October 6, 2011

Made It Moment: Sheron McCartha

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 8:28 am

Caught In Time

Oh, did I love this Moment. Read it and when you get to the first mention of Penryn, recall a post of mine from the backstory column. Are we writers connected by our processes or what? There is an overlap between all of us who make up stories for a living (or not for a living) and it is a bond almost as thick as blood. Probably thicker in some cases. I also love Sheron’s humor–no, death is not an excuse not to stuff that SASE! And, I love what she did in the end. She found a way to make it, and her father would’ve been proud.

Sheron McCartha

Science fiction has been one of my passions for a long time thanks to my father’s influence. Some Sundays before church, my mother would line us up and count noses and father would be missing. She would go hunting for him and find him hiding out in the bathroom avidly reading some science fiction book as if it were a guilty pleasure. He always said he wanted to write a science fiction book, but he never did—so I did it for him.

First, however, I graduated from the University of Florida (Go Gators) with a Masters in Education: English, speech and journalism. I married and due to my husband’s career, we got transferred all around the country. I went along getting day jobs as a high school English teacher, banker, stockbroker, housewife, mother and art gallery manager. Because we traveled, I lost touch with a lot of my friends.

One night during a long boring ride home from a vacation weekend we drove by a billboard with the name Penryn on it. Going seventy miles an hour, that one-second glimpse sparked my imagination and a whole world of exotic characters, exciting events and future worlds came into being that lasted me years of writing. No wonder I write about time and its effect.

As I wrote, I would submit. First, I attended conferences and workshops on writing. Years went by. There were so many rules. You could submit to only certain publishers. They required specific formats, first three chapters and NO SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS! I submitted to Simon and Schuster and they suggested I get a literary agent, preferably from New York. I knew no one. Getting a doctor was easier. And, I didn’t take rejection well, especially via form letter. Yes, of course I knew that a lot of famous authors had been rejected many times…knew it intellectually…but emotionally…it was hard. Still, I submitted again. I sent off a synopsis and first three chapters to Baen Books. And waited. And waited. Eight months went by. I sent a letter saying I was going to submit elsewhere. They asked me to send the complete manuscript. I took two months and put a bright polish on it and sent it off. And waited again. I was totally discouraged. My beta readers loved my novels and encouraged me to publish. I told them, “Easy for you to say.” They had no idea.

A year later, I was at a conference and complained about how angry I was that I hadn’t heard a word—not even a cold cruel FORM letter. Two years had passed now. My fellow writer turned to me and said, “Didn’t you hear that Jim Baen died not long ago?” Well no, I hadn’t heard and wasn’t that a poor excuse for not responding?

So when Amazon said they would publish my book at no charge and put it up on their website without causing any deaths, I jumped at the chance. No agent needed.

Then, I waited for sales. One day, I opened my mail and got a wonderful card from a college roommate whom I hadn’t heard from in twenty years. “We are so proud of you!” Candy wrote. “I gave you five stars.” And two days later I got an e-mail from Carolyn, a high school friend, who said “I loved your book.”

I cried both times. They had no idea. It took twenty years to hear from them, but my book did it, and that was the moment that I felt like I had finally made it. Dad must be proud.

I am a Northwest writer living in Portland, Oregon who loves to read science fiction thanks to my father’s influence.

After I graduated from the University of Florida with a Master’s degree in Education, I taught creative writing and English literature at Bradford High School. I got married, had a wonderful daughter, and worked as a banker, stock broker, artist and manager of an art gallery.

One night during a drive home, a one second glance turned into years of writing about the Alysian Universe. Try reading a few stories and I hope you too might find a world that entertains and delights you.


  1. Wow! I love it when a girl from the northwest who loves sci-fi makes good! I am getting my copy as we speak! My father was my great influence in reading sci-fi and fantasy too.

    Comment by Connie J Jasperson — October 6, 2011 @ 8:46 am

  2. A lot of effort. No one realizes how much effort goes into being a writer. the writing is the easy part.


    Comment by Arthur Levine — October 6, 2011 @ 9:13 am

  3. As authors these days, we are not willing to wait and wait whilst our precious creativity is considered by agents or publishers. We CAN empower ourselves. Creme rises to the top! Can’t put a good story down…

    Comment by Niamh Clune — October 6, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  4. Wonderful Made It Moment! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Comment by Sandy — October 6, 2011 @ 9:28 am

  5. What a nice way to hear from your formal classmates and friends.

    Comment by Lisa Zhang Wharton — October 6, 2011 @ 9:32 am

  6. Oh, here I am cheering and agreeing and nodding and thinking… I have felt all these things, but haven’t written about them in quite such an eloquent way. Well done – this is an expression of what so many of us endured. Now it is time to do it for ourselves, and gain acceptance from those who believed in us all along. Yay, Sheron!

    Comment by Rosanne Dingli — October 6, 2011 @ 9:43 am

  7. Wonderful, inspiring story! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Comment by Gary Hoover — October 6, 2011 @ 10:00 am

  8. Congratulations! GREAT COVER!

    Comment by Pamela Brennan Albacete — October 6, 2011 @ 10:21 am

  9. I’m glad there was finally a pot of gold at the end of that long rainbow of a writing journey. Congratulations on sticking with it despite the many disappointments.

    Comment by Carolyn J. Rose — October 6, 2011 @ 10:49 am

  10. What a beautiful tribute to your father Sheron! I’m glad you finally found your way to self-publishing. Best of luck to you!

    Comment by mountainmama — October 6, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

  11. What a wonderful ‘moment’. I think as writers we all wait for that realization that we are, indeed, writers.

    Comment by Yvonne Hertzberger — October 6, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  12. What a wonderful story! As a fellow mother, writer and resident of Portland, OR I felt like I could relate to your journey on so many levels. Thanks so much for sharing your made it moment!

    Comment by Johanna — October 6, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

  13. Oh Sheron, it’s so great to hear that you never gave up! A passion that must be whetted at all times. Never allow anyone to tell you that it’s impossible :). So proud of you!

    Comment by Collette Scott — October 6, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

  14. What a wonderful group of people responding to my story. Thanks every one of you. This is why we keep going. Being an author isn’t for sissies. It takes determination. And today, just an hour ago, I got handed the final proof for my next book, A Dangerous Talent for Time. It’s like holding your baby. Your own creation. A banner day after fifteen years. Again, thanks. Sheron

    Comment by Sheron — October 6, 2011 @ 8:09 pm

  15. That’s a lovely story. I have the pleasure of being part of one of the writing groups Sheron takes part in and I love her writing. She has such a great imagination and sense of humour. I’m glad she didn’t give up her quest to be published. Well done.

    Comment by Cheryl Sonnier — October 6, 2011 @ 8:30 pm

  16. It was a great group of commenters for a great Moment! I hope you’ve found new fans and readers, Sheron–for sure you’ve inspired people, including myself.

    Comment by jenny — October 6, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

  17. Sheron,

    I’ve been through the same thing and fully understand your frustration with traditional publishing. Getting a good agent is often as difficult as getting a first-class publisher, maybe more so. You’ve just demonstrated a real benefit of self-publishing. At least your work gets out there! Glad Amazon proved to be the answer.

    Best Wishes,

    Jacqueline Seewald

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — October 11, 2011 @ 7:47 am

  18. “One night during a long boring ride home from a vacation weekend we drove by a billboard with the name Penryn on it. Going seventy miles an hour, that one-second glimpse sparked my imagination and a whole world of exotic characters, exciting events and future worlds came into being that lasted me years of writing.”

    Isn’t it amazing the strangest things spark an urge to write. For me it was the obsession with fairness creams, here in India. :-)

    Great story, Sheron!

    Comment by Rasana Atreya — October 13, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

  19. Thanks for sharing your story, Sheron. I especially appreciate hearing how you started writing – finally! – after several previous careers. Inspiration strikes and sometimes it’s not when you expect it. Best wishes!

    Comment by Juanita Wilson — October 24, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress