Bolder and Older: Sharon Ledwith (Young Adult)
I've known Sharon Ledwith via social media and email for several years. Given her energy and talent, I was surprised to discover she was fifty when she first published. Though we write in different genres, mine a bit spicy and hers Young Adult, I still read her books and recommend them to my granddarlings.
But enough about how well I know Sharon, it's time for you, the reader, to get to know her.
Sharon, tell us your life experiences before jumping into the writing pool? Was there a job you hated or loved more than others?
A job I hated? Mmm...not really. During my high school years, I worked for a local printing company in the bindery area, which led me to flex my graphic trade skills by taking a college course called Graphic Technician. After graduating, I got a job right away with a graphic company who specialized in the plastic packaging business. Think images on cups, yogurt and ice cream containers, make-up tubes, mousse cans, any product like that. Plus, I met my future hubby there! It was an enjoyable experience to the point that hubby and I decided to move forward, and start our own company through the business relationships we cultivated. After over twenty years in the graphic trade business, we sold our company in 2004 and moved to our cottage. In 2007, I acquired a part-time job with the local animal shelter for over a year. Talk about hard work, and the emotions that rolled through you! In 2014, we decided to pull up our roots again and move to the southern region of Ontario where the climate is warmer, and family is nearer. These days, I’m concentrating on my writing career full time!
When did you start writing?
In 1995, because a little voice inside me told me that I could write. LOL! Actually, that’s true. I never really thought that I could be a writer, but from a very young age I’d create stories in my mind, and play those stories out like movies. I often wondered if that was normal, and never really put two and two together to pursue a career in writing. So when that ‘voice’ spoke to me in 1995, I decided to take a couple of night courses and attended a few writing workshops to get the ball rolling in the ‘write’ direction. Since then, writing has become my passion, and I’ve learned to harness my imagination through this creative outlet.
What age were you when you first published?
I was offered a publishing contract at the age of 50 with the now-defunct publishing company, Musa Publishing in 2011 for The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis – Book #1 of my young adult time travel series. There was some heavy-duty editing needed to be done on the manuscript, so I wasn’t published until May 2012, after I turned 51. What a great day that was, and a dream come true for me! Perseverance sure gets you where you want to be!
Why did you decide on Young Adult? Did you read a lot of the genre at that time?
Originally, I gravitated toward paranormal romance, and had no intention of writing a middle-grade/young adult book like The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis. However, fate intervened and the inspiration to write a young adult book came to me through a dream I had around 1998. In this dream, I saw seven arches, and there were seven people (five kids, two adults) with crystals in their hands, walking up to these arches. It definitely had an Indiana Jones feel to it. The idea kept growing in my mind, and wouldn’t leave, like some mystical force pushing you from behind. So, I thought I’d challenge myself and write a novel—a series—that would appeal to my son, who at the time was the target age of my audience. I’ve always loved the time travel genre (think Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series), so I imagined the arches I saw vividly in my dream as time portals. It was a no-brainer for me.
Do you think starting a writing career when you’re older gives you a different perspective on writing?
Actually, I started learning to write at 34 years old, created a body of work (unpublished, but submitted until I was blue in the face), and as I mentioned didn’t get published until I was 51. So to answer your question, YES! You sure have a different perspective when things start to happen for you at a later age. You’re more seasoned and grounded, and have grown a thicker skin. Things like 1 or 2 Star reviews don’t bother you as much, and you get to live your life and dreams on your own terms. I’d say that was a recipe for success and happiness, wouldn’t you?
Are there moments in your books based on things from your childhood?
Maybe from my past lives! LOL! Actually, some (or perhaps all) of my characters are really different aspects of myself when I was a girl. Amanda’s a tomboy. Treena’s the clown. Jordan loves sports. Drake is always inquiring, pushing for answers. And Ravi is the one hiding behind the curtain. I pull from certain experiences to give my stories a real feel, probe readers’ emotions, make them laugh, smile or cry, even shock them at times. But my main goal is to entertain my readers, as I state in my author tagline: Escape to the past and have a blast.
Do you plot your books, or just go with the flow?
A little of both, although I’m learning that it pays to create a solid outline, especially with the research I have to do with my time travel novels. The time period. The clothes. The food. The mentality. The laws. The good, the bad, and all the ugly. Lately, I’ve trained myself to plot my novels out on paper and pin the papers to a storyboard. This makes the writing process faster (for me), and allows for my awesome muse to pop in and take me in another direction if needed.
How long does it take you to write a book? Do you start with the story idea or a character speaking to you and develop the story around them?
Well…in the case of writing a series, I’ve had a long time to develop the characters, and get to know them better. I’ve also created a master plan for the series consisting of ten books, plus the prequel. Book #1 (The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis) and the prequel (Legend of the Timekeepers) have already been written and published, and Book #2 (The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret) is set to be released October 17th, 2016. Getting back to your first question, Lizzie, it takes anywhere from nine to eighteen months to do the research, outline, and write the book. I wish I could pump my books out like some authors, but I find that I enjoy the process more when I immerse myself into the time period my time travelers are going to visit, then create their Timekeeper mission (the reason why my characters were summoned there in the first place). The whole series is based on the premise of legendary time travelers (Timekeepers) sworn to keep history safe (and unchanged) from an evil force known as Belial.
What is your routine for writing? Do you set a schedule or squeeze in writing time when you can?
I try to do ‘banker hours’ for my writing. I’ve found this has worked for me the best. I schedule time for my spiritual practice, exercise, answering emails, and social media first thing in the morning, which leaves me the rest of the day to plan or write my next novel. However, when there’s a new release coming up, I focus on getting edits to my publisher on time, approving the book cover, creating blog posts for book blog tours, and preparing any promotions and marketing for the new book. I’ve learned so much in the last five years, and two of the most important things is to keep fresh content (a blog) circulating around the world wide web, and having a presence in social media (Facebook and Twitter). As you get more books out your backlist grows, and so does your author platform and brand. Nowadays, authors have to juggle their creative sides with their business sides if they want to have a successful writing career.
When can we expect your next book? Can you share a little about it?
Would love to, Lizzie! The next instalment of The Last Timekeepers time travel series is entitled The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret and comes out October 17th, 2016 through Mirror World Publishing. I’ve written this book in Jordan Jensen’s point of view, and the mission takes place during World War Two. Here’s a taste of what to expect:
Only a true hero can shine the light in humanity’s darkest time.
Fourteen year-old Jordan Jensen always considered himself a team player on and off the field, until the second Timekeeper mission lands him in Amsterdam during World War Two. Pulled into the world of espionage, torture, and intolerance, Jordan and the rest of the Timekeepers have no choice but to do whatever they can to stay one step ahead of the Nazis in order to find and protect a mysterious book.
With the help of the Dutch Resistance, an eccentric baron, Nordic runes, and an ancient volume originating from Atlantis, Jordan must learn that it takes true teamwork, trust, and sacrifice to keep time safe from the evils of fascism. Can Jordan find the hero within to conquer the darkness surrounding the Timekeepers? If he doesn’t, then the terrible truth of what the Nazis did will never see the light of day.
Is there anything else you want to share, Sharon?
I sure would! Since I was published in my 50s, I wanted to share some advice for anyone over 50 who is thinking of pursuing a writing career:
Never stop investing in yourself. Invest in the best. That’s in yourself, and in your readers. Your readers deserve the best of what you have to offer them. Surround yourself with the best possible team. Never stop learning. As you grow as a writer, so will your readers, so be prepared for this. Oh yeah, and never give up. That’s a given and should be part of any author’s credo.
Where can readers find your books, or connect with you?
Glad you asked, Lizzie! First, I want to thank you for asking me to do this awesome interview with NOR. I really appreciate the opportunity, and your continued support and friendship. I’m so happy our paths crossed! Hugs and cheers!
Here’s how readers can connect with me:
Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.
Columnist Lizzie T. Leaf: Award winning author, Lizzie T. Leaf started life in Kansas, sprung to adulthood in North Carolina, and currently shivers through the winters in Colorado.
Since discovering the fun of writing paranormal, she plays with creating vampires, faeries and other immortals. When she needs a touch of reality, her Contemporary Erotic Romances come into play. Her most recent release is Nordic Heat, available at http://amzn.to/1owng5k
If she’s not creating mischief for paranormal beings, or getting under the covers with her erotic heroes, she can be found exploring the other genres she wants to write. She is a member of RWA and has served as President for the Heart of Denver Romance Writers and VP of Programs.
Lizzie loves to read, spend time with her family and travel with her best friend husband.