1. Tell us a little about yourself. How and when did you get started as a writer ?

I am BJ Sheldon, and I’m a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a writer. At the moment, I write mostly young adult paranormal romance, but I’m hoping to branch out in the coming years and write some contemporary fiction, as well. I’m a nerd and love both Star Trek and Star Wars, those Winchester boys, BBC’s Sherlock, basically anything British, and a lot more than we have time to cover here today. I’m obsessed with Benedict Cumberbatch, am learning to meditate, and one day hope to change the world through my #BeCeaseless movement. I became a writer in 2009 after I was let go from a job I hated, so it was a bit of a blessing in disguise. I no longer had a job, but the anxiety of going to a place that caused undue stress was a huge relief. But after a few months of unsuccessfully finding a new job, I began to look for ways to bide my time. So, one day I grabbed an old laptop and began writing a story. I didn’t know what the story would become and didn’t even know how it would end. It took about 4 months to write, and I remember sitting back afterward and thinking how good it had felt to get those words typed out. It was an awful book, and one that will never be published, but it allowed me to loosen those cobwebs in my creative brain and find purpose in something I thought I’d lost. I began reading at age 4 and wrote my first book in the 4th grade. I wrote a few short stories in middle school, and even managed some poems throughout high school. So, writing had always been a passion, and I was grateful to rediscover it.

2. What or who inspired you to become a writer ?

I was inspired to become a writer by just about anyone who had ever written and published a book before me. When I was seven years old, I began taking piano lessons. After my lessons, my ma would drop me off at the town library…alone…so she could go grocery shopping without me tagging along. (It was a different time in a small town…so it wasn’t so unusual back then.) At first, I stayed in the children’s section, always checking out the maximum number of books, but within a few months the librarian realized I was checking out books far below my reading level. She grabbed me and walked me over to the young adult chapter books and said I was no longer allowed to check out children’s books, and the rest was history. From that moment on, I began reading three to four chapter books a week, and I remember thinking how amazing all those authors must have been. They had the ability to come up with stories, create worlds, make me laugh and cry, and made a living doing it. So, when I found myself unemployed, I challenged my creativity to see if I could do it, too. After writing that first book, I was so inspired that I wrote another one. I almost stopped after that, but when that second book (unpublished) won a literary award, it motivated me to keep pushing ahead and to follow my dreams .

 

3. What is your biggest achievement so far as a writer ? What about your most ardent dream ? 

You’d think my biggest achievement would be my literary award from 2011 or landing an agent over a year ago. But, no. My biggest achievement so far has just been the fact that after 9 years, I am still writing and publishing. There are so many people out there that give up after a few years. I even quit my day job at the end of December to become a full-time writer to give my passion the attention it needs. My biggest dream is to one day see something I’ve written turned into a TV show or feature-length film. I can only imagine the joy and pride that authors feel when they see their stories come to life like that.

4. Did you ever got any rejections? If yes, how did you react to them ? 

I absolutely received rejections, but those rejections spurned me on. I never took them as a negative thing but rather a way to stay motivated. I kept them pinned to my bulletin board for a while as a constant reminder to do better.

5. What are the major challenges that you have faced in your career?

One major challenge was my own internal doubts. I think every author goes through something called the “Imposter Syndrome”. We all wonder what we’re doing and compare ourselves to those who are far more successful. We think we don’t belong in the same world. There is doubt that people will read our books, and we think we have no talent. But, learning not to compare ourselves to others is the best way to overcome this issue. All of us are individuals and have a different way of viewing the world. It’s up to each of us to tap into that part of our creativity that makes us unique and express it in a way that others can appreciate. Another challenge was having a day job. Some folks have the ability to successfully balance a day job, writing, marketing their books, and their families, and I have some friends who do it very well. But I, on the other hand, am not very good at that particular balancing act. I was able to write, but because I refused to give up valuable time with my family, I had less time to write and market and only managed a book a year. So, I’m hoping that writing full-time will give me the push I need to get organized.

6. Tell us about your books. What was your first one ?

My very first one was a book I wrote in the 4th grade about a young girl following her dreams to become an Olympic gymnast. I actually found it in an old box in my attic some years back. It was quite funny to read it. But as an adult, the first book I wrote was called “Schuyler and the Saga of the Sages. It was essentially a middle grade book about a young princess who discovers she comes from a long line of warriors put in charge to fight evil. It was very Buffy the Vampire Slayer meetings Harry Potter. (Or so I thought.) I reread it some time ago and it was really bad. But I learned a lot from that story. How to better organize my plot, character development, and how to show and not tell when it came to certain aspects of writing.

7. How do you usually find your ideas ? 

I find inspiration everywhere: while watching TV, watching a movie, reading a book, scrolling through Pinterest, eavesdropping on a conversation in a restaurant, etc. I also have a habit of buying odd reference books at a local used bookstore which I use to develop ideas and concepts. Some include books about unicorns, angels, mythology, and Celtic fairy tales. Other times, it’s just a matter of asking myself, “What if…” and seeing where my imagination takes me.

8. What book has inspired you to write The Gibborim series ?  

It wasn’t actually a book. Instead, it was an episode of “Ancient Aliens” about the Book of Enoch, a book that never made it into the Old Testament of the Bible. The Book of Enoch is about the stories told by Noah’s great-grandfather about the angels who were thrown out of Heaven for disobeying God. Those angels were buried beneath a desert on earth as punishment. After the episode (aliens aside), I began to wonder what would happen if someone managed to locate the burial location of those angels. Then, after watching one of my favorite movies, “Legion”, about the angels and their war against humanity, an idea began to sprout, and “Hear the Crickets”, book one of The Gibborim Series was born.

9. What was the hardest part of writing it ? What about the funniest one ?

The hardest part about it was the research involved to marry mythology, religion, and fact together and create something unique and believable. I love taking well-known myths or beliefs and putting a new spin on them. In this case, Nephilim and Gibborim still exist, but not in a way that’s been seen before. The funniest part was taking my own snark and sarcasm and loaning those characteristics to my main character of Skyy. She’s me…except immortal. A few friends that have read the book have told me it was difficult not to hear my voice whenever reading Skyy’s parts.

10. Which book was your favorite to write, so far? 

I’d say my favorite was Haunting, book one of The Dusty Chronicles. I enjoyed taking my obsession with hauntings, paranormal activity, and TV shows like “Medium” and “The Ghost Whisperer” and creating a storyline that even creeped me out at times. (So much so that I had regular nightmares while writing certain scenes.) I also created a new concept behind why ghosts exist and how they interact with the mortal world, and it was so much fun to build on those ideas. But it was also fun to write because that entire series is based in the area where I grew up. The town, the school, and even some of the businesses appear throughout and it was like going home again over the course of writing that series.

11. What was/is the best compliment you have received upon your writing? 

So far, my biggest compliment has come from a librarian at a middle school. My first trilogy, The Dusty Chronicles, hasn’t been able to be restocked on the shelves at all this school year. The waiting list to check it out is so long that when someone returns it, it’s immediately checked back out. For me, the fact that there are so many students eager to read the story based on the recommendations of others is extremely uplifting to me.

12. What is the one thing you absolutely can’t live or write without?

Before I began living a healthier lifestyle, it was gummy bears. I couldn’t write without them. But now, the one thing I have to have in order to be able to write is hot tea. And there are some days where I need complete quiet and no distractions in order to write…not even music. But I also do some of my best writing at my husband’s bar, surrounded by loud people and blaring televisions. I think it’s probably because I have no interest in the sports playing on the televisions and am not interested in the people around me, therefore it all comes across as nothing but white noise.

 

To learn more about BJ and her work, you can check out these links:

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