Monday, April 17, 2017

The Importance of Mentors & a Book Review

What is a mentor?  

Merriam-Webster defines it as a trusted counselor or guide, tutor, or coach. 

To take it one step further, I'd say that a writing mentor is a writer and/or author who has experience beyond one's own abilities and expertise. Would you agree? 

I think there are several kinds of mentors. There are those that we have a long term relationship with and others where we gain counsel over short periods of time. Formal or informal, a mentor can offer many benefits, such as:

  • Sound advice - Whether for a specific question, genre, or the writer's life in general, they've "been there, done that" and can share time tested counsel and illustrations, lending insight and guidance.
  • A good example - They are someone worth emulating, one who possesses credibility and has set a standard worth following.
  • An objective opinion - Often we're too close to our own work; a neutral stance offers valuable perspective and feedback.
  • Encouragement - Since they've tread where we hope to, they can offer the boost needed to stay the course. This can enhance confidence and productivity.
  • A listening ear - Sometimes we just need to talk, no matter where we are on the journey, and a non judgmental ear can help sort things out.

If someone is looking for a writing mentor, where might they find one? 

Other avenues include: 

  • Writing groups - Great local and online options are available for all levels.
  • Workshops/conferences - Find regional, national, or online webinars in every genre.
  • Social media - Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, etc. 
  • Writing courses - The right course can be a great source of info and counsel.
  • Coaching - Coaches offer customized, one on one interaction.

While having a writing mentor is not a requirement, it can be a great benefit on our journey.  These points illustrate something we probably already know, too. As writing friends, we mentor each other in some way on occasion. So whether we adopt the official title of mentor or not, large or small, our contributions impact others. I think that's a very good thing. :) Thank you all for your part in my writing journey!

My Mentor Story

I met MaryAnn Diorio about 16 years ago through a New Jersey writing group. This lovely and talented author was kind enough to help me get over many "newbie writer" hurdles, lending wisdom, encouragement, and wonderful advice. During this time, I participated in a coaching session she offered by phone, but she graciously answered my questions prior to and after that, and still does to this day.  

Early on she said, "Call yourself a writer." That little piece of advice impacted me greatly. It lent the confidence and vision to move forward into what I felt led to do. MaryAnn was also one of my first editors, signing me on as a contributor to one of her popular newsletters. I am forever grateful that she took time to invest in my life.

Just in case you didn't know, MaryAnn holds a Ph.D. and MFA, and in addition to coaching, she is a teacher, blogger, and author who's written fiction and non fiction books. I recently had the privilege of reading one of her novels and thought I'd share my review here. If you haven't yet read any of her work, I encourage you to do so. :)

Book Review - The Madonna of Pisano by MaryAnn Diorio

Maria Landro harbors a horrible secret, one she dare not share with anyone. Shunned by friends and the community, she works to support her son and help her mother save the family farm. Local priest Don Franco has secrets of his own. Terrified that these secrets will come to light, he builds a complicated web of pride and deceit. Luca Tonneta knows heartache and shame, but also knows the freedom of God’s redeeming power.

As these three Pisano residents’ lives intersect, they learn much about themselves and God’s amazing love and power to heal hearts. From realistic characters to a plot full of heartbreak and secrets, this book offers surprises and a good dose of grace. MaryAnn Diorio capably shares a difficult and intricate story that illustrates challenges that most of us can relate to on some level. This story of forgiveness and redemption held my attention from beginning to end. Two thumbs up!

Do you think mentors are necessary? Has anyone mentored you on your writing journey? Have you mentored anyone? What are you reading this week?

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Free Images: Benjamin Earwicker


  1. Mentors can be so helpful in writing and many other pursuits. I know our state's SCBWI group offers a number of contests where writers and authors in children's publishing mentor an aspiring author or illustrator for a year. Awesome that you've had a mentor too.

  2. I think the whole community has mentored me.
    My critique partners have been a big help that way and I've met all of them through blogging.

  3. Natalie,
    I agree. The community is amazing, isn't it? Appreciate your input! :)

    That's a great point. The support we find here is wonderful. :) What would we do without it?

    Happy writing,

  4. I've had some short term mentors. Especially important for newbies. Plus, I still have my original writer's group - going on ten + years now. Two drop outs. Love them and need them. Great post, Karen.

  5. My crit partners are like my mentors. Solid advice and input--and encouraging. :)

  6. OH, I agree; mentors are a must for any kind of creative endeavor. So glad you found MaryAnn!
    Several large hearted ones have mentored me over the years, including Diana Savage, James N. Watkins, and Lin Johnson. And I've mentored--in a smaller way--a few aspiring writers.
    MaryAnn's new book looks great!
    Happy Week, Jen

  7. I feel like I'm mentoring all of my authors. I did have a couple mentors when I began my journey, one for encouragement and prodding, the other for experience and connections. Both were very valuable at the time.

  8. Finding the right mentor can make all the difference in the world for anyone. How great that you found someone to relate to and who could help you through those early stages. You've certainly shown your appreciation by reading and sharing her work with your followers.

  9. I've had several mentors along the way, who helped me learn the craft and publishing business. Thanks for featuring MaryAnn Diorio. I check out her blog and get her newsletter. Recently, I purchased the Kindle version of the book you reviewed. I'm looking forward to reading it.

  10. Susan,
    Writers groups are great, aren't they? And what a good place to build relationships. Sounds like you've found a good one! :)

    Yes, glad you mentioned that! Our crit partners are about the best mentors sometimes, right? Definitely a good ongoing relationship! :)

    That's a good way to put it - large hearted. This is so true of all the lovely people we interact and share with! :)

    I'm sure you've been a big help to all your authors and friends. I appreciate the advice you share on your blog. :)

    it really can, this is true! :) We're always learning from someone, aren't we?

    Susan R.,
    You are welcome. MaryAnn's been a big help on the journey, and I know she's been an encouragement to you too. :) I think you may like her book.

    Happy writing,

  11. Karen, you've triggered memories of a mentor I had years ago, someone I hadn't thought of for a long time. I was a new writer and signed up for a community writing class. The teacher took me under her wing, even invited me to her home to discuss my first, very rough, draft. I need to look her up and thank her for the positive influence she was on a (much younger) new writer! And you've introduced us once again to an author whose book needs to be on my list to read! Thanks...

  12. A lovely post, Karen. I have been lucky to have mentors throughout my life in many different disciplines. Most importantly, I appreciate those people who have and continue to impact on my life - both on a personal and professional level. I've also experienced very poor mentors during my early teaching years, but learned from it rather than dwell. I have also been fortunate to act as mentor to others which has been one of the most rewarding things I've done. Supporting and helping someone forge their own career path is a wonderful thing. Happy writing.

  13. Hi Karen! I don't know if mentors are 'necessary' but I know they can be so helpful. I think I've mentioned that I had a writing coach for a while, and she was wonderful. She believed in me, and helped me to organize my thoughts.
    Calling yourself a writer is such a big step, isn't it? I was just at an evening event that included dinner, and a friend of mine told another table mate that I was a writer. I would never say it myself, isn't that funny? But that's who we are, and if we don't believe it, who will?

  14. Kenda,
    What a wonderful story!Yes, I'm sure she'd love to hear from you. It's such a blessing to have that kind of support, isn't it?:)

    Thank you! Sounds like you have had the privilege of both aspects of mentoring. The writing community is wonderful, isn't it? :) Appreciate you stopping by!

    How wonderful that your friend recognizes that you're a writer! For you are indeed. :) I agree, I think we need to see ourselves as such. That is part of the whole journey.

    Happy writing,

  15. Thanks for sharing your story of having a mentor and coach, Karen. So often I think we think other's are just doing it alone and just 'get it' while they really have been receiving mentoring and coaching to help them along. I think it helps others (even like myself) know that even the pros are receiving mentoring and coaching. As a coach myself, I'm a huge advocate of coaching yet sometimes have to take my own advise that to thrive is to always be in the middle--being mentored by one more along our journey and mentoring another who is started on the path we are further along on.


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!