Part 2: Mentors

When I find myself challenged is when I most need to challenge myself. I learned this technique by watching my mentors at work.

Two days from now, I will be attending the SuperstarsWriting Seminar down in Colorado Springs thanks to a wonderful scholarship I received from WMG Publishing.  This is an intensive and holistic crash course with a super-powered tribe of writers and NYT award-winning authors in the business of writing. I cannot wait to challenge my skills with these inspiring people.

I am a writer. This I did on my own. But improvement and success has come about with the much-valued assistance of my mentors. I have learned by the best process possible. I have found and learned from artists who travelled the path before me. In the early 90’s Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith, incredible speakers, editors and award-winning authors, were the first to give me encouragement and some very honest advice. They didn’t need to do this. They had busy lives but they took the time to reach out to a newbie/ hopeful like me and give me a much-needed push. I had completed a manuscript and thought it was ‘ready’. *sighs at younger self* After a lifetime of writing and getting nowhere as far as selling went, or bumping up the level of my writing, hearing their information about the craft was like watering the root of a starving plant. I heard truth, knew it and surged forward, writing four novels (while holding a day job and raising two kids) and taking a number of incredible courses down on the Oregon Coast. I improved by practice, became a member of the Oregon Writers Network and found my tribe.

In 2000 I met award-winning author Carol Berg,  who writes glorious, soul-stirring Epic Fantasy novels for ROC Books. At that time she had just launched TRANSFORMATION her debut novel. We became instant friends but in this process she has become the ideal mentor. I have had the privilege of following Carol’s career close to the beginning and learned so much about every aspect of this business through writing sessions, plotting, and attending conferences and readings with her.

I learned that no writer/author gets where they are without hard work, set-backs and frustrations in this business. Well, maybe a few go astral right away, but those are exceptions and once they hit the New York Times List, this presents its own set of challenges.

2014 has been a heck of a year filled with several bereavements, estate legalities and house purging. Yet during this intensive time, through the horrendous loss of my dear sister and muse, I have managed to mentor young writers and do the WMG Anthology Course.

In 2014 I wrote at least 100,000 words, sold five short stories, attended four major writers’ conferences as a panelist and yet another as a volunteer. I did all these things because, though life was rolling over me, my soul needed to speak, to scream at life and keep going or I was going to fall apart. I needed mentorship and to be a mentor. It has been my salvation. I am still sane. (I think.)

Four days before she died in hospice, Mary, my dear muse and sister, asked me to read her the story I was writing for a shared worlds anthology—one which I had set aside for several weeks due to my need to be at her bedside 24/7. It was the last day she could speak, yet she wanted me to read THAT story to her, unedited and rough as it was. It was a beautiful experience sharing with her that one last time. Almost her last words to me were. “You are going to do this thing. I want you to promise me you are.” I promised not just Mary but myself. Since the day I was born, my sister has been my first and important mentor. Even now after her passing her words keep me going.

Mentorship. I have been so blessed to find mentors. Artists with courage to keep me going even when there seemed to be no going. Find your mentors, dear friends, for in these you discover the path to inspiration.

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