Interview with BJ Sheldon, Author of Hear the Crickets

November 17, 2015

Why did you become a writer?


When I was younger, my dream was to become a published author. I was a voracious reader. Even as far back as the 3rd grade, I was reading 2-4 full-length novels a week. There was nothing more that I wanted to do than sit behind a typewriter and create stories for a living, wanting to inspire others the way my favorite authors had inspired me. But as I got older, I was convinced by people close to me that dreams like becoming a professional writer weren’t realistic. So, I got married, had children, and started a career in a corporate office. But in 2009, I lost my job. My oldest daughter's 15th birthday was coming up, and I decided to write her a book as her gift that year. It was never published, but it started something in me. I became obsessed with writing, and I haven't stopped since.


What inspires you to write?


I have various muses that inspire me. My 3 daughters are a huge inspiration. It's my goal each and every day to show them what can happen when you believe in yourself and follow your dreams. Something else that inspires me is life itself. I look around and see stories all around me. I find myself asking "What if?" quite often, and from there stories begin to emerge in my mind. I like the ability to create worlds that never existed before. I like breathing life into a character, being completely in charge of molding their personalities, flaws and all.


When did you find yourself taking your craft seriously?


When I wrote my second book, Haunting, I wondered if it was good enough. I submitted it to the Reader's Favorite Awards thinking that I didn't have a chance. But, if nothing else, I figured I'd get some great feedback on my story and my writing. Long story short, I won the silver medal in my category. I cried for two days and suddenly realized that I could be a published writer. Winning that medal gave me the kick I needed to take my writing seriously. From that point on, I found myself thinking of it as a career and not merely a hobby.


How many books have you written, and what are their titles?


My first book was never published, but it was called Schuyler and Saga of the Sages, a young adult fantasy that I wrote for my daughter. I also wrote 3 books in The Dusty Chronicles trilogy: Haunting, Imprint, and Inevitable. The series is a YA paranormal romance that follows a teenage girl who must deal with the ghost that haunts both her home and her dreams. My current project is called Hear the Crickets. It's the first book in The Gibborim Series trilogy, a YA supernatural thriller about fallen angels and a girl with wings who must face her fate. It is being released on January 7, 2016, and I am currently working on the sequel, which still doesn't have a name. I will also be working on a book titled The Owl Queen in the near future, which follows a girl who discovers an alternate kingdom fraught with hostility and war.


Who is your favorite character from your book(s), and why?


Currently my favorite character is Skyy, a self-professed freak with wings. I love her sarcasm and brash character. She's strong-willed and stubborn, but also has a soft side that even she doesn't know she has. Skyy is angry about her situation and depressed about her clear lack of purpose in life, but it's through the friendships she makes along the way and a destiny that will eventually be revealed that will show her there is more to her than she realizes. It's always fun to develop a complicated character like that.


Where do you get your story ideas?


Sometimes they come from seeing a photo on Pinterest. Sometimes they come from something someone says in passing conversation. I also love researching ancient mythology, Biblical stories, and fairy tales which are a great source of inspiration. My brain is constantly working. Even when I'm not writing, my mind is working, trying to come up with new plots and stories.


Can you give us a picture of your writing journey, from the beginning to now?


I wrote my first book when I was in the 3rd grade about a girl who was training for gymnastics in the summer Olympics. At the time, the summer Olympics had just aired on television. It gave me the inspiration to write a story about a young girl living out her dream. In junior high and high school, I wrote a lot of poetry that portrayed my teenage angst and depression. Putting those words on paper was a kind of therapy. It allowed me to tell someone how I felt, even though no one would ever read it. Then, when I wrote that book for my daughter, something inside me came alive. I allowed my imagination to run wild, and with each book I became braver about what I wrote. Each book matured just as I matured as a writer. I can only hope that as time goes by, and with each book I write, my writing maturity continues to blossom.


Do you have any events, book signings or readings coming up?


I am hoping to do a signing in January in Rapid City, South Dakota with another local author, Jonas Lee. I will also be in Nashville at Utopia in June in which I've been invited to be a panelist. I am hoping to do one or two more events this coming year, but I have to narrow the 20 options down.


What genres do you write in, and what would you like to write in the future?


I currently write paranormal and supernatural in young adult. Future endeavors will include fantasy as well. At some point down the road, I'd love to try my hand at sci-fi, as well.


What has been your greatest accomplishment as a writer?


My greatest accomplishment, hands down, is showing my daughters that with the right plan and a lot of hard work, one can achieve their goals. I am showing my daughters that giving up is never an option. You have to fight hard for anything you want. If you fail, you fail. But if you don't try at all, you've already failed. So, the fact that I've been able to get 4 books published shows my daughters that I never gave up on my dream.

Biggest challenge?


Self-doubt. In fact, nearly every author I know has the same issue. Even bestselling authors deal with self-doubt. Am I good enough? Will my readers think my work is total crap? What if the words don't come? It's something we all deal with in form or another.


How do you deal with writer's block?


I take a step back. For me, writer's block happens when the story clearly isn't working. So, I go back and reread what I've written and figure out where the story derailed itself. Then I simply begin rewriting the story from there. Nine times out of ten, that seems to work for me.


How do you handle marketing? What has worked?


Marketing is rough. You don't want to be that person that cries BUY MY BOOK every other tweet. But you also don't want to be someone who never talks about their work, either. One thing that has worked is allowing people to get to know me on social media and at events. By seeing who I am, they can better connect with my work. Connecting with book bloggers who can get the word out about my books are an invaluable resource as well. I've also done some paid ads and book trailers. Marketing is ever changing, so I try hard to keep up.


What hasn't worked for marketing?


For me, constantly retweeting other BUY MY BOOK tweets for other authors seemed to put people off. For a while, I was constantly retweeting other authors' buy-links, but people began unfollowing me by the tens. So I stopped doing that and became far more particular about what I retweeted. I still retweet, but I don't barrage anyone anymore.


What's next for you?


I am hoping to get two or three books written in 2016. I am also building my newsletter, which will allow people to get exciting news about me first before anyone else. I do work full-time during the day as a project analyst, but my ultimate goal is to one day become a full-time author.


What do you want readers to know about you?


I am a goofy nerd with three daughters all between the ages of 11 and 21. I have a dog and three cats that (I truly believe) are plotting against me on a daily basis. I hate heights, frogs, and go crazy when I have to kill a spider in my house. I love shoes, pizza, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pratt, and have an odd attraction to Peter Capaldi.


Is there anything else you’d like to add?


Thank-you so much for the opportunity to introduce myself. I hope you will follow me on my adventure. My next book, Hear the Crickets, is up for pre-order. Check out the links below.


Please give links to your blog/website, social media pages and books below.

Twitter: @BJSheldonAuthor

Instagram: @BJSheldonAuthor

Google+ : bjsheldonauthor

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