About the Revisions Workshop
The Black Creatives Revision Workshop is an extended opportunity for writers who have completed a full draft of a Middle Grade, Young Adult, or Adult novel. Twelve writers will be chosen from the applicant pool to receive training from a small faculty of esteemed Black authors to complete revisions of their manuscript and to submit their novel to a team of editors at Penguin Random House (PRH).
The Revision Workshop is for writers who believe that they will benefit from instruction in their final stages of revision and who will complete their edited manuscript within the five-month period of the workshop. The writers will also be dedicated to joining a committed community of other creatives participating in the Workshop.
Throughout the program, there will be opportunities for manuscript exchange and building writing partnerships along with extracurricular programming to introduce publishing industry do’s and don’ts. The BCF’s Program Manager and the Workshop’s Writing Coaches will also offer varied resources and support to the writers, fostering a nurturing environment and a supportive community for the participants.
The Workshop will focus on the writers completing their revisions by the end of the program so that they are ready to submit to PRH at the conclusion of the workshop.
2022 Revisions Workshop Participants
Doris Allen (Adult Novel) is an African American publishing professional specializing in bringing attention to Black authors and Black-owned bookstores across the country and amplifying Black voices in literature through networking on her Bookstagram account (@OnyxEditions). She conceptualized and spearheaded “Paint this Cover,” an initiative presenting readers the opportunity to envision book covers for authors and booksellers, which was inducted into DeKalb County Library (Georgia) programming. Keeping her ear to the social media streets, in order to find more voices within the African diaspora to champion, is one of her greatest passions. An army brat, she has lived in Germany, New Mexico, Missouri, New York, and Philadelphia. She spent her childhood obsessively reading across genres, writing mandatory book reports for her grandmother about little known Black History (that couldn’t be used for school), and attending her father’s gospel quartet concerts. A tireless advocate for the special needs community, parent of a child on the spectrum, and mentor to parents of autistic children. She currently lives in Queens, New York with her husband and children.
Kibkabe Araya (Young Adult Novel) is a business journalist who covers diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal industry. A graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, she received her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York. An avid reader, she blogs about diverse books for women at shelit.com. Born in Chicago, she is a former Los Angeles resident who lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
H.K.R. Brice (Young Adult Novel) was a writer before she even knew to call herself one. As a young girl, of seven or eight years old, living in a community where children were urged to pursue careers in law, engineering, and any other profession that guaranteed social prestige, she did not know that her “little stories” amounted to anything, let alone Lord of the Rings (her definition of writing during those early years). But her strangest and quirkiest characters never left her heart; and the urge to write grew so strong that she often abandoned social gatherings to rush off and document the complex worlds in her mind. Since then, H.K.R. has received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from New York University and was named a 2021 WNDB Walter Grant recipient. Among many other things, she is an actor, storyteller and researcher, with a strong penchant for promoting mental wellness. During her time in this space, she wishes to serve her communities by crafting worlds that illuminate every beautiful, messy, and human part of them.
B.G. Cane (Young Adult Novel) is a vivid storyteller who loves painting worlds with words. Being Black biracial and many shades of queer, they're extremely passionate about reading and crafting stories that feature the cultures and communities they're a part of as well as those they see around them. Having written their first novella at the age of 12, they've spent the following years honing the art of building immersive spaces with captivating characters. They work in special education and advocate for the autonomy of their students. As a CUNY student themself, they’re striving to better the educational landscape for children at any and every intersection. They’re a Capricorn, a Floridian masquerading as a New Yorker, and a lover of dogs and dismantling heteronormativity.
Kariamu Cross (Young Adult Novel) was born and raised in Los Angeles California. She went to undergrad at the University of California Berkeley where she majored in Legal Studies and graduated a year early with highest honors. From there, she attended a post baccalaureate program to complete her prerequisites for medical school. Along with becoming an otolaryngologist (ears, nose, and throat doctor), she also aims to become a novelist who positively impacts representation for young Black girls through her published works. In her spare time, outside of her obvious enjoyment of reading and writing, she also enjoys Pilates, playing guitar, skateboarding, and spending time with her nieces.
Hayley Dennings (Young Adult Novel) is a queer, Black woman from the Bay Area, California, and a recent French and English graduate from Loyola Marymount University. She has a YouTube channel, Pages of Hayley, where she discusses books and writing with over 32,000 subscribers. Though writing is her escape, she wants her stories to reflect reality, showing that the world consists of people with unique identities, cultures, and backgrounds. Seeing people like her represented in books encouraged her to write her own books and pursue publishing. She loves every genre, but finds the most joy in fantasy, where she gets lost in the detailed lore and wholly unique worlds outside of existing realities. When Hayley is not working, she is spending time with her dogs and baking.
Mirta Desir (Adult Novel) is a writer and filmmaker in New York City by way of Haiti. As a young immigrant child in the U.S. she consumed books voraciously and films were a critical pathway for her to learn English. At Syracuse University, she fulfilled her passion for literature and art. Soon after she obtained a Juris Doctor from Loyola University. After graduation, Mirta founded Link Haiti – a nonprofit that provided short-term solutions, in response to the 2010 earthquake. With a growing interest in writing and film, she started writing while running Smart Coos, a language focused educational startup. Mirta has produced, directed and written several short films, including APRIL 10TH , an award-winning short. Her two current works, AFTER, a film about an undocumented father-daughter duo and MOTHERS, a documentary about migrant mothers, are both in post-production. Mirta’s current novel is based on her experience in Haiti and specifically around the story of three sisters as they navigate the aftermath of an earthquake. When Mirta isn’t reading, writing and rewriting you can find her spending time with her favorite little nugget, her daughter.
K. Onley (Middle Grade) is a mother, entrepreneur and sometimes-preacher living in MetroWest, Massachusetts. She spends her time gathering community, contemplating the possible, discerning truth, and imagining the future—as much as she can in fiction, but oftentimes in real life through her multiple volunteer positions. A native Marylander who has spent her adult life in Massachusetts, K. often sets her stories in New England, but writes them with her Southern cadence and Mid-Atlantic worldview. In her fiction, she seeks to write stories featuring children of color who can traverse many worlds with the savvy to code-switch, challenge, and triumph as they go.
Cheryl Miner (Adult Novel) is a lifelong DC resident who has been active in the writing community for over twenty years. She holds a BA in Literature from American University and is a DC Commission for the Arts & Humanities grant recipient. She won second place in the Larry Neale Writers Competition. Cheryl has always been interested in writing stories with marginalized and underrepresented protagonists. She began writing stories at eight years of age to overcome two speech impediments and childhood seizures. When not writing stories with unconventional characters, she managed to raise three kids, complete a thirty-year career as a US Postal carrier and earn certification in photography from Boston University. She currently lives in DC with her husband.
Originally from Fort Washington, Maryland, Lavell Nero (Young Adult Novel) is a graduate of the University of Virginia’s English Department, where he developed a taste in Afrofuturist novels and 17th century literature. Since 2017, he has been an active participant in New York City's late-night television production scene, and has worked on shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, and The Read with Kid Fury and Crissle. His writing aims to pay homage to the anime he grew up watching while also delving into deep topics relative to people affected by the African diaspora, among them being grief and trauma, mental health, racism, and non-materialistic inheritance, all the while putting Black characters at the forefront of these narratives. When he’s not writing, he’s either playing video games, binging the latest superhero series, or trying to solve a crossword puzzle without running to a dictionary.
Rashah Solun (Adult Novel) (she/they/Rashah) is an interdisciplinary storyteller born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated summa cum laude from Spelman College with a B.A. in Comparative Women’s Studies. Rashah’s work is guided by the red clay that has held her ancestors, the Earth that has held us all, and always Spirit. When Rashah’s not drifted away in her imagination she enjoys being in nature, cracking jokes with her husband/best friend, traveling, reading anything she gets her hands on, preparing herbal remedies, dancing until her body aches, and preparing for her new role as a mother.
Jay Watson (Adult Novel) Though I grew up in the heart of New England, I was born to two Jamaican natives and refuse to be considered anything else. My life’s work is to make the name of Jesus great while giving a platform to minority voices. To that end the past decade of my life has been spent working in public education and healthcare. Although no job could ever compare to being in the kitchen on a Sunday after church, covered in flour, with the laughter of a million family members bouncing off the walls.
2022 Revisions Workshop Faculty
Bunmi Ishola is a Nigerian American, who raised in both countries. She has her bachelor's degree in English and journalism from Texas A&M University, and also holds a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. After working for World Literature Today, The Norman Transcript, The Dallas Morning News, and CURE magazine, Bunmi taught middle school social studies and English for seven years in Houston, Texas. In 2018, she decided to pursue a career focused on one of her biggest passions: books. She now works as a children's book editor for Penguin Random House and serves as the board chair for The Word, A Storytelling Sanctuary, a non-profit working to build a publishing community that fights for diversity. While she spends most of her time reading, Bunmi also loves to travel, and so far, has been to six of the seven continents.
Chelcee Johns is a senior editor at Ballantine acquiring literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, and narrative nonfiction that explores social issues, women’s issues, identity, pop culture, and popular psychology. Previously at Simon & Schuster’s 37 Ink imprint, Chelcee worked on bestselling and award-winning titles including NYT bestseller The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, National Book Award longlisted Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, the critically acclaimed The Final Revival of Opal and Nev and Don’t Let It Get You Down by Savala Nolan. Chelcee loves books that teem with agency, intellect, and heart. Her forthcoming Ballantine books include Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera, The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule, Such Big Dreams by Reema Patel, On Thriving: Stories and Lessons on Harnessing Joy Through Life’s Great Labors by Brandi Sellers Jackson and Sisterhood Heals by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford among others.
Torrey Maldonado was born and raised in Brooklyn, growing up in the Red Hook housing projects. He has been a teacher for New York City public schools for over 25 years and his fast-paced, compelling stories are inspired by his and his students’ experiences. His popular novels for young readers include What Lane?, which garnered many starred reviews and was cited by Oprah Daily and the New York Times for being an essential book to discuss racism and allyship; Tight, which won the Christopher Award, was an ALA Notable Book, and an NPR and Washington Post Best Book of the Year; and his very first novel, Secret Saturdays which has been in print for over ten years. Learn more at torreymaldonado.com or connect on Instagram and Twitter @torreymaldonado.
Maya Millett is a senior editor at the Dial Press, an imprint of Random House, where she acquires fiction and nonfiction titles that center BI&POC storytellers. Before joining Dial in 2021, Maya spent several years as an independent nonfiction editor and audio producer, collaborating with authors including Glory Edim of Well-Read Black Girl, cultural critic Rebecca Carroll, and New York Times bestselling essayist Hanif Abdurraqib. Maya also worked for five years as an executive book editor at StoryCorps, editing the organization’s anthologies published in partnership with the Penguin Press. During her tenure at StoryCorps, Maya also served as the executive producer of StoryCorps Animation, producing animated short films for PBS based on StoryCorps’ NPR broadcasts, several of which earned Peabody and Columbia-duPont awards, and two News & Documentary Emmy award nominations. Alongside her editorial work, Maya is also the founder of Race Women, a historical justice archive project that honors Black feminist foremothers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Rita Williams-Garcia, a Queens, New York native, is the celebrated author of novels for young adults and middle grade readers. Her most recent middle grade novel, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground won the 2018 NAACP Image Award for Literature for Young People and was a 2017 National Book Award Finalist. Williams-Garcia is most known for her Coretta Scott King Author Award winning Gaither Sisters trilogy that begins with One Crazy Summer, recipient of the Newbery Honor and the Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction. She is both a three-time Coretta Scott King Author Award recipient and National Book Award Finalist. Her recent YA historical novel, A Sitting in St. James, is the winner of the 2021 Boston Globe Horn Book and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize awards.
2022 Revisions Workshop Writing Coaches
Dee Hudson (she/her) is a Black American freelance editor. She started editing in 2019 while studying English, History, and Women’s Studies. She was a part of the first mentorship cohort at Tessera Editorial( https://www.tesseraeditorial.com). Since then, she has been able to successfully turn her lifelong love of reading into a career in publishing. She's been able to work with many authors and both Indie and Big 5 publishers. She provides everything from sensitivity reads to developmental edits. She enjoys reading and editing romance, historical fiction, YA, and thrillers.
Jada Lightning (she/her) is a writer and editor residing in DC. Equally left and right-brained, she holds a BS in Chemistry and an MS in both Systems Technology and International relations. While her day jobs have included being a nuclear engineer and military diplomat, her passion lies in unearthing stories and helping authors bring them to life. She is part of the diverse Tessera Editorial team, and has worked with Bloom Books, Harpers Collins, and numerous independent writers and literary agents.
Jada provides developmental editing and sensitivity reads for Black American culture, all aspects of Blackness in literature. LGBTQ+ representation (specifically pansexual and wlw), and military culture. She is working on her certification as a book coach with Author Accelerator.
Margeaux Weston is a Hugo nominated editor for the award winning FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. She is also the author of middle grade books such as 20th Century African American History for Kids (Rockridge Press). As an editor, she loves working across genres, but focuses on nonfiction, middle grade, and young adult fiction. As a neurodivergent creative, Margeaux enjoys working with atypical authors and diverse stories that center various aspects of inclusion. Before she began editing full time, Margeaux was a high school ELA teacher and library media specialist. She has also written for media outlets such as Ebony.com, and was the story editor for the worldwide production of The Color Purple: Audio Experience. Margeaux lives in Louisiana with her three boys, husband, and dog, Gumbo.
Black Creatives Revisions Workshop FAQ
There is not an age limit on applying, however, craft readiness for an offer of a book contract is part of the consideration criteria. Applicants should display a certain level of maturity, commitment, and practice at their craft. Those who apply need to have completed at least one full book draft, a synopsis, and have a career biographical statement ready at the time of submission or they will be disqualified.
Each application is reviewed by a panel of judges to ensure that all of the expectations set forth are met; the expectation is that authors will self-identify as part of the African diaspora through the application.
Using an anonymous system and on a rolling basis, judges with experience in assessing works in the various genres will select a pool of finalists from the larger group based on the merit of the writing sample submitted.
Once the final pool is selected, it will be submitted to a team of WNDB employees and PRH employees who will review the full applications of all the finalists to select the twelve who will be enrolled in the Workshop.
Applicants who do not comply with submission rules will be disqualified.
Application guidelines are available on the BCF Revisions Workshop general information website.
All authors must have a completed manuscript available for immediate review by their writing coach at the time of application. An entire draft of the book should be complete by the time of submission even though applicants send only 10-15 pages for consideration in their application. Applicants also must include a synopsis of the full story (which can’t accurately be written until after a full draft is complete). No exceptions will be made.
No, the manuscript submitted must be authored by a single writer and not published in any form prior to submission to this workshop.
There are no limitations. The money is intended to provide financial support so that participants may have more time and flexibility to dedicate to their revisions. Participants may use the money however they see fit.
No. Anyone (in any category) who submits more than one application or manuscript will be disqualified. Anyone who applies for more than one category will also be disqualified.
No. Due to stipulations around the distribution of the grants, we can not currently accept international applications but there will be more programming forthcoming with the Black Creatives Fund open to international participation.
We evaluate all applications in mid-March and successful applicants will be notified in late-March.
We can’t advise you on the taxability of your stipend, so we encourage you to consult a qualified tax preparation professional.
Participation in each faculty lesson and faculty live Q&A is mandatory. During the week that there are lessons you can expect to spend from an hour and a half to two hours on the instruction piece and then an additional hour later in the week for the live Q&A. That same week industry insiders will be hosting a one-hour Industry Brown Bag Lunch that is not mandatory, but participants are strongly encouraged to attend each session. Alongside these engagements, the participants will be required to schedule three one-on-one sessions with their writing coaches: one at the beginning of the workshop, one at the mid-point and one at the end before submission of the manuscript. Outside of these events and appointments, the individual schedule for completion of the full revisions is up to each participant, but every participant must submit a final manuscript for full review by the end of the program. Please do not apply if you do not feel that your schedule over the next five months will allow for full engagement in the Workshop.
No. You’ll receive individual support by your Writing Coaches and engage with industry insiders available to answer your questions and concerns about revision and joining the publishing community. Faculty, Writing Coaches, and Industry Brown Bag lunch guests will not be expected to provide referrals to agents, editors, or other publishers. The focus of the workshop is craft-based on strong self-editing and revision, with opportunities to ask professional and business-related questions as they arise.
Writing Coaches help provide some structure for accountability with the program, helping participants to complete initial revision goals and helping to ensure that they are being met as the program continues and is completed.
Please use your real name on the portion of the application with contact information and let us know what your pen name is in the proper field on the application form. No names or identifying information should be on the manuscript itself.
All applicants must be unpublished, including self-publishing, and unrepresented by an agent. If you are already published or agented at the time of you application you are not eligible to participate in the Revisions Workshop.