Meet the Mentees: Post #5

More members of our #TeenPit Class of 2017!
Mentee: Sarah Ulery
Mentor: Stacey Trombley
Title: Renegade
Genre: YA Fantasy
1. When did you start writing? I’ve written since I was a kid; in elementary school, I’d write little “books” because I wanted to be like J.K. Rowling, my favorite author at the time. I seriously started writing, though, in eighth grade — that’s when I started Renegade. My creative writing teacher at the time launched me into it, and I never escaped.
2. What inspired your #TeenPit project? Eesh… Won’t go too deep here. At the time, I really liked Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians books. Renegade started as a MG Fantasy with striking resemblances to that, a friend with whom I was no longer close for no real reason, and my figure skating lessons. All of those and more have been at the very least largely altered throughout years of revision and expansion in the story via the other sequels I’ve written. In the end, the core emotions remain the same.
3. Who is your favorite author? I LOVE Neal Shusterman!! I’ve met him three times at three different signings. I want to write as honestly as he does.
4. What is your favorite book?  I regularly boycott this question. Some of my top choices are The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (I know, every writer’s favorite), Candide by Voltaire (I’m a history nerd), and Scythe by My Man Neal Shusterman. If I must pick a top choice, my loyalties lie with Scythe.
5. Is there a piece of advice you’d like to give other teen writers about revising, working with a mentor, entering a contest, etc? You are never, ever done with revisions. There will always be something you want to change if you walk away from the manuscript for long enough. Some will suck, and some will give birth to pages that make you want to shout for joy from the rooftops. No matter what, they’re necessary.
When it comes to working with a mentor of any kind, it’s kind of like finding a soulmate; you’re lucky if you can find someone who gets your book even half as well as you do. That said, there are times when you have to follow your gut despite what seems conventional. It’s your story, and you’re the only one who can tell it. All the same, mentors are mentors for a reason — they know what they’re doing, and they most always have your best interests at heart. Don’t discount a solid reader’s opinion — especially not out of pride.
As for contests, just do it. Understand that you’re one in thousands of people with the exact same dream, but also know that publishing is too subjective to get too hung up on. After all, the worst anyone can say is no, and you’ll hear a lot of it. But each rejection puts you one step closer to an acceptance, and you’ll learn a lot — both about your writing and yourself — along the way.

Mentee: Danielle Petrilak

Mentor: Becky Dean

Title: Reflections

Genre: Ya, Mystery


  1. When did you start writing? I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old. It started one night when I had a dream about this fantasy world that I actually finished the first and second book to (I don’t really like where I took it and how I wrote it so I gave up on it for a while and started other stories)
  1. What inspired your #TeenPit project? My path to entering this contest was actually from Kelly Hopkins. I go to Lackawanna Trail, and she is my creative writing teacher. She helped me and a few of the other’s in this contest learn the basics and how to enter.
  1. Who is your favorite author? Andrea Cremer. Definitely, since she is the author of my favorite series, NightShade.
  1. What is your favorite book? My favorite book is NightShade, by Andrea Cremer. Though, a close second would have to be the Shatter Me series by Tari Mafi. (I hope I spelled his name right XD)
  1. Is there a piece of advice you’d like to give other teen writers about revising, working with a mentor, entering a contest, etc? Don’t give up. No matter what you do, keep trying. At times, you’ll want to throw everything away and just give up, but I promise that when it’s finished, you’ll be glad you didn’t and you’ll get to see all the amazing work you’ve done.