#AmWriting Sumo Joe revisions with editor

New Voices Competition #AmWriting

If you haven’t been following my progress with my first picture book submission, I entered a New Voices children’s book publishing contest. I didn’t win, but I received an offer for editorial assistance on my book manuscript, Sumo Joe.

My First Picture Book Submission: Sumo Joe! #AmWriting

I jumped on that offer. I’d been trying to get into a critique group where I live but I haven’t been successful so far. The established one at my local library merged with another group, and I’m on the waitlist for what seems like a very long time. The SCBWI critique book folded the first time I was supposed to attend. I was considering hiring editorial help for polishing my manuscripts, so it was gift from the gods to get this offer of help.

Lee and Low New Voices Award

New Voices Competition

I can’t say enough about entering the New Voices contest.

  1. It’s free.
  2. Editors at Lee and Low read your manuscript and get back to you!
  3. You don’t need to write a query letter.
  4. It’s a simple process.
  5. Even if you don’t win, you could still catch the eye of an editor and get your book published.

Lee and Low New Voices winners

If you are a person of color and haven’t published a book but have a manuscript ready, I would highly encourage you to enter! Manuscripts will be accepted from May 1, 2017 through September 30, 2017 and must be postmarked within that period.

My First Picture Book Submission: Sumo Joe!

Sylvia Liu won the New Voices award in 2013, and her path to publication is here. More encouragement here from Debbie Taylor (Sweet Music in Harlem), G. Neri (Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty), and LaTisha Redding (Calling the Water Drum). Still more advice from two new New Voices Award Winners who weren’t afraid to tackle heavy themes.

My First Picture Book Submission: Sumo Joe!

For me, my writing journey started with this blog more than seven years ago. I got serious a year ago by taking a children’s book writing class at my local high school’s Community Ed program. I drafted Sumo Joe for that class; feedback from my classmates helped me polish my manuscript, as well as help from PickyKidPix.


This experience has made me braver. I’m currently working on Paula Yoo’s NaPiBoWriWee: 7 Picture Books in 7 Days. I hope this encourages you to take that risk of the thing that you really want to do, but seems out of reach! You can do it!


Update: Sumo Joe was acquired by Lee and Low on June 29, 2017!

Hi Mia!

I’ve met with the Acquisitions team and we’ve all agreed to acquire your manuscript, Sumo Joe! The team felt that your fun-filled story would be a great addition to our list of titles. Congratulations!


I am excited to pursue this project with you and am looking forward to developing it for publication. Congrats again!



#AmWriting Sumo Joe revisions with editor

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I have an entire list of picture book ideas I want to do something with eventually. I also have an easy children’s chapter book that I need to polish and then try to publish…
    MaryAnne recently posted…Spaghetti Tower STEM Challenge for Kids with a TwistMy Profile

  2. So happy for you, Mia!!!

  3. I missed your March post announcing your Sumo PB as I was on vacation. Like the idea. And, I’m pleased with how Lee & Low sponsors a competition. It is exciting that you’ve been asked to share back matter, which I found interesting. I studied Shinto many years ago and really discovered that it is a way of life for most Japanese, whether they say they are Shinto or not. Think your book has great potential and am excited you are working with an editor.
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…Blossom Plays Possum by Birdy JonesMy Profile

  4. Congratulations! My husband and I entered 2 picture books in this year’s contest and we are waiting on the edge of our seats for a response! Thank you for this encouraging post and I can’t wait to read Sumo Joe!!

  5. Congratulations! I look forward to following along your journey. I shouldn’t say I am surprised. Avid readers are often creators of the very best books!

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