I have given several interviews that tell about my writing experience. Here's one.
Interviewer: Hello Sheron. I’d like to start by asking what inspired you to start writing?
Sheron: I read everything, but I write science fiction. Science fiction has been one of my passions for a long time, thanks to my father’s influence. There were times my mother would go hunting for him and find him hiding out in the bathroom avidly reading some science fiction book as if it were a forbidden treat. I now understand this behavior, especially since we were four kids at home. Sometimes, I read in out-of-the-way places too, feeling as if I am partaking of some guilty pleasure. He always talked about how he was going to write the great science fiction novel. Later, he would add that he would write it after he retired. Then he retired. He started on his novel. Soon after, he came to me and shook his head. “I love to read it,” he said, “but I can’t write it.” He threw up his hands in defeat. I saw the torch arcing my way and caught it.
Sheron: I determined then to accomplish his dream. After I graduated with a Master’s degree in Education, minor in English, speech and journalism from the University of Florida (go Gators), I taught creative writing and literature at Bradford High School in Florida. Trial by fire. I married and followed my husband all around the country from Miami, Florida to Minnetonka, Minnesota to Portland, Oregon (where we live now) and everywhere in between, holding down day jobs of high school teacher, Kelly Girl coordinator, banker, stockbroker, oil landscape artist, and art gallery director. One night, during a long, boring ride home from a vacation weekend in Tahoe, we drove by a billboard that had the name Penryn on it. Going seventy miles-an-hour on the highway, I took one brief glance, and my imagination sparked. In that one brief moment, a whole world and generations of exotic characters, places and events came into being that has lasted me years of writing. No wonder I focus on time and its effect in my books. I continued to write while juggling family, jobs, a new baby, and managing a household.
Interviewer: And you’re clearly passionate. What have you had published to-date?
Sheron: My first published book was Caught In Time. It is available on Amazon as an eBook, and paperback. There are currently nine books in the Alysian Universe Series to date. All stand alone, but follow along a time line. (albeit a zigzagging timeline) You get to meet the originals such as Arwoyn Telluria and then his descendants as they do amazing things. Check out my books at: Author Central.
Interviewer: Could you tell us a bit about it?
Sheron: Caught In Time is a time travel, science fiction adventure and romance that takes place on Alysia, an alien planet. It is the story of Rowyna Grae who always thought she was human until the day Arwoyn Telluria, the last dying time traveler, tells her that she was created using bits of his DNA…specifically the gene for time travel in order to save the future. He explains that he met her as a young boy, and she told him that she is on a critical mission. So, in the future, he creates her to return and fulfill that destiny.
But things go awry. Arwoyn dies. The new regime wants to make her a stealth assassin, and the inexperienced lab assistant, Richard Steele, frantically sends her to the wrong place and loses her.
She arrives in medieval Alysia with dangerously packed bags at the king’s hunting lodge with an agenda to kill the king. Within a day, she kills six men, defending herself against rape, robbery and, of course, falls in love with the very king she is supposed to kill. She creates havoc as she changes the past and reorders Richard’s world down the timestream.
The charming Medieval past isn’t so charming when there is no running water, no central heat, betrayal and intrigue at the royal court, not to mention, war on the horizon. Will she fulfill her task or will love trip her up?
Interviewer: What will readers like about your books?
Sheron: My readers will like the fun of the read. There is no deep message, no critical information that will change your life or show you how to lose weight or make more money. It is like a bar of good chocolate that you savor, but it lasts a lot longer. It costs less than a cup of coffee but has the same stimulating effect. The reader is plunged into a world of the past with a heroine who struggles to survive and has to deal with a self-absorbed king that she finds herself falling in love with against all better judgment. The dialog is fun and the action continuous. As she meets new situations and reacts, she changes the past and that changes the future where poor Richard Steele has to deal with the consequences. He is thrown into various different timelines because of her actions as he finds himself on the whip end of events. He becomes desperate to get her back…that is if he can locate her, and the time machine is still working, and if she even wants to come back.
And that's just the first book. The others books are all different: a murder mystery, a Star trek style space travel with a space battle, a confrontation with aliens, and lots of other stuff.
Interviewer: What kind of person do you think would like this book?
Sheron: Well, my husband doesn’t read fiction. He’s mainly a non-fiction kind of guy, an engineer. So for a long time while I was writing, he didn’t cast a glance at my little hobby. Years went by. I was waiting on publishers to respond. Then, I published. It was set in stone– out in the world and that’s when he decided to read it…a very mature, engineer-type guy…. reading a time travel adventure book with a female protagonist and having minimal gore. I held my breath and waited for the sneer.
He loved it.
Sheron: I passed out. Smelling salts were required. He’s now casting parts for the movie version and plans to retire on the royalties. I’m not quite that optimistic, but I am open to possibilities. So the answer is–any kind of reader. Anyone may like this if they can read, or be read to. Surprise me.
Interviewer: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them? What was your first acceptance?
Sheron: As I wrote, occasionally I would submit. First, however, I attended conferences and workshops. The publishing industry seemed to have so many secret rules, specialized formats, and exact procedures that it made my head swim. There were strict formulas to adhere to while they kept saying that they wanted the material to be “fresh.” And no simultaneous submissions! Everyone wanted it a bit different too. I submitted to TOR, the top publisher of science fiction and then Simon and Schuster.
I was told I needed an agent, preferably one in New York. (3,000 miles away) I knew no one. Also, I didn’t take rejection well, especially via form letters. I knew some of the best writers had been rejected many times…I knew that in my brain, but emotionally it was still hard to get rejected and have to go out and submit again and again.
Interviewer: It is tough but I heard (not sure how true this is) that Dean Koontz had 500 rejections. Ah, just Googled it and the consensus is 75 but someone does say 500 so maybe it’s 75 before first publication and 500 before first novel? Anyway, a lot.
Sheron: But I kept on, anyway.
Sheron: I submitted a synopsis and first three chapters to Baen Books…and waited…and waited. I wrote them eight months later saying that I was going to submit elsewhere. They wrote that they wanted to see the whole manuscript. They were interested. It was exciting. I took a month to put a bright polish on it and sent it out…and waited. I got discouraged, but I still kept writing and rewriting my other books. My beta readers loved the stories and got impatient that I hadn't published. I told them, “Easy for you to say.” They had no idea. A year later, I was at a writers' conference, and I mentioned how angry I was that I hadn’t heard a word– not even a cold cruel form rejection from Baen. My fellow writer turned to me and said, “Didn’t you hear that Jim Baen died?” Well, no, I hadn’t heard and wasn’t that a poor excuse for not responding.
So when Amazon said they would publish my book at no charge, and I could put it up and sell it on Amazon without any deaths involved, I jumped at the chance…and became an Indie author. No agent needed.
Interviewer: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Sheron: I get my best inspiration around 3:00 a.m. Yes, a.m. It is hard to find pen and paper, or now, my iPad at that hour. I also get great ideas in the shower. But the hair dryer seems to blow away all the really great ones by the time I grab my Ipad. My second book, A Dangerous Talent for Time was called RiddleQuest for a long time because it tells of a fun worldwide search for pieces of a riddle. It has a YA flavor with lots of action. Then Google came along, and I discovered that someone else had the title. Sometimes technology makes me cry.
Interviewer: Yes, I know the feeling.
Sheron: So, for a long time it was the X-titled book, and then one day it just came to me, and I liked the title. I don’t remember the time or location…or whether I was wet or dry.
Sheron: While I was waiting for word from a publisher, or was just too discouraged to hunt for an agent or resubmit, I’d say that I was done with my characters. I had better things to occupy my busy life than writing about time traveling, world saving, wise-cracking, people who seemed to decide what they were going to do in my books, regardless of my wishes. So I’d be done with them, BUT, they would sneak into my head while I was trying to get to sleep and suggest that it would be fun to have Hieronymous’ mother be a time traveling clone. Okay, I can do that book. Then an alien probe crash lands on Alysia, throwing the planet into the space race with a fun story at Sunpointe Space Academy. Romance and a murder mystery ensues. Next book, guys. How about they build a space ship and follow this strange alien signal? Now we’re at three, or is it four?
Then, when Arwoyn was developing his clone experiments, his first two attempts were male clones. Whatever happened to them? What if one didn’t know that he was a clone or that he could time travel, but others knew? And tried to kill him? Yipes! I really wanted to get my beauty rest, but these intriguing scenarios kept me awake. So I finished his book. Done. Then I found out that I liked to put my characters in impossible situations and see how they would wriggle out. How about Alysia's two moons colliding? How about an alien invasion, but not what you might expect. Meeting aliens in space? What would they look like? What would they do? How about…
Jeff Bezos created Amazon and the Kindle, and the literary world changed. Steve Jobs shifted a paradigm with the iPad, and we are still scrambling to see what the new future is going to look like for books and reading.
Interviewer: Shiny and flat by all accounts. Are you on any forums or networking sites?
Sheron: Once a shy, retiring person, (no laughing, please) I have plunged into the pool of social networking. I am on Twitter: Sheronwriting, LinkedIn: Books and Writers thread, Facebook, and I blog about the science fiction books I love on https://www.scifibookreview.com I have set up a website that talks more in-depth about my books and writing at https://www.Alysianuniverse.com. (this one)
Interviewer: What has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Sheron: One of my girl friends in high school, Carolyn, lives in Miami, Florida, and I live far across the country in Portland, Oregon. I hadn’t heard from her in over thirty years. She heard about my book and e-mailed me that she had read it and loved it. I almost fell off my seat. It has been great being back in touch. I appreciate her enthusiasm too. It happened also with my best friend from college. I hadn’t heard from Candy in ages…maybe an occasional Christmas card, and then, out of the blue she wrote a congratulations card that said she had read the book and that she gave me 5 stars on Nook. She loved it too! I read that and had tears in my eyes. I never thought the book would connect me back to people I've missed.
Interviewer: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Sheron: This is a watershed time for publishing and writing. Everything is changing. And fast. People are scrambling. The traditional publishers are in trouble. No longer are they the gatekeepers of what gets published, but anyone can publish. It’s up to the readers to decide what they want to read. The problem for the writer is to connect with the reader that wants to read what he is writing. Discoverability. Also, the writer has to do it all or hire out people to help with the editing, cover design, or marketing. The creative writer has to become a businessperson. Everyone is jumping up and down wanting to be notice, and it often feels like everyone else is yelling louder than I am.
Interviewer: I think ultimately it’ll come down to quality. Give readers a reason not to stray too far or for too long. What are you working on at the moment?
Sheron: My next book, The Weight of Gravity, is scheduled to be published summer 2018. My goal for the next while is to get the writing in this next book clean and correct, to learn how to market better, to format and to get it submitted without losing my mind. I am an edit fanatic and can’t leave well enough alone. I am a perfectionist who isn’t perfect…but I keep trying. I am not technically adept, but I am excited and challenged. I love what I do, except for the odd Thursday when I'm pulling out my hair, usually over edits or formatting. I tell my husband not to worry about me being alone when he travels in his job or to go ahead and play golf when he wants. I am fine and busy and happy. I am getting published, selling well, and my father is in heaven on a cushy cloud reading and enjoying my stories.
Copyright © Sheron Wood McCartha