The Black Creatives Mentorship for Black Creatives will introduce Black writers 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 as well as hone their craft.
Participants will be matched with an experienced creator of children’s books and will receive individual support and feedback on their manuscripts. Mentees will begin the process with a mostly completed (at least ⅔ finished) work-in-progress and conclude the program with a fully completed draft.
Mentees will form a cohort with dedicated space on a separate platform to engage with each other, with a goal toward building a community of Black creatives who will support and uplift each other's work. The platform will also host virtual events for mentees to learn more about the publishing process, to be hosted by various industry professionals. We will also conduct monthly Q&As with the mentors.
Participants will be expected to partner within the cohort to support each other through constructive critique. The bulk of your writing critique will come via your partner with some support via your mentor.
Please note: The Black Creatives Mentorship is separate from WNDB's general Mentorship Program and questions about the Black Creatives Mentorship should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (PB) is an award-winning children’s book author and educator who aspires to be a griot. That is, she strives to create stories with lyrical language, unforgettable voice, and dialogue that begs to be read aloud (or even sung). Her picture books and middle grade fiction center young Black Muslim protagonists and include Mommy’s Khimar, Once Upon an Eid (anthology contributions), and Your Name is a Song, an Irma Black Award honor book. These works have been recognized as the best in children’s literature by Time Magazine, Read Across America, and NPR.
Tameka Fryer Brown (PB) is a picture book author whose titles include the Charlotte Zolotow Honor-winning MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD and BROWN BABY LULLABY, winner of the 2021 Anna Dewdney Read Together Award. Her work is also featured in the widely-acclaimed anthology, WE RISE, WE RESIST, WE RAISE OUR VOICES.
Brown’s forthcoming picture books include TWELVE DINGING DOORBELLS, a humorous tale about Black family gatherings; NOT DONE YET: SHIRLEY CHISHOLM’S FIGHT FOR CHANGE; and THAT FLAG, a story about best friends divided over the meaning and significance of the Confederate flag. To learn more about Tameka Fryer Brown and her work, visit her website: tamekafryerbrown.com.
Fracaswell Hyman (MG) is a teller of stories in everything he does. He is an author, an actor, a producer and a stage and television director with extensive credits in original programming for children’s television. He created and executive produced THE FAMOUS JETT JACKSON, the first Disney Channel fictional, live-action original series. Hyman adapted Bill Cosby’s LITTLE BILL books for television and served as head writer/producer for the first two seasons. Hyman was the co-creator and executive producer of Nickelodeon’s sitcom ROMEO, and he was Executive Producer of Nickelodeon’s ALMA award winning sitcom TAINA. His first middle grade novel series, MANGO DEIGHT, MANGO IN THE CITY and MANGO ALL THE TIME are available at bookstores and libraries worldwide.
Patrice Lawrence (YA) is a British writer of Caribbean heritage. She writes stories that pick away at social injustice. Her books have been shortlisted for the Costa Children's Award, won the YA Bookseller Prize, the Waterstones Prize for Older Children's Fiction, the Crime Fest YA Prize twice, the Woman and Home Teen Drama Award and the inaugural Jhalak Children and Young People's Prize. She has also been a judge for many book awards including the Costa prize, the BBC Young Writers Award, the Little Rebels Book Prize and the Queen's Knickers Award and is a judge for the 2022 Jhalak Prize for Children and Young People. She has been nominated for the prestigious Carnegie Award six times and was awarded an MBE for Literature in the 2021 Queen's Birthday Honours. Patrice has four books that will be published in 2022, two picture books, one (debut!) middle grade and a YA novella.
Kwame Mbalia (MG) is a husband, father, writer, a New York Times bestselling author, and a former pharmaceutical metrologist in that order. His debut middle-grade novel, TRISTAN STRONG PUNCHES A HOLE IN THE SKY was awarded a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and it—along with the sequels TRISTAN STRONG DESTROYS THE WORLD and TRISTAN STRONG KEEPS PUNCHING, out October 5th—is published by Rick Riordan Presents/Disney-Hyperion.
Alexandra Sheppard (YA) is a children's author from London, UK. Her debut novel Oh My Gods was published by Scholastic and featured in Buzzfeed, Refinery29 and The Guardian's Summer Reading List. It was also shortlisted for the Bristol Teen Book Award 2019.
Her short story was featured in the Knights Of anthology Happy Here and her debut middle-grade novel is coming soon. She loves to write funny, fantastical stories about quirky families with a twist of magic.
|Natasha Tarpley (PB) is a bestselling children’s book author with over 20-years’ publishing experience. Her classic picture book, I Love My Hair!, an ode to Black childhood and natural beauty, is a staple on national school and library reading lists, and a favorite among readers around the world. Her new picture book, The Me I Choose To Be, affirms the power of Black children to choose who and what they want to be. Natasha has also written for children’s television and is the writer and Co-Creator of the award-winning children’s narrative podcast, Opal Watson: Private Eye (Pinna.fm). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Essence Magazine among other publications.|
Genyne H. Boston is a professor/administrator, lifelong educator, and student of storytelling. She is also a creative spirit, and an enthusiast of books and writing. She has spent a great part of her career teaching writing and literature, while fostering the development of young minds. She has published primarily in the higher education domain, but hopes to shift her time, talents, and creative focus to honing her craft as a master storyteller. She is an aspiring children’s author and hopes the next chapter of her career will afford opportunities to produce children’s literature that honors ancestral pasts, enlightens young minds, and ignites a love for reading. Genyne believes children’s literature holds the key to unlocking new worlds for young minds. She is honored and grateful for the opportunity to grow and develop as a writer through the WNDB Mentorship Program. She is a member of SCBWI and a small critique group. Genyne completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Florida State University, and currently resides in Florida with her family. Her mentor for this 2022 cycle is Fracaswell Hyman.
Athena W. Hernandez is a writer and communications consultant, passionate about storytelling and compelled by its influence on people, history and culture. She is a proud HBCU graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she also serves on the Industry and Me Advisory Committee, an empowerment series addressing historical barriers to success for BIPOC creatives. Her communications work has stretched across public education systems in Metropolitan Washington, D.C., the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, government agencies and philanthropic organizations. Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in the Maryland suburbs, Athena now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, stepdaughter and massive Barbie collection. She will be working with Kwame Mbalia as her mentor.
Emily Joof is an African-diaspora mum with a great love for storytelling. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria to a Gambian Father and Malian-French mother and has lived in Nigeria, Belgium, France, Gambia, the UK and Sweden. Emily works for community organizations, NGOs and International Organizations as an Education Technical Advisor. A role that centres on inclusion and contributes to advancing and improving children’s’ rights in countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. She has managed and delivered programmes targeting children, at-risk youth and marginalised communities for more than 15 years. Emily is deeply inspired by her childhood as a third culture kid and her own children. She writes stories that reflect the world that she and millions of children across the globe grow up in, where difference is the norm. She blogs and is very active in the discussion around representation in children's literature in Sweden. You can find her books and writing on www.mbife.com. Emily is also currently a Postgraduate researcher (PhD candidate) at Lancaster university in the UK. The focus of her research being on the potential that Children’s Literature can have on fostering inclusions in preschools. She is being mentored by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow.
Angela Lankford decided she wanted to be a young adult novelist when she was 12-years-old. Ever since, every decision she’s made in her educational and professional life has been devoted to making her a better writer or helping others find their writing voice. She’s pursued a bachelor’s in English literature, a master’s in Rhetoric and Composition, and is working toward an EdD in Literacy, Language, and Culture Education. She worked as a college writing instructor for over five years, teaching in-person and online courses, and taught adult literacy. Currently, she works as a Senior Learning Content Writer for a non-profit online university, where she gets to blend her passions for writing and education. Angela is mentored by Alexandra Sheppard for this mentorship cycle.
Sherri T. Mercer is a retired educator (30+ years) passionate about children’s literature. She is especially drawn to stories that inspire hope and give voice to what matters to children. She has a work-for-hire leveled reader that will publish with Benchmark Education and a young adult Sunday School curriculum in September 2022 with the Sunday School Publishing Board—National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. In addition, she is a wife, mother of adult children, a writer, and caregiver who resides in South Fulton, Tennessee. Sherri is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Black Creatives Mentorship Program and is honored to work with Natasha Tarpley as a 2022 mentee.
Kelly Marie Shepard, Ph.D. is a mother, writer, educator, dreamer. At Howard University, she serves as a Science Mentor to undergraduate students who are pursuing degrees in health, computer science, and other STEM disciplines. Her most interesting job came at 14 years old when she was hired as a flutist for a teen band that performed in venues around Chicago during the summertime. Later, she became an elementary teacher, which morphed into other education-centered roles. She holds degrees in Elementary Education, Curriculum and Instruction, and Science Education. She has written, and presented at teacher workshops, curricula that integrate literacy, science, and math. Her research on science in picture books has been accepted for presentation at regional and international conferences. Her southside Chicago neighborhood keeps her grounded in Black culture and adjacent to the stories she writes for children. She fills her free time with her two sons, House music, and her cat, Lola. Tameka Fryer Brown is her mentor for this 2022 cycle.
Makeda White grew up in a small city in Maryland. Growing up, she was drawn to the arts. As a teenager, she began acting. Reading and writing plays and scripts evolved her writing skillset. After graduating high school, she attended Lincoln University, where she obtained her Bachelor's degree in Mass Communications and Cultural Anthropology. Between semesters, she worked at her local Boys and Girls Club to give back to the community she grew up in. Then, after a short break, she went to Hofstra University to receive her master's degree in journalism. Since then, she has written for BET, Jagurl TV, Bronze Magazine, and TheList. Although trained as a journalist, her career goal is to use her writing to diversify the images of Black people and underrepresented groups in the media and literature. Additionally, through her work, she hopes to shed light on untold black stories in the forms of fiction and nonfiction. She is mentored by Patrice Lawrence for this cycle.