What made you apply for the WriteMentor programme?
I was browsing through Twitter looking for a critique partner when I happened upon a post from Stuart White. When I read the WriteMentor program description, I knew it was exactly what I needed. My book was all over the place, and I didn’t know where to begin to fix it.
What was your experience like?
My mentor Sarah Barkoff Palma was completely honest with me, and you just won’t get that from friends or family most of the time. The main thing she taught me was to write for the reader not the writer. There were parts of my book that she told me to cut. It was hard but it was necessary to keep the reader engaged. By the end of the summer we cut out 17,000 words. Sarah taught me not to have repetitive sentence structure and to find the balance with too much dialogue. I can still hear her in my head telling me to use contractions when I write. Working with Sarah was such a good experience and she did all of this with me while in the middle of moving her family to Florida!
Tell us about your writing journey from start until now?
My journey has had so many ups and downs. From the happiness of getting a spot in WriteMentor to getting let down with lots of agent rejections. It’s all worth it if you truly just love to write a good story. The key is to keep going.
Can you tell us a little more about the book you worked on and signed with?
The book is a historical Young Adult novel set in 1985. MTV’s in full force and Pretty in Pink is life and sixteen-year-old rule-follower Megan Shine is falling in love for the first time with a charming misfit. But love has consequences that leaves Megan unraveling and grappling with making decisions for her future after tragedy strikes. I would describe my book as the film Juno meets Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. I signed with Evernight Teen.
What is your best piece of writing advice that you learned on the programme?
Sarah taught me to examine every scene I wrote and ask myself if it helps move the plot along. If it doesn’t then it’s time to cut it out. Keeping the reader from getting bored is key I think.
Why do you think mentoring is important for writers?
I think it’s important because your siblings and friends won’t tell you the book you just wrote is in need of major help. A mentor can point out where you need the most help while giving you the confidence to know you can write a good story. The experience has changed my life.
Carrie grew up in the United States in Kansas City, Missouri where the sports and barbecue make the humidity in the summer and the frigid temps in the winter worth it. She fell in love with reading as a young girl when she picked up her first Beverly Cleary book and was pulled into the world of Ramona Quimby. Her passion for writing young adult comes from a love of the mischief we all explored as teens. She believes no matter where you grew up or what era, you walked a fine line of keeping it all together or completely falling apart while navigating the ups and downs of school. Teen angst is a rite of passage that we all recover from at some point, and she loves to write about it. She’s a high school registrar who fills her nights with writing and reading into the wee hours. Her weekends are spent hanging out with her two sons and trying to tame a couple of obnoxious rescued dogs, and life couldn’t be better. Follow her on Twitter @CarrieBeamer2