Monday, November 04, 2013

Making the Most of Writing Friends and Mentors with Guest Blogger Stephanie Morrill.

Today, I'm welcoming Stephanie Morrill, my friend and writing buddy, to the blog. We've known each other for...hmm...has it been seven years now? I know it was before she had kids (and now she has two) and before either of us was published (and now we've both jumped into the 'published' group,) and well before I knew anything about anything in the writing world (though there's so much more that I don't know) Anyway...We met at a writer's conference, and she was so sweet and nice, and we've been friends ever since. 

So, without further ado from me...though there will be some at the end of the post.... Here's Stephanie!

When Erica asked me to post about writing friends and mentors, it seemed really fitting to me that I write this post for On The Write Path. Erica was my first writing friend, the first person I exchanged critiques with, and the first writer I knew personally who started a blog. I've learned a lot from her!

I recently discovered the Chinese proverb, "If you want to find out about the road ahead, then ask about it from those coming back." While I feel it applies to all areas of my life, today I want to focus on how we learn about the road ahead when it comes to writing.

1. Books and blogs. 

I'm a big believer in learning from writing books and writing blogs. (I have one of each - Go Teen Writers: How To Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book, which I co-wrote with Jill Williamson, and which is a blog that seeks to encourage and empower teen writers.) I have lots of writing books that feel like old friends, that I've highlighted and underlined and dog eared. And I subscribe to many writing blogs that teach and nourish me.

Everyone is different in their beliefs of the best writing books. While Bird by Bird is one of my favorites, others find it highly offensive. Or I love Stephen King's On Writing ... but he's Stephen King. He's earned the right to get away with certain things that won't fly for me.

2. Writing friends.

It's been my experience with writing friends that I usually befriend those who are at my level, slightly behind me, or slightly ahead. It seems like school, almost, where you come up in classes. Many of my friends signed their first contract or had their first book come out within a year of my debut.

A great test for writing friends is evaluating how they treat you when things are GOOD. I had writer friends who commiserated and groaned and shook their fists alongside me when rejections came...but who were not nearly as emphatic in their joy when I received The Call.

I would also advise that you don't limit yourself to people who write in your genre. While it's wonderful to be friends with people who understand the quirks of what you write, it's not the most important thing in a writing friendship. There's often fewer feelings of competition when you write one genre and your friend writes a different one. When I signed my contract, it was my friends who also wrote contemporary YA who seemed to have the least enthusiasm for my accomplishment.

3. Writing mentors.

These are people who are several steps ahead of you. I've never had an official mentor, but I do have several well-established authors who I've made connections with and who I feel comfortable emailing when I have a question or two.

Make sure you're smart about who you follow and rely on. A good mentor is someone who cares about you. In the words of John Maxwell, "Selfish people will assist you only insofar as it advances their own agendas. Good mentors provide friendship and support, unselfishly working to help you reach your potential."

In my Ellie Sweet series, which follows a teen writer as she chases her dream of being published, Ellie struggles to figure out who is a friend and who is a fake. Writing those scenes made me pause to pray that I would be a good mentor and friend to the writers around me, that I'll check my own agenda at the door when I'm offering my help. As many have done for me along the way!

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out 

So, here's the 'further ado' from me at the end of the post. Stephanie is celebrating the release of her newest novel, The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet. This is the sequel to the totally adorable The Revised Live of Ellie Sweet that came out last spring. Here's what I had to say about Stephanie's latest release:

"Stephanie Morrill is a master at creating characters with complex emotions and motivations, a talent which makes her stories realistic and yet unpredictable. The cast leaps off the pages and into the imagination effortlessly. I love reading books where I feel I live every scene with the main characters, and I certainly felt that way about THE UNLIKELY DEBUT OF ELLIE SWEET." 
- Erica Vetsch, author of Sagebrush Knights 

And here's a bit about the newest Ellie Sweet novel:

For once, Ellie Sweet has it all together. Her hair now curls instead of fuzzes, she’s tamed the former bad-boy, Chase Cervantes (she has, right?), and her debut novel will hit shelves in less than a year. Even her ex-friends are leaving her alone. Well, except for Palmer Davis, but it can’t be helped that he works at her grandmother’s nursing home. 

Life should feel perfect. And yet, it’s not that easy. Ellie’s editor loves her, but the rest of the publishing biz? Not so much. And they’re not shy about sharing their distrust over Ellie’s unlikely debut. 

Ellie has always been able to escape reality in the pages of her novel, but with the stress of major edits and rocky relationships, her words dry up. In fiction, everything always comes together, but in real life, it seems to Ellie that hard work isn’t always enough, the people you love can’t always be trusted, and the dream-come-true of publishing her book could be the biggest mistake she’s made yet.

Here's the link to Stephanie's author page where you can find ALL her wonderful books:

THIS JUST IN! Stephanie is graciously giving away a copy of The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet to one lucky commentor. Leave a comment and a way for me to get a hold of you and we'll draw a name on Friday of this week! 


  1. Anonymous7:21 PM

    Thanks, Erica, for introducing me to another author. Stephanie seems delightful. I'd like to read her work. I know several young writers who might like her blog. Thanks again.

  2. Anonymous7:27 PM

    Hi Erica! I have a daughter who just might enjoy reading this author's books. She is an avid reader. She is actually reading one of your books right now (A Bride Sews With Love in Needles, CA).

    Kristine Klein

  3. I've been following Go Teen Writers and had the privilege of reviewing the first Ellie Sweet book (which I LOVED) when it came out. Ms. Morrill is an author I really look up to -- she just inspires and challenges in a massively awesome way.

  4. Wonderful post, as we're used to get from Stephanie ;-) Everyone out here: Go check out GoTeenWriters!

  5. Very helpful post! Thanks Erica, for hosting the giveaway! Yes, everyone go check out Go Teen Writers :D

  6. Neat post! I totally agree. I try to be a good writing friend to my buddies in good times and bad too. :) I've been really wanting to read the Ellie Sweet books since they're about a teen writer and I've never seen that before so I'm excited to. ^ ^

    Stori Tori's Blog

  7. Love the advice in this post. Thank you for sharing!
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

  8. Awesome, thank you!


  9. I've only read the first Ellie Sweet book (so far!) but the next one looks promising and I can't wait to see what happens!!! :D

  10. Great post! Stephanie gives out such great advice and I love her books! :)
    sylvesternator (at) yahoo (dot) com

  11. Awesome post!

  12. I love connecting with writers of all genres. It makes writing seem less stressful to talk with people who understand.


  13. Thanks for the giveaway! Sounds cool. You can reach me at:


  14. This is a great post! Finding Critique Partners is always so tricky--it's good to keep these things in mind.


  15. Great advice, Stephanie. Thanks for sharing. Hey, Erica! *waving*

  16. So excited for this book!

  17. Love this post, Stephanie! Makes me all the more thankful for the wonderful writes I know, yourself included.

    P.S. I don't need to be entered in the giveaway, as I already have a copy. :)

    ~Sarah Faulkner

  18. Great advice Stephanie!

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