Wednesday, December 30, 2009

OUT WITH THE IN CROWD - Stephanie Morrill - Free Book

Welcome to my blog, Stephanie. What has drawn you to writing for the YA market?

When I first started writing YA, I was 16 and didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. I kept thinking I’d “grow out of” writing stories about high school, but even after I graduated, started a career, got married, and had a baby, the majority of my story ideas were still about teenagers. I think there’s a lot of potential in those four years of high school—both for good and bad.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

The quirkiest? I’m sure it’s not the quirkiest thing I’ve ever done, but what comes to mind is last week when I reorganized the empty hangers in my daughter’s closet by color. When she was 6 months old, she had tons of dresses and needed lots of hangers. She outgrew them all long ago, so now there’s about twenty empty white, green, and pink hangers in her closet. She was busy playing, and I happened to look in there and saw them all scattered across the rod. Suddenly the disorganization of it drove me crazy and I just had to fix them. Even as I grouped them by color and pushed them neatly to one end of the rod, I knew it was a little nuts. My husband thinks it’s quirky that everything in our kitchen is labeled, but I say that’s just good sense! :-)

Sounds sensible to me. I like to hang garments on the same color hanger--blue on blue, green on green, etc. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

First grade. I grew up in a really poor district in the valley of California. They didn’t have money for much, but one thing they did do was “publish” books we wrote. In first grade, we’d spend time every day writing, and when we’d finish a book, we got to take it down to this special little room where we could pick out a cover and spiral binding. They’d print our book, laminate the cover, and then give it back to us to illustrate. When we were completely done, our teacher had us read our story out loud to the class. I loved every single second of that process and knew from then on I wanted to be a writer.

After my first book came out, I went to family night open house at school for my grandson, who was in teh first grade. He had made a book. He knew about me being an author. He brought me his book and told me, "I am the author and the illustrator for this book." I loved it. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I’ve never been the type who only read romances, or only read sci-fi. If the writing is good, I’ll enjoy it. I love reading YA, as you’d guess. I think historical are great fun because I enjoy learning about different time periods. And does anything beat a really great mystery?

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

There are three books in my series, The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt. All three books are told from Skylar’s point of view and they span her senior year. The first one, Me, Just Different, released in July. The second one, Out with the In Crowd, releases January 1st. The third one comes out in July and is called So Over It.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Um, I don’t. Just kidding. I have a tendency to run, run, run along with it, but I can only do that for so long before I have a complete breakdown. I got into real trouble around the time I had my baby girl because that’s also when I signed the deal for Skylar’s series. I knew God called me to be a wife, mother, and writer, so the things I didn’t feel him specifically calling me to had to go. It was hard because they were things I loved—especially leading a book club at my church. What’s helped me is reminding myself that this is a season of my life. I won’t always have little kids to raise, so I need to focus on enjoying that. There will be plenty of time in the coming years to lead book clubs and have weekly lunches with friends.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of, besides family?

This probably sounds way obvious—that my first book is the accomplishment I’m most proud of—but God working in my life has never seemed more obvious. I didn’t research the market until after I’d finished writing and polishing my manuscript. Then I discovered publishers viewed Christian YA as a big risk. But still I felt I needed to keep trying to find an agent, to find a publisher. I went to a conference where a very nice, very reputable Christian agent actually laughed when I told him what genre I wrote for. The market had kinda picked up by the time I found my agent, Kelly Mortimer, but even she had some serious doubts that we’d ever sell this book. She told me at least a thousand times that she loved it to pieces, but that I had no platform, no experience, and basically nothing at all to recommend myself to publishers. Barely two months later, the book ended up going to committee at two houses, and Revell not only wanted one book, they wanted three. When I see Me, Just Different, I always get a little thrill because I know God did it.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

A beaver. They seem very organized.

What is your favorite food?

Sheridan’s ice cream. Caramel pretzel crunch, but made with chocolate custard instead. It’s just not the same in vanilla.

Sounds good, but I don't think we have Sheridan's here in Texas. Is it hard to break into the YA market?

I think it’s hard to break into any market. YA has its own unique challenges because you’re writing for teenagers, but first you have to sell your manuscript to an adult editor.

What advice would you give to an author wanting to do that?

I think first and foremost is to be authentic in your writing. Teenagers appreciate stuff that’s “real.” Read lots of general market and Christian young adult books. Watch movies and shows teenagers like. Talk to teenagers when you can. A big mistake I see writers making is writing like they think teenagers talk. Really, teenagers mostly talk like adults. You don’t have to use a lot of language like, “Yo, man, that’s shizzle,” to write a book teenagers can relate to.

Once you’ve crafted a genuine, authentic book, it’s important to find an agent who’s onboard with your unique vision. I personally think conferences are the way to go, although I first met Kelly through the American Christian Fiction Writers e-loop. But when I made the connection with her that “counted” it was at the ACFW conference.

There’s no fast-track for breaking in, unfortunately. I know I’m young, but I actively pursued publication for eight years before I landed an agent.

I write adult Christian fiction, and my first sale took me eight years. What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Out with the In Crowd is book two in the Skylar series. Skylar Hoyt may have vowed to change her partying ways, but it’s not so easy to change her friends. She’s trying hard to live a new life, but her old one is constantly staring her in the face. Add to that two parents battling for her loyalty, a younger sister struggling with a crisis pregnancy, and a new boyfriend wishing for more of her time, and Skylar feels like she can’t win. After all, how do you choose favorites among the people you love most?

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website is . Come on by and drop me a note!

Thank you, Stephanie for spending this time with us.

Readers, here's a link where you can order a copy of the book. By using this link when you order, you're helping support this blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book.

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destrella said...

The book sounds fun and the interview was great! :O)
estrella8888 at roadrunner dot com

Anonymous said...

a wonderful interview...would love to read this book. thanks for the opportunity.


Nancye said...

I would LOVE to win this book! Thanks for the chance!!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Cherie J said...

Enjoyed the interview. Sounds like a book my teenage niece and I would enjoy reading.

Emii said...

I really enjoyed reading the interview, and learning more about you, Stephanie! :)


Sheila Deeth said...

Great interview. Nice to meet you. Thanks.

sharon54220 said...

Great interview anad the book sounds great. I loved my high school years. Would love to read this.

Happy New Year

Stacie said...

Please count me in.

Roseanna M. White said...

A beaver? O Stephanie, Stephanie. ;-) Fun interview!

Abi said...

I'd love to win this book for my teenager to read. Thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Carla said...

Please enter me in this drawing. Would love to read this book.

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much for having me, Lena!

Regarding the beaver thing, I recently did a personality/spiritual gifts test at church and they assigned "beaver" to my uber-organized personality. (The other three were golden retriever, otter, and ... something else.) So my answer was more right than I orginally suspected!

Hope everyone is having a great start to 2010!

Charity said...

Please enter me. Thanks!!


liana said...

looks fun! great interview.. it looks like an inspiring book. well can't miss a chance.

kanishk said...

I loved my high school years.

Work from home India

Brenda said...

i Haven't seen Blind Side Yet, Am looking forward to it.

dancealert at aol dot com

Brenda said...

The book sounds great, sign me up for your contest.

dancealert at aol dot com

Megan said...

That whole publishing thing in the 1st grade sounds so cool! What a great program!

Thanks for your time & the interview, Lena!


Stephanie said...

You're right, Megan. It was an awesome program! I definitely think more schools should have it.

Carman said...

Please enter me to win! I really enjoyed this book. :D

Carman said...

Oops! I meant to say that I enjoyed the first book! hehe ;)