We literally jumped for joy when Girls Write Now Mentor Emma Straub, author of All Adults Here (Riverhead) shared the news that her mentee sold a book to Simon & Schuster/Millner Books. For Mentee Joy L. Smith, selling her book, Turning, a story about a Black ballerina whose dance career is cut short, was a dream come true.
“Everything happens in its own time,” Joy says, but it was her years with Girls Write Now that changed everything, especially the support of her mentors like Emma, as well as Radha Blank, filmmaker and actress of Netflix’s The 40-Year-Old Version, and Ibi Zoboi, writer and National Book Award finalist for American Street (HarperCollins). These inspiring mentors shaped Joy as they embarked on their own paths to success. They taught her that a career as a professional writer was not only a possibility, but could become her reality.
Girls Write Now’s unique program model, where mentees write alongside their mentors, brought the writing world to life for Joy. She believes this experience helped prepare her for her own journey to becoming a published novelist; because of her mentors, she had the confidence and know-how to edit, submit and pitch. “It put everything into perspective,” Joy says now. “Without Girls Write Now, I would not have ended up where I am today.”