Friday, March 4, 2011

Confidence Meets Humility by Stephanie Morrill

Let’s face it. The road to getting a contract and our novels in print can be filled rejection. But by listening, persevering, and being will to change, it’s possible to reach the coveted destination. We’re happy that author Stephanie Morrill is here today to share her own journey to publication. Enjoy!

Confidence Meets Humility
by Stephanie Morrill

In early 2006, I attended the Florida Christian Writers conference. I was 22 and knew the manuscript I brought was The Book—the one that would get me published.

“What do you write?” someone asked me as we ate.

“Young adult fiction,” I said.

An agent happened to be listening. “Young adult fiction?” He snorted. “Who’s buying that these days?”

But YA fiction was what God have given me to write, and it was all I knew to do.

Despite the agent’s words, I left that conference with advice from an editor that required a rewrite of The Book, plus an invitation to submit to a semi-major publishing house once I’d done said rewrite.

I did what a smart writer does—I rewrote.

I grumbled in the beginning, but once I got going, I saw how the changes improved the story. Now it was perfect, I felt.

In the spring of 2007, I had not only a full manuscript under consideration at the semi-major publishing house (not The Book, since rewrites were taking so long, and they agreed to see something else by me), but also two agents were considering The Book, and I’d entered the first couple chapters in a contest. For months I’d heard nothing but “yes” from agents and editors alike, and I felt I’d be signing a contract of some sort any day now.

But then the rejections started.

First, by one of the agents. Fine. I’d considered her out of my league anyway.

Then, after 7 months of waiting, a form rejection came in the mail from the semi-major publishing house. A major blow.

Followed quickly by bombing the contest I’d entered, and receiving a descriptive, honest rejection from the remaining agent. The judges and the agent felt the same way—they hated my main character.

My reaction was typical—they were all wrong, of course. They just didn’t get it, and I wouldn’t change a single word for them.

This lasted a couple weeks.

Then I built the courage to look at the judges’ and agent’s comments once more. Maybe they weren’t total morons. Maybe I could incorporate a couple of their suggestions. Do some minor tweaking.

I had a month before my next conference. I was pregnant with my daughter at the time, and knew in my heart that this was my last hurrah at getting published. If it didn’t happen now, my husband and I had agreed, I would postpone my publication dream for a couple years.

My “tweaking” quickly turned into rewrite number three. I managed to get a couple chapters in good shape for the conference, where I wound up accidentally (another story for another time) pitching The Book to the agent who’d already rejected it. To my shock, she requested to take another look at the first chapter.

For the next couple months, I balanced book edits with diaper changes. While stressful, there was peace in my heart because I could see God’s help along the way. The agent requested to see the first 100 pages mere days after I’d finished them. And in April, when she called and asked me to send her the full manuscript, it was within 24 hours of me finishing edits.

The Book is now called Me, Just Different, and it reads quite differently than the manuscript I toted to my first conference. Getting published required a balance of confidence and humility. Confidence in God’s plan for my life, and humility to hear criticism and make changes. Without those, I wouldn’t have had this:

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 a few years ago 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 encouraging and teaching teen writers and does so on her blog To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out

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