Go Teen Writers!

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 encouraing teen writers and do so on her blog Go Teen Writers. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out Stephanie Morrill books.

Meet Stephanie Morrill. She’s a gifted novelist who also shares her amazing skills through her writing blog–Go Teen Writers.

Stephanie, how long have you been writing?

Since first grade, when my class had special writing time every day. When we finished writing our stories, the school printed and bound them. I loved every part of the process except the illustrating. I’ve always been a horrible artist…

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

Even back in the first grade when I was writing stories inspired by my stuffed animals, I thought this was what I wanted to do. I really caught the writing bug in high school when I took a creative writing class and started completing full manuscripts. I even submitted a few to publishing houses. I was crushed by rejections, but my English teacher–a wonderful but intimidating woman–told the whole class she knew I would be published someday. I really didn’t want her to be wrong!

Tell us about your new site. How did you get the idea?

I’ve always naturally written for teens. It’s just the voice God gave me. After my first book came out, Me, Just Different, I started receiving emails from girls saying they loved the book, and asking if I had any tips for young writers because they wanted to be writers too. Plus I was doing school visits and seeing all these teens who were taking writing seriously, doing NaNo. I was answering the same questions over and over, and thought, there must be more teens like this out there.

What drew you to want to help writers get started?

Because I knew no one and nothing–what’s a genre? what’s a literary agent? what’s an SASE?–when I started down my journey. Everything I learned, I learned the hard way. I thought I would enjoy passing along what I’d gleaned.

Can you give us any statistics on how your blog is doing?

At first, the blog wasn’t doing much. The people who were hanging out there really loved it, but after a year of blogging, the site had received only 4,000 hits and had 40 followers.

But I loved it too much to scrap it, and all the grown had been organic (none of the followers were friends or family) so I decided to start blogging more frequently, to offer contests, and to write about the novel writing process from the germ of an idea to the final polish. I started doing that about ten months ago. The site has received over 60,000 hits now and has over 240 followers.

Part of the growth is due to the changes I made, but I know a lot of it came from finally praying about it. I always viewed the idea as being inspired by God, but it’s embarassing since I’m supposedly a mature Christ follower. I really didn’t pray much about the blog until earlier this year.

How do you come up with your blog writing prompts?

Usually, they’re opening lines that come to me, but without a story attached. Sometimes I’ll think, that would be an intriguing opening line to a novel, but I have no idea what would happen next. The teens come up with wonderfully creative stories though!

Do you have a missions purpose with offering to share your writing skills?

When I first started Go Teen Writers, I honestly didn’t think of it as a ministry. Just me passing along what I had learned to the next generation. There was nothing hard about that, in my mind, and I had this horrible mindset that ministry needed to be hard and that it needed to be run through the church.

But then I started hearing from girls about how much they loved Go Teen Writers, and how it was the only place they could come and be encouraged in their writing. And then they started connected with each other on the blog, responding to each others’ comments. Now we have Christian teens and teens who are far from God. It’s only been in the last few months that I’ve realized it’s a ministry, and that’s the reason it doesn’t feel hard–because God designed me to do this.

Are you discovering some talent blooming among your young writers?

I’m regularly blown away by the creativity of that group. We did a free-write contest where everyone was allowed to submit the first 150 words of their manuscript. With a bunch of those entries I wanted to say, “Can I read the rest? This is so good!”

What I’ve also discovered is how polite and respectful and appreciative teenagers are. Or at least the teens hanging around Go Teen Writers. It took me a long time to convince them it was okay to call me Stephanie rather than Mrs. Morrill. And they regularly thank me for running contests and advising them and bringing guest authors on. Which is great, but I get all the thanks I need from just hanging out with them.

Interview conducted by Julie Garmon.