Instructor Stories: Melissa Manlove

Introduction

We're thrilled that Melissa Manlove is returning to teach live Submission Ready workshops for Term 1, which starts on January 25. She will also be teaching a new class in Term 3, which I'll talk more about later, and she's mentoring two critique groups for us this year, one during Term 1, the other during Term 2. (If you're in Makers Pro, watch your email for more information. Those spots will sell out quickly.)

I paid to be in Melissa's mentored critique group last year, and she gave intelligent, thoughtful feedback on all of our stories. I highly recommend her as a mentor.

Melissa  is a senior editor at Chronicle Books. She acquires both non-fiction and fiction. Melissa looks for fresh takes on familiar topics, as well as the new and unusual. 

She also works as a bookseller and teaches at conferences. We got to hang out in person a little bit at the annual SCBWI conference in Los Angeles last summer.

Submission Ready

Melissa and Ariel Richardson (also an editor at Chronicle Books) launched the class together last year, and the recorded video lessons for Submission Ready are still taught by both of them. We're hoping Ariel will be back next year, and if she is, she'll get her own blog post. 

If you want to get a taste of their teaching styles, some of my best posts include highlights from last year's workshops. You can learn from them about a variety of topics:

  1. Comp Titles
  2. Rhyming Picture Books
  3. How Illustrators Are Chosen by Publishers
  4. Voice and Tense Choice in Picture Books
  5. Back Matter
  6. Revision Tips
  7. How to Make Your Picture Book Stand Out
  8. How Editors Think
  9. Using Multiple Hooks
  10. When an Author Should Submit a Dummy

And Submission Ready covers SO MUCH MORE. They walk you through the whole process in an accelerated fashion. They'll have you coming up with ideas, writing new manuscripts, pitches, better titles, etc. They share tips on how to research literary agents and publishers, and they walk you through the process of writing cover letters and queries.

Best of all, if you're a Makers Pro member or pay for the live workshops, you can ask Melissa any questions you have.

Some Books That Melissa Has Edited

Melissa has been editing books at Chronicle for awhile now, so I'm just going to list some of my favorites.

Picture Book Masters

In Term 3, Melissa will be teaching a new writing class for Storyteller Academy. Most of our classes can be taken by beginners, but this class is an exception. If you want to take Picture Book Masters, you'll need to take Submission Ready first.

Melissa will be using mentor texts to help students study and try some more advanced of writing techniques, such as:

  1. Retellings
  2. Meta Narrative
  3. Syllabic and Accentual Poetry
  4. Scanning Prose for Rhythm
  5. Narrative Arc in Nonfiction 
  6. Stakes
  7. Internal Logic
  8. The Spectrum of Catharsis Across Genre
  9. Theme
  10. Thesis

Like Submission Ready, students who put in the work can expect Picture Book Masters to offer new insights and level up their writing skills.

Book Giveaway Details

For the book giveaway, the winner can choose any book (under $25) published by Chronicle Books. To enter, tell me which book you’d choose in the comments of this post. For additional entries, you can share the post on social media and post a link to where you’ve shared in the comments (preferably as a comment to your original comment so that all of your entries are grouped together).

If you share your experience of learning from Melissa, either through Storyteller Academy or a conference, I'd be happy to give you another entry.

I’ll close the contest at midnight PST on January 18. Thanks for reading and sharing!

Blog Contributors

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems. 

Arree Chung is an author/illustrator and the founder of Storyteller Academy. Arree’s Ninja! series has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Kirkus also gave a starred review to Mixed, which recently won the FCGB award. 

Today Arree lives a creative life, making stories for children. Arree spends most of his time making picture books, writing middle grade novels, and sharing his love for art, design, and storytelling with kids and dreamers everywhere.

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51 thoughts on “Instructor Stories: Melissa Manlove”

  1. I’d love to receive “Barkus Dog Dreams” from Newbery-award winning author Patricia MacLachlan for my niece who is learning to read and has a small dog, Kevin. I think this book would further encourage my niece’s reading and writing interests. She’s 8 years old and on the autism spectrum and in the past year, has had a wonderful tutor who’s taught her to read and write. (The school system failed at these tasks.) As a result, she loves going to bookstores and libraries. She’s enjoying the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and her mom reads her a few pages at bedtime. It’s an amazing transformation. Thank you.

  2. OMG! This course is probably going to challenge me out the wing-Wam, but I’m in! And, I would LOVE a copy of, On Wings of Words. So hope I win this! 🙂

  3. It’s actually almost impossible to choose. I love this publisher and recently spent too much money there!
    But if I HAVE to choose, I’ll go with this one:
    https://www.chroniclebooks.com/collections/ages-9-12/products/the-language-of-spells
    The Language of Spells. It has dragons, magic, and a 9-12 age reading level, which I am interested in exploring as my son is 8 but reads higher. I find a lack of books interesting to kids that have a high reading level but are not ready for the emotional content of young adult books.

  4. I’ve met both Ariel and Melissa and agree (with the email…) that they are both lovely! SWAN is one of the most beautiful picture books out there and a book I’ve used as a mentor text. I learned so much about voice from a presentation from Melissa and it really helped me revise a PB Bio. Looking forward to learning more! Thank you!

  5. Sharalyn Edgebergg

    I’d love to receive SWAN as it looks beautiful. Thanks for this post. I met Melissa Manlove “a while ago” (LOL) at the SCBWI-LA. Her new STA class sounds really great.

  6. Sharalyn Edgeberg

    I’d love to receive SWAN as it looks beautiful. Thanks for this post. I met Melissa Manlove “a while ago” (LOL) at the SCBWI-LA. Her new STA class sounds really great.

  7. Josephine is one my favorites. I use to read it to my daughter. My goal is to write and illustrate a children’s book this year!

  8. I’d love to win a copy of “Swan”. Thank you for posting. I’m happy to hear that Melissa will be teaching two classes thus year. I’ve enjoyed Submission Ready and her insightful teaching style.

  9. Picture Book Masters with Melissa? I’m so there. I took Melissa’s first “Submission Ready” course along with the group critique and she is amazing. She critiqued 3 of my manuscripts and was an immense help on each and every one. Her comments were insightful, actionable, and totally respectful of the author’s intent. And she gives a totally killer reading!

    I’d love a copy of “Over and Under the Snow”.

  10. If I could pick one from the preorder I would love the s’mores wars… I have a seven year old that loves to make s’mores and would love this book. I am writing, have been writing a books for most of my life. I even won awards in school but I am trying to write a rhyming book that I am very passionate about and illustrate it myself( I am an art major) I hope to learn how to edit and make the right dummy for submitting!

  11. I am excited about the new class being offered! As for books, I am excited to see this book on the preorder list OVER THE MOON – BY JAMES PROIMOS , ILLUSTRATED BY ZOEY ABBOTT.

    I must admit a little anxious too, in it being the closest comp title I’ve yet seen -as far as the description – to my almost sub-ready book. Yes , still some obvious differences, but that feeling of perhaps someone did it much better, or perhaps I am too slow in developing my stories rises up.

    This is not the first time, and will not likely be the last, when I have stories brewing that seem to be unique to the market, hard to find a really good comp, and then one comes along as I am close to the finish line. WHAM! Inner Critic moans, “Will they see the value in mine now?”

    Of course, this also means OVER THE MOON is likely going to be a book I will truly love, and the art looks sweet – different from my own. The beginning sounds like one I decided against, the ending sounds like it is very different than my own. The Kirkus review makes it sound likely written in a different style.

    I am so eager to see this wolf and baby story, I think I am going to bust waiting for it to come out!

  12. Melissa uses such wonderful words that help mold my word choices as I bend and ply my embryonic story.
    If chosen, I would love, “On Wings of Words” by Jennifer Berne.
    Thanks,
    Rebecca Snyder

  13. Is a meta narrative like a meta moment where you step back and think. Loved Melissa’s class last time and have been revising my MS from it. Looking forward to taking it again.

  14. Is a meta narrative like a meta moment where you step back and think about it. Loved Melissa’s class last time and have been revising my MS from it. Looking forward to taking it again.

  15. Carole Meyer-Rieth

    Submission Ready was an amazing course, and I’m excited to participate in another round! Melissa and Ariel’s instruction and guidance was so helpful that it prompted me to try writing a rhyming manuscript for the first time – that’s been a fun challenge! The class also helped me to ask myself more questions as I write (i.e., whether a story is served best by rhyme or not) and to value the process of revision much more than the initial write-up. The prospect of another class with Melissa: Great news!!!

    As for a book from Chronicle, I’m curious about the novel SALT by Hannah Moskowitz, but have had JOSEPHINE by Patricia Hruby Powell on my wishlist and would be thrilled by that selection as well. 🙂

  16. Great blog post. Thanks for letting us know a little more about Melissa & the new class she’ll be teaching soon (I took Submission ready & liked it a lot!). I love so many Chronicle books, but I guess if I win, I’d like another copy of They All Saw a Cat. I can’t part with the copyI already own, but my oldest is graduating from college this year with an elementary ed. teaching degree & she has asked me to help her fill her future classroom library. I think Brendan Wenzel’s book would be an excellent addition!

  17. The Brilliant Deep would be my choice! Not only does it look beautiful but it is a cause near and dear to my heart and my families.

    Thank you for sharing your talent, your expertise and encouragement to this wonderful community. Long live brilliant, beautiful books!

  18. Gayle Daugherty

    I am new to story teller academy and love how straight forward Melissa is with her responses. The book I would like to own is Roberto: The Insect Architect.

  19. Oh hi, Myrna! Hi Melissa! As it happens, this note is from Laura Bost, the third person in the photo above.

    I had a great time in Melissa and Ariel’s course last year, Submission Ready. I’m excited to hear that there’s an advanced version coming up. Personally, I have struggled to know when a work is ready submission or another revision! I’m keenly aware that I’m a novice author/illustrator, and so Submission Ready has helped me make confident decisions on where to spend my time with my work and how to make wise targeting decisions on where/when to submit.

    Melissa and Ariel were both patient attentive teachers. I appreciate them very much, and I recommend them highly.

    ….and it’s about a half hour later of me perusing awesome Chronicle books. Well done. Should I win, may I please request Mythos by Stephen Fry, as my nine year old is romping through the Greek Myths (the D’Aulaire version I read as a kid) even as I type.

    Cheers!

  20. One of these days I’ll be able to attend a Mix and Mingle that Melissa hosts, plus take the Submission Ready course. From Chronicle I’d choose BIG DREAMS, DAILY JOYS to keep me focused on my writing journey.

  21. Hello Myrna, Thanks for sharing with us this great article. I just enrolled in this amazing class! I would love to have this book: Find Your Artistic Voice The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic BY LISA CONGDON Regards, Yvette

  22. I really enjoyed Melissa’s (and Ariel’s!) Submission Ready class last year. I found both instructors to be helpful in pinpointing the art of focusing on the heart of a story and making sure it’s marketable and true to you.

    (I’d pick “Search the Castle” because I love interactive books… and I’m working on a pitch!… also I love Jill Howarth, she’s super nice.)

  23. Professional 🐊 crocodile looks like an amazing book.
    I took Submission ready and would love to take it again with workshops Melissa has a beautiful way with the written as well as the spoken word!

  24. I might pick “Botanicals Labels and Stickers” if I won. “A Living Space” by Kit Kemp is my second choice.

  25. I am loving all the incredible content you have here. These classes sound fabulous. Thank you Myrna, Melissa, Ariel and all for such helpful resources. <3
    I think for tonight my book pick would be ON WINGS OF WORDS.

  26. Melissa and Ariel’s class Submission Ready was outstanding content presented by this dynamic team. I can’t wait to take it again and Picture Book Masters. My book choice is THE BRILLIANT DEEP.

  27. The Brilant Deep. I am missing the ocean and that would give me a little bit everytime I read it.

    As for the Submission Ready class last year, for me, the biggest, best lesson I learned was to try my story in multiple ways. From changing the main character, pov of that character, humor, quiet, for young audience or older audience. Playing this way kept me from falling so madly in love with one version of one character. It made it easier to “kill some darlings,” and find the true heart of a story. It also helped me to dive into my life experiences and include me in the story subconsciously. Melissa and Ariel’s class last year made a huge shift in my work and writing.
    I was lucky to be in the mentored CG with Melissa and Myrna, the conversations and feedback was thoughtful and encouraging.

  28. Melissa Sanchez

    I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa at SCBWI Miami one year. She was not only loaded with great information and insight, she was humble and easily approachable.

    As far as books … oh gosh. To choose one is the hardest!? But hm…

    The House in Poplar Wood.

  29. Laurie Goodluck

    Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker! I saw a play on Josephine Baker and would love to read her story in PB form. I hope to learn how to write to a young audience about tough realities. BTW – took your lovely course and so helpful! Thank you.

  30. I would love to win a copy of Hungry Jim. I’ve heard about it, but haven’t managed to get my paws on it yet. But either way, I’ve already won because I’m in Melissa’s MENTORED CRITIQUE group in Semester 1!!!!

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