor of being selected as an Avengers of Colour mentee a few years back. Shantal holds a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Industries from the Toronto Metropolitan University, with a specialization in Publishing and Journalism. Shortly after graduating, she had the opportunity to intern at Toronto-based publishing house ECW Press in the area of acquisitions. Prior to accepting her current role as Program Coordinator for a non-profit organization, she spent some time working as a freelance writer for a faith-based magazine. But her true passion lies with young and new adult literature, contemporary and fantasy being among her favorite sub-genres. She is at this time pursuing a certificate in Creative Writing, with an ongoing dream to create stories centering complex Black characters that are full of heart and culture. Currently, she loves to write about complicated family dynamics, the spectrum that is morality, and the wonderful city that raised her. Visit Shantal on Twitter @writerdea
town in Michigan. Her love for writing started when she moved with her family to a rural town in Virginia. Initially, she did not realize the wonderful opportunities that awaited her. However, after her son won the regional Young Authors competition at his school, she was inspired to enroll in writing classes at the Institute for Children’s Literature in Madison, Connecticut. Valorie’s new passion led her to work as a librarian at the local library, where she discovered some of the most heartwarming children’s stories and immersed herself in a world of young dreams. Valorie has written two picture books set to release in the fall of 2023. “The Great Howler in the Sky” draws inspiration from the howling of the noonday whistle, while “Who’s Journey to Find God” is a children’s story that depicts the human heart’s yearning for God. Valorie takes pleasure in creating captivating stories that stir deep emotions and delve into the fundamental question of “why.” In addition, she finds solace in nature, particularly rocks, trees, and quiet walks along the bay. Surprisingly, she discovered a little girl within
herself who has a passion for storytelling. Visit Valorie on Twitter @ValorieFant12
Janae Newsom is a Black woman writer, Mama, Poet, and part time professor from East Oakland California. She achieved her MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills college where she was the recipient of the Melody Clark Teppola Creative Writing prize for fiction, and the Amanda Davis best thesis in fiction award, and in February of 2021 she won the Voyage YA Journal Book Pitch Contest. Some of her written work can be found in the anthology, Essential Truths: The Bay Area in Color, and in other online publications including Voyage YA journal/Uncharted. She was also an inaugural member of the Janga's House Collective of Black Female Creatives, and an inaugural fellow of the Roots. Wounds. Words writer’s retreat. In December of 2022, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Visit Janae on Instagram @nanawroteit
Sasha Thomas is a Caribbean-American author and designer residing in Massachusetts with her partner, their cats, and a pair of real-life gremlins. With a B.F.A. in Fashion Design, she currently runs a costume shop. She enjoys writing both contemporary and speculative stories, focusing on underrepresented characters who are often overlooked. She is a recipient of the NESCBWI Windows and Mirrors Award, and she proudly carries the title of a self-proclaimed gremlin whisperer. When she isn’t working, she loves to travel, read, and get lost in nature. Visit Sasha on Twitter @Sunwoka
JaVon L. Townsend is a play enthusiast, world traveler, and lover of ice cream. She is an author and illustrator passionate about creating stories that center joy and connection, especially centering People of Color. JaVon is formally trained as a Licensed Clinical Social worker, supporting people from diverse backgrounds in re-telling their own stories through utilizing the creative arts in healing work. Before entering the field of Social Work, JaVon completed a BA in International Languages and Cultures at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She has also utilized creativity as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow in Baltimore City, MD and as a Fulbright Research Program alumna in Accra, Ghana. She approaches all of her work from the lens of understanding and appreciating who people are within their specific contexts. JaVon aspires to further celebrate and illuminate the full humanity of people with marginalized identities through her storytelling in children’s literature. Visit JaVon on Instagram @javonmakesart