Welcome to next edition of the AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT & BOOK ALERT series. Today, we’re sharing:
Sharon and I met earlier this year when I got to know a few authors at my publisher, Next Chapter. We connected over a few weeks, but then we couldn’t find the time to hold our interview. Life got in the way! Finally, as the summer wound down, we made it a priority, especially after I had a chance to read two of her books and visited the state (last month, you can see pics on my FB profile) where she grew up. You can check out the reviews below, but for now… let’s learn a little more about her.
About the Author
Sharon C. Williams is a native of New England raised in Northern Maine. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. She is also owned by a flock of birds.
Sharon has a B. S. degree in Chemistry. She loves to read, sketch, take pictures, walk, exercise, go to the movies, and listen to music. She is a budding bird watcher, and knits on the side. She is a huge sports fan of baseball, basketball, hockey, and football. She is also a shutterbug and is always looking for the next big shot.
Sharon tends to write by long hand as the flow works better for her this way. Her bookshelf consists of works written by Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Bentley Little, and James Patterson. The best advice she has ever received about writing was to write about what you know. Her first thought was, “Yeah right,” but it really is that easy. A writer just needs to know a little tidbit to turn it into a short story, and soon enough, there’s a book.
Two of her short stories were published in the anthology, Cassandra’s Roadhouse, and two in the Dragons in the Attic anthology, which was written by her writing group, The Wonder Chicks. Her children’s chapter book, Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure, and Jasper: Amazon Friends and Family, was released by Fountain Blue Publishing in 2013 and 2015. Her comedy novel about her war with her backyard squirrels, Squirrel Mafia, was also released in the spring of 2015. Her latest book, “Everyday Musings” which is a collection of short stories and poems was released Sept. 30th, 2016
As of 2016 Sharon has started an author’s coaching and beta reading service.
- Author’s website
- Newsletter Subscription
- Youtube Channel
Overview of Book (s)
Sharon has written books and short stories, as well as participated in anthologies. Her full books below can be found @ https://www.amazon.com/Sharon-C.-Williams/e/B00CSAFL8Q/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1484776732&sr=8-3
- “Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure” (Click the image to see Jay’s review)
- “Jasper, Amazon Parrot: Rainforest Friends and Family” (Click the image to see Jay’s review)
- “Squirrel Mafia”
- “Everyday Musings”
Her stand alone short stories can be found @ https://www.amazon.com/Sharon-C.-Williams/e/B00CSAFL8Q/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1484776732&sr=8-3
- “Wedding Bouquet”
- “Root Canal”
Her stories in other anthologies can be found @
- “Dragons in the Attic” https://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Attic-Wonders-Robin-Deffendall/dp/1494406837/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
- “The Reading Corner: Book 1″ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MA4DBGB
Interview: Questions & Answers
- What is your location?
- North Carolina
- How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles?
- I first self published a short story, “Root Canal” on May 7, 2013. I followed with an anthology with my women’s writers group called,”Dragon in the Attic” on December 27, 2013 which we self published. This book made it to the Amazon’s Best Sellers list and reached 9. My third book, “Squirrel Mafia” was picked up by the publisher “Peaceful Musings Publishing” on March 28, 2015. I continued that with a short story that was self published called “The Wedding Bouquet” on May, 14, 2015. My anthology “Everyday Musings” was published by Lysestrah Press; 1rst edition on September 29, 2016.My children’s series, “Jasper, Amazon Parrot,” was first published by Fountain Blue Publishing in 2013 and 2015 respectively. They were republished by Creativia in July of 2019. They are “Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure” and “ Jasper,Amazon Parrot: Rainforest Friends and Family.” Two short stories were published in “The Reading Corner: Book One” on December 1, 2016. I had also two short stories in the anthology, “Cassandra’s Roadhouse” which is no longer available. The goal of this project was to raise money for charity.
- Tell us a little bit about your books including the genres. If you write a series, please share all past books, any upcoming releases, or your current work-in-progress. If you have an upcoming release, please specify the release date.
- My children’s series, The Jasper, Amazon Parrot series, is a children’s chapter book. It is based on my Amazon Parrot, Jasper, who we rescued and adopted in 1999 at the age of five. The series so far are volume one, “Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure” and “Jasper, Amazon Parrot: Rainforest Friends and Family” which is volume two. It is about a family of parrots living in the rainforest and the adventures and other animals they meet. It is about family, friendship, helping each other out and learn about new animals different from them. Book three in this series I am about to submit and hopefully it will be picked up. The working title, and I am not good at this , is “Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A jungle in peril” and it follows the main characters onto another adventure. Inside are life lessons that hopefully kids will read and learn about. But not only that learn about the rainforest and the problems it encounters for the animals within.
- Another one of my books, “Squirrel Mafia”, is based on my war with the squirrels in my back yard. I am basically poking fun at myself at how many times they win over me and celebrating what few wins I am able to get. I would say the genre is animals, life and humor. This was a fun comic relief kind of storyline and I enjoyed writing it. In fact these little darlings, someone’s else words, gave me enough ammunition for “Squirrel Mafia 2” which is being edited at the moment.
- My book, “Everyday Musings”, is an anthology of short stories. The genres include true life, paranormal, comedy and more.
- I am working on “Jasper 4” and “Squirrel Mafia 3” at the moment. Also I have on my desk a drama placed in the future It is entitled “Lost Faith.” Another manuscript I am working on is called “A Woman of Color” and it is based in the 80ties. It is a true life story about racism at a college university in the South.
- Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?
- A good portion of my goals for my books have been met. I belief strongly that authors should have goals prior to writing, and especially before the WIP is done, so they have something to aim for. My in the clouds goal would be to have one of my books made into a movie. It could be independent, low budget or made into a play, you get my point, but that is my ultimate goal now. I would also like to be able to receive more reviews for my books and to get a wider audience for them. What do I hope to achieve in the next few years is to get to two of my more famous works that people keep asking me about. You see that is the problem of telling people what you are working on. They get interested in it enough they keep asking when will it come out. But that is a good thing. How to achieve these goals well that is an excellent question. I need to make the time properly for them so I can move them from my desk, to a critique group and from there onward to a publisher.
- What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
- My books are geared toward children who read chapter books. I would love for those readers as well as children who are learning to read chapter books. I want my readers to form a love for reading. For them to keep on reading when they are way pass the reading levels of my books. I want children who are interested in making changes in our world. I want children who want to learn and take it a step further. Who would be interested would be animal lovers, those interested in the Amazon rain forest, in caring about the two to where it impacts them. My Jasper, Amazon series, while a children’s book, is really about education and learning about things we might not ever get to see or visit. I want them to learn and to want to learn more.
- What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
- I have a few thoughts on this. My very first piece of advice would be to make sure you have your manuscript in the best shape possible. To do so you need to have beta readers, be part of a critique group and please oh please have an editor go over it. Decide what your goals are as an author as you are writing your first manuscript. Don’t wait until it is done. Also, start working on your author’s platform online and in real life while you are working on your first WIP. By the time you are done you could have a nice following or at least have people interested in getting your book. This as oppose to waiting until you are done and you are starting new. If you are trying to go the traditional route keep at it. Don’t let one or two rejections stop you from fulfilling your dreams of being published. My motto as I was submitting to publishers, and getting rejected by them, was simple. I wrote out my mantra and pinned it to my cork board. “All you need is one yes. Just one yes.” While I was submitting to publishers I reminded myself that all they could say was no. That was it. But one could say yes. If you stop after just a handful of rejections you don’t know how far you could have gone.
- If anyone rejects you and they give what I call nuggets of gold, or constructive criticism, pay attention. That is a win. My very first book, “Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure” was rejected a number of times. One editor gave me three suggestions on how to fix my manuscript even though it was rejected. I followed that letter like a recipe and fixed it according to what was written. Four submissions later it was picked up.
- I still have all my rejection letters. I considered them badges of honor. It meant to me that I was still trying. I was still submitting and not giving up.
- Again, don’t give up. If you don’t believe in your manuscript why do you expect anyone else to?
- What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
- I would say being believed as an author. That this was not a hobby. It wasn’t something to be done on the side. My family did not take me seriously. But thankfully I met some writers in the area who were supportive of me. Also, thankfully my family now see me as an author. Finding people in the area to hang out with and talk about writing or critiquing was another issue. Being an author is a solitary profession so to find someone who thinks like you is amazing.
- Do you belong to any writing groups?
- I am a member of the North Carolina Writers Network which is a wonderful organization. I am also a member of two writing groups in town. Over the years I have started a number of groups for various reasons which has been rewarding. I am constantly looking for new groups and I am in the process of contacting a bookstore in town who at the moment does not have a writing group and I hope to rectify that.
- What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
- I love to read, sketch,take pictures, walk, exercise, go to the movies and listen to music. I am a budding bird watcher, and knits on the side. I am also a huge sports fan of baseball, basketball, hockey, MMA. rugby and football. I consider myself a shutterbug and always looking for the next big shot. If that is not enough I been rescuing birds since 1998 and that is how I began a life long love of birds of any kind. In fact my children’s series is based on my parrot Jasper who we rescued when he was five in 1999 and he is still with us today.
- Is there an issue that you’re addressing with your book?
- For the first two volumes I focused on family and friends. I brought up how to accept those who are different from us while helping each other. Also, I wanted to show the dynamics a family of parrots have for each other in the book and hopefully children can relate to it. But I am also trying to bring up issues that plaque the Amazon rainforest. Volume three address the logging issue and volume four, which I am working on, will address poaching. If I can get kids involved that be wonderful. If nothing else to educate on the situation in that region. To shine a light on this region and the many issues it is dealing with is something else I hope to accomplish.
- What gave you the idea for your book?
- My book, “Squirrel Mafia” came about the real life war with the squirrels in my back yard. The struggle is real. But just watching them on a daily basis gave me so much information so I just started to write on that for volume one. They have continued to give me momentum and now “Squirrel Mafia 2” is being edited.
- My anthology, “Everyday Musings” is based on my short stories. I love writing short stories and have accumulated quite a number so since I already had them written and edited I just went with it.
- “Jasper Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure” and “Jasper, Amazon Parrot: Rainforest Friend and Family” stemmed from my parrot Jasper who we adopted and rescued in 1999 at the age of five and he is happily still with us Majority of his mannerisms that you will find in this series are ones I have observed through the years. At first I started writing the book just to have them to read for whenever I had grandchildren. I didn’t consider myself an author at that time. But I came across a writing group at the library and I just went for it to try to get what I had published.
- What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
- I love that you can write anywhere you want on anything you want. It is so freeing and invites you in to forget about stress, forget about that pain or forget about anything that is taking you away from being the best that you can be. Writing is just freeing and I love it. To dive into a new piece of writing is so exciting for even when I feel I know where it is going to go. But I really enjoy when I feel I know how the story is going to go but it decides on its own to go in a different direction. That I simply find fantastic. Those are times I let it decides for me. It is kind of hard to describe to those who don’t write, you know? It is thrilling, exciting, wonderful and amazing that is how it makes me feel so why would I want to do anything else? What I like the least is the editing part. I mean yuck. I know there are people who are editors and they love it and that is wonderful you should enjoy it. But that will never be me. The revisions, editing, rewriting and doing that so many times until you feel it is good to go is a long tedious process. I’d rather just sit down and write and that is why I write free style. I know authors who edit as they write. I can’t do that. It stifles my creativity. We get that enough when we are editing. Why do it while I am writing?
- My toughest challenge is making the time for it. It takes a while to complete a manuscript in the condition it needs to be in. With being a wife, mother, one who is chronically ill, which means endless doctors and so forth, and household chores plus life in general time is a luxury most days.
- Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you do anything special to get those reviews?
- I do read my reviews- the good and the ugly. I did comment once in the beginning but quickly deleted them for I did not want to get into an argument and that is what readers would see of me. I read them and if there is any criticism I try to not take it too hard. If there is however constructive criticism well I consider that a win. Getting reviews isn’t easy. I had one author ask me for a review. When he asked how he could help I asked the same in return. He decided to say no but bought a copy of one of my books. While I appreciated the sale the review would have been awesome. At the moment I don’t do anything special to get reviews. I just hope those who purchase my books will be kind enough to leave a review. However, I am exploring ways to see if I can receive more reviews for my books.
- What advice would you give to your younger and/or older self?
- It would be to write sooner. I didn’t start on my writing journey before 2010. What is funny is the writers I know in my area have been writing for decades. When they have asked me when I started and I tell them they are visible surprised. I am late to the party and have been able to get some success out of my books- being traditionally and self published respectively. Another piece of advice I would give myself is to try to get myself out there more as well as my books. I am an introvert so that is not easy but necessary. To my older self I would step back and remind myself how far I have come over the years. I am very fortunate in how I been able to have my books out and receive such positive reviews and rewards. But as far as advice I would tell my older self if the drive to write is still inside of me to keep on writing. If I still love it keep doing it.
- Do you think that the cover plays an important part in someone buying your book(s)? Who designs your book covers?
- Absolutely. I know for me I will pick up books in a bookstore whose covers catch my eye. If it is not done with care and with the concept of the book it can prove to be confusing to the reader or disappointing. I have received lovely compliments on my covers and have been told on some occasions that the cover was the reason it was picked up. I get that for I am the same way. My publishers of my books have done my cover while the covers for my short stories has also been my editor and graphic designer.
- What have you learned about yourselves since becoming an author?
- I have surprised myself to be honest. As an introvert writing is perfect. But once you are done writing, and if you goal is to be published and be successful, you need to get out there and make some noise. That is SO not me. But since I have started writing I have won a grant from our Art Council, I have been on the Amazon Best Selling list for audibles for my Jasper series, placed in the top 75, I have a nice circle of writers that I have in real life and online and have given speeches on having an author’s platform and on publishing. I have even started a small business that deals with the many aspects of what it takes to getting a book out. It is small. It has a company size of one but that’s okay.
- Before writing I would never conceive me ever doing any of this. I am stronger, or maybe more motivated, than I give myself credit. Plus I am driven to do this. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
- Do you write full-time or part-time?
- I write full time actually. I am disabled retired from the state of North Carolina. So, I have the time now to write. With me preferring to write long hand I can do it anywhere at anytime when I am feeling okay enough to do so.
- What do your plans for future projects include?
- At the moment I am known for being a children’s author which is fine. But I do write in a variety of genres. At the moment I have finished up volume two to “Squirrel Mafia” and have started on “Jasper 4.” However I would love to finish two of my WIP that I am feel passionate about and that is “Lost Faith” which is a YA story based in the future. Religion is no long allowed in this small village in the North. Another WIP I want to work on is my book “A Woman of Color” which is based on true events of racism in a school in the South during the 1980’s. I do have a mystery drama I would like to work on as well. They are outside the genre of what I am known for I want to try my hand at them.
- I am also very passionate about authors having an author’s platform. I have over the years offered to help fellow writers with little success. I am sure I have nagged some endlessly. But I feel it is so important that we get ahead of this. I have, as mentioned, given a talk on writers having a social platform. I would like to take that a step further. I am interested in teaching a class at either the local community college or the Small Business Center in town on a host of topics. For example I would love to share my knowledge of how to get a book published, what it takes to get a book down from beginning to end and also how to create a social platform.
- What do you think the hardest part of writing is? What is the easiest?
- Marketing once self is very hard at least to me and the people I have asked. Writing, again, is a solitary profession. It is hard enough to submit our stories to a critique group let alone shouting to the whole to, “Hey, look at me!” Getting traction as an author is hard and takes a lot of time, patience and determination. The easiest part is being able to write the stories. To put down what comes to mind as the book is already forming and writing itself in your head is incredible. It is so much fun and to be doing this as a job is incredible.
- What type of books do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?
- I love horror, mystery, drama, comedy and have started to enjoy thoroughly reading in the genre of YA. Who you would see on my bookshelves are Stephen King, James Patterson, Agatha Christie and Bentley Little for starters. I am always spending time in used book stores to try out new authors, to me, that I might fall in love with.
- Do you blog and share book reviews of other authors?
- I do. I’ve been reviewing actually since 2010 and review for a few companies. From that I started to review books I would read on my own. Authors have started to ask me to review their books. As an author I get how hard it is to make a book sale let alone get a review so I do it to pay it forward for all the help I have received beforehand. Though now I do have a set of rules that I have compiled over the years. I do this to be fair to the author and more importantly to the reader for that is also someone that needs to be taken into account. Books are not cheap and to read one of my reviews I hope they don’t regret spending that money.
- While I do have an author’s website I have started another site that is simply for book reviews and showcasing authors.
- What are you afraid to write about?
- I don’t even think like that to be honest. If an idea takes inside my head and I feel I can run with it I do. I haven’t rejected an idea due to being afraid to write about it.
- If you could co-write a book with a famous author who would it be? If it was another writer you admire but isn’t well known, who would it be?
- This is so groupie of an answer but Stephen King. He is from my home state and I absolutely love reading his books. I feel it does not matter what genre you write you can learn from his style of writing. For me to get any crumbs of knowledge from him would be amazing.
Sharon is generously offering four FREE e-copies (different winners) of her books — 2 of each of the Rainforest books, either in audiobook or ebook format (the winner can choose). You have ~10 opportunities to enter between Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter & commenting on this blog post through the Rafflecopter link. Don’t forget to use the arrows to move left and right to enter for each book. Entry will be thru Facebook or your email address so we have a way to contact you if you’ve won. We will not share your info with anyone else. The contest is open from 11/4 thru 11/10 at 12pm EST, and the winner will be randomly chosen and notified on this post and through their email. To enter, please visit the GIVEAWAY @
Thank you to Sharon for participating in this edition of the Author Spotlight. I adored the two books I’ve read and encourage you to take a chance on her. Stay tuned for another alert coming up very soon… as in tomorrow! It’s rare I have back-to-back ones, but I read several great books last month, so I have a lot to say. And these two couldn’t be more different… it’s good to have range!
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are five books: Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.