What is a Mentor?

“Can you tell me what a mentor is?”

The question came during a panel session at the conclusion of the Cedar Falls Christian Writer’s Workshop yesterday.

I’m blessed to have two writing mentors in my life, so this is how I answered that question:

A mentor is someone farther along in your chosen career path, someone you admire and look up to, whom you can learn from. Author Shelly Beach  has been that for me ever since June 2011, when I attended my first writer’s conference and watched this dynamic speaker up on the stage. Her roster of speaking experience impressed me almost as much as her variety of books and writing credits.

A mentor is someone you can ask for advice in the business you have in common. Because, for those who aren’t yet aware of this; while writing is a craft, publishing is a business.  Cecil Murphey is another mentor. I met him when he spoke at the 2012 Maranatha conference.

Both Shelly and Cec have become good friends, but I’m careful not to take advantage of that friendship. I’m well aware how busy they are, so I don’t bombard them with questions. I can garner a lot of information from their blog posts or books. When I wondered about ghostwriting arrangements, I read Cec’s Ghostwriting: The Murphey Method. ghoswritingIf I’d needed further guidance, I could have e-mailed him, but the book answered all my questions, and then some.

A mentor might not be aware they serve as your mentor. It could be someone you watch from afar, learning from their work.  I consider C. Hope Clark a mentor of sorts, ever since I read her The Shy Writershy writer(since updated as The Shy Writer RebornAs a fellow introvert, I wasn’t sure how I would face book-signings or public speaking, but thanks to her book and a great deal of hands-on experience, I’m now comfortable with both. Not only have I discovered a few markets for my writing from her FundsforWriters newsletter, Hope’s column and the short articles in it taught me a lot about the writing world. You can find some of them reprinted in the Best of FundsforWriters Vol. I.  I might not have considered her a mentor, except she actually replied to my e-mail with good advice when I asked about promotion and marketing shortly before my Coupon Crazy was released in 2013. Now, I follow her closely on Facebook, and I respect her opinion on issues related to writing and publishing.

We all need mentors; successful people to emulate, learn from, and aspire to be like. As for the ultimate dream coming true; working with our mentor in some capacity, well…

Sometimes, that dream comes true. It did for me last year~

cec and me



Book Review: Radical Spirit

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.

radical spirit

There are few books I will pick up and not finish, but I admit this was one of them. Radical Spirit:  12 Ways to Live a Free and Authentic Life by Joan Chittister was too academic, too theological, to be an enjoyable read. Unlike her Between the Dark and the Daylight, which I enjoyed thoroughly, this book felt like slogging through a theological text written for someone following the “Rules of Benedict.”  Which, of course, it is. The entire book is based on the principles of Saint Benedict. 

Rated #1 in Self-Help for Catholics right now on Amazon, I am sure there are Catholic readers who will get a lot out of reading this book, but I was not one of them, and that surprises me, considering the description:
Feeling burnt-out from life, strung-out from social media, and put out by a society that always wants more from you? Beloved nun and social activist Joan Chittister, who appeared on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, offers a practical, character-building, and inspirational guide to help you take control of your emotional life and redirect your spiritual destiny.

Yes, I have felt burnt-out, strung-out from social media. I’m always searching for chracter-building, inspirational guidance. So, what went wrong in my attempt to read this book?

Granted, it might be that I am just not in the mood to draw on the “little known, ancient teachings of the saints” (from the book’s description) Maybe I couldn’t identify with the examples she used to illustrate her points. Maybe it was the constant references to the monastic life.

Whatever it was, I skimmed through the last half of the book, searching for little nuggets of wisdom. Apparently, the main points of the entire book can be discovered on page 205, as she summed up St Benedict’s Twelve Steps of Humility in today’s language, in simplistic language I wished she had used throughout the rest of the book:

  1. Recognize that God is God.
  2. Know that God’s will is best for you.
  3. Seek direction from wisdom figures.
  4. Endure the pains of development and do not give up.
  5. Acknowledge faults and strip away the masks.
  6. Be content with less than the best.
  7. Let go of a false sense of self.
  8. Preserve tradition and learn from the community.
  9. Listen.
  10. Never ridicule anyone or anything.
  11. Speak kindly.
  12. Be serence, stay calm.

Now, that’s advice I can say Amen to. If only Chittister had written the rest of her book in that manner.