My guest today is my friend PJ Sharon, author of some real page turners. I’ve read them – I know. Welcome PJ
PJ Sharon is author of several independently published, contemporary young adult novels, including HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES. Her stories have garnered several contest finals, including two awards for ON THIN ICE, and a place in the prestigious Valley Forge Romance Writers and the Florida Romance Writers Golden Palm contest for SAVAGE CINDERELLA.
Writing romantic fiction for the past six years, and following her destiny to write Extraordinary stories of an average teenage life, PJ is a member of RWA, CTRWA, and YARWA. She is mother to two grown sons and lives with her husband and her dog in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA.
Thanks for hosting me today, Bob. Let me start off by saying I thoroughly enjoyed A LITTLE BIT OF BLACKMAIL, and can’t wait to read your next book. Now, as for tying in romance, young adult novels, and Ground Hog Day into one post, I think I’ve got my work cut out for me. But being creative is what we writers do, right? So here goes…
When I first began writing toward publication, I asked myself, what do readers want to read? After a bit of research, I found that 55% of the book market was romance novels. I thought, I can write about that! After all, I had fallen in love with a wonderful man and found my bliss living in the Berkshires, running my own business finally, and fulfilling my motherly duties by raising two fantastic young men who were off becoming the heroes of their own stories. I was free to pursue my dreams of becoming a published author. Needless to say, I was thrilled when the first idea came to me. I came home from work one day after chatting with a client about what a perfect world it would be if we could live on a beautiful island, never grow old, and have handsome young men to do our bidding. As I jotted down characters and names, faces jumped into my head and the plot jumped onto the page. Nine months later, on—you guessed it—Ground Hog day, I wrote THE END on my first manuscript. That was in 2006.
Looking back at that first effort, I’ll admit that it was pretty awful. It was a paranormal/fantasy/erotic romance. I know…pick a genre, right? There were POV issues, way too many characters to keep track of, and some horrid purple prose, not to mention, bad grammar and lots of drivel. Drivel aside, though, I learned so much about myself and about the writing craft by sticking with it and writing to the end of a 100K manuscript. I learned to write a great romantic scene, and most importantly, I learned that I could write a book. So I joined RWA and hooked up with a grammar coach and started the next book. And then the next, and the next—until I had written seven full length manuscripts in six years. I was bitten by the writing bug in a big way, and there was no plan on stopping until I was published.
Being the chronic over-achiever that I am, I had given myself five years to get published, thinking that I really needed to be making some money for the twenty or thirty hours a week I was spending writing down these crazy stories. I took the usual route to traditional publishing. I found critique partners, entered contests, queried agents and editors, went to workshops and conferences, and basically learned everything I could about the business of becoming a published author. At that point I don’t mind saying, I felt like I was chasing a piece of withered lettuce on a hamster wheel. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to be published anymore, being that the publishing world felt like an enemy I was trying to win over.
Once I began writing contemporary young adult romance, everything fell into place. All the skills I’d been learning came together and I felt that my writing had evolved to a point that I was really ready to have someone scoop up my work and say this is exactly what we were looking for and we’d love to work with you. Oh, and by the way, we’d love to give you a big fat advance! But the feedback I was getting was that the “voice and the writing were good”, but that my stories “didn’t quite fit on the shelf”.
Observing the few and far between success stories, it became clear that my dream was not going to happen, at least not the way I wanted it to. Worse was knowing that when it did eventually happen, I knew that it would be another year or more before anything would end up in print. I also worried that through the editing process and with the rather strict guidelines editors of traditionally published books seem to follow, I would have to give up much of my personal writing style and tell stories that someone else wanted me to write. Since becoming self-employed about seven years ago, I came to recognize my own need for independence and freedom. I knew I wanted the freedom to write what I wanted to write and publish the way I wanted to. I also wasn’t willing to work “for” anyone else again. There is something intrinsically wrong with doing 90% of the work and making 10% of the profit. That’s when I found indie-publishing. I’ll save the indie publishing journey for another post, but suffice it to say, I’m very excited about the doors that are now open to me and the fact that I have been able to successfully publish three young adult novels in a six month period of time. HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES was released in September, 2011, ON THIN ICE came out in December and SAVAGE CINDERELLA will be available in March of this year. I have two more full length novels and a short story in the WG2E October anthology planned for this year.
So here we are on Ground Hog Day six years after my first THE END moment, and my dream is coming true. The lesson I would like to pass along to all you folks who dream of becoming a published author, is that if you want it bad enough and are willing to keep focused on your goal, there is always a way to achieve what you set out to do. You might just have to blaze a new trail, and don’t be afraid to stick your head up out of the ground to see what the future holds.
Buy Links for ON THIN ICE
Contact or follow PJ:
Book Trailers for Heaven is for Heroes and On Thin Ice: http://www.youtube.com/pjsharon64
On her Website: http://www.pjsharon.com
Follow PJ on Twitter: @pjsharon
Follow PJ on Facebook: PJ Sharon Author Fan Page
Follow PJ’s Promotional blog @ http://pjsharonyawriter.blogspot.com
Follow PJ’s Tuesday blog @ http://secretsof7scribes.wordpress.com
Follow PJ’s Friday Healthy Teen Tips blog @ http://yabeyond.com