Happy Monday, Mer-friends! Today we are interviewing PJ SHARON, and indie author with three books published (so far!). PJ is a YA author, with wonderful sensitivity for the concerns and interests of young adults today. In addition to being a massage therapist and a black belt in martial arts, she has recently begun training in weapons. You know, like guns and things? One thing we know about Paula, she never goes into any new venture half-hearted.
Take it away, Paula!
Please tell readers a little bit about yourself.
Thanks so much for inviting me, Susan. In my day job, I’m a Massage Therapist, personal trainer and yoga instructor. My business, ABSolute Fitness, has been a wonderful and thriving part of my life for the past seven years, and outside of writing, keeps me plenty busy. In my spare time (hahahaha), I can be found in my garden, hiking the endless web of trails behind my house, or paddling the lakes and ponds in New England. Now that my sons are grown and off doing their own thing, and my husband is so self-sufficient, it’s nice to have time to myself to pursue whatever floats my fancy.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The short answer is about six years. I’ve written on and off since I was just a little girl, but never considered myself a “writer” or imagined I would actually become published one day. Unlike most writers I’ve met, writing toward publication was a choice made on a whim, and not a lifelong dream for me. After attending a financial seminar about ten years ago, I began kicking the idea around that I could maybe write some books and make some money for my retirement. The idea kept popping up, so I started researching the book market, figuring out what people read, and discovered that Romance novels were 55% of the book market. I thought, I could write one of those. I know about romance.
So one day, while talking with a friend about how great it would be if we could stay young forever, live on a beautiful island, and have handsome young men to do our bidding, my first plot was born. I went home that day, started writing down the characters, taking notes about the “movie” I saw in my head, and didn’t stop writing until I’d written THE END nine months later. It was badly written, but I had another idea right away, so I figured if I’d done it once, I could do it again. It was about that time that I joined RWA and decided to give myself five years to learn the business and become published. I studied the craft by reading books about writing and working with a retired high school English teacher friend who continues to edit some of my work and give me writing tips. I’ve taken a ton of on-line workshops and have attended conferences like a groupie. I even amassed seven full length manuscripts in six years, so I figured I had reached my 500,000 words of practice. I jumped through traditional hoops for a while and then decided to independently publish my books. Somewhere along the way, I became a writer.
Please tell us about your latest work.
WANING MOON, the first book in the CHRONICLES OF LILY CARMICHAEL, takes place in the year 2057. A sixteen-year-old girl, genetically engineered to survive the plague that destroyed three quarters of the earth’s population, must evade the rogue Government agency that would seek to capture her and her brother. But Lily’s gift for healing has its limits and her brother’s gift isn’t the only thing the family is hiding. The uncle they live with has his own secrets and if found out, it could cost them everything. Book One chronicles Lily’s journey to the trading post in Albany with her new friend Will Callahan. She’s on a mission to get the medicine that could cure her uncle’s cancer, but Will is along for reasons of his own, and Lily finds much more than she bargained for on her trip. I’m finishing up the first draft now and the book is slated for a fall release. I’m also working on a companion short story that will be the prequel to Book One. That one will be from Zephron’s (Lily’s brother) POV and is called HARVEST MOON. It will be published in the WG2E October anthology and will be available on e-book through Amazon.
SAVAGE CINDERELLA is very different from your first two books. Can you talk about that?
I write young adult fiction, and as an indie-pubbed author, I don’t have the restrictions of having to write the same types of stories every time. I still want to make sure that I’m living up to my readership’s expectations, but as long as my message of hope comes through, I think readers will enjoy seeing something different from me. SC was written back in 2009. I wrote it in third person point of view because it was a romantic suspense and I wanted the hero’s and the villains POV in addition to my heroine’s. Back then, I had some issues with staying in deep POV, so a fellow writer recommended I try writing in first person. What came out of that was ON THIN ICE, and then HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, which were both told from the main character’s POV. Since HIFH came easily and quickly, and felt like my best writing to date, I released that one first. Then I released OTI, and after much revision, published SC in March. I think the common theme of all of my stories is that no matter what challenges a person faces, it is possible to find the inner strength to overcome. The other thing you can be sure to find in my stories is a sweet romance…because who doesn’t love a sweet romance?
What was one of the most interesting things you learned in researching your book?
I learned a lot about native plants indigenous to the Smokies and Northern Georgia. I’ve never been to Atlanta, so I did a lot of research on the city so I could create a real experience for my readers. But I think the most difficult research was reading about victims of abduction and delving into the psyche of pedophiles. I lost more than a few nights of sleep.
Do you have a formula for developing characters?
That would probably make things much easier, LOL. No, I don’t. My characters kind of come to me fully formed. Like friends, I have to spend time with them to get to know them. They generally come to me with a problem and I get to help them solve it. I’m still more of a pantser than a plotter, but I do like to work out a character grid. If I know what their goal, motivation, and conflict are, it tells me a lot of what I need to know. I also ask myself questions about them, like what is their fatal flaw? What is the thing they are most afraid of? What is the thing that keeps them from having what they want? When I know these deeper character traits, it makes it easier to see what would create conflict for them and what their big black moment might be. Beyond that, details about them evolve as the story unfolds and they reveal themselves to me.
Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
Oh, I’m sure I do. Do things like hanging upside down when I need to focus, or spouting daily affirmations at my computer count?
What was the last amazing book you read?
I’m almost done with Kristan Higgins’ latest, SOMEBODY TO LOVE. Everything she writes is amazing.
What’s next in writing for you?
Since I’m committed to the trilogy, I should be pretty busy into 2013. I’m hoping to release some short stories in between each book. I have another contemporary YA that I started last fall and I’d love to get back to work on that. I also have some ideas for non-fiction projects, but until I’m able to write full time or hire some help, production will move along at whatever pace my limited human condition can handle.
Can you leave readers with a little teaser from SAVAGE CINDERELLA?
Okay, here’s a creepy snippet for the suspense lovers:
“Do you recognize any of these men?” It was Karen Sutton, the Assistant D.A. from her father’s office, asking the question. The woman’s voice sounded distant.
“He can’t see me, can he?” Brinn glared through the glass. He was older but had the same wiry frame and narrow face that she remembered. A sick pain thundered through her flesh, reminding her of the nightmares she’d had for years. Stockman’s face suspended, immortal in the recesses of her mind, affirming that even sleep was no escape.
Her nights were tormented more than ever by dreams and memories. Now, her worst nightmare was standing no more than ten feet away. The bile that rose in her throat burned. He knew she was there behind the mirror. She could see it in his eyes—that confident, cruel look that sent a wave of terror through her chest.
“He absolutely cannot see you, Brinn.” The detective reassured. The woman wrapped an arm around her shoulders, supporting her as her limbs wobbled and threatened to give way.
“He knows that I’m here. I can feel it.”
“Which one is he?”
Brinn raised her hand and pointed a shaky finger. “That’s him, the third one in.” Her breath came in shallow gulps. “He’s the man who took me.”
“You’re absolutely certain?” Karen asked.
“Okay, Brinn. We have your statement and you’ll have the opportunity to testify when he goes to trial. Someone will contact you when we have more details.” Detective Walker led her out and down a hallway, followed closely by the tall blonde attorney who was already making conversation with someone on her cell phone.
In spite of the voices around her, Brinn was distracted by a stabbing shot of needles that pricked her spine. She looked over her shoulder. The men from the lineup were filing down the hall in the opposite direction and as he came out of the room, Roy Stockman looked down the narrow corridor, met her eyes, and let a wide, evil grin cross his face, a facade of charm showing even from a distance. He mouthed the words, but Brinn heard it as if he had whispered in her ear. “I will find you. I promise.”
Well, that’s it for today’s interview! PJ’s covers are featured below, with buy links embedded. As well, in the next spot are links to her website, Facebook, Twitter, blog and group blogs. She’s a busy, busy woman!
Thank you, PJ Sharon, for sharing your story and insights with the Mermaids today!
Contact Information for PJ Sharon
Book Trailers: http://www.youtube.com/pjsharon64
Follow PJ on Twitter: @pjsharon
“Like” PJ on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pjsharonbooks
Find PJ on Amazon’s Author Central page: https://www.amazon.com/author/pjsharon
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