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.”
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.
I’m a Texan. And proud of it. You know the old saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas”? Folks here don’t just say what it is, we illustrate it. We don’t get thirsty, we get “so dry we’re spitting cotton”. We’re not busy, we’re “busy as a one-armed paper hanger. Weather is “hotter than a summer revival” or colder than a well-digger’s knee (or other parts of the anatomy). If we feel like someone is dishonest, we “wouldn’t trust him any farther than we could throw him,” because none of us “fell off the turnip truck yesterday.”
If my grandmother shivered involuntarily, she “bucked a rigor”. Instead of swearing out loud and getting switched with a peach tree limb, my uncle muttered “GARDEN SEED” whenever he got angry. At the end of a lecture, my mother always told me to “put that in your pipe and smoke it.” If someone came to visit, my grandfather sometimes said, “Well, look what the cat dragged in.”
I never questioned this colorful slang until I started writing. Some people love it. Some people don’t like it at all. They consider it cliché. Or they don’t know what it means.
My next book will be about girl who lives in present day deep east Texas, and I hope to use some of the colorful sayings I love the most. Either people won’t “cotton to it” or it will work “slick as a whistle”.
Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan shared a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town with a singing ghost for years. Now she lives in the country.
Mother of three and grandmother of six, she comes from a family rich with characters, both past and present. Susan’s grandmother shared stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. She learned all about growing up in the depression from her father and experienced being a teenager during WWII through her mother’s eyes.
Susan loves taking her readers through all kinds of adventures. So far, she’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and From Now On, and is working on book three. They are time travel adventures about two people who fall in love despite the fact they come from very different worlds. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy adventure/romance. Xander’s Tangled Web is a YA fantasy with romance. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N.
Want to know more? Visit susanaroyal.wordpress.com for a peek inside this writer’s mind and see what she’s up to. You never know what new world she’s going to visit next.
Romantic Suspense and Women’s Fiction are usually the genres I write, but when an idea came to me about an online meeting between teens, I decided to explore the possibility of writing a Young Adult story. I am a parent and yet the questions I needed answered perplexed me. How do teens interact among their peers at school? How do they cope with cliques? Do most young people tend to stereotype when meeting new students from different ethnic backgrounds? Who are their role models?
This is what I felt I knew regarding the youth of today. Exposure to technology and social media has become an integral part of their lives. They have become experts at keeping occupied on phones, texting, sharing, trolling, scrolling, and chatting. They tend to concentrate on screens and miss out on what’s going on around them. In my opinion, viewing body language, facial expressions and vocal reactions probably has become invisible.
This quote by E.E. Cummings drove me to keep digging. “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
After doing extensive online research, I headed to the homes of four, male teenagers I know very well, who are close to my heart. The book I wanted to write involved teens, and I needed ideas for the leading character, so with permission, I surveyed their living quarters. It wasn’t surprising for me to see empty snack bags, cans, wrappers and beds in disarray. After that, I did a bit of private shadowing, watching them with their peers. I pretended ignorance as I asked questions about recreational drugs. Undeniably, my previous fieldwork had come in handy, except for teen language. Taking notes on acronyms proved to be the most challenging part of the personal interviews I did with the boys. Finally, after a deep breath, I felt I had enough to begin writing my story. Thus, the YA mystery novella, #heartmatch, came to life.
As readers and/or writers, what do you see as benefits or challenges with social media and the exposure to technology, including computer games? Send me a note with your thoughts and I’ll randomly choose two people to win a #heartmatch free download from Amazon and one person to receive a print book.
Nineteen-year old Jason Bryant, a lost soul, has forgotten how to care anymore. The dad he loves, the friends he has grown up with, and especially his mom have abandoned him. So, he vents while he plays blood and guts computer games every waking moment. He’s out for revenge until he meets Sam.
Samantha Brown calls being home schooled—home-prisoned. Because of a life threating health condition, she lives each day as it happens. Friends have deserted her. The parents she dearly loves are overly protective. Her sterile existence is lonely, so she searches online for a friend. She runs into Jason but refuses to fess up about her condition.
Although they are complete opposites, something clicks between them. Two deprived beings intertwine. Can they save each other?
One minute later, Samantha’s phone rang. She answered the Facetime call.
“Hey, nothing’s ugly so far,” Jason said.
She moved her phone around the room. “This is where I live.”
“In a bedroom?” he asked.
“A hospital room.”
His brows furrowed.
“What happened? You have an accident?”
“I’m dying, Jason.”
She moved the phone to her IV, the heart monitor machine, her face.
Her voice trembled with emotion. “If I want to live, someone dies.”
“I don’t get it.” His stare sharpened. His gray eyes darkened. “Sam, I mean ah—” he paused. “I’m not feeling too well. I gotta go.”
About the Author
C.K. Alber, author of The Promise Series and #heartmatch, was born in Indiana and raised and educated in both Indiana and Illinois. An extended move to Europe brought about the desire to write. She had gone from the maze of corn fields and town life to historical buildings, famous paintings, the city, and the seaside. As a “people watcher” her stories and characters began to develop, her imagination went wild regarding the settings and dialogues in her head, thus, Romantic Suspense became her preferred genre. The Young Adult story she has recently written came about because of four teens close to her heart.
Now she lives in Colorado with her beloved, thirteen-year-old, rescue dog Luna. She is a dedicated Pescatarian, loves traveling between Washington DC and Colorado to visit family but is still a worldwide traveler when the occasion arises.
Becoming a kickboxer with a second-degree black belt helped Susanna Rogers improve not only her martial arts skills, but also her writing skills so she can write the kick butt heroines she loves. Her first YA novel, Infiltration, is about an elite soldier from the future who travels back in time to stop a virus taking over the world. However on another level, the story is about a girl who finds first love, discovers everyone has been lying to her and then has to make her way in the world. It does sound a bit like Buffy meets The Terminator but just remember – anything Arnie can do, a girl can do better! As part of her research, Susanna visited Arnold Schwarzenegger’s birthplace in Austria (see the fabulous photo above), watched many episodes of Buffy and trained in kickboxing for many years.
2120: A world ravaged by a devastating virus. Those healthy enough to live in New Nation lead a sanitized, orderly life where everything is tightly guarded by a brutal government. Lives, thoughts, information and emotions are all strictly controlled. Now: Seventeen-year-old elite soldier Nicola Gray is sent back in time for an important assignment. She alone will stop the virus before it takes over the world – her mission, to gather intelligence, find the cause and stop the threat, whatever it takes. She is trained to kill. But the past is not what Nicola is expecting. Overwhelmed by an alien world, she discovers feelings she can’t handle and a world with immense personal freedom and people who care for each other. She wants to stay. She wants to live. She wants a lot of things she can’t have…