Friday, November 19, 2010

Giving Thanks to Writing Mentors

Becoming a successful writer often requires the help of others. That help can come in the form of presentations at writer’s conferences, support and advice from fellow writing critique group members, other writers’ blogs, and sometimes just a good friend or mentor. As I’ve developed my writing over the past 23 years, I’ve received help from all those sources. However, the greatest impact to my writing development came from two individuals who to a significant degree became my writing mentors in my early years.

The first of these is my good friend Dave Wolverton (aka David Farland of Runelords fame). I met Dave when I first starting writing seriously and just as his career was beginning to take off. He was always willing to share helpful advice, provide kind criticism, and give encouragement. He helped spark inside me the confidence I needed to keep at it and to give me valuable insights on how to improve my writing and career. Dave continues to provide advice and encouragement to thousands of other writers through his “Daily Kick” e-newsletter that anybody can sign up for at

My second writing mentor is another good friend, picture book author, Rick Walton. When I first started writing picture books, Rick invited me to participate in a critique group that gave me my first glimpse at the essentials of picture book writing. Over the years Rick has continued to be a good friend, selflessly doing what he could to help me and other fellow children’s authors. While Rick is a prolific writer with over 50 books published (more info at that’s not what makes him unique. Rick has nurtured or contributed in some way to the writing efforts of probably every published and aspiring children’s author with ties to the state of Utah. To some degree the same might be said for many of my fellow Utah children’s authors, but I’m fairly certain that most of them would agree that Rick stands out on top as one who has selflessly given his time and energy to help all the aspiring or published children’s authors he meets.

With this being the month of Thanksgiving, I thought it appropriate to give a shout out of thanks to these two individuals that, whether they realize it or not, have had a significant influence and positive impact on my writing career. So, a gigantic thanks to Dave and Rick for all you’ve done for me and the many others you’ve helped.

Okay, time to name names and give thanks. What individuals have had the most positive impact on your writing efforts or career?


  1. Thank you for the kind words Ken! It sounds like a sacrifice to help others, but I get more out of it than they do. It's fun, it's how I have made most of my friends, it helps my career too, and it's a real kick seeing people you mentor break into the industry and publish. You feel like a proud parent. I get so much out of it that I am sometimes surprised that everyone isn't as obsessed about it as I am. There is plenty of work to do, and the rewards are well worth it. If anyone wants to help, but doesn't know how, get in touch with me.

  2. My mentors:

    Jim Jacobs, who critiqued my manuscript when I was no one, and even brought it to my home.

    Barbara Williams and Ivy Ruckman, who were happy to sit for a couple of hours each and talk in their home to an aspiring writer with no credits yet. They even let me into their critique group, the only one in Utah at the time.

    Louise Plummer, who let me into her creative writing class, encouraged me, and started a critique group that became the grandfather of many of the state's successful critique groups.

    I have been helped along the way by dozens of not hundreds of people. But these four were there at the beginning.

  3. Wonderful to see such a nice tribute to two authors whom I feel are the most knowledgeable about the BUSINESS of writing in all of Utah! And, of course, Rick turns it all around to say how much HE has gained from doing the good work he does! And while I'm at it, I'd like to second his kudos to both Ivy and Bea...and, someday, I hope to get to know Louise Plummer as well. Utah has so many wonderfully talented writers and mentors! Thanks to all---and to you for thinking to give them a lovely shout out!
    Brenda Bensch

  4. Ken, what a wonderful post. I think it is always important to thank and remember those who have helped us reach the road of publication.

    Rick Walton has been an inspiration to me as well. I'm so grateful for his advice and friendship.

    I'm also thankful to all those who help me with my Ezine Stories for Children. There are too many to name, but they know who they are from the SFC Team (past and present) to the contributors and our readers.

    I'm also thankful to all the writers I've met online and off. You all have touched my life both in writing and personally.