Monday, November 4, 2013

Guest Post + Giveaway: How to Be a Real Teen Writer by Author Stephanie Morrill

I am thrilled to have the wonderful YA author and teen writer expert, Stephanie Morrill, on my blog today to discuss how to be a real teen writer. Stay tuned to find out how you can win a digital copy of her latest release, The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet!

Stephanie Morrill lives 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, The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet, and the award-winning Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft into a Published Book. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, You can also find her online at

I have had some readers who, after reading The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet, which is about a teen writer pursuing publication, send me emails saying, "I want to do what Ellie does. I want to be a real writer!"

I totally get that. I wanted that too! It was very hard for me as a teenager to admit to myself that I wasn't ready to be published. Not only were my stories far from ready, but I didn't yet have the strength to deal with heavy criticism, the pressure of deadlines, or the time commitment of being a modern day author.

But I also don't believe my teenage writer years were a waste. Rather, I think it's because I devoted so much time in middle and high school to writing that I had success in my twenties. Here are seven things I did as a teen writer that paid off:
  • I wrote and wrote and wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more. I always had a story going. None of them are any good, but I learned from them all.
  • I took whatever English classes I could at school - AP English, Shakespeare, Lit into Film, and Creative Writing.
  • I talked about being a writer. My friends and teachers and youth coaches and basically anyone who would listen to me talk about it knew that I wanted to write. I think that caused me to put some pressure on myself to not give up.
  • I read a lot of classics and saw a lot of Shakespeare plays. Mostly out of requirement, but they serve me well now!
  • I read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It was part of our AP English class, and it totally shaped me as a writer.
  • I watched Gilmore Girls. Okay, that's kind of a joke...but Rory Gilmore was a really inspiring character to me. That's what gave me the idea to start keeping a book in my purse at all times.
  • I went to a writers conference in high school. My parents are the ones who found it, and they pulled me out of school for the day. My dad went with me, and neither of us had a clue about what we were doing, but I absorbed a lot that day.

And here are three things I wish I had done:
  • Read for pleasure more often. My school was pretty rigorous, especially my English class, so I know that's part of it. I also think I just didn't know how to choose books for myself. My senior year of high school, I started wandering around Barnes and Noble and buying random books. I "discovered" Jodi Picoult and Alice Hoffman that way, and I still love their books.
  • Paid better attention to grammar lessons. Why did I not think it would be important for me? It's fortunate for me that I became critique partners/best friends with a grammar genius, and that I know how to use my Chicago Manual of Style. Otherwise...
  • Taken the time to learn story structure. I didn't because I was of the mindset that stories were something you felt. That it was all about gut and instinct. And it certainly is, to a point. But, man, I could have saved myself so much time if I'd bothered to learn the basic three act structure!
I hope these lists are helpful to you and that you can learn from my mistakes!

And now for the giveaway!


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. 

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  1. I really can't wait till I have an opportunity to read this books! I've read the Skylar Hoyt series, which is quite good.

  2. I haven't read any of Karen Kingsbury's books, but next time I go to my library I will most definitely check them out!

  3. Great post! Can't wait to read the Ellie Sweet series. ^ ^

    Stori Tori's Blog

  4. I haven't read any of Karen Kingsbury's books in full, but I did get started on "One Tuesday Morning" once. Unfortunately, I lost it! Sad day!

  5. I loved the Skylar Hoyt series!!! It was really good!

  6. I have never read ANY on Stephanie Morrill's books but I would love to read one of these. After all the raving reviews I have heard I couldn't pass up this chance to enter the contest.


  7. So far I've only read the first Ellie book but I really want to read the Skylar Hoyt series and I plan on borrowing them off my sister once I get through some review books!

  8. I've been thinking of reading this series for awhile--I read a bit of the first book, but I had to go home, where there aren't any libraries(I live in Africa). But I'd love to read the books.


  9. I love Ellie Sweet! It's my favourite Stephanie Morrill book, though I really loved Skylar Hoyt, too.

  10. So hard to pick! I've read all but this one. I'm gonna have to say that I liked The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet best. Ellie and I understand each other. ;)

  11. I've really been wanting too, I need to get to the library! But since it's Nanowrimo, I suppose I will have to save that as a reward.

  12. I've read the Skylar Hoyt series and the first Ellie Sweet book. I liked the Skylar Hoyt series the best, but Ellie Sweet was really good too.

  13. Can't say that I have... but this one sounds great!! :) x

  14. I have not read any of her books but I would love the chance to. :)


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