The End of an Era: When Writing Mentors Move On

You know that moment in Star Wars where Obi-Wan Kenobi gets killed and you freak out because Luke’s just lost his mentor and he still is nowhere near where he needs to be, training-wise? That’s kind of where I am right now.

In 2005, I met Jonathan Maberry, who had joined the now-closed Writer’s Room in Doylestown. From that moment on, he has built a wonderful society of writers in the Greater Philadelphia area. Now there is a thriving community, helmed by the Liars Club, that has workshops and networking meetings and just has a generally good time.

I have been a part of an ongoing workshop of Jonathan’s since 2006. Originally called Revise & Sell, it is now known as the Advanced Novel workshop. Basically, all of us in the workshop have novels in some stage of development (but beyond first draft) and are trying to get published. I was one of the original workshop members. Over the years, people have come and gone, but a core group has stayed rock-solid and bonded together. We critique each other’s work when asked. We offer a shoulder to cry on when needed. We discuss problems, both craft and business, that are standing in our way. A group of us formed The Author Chronicles group blog about 3 years ago. Several of us have had short stories published, and one member, Tiffany Schmidt, is now a published novelist with her second book coming out in February!

So when Jonathan told us he was moving to San Diego later this year, it was a bit wrenching—one of the main pillars of my writing life was disappearing. We had what is likely to be our last in-person class last week, which was a weird feeling of endings and beginnings all mixed into one.

Last R&S Class

Last in-person class. Photo courtesy of Tiffany Schmidt

But the thing is, just like Luke Skywalker, we aren’t really losing Jonathan at all. Technology today has made it possible for us to continue this workshop virtually, through Skype. I am looking forward to keeping up the forward momentum we have built together. Although conversing with a flickering, pixelated mentor is a little too sci-fi even for me! But maybe we’ll get lucky and the Force will be with all of us.

I wish Jonathan all the best in his new adventures out in California. The man is a force of nature; I have no doubt he will do well. And I’m glad that technology will allow us to stay in touch as a class, because I get quite an energy boost from our meetings—and I think there are good things ahead for all of us. I want to be there to cheer the others on and celebrate when they get their big break. We’ve all done the hard work—but it’s with Jonathan’s guidance that we’ve come as far as we have.

So, thank you, Jonathan. It’s the end of an era—but the beginning of a new one. I can’t wait to see what new opportunities the new era brings.

Have you ever had a writing mentor?

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  1. I haven’t had a writing mentor. Not directly. I have learned as much as I can from reading my favorite authors though. I got hooked on Jonathan Maberry last year with Dust & Decay. The other day, I finished Extinction Machine. I’ve really enjoyed his work and I can imagine it’s pretty nifty to be part of his workshops. Glad you’re able to continue at a distance. 🙂

  2. Lisa Gressen says

    Wonderfully written, Kerry! I feel the same way about Jonathan. I had the pleasure of attending one of his first Novel in Nine Months classes. He has definitely changed my life and is such an inspiration. I wish him and his lovely wife, Sara, all the best in CA. It just won’t be the same without him. Thanks for the lovely tribute!

  3. Jonathan Mayberry is generous soul who shares his talent with others. I’m still awe struck by the fact that he came to my school to inspire 7th graders to write and read last year. I will remember it forever. Chris Chromiak

    • Jonathan remembers what a profound effect librarians and reading had on his life as a child, and wants to bring that freedom to kids everywhere. He genuinely cares, and that shines through! Glad you had a great experience!

  4. I have a lot of great memories of Jonathan, but the best happened during my first book signing with Twilight Healer, and he bought a copy. His energy and enthusiasm during his workshop was infectious, and I believe that a lot of us have caught some of his energy. I’m hoping that we can “keep the ball rolling,” as Jay & the Techniques’ lyrics go.
    Barbara of the Balloons


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