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It's Never too Late to Live the Life You Want With Author Sharon Wray
Episode 2410th May 2023 • Author Express • Shawna Rodrigues, Kathleen Basi, Kristi Leonard
00:00:00 00:16:12

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Today we’re chatting with Sharon Wray, a USA Today Bestselling romance and women’s fiction author who spent most of her life trying not to write. She started her career as a chemical and patent librarian for major pharmaceutical companies and then moved into archival work for the Newspaper Association of America. She also studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and worked as a Red Cross Caseworker in South Korea. Finally, after years of traveling, working, having kids, and ignoring the characters speaking in her head, she decided to become a novelist. Because it took her forever to decide what she wanted to do when she grew up, she is now passionate about the idea that it’s never too late to change your life.

Although Sharon began her writing career as a romance author, and loves writing contemporary romance and romantic suspense, she is moving into the Women’s Fiction.

A Hollow in the Reed, which takes place during the last days of WWII, is about Claire, a grieving widow, who struggles to reconnect with her young daughter. But when the threat of war reaches their remote Maine lighthouse island, Claire makes a desperate attempt to save her daughter and learns the true meaning of sacrifice.

The historical background to this story is based on a little-known true event—the night a German U-boat blew up the USS Eagle 56 off the coast of Maine. A tragedy that happened two weeks before the war ended in Europe. Only 13 of the 62 crewman survived.

While this historical event is a minor part of the story, the idea of believing what one hopes to be true versus the real truth ties into the story’s premise: Learning to love again defeats living in the past because you’re afraid of losing the people you love.

Her next women's fiction project, Last Dance at Aigrette Hall, brings us back to the contemporary world with a gothic ghost story about a woman who is desperate to find the truth about a so-called paranormal event that tore apart her childhood and changed her life forever.

Sharon also blogs almost every day and is the author of the popular blog series The Hungry {Romance} Writer, The Write Prepper, and The Romance Herbalist.

You can learn more about Sharon, her books, her blog series, and sign up for her newsletter on her website at www.sharonwray.com.

You can also keep up with her new releases and other news on Instagram -

@sharonwrayauthor


And if you love interacting with your favorite authors, she is one of the founding members of The Isn’t it Romantic Book Club on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/750250638747822 where they interview the some of the biggest romance, mystery, thriller, and women’s fiction authors.

A little about today's host-

Shawna Rodrigues left her award-winning career in the public sector in 2019 to consult and publish her first novel Beyond the Pear Blossoms. Her desire to connect and help others led to the launch of her podcast The Grit Show shortly thereafter. When she learned women host only 27% of podcasts, her skills and passion led to the founding of the Authentic Connections Network. She now helps mission-driven entrepreneurs better connect with their audiences by providing full-service podcast production and through a community for Entrepreneurs & Podcasters – EPAC. Podcasting is her primary focus, so she continues to support the writing community through this podcast, and her writing time is mostly focused on anthologies.

She offers a free 7 Steps to Perfect Your Podcast Title to anyone interested in launching a podcast. You can also follow her on Instagram-@ShawnaPodcasts, and learn more about the network and community at https://linktr.ee/37by27.

Be sure to follow or subscribe to Author Express wherever you listen to podcasts and to follow us on Instagram @AuthorExpressPodcast

Learn more about our hosts, the guests we've had, and their books -

https://linktr.ee/AuthorExpressPodcast

Transcripts

We feel it is important to make our podcast transcripts available for accessibility. We use quality artificial intelligence tools to make it possible for us to provide this resource to our audience. We do have human eyes reviewing this, but they will rarely be 100% accurate. We appreciate your patience with the occasional errors you will find in our transcriptions. If you find an error in our transcription, or if you would like to use a quote, or verify what was said, please feel free to reach out to us at connect@37by27.com.

Shawna Rodrigues 0:01

Welcome to Author Express. Thanks for joining us today. I'm Shawna Rodrigues one of your hosts, and the founder of Authentic Connections Podcast Network, which makes this podcast possible. This podcast is where you discover the voice behind the pages of your next favorite book. And I'm excited about the author who we have for you today.

Shawna Rodrigues 0:19

Her best selling deadly force romantic suspense series is set in a world with scary assassins who bow before killing. Sexy Green Berets, seeking redemption, and smart sassy heroines who save them all. It's also a world where, since Sharon is slow and clumsy, her chance to make it out alive would be slim. She also writes small town contemporary romances, Gothic women's fiction mysteries set in the sultry South, historical women's fiction set during World War II and Christmas romances, because nothing brings out the feels more than stories set during the holidays. She's an army wife, mother of twins and caretaker of rescue dogs. She's repped by Deidre Knight and Christie Hunter of the Knight Agency. Sharon is passionate about happily ever afters and seeks to prove their real world existence through her novels, which is a very important feat. Welcome. Thank you so much for being here, Sharon.

Sharon Wray 1:16

Thank you for having me, Shawna. I'm really looking forward to this.

Shawna Rodrigues 1:19

Yes. So, tell me something interesting about where you are from.

Sharon Wray 1:23

s that have been built around:

Shawna Rodrigues 2:06

See. And that is one of the most interesting things about New Jersey I think is the extreme diversity. Because I've been to LBI, so, I've been to like, the beach area. And I've driven through where it really is the Garden State. And then this whole area where there's mountains, I have not been there. But like, it is a very small state for that much diversity.

Sharon Wray 2:24

Oh, definitely. And I'm always reminding people to the Garden State. And

Shawna Rodrigues 2:28

yes, I've raggedly driven through that. And like, I can't believe I'm in New Jersey, this feels so different. And it was probably the third or fourth time where I was taking a trip from DC to Niagara Falls. So, I was doing a different way through New Jersey that I finally really experienced that. So, it's, you just never know. So, that is very interesting. Yes. Now more people know. You're sharing with the world.

Sharon Wray 2:51

You just got to get off the turnpike.

Shawna Rodrigues 2:53

Exactly. At most. That's mostly what you see most. Yes,

Sharon Wray 2:57

that's right.

Shawna Rodrigues 2:57

So, do you have any siblings?

Sharon Wray 2:59

I do. I have one sister.

Shawna Rodrigues 3:01

How would she describe you as a child?

Sharon Wray 3:04

Bossy. I'm the oldest. And I kind of took control of the household at a very young age, because my parents had crazy work schedules. And I had a little sister. So, I pretty much ran the household from a very young age. I just told everybody what to do. And my parents were like, okay, my sister didn't always follow my,

Shawna Rodrigues 3:25

your parents are like, this is great. Like, we appreciate the help. Keep going.

Sharon Wray 3:29

Oh, yeah, they loved it. They were like, Okay, we know dinner be on the table, we know that my sister will get there after school, things on time. And, you know, I just kept control of everything.

Shawna Rodrigues 3:37

That's too funny. So, as you add your own family, do one of your kids kind of take on that role? Or did you just keep taking that role even when you had your own family?

Sharon Wray 3:45

I pretty much kept the role. I have twins. So, in order to keep control in the household from a young age, yes. And then my husband was in the military for a long time. So, he was often wasn't home. And so, it was us again, I just got into the habit of just kind of managing the house from a very young age. So, it's not very interesting. But I'm also a librarian. So, that works well, keeping everybody organized all the time.

Shawna Rodrigues 4:11

Yes. Did you study to become a librarian? Or how did you end up in that field?

Sharon Wray 4:15

I did. I got my graduate degree at Rutgers in library science. And at the time, there were over 40 schools in the country offering library science. Now, there's only two.

Shawna Rodrigues 4:25

Wow,

Sharon Wray 4:25

the library field has really taken a nosedive since Google. No one uses libraries anymore. I mean, people still use them, but not like, they were. I was a patent and chemical librarian. That whole division is gone now. It's all handled by Google. Everything's automated. They don't need libraries and librarians anymore. And the public libraries here don't even hire professional librarians. They hire a lot of part time people because it's cheaper.

Shawna Rodrigues 4:50

Yeah, that's unfortunate and interesting, and mind boggling to think that you did the job at Google. Like, that's a really important big job.

Sharon Wray 4:59

the jobs dry up. Like, really:

Shawna Rodrigues 5:15

That is, that's mind boggling. Because that is something that's shocking to think like, you think about how important Google is and how people use it every single day, and how like, ingrained it is in our lives, and to think like, what a huge job that was and how important that was. But then that's how mind boggling is it now, yeah, it is gone. Because there is that replacement.

Sharon Wray 5:25

Yep. That is why I had to be flexible. So, I started writing books.

Shawna Rodrigues 5:36

You're very familiar with them. So, it makes sense. Yes, great. So, your latest book is Love's Last Kiss. Is that correct?

Sharon Wray 5:45

Yes. Yes. This is the fourth book in the Deadly Force series.

Shawna Rodrigues 5:49

Oh, is it the last book? Or is there more to come?

Sharon Wray 5:52

No, there's more to come. There's definitely more to come. There's probably, I believe there's six more books to come in this series. So,

Shawna Rodrigues 5:59

that's exciting.

Sharon Wray 6:01

Yeah, it's very exciting. And this was originally a novella for my publisher. And then during COVID, they decided to not publish any novellas for the time being. So, I got the rights back to that book in particular, immediately. And then I wrote it as a full length novel. So, I would have something coming out during COVID. Because they were pushing out all of the publishing deadlines. So, I rewrote it as a single title novel. So, as I was writing like this, I can't believe I thought this was ever going to be short.

Shawna Rodrigues 6:27

That's amazing.

Sharon Wray 6:28

My books tend to be long.

Shawna Rodrigues 6:28

Yes, well, that's amazing to go from, like, one novella to an entire series. Was that hard to like, parlay it into a series or just flowed and just developed easily?

Sharon Wray 6:29

You know, it flowed easily. So, it was originally a novella within the series to kind of, Sourcebooks wanted to use to market the three books that were already out and in anticipation of the fourth book, and then when they cancelled that, that other book was still in contract negotiations. So, I thought, I'll just put out the novella on my own, I wanted to learn how to do indie publishing anyway. It was always on my bucket list of things to do. And then as I was writing it, and I realized it was a full length novel, I decided, I'm going to put it as book four and my publisher didn't care. They were like, do whatever you want, because it all drives sales back to their books.

Shawna Rodrigues 6:39

Yeah.

Sharon Wray 6:40

So, it was already an organic story that I'd worked on with my editor at Sourcebooks. It was just a matter of expanding it, which was easy, because it was plotted too long to be a novella anyway. So, it works out.

Sharon Wray 7:22

Just like, it was, it's much better that way. Because it was hard and condensed, much easier to expand.

Sharon Wray 7:32

Exactly.

Shawna Rodrigues 7:33

Yes.

Sharon Wray 7:34

And my books are long, they have usually four to five POVs. And they're about 130,000 words.

Shawna Rodrigues 7:39

Oh, wow.

Sharon Wray 7:40

So, my readers were very happy to get another full length novel in between instead of having to wait. So, it worked out.

Shawna Rodrigues 7:48

Yeah. And these are the ones in the romantic suspense vein. Is that correct?

Sharon Wray 7:52

Yes. These are all romantic suspense novels. Yes. The kind of like, Dan Brown type plots meet super sexy Green Berets and really smart heroines that help men maneuver, both emotionally and physically through these worlds that they're not familiar with.

Shawna Rodrigues 8:06

Oh, that's interesting. And then probably as the length because usually you think of romances being shorter, but once you add in the suspense element that adds a low,

Sharon Wray 8:14

absolutely. And then because usually suspense books have other POVs, like, a villain or secondary hero POV, that just adds to the length as well.

Shawna Rodrigues 8:23

Yes,

Sharon Wray 8:24

because every book has the hero inherent point of view, a villainy kind of point of view, but then also the hero of the next book. So, it's each book is setting up, the next book coming in the series. And sometimes, those heroes have met the heroine of the next book during the story, and sometimes they haven't, but there's always hints to what the conflict and romance will be for the next book.

Shawna Rodrigues 8:44

Oh, fun. That's very fun. So, is there a part of your book or chapter that sticks out to you as the strongest from Love's Last Kiss?

Sharon Wray 8:52

I actually think the prologue in this book is one of my favorite chapters I've ever written. Yes.

Shawna Rodrigues 8:58

Oh,

Sharon Wray 8:59

it wasn't originally supposed to be a prologue. My editor, right before she gave it back to me, we're going back and forth a time. And I think it has all of the elements that I've always look for in a suspense story. So, it's within that chapter, it's a prologue. But within that chapter, it sets up the setting, it sets up the world, its standalone, so, it's only hints of other things that have gone on, it sets up the hero, it sets up the internal and external conflicts, sense of everything. And the scene just came to me that way. When scenes come to me that way, I take them, I appreciate them. I love them. And I try to not change them too much, because most scenes don't come to me that way. But the scenes that do usually are the ones I feel like are the strongest in all of my books, and that's one of them.

Shawna Rodrigues 9:43

Oh, that's exciting. I love that and it's good to know the standalone so people can start with Love's Last Kiss, or and then go back and start at the beginning or start wherever they want to in your series?

Sharon Wray 9:53

Yes, exactly.

Shawna Rodrigues 9:54

That's so good to know.

Sharon Wray 9:55

It tried to make all the books as standalone as possible. But as you know, it's series, you're always hoping that they'll go back and want to find out about some of the secondary characters that have already had their stories.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Yeah, well, it's fun when you do have that, because then something's familiar where you connect with it as you're reading the other books like, Oh, I know about that. Oh, I know the rest of that story. You're like, oh, I want to know more about that story so, I need to read more.

Sharon Wray:

That's the hope, right?

Shawna Rodrigues:

Yes. Yeah, that's exciting. So, tell us a little bit more about your writing journey. What part of writing brings you the most joy?

Sharon Wray:

Actually, the editing.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Really?

Sharon Wray:

I love coming up with the outline. And I love editing that I find the drafting, onerous and difficult and most time consuming. But if I can get a draft down, then I can go back to the outline, take the messy draft, and transform it into what I originally thought it would be. Oh, and that was the hardest part. It took me a long time to publish. A long time to find an agent, because I kept stopping the drafts not realizing that the draft is not supposed to match the vision in your head. It's supposed to be the first step to the vision in your head. And it took me years to really understand that. And sometimes, for me, for the draft, it might take three or four revisions, but I love revising so much. I can do that very quickly. Whereas it'll take me months and months and months to write a draft. I can revise and rewrite in weeks.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Oh, wow. That's nice cause you found your groove with it, too, the more you've been able to write.

Sharon Wray:

It just took me years and years and years to figure that out. But it is what it is.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Well, exactly. You got to find your groove and find your process. That's an important part of it all, right?

Sharon Wray:

Yes. So, if I know, if I can get a draft done, and I can get a book done, right? Like, it's not perfect, but I know within a few weeks, I can get it to where I needed it to be. To send to a beta reader or an editor.

Shawna Rodrigues:

That's wonderful. That makes a big difference. Where do people find you? What is the best place to find you because you write multiple types of things. So, what's the best way to find you and all of that?

Sharon Wray:

My website, www.sharonwray.com. I also blog a lot. I'm on a short hiatus, because I've got four deadlines coming up by the end of this month.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Oh,

Sharon Wray:

so I took a short hiatus. But I usually blog every day.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Oh, nice.

Sharon Wray:

And I used to take a hiatus like, in the winter, like, the dead of winter, and usually like, August into early September, because I'm usually traveling. But then I always, always blogging almost every day about all different kinds of topics and recipes to history, because I have a lot of history in my books, to folklore, fairy tales, things like that. So, all of my books, all the blogging, everything and you sign up for the newsletters, it's all on my website.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Oh, that's very fun and spell your name because your last name might trip people up a little bit.

Sharon Wray:

It's W-R-A-Y. So, the W is silent.

Shawna Rodrigues:

There you go. So, we'll have that in the show notes. But I love to hear things in my verbal part. I'm an auditory person. So, I like to hear things as well. So, perfect. That's how you find her. And so, for our closing question, what book or story inspires you the most?

Sharon Wray:

Oh, that's easy. When I was 12, I read Jane Eyre.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Oh,

Sharon Wray:

and I read it in like, I'm a pretty fast reader. It was a big thing when I was in elementary school to speed read to hopefully get your SAT scores up. Anyway, I've learned at a very young age with slides, like, it would slide across the screen at different rates. And so, you could read paragraphs.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Wow.

Sharon Wray:

I read that book, I devoured it in like, a couple hours. I remember thinking I didn't know you could feel this way after reading a book.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Wow.

Sharon Wray:

Like, I didn't understand. Also, I was young, I didn't even understand the feelings I was having. Because the book has those romantic elements. I didn't understand that I was like, falling in love.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Oh,

Sharon Wray:

I didn't understand it. I just knew something had shifted in me. I felt something I'd never felt before like, a wide range of emotions. From that moment on, I went to my teacher and I said, I want to feel this way with another book. Like, I need another book. And she gave me Wuthering Heights. And then the third book she gave me, believe it or not, was Frankenstein. And those books, I know, because I said, I don't care what the emotions are, I just want that deluge of emotions at the end of a story. And then that set me, literally, I became a library because I wanted to feel those feelings not understanding as a child what that even meant. I didn't know what catharsis meant. I didn't really understand the concept of empathy or sympathy or anything like that, because you're a kid. But I was feeling all of these things. And that's what I wanted. And so, the first one was Jane Eyre. And I've since read it and I didn't feel those things again, I thought am I jaded? Am I old? Whatever and I just speak because I already knew what was coming. So, it didn't have

Shawna Rodrigues:

yeah, I have to go and reread it. That was like, the first, I finished in my freshman year of college. It was the first assigned book that actually read all of. None of my English teachers from my high school listen to this place. That was the first assigned book I ever finished reading. I now know I had ADHD I did not know back then. But it was the first one I finished reading in college and I thought, it was because the book was, it was an amazing book that's why I finished it. But it was the first book that I finished reading. This is the first book that ever like, really connected with me because I actually read the entire thing and I loved that book. It was the first book I ever really loved other than like, I read like, Baby-Sitters Club when I was younger, but that was

Sharon Wray:

oh, yes,

Shawna Rodrigues:

I thought,

Sharon Wray:

yeah, I read all those too.

Shawna Rodrigues:

But they didn't have the emotional base.

Sharon Wray:

No, not the big, adult feels, right?

Shawna Rodrigues:

Yes. Yeah, exactly. It was amazing. Well, thank you so much, Sharon. This has been amazing. It's great to get to know you a little bit.

Sharon Wray:

Thank you so much, Shawna. I so appreciate you having me on.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Yes. Take care.

Sharon Wray:

Bye.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Thanks for being part of our conversation today. Take a moment to follow us on Instagram, at Author Express podcast. The link on bio there has connections to all of our guests, as well as to your host, Kathleen Basi and myself. Through the end of May, you'll find a link at the top of that list where a very special short story anthology, A Million Ways: Stories of Motherhood. That includes a work from a number of authors I featured, including myself. It will make for a wonderful gift for Mother's Day for that reader in your life. We look forward to connecting again next week. Until then, keep it express but keep it interesting.

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