It’s been a month since my debut novel released into the world but I will never forget the first time I was able to say, “Today I am a published author.”
For Sherri Leimkuhler, another one of my wonderful fellow 2020 Debut authors, today is the day she gets to say those magical words for herself. Today is the day becomes a published author.
I am thrilled to have Sherri on the blog talking about her own path towards publication for her debut women’s fiction novel WHAT’S LEFT UNTOLD. Please enjoy reading about her journey and when you’re done, please order her book which is available today. It’s waiting for me on my Kindle and I can’t wait to dive in.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in 5th grade, a teacher complimented a story I wrote and suggested that I could become a writer. Despite this encouragement, I envisioned writing as something to do on the side or for my own enjoyment, rather than as a career. In college, I set my sights on becoming a pilot and planned to earn a degree in aviation. Ultimately, I decided to double major and also pursued a degree in journalism. Ironically, my first job after college was in neither of these fields—I started out working in sales for a global transportation company—followed, briefly, as the editor of a technical aviation newsletter. It wasn’t until after I became a mother and had young children at home that I shifted my focus to freelance writing for a variety of online clients. It was 2009 before I knew I wanted to publish a novel.
What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was getting published?
I was awestruck. My novel’s journey from inspiration to publication was 11 years in the making, and I was thrilled to find a publishing partner to champion my work. The first time I was contacted by Red Adept Publishing, I was out of town on vacation. While we were away, a serious storm delivered a lightning strike that fried our phone line and zapped all of our messages. Two weeks later, I received an email from the owner of Red Adept, inquiring as to whether I was still seeking representation. She wrote that she’d tried to call but hadn’t heard back, so she was making a final attempt to contact me. I signed a contract with Red Adept Publishing a few weeks later, but it felt like a small miracle that we actually connected after all that happened!
How long did it take you to write your debut novel?
Eleven years in total! I had the inspiration for the story in 2009, but with three young children at home, several part-time jobs, and a serious commitment to triathlon training, I could never make writing the priority it needed to be. In 2014 I finally committed to writing the book and, a year later, it was “finished.” In 2015, I entered my manuscript in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association’s Rising Star Contest and it was selected as a finalist. As a result, several agents reviewed my manuscript and offered suggestions and feedback. With this new advice and knowledge, I spent another year editing and revising the manuscript before sending it out on submission. Two years later, in September 2018, I signed a contract with Red Adept Publishing.
What does your writing schedule look like?
This has been one of my biggest struggles as a writer! My routine has almost no consistency; there is essentially no schedule and no two days are alike. Late last year I connected with a group of local writers that, before the coronavirus turned life upside down, met at the library every Wednesday. Committing to this group helped me to take the first step toward establishing a routine and Wednesday quickly became my most productive writing day. But as far as a writing schedule, it’s still a work in progress.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk or habit?
I need to have a clean mental slate and a solid block of time to really dive in. Aside from that, coffee is a must, and I like to write with classical or acoustic music playing in the background. In the winter, I also burn a lavender-scented candle while I write.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?
I was surprised to learn how difficult it is for me to transition from the imaginary world I’m creating to the real world. This transition works best if I determine my own stopping point and make the break myself. If I don’t do this—and I am forced to stop before I’m ready or I get interrupted while I’m still in my writing groove—my brain feels foggy, and I’m a little disoriented and even irritable, like I’ve just been jolted from a dream or a deep sleep.
What is your biggest writing-related dream?
My greatest writing-related desire was to eventually become a published author. I wanted to find an agent or publisher who believed in me and my book and would be a partner in championing my work. I dreamed of seeing what I’d spent so many years writing actually morph into a book that someone might actually read and, better yet, enjoy. I wrote the type of story I like to read—one with twists and surprises; one that challenges me to think outside the box and makes for great book club discussion. With What’s Left Untold, I hope I’ve achieved that.
ABOUT WHAT’S LEFT UNTOLD
Every secret has its price.
Anna Clark and Lia Clay were unlikely best friends in high school, but their yin-and-yang personalities drew them together in a sister-like bond. Then during college, Lia inexplicably walked out on their friendship and disappeared, leaving Anna hurt, confused, and disillusioned.
Twenty years later, Anna discovers a letter Lia wrote the summer after high school—a letter that contains a cryptic postscript concealing a devastating truth. With her twenty-year high school reunion approaching, Anna moves closer to uncovering the secret in Lia’s letter and the heartbreaking consequences it set in motion.
As the layers of deceit and betrayal begin to unravel, Anna is forced to question everything she believes and come to terms with what it means to
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ABOUT SHERRI LEIMKUHLER
Sherri Leimkuhler has written professionally for more than twenty years but is a Jill of many trades, with experience in sales, marketing, public relations, event planning, aviation, and yoga instruction. Her health-and-fitness column, “For the Fun of Fit,” appears bi-weekly in the Carroll County Times.
A competitive triathlete and two-time Ironman finisher, Sherri also enjoys reading, hiking, paddleboarding, trail running, traveling, and wine tasting.
Sherri lives in Maryland with her husband, three daughters, and two Labrador retrievers.
Author Website: SherriLeimkuhler.com
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Publisher’s website: Red Adept Publishing