Guest Post: PJ Sharon on Heaven is For Heros

In Heaven is for Heroes, seventeen year-old Jordie Dunn must face the loss of her brother when he’s killed in the war in Iraq. But Jordie doesn’t believe the military report that his best friend and fellow Marine, Alex Cooper, is at fault. In her quest to find the truth and help Alex, the guy she’s had a crush on since the ninth grade, Jordie discovers that the truth isn’t the only thing she wants.

Thank you so much for having me, Kourtney. First off I’d like to offer a free e-book to  three random commenters. Please comment below with your email address so that I can contact the winners. Kourtney will also post winners after my September 24th release date. Good luck to you all. I hope you enjoy the book.

Now, I’ll chat a little about my writing journey and how it has brought me to my debut novel, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, available on Amazon.com, B&N.com, and Smashwords. It can also be purchased on my website at www.pjsharon.com. My site is currently under construction so be sure to check back after September 24th to order a copy.

I started writing for publication about six years ago. It started on a whim. I went to a financial seminar that talked about “creating passive streams of income”—you know—you write a book, put it out there, and then sit back and collect royalties. It sounded pretty easy. I was a decent writer. I had always kept journals, written poetry on occasion, and crafted a few short stories. How hard could it be?

So I asked myself, what do people mostly read? I found the answer to that question (55% of the book market being romance novels), and thought, hey, I know about romance. You see, I had just married the man of my dreams, and moved out to an 1840’s farmhouse in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA. I was riding high on the happily ever after.

Six years later, I’m working on my seventh novel. It turns out I can write after-all, and happily ever after does exist. The quality of my writing has improved after taking many on-line workshops, attending conferences, and working with critique partners and a grammar coach. I’ve had those 500, 000 words of practice everyone talks about. Now the work begins.

My last two or three manuscripts are what I would deem print-worthy–with some good editing. I’ve finally put the pieces together and understand the concepts of story structure, the balance between narrative and dialogue, and the general language skills necessary to spin a good yarn (although I still struggle with too much telling, not enough showing).

Most exciting though, is that I think I finally found that elusive thing called “voice” once I began writing in first person. Voice is the element of style that makes us sound unique and offers the reader a deeper view into each characters perspective.

I found my young adult voice very appealing. It wasn’t a hard leap to jump back into my seventeen year-old self, even though it was many years ago for me. My teens were quite memorable. I had a pretty challenging up-bringing and overcame tremendous obstacles to get through high school. My mother died of cancer early in my junior year. I found out a week after her death that I was pregnant with my first son. I was a mother at seventeen. I was still on my own when I had my second son at twenty-four, so I raised my two sons more or less alone and grew up with them through some very tough years.

As a kid, I spent eight years in the competitive figure skating world, an experience that gave me a good grasp on the issues of anorexia and bulimia, which I write about in Penny’s story ON THIN ICE, my second book which will be released in December. In my twenties I was blessed to find martial arts. I was able to put the focus and self-discipline I learned from skating into a pursuit that was healthy and balanced. It earned me a black belt when I was thirty-two and I use my martial arts experience in my book, HIFH. Jordie, my main character, kind of kicks butt.

My life experiences have shaped and molded me in profound ways and I would like the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with teens. Whether it’s to let them know that they are not alone, or to show them that even though we go through difficult times in our lives, there is at the very least, a hopefully ever after.

I’d love to ask your readers: What inspires you when life gets hard? 

Here’s a brief excerpt of the book:

Angry with myself as much as I was Alex, I gave voice to my rage. “You stubborn, pig-headed, pain-in-the-ass…jerk!” I yelled to the leaves on the maple tree nearby. I felt stupid, but it was good to vent. A smidgeon of tension dropped from my shoulders. I did it again. “How could you be so selfish?” I shouted. “How could you walk away from the one person who knows you best…and still LOVES you…even though you are maddeningly stubborn and…and emotionally…immature!” I screamed. A flock of geese took flight off the surface of the still water.

I sank under up to my chin and felt the chill all the way to my bones, all of the heat I’d built up cooling instantly. I couldn’t be mad at him. He was an honorable guy who thought he was doing the right thing by taking responsibility for a mistake. A part of me still couldn’t believe it was Alex’s fault. Where Levi was concerned, anything could have happened.

But the other part of me—the part that had worried about my brother and lied to protect him–knew that if Levi walked willingly to his death, my silence was the lie that made it possible. Maybe that was the truth I was trying to get to. I dunked under and came up slowly, dipping my head back and letting the water pour over me as if seeking some kind of baptism or forgiveness.

 

If you’d like to learn more about PJ Sharon check out:

www.pjsharon.com

Follow her on Twitter: @pjsharon

www.facebook.com/secretsof7scribes

http://secretsof7scribes.wordpress.com  Tuesday’s scribe

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6 Responses to Guest Post: PJ Sharon on Heaven is For Heros

  1. Elizabeth Sharon says:

    Looking forward to a good read and having a great Christmas gifts for a couple of highschool girls who always prove challenging to buy for. Great work, sis, mega proud of you and your own heroic journey! Blessings!

  2. PJ Sharon says:

    Thanks Elizabeth. That means more to me than any amount of book sales! You’re the best.

  3. PJ thanks so much for sharing your writing journey with my blog readers. It’s amazing how you took every life experience and made something positive from it. You’re an inspiration! Love your book trailer. 🙂

  4. Susannah Hardy says:

    Can’t wait to see how all the elements of your indie-publishing project come together into a finished whole — just a couple of weeks to go. I’m watching your process closely in case I decide to go the indie route in 2012. Best of luck to you!

  5. So, PJ – what do you consider the biggest challenge in writing YA?

  6. PJ Sharon says:

    Thanks for having me, Kourtney.

    Susannah, I’m terrified and excited to see what’s coming! I’ll keep you posted.

    Jennifer, I think the hardest part for me is keeping my adult perspective under wraps. Not sounding preachy is essential in gaining and holding the interest of young readers. They have enough adults imparting words of wisdom. They read to escape that, so I think it’s important to show the journey and character arc in a way that shows the natural progression of growth without telling them what to do. I hope that makes sense.

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