Home > Awards > Tips for Writing Award-Winning Wellness Nonfiction: An Interview with Simonetta Carr

Writing an award-winning book is not always the goal. Sometimes, it results from pouring out
your heart to help others.

This week, the San Diego Book Awards Association shares the interview with Simonetta Carr,
winner of the 2020 San Diego Book Award for Wellness Nonfiction.

Simonetta Carr 2020 SDBA Award Winner

Simonetta Carr’s book, Broken Pieces and the God Who Mends Them, chronicles her experience of caring for a son with schizophrenia, along with all the struggles, questions, and prayer that went with it. In our SDBA interview, she shares parts of her deeply personal journey.

Inspired to Help Others

SDBAA: What inspired you to write this award-winning wellness nonfiction book?

Carr: My son Jonathan lived with schizophrenia for four years and died just before his 21st
birthday. When he was first diagnosed, I didn’t know what schizophrenia was and what I could
do. This book was born of my desire to help others by telling my story and sharing some of the
lessons I learned the hard way.

Write without Stopping, and Do Your Research

SDBAA: For the aspiring author yearning to write excellent wellness nonfiction, can you share
your writing process?

Carr: It depends. I wrote the first part of this book (the story) almost without stopping, a few
weeks after my son’s death. It was easy because everything was still fresh in my mind.
For the second portion of the book—lessons learned—I spent four years researching and
interviewing different people.

But this book is atypical for me. Most of the time, I write nonfiction books for children. For
those, I spend some time researching, then plan my book, write, and collect photos.

Tackle Difficult Tasks Head On

SDBAA: What was the hardest part of writing Broken Pieces and the God Who Mends Them,
and how did you overcome it?

Carr: Writing my story was not difficult because I was already re-living my experience all the
time. The fact that I had kept a detailed record of my son’s progress and various emails I sent to both professionals and friends helped me to tell the story in chronological order.

I think the hardest part was editing it. The publisher sent the manuscript back to me a few times with various edits, and I just didn’t want to read my story again. The last time I had to do that, I printed out all the pages and then walked up and down as I re-read them. Somehow, the walking helped. It emphasized my resolve to tackle this difficult task head-on.

Take Writing as Any Other Job

SDBAA: One of the biggest challenges for aspiring authors is to finish writing their first draft.
What do you do to stay productive and focused?

Carr: I work on contract, so that helps since I have commitments and deadlines. I take writing
as any other job. I sit at my computer and write. I know it has to be done, so I do it.

Talk Openly from Your Heart

SDBAA: What advice can you give current and aspiring authors about writing an excellent book in your genre?

Carr: This book was half memoir and half self-help. For a memoir, I would say talk openly
from your heart. I received many comments about the honesty of my story. I wrote in the present tense, so I re-lived each moment and described it as if it were happening again. It was
emotionally taxing but effective.

Closing Thoughts

Some books are difficult to write because they require authors to share painful experiences.
Many powerful books that could help other people are never written because of fear, self-doubt, and other emotional resistance. We hope Simonetta’s journey will encourage those with an important message of hope and healing to face the fears head-on and share their stories.

About Simonetta Carr

Simonetta Carr was born in Italy and has lived and worked in different cultures. She worked first as an elementary school teacher and then as a home-schooling mother for many years. The author of a number of books, including the award-winning series Christian Biographies for
Young Readers, she has been contributing to newspapers and magazines around the world and
has been translating the works of several authors from English into Italian and vice versa.


About Broken Pieces and the God Who Mends Them

Simonetta Carr chronicles her experience of caring for a son with schizophrenia, along with all
the struggles, questions, and prayer that went with it. Though the end of the story is painful, the lessons learned have been invaluable. And this isn’t one person’s story.

The book provides information and wisdom from psychiatrists, pastors, parents, and people who successfully live with schizophrenia, sharing hard-won insights on how to care and advocate for those we love.

Buy now

About the San Diego Book Awards Association

The San Diego Book Awards Association supports and recognizes published and unpublished authors with our annual competition.

Ready to Compete for a San Diego Book Award?

The submissions window for the 2021 San Diego Book Awards competition is from 10/1/20 to 12/31/20. For more information, please visit our submissions page.

If you are interested in participating as a judge, please visit our judging page.