3 Pre-Published Writers Found Scholarship Help to Keep Improving Their Craft

Aug 11, 2023 | Black Voices, Scholarship Stories

Scholarship recipients Monica Moncrieffe Bennett, Alison Merz, and C. Bernadette Jarapa haven’t been published yet–but all of them are on their way, thanks to their experience at a Highlights Foundation workshop.

Monica’s Story

Monica is a lover of books of all kinds. Her favorites are ones where she can get lost in a sentence as easily as the plot. She’s also a practicing attorney who lives in Kansas City with her two wonderful sons who inspire her to write joyful stories. She attended our Crash Course in Children’s Publishing thanks to support from the Nikki Grimes Scholarship and says: “It was meaningful. I feel inspired to publish again. I’m taking the positive feedback and lessons from the workshop and revising a novel that I love. I’m finding joy in that. I also gained community and made new friends for which I’m grateful.”

Monica is revising right now: “The novel I’m revising features characters that are African-American. But, their blackness, while visible , is not central to the story. Childhood, magic, family, and adventure are. I hope my novel shows kids that while each of us is unique, our lives and the things we want and love are often very similar.”

Monica Moncrieffe Bennett

Monica Moncrieffe Bennett

Alison’s Story

Alison is a teacher, parent, and writer of a variety of pre-published manuscripts. She just got an agent who is interested in a middle grade nonfiction book she is writing about US social movements. She received a General Scholarship and took Becoming a Nonfiction writer:  “It was a great way to hear from published authors who are masters of their craft and hear insider tips and knowledge about the entire process.”

She gained “a lot of helpful insights about writing, research, voice, openings, strong writing, submission process, and insider advice on how to move through the writing and publishing journey.” Asked how she can inspire kids with what she learned, she says she’ll “write a book that opens their minds and imaginations!”

Bernadette’s Story

Looking back at her life now, Bernadette says she “couldn’t believe she missed those telltale signs that she was born to write.” As a kid, she drew maps of fictional worlds and created fantastical characters inspired by her toys. She even won a writing contest in high school and edited the student paper in college but not once did she think of writing as a career. Instead she spent years working different kinds of jobs including English teacher, BPO trainer, social media manager and e-commerce consultant. Now she has found her calling and decided to seriously pursue writing. As a recipient of the Christine & Kenneth Taylor-Butler Scholarship, she chose to take author/agent Linda Epstein’s Novel Intensive course. Bernadette says: “It was the perfect course for someone without a formal creative writing background because it teaches the fundamentals of writing novels. I learned about plotting and narrative structures, character development and world building techniques that I can readily apply to my work-in-progress and strengthen my other completed works. I can say that my first draft is stronger that it was before I started the course.” She adds: “I will be using the tools and techniques I learned for years to come.”
C. Bernadette Jarapa

C. Bernadette Jarapa

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The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.