Introducing Sterling and Stone’s Newest Writer, Monica Leonelle

mrcyrglyBack in 2011ish, my editor and good friend Matt Gartland couldn’t say enough kind things about a guy who wrote this little blog called Writer Dad (which grew to be not-so-little pretty quickly).

Matt probably mentioned the Self-Publishing Podcast to me half a dozen times before I finally decided to tune in, despite not really listening to any other podcasts on a regular basis (I still don’t!).

He swore that Sean Platt was the nicest guy you could possibly meet online, and that I had to talk to him, because he also wrote fiction—something I was trying to do.

I started listening to SPP off and on shortly after. I had followed Johnny B. Truant and that picture of him eating a green apple around the blogosphere for years already, and I had a lot of catching up to do on Sean’s growing-in-popularity site as well. Although I had not yet heard of the third co-host, Dave, his … colorful personality ended up being the reason that I kept coming back to SPP every few weeks (despite the fact that the show wasn’t super on-topic most of the time—which I grew to love as well!).

SPP had some magic sauce that I couldn’t quite resist. Within about six months, I was addicted to the podcast, listening to every episode I could find. Another six months later, I was listening to SPP and their other podcast, Better Off Undead, in close-to-real-time every week. And within another six months, I was thinking, “Man, Matt was right. I really do need to meet these guys!”

Fortunately, Fiction Unboxed was right around the corner. I’ll admit, I thought it was a slightly crazy idea at first. Then, I started getting excited about it. When the Kickstarter launched, I was ecstatic to get an early bird package and also watch it fund right away. It was really happening!

As the Kickstarter went on, I kept hearing more and more about the Fiction Unboxed Summit. I knew it was crazy to want to go—a pipe dream, really—but something was calling me to it all the same. I emailed the guys dozens of questions about the Summit throughout the Kickstarter, and eventually later that summer I pulled the trigger and signed up.

The Summit was both a big commitment (mentally, financially, emotionally) and also a game changer for me. It forced me to up my own game, but also gave me a chance to get to know the guys on a personal level.

Six months later, I’m here, working part-time at Sterling & Stone as a writer, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

My job is simple: fill in the gaps in content creation and help get more words out the door. As Amy mentioned in her post, Sterling & Stone is growing faster than the guys can keep up with. I’m here to help them execute on ideas and strategy that they know they should be doing and that they want to do, but that they literally do not have the time and energy to do right now. Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Lexi’s brand – Many of my tasks are on the Lexi Maxxwell side of things. We have a series in the works that I’m crazy excited about because it’s such a great collaboration opportunity for everyone and truly a win-win. I can’t wait until we debut it!
  2. Lexi’s blog – I’m also taking over a lot of the non-fiction writing on that side, because Lexi’s personal life is crazy and chaotic, while the pen name remains a secret to her family. While I’m not taking over the running of the Lexi brand (I have two pen names of my own and would not be able to add on the time commitment), the guys have huge plans for her line and are already seeing impressive results. I’m excited and honored to be a part of where they are taking it and happy to help make the operation run smoother any way I can!
  3. Sterling & Stone resource posts – Where you’ll see me pop up regularly on Sterling & Stone is in some of the weekly Smarter Artist resource posts, which will supplement the work Garrett is doing with Nuts & Bolts (and sometimes take its place during the hiatuses—ahem :).)
  4. Copywriting – I’ll also be working on many tasks related to copywriting, so descriptions, sales pages, and emails are all fair game. Like Johnny and Sean and even Dave (though he hates to admit it), I have a strong background in copywriting and marketing. It’s easy for me to step in and pick up some of their task overflow so they can focus on the work that requires their personal attention. You can check out my sales page for the Summit, for example, which goes into more detail about why I went to the World-Building Summit and what I gained from going!

I really, really couldn’t be happier to work at Sterling & Stone. It’s a dream come true in some ways, because cool jobs at story studios simply don’t exist right now. Sterling & Stone is a unique, quickly growing company with lots of opportunity and phenomenal people at the helm. I feel really lucky to be on board in such an interesting and challenging role where I still have a lot of room to experiment and learn new skills.

Unlike Amy, who does not want to build her own empire, I definitely do. I have two pen names that I’m currently building out and several projects planned for 2016/2017 that are book/web series combos. Writing will always, always be my first love; however, I’m really interested in toying with the current business models that web series use, because it’s still a medium in its infancy.

I eventually want to parlay into writing for television. My hero is Shonda Rhimes, because her shows are insanely addictive and she has some serious spunk in the way she runs Shondaland, especially in an industry dominated by white dudes. Television is what I’d consider my ten year plan. I have a lot to learn before then, and I want to take things slow. I’m not the most patient person in the world, but working in television feels like something worth waiting for.

IMG_8406 copyIn my personal life, I recently got engaged to a wonderful guy named Patrick who luckily has a real job with a steady paycheck in a growing industry. I would not be able to build my pen names or work at Sterling & Stone without his support!

At the same time, although Patrick has not yet met the guys at Sterling & Stone, he is really happy and grateful to them and everyone else on the team for supporting me in my professional life. I’m an extroverted writer, which is a bit like being a shy reality star or a modest stripper (yeah, I went there!). In short, I need coworkers and partners-in-crime. I get a little stir crazy if I don’t work and interact with others on a regular basis.

I’m originally from the St. Louis area, but I’ve lived in Chicago since basically the day I graduated from college. I spend a lot of time in coffee shops, but I only ever order tea. I do not leave the apartment without a moleskine journal, and I always write in purple ink.

2014-12-11 20.34.07This is my dog, Mia. She is the main reason I have an Instagram account. That, and taking pictures of every cocktail I’ve had in the last two years.

Feel free to check me out on or, the latter of which I update every week with a new writing-related article! You will probably really enjoy this one, about writing 3500+ words per hour.

About Monica Leonelle

Monica Leonelle was born in Germany and spent her childhood jet-setting around the world with her American parents. Her travels include most of the United States and Europe, as well as Guam, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the Philippines.

She started publishing independently in 2009 and has since published over half a million words of fiction spread across four series, Socialpunk, Waters Dark and Deep, Emma + Elsie, and Stars and Shadows. In 2014, she published 8 books and one short story.

She writes about indie publishing at Her most recent non-fiction book, Write Better, Faster, has earned raving reviews from the independent publishing community for going deeper than anyone else into the topic of writing speed. She currently averages around 3,000 words per hour and writes 25,000+ words per week (most weeks).


  1. Tom Hinton says:

    Awesome. I heard you mentioned on a couple of SPP episodes, and after Amy’s intro I was looking forward to learning a little more about you.

    Both of your websites look amazing, and Prose on Fire looks to be a valuable resource for us writers. I’m also returning to my love of reading, and I’ll be sure to add a few of your books to my ever-growing queue (I’ve just finished The Dream Engine and picked up a copy of Beyond the Gate, containing ‘The Crown Reading’ by… you)

    Thanks for the great intro, and I look forward to seeing more of your presence in the future.

    • Tom Hinton says:

      Oh, and BTW – I read the ‘How to Write 3500-4000 Words per-Hour’ article, and it was great.

      As an additional aid, you could carry a decoy phone which, if you spot a stranger approaching, you can hold up to your ear as if speaking to someone.

    • Monica Leonelle says:

      Tom, nice to meet you and thanks for picking up Beyond the Gate! We are really proud of that collaboration. Prose on Fire is small at the moment but slowly growing. It’s more of a hobby blog at the moment.

      Love the idea of the decoy phone, lol. And honestly, I think some people did assume I had a bluetooth headset in. It’s common enough these days!

  2. Welcome, and a belated birthday to you!

    I like your writing style and your ambition. Good luck here at S&S and in your own Empire!


    PS. I also want my own Empire. Sci fi and paranormal romance in books, romantic comedy on the big screen. 😉

    • Monica Leonelle says:

      Thanks, Roland. Do you have any fiction out yet? I thought you were primarily in the fitness space. Just asking because those are genres I read in.

      • Not yet. I have two unpublishable works of fiction behind me, and years of fiction from ages ago.

        I’m furiously finishing my latest non-fiction just so I have time to write FICTION again. Luckily or unluckily, it has a publisher induced deadline, too.

        In the meantime, I outline and write my beats at lunch and walking breaks.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love the book I’m writing, which is more health, wellness, and habit based than pure fitness or nutrition, but there’s a fiction itch I can’t. quite. reach.

  3. I think you and Amy will do great with the boys. It’s a win-win for all!
    Lovely introduction.

    • Btw, I signed up for your newsletter/updates for Prose on fire, which I actually think I have signed up for before, but I didn’t get a confirmation email. Tried once more, but nothing.

      Sure that’s working as it should?

      • I’ve just got a confirmation email, and it seems to have worked fine…

      • Monica Leonelle says:

        Not sure, but it sounds like it’s working for at least some people. It was not working awhile back, but I fixed it… so maybe you did not get a confirm then but were supposed to, and now that you’re signed up already, you aren’t going to get a confirm because they system thinks it’s your second… just my guess.

        • Could be. Can you see me on the list? I’ve never gotten anything from you, as far as I can recall. And I do check my spamfolder at least once a week, and nothing there either.

          • Monica Leonelle says:

            Yep, you’re on the list. I haven’t sent an update in like, 2 months at least. So, it’s entirely Monica-error that you haven’t received anything.

            That said, I have a few new books coming out in March so you’ll receive emails shortly.

          • Yup, got an email from you today 🙂

  4. I’ve been reading your blog for the past few weeks. I love it.
    I’m excited that you’re with S&S. Can’t wait to see more from you!

  5. Hi Monica, nice introduction. I look forward to seeing how Sterling and Stoner grows with this new influx of talent. Good luck with the empire and writing for television! I look forward to seeing your name on the small screen 🙂

    • Monica Leonelle says:

      Thank you, Daniel! S&S has a lot of room to grow. I can see the company moving into other mediums (fiction podcasts, web series, television, movies) and also producing more artists in the future.

  6. Yay! It’s great to get to know you, Monica, and welcome to the team. You were amazing during Fiction Unboxed and while I was totally jealous that I couldn’t swing the summit it was very cool to live vicariously. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with the guys and want to support you all any way I can. Thanks for sharing what you do and what you’ve learned. 🙂

  7. Cathy Pelham says:

    Exciting news Monica. You will make a great addition to Sterling and Stone. I love Prose on Fire and hope to see your name in TV in a few years. Shonda Rhimes is a fine role model, as are the S&S talent. Congratulations

    • Monica Leonelle says:

      Thanks, Cathy! I still can’t imagine my name on a television show, but it’s a fun fantasy to entertain! Lots of work ahead, still.

  8. Monica, a belated congratulations, I’m a Sterling & Stone fan as well. Looking forward to reading more of your work. And it was great talking to you about your new book Write Better, Faster, on my podcast (Write With Impact) recently. Thanks for taking the time.

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