Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

#PitchWars 2014: My Mentee Bio (or just a way to learn random stuff about me)


I’d never heard of Pitch Wars two weeks ago. I happened by another writer’s blog discussing it and was like, hmmm… two weeks is plenty of time to whip my novel and query letter and synopsis into shape (see my adjectives below). One of the best parts so far has been meeting fellow Pitch War mentees and critiquing one anothers’ submission material. Love fellow writers ❤

Tiny blurb about my novel.… Hooligans in Shining Armour is an 82,000-word Young Adult contemporary that brings the love story of If I Stay into a cultural battlefield, a Northern Irish version of Sharon M. Draper’s Romiette and Julio. So Romeo and Juliet with a dash of sectarianism.  Feel free to tweet or email me. Always a pleasure to talk about my hooligans.

hooligans cover

What are your hobbies and interests? 

Writing, obviously. So, back story, I’ve been living in Singapore for the past year (crazy it’s been that long!) for my husband’s job. I’m working a small amount, so I’ve kind of become a full-time, unpaid writer :P. This year, I wrote Hooligans. I’d been toying around with the idea since my trip to Northern Ireland in 2011. I went to one writer’s group in Singapore (the amazing Singapore Writer’s Group) and then haven’t stopped working on it since! I’m also a co-organizer for the 500+ member Singapore Writer’s Group. I’ve met so many amazing writers through this group and they have helped revolutionize my writing

Other than that…. Taking advantage of the strategic location of Singapore and traveling as much as possible. While embarking on said adventures, I’ve been taking millions of pictures. I’ve also started actively editing my pictures. Lately I’ve really been into capturing people in their daily lives as well as doors/corridors/columns (it’s not as random as it sounds, I swear). I think it’s the lines make interesting composition or something. Phhhh listen to me talking like I know photography jargon. I also occasionally dabble in oil painting. Here are two examples of my closed-rectangular obsession below taken at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.


And some portraits I really like from Cambodia and Vietnam

Bike ride near the rice paddiesCaught this little boy floating.Chasing the cows

I also enjoy running, even in the ridiculous heat and humidity of Singapore.

10264176_10154015699080153_5996446754965199627_oI’m the one in the front 😀

Being a token Yank over here in Singapore has heightened my interested in the NFL. (side note: haven’t met many Americans here and hang out mostly with Brits, hence the token-ness). I feel the need to embrace my Wisconsin culture! And yes, Americans, we do have unique cultures, which I didn’t really realize before I moved across the world. I sometimes blog on being the token Yank. Follow me if you’re interested in reading about me calling trousers pants and giving my friends a good laugh….

328191_802575316205_743762526_o…Guess what my favorite team is? My Dad is from Green Bay and I am from Wisconsin, so….

Finally…and a BIG finally… music. Absolutely need to breathe. Okay, well maybe that’s an exaggeration, but seriously, I must have music on at all times: when doing dishes, walking to the store, riding the bus, writing, sometimes even trying to fall asleep. I create playlist soundtracks for all my novels. Recently I’ve really been enjoying the Singer/Songwriter iTunes radio station, which kind of surprised me. I’m generally more of an Alternative, Hard Rock, Hip-Hop, with a dash of Celtic music kind of girl. Oh and I did play the clarinet in high school so…there’s that I guess. My favorite song right now is “Walking Lightly” by Junip (a Singer/Songwriter discovery).

Do you have any pets?

Yes, two amazing dogs that we imported with us all the way from the United States! That’s true love (and thousands of dollars…seriously).

photo (3)photo-1 (4)

Toby (Australian Terrier)                          Ailie (Cairn Terrier)

And no I don’t normally dress my dogs up. It’s just too funny-looking NOT to post.

Do you have any special talents? Tell us!

Not to get all sappy and serious, but perhaps this is a special talent. Back home in good old Madison, Wisconsin, I work as a school psychologist. This is related to what I think is my special talent. I can build a relationship with pretty much any kid. HOLD ON! In a professional setting! I’ve worked with hundreds of kids and teenagers from at least twenty racial/ethnic backgrounds and the gambit of social strata (except maybe the 1%). That’s why I love writing…wait for it…YA!!! I get kids and teens. And I absolutely love working with them.

List 3 adjectives that would surprise people about you: 

Introverted. My friends don’t believe me, but it’s true. My extroversion is a learned skill and I definitely get “peopled out” and need to go hide for a while .

Manic. Just a bit. On occasion. Like write 16 hours a day. Perhaps a few days in a row. Like recently lol.

that stuffs amazingDetermined (to the point of obsession on occasion). When I put my mind to something, it will get done, whether it’s obtaining  funding a student service trip to South Dakota or finishing a revision by a self-imposed deadline. My mom sometimes jokes about this personality trait of mine. In 8th grade, we moved from Milwaukee, WI to Sparta WI. Between door slams and blasting Smashing Pumpkins, I swore I’d move back, and that’s where I took my first job as a School Psychologist. In 6th grade I saw the movie Braveheart and fell in love with Scotland. I immediately started watching travel videos and reading all about Scotland. Now I’ve been. Twice. And my current novel? Months and months of research on current events, history, setting, culture, dialect. Hunting down people in Belfast to read it. Hiring a Belfast development editor to read for dialect and culture. At least fifteen critiques by Yanks and Brits. It’s been an epic quest finishing it, but now that it’s pretty much done, I’m so proud of it. All the stress and panic and doubt and, yes, tears have been worth it.

The-OfficeThis pretty much sums up how I feel about it! I’m off to my condo elevator 😛

Do you have any tattoos? If yes, what are they? And where are they located on your body?

Nope. A) I hate pain. B) I have commitment issues 😛 No seriously I cannot imagine anything that I know I would still want on my body in thirty years.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’m incredibly proud of Hooligans. I’ve been writing since I was 12. I have like four novels hidden away in a secret file on my laptop. One’s over 200,000 words long! Eek! I’ve learned A LOT since then. Okay, if any mentors see this, don’t judge. Hooligans is only 82,000, I swear!

In terms of my the rest of my life, I’m proud all the work I’ve done as a school psychologist for the past six years and cannot wait to get back to the United States to continue. Related to that, I’m pretty proud that my husband and I were brave enough to completely uproot our lives and move across the world. That’s not exactly an accomplishment, but it was a scary decision and sometimes we still wonder if it was totally insane to do. Moving to Singapore has definitely changed my entire outlook on life. I cannot even quantify what I’ve learned about the world and myself as a result. It’s also made me a better writer.



I will say there are times when I can’t wait to get back to this though…

557168_10100111065895585_2043205287_nAnd that’s my story. Or one small part of it.

If you’ve reached the end of this post you MUST post some random fact about yourself. The most random. If you don’t, I’ll know! Okay, no I won’t but maybe karma will get you 😛

12 thoughts on “#PitchWars 2014: My Mentee Bio (or just a way to learn random stuff about me)

    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Hahahaaaa!!!! Like how to use it or just that my mind was blown that it’s an American thing? Interesting fact…. It’s actually from old English. UK stopped using it in the 18th century and just use get/got whereas US kept using it get/got/gotten. So it’s actually not an Americanism… It’s and old englishism 😛 plus Canadians use it to, so let’s not forget them. In the end, we all say forgotten so there’s that. This one fascinates me and I when I use gotten in conversation with my British friends I sometimes wonder what they think lol.


  1. Carla Cullen

    Nice to meet a fellow Wisconsin-ite! I live in Cedarburg, 20 minutes north of Milwaukee. Random fact: I used to act in children’s theater and I always ended up with guy parts, like the frog prince and the emperor!


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Cedarburg’s a lovely place! Such a cute downtown. Haha I acted, too! One year I was Marley’s ghost in A Chistmas Carol! Thanks for stopping by, always love meeting a fellow Wisconsinite because we are just awesome!


  2. Sally

    Thanks for sharing! Nice to see another expat here (I’m in London…inundated with Brits and there are never enough Yanks around for my taste). I also worked in schools in a counselling capacity (only higher ed) and I lived in Ireland for 5 years (and actually took a bunch of students on a day trip to the North on the day of the Omagh bombings…it was intense).

    So, I’d be very interesting in reading your story. Good luck with pitch wars. I’m gonna do my bio today (not something an introvert does easily, even very socially adjusted ones…am I right?).


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Hey fellow expat, what’s up! And a fellow educator writer :D. Yeah so also an American shortage in Singapore but it’s interesting because all us westerners are aliens together, therefore relatively similar lol. And wow you were in the north with kids during the omagh bombing! I cannot imagine what that experience was like!

      I’ll hop on over to your blog hop as well. And I’d love for you to read mine 😀 I have two chapters up on my novels page if you’re interested.

      Oh and heads up, I have a token yank post coming up about my first beans on toast experience 😛

      Nice to meet you, best luck in PW, and happy waiting er writing! Thanks for stopping by.


  3. Alessa

    Singapore is one of my favorite places in the world!

    Random fact: I have a scar on the middle finger of my left hand. A chair fell on it when I was little and crushed it. I still remember all the blood. I had to go to the ER so they could sew it back together again.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Ahhhh I’ve had a few hand gashes as well. One I did get stitches, the other I probably should have ick!

      And Singapore, it’s pretty cool. Not a very big island, but lots around it to explore. Thanks for stopping by and happy writing!


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