Are You Ready for a Story?

Interview with YA Author Sharon Ledwith

It’s Author Interview Thursday and I hope you’re ready to rumble with our guest author on the hot seat!Sharon Ledwith - YA Author If you’ve ever wondered if social media had any useful relevance, then I can testify that it does. And its primary purpose, I believe is to build relationships. Today’s interview is testament to that. I met today’s featured guest on GoodReads and then we connected on Twitter where we’ve kept in touch and stayed abreast of each other’s endeavours. She’s written two books in the Middle Grade/YA (Young Adult) category. I have to say that I have admired her generosity and support for the writing community on the social networks and I’m so glad she’s taken out time to be with us today. So without further ado, would you please join me in welcoming Sharon Ledwith.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written.

My journey to publication started in the mid-90s. One evening while I was reading, I thought how simple the structure and dialogue was in this particular novel. You can write, you can do this, a voice urged inside my head. Let me tell you, I almost fell off my chair. But the words rang true for me. So, I decided to act on this truth, and took a writing course—Writing your Novel—where I met a great couple of like-minded would-be writer gals. Together we started a writing support group, and I wrote my first novel—a paranormal romance. This manuscript caught the eye of an agent, but I was hardly ready, and I see that now. What I needed to do was to hone my craft and get better and better with the process of writing. And that takes making lots of mistakes at the expense of your ego. In other words: lots of rejection, rejection, rejection! Ouch!

Then, one night, during my writer’s group, one of my friends said something that floored me. She mentioned that I hit my twelve-year-old character’s voice bang on. What a compliment! So, this got me to thinking—how hard would it be to write a young adult novel? It was a stupid question. Of course it was hard! After thinking about what my friend had said to me, I decided I’d challenge myself and write not just a novel—but a series—that would appeal to my son, who at the time was the target age of my audience. Since I’ve always loved the time travel genre, it was a no-brainer for me.

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Sharon Ledwith?

A laugh-out-loud nostalgic thrill ride!

 

You’ve gone the traditional route and are published by Musa Publishing. What would you say are the advantages you’ve experienced compared to a self-publisher?Legend of the TimeKeepers

Oh, for one you don’t have to go looking around for a cover artist and editor! That’s a plus. And our books are formatted and uploaded to all the major on-line stores like Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble by the publisher. We have complete input throughout the entire process including what we want on our book covers. My publisher also offers a lot of promotional items like book marks, trading cards, promotional paperbacks at a reasonable price, and helps us with the marketing process. All you have to do is ask. To me, it feels like an Esprit de Corps, a group spirit there. At least that’s been my experience.

 

What tips can you give us in terms of working with a publisher to ensure your vision for a story doesn’t get diluted or compromised by the demands of a publisher?

It’s very much a give and take. It took 15 years of writing in the trenches—querying publishers and agents, writing more books, getting rejected again and again—before I finally signed a publishing contract with Musa Publishing for The Last Timekeepers series. And after all this time there was still one catch—I had to rewrite the entire manuscript in the point of view of only one of the characters. Originally, I had written the series with each kid having their own chapter throughout the book. Musa’s head editor for their YA imprint found this confusing and suggested I write the first book in only one of the character’s voices, starting with Amanda Sault. That way, the next book would feature another character’s point of view. However daunting a task this sounds, it was sage advice and made the book stronger. Now, after saying this, an author must stand his or her ground if they think the integrity of their story would be diluted or compromised. It all depends on how they want their book presented to the world.

 

You write in the YA (Young Adult) genre which is very popular and competitive. What advice would you have for someone who wants to write in this genre?

Know your target audience by checking out what they’re reading. Don’t forget that success leaves clues, and makes tracks. What I mean by this is that one of my role model authors is Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson series among others), so I try to follow what he’s done. I follow him on twitter and ‘spy’ on the kinds of tweets he puts out, I’ve checked his website and blog, and try to emulate him as much as possible. Although I only have two books out, plus a free short story available on my website, I know that I’m in for the long haul, and slowly building my author platform, back list, and brand. Remember it takes time to build that back list, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

 

What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?Sharon Ledwith Meeting a Reader

Let’s see…joining groups that support your genre, getting professional reviews from book bloggers, Goodreads giveaways, blog hops, and helping others by sharing or tweeting their books or thoughts or posts. I’ve heard the best way to get noticed is to engage first, then sell. This new publishing paradigm is a tough gig with so much competition out there. I think the only way an author can truly get noticed is to be their authentic self, and have a product (book) that gets readers talking! Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child?

My favourite all-time children’s book is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak! I also loved any kind of animal stories I could get my hands on!

 

What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue?The Last TimeKeepers

#1.Watch those dialogue tags! Using he said or she said is still the go-to sage advice.
#2.One of my young readers informed me, ‘You don’t need to say the character’s name over and over again. I don’t do that with my friends, unless I want their attention’. Yup. Smart and to-the-point.
#3.Never use a dialogue tag and action tag in the same paragraph. It’s redundant. It’s best to alternate between using dialogue tags, action tags, and no tags. This will keep your writing fresh.

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?

Hard question! So many movies and books, so little time! I loved The Godfather book and movie. I know this isn’t kidlit, but there was something about the flavour and tone of the book that drew me into the story. Reading the dialogue transported me into the ‘family’, and gave me a sneak peek at how the mob operates. Plus this book not only won a Pulitzer Prize, but also an Academy award.

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

Shrek. Hands down. Love Mike Myers. It’s a Canadian thing!

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Ontario do?

Go to Niagra Falls for sure. If you get a chance, rent a cottage in beautiful Muskoka during the summer months, but after the bug season! Tour around Toronto, and take in a stage show. There’s just so much to see and do here!

 

What can we expect from Sharon Ledwith in the next 12 months?Sharon Ledwith and Pets

Since the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series entitled, Legend of the Timekeepers came out last August I’ve been busy marketing both it, and The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis. Presently, I’m revising the second book in the series tentatively entitled, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, which I’d written in 2000. I’m reworking it into Jordan Jensen’s point of view which is proving to be a daunting task! I’ve also signed on with literary agency, Walden House (Books & Stuff) in December 2012 to take on another young adult series I’ve created about teens with psychic abilities called, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. The first book in this series, Lost and Found, has been requested by three major publishers, so I’m keeping all my fingers crossed and toes crossed! Mind you, that makes it harder to type!

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?

Website: www.sharonledwith.com

Sharon’s Blog: http://sharonledwith.blogspot.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/seledwith

The Last Timekeepers Page: http://www.facebook.com//The-Last-Timekeepers-Time-Travel

Twitter: @sharonledwith

Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5821744.Sharon_Ledwith

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Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?

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, 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.

Thank you so much for putting up with—er, I mean having me on your awesome blog today, David! You’re such a supportive and kind person, and I’ve noticed you go out of your way to help other authors get noticed. Cheers and hugs, my friend, and best wishes for many best-sellers!

 

It was an absolute pleasure to have you today Sharon and I won’t be surprised if one of your books gets optioned for a film or TV series. I loved what you said about investing in yourself as we sometimes tend to invest more in marketing our books while we invest little or nothing on improving our craft. I also had a light bulb moment about what you said with regards to modelling someone whose more successful in your genre. Sharon and I would love to know you stopped by, so do share this interview on your social circles and/or leave a comment. Do make sure you click one of her links and connect with her.

Do check out Sharon’s books by clicking this link =====> Sharon’s Books on Amazon

25 Responses to Interview with YA Author Sharon Ledwith

  1. OMG, David, I had the best time being interviewed by you today! Loved your questions, and I hope I’ve helped other writers move toward their goals in some capacity. I think part of being a writer nowadays is forming connections with others, engaging first and foremost. And I’m so glad I connected with you! Thank you for having me on your blog today and I wish you the best in all your publishing endeavors! Cheers, David!

    • David Chuka says:

      It was a delight having you today Sharon. Thanks for not holding back and sharing your experiences with us. If and when one of your book gets turned into a Hollywood movie, I hope you’ll send my tickets for the Premiere :-)

  2. Alan Tucker says:

    I’m convinced Sharon has a clone who does all of her social media. How else could she be so supportive of her fellow writers and still find time to write? ;-) Great interview!

    • David Chuka says:

      I think we need to hire a private detective to monitor her movements Alan because I suspect she has an army of minions she feeds roasted peanuts who do all her social media :-)

      Glad you enjoyed the interview.

    • Alan – that’s probably why I’m not getting much done lately! I’d better learn more discipline (and start using a timer) when I’m on social media, so I can get back to my writing! Cheers and hugs for your support and kindness!

  3. Wonderful interview. I like your honesty, Sharon. Wishing you thousands of sales.:)

  4. emma lane says:

    Great Post, Sharon. I’m always fascinated to read about colleagues’ road to success. Good luck luck and MANY sales.
    Emma

  5. Very nice interview, Sharon. Nice job, David.

  6. Vonnie says:

    Excellent interview. You guys got right down to the nitty gritty. One of the clearest interviews I’ve seen recently.

    • David Chuka says:

      Wow! Your kind comment is much appreciated Vonnie. I think there are some people out there who paint publishing as an easy route to fame and fortune. Sharon is an admirable example that it takes hard work, respect for your readers and investment in one’s craft to stay the course in this industry.

    • Hugs for your honesty, Vonnie! David is quite the interviewer and loved his thought-provoking questions. It was a win-win for both of us! Cheers for your support!

  7. Another great interview David. Thanks Sharon for your insights and words of wisdom. “Where the Wild Things Are” is also one of my all time favourite picture books. I have used it countless times throughout my teaching career. Best of luck with your writing journey, you certainly sound like you are on the right road. Cheers Sandra :)

    • Thank you, Sandra! What a wonderful thing to say to an author who’s still experimenting with this new publishing universe! And I certainly hope I’m on the right track. Cheers!

  8. I was very impressed by your ability to completely change the point of view. That had to require a major overhaul.
    I also liked your comment about use of tags.
    And, I’ve been to Niagra Falls and it’s mind-boggling.

    • Hey, Mary! Glad to hear you’ve visited Ontario! Beautiful province! Thank you for your supportive comment, and yes it was darned hard to chance POV! I’m doing it again with the next book in the series. Augh! An author’s work is never done! Cheers!

  9. Cathleen says:

    Another GREAT interview!

  10. […] by the fact that she co-writes her books with her sister, Toni Burns. I was introduced to her by Sharon Ledwith who was our featured guests several moons ago. I’m so glad Sharon did as she’s an […]

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