Introducing Our Newest Judge...Melissa Stoller

Our newest Judge on the Rate Your Story Team brings experience, knowledge of, and appreciation for New York, art, Judaica and more! And, not to mention, inspiration, as she is one of our many Rate Your Story Member successes!

What brought you to children’s books? How long have you been writing?

I’m a lawyer by training and I have always loved reading and writing. When my children were born, I decided to try writing children’s books. After a long and winding road with many detours to write parenting articles and a parent resource book, I finally published my first children’s book in 2017!

Has your publication journey direction changed at all from the onset?

Yes! When I first started submitting (which was way too soon!) I got many rejections which I still hold on to. I have learned so much since then, and many classes, writing challenges, writing friends, and opportunities such as Rate Your Story have helped me tremendously along the way.

Please tell us about the first book you published.

My first book was THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION: RETURN TO CONEY ISLAND (illustrated by Callie Metler, Clear Fork Publishing 2017). It’s a time travel adventure story about twins who are transported back to 1928 and have the chance to help their great-grandparents meet on the Coney Island trolley. The next two books in the series are coming soon! My first picture book was SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (illustrated by Sandie Sonke, Clear Fork 2018) and it’s about letting go of perfection and finding your own magical creativity.

What genres of books will you be open to rating for Rate Your Story?

I would love to rate picture books (fiction and non-fiction).

List five things you look for in a successful story.

I look for story arc/plot, character development, writing quality including language usage, voice including heart, and that special something that makes a child want to hear the story over and over.

Name five subjects you love to read about.

I love to read about so many subjects including: friendship, families and cultures, science and nature, creativity/art, and biographies.

Name five subjects you don’t want to read about.

I don’t love reading stories about animals who are sick, and I’m not the best reader for total fantasy or horror stories.

What author has inspired you most on your journey?

There are so many! Of course Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary from when I was a young reader. Today, my critique partners and the authors in my marketing resource groups all inspire me to be the best writer I can be!

What do you feel is an important preliminary step before actually writing a story?

I spend a lot of time brainstorming ideas and swirling them around in my imagination before I ever type a word.

Please share a writing Tip for our Members.

One tip that always helps me is to read mentor books and then type out the stories to see how the words flow, and to understand if my story has the right pacing and page turns.

Share a fun fact or two about YOU!

I live in New York City with my family and I love birdwatching in Central Park. I also love museums, theatre, and long beach walks!


My books include:


SCARLET'S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (illustrated by Sandie Sonke, Clear Fork, 2018)

READY, SET, GORILLA! (illustrated by Sandy Steen Bartholomew, Clear Fork, 2018)

SADIE’S SHABBAT STORIES (illustrated by Lisa Goldberg, Clear Fork, 2020)

PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM (co-authored with Callie Metler and Shirin Rahman, illustrated by Kate Talbot, Clear Fork, 2021)