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Recently, we spoke with 2018 mentee, Kari Veenstra, about her latest announcement of a publication deal and what's happened before and since.

Tell us a little about you and your writing journey to date.

My mother homeschooled me in the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea. I took to reading like a duck to water. The older I got, the more I read, and quickly exhausted my family's collection of books. Living in the jungle meant no shops or libraries and this was well before the days of the Internet - not that we would have had reception in the jungle. We didn't even have power! I started writing fiction as a teen simply because I ran out of things to read. Sci-Fi and fantasy were my go-to's and I filled notebook after notebook with heros and spaceships and dragons. I came to America for college in 2006 and dabbled in both journalism and copywriting for 10 years. I edited the original manuscript for THE RESCUER when my husband was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, then shelved it until my sister - an indie author - asked if I was going to pursue publication.
What made you apply for WriteMentor 2018?
I "untrunked" THE RESCUER at the end of 2017 and got it in front of some beta readers. 2018 was going to be my "year of the edit." I joined Twitter in the spring and heard about this new program - like PitchWars, but specifically for MG and YA. I was thrilled at the idea of partnering with a more experienced writer, plus the deadline was a good goal for me, so I applied.
And what was your experience like?
It was a busy summer. My mentor A M Dassu helped me with the first five chapters of my novel. I worked hard on revising those initial chapters and that led to edits on the rest of the book. We also worked on my query letter and synopsis and tightened them up significantly.
What happened after the programme ended?
I had 1 agent request that was ultimately rejected. I revised through the rest of 2018 and started querying in Feb 2019 but wasn't getting much feedback from agents. I had actually pulled my book from querying and started another round of edits when Jana Grissom from INtense Publications contacted me to request the full manuscript. She had found my submission in the #WriteMentor archives and was intrigued by my premise. After reading the full, she offered a publishing contract, which I signed after careful consideration.
What's next for you?
I'm editing THE RESCUER for publication. I originally marketed it as MG and I think that kept it from appealing to more agents, so I'm currently changing the story from MG to YA. It's is a major undertaking, and I'm knee-deep in edits. If I can get it all done, the book will debut Winter 2019 or Spring 2020. I have plans to turn this book into a series and am also drafting a low-fantasy novel that's a gender-bent MULAN+HUNGER GAMES.
What one piece of advice would you give to other unpublished writers?
PERSISTENCE!!!! This industry is a long game. Getting published is an achievable goal, but it take effort and TIME to get there. Everyone's journey is different. What looks like ease for one author, still required boatloads of persistence on their part.
Where can we follow you/find out more about you and your writing?
Find me on Twitter @KariVeenstra_ or FB @kariveenstra.author. You can also visit my website kariveenstra.com to see my latest publishing announcements or to sign up for my newsletter.

Kari Veenstra

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