Celebrating Mentors

I've been fortunate to have some amazing mentors in my life.  People who support, encourage and have a lot to teach me about life, business and professionalism.

You can learn a lot by surrounding yourself with people you admire.  People who have experience to share or people whose greatest talents are being encouraging and supportive.  Maybe your mentor is a person you've known for a long time.  Maybe it's someone you've never met, but who offered just the right advice at the right time. 

Since we're celebrating mentors this week, I'd thought I would share with you some of the things I've learned from some wonderful professionals who took time to help me on my journey to publication.

From the first publishing professional to read my work:  Keep at it.  Publishing is not a pipe dream.  Books sell every day.  Finish the book.  Revise it.  Keep trying.

From the first agent to request my work:  Use internal reactions to up the tension in first person narration.  Now take out three stage directions (i.e. smiles, nods, foot tapping) and add one more internal reaction.  (Try this- and watch your manuscript come alive!).

From an agent who ultimately passed:  a novel needs more than a series of great scenes.  There must be a payoff in the final scenes.  Make sure your climax involves your central characters and central conflict.  (In retrospect this seems obvious, but trust me when I say I needed to hear this).

From the agent who is now my agent:  Telling can be good when it draws us into the narrator's head and helps us experience the emotions and reactions as they happen. (Yes, I'm still working on the internal reaction bit!).

From one of my lovely editors:  Simplify story elements where you can.  An action packed plot might be entertaining, but its the emotional truths that stay with readers.

From an author I "know" through Twitter:  be kind, friendly and approachable.  It means a lot.

From a fellow Muse:  Let your unique voice come through in your writing.  Incorporate personal experiences and funny anecdotes. Let the occasional goat puppy come out in your writing.  Stay positive.  The pay off will come.

From another Muse: Pay attention to details.  Get your facts straight and lend credence to everything you write.  It's worth the time to make your story authentic.  It's worth the time to find just the right word.  Readers will appreciate it even if they have to crack open a dictionary now and then.

From yet another Muse:  Be fearless even when you're afraid.  Write the book of your heart and then let it go.  Then write the next one.  Take risks.  Write from a boy POV.  Find the joy in the work even when the work is hard.

From another YA Muse:  Be disciplined.  Wake up two hours early every day and WRITE.  Embrace the process.  Feed your addiction.  Write something no one's ever seen before and own it.  Find humor in all of it.

One of the wonderful things about publishing for children is how supportive and approachable the community is as a whole.  Mentors are everywhere.  Seek them out.

Then soak it all in.  It's all a work in progress. 


"Seek them out" is such great advice. I contacted a favorite author of mine once and flat out asked for critique (in a nice, polite manner, of course--but still pretty brazen for me--way outside my comfort zone). I was given a phone appointment and valuable critique on my WIP. You just never know, right?

Great advice...it's amazing to me all the people along the way who help us grow in this craft. I'm going to focus on the being fearless even when you're afraid piece for the book I'm working on now. Thanks for an awesome post! :)

PB, wow that's pretty amazing. I don't think most authors would go this far, but what a fantastic opportunity.

Elissa, I love your new picture! And I'm always working on the fearless part.

Thanks V!

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