When I began writing toward publication over ten years ago, I had no idea I would have enough stories to sustain me through over a dozen books, let alone one. But once the switch was turned on there was no stopping that pesky and persistent muse. Initially, I struggled to find my footing in the rapidly changing publishing world, and dabbled with writing contemporary romance, romantic suspense, fantasy, and paranormal stories while I read everything on novel-writing, took online courses, and worked with writing groups and critique partners to hone my craft. Basically, I spent four years working on my 500,000 words of practice. But once I found my voice (that magical quality that makes every writer unique) and decided to focus on young adult literature, I was amazed at how the stories poured out of me. Apparently, my teen-self had a lot to say!
Even though I was in my forties at the time, those early novels reflected some difficult issues I faced myself as a teenager and young adult, including the loss of my mother to cancer when I was sixteen, an eating disorder, a teenage pregnancy, date rape (ON THIN ICE), a brother in the military who committed suicide (HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES), and drug and alcohol addiction (PIECES OF LOVE), to mention a few. Although these traumatic experiences shaped me in ways I never could have imagined, sharing those experiences with teen readers from a place of authenticity and insight allowed for a deep healing in me that changed my life.
Writing can be cathartic for the writer, but it can also be incredibly powerful by touching the hearts and minds of readers as well. The feedback I received from readers of those earlier novels is what has kept me writing despite the many challenges of earning a living at the craft. I’m fortunate enough to have a supportive husband and meaningful work to supplement my writing career/habit, but even if I didn’t, I’m not sure I could shut off the part of me that is compelled to share my inner thoughts and perhaps my Pollyanic vision of hope with the world—a compulsion that has served me well in my struggle to maintain my sanity and peace of mind through difficult times.
I kept journals for years as I grew up, putting to pen and paper my deepest darkest fears, as well as my hopes for a brighter tomorrow. In spite of my dysfunctional family life and the chaos of my youth as the youngest of seven children, I somehow managed to keep my eyes looking to the future and wanting to carve out a purpose and place for myself in the world, a common theme in YA Lit. I am driven by the notion that we all have a choice in life…to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Our challenge is to allow the trials of life to make us better rather than making us bitter. To that end, my writing comes from the strong sense of social justice that informs my daily life. When we can turn tragedy into triumph and evolve from being a victim to being victorious, it offers us the opportunity to inspire others to do the same.
My Savage Cinderella Novella series chronicles the survival, recovery, and transformation of a girl who was kidnapped as a child and left for dead in the high country of North Georgia. She not only survives her ordeal and overcomes her captor, but she goes on to thrive in the world and becomes a crime-fighter and purveyor of good.
The original novel, Holt-Medallion winner, SAVAGE CINDERELLA, introduces Brinn in her element, surviving in the mountains, walled off from the world and struggling to overcome her past. But when she is discovered by a young nature photographer who convinces her to come back to the world, Brinn must face her worst fears and take a chance on living the life she always dreamed of. Despite her feral nature, she is a kind, compassionate, and insightful young woman whose moral compass leads her to want to protect the innocent and right the wrongs in the world. Through leaning on friends, family, and her inherent strength of character, Brinn is reintegrated into society and determines her fate lies in helping others. Each subsequent novella tackles a social justice issue plaguing us today (human trafficking in FINDING HOPE and LOST BOYS, the plight of Native Americans in SACRED GROUND, drug trafficking and addiction in BROKEN ANGEL, and stalking behavior, corruption, and immigration in LIBERTY’S PROMISE) and brings to light the need for compassion, resilience, and integrity in a world gone mad.
If I have inspired even one reader to become a force for good, I will have fulfilled my purpose in writing my stories. Here’s to hoping 2020 will bring about change for the better in all of us.
Do you have a favorite book that has inspired you, caused you to change your mind, or helped you heal from something in your own life?
About the Author
In addition to her day job as a Massage Therapist, PJ Sharon is an award-winning author of young adult books, including the contemporary novels PIECES of LOVE, HEAVEN is for HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and Holt Medallion winner SAVAGE CINDERELLA. Follow the Savage Cinderella Novella Series with FINDING HOPE, LOST BOYS, SACRED GROUND, BROKEN ANGEL, and her latest release, LIBERTY’S PROMISE.
WANING MOON, WESTERN DESERT, and HEALING WATERS completes her YA dystopian trilogy, The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, which RT Book Reviews calls “An action-packed read with a strong female lead.”
Her debut non-fiction title Overcome Your Sedentary Lifestyle (A Practical Guide to Improving Health, Fitness, and Well-being for Desk Dwellers and Couch Potatoes) is a holistic living, self-help guide packed with easy to implement tips sure to motivate today’s sedentary masses toward a more balanced and active lifestyle. For more info on PJ’s books and updates on new releases, sign up for her newsletter or visit her website.
In her “real life” job as a Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer, and Yogi, PJ has been called “a powerhouse of positivity and productivity.” Her mantra is “find balance in all things and live every day to the fullest.” A black belt in the art of Shaolin Kempo Karate, avid kayaker, and singer of Italian art songs, PJ has two grown sons and a growing brood of grandchildren, and lives with her brilliant engineer of a husband in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA where she writes YA…because every teen deserves a hopefully ever after.
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Thanks for hosting me today, Delilah!
My all around amazing cousin, who comforted 13 year old me the day we buried my father — that loving outreach forever etched in my mind. Perhaps that was just the beginning of the challenging life experiences that would mold this beautiful soul into an enlightening author for teens and readers of all ages. Forever grateful & proud. Congratulations on your works PJ!
Thanks Karen. Yes, the Universe seems to send us those special people just when we need them most! I’m forever grateful for the friends, family, and mentors who have loved and supported me through the years. It definitely takes a village!
“To that end, my writing comes from a strong sense of social justice which informs my daily life.” You write what you know AND feel.
“When we can turn tragedy into triumph….”. Your life is an excellent example of this. I’m proud to be your friend.
I commend and applaud you for your strength, determination, and woefully big heart. Oh yes, I like your high notes too!
Myrna, you are too kind. And I have you to thank for those high notes:-)