Catching up with 2020 Editor-Writer Mentee Celia Viramontes

We are excited to catch up with our 2020 Picture Book Mentee Celia Viramontes, who worked with Editor Kate Meltzer over the past year.

1) Which fictional character/personality did your Editor-Mentor most channel?

In our first meetings, Kate encouraged me to see her as a "story detective" looking for clues throughout my writing. With her keen eye and sharp observations, she helped me unlock

key story elements, so Sherlock Holmes comes to mind as a fictional personality she channeled, but in her approach to helping me weave words in such a kind and thoughtful manner, I have to say Charlotte in Charlotte's Web comes to mind as well.

So I think Kate channeled a bit of Sherlock and Charlotte!

2) What surprised you about your writing or yourself during your mentorship?

What most surprised me was re-discovering the multi-layered aspects of my story and the challenge of finding ways to distill it to its essence. No easy feat when it comes to picture books! But Kate was wonderful in helping me tease out story elements that best served the story.

3) On a long day of writing or querying, what sage advice from your Editor-Mentor will be floating around in your mind?

There is so much valuable advice I will always carry with me from this mentorship with Kate. But one that particularly resonated and stayed with me is that a manuscript is like a sculpture. Molding and shaping it, finding the layers throughout and giving it definition. The dedication

to craft and the process of re-fashioning it with each revision can be an arduous process, but also often where the "magic" happens in the storytelling.

4) Will you share with us what you've been working on? Give us the one-line pitch of your manuscript.

I've been working on a picture book manuscript with the following storyline: When Abuelito comes to visit from his far-away village in Mexico, a trip to the library with him helps a girl

discover a part of her Grandfather's life and her bracero family history, bringing them closer together.

5) What's next for you and your writing career?

I intend to continue nurturing this manuscript, drawing on the knowledge acquired through this mentorship. I am driven now, more than ever, to continue to hone my craft and to center stories that have been historically relegated to the margins.


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