Los Angeles Region

Mentorship Contest 2020: MG or YA Novel


Six-month mentorship with Nicole Maggi. The mentorship will include six months of interaction and critiques, including two scheduled communications per month, either by phone, FaceTime/Skype, or in-person depending on location. Email communications with questions or concerns are welcome at any time, keeping in mind that response time to these emails may not be immediate.


The contest is open to writers who have a completed manuscript that is close to query-readiness. Nicole Maggi will focus her expertise into two main areas: craft and the business of writing. With craft, she will focus on editorial and tightening the mentee’s manuscript into readiness for submission, as well as developing a strong query letter to send to agents. On the business side of writing, she will educate the mentee on the logistics of contracts, advances, the editor-author relationship, the agent-author relationship, what to expect from your publisher, how to assert yourself in the industry, and how to face any obstacle that may come your way and persevere in a business that can sometimes feel crushing.

Through constructive critiques and in-depth discussions about the mentee’s project, Nicole will guide the mentee on how to step back from her/his work and view it objectively so that the work can be strengthened, tightened, and ultimately made ready for submission.

The mentorship will also include:

– a critique of one complete manuscript, up to 350 pages

– general overview notes in regards to structure, plot, and character

– highlighting any glaring passages that pop out (line edits will not be provided)

– an in-depth critique for a synopsis and query letter related to the manuscript

– limited to one project

“My publishing journey has been a roller-coaster, from landing a 3-book deal with a Big Five publisher only to have that deal cancelled 18 months later, reselling those books and realizing my publishing dreams, and everything that comes in between and after. I’ve experienced virtually everything the publishing industry can throw at an author, and those experiences have given me a deep knowledge of the ins and outs of a writing career. It’s that knowledge that I want to share with a mentee.”

—Nicole Maggi


1. You must be a member in good standing of the SCBWI-L.A. region.

2. Associate or Full members may apply. (No PAL members).*

3. Limited to one entry per person.

*SCBWI membership levels: PAL (published and listed), Full (published unlisted), Associate (unpublished)


1. DO NOT contact the mentor directly.

2. Applicants not in compliance with the rules or that do not adhere to the application instructions will be disqualified.

3. To ensure fairness to all, no questions will be answered.


Your submission will consist of two parts:

I. Written responses to the following:

1) How long have you been working on this novel, and how many rounds of revisions

have you done?

2) Is this your first novel? If not, how many previous novels have you written?

3) What is your goal for this project? What are your long-term goals as a writer?

4) Have you queried agents with this project, or any previous project?

5) Besides writing a novel, what other steps have you taken to furthering your career as an author? (Attended conferences, entered contests, taken classes, etc.)

6) What are some of your hobbies?

7) Name three of your favorite authors, and three of your favorite books.

8) Why do you write for kids & teens?

9) What do you expect to get out of this mentorship?

10) How do you respond to constructive criticism? Does it inspire you or make you want to hide under the covers?

11) If there is anything else you’d like me to know about you or your work, please include it here.

II. Your Project

Please submit the first 3 chapters (or 30 pages, whichever comes first) of a completed YA or MG novel. In addition, please submit a synopsis (no more than 10 pages) of said novel.

I will accept fantasy, contemporary, romance, supernatural, sci-fi, mystery or thriller, and any combination thereof. The one genre I do not accept is horror because I’m too scared to read it!

PDF preferred, Word document acceptable as well. As long as I can download it to read in iBooks, any format is accepted!

Please note that Word will convert to Pages on my laptop, so some formatting may be lost in that conversion.


1. Your submission must be emailed with the subject line MENTOR CONTEST to:

2. In the body of your email include:

– Your current SCBWI member name

– Address

– Phone numbers

– Email address

3. Provide your written answers to the questions in Roman numeral I (above) as a PDF attachment. Name your file: LAST NAME_ANSWERS. Example: Seuss_Answers.pdf

4. Provide your novel opening described in Roman numeral II (above) as a PDF attachment. Name your file: LAST NAME_NOVELOPENING. Example: Seuss_NovelOpening.pdf

5. Provide your synopsis described in Roman numeral II (above) as a PDF attachment. Name your file: LAST NAME_SYNOPSIS. Example: Seuss_Synopsis.pdf

6. Entries must be received by 11:59pm on 3/27/20.

About Nicole Maggi

Nicole Maggi began writing poems about unicorns and rainbows at a very early age. She detoured into acting, earned a BFA from Emerson College, and moved to NYC where she performed in lots of off-off-off-Broadway Shakespeare. After a decade of schlepping groceries on the subway, she and her husband hightailed it to sunny Los Angeles, where they now reside, surrounded by fruit trees, with their daughter and two oddball cats. She is the author of WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW (Sourcebooks 2018), THE FORGETTING (Sourcebooks 2015), which was a 2016 International Thriller Writers Thriller Award Finalist, a 2015 Junior Library Guild selection and a #1 Kindle Bestseller. She is also the author of THE TWIN WILLOWS TRILOGY (Medallion Press 2014), and the non-fiction book HIDDEN WONDERS (Lonely Planet Kids, 2019).



“Despite discussing options pertaining to teen and unwanted pregnancies, the book neither preaches nor condemns. Instead, the girls’ viewpoints and beliefs offer an engaging, emotional debate on rape and abortion. Hand to readers interested in hot-button social issues…” – Booklist


“Maggi’s…passion comes through in the honest portrayal of a privileged girl facing horrors and abuse that exist under her very nose. Readers will watch in suspense as Georgie decides how much she’s willing to sacrifice to see justice done.” – Publishers Weekly

“…this story is a powerful call to action. Yet even with its obvious motivation, it is never preachy. Strong characters, a well-developed mystery and a budding romance all come together to make this a story worth reading. Admirably and appropriately, Maggi refuses to shy away from what Georgie uncovers, including drug use and graphic scenes of sexual violence against children.” – Kirkus


“Maggi’s pacing is quick, and her imaginative prose (with its ear for dialogue) supports a cast of characters, including Alessia’s fiercely protective Italian mother, Lidia. All elements combine to create a nicely textured real world where a surreal battle’s set to take place. Readers will eagerly await the next installment in this promising paranormal adventure.” – Kirkus on WINTER FALLS

“Reminiscent of Twilight and Harry Potter” – Voya on WINTER FALLS

“Maggi’s strength lies in her ability to blend fantastic magic with ordinary life. Boy problems, overprotective parents, and sibling rivalry exist side by side with Clan wars and magical abilities. Fans of the series will cheer as Alessia embraces her power to fight for those she loves. A satisfying finale.” – Kirkus on THE BLUE WOODS