Interview With the Extraordinary Author, PJ Sharon

*UPDATE: Thank u, THank yOU, thANk YOu–I’m now over 300 followers! I promised some sort of prize for every time I gained another 100 followers this year and I’m staying true to my word. Soooo b4 today’s interview, I just wanted to say . . .  be sure you check in next Wednesday to find out how you can win a YA Easter Basket {full of books, of course} ~Big Hugs to all my cyber buddies:):):)

Today’s guest author is PJ Sharon, a very busy gal with the release of her latest YA novel, Savage Cinderella. Take a dive into the extraordinary life of PJ:

PJ Sharon is the author of several independently published, contemporary young adult novels, including HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES. Her stories have garnered several contest finals, including two awards for ON THIN ICE, and a place in the prestigious Valley Forge Romance Writers and the Florida Romance Writers Golden Palm contest for SAVAGE CINDERELLA.Writing romantic fiction for the past six years, and following her destiny to write Extraordinary stories of an average teenage life, PJ is a member of  RWA, CTRWA, and YARWA. She is mother to two grown sons and lives with her husband and her dog in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA.

JA: Thanks for joining us today, PJ! Tell us how your book came about.

PJ: Thanks for having me here today, Jamie. The story came about one day when I was walking with my dog in the woods and started wondering what it would have been like to grow up in the wild raised by wolves or bears. I immediately “saw” my main character, Brinn, running through the woods, dark hair flying, and a bear running alongside her. I’ve answered this question a few times and it probably sounds strange to anyone who isn’t a writer. Once I had the image in my mind, I couldn’t let go of it and the story questions started flowing. Why would she stay in the wild? Maybe she’s afraid of someone. Well who could that be? Maybe she was kidnapped….ooohh…chills. I started writing when I got home and didn’t stop for three weeks. At that point I had 60,000 words written. That was in 2009.

I entered some contests and placed in both the Sheila and the Golden Palm. I tried to sell this story to traditional publishers but got a lot of rejections based on the fact that Brinn is eighteen and Justin is twenty-three. They wanted me to age them down to keep it to the traditional model of YA, but I just couldn’t cave in. The characters needed to be the ages they were to make the story work for several reasons. I got comments about some POV problems, an issue I eventually resolved after learning more about the craft of writing. There were also some issues of believability. Several industry professionals said that the idea of a girl surviving in the wild without anyone finding out about her and reporting her was extremely unlikely. Ironically, shortly after I finished the book, Jaycee Dugard was found, having lived for eighteen years in the back yard of a known sex-offender. Now THAT is beyond belief!

JA:  Absolutely! I remember watching Jaycee’s interview last summer with Diane Sawyer . . . beyond belief and heartbreaking. What effect do you hope your book will have on your readers?

PJ:  My main goal is always to tell a great story that will entertain and inspire readers. Beyond that, I want to share the message of hope with teens that no matter how difficult life is, it can always get better. I love writing stories that blend grim, real life tragedies with powerful, life affirming triumphs. If it takes a sweet romance to make that happen, I’m all for it!

JA: I’m  with you . . . I like a strong heroine but romance makes the world a better place:)    

Tell us about your writing process–Are you a plotter or a pantser?

PJ:  I like to think I’m a recovering pantser. I love the creative process of just free writing, but I found out after several first draft manuscripts that it makes for a bear revising. Now I do a character grid and establish the goal, motivation, and central conflict of the story. I usually write a chapter or two off the top of my head so I know what the general feel of the story will be and where it’s going. Then I make a time line that plots the three or four major turning points and the black moment. I write in spurts, sometimes getting three chapters done in a day, then I have to stop, read back and tweak it to add details and clarify that I’m heading in the right direction. I do research as I go, and sometimes get stuck for a few weeks trying to find just the right information to bring the story to life. I like having input from critique partners once I’ve got the first fifty pages or so, but that’s getting more difficult lately since all of my critique partners are becoming very busy published authors, LOL.    

JA: I’m a pantser, but I hope to be a retired one like you!

What’s your favorite book on the craft of writing and your favorite novel? What do you love about these books?

PJ:  Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass had endless great advice on how to craft a story, create well drawn characters, and put together a winning novel. The workbook was really helpful in putting together all of the information I’d been learning at workshops and conferences.

My favorite novel is OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. That woman can spin a powerful yarn! I love her descriptions, the fabulously accurate and detailed research that goes into one of her novels, and most of all I love her characters. They jump off the page in bold relief, dragging me into their lives, and making me wish I was part of their adventures. The love scenes between Jamie and Claire are the sweetest, most authentic love scenes I’ve ever read.

JA: I’ll need to check out Outlander for sure! I just read The Breakout Novel this past summer, sounds like I need to ask for the workbook for my birthday:)     

 Tell us something fun about yourself, related or unrelated to writing.

PJ:  Let’s see…fun…hmmm…well, I sing opera, have a black belt in karate, and I can still do a sit spin with the best of them, although I don’t get to ice skate very often anymore.

JA: You really are extraordinary! Thanks for being here, PJ, and gOOd luCK on your blog tour!

Here’s the dets on PJ’s book:

Eighteen year-old Brinn Hathaway has survived on her own in the Northwest High Country of Georgia since she was left for dead in a shallow grave by the man who kidnapped her as a child. When a young nature photographer, Justin Spencer, catches the wild girl on film and the two form a tentative friendship, Brinn must decide if coming out of hiding is worth the hope—and  the danger—that may await her.

For those of you interested in purchasing the book, follow the link:

Amazon

Also, PJ is worth a follow! Check her out:

On her Website: http://www.pjsharon.com

Twitter: @pjsharon

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pjsharonbooks

Until next week, Happy Reading & Writing ya’ll!!!

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16 comments on “Interview With the Extraordinary Author, PJ Sharon

    • Thanks T.F. I’m hoping lots of folks think so, LOL. I think the story fits nicely into the category of YA Romantic suspense. It’s got some creepy moments and our villain is one sick puppy, but the overall tone is hopeful and romantic. Brinn’s journey of coming back to her family and dealing with trying to fit into a world she has felt so isolated from, is a theme that all of us, and especially teens, can identify with. We all want to “belong”, and the world is not always a safe and loving place where we can feel connected. Brinn’s confusion about her past and her growing feelings for Justin touch on a topic that all abuse victims must face, and the message that a person can overcome their fears is a powerful massage of triumph that I hope all readers can connect with.

    • Hey, Sharon. Thanks for commenting. I usually have no trouble titling a story, but this one went through three before I fell upon SAVAGE CINDERELLA. One of my characters used the term to describe Brinn and one of my early critique partners suggested it as the title. Ironically, once I retitled it, the story started placing in contests. I guess a few others agreed with you:-)

  1. Thank you for describing your process!
    As a pantser myself, I am grateful for some direction in finding my way out of a first draft and into a finished story.
    I’m excited to check out Savage Cinderella. It sounds like a great story!

    • Glad to help, Kirsten. The downside of being a pantser is that we can easily write ourselves into a corner. That’s where a bit of plotting and taking a step back periodically to make sure we’re on track and heading in the right direction. Whatever you’re process, there’s nothing that compares to writing “The End”. Happy writing!

  2. Recovering pantser- that’s awesome! 🙂 I’m a disciple of writer Larry Brooks. If you’ve never heard of him I highly recommend checking out http://storyfix.com/

    Larry’s book Story Engineering literally rocked my world.

    Super cool story premise. I love YA! Thanks for the peek into your world. 🙂

  3. Goodness, I finally made it here! I tried to visit your blog unsuccessfully in the past. Great interview, Jamie! I “think” I’m a panster but lately…Idk WHAT I am! lol. Good to know I’m not alone 🙂

    • Hi Tuere. Thanks for chiming in. Better late than never, I say. I think most of us, after a little experience in the writing world become a hybrid mix of plotter and pantsers. We might fall naturally to one side or the other, but eventually we find a balance with what works to keep us most productive. And…um…no…you’re not alone:-)

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