I had the pleasure of “meeting” Sharon through ACFW’s online critique loop, when we were exchanging several chapters of our stories back as I worked on Tinsel in a Tangle and she, Hesitant Heroes. Fast-forward a few years and we’ve since teamed up with several other young adult and middle grade authors to form a smaller critique group and start our group blog, Storyteller Squad. Even better, Sharon’s manuscript, Hesitant Heroes, found a publishing home and releases September 7th! Today, she gets the spotlight and shares a little about herself, her writing path, and of course, her book.
Laurie: Sharon, you’ve waited patiently for the day when Hesitant Heroes would be introduced to the world, and I’m so thrilled for you and this milestone in your writing career.
Sharon: Thank you so much. I don’t know how patiently I’ve waited but yes, I have waited.
Laurie: You’ve had one other traditionally published book, as well as an indie-published book, correct?
Sharon: My first publishing success came in flash fiction. These are stories 1,000 words or less. I had quite a few of these published in Splickity Magazine. A few years ago, I published seven of these on Kindle in A Flash of Romance. About a year later I had a book of short stories for children traditionally published called A Mixed Bag of God’s Grace.
Laurie: Every author’s path to publication looks different, yet recounting the highs and lows of those paths has the potential to encourage writers still in the query trenches, or who might be working on their first manuscript. What does your own path look like? How long have you been writing?
Sharon: I’ve been writing since I was a teen. I have a box full of old manuscripts with great plots, but the writing could use a lot of help. Most of these manuscripts are historical. I didn’t even know about speculative fiction until I read The Hunger Games. I decided to write an exciting speculative book but with less violence and a Christian world view. In 2016, I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and got involved in the online Scribes Critique Group. I loved this group. I remember that you sometimes critiqued Hesitant Heroes and I critiqued Tinsel in a Tangle.
Laurie: Yes, and I remember at the time thinking, “Whoa, this writer is gooood. And so is this story!” How long did it take you to find representation for your book? How long to then find a publishing house?
Sharon: For a couple of years, I sent out queries to both publishing houses and agents. I received a ton of rejections. As my writing improved, the rejection letters got nicer and more in depth though. (Lol). If I had given up because of those rejections, Hesitant Heroes would not be coming out this month. It took me several years to find an agent, and over a year of agent submissions before Anaiah Press bought The Divine Destiny Series.
Laurie: Tell us about Hesitant Heroes. I know it has a little romance and a lot of adventure, but what is its official genre and/or category?
Sharon: Hesitant Heroes is YA/Speculative. It takes place in 2062 and the world is controlled by the Global Collective Council. The MC (main character), Jordan Scott, attends a high school for exceptional teens from all over the planet. Christian students disappear from campus and Jordan and her friends start investigating. There’s a lot of adventure and definitely some romance.
Laurie: What was the initial spark that planted the seed for this novel?
Sharon: I liked the idea of a group of teens with different talents having to come together to fight a common enemy. Teamwork is a big part of the book. I was also inspired by the book of Esther and the fact that God placed her in a certain place for a certain time. The teens in my book (Team Seven) believe that God has an important mission for them.
Laurie: What did your research process look like?
Sharon: Because this book takes place in the future, I could simply make up any gadget I needed. I didn’t have to do a lot of research. I did some research on the Alps and Venezuela since that’s where the book takes place.
Laurie: Is there a character you relate to the most? If so, why?
Sharon: I definitely relate to the MC, Jordan. Except for the fact that she’s a computer whiz, I am Jordan or Jordan is me. Klutz and all.
Laurie: What message do you hope readers will take away from Hesitant Heroes?
Sharon: I hope that readers will find HH exciting and entertaining. In HH, the characters have to depend on God for strength and guidance. I hope that Team Seven’s adventures will help the reader’s faith grow.
Laurie: And Hesitant Heroes is part of a trilogy, yes?
Sharon: Yes. Relentless Rebels is the next book in the trilogy. I didn’t plan to write a trilogy but when I finished HH, I wanted to know what happened next. The adults in Hesitant Heroes and Relentless Rebels have such exciting backstory that I decided they needed a book of their own, so I wrote the prequel, Defying Destiny.
Laurie: What does a typical writing day look like for you? What do you find to be the greatest challenge as a writer?
Sharon: I rarely have a typical day that I can devote to writing. I will grab a notepad and write on the couch or anywhere I get the chance. Sometimes I will get a weekend to devote to writing which is great. I often take my laptop to bed and write a little before going to sleep.
Laurie: Do you have any advice for published and unpublished writers?
Sharon: I would encourage all writers, especially new ones, to start building up some writing credits. I wrote flash fiction and had one story published in Chicken Soup for The Soul. Agents and publishers seem to pay more attention to query letters that list publishing credits. It gives you a better résumé, so to speak, plus it helps you tone your writing skills and builds up your confidence when you get something published.
Laurie: What were your favorite novels or authors growing up? What and/or who do you enjoy reading now as an adult?
Sharon: I was a big Nancy Drew girl. I also loved Ramona the Pest and Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. As an adult, I think Suzanne Collins is a great author. I enjoy Kiera Cass and Ally Carter, who also write young adult.
Laurie: Tell us something people may not know about you that they might find interesting or relatable or inspiring. (No pressure.) 😉
Sharon: I have danced with a red feather boa in prison many times. Now that I have your attention, let me explain. When I was younger, I worked with the drama ministry and prison ministry at my church. My drama group performed a poignant skit in the local prisons. I represented sin, so I danced around with a feather boa.
Laurie: That must have made for some wonderful and fascinating memories!
Sharon: It was quite an experience, but you would be amazed how this skit effected the prisoners.
It was an honor to highlight Sharon Rene today, and I hope everyone will consider checking out Hesitant Heroes. Ebooks are available on Amazon here, or you can order print copies from Anaiah Press (print will be available via Amazon in a few days). Below, you’ll find Sharon’s contact information. To close us out, here are Sharon’s answers to This or That:
- Coffee or Tea? Tea
- Introvert or extrovert? Introvert
- Summer or winter? Summer
- Lakefront or oceanfront property? Oceanfront
- Mountain or city view? Mountain
- Meat & potatoes, or veggies & tofu? Meat & Potatoes
- Paperback or ebook or audiobook? Paperback
- Favorite color? Red
- Favorite animal? Cat
- Ideal vacation destination? Hawaii
- Ideal home décor? Casual with some antiques
- Favorite hobby(ies)? Reading
- Favorite Saturday attire? Yoga pants and a big T-shirt
- Favorite Christmas or birthday present to date? Barbie Dream House
About Sharon Rene:
Sharon loves to write young adult and children’s fiction. Her young adult speculative trilogy has been acquired by Anaiah Press and the first book, Hesitant Heroes, releases in September 2021. Hesitant Heroes is an exciting blend of danger, drama and a little romance. Her first book, A Mixed Bag of God’s Grace, was published in 2018 by TouchPoint Press. This is a book of short stories and devotions for elementary aged children. Sharon Rene hopes her books will bring enjoyment and encouragement to her readers. She grew up in Louisiana and now lives in Tennessee. You can connect with her via the following social media links: