by Sharon Ledwith
The journey to publication wasn’t easy for me. In fact, it took me a great deal of time and effort to get to where I am now. So, let’s go back in time to 1995 when I got bitten by the writing bug during a Planning Your Novel workshop I attended for fun at the local college. One of the exercises I volunteered for still sticks in my mind. The teacher handed me three pennies, and I had to throw them into a waste basket one at a time. I managed to get all three coins in, shooting at different angles and distances. My teacher, Tom Arnett—a NYT bestselling author—was surprised at my luck because the norm was usually two pennies in. He explained that getting all the pennies in would suggest your (writing) goals would be too easy because the person threw them from a close distance. On the flipside, one penny in (throwing too far away) suggested having unrealistic expectations/goals about a career in writing.
You could say that this penny exercise set the bar for me, and gave me some hope in a field I knew absolutely nothing about. I ended up taking Tom’s night course, Starting your Novel, and from there the writing games began.
Trying to get published looked something like this:
• Write a book (I choose a paranormal romance) which took about 2 years, including research and learning the basics.
• Attended a workshop where I met an agent, and handed her a query and outline, which eventually got her interest. This went back and forth for a time (about four years) until the agent admitted that my book wasn’t developing the way she wanted it to go, so we decided to go our separate ways. Sigh.
• Around 1998, I had a dream where I saw seven arches, and there were seven people (five kids, two adults) with crystals in their hands, walking up to these arches. It definitely had an Indiana Jones feel to it. At that time, I was trying to get my paranormal romance published, and had no intention of writing in the young adult genre. But this idea kept growing in my mind, and wouldn’t leave, like some mystical force pushing me from behind. So, I thought I’d challenge myself to write a time travel series based on that dream, calling it The Timeliners, and later The Last Timekeepers.
• Had some luck with The Last Timekeepers when an agency and publishers showed interest. But their interest was short-lived. Rejection, rejection, and more rejection followed.
• In 2003, we sold our graphic trade business and house, packed up, and moved to our cottage in a popular tourist area located in Ontario. I decided to become a tutor for the local Literacy Council in the winter of 2004. While living pretty much off the grid (we had dial up internet), I started a teen psychic mystery series entitled, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, pulling from my experiences living in the wilds of cottage country.
• I enrolled in a two-year correspondence course geared toward writing for children and teens to beef up my writing chops.
• Then, I decided to try my hand as a participant in the 2005 Muskoka Novel Marathon, where previously I had helped with the organizational aspects of this event. The idea is to write a novella or novel in three days, and the winner gets a chance at publication. During the course of the marathon, our dog died suddenly and I left for the day, only to come back the next day to finish writing my manuscript in time to submit it. It was truly a bitter-sweet experience.
• My writing suffered after that, and I decided to enter the workforce as an animal care attendant at the local Animal Shelter for the next fourteen months. During this time, I finished my writing correspondence course, tinkered with Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, then finally woke-up and quit the animal shelter to get back to writing. I wrote a whole book out of my animal shelter experience, and geared it for my teen psychic mystery series. I sent in that manuscript and got rejected a lot, but one agent showed an interest. He later sent me a lovely rejection letter. Sigh.
• Finally, in 2010, I decided to dust off my time travel story, update the characters and give it a fresh voice. I sent it out—mostly to agents—and got rejected again, and again.
• By this time, I had decided to check out ebooks and how to go about publishing them. Since I owned a graphics business for over twenty years, I had some business background, and it seemed many authors were being forced to wear two hats in these changing times. So I started a blog in May 2011 to create an on-line presence.
• Then, I entered the 2011 Muskoka Novel Marathon with the idea of doing the prequel for The Last Timekeeper series. Two writers there had just signed publishing contracts, so this gave me some hope. I asked if I could use their names as a reference when querying their publisher. They said, ‘No problem,’ but I’d have to wait until September to query. After the novel marathon, we all exchanged social media info.
• This is where hard work and opportunity collide. One of those writers shared a link on Facebook, which I thought was the publishing company she had signed with. But it wasn’t. It was the link to a new epublishing company calling for submissions. What the hell, there was nothing to lose while I waited for September to roll in. I sent out my query the end of August, and got a reply within seven days—Musa Publishing wanted to see my manuscript. Excited, yet not getting my hopes up, I sent my young adult time travel manuscript in. They loved it, but wanted revisions. Actually, they wanted a huge, big-ass rewrite that included making the entire book only in one POV, instead of the five I originally had written. Each kid had their own chapter. This publisher only wanted one kid per book. So they offered me five books right off the bat.
• I signed the contract September 13th, 2011, with a release date of May 18th, 2012. Plenty of time for rewrites, and plenty of time to learn what’s expected of an author in this new paradigm of publishing. I followed up with the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series, Legend of the Timekeepers came out in August 2013.
• Time travel to 2015 when Musa Publishing closed their doors permanently, and Mirror World Publishing appeared to open their doors for me. Not only did they take on The Last Timekeepers series, but in 2017 added Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls to their young adult list of books. Woohoo!
Honestly, I’ve come a long way since 1995, and I’m still learning and growing in this crazy publishing business as it continues to evolve. Presently, I’ve got two young adult book series under my belt, both published through Mirror World Publishing. And I’d wager three shiny pennies that they won’t be closing their doors any time soon.
If you’re an author, what does your publishing journey look like? Did it take you a long time to get published? Would love to read your comments! Cheers, be well, and thank you for reading my post.
Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…
Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power while trying to have a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go.
Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.
The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…
Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.
Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.
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:
Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel 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. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.