Our Mentors

The First Five Workshop is free each month to writers of Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction who want to jumpstart their careers as aspiring authors.

The workshop features a different guest mentor every month. These are all people with experience in traditional publishing, who have been through the query, submission, editorial, and review trenches with literary agents and publishers and have tested and honed their writing. They generously offer up their time to read each of the five submissions through the full three weeks of the workshop, providing feedback not just on the initial entry but also on the two revisions so that the workshop participants can get feedback on how they've applied suggested changes.

A different literary agent each month also steps in to the final week to let the participants know how they've done and offer feedback. The literary agents read and comment on all the final revisions.  It's a fabulous opportunity for five fortunate writers to give their book a flying start in the crucial five pages, which are often the only pages a literary agent, editor, bookstore buyer, and potential customer will ever read.

In addition to our guest authors, we have a dedicated staff of permanent mentors who shepherd one submission each month through the initial entry and the two subsequent revisions.


Erin Cashman, the workshop manager, is a YA author whose debut YA fantasy novel, THE EXCEPTIONALS, was named a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book. She primarily writes YA and middle grade fantasy while eating chocolate and drinking tea. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three children. Find her on her Website and on Twitter.

Martina Boone, the workshop founder, loves reading and writing books about beautiful, vicious, magical worlds that intersect our own. She is the principal blogger at Adventures in YA Publishing, and the founding member of YA Series Insiders. COMPULSION, the first book of her Southern Gothic HEIRS OF WATSON ISLAND trilogy, is available from Simon and Schuster/Simon Pulse. The second book in the series, PERSUASION, is also now available, as is the final book, ILLUSION.  You can reach her at AYAPLit [at] gmail dot com, on Twitter via @MartinaABoone or at http://www.martinaboone.com/.

Lisa Gail Green, co-founder, writes paranormal and fantasy. She is the author of THE BINDING STONE, the first novel in her DJINN series, and SOUL CROSSED, the first book in the OF DEMONS AND ANGELS series. She would most definitely have a werewolf for a pet if she weren't allergic. Find her at http://lisagailgreen.com or on Twitter as @LisaGailGreen.

Holly Bodger is the author of 5 to 1 (Knopf, May 2015). She was a finalist in the YA category of the 2013 RWA Golden Heart and has been the logline guru for Miss Snark’s First Victim for several years. She owns too many hats, eats too much cheese and spends too much time complaining about the Canadian weather. She is represented by Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency. For more information about Holly, see her website.

Heather Cashman has a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, but the lab reports always lacked the fantastical element Heather's imagination demands. Hypotheses turned into taglines and novels that range from Epic Fantasy to Contemporary Speculative Fiction. Agent Intern. Assistant to Brenda Drake and all things #PitchWars #PitMad #PitchMadness. Member, SCBWI. On Twitter, @HeatherCashman Way-word Writer Blog

Melanie Conklin is a writer, reader, and all-around lover of words and those who create them. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, COUNTING THYME, was published by Putnam & Sons in April, 2016. She lives in South Orange, New Jersey with her husband and two small maniacs. She's on the web at her website and on Twitter.

Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. She hosts workshops and contests such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on her blog, and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment). She is the author of the YA fantasy novels TOUCHING FATE and THIEF OF LIES: A LIBRARY JUMPERS novel, both from Entangled Teen.

Miriam Forster is a recovering barista and former bookseller who's obsessed with anthropology, British television and stories of all kinds. Her debut fantasy CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS was published by HarperTeen in February 2013. She lives in Oregon with her husband and her cat. Find her on her blog or on Twitter.

Stasia Ward Kehoe is the author of YA novels THE SOUND OF LETTING GO and AUDITION, both published by Viking. She grew up performing at theaters along the eastern seaboard, then shifted from stage to page and has been writing fiction, marketing copy and educational materials for almost two decades! She holds a BA in English from Georgetown University and MA in Performance Studies from New York University, is represented by Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Managedment, and still enjoys choreographing the occasional musical. Stasia lives in western Washington state with her husband and four sons.Visit her online at on her website or Twitter.

Sheri Larsen is a writer, reader, and Maine-iac ice hockey fan, who has watched more hockey games than she could ever count. She loves books that open up secret passageways and hidden worlds to inspire and challenge the heart. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, MOTLEY EDUCATION (Leap Books) is now available, and her debut young adult novel, Marked Beauty, is set for release late 2016; both are written under S.A. Larsen. When she’s not sharing experiences on the writing life and motherhood through Twitter, her Website, and Writer's Alley, she can be found in the land of lobsters, snowy winters, and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty years, four children (yes, they all play hockey), a playful pooch, and two kittens.

Kimberley Griffiths Little is an award-winning author of several Middle-Grade novels with Scholastic and two novels of her Young Adult trilogy, FORBIDDEN and BANISHED, are available now from Harpercollins after selling in a "significant" pre-empt. She grew up in San Francisco, but now lives in an adobe house on the banks of the Rio Grande with her chaotic, messy family. Please find her on on her website or on Twitter.

Sarah Glenn Marsh writes young adult novels and children’s picture books. An avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life, she’s been making up words and worlds ever since. When she’s not writing, she’s most often engaged in pursuits of the nerd variety, from video games to tabletop adventures and dungeon crawls. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and four rescued greyhounds. FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP, her debut YA from Sky Pony, is now available. Her upcoming releases include ANNA STRONG (Abrams Kids). Visit her online at: www.sarahglennmarsh.com.

Lisa Maxwell is the author of SWEET UNREST, GATHERING DEEP, and UNHOOKED (Simon Pulse, 2-2-16). When she's not writing books, she's an English professor at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys. Visit her online at: http://www.lisa-maxwell.com.

Julie Musil is represented by Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary. She writes Young Adult novels from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Stop by and say Hi on her blog on Twitter.

Stephanie Scott writes Young Adult for teens and those young in spirit. Her debut ALTERATIONS is set for release by Bloomsbury Spark. She’s an active member of Romance Writers of America and its online YA chapter YARWA, and a current writing mentor in online pitch contests. She enjoys dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving her broke. One current life goal is to cosplay Hoth Leia from The Empire Strikes Back. Born and raised in Kalamazoo where there are no zoos, she’s a Midwest girl at heart. She now lives outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband. You can find her chatting about TV and all things books on Twitter and Instagram at @StephScottYA.

Wendy Spinale is the author of EVERLAND, from Scholastic. She's a published professional journalist with the AOL/Patch Media’s Pleasanton Patch and an active member of both the California Writers’ Club and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. A former Disneyland Cast Member, she is familiar with the world of "make believe". When she is not writing, you'll find her reading the latest YA debut novel.

Mary Elizabeth Summer is the author of TRUST ME I'M LYING and TRUST ME I'M TROUBLE, the not-so-true confessions of a high school con artist. When not contributing to the delinquency of minors, Mary Elizabeth is working undercover at her day job as an instructional designer, carefully cultivating her mini-me minion (known lovingly as 'the wee zombinator'), and plotting to take over the world. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her wife and the aforementioned wee zombinator, as well as with her scaredy-dog and her evil mentor, Smidgeon the Calico.

Leslie S. Rose was an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre at UCLA for many years where several of her plays were produced. Her short stories appear in the ongoing Journeys of Wonder series and the anthology Paramourtal 2 by Cliffhanger Books. Currently she teaches in the 5th Grade trenches. YA fiction is her happy place for both reading and writing. Visitors welcome on Twitter and her blog: Yes, This Will Be on the Test

Ron Smith is the author of the Middle-Grade novel HOODOO, from Clarion Books, awarded the Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe New Talent Award.  Say hello on his blog or on Twitter.

Janet B Taylor lives in such a small town in Arkansas that if you happen to sneeze when you pass by, you'll totally miss it. (Cause, you know, you can't sneeze with your eyes open. For real--try it--it's impossible). Her debut, INTO THE DIM (YA Adventure/Time Travel, now available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), is about a 16 year old, phobic girl who--to save her mom--must travel back to the twelfth century during the medieval age of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Janet’s a total fangirl first and a writer second. She laughs every day with her fantastic husband, two hilarious sons, and Dorda the diabetic dog who won't win any beauty contests, but has a "nice personality".

Rob Vlock is an author trapped in the body of a struggling jazz musician who, in turn, is trapped in the body of another, somewhat shorter author. (It’s complicated. And kinda crowded.) Rob’s debut middle-grade action/comedy series kicks off with SVEN CARTER AND THE TRASHMOUTH PROTOCOL in Fall 2017 (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin). When he’s not writing, Rob can be found somewhere in the greater Boston area trying to make his trumpet sound like something other than a dying goose. It’s a work in progress.

First 5 Pages Manager:
Melissa Frost is young adult historical fiction author from Ohio. She has been writing for 16 years, or half her life, and is a former winner of the First Five Pages Writing Workshop. She is an avid lover of American History, the musical Hamilton, expensive coffee, cats, and maps. When not writing books, she’s pressing other books she has loved into people’s hands at her local library system while spending far too much time lingering in the young adult section. She is a published author of several short stories, including a dystopian she pitched as “The Giver” meets “Into Thin Air.” She never imagined it would see the light of day.

Past Workshop Guest Agents
Septmeber 2015: Danielle Burby
August 2015: Caitie Flum
July 2015: Patricia Nelson
June 2015: Tina Schwartz
May 2015: Georgia McBride
April 2015: Amaryah Orenstein
March 2015: Kimberly Brower
February 2015: Shelby Sampsel
January 2015: Tracey Adams
December 2014: Ginger Clark
November 2014: Pam Glauber
October 2014: Jordy Albert

Past Workshop Guest Mentors
September 2015: JJ Howard
August 2015: Lori Goldstein
July 2015: Ava Jae
June 2015: Shaun Hutchinson
May 2015: Diana Renn
April 2015: Becca Puglisi
March 2015: Patricia Dunn
February 2015: Chelsea Pitcher
January 2015: Lisa Gail Green
December 2014: Peter Salomon
November 2014: JR Johansson
October 2014: Paula Stokes
September 2014: Melissa Gray
August 2014: Laurisa Reyes
May 2014: Tracy Clark
April 2014: Lori Goldstein
January 2014: Geoffrey Girard
December 2013: Kelly Barson
November 2013: Stephanie Kuehn
October 2013: Maureen Lipinski
September 2013: Leila Rasheed
August 2013: Sherry Ficklin
July 2013: Susan Dennard
June 2013: Nancy Kress
May 2013: S.T. Underdahl
April 2013: Lauren Bjorkman
March 2013: Tracy Deebs
February 2013: Nikki Loftin
January 2013: Kimberly Sabatini
December 2012: J. Anderson Coats
November 2012: AC Gaughen
October 2012: PJ Hoover
September 2012: Nancy Holder
August 2012: Leah Cypess
July 2012: Sarah Ockler
June 2012: Elana Johnson
May 2012: Kat Zhang

Note: If you're looking for personal coaching or mentoring, at a fee, of course, many of our guest mentors--and other writers in general--offer limited access for promising students. Check their individual websites for more information.

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