Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship

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The 2016 Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship recipient is Gay Lynn Cronin!

This mentorship was established in memory of picture book author Laura Crawford, an active and enthusiastic member of our Illinois chapter, who made it her mission to help other writers on their publishing journeys. A tireless cheerleader, with an encyclopedic knowledge of publishing houses, she nudged people to go to conferences, asked about others’ projects, and shared whatever she knew. Funny and determined (she submitted manuscripts every Sunday!), her life revolved around other people. In her job as an elementary school reading specialist, she inspired a love of books in those for whom she wrote. She was a mentor herself—as an educator and as a writer. (For a complete list of Laura's books, click here.)


We are proud to announce that our 2016 mentor is Sarah Aronson.

Sarah A headshot  Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then, she has earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and published three novels: Head Case, Beyond Lucky, and Believe. Titles forthcoming include her first nonfiction picture book, Just Like Rube Goldberg (Beach Lane Books, TBD) and a chapter book series, The Worst Fairy Godmother Ever (Scholastic, 2017). When Sarah is not writing or reading, she loves working with other writers in one of her classes at Writers on the Net ( ) or one of the annual Highlights Foundation whole novel workshops. She is also the cofounder and organizer of the Writing Novels for Young People Retreat at VCFA, now in its thirteenth year. She is beyond thrilled to be named the second mentor for SCBWI Illinois’ Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship. Like tips or talking about the creative process? Sign up for her weekly newsletter, Monday Motivation, on her website,


Sarah will work with her mentee on one middle-grade or young adult novel over a six-month period.  The two goals of the mentorship are to (1) help the writer or writer/illustrator ready his/her manuscript for editorial submission and publication and (2) help the writer or writer/illustrator grow professionally.


The applicant must be an SCBWI-Illinois member who has never had a middle-grade or young adult novel traditionally published. Click HERE to download an application packet.


The 2016 schedule is as follows:


Week of June 1 – 7: Applications must be postmarked on one of these days. The application period is over.


July 1: Winner, selected by Sarah, is announced.


July 5-8: Sarah and winner will choose a date to discuss (via email, phone, or Skype) entire manuscript before it is sent (see application packet for manuscript guidelines).


by July 15: Manuscript is in Sarah’s hands.


by August 15: First round of written comments delivered to writer (discussed either in person, on the phone, or via Skype); comments will be of a global nature, not line editing; Sarah and writer will choose an aspect of the novel on which to continue working.


September: Sarah and writer will choose a day for Sarah to answer questions (in person or via phone/Skype)


October 15: Final version of agreed-upon portion of novel delivered to Sarah.


mid-November: Final written comments discussed in person or via Skype/phone.


If you would like to make a donation to the Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship, please contact us at It is through generous donations that SCBWI-Illinois is able to make such opportunities available.

The Laura Crawford Mentorship Recipient                Mentor
2015 Picture Book Text:  Amy Alznauer                         Esther Hershenhorn, RAE, SCBWI-IL
2016 Novel: Gay Lynn Cronin                                         Sarah Aronson