Blog No. 296
Welcome to week two of the blog tour. If you just started reading my blog (first off, thanks and welcome) you may want to go read the last two posts as they pertain to this four week thing (that I’m lucky to be involved with). Also, if you’re new, go read all my posts. There are almost three hundred of them. What a good way to
waste spend your time! For this week of the tour, I’m going to talk about author Sharon Ledwith and her young adult series Mysterious Tales From Fairy Falls.
Sharon is originally from Newmarket Ontario, but now lives in the lovely (I should go there more) Amherstburg, about twenty minutes from my city, Windsor. That makes her part of the local writing community, and when she got here, she hit the ground running. Out of all the authors I know, a surprising few of them take part in things. Some choose to avoid local events in fear of being pigeonholed as a local author, some just aren’t interested. I think those people are missing out. Sharon is not one of those people. She is often part of local readings, book fairs, markets, and other such things. And when she’s not part of it, she is always there to support the people who are. Published by Mirror World Publishing, the same Mirror World from last week’s post about Justine, Sharon has fully embraced the area.
Young adult books? Really?
Really. No, really, and I love it! It happened one night, during my writer’s group session in the late 1990s, when one of my friends said something that floored me. At that time, I was in the process of writing a paranormal romance. She had mentioned that I hit my twelve-year-old character’s voice bang on. 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.
How do you approach writing for a younger age group?
Carefully, and with a net to catch those young adult readers. LOL! Actually, I approach writing for young adults the same as I would for adults. First, an idea for a story can come to me through a dream (like The Last Timekeepers), or something as simple as a ‘what if’ question. Asking ‘what if’ is a very powerful question for a storyteller. What if a teen with a psychic ability was sent to a small, rural tourist town? What if a group of adolescents found an ancient time portal buried in an overgrown backyard? Once I’ve got the seed idea, I’ll write notes in point form on a pad of paper and brainstorm until I have the bones of the story.
Second, I create a cast of characters and build the story around them. I begin by writing out character tracking sheets (stats on characters’ appearances, clothing, likes and dislikes, etc.) which helps keep the characters organized. I do this even when I’m writing a short story. Once I’ve accomplished this, I add the sheets to a binder that I use as a guidebook for my entire series, where each book has its own section.
Third, it’s on to research, research, and more research! I find this process is the biggest investment of my time, but it’s a necessary evil. When you’re writing a time travel series or writing about psychic abilities, you’ve got to know your facts to create the fiction.
Fourth, only when I have enough facts, and I feel my characters are fleshed out sufficiently, then I begin to write the plot, broken down into chapters, with a blurb on what occurs in each chapter. It’s like a road map for me, following the twists and turns, peaks and valleys, that takes my point-of-view character on a scary-wonderful ride through words. I number and name each chapter which helps me keep on track of the story structure and build scenes. Of course nothing is written in stone, that’s why I use Post-it® notes or scribble down the sides of my outline if my Muse directs me toward a better direction and destination. Once I complete this task, then I begin to write the first draft. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it gives me a cleaner manuscript in the end.
Have you written for other age groups?
Yes, as I mentioned above I wrote an adult paranormal romance and even planned out a trilogy, but the first book hasn’t been published…yet. I had an agent very interested in this book, but we ended up having creative differences and parted ways. Another agent I acquired for Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series was very interested in shopping the book around, but she left the agency, and the window closed on that opportunity. I haven’t given up on this trilogy, but it’s on the backburner for now, as I’ve decided to concentrate on my young adult brand.
If so, what’s different about it?
Well, let’s just say there are a few intimate scenes in this book that are not appropriate for young eyes. Wink, wink. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun writing it!
Your books are written in series. Does that have something to do with it being young adult, or do you have other reasons for writing multiple books?
I believe the best way to create an author brand and platform is to write a series. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing for adults or kids, writing a series—which is damn hard and you have to have a lot of foresight—is one of the best ways for an author to build a backlist of books, as well as feed their fans with fabulous fiction year after year. Plus, writing a series keeps an author’s name out in cyber-space and on the book shelves, especially if she or he cranks out great content to fill the space in between writing books on their blogs and/or social media accounts. I’m in for the long game in this business, so I have this formula printed on my master business plan to keep me on track of my writing goals: Time + Backlist = Sustainable Author Career.
Now, I’m going to talk about me again for a bit. Anyone who does read this blog knows I am my favourite topic. I promise it will get back to Sharon soon, because she is the focus of this post and rightly so! As someone who found reading in his teenage years, I missed out on a lot of good fiction written for kids and young adults. It wasn’t until I was done with most of Philip K. Dick’s catalogue that a friend insisted I read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy. I was all in on young adult books. Harry Potter, check, Percy Jackson, you bet. I’ve since convinced other adults to give good young adult books a whirl. They are often fun, creative, action packed, fast, interesting (the things you can learn that you only glanced over in school), and in series (meaning there are more than one book to enjoy).
While I am ashamed to say that I haven’t read Sharon’s books (yet, they are definitely on the list) I have heard her read and I was intrigued. In fact, I may have to bump it up on the list after reading Sharon’s answers to my questions. I’m lucky to be in a community where I’m surrounded by talented, hard working, and supportive authors writing a whole bunch of different genres. Many of them push me by being a perpetual example, but few of them get as much done as Sharon. She is constantly posting on her blog, sharing posts from other people, writing, marketing, and like I said earlier, taking part in local events. How she squeezes the writing in there, I’ll never know. If you have kids who are avid readers (or who you wish read more) maybe looking local is a good way to go. Not only are Sharon’s stories interesting, but you just might be able to see her at a reading or sale and ask her all the questions you wish you could ask other authors. (I’m speaking for Sharon in that last point, but she’s so nice that I have no doubt she would love to talk to anyone interested in her books). Or, heck. Just read them yourself!
Official Stuff for Sharon
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.
Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.
BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE
The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:
The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:
The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:
Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:
Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:
Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links: