Sharon Ledwith’s 10 Rules of Writing

Mirror World Publishing’s boss-lady, Justine Dowsett, recently challenged her authors to write their own list of 10 Rules of Writing, so I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring and share my ten rules with you:

Meeting a reader1. Do what’s best for you. Find your rhythm and write what you love. You are your own #1 fan! Your best bet is to follow your heart.
2. Exercise first. You’re on your ass hours at a time. I exercise in the morning so my body is recharged and ready. Don’t forget to get up and stretch between writing periods. You need to get out of your head at some point, so you might as well do something healthy.
3. Keep post notes and note pads around your desk (or in your purse) to brain storm or get that next idea down before you lose it! If you’re a techno-geek, get an app like Evernote.
4. Go with the flow. Be prepared for family emergencies or major life transitions. Life certainly gets in the way at times. It’s best to be flexible and understand that some things are more important. Your story will wait for you.
5. Keep learning, and keep growing. This industry changes in a blink of the eye. If I didn’t learn how to blog five years ago, get on social media, and start my author platform, I would have been left behind.
6. Enjoy the journey. No matter what stage of the publishing game you’re in, make sure youWriting reevaluate your steps to know how far you’ve come. Pat yourself on the back, and remember to celebrate any milestones too!
7. Tweak your writing plan at least once a year (you do have a plan, right?). Get rid of what’s not working, and refine what is working for YOU.
8. Blog at least once a week. This keeps your name (author brand) out there in cyber-space, and provides fresh content for your followers to read. It’s also great writing practice, and is a form of self-discipline.
9. Find your balance. Be unshakable. The publishing industry can squash your dreams. Don’t compare yourself to other authors. That can be soul crushing. Remember everyone is on their own path. JK Rowling is on hers, Stephen King is on his. Stick to yours, and blaze your trail.
10. This is non-negotiable for me: HELP OTHERS ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. Whether you share or tweet their posts, do a cover reveal on your blog, or review their book, you’ll find that when you give, you get. Plus, it will make you feel good inside and out!
The writing business can be messy and hard at times. Even authors need a set of rules to keep them on the straight and narrow (or off the beaten path). So what rules do you have for writing? Would love to read your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my post!

Sharon Ledwith #1 Headshot

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.
BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE


We need your help!

One of our goals in 2016 is to grow our brand. The problem is we’ve had some difficulty settling on a tagline that really represents what we’re all about. So, we’re coming to you for advice! If you have a minute, please look over the options and cast your vote using the poll below!

What Do You Think Survey Poll Question

This world is only the beginning…

This is the tagline we’ve been using (off and on) for the past two years. It’s Murandy’s top pick and has sentimental value for us since it’s a reference to Crimson Winter, one of our earlier titles.

Worlds within Words

This one is my top pick. I think it says what we need it to. The question is, what do you think?

Escape the Mundane

This is an option we tried out for a time. It has the benefit of having the word ‘escape’ in there.

Wildly Creative Escapism Fiction

I’ve been told this one is a bit of a mouthful, however it is descriptive.

Of course, if you have any other suggestions, we’d be glad to hear them! Or, you can simply vote on your favorite:

Which tagline suits us best?


Mirror World News: The Importance of Beta Readers!

I first came across the term ‘Beta’ in reference to video games. When I worked at First Age Studios, we made use of teams of Beta Testers to try out games and applications that were still in development to get an idea of whether the game was ready to go to market, or if it still needed a little tweaking. And guess what? It pretty much ALWAYS needed some improvements.

Books are the same.

imagesWhen it comes to manuscripts, these test readers are called Beta readers. They’re the people you get to read your manuscript before it’s ready to be submitted to an agent or editor and again before it is ready to go to print.

Beta readers can help catch things that the people who are working closely on the manuscript, namely the writer, the editor, and the publisher, might miss. They can also serve as a test audience to see how the book will be received in general by the people who read it.

For this reason, it’s important to have a variety of Beta readers read through the manuscript and give feedback. No two readers are alike and more people test reading means a larger pool of opinions to draw from. Too many beta readers though could pose a logistical problem, so I recommend sticking to three to five if possible. This leaves room in the unfortunate case that one of your readers isn’t as reliable or helpful as the others, and doesn’t overwhelm you with notes afterwards in case everyone is really thorough.

So who makes a good Beta reader? Well, technically anyone who reads your work in this pre-published stage and gives you feedback is a Beta reader, but the more feedback they give, the better. The Beta readers to avoid are the ones that give one word answers or who just tell you ‘I liked it,” or “I didn’t like it.” The point of having your manuscript read at this stage is to get feedback, positive, negative, or otherwise.

This feedback can give you an idea of whether your book might be engimagesdaging to your audience, whether it fits the genre you are writing in, or whether you missed or overlooked something in the plot, characters, or setting. It can also help you predict and be prepared for the kinds of things people might mention when reviewing your book later when it is available for sale.

Now typically, Beta readers are not professional readers. They are simply people whom you have approached or who have maybe offered to read your manuscript. You’re going to need to tell them what to look for. I suggest sending them a quick and broad questionnaire along with your manuscript so they know what kinds of things you want them to look for while reading. I would recommend including some general questions like, ‘What did you like?’ ‘What didn’t you like?’ ‘What do you think could be improved upon?’ as well as some more specific questions that highlight the things that you maybe know you want to work on, like ‘How do you feel about the prison break scene in chapter 5?’

As a publishing house, when we employ Beta readers we’re looking for a variety of things,, namely, how engaging a story is, what works and what doesn’t, if the author’s intentions come across clearly, and if there are any plot holes or things that the readers don’t like or don’t understand.

Ultimately the goal of having a manuscript BETA read is to help look for weaknesses in the story that can be fixed or strengthened and to test the manuscript with readers to see how they respond to it.

So you may be asking yourself, ‘What do I do with the feedback once I get it?’

Here’s a few things to keep in mind as you read over the opinions and the suggestions that you get back from Beta Readers.

  1. Take all criticism with a grain of salt
  2. Only use the suggestions you agree with
  3. Compare all the feedback and pay closer attention to the points where the opinions align
  4. Only make those changes you feel can reasonably make without changing your vision or compromising your story
  5. DO NOT rewrite your book to suit the opinions of others; instead use the opinions to make improvements as you feel necessary
  6. Remember that it’s your book and you have the final say in how the story is told.


For an in-depth discussion on Beta readers and their usefulness, check out the latest episode of Mirror World News here:

Storytelling and Podcasting

I love stories. Whether it’s reading a good novel, watching a movie, or playing a video game, I’m hooked by the people, the setting, and the plot. For me, it’s just as engaging, if not more so, to write a story, work on a script or develop a video game. So when I was asked by Dice and Stuff to participate in a podcast to showcase a role-playing game that’s being Kickstarted by Shades of Vengeance, I couldn’t say no.

The thing about role-playing games is that are a means for a group of people to collaboratively tell a story. The host is the storyteller and the rest of the players are the characters. The host sets the scene, plays the majority of people that the players encounter in the world and the characters react to each other and the setting like actors in an improv as they move the story forward.

People often ask how I co-write with my sister and I always find the question a strange one. I think that’s because of my background in theatre and in role-playing games where collaboration is simply how it’s done.

Either way, the podcast I’m in will roughly four parts long, starting now and releasing each week in November. I encourage you to take some time out of your day to listen and enjoy the hilarity as we play through an ‘episode’ of an old-timey style super-hero show in the form of a radio play. For reference, I’m the voice of Tiny Tina – a ‘superhero’ with the power to shrink to the size of bug.


Era, the Empowered, is a role-playing system being Kickstarted right now. You can check it out here:

And Dice and Stuff has a few different podcasts going on if you’re looking for more collaborative storytelling or information about role-playing games. You can check them out here:

Or like them on Facebook:

Without further ado, here’s the link to the first part of Cowl Cops, an Era the Empowered Game:


Guest post by Sharon Ledwith: 5 Places I’d love to time travel to!

One of the interview questions I ask other middle-grade/young adult authors on my blog is, If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why? I’ve gotten so many answers, many of them unique and original. I’ve even posed this question to elementary students when I’ve done an author visit. And you know what? Most kids say that they’d travel back to the time period to when their parents were their age so they can meet them.

Didn’t see that one coming!

The kids’ response got me thinking. Where would I like to go, if given the opportunity to time travel into the past? My answers both surprised and delighted me. Here are my top five picks:

  1. Atlantis – I know, go figure, but I believe it was a real place and not a myth. I’ve done too much research to know this. My gut tells me Atlantis existed. However, I wouldn’t want to go back there when things, let’s say got little shaky and wet, for the Atlanteans!Aug 4 City of the Golden Gates
  2. Ancient Egypt – this timeline is very hard to pinpoint. I’ve just done a bucket load of research in this era for the prequel to my time travel series, The Legend of the Timekeepers. Egypt, it seems, was rumored as a place where many Atlantean refugees settled after the destruction of Atlantis. So if there’s any truth to these myths, I’d love to go back and see what the Atlanteans did with their clean slate.
  3. Mayan Civilization (Central America) – I’d love to go during their Classic period (250 C.E. to 900 C.E.) because it seems the Mayans reached their peak in this era with advanced science, art, and architecture. It makes me wonder what the Spanish Conquistadors destroyed and stole from this advance civilization. Oh yeah, and believe it or not, the Mayan pyramids are older than the Egyptian pyramids.
  4. Greece (336-323 B.C.E.), during the reign of Alexander the Great – this man is a legend. Not only did he create the largest empire in the ancient world, he built new Greek-style cities like Alexandria in Egypt. Scholars came to Alexandria from all over the Greek world to study and discuss new ideas. Would have loved to visit his legendary library!
  5. France in the 1800s, during the time of the French novelists – meeting the Three Musketeers’, Quasimodo’s, and Captain Nemo’s creators would be the icing on the cake for me. Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo, and Jules Verne not only created great literary works, but managed to leave a legacy behind that will live for generations to come. These novelists were true trailblazers in every sense of the word.

There you have it. My top five place picks I’d love to visit if I could travel back in time. So where would you blaze into the past to visit? Love to hear your choices!

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Legend of the Timekeepers by Sharon Ledwith

There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

Here’s an excerpt:

Lilith narrowed her fair brows. “Where’s the seventh arch gone, Father?”

He smiled, revealing his pearl-white teeth. “To the Black Land.”

Did I hear Father correctly? The Black Land? Lilith balled her fists and slammed them against the sides of her slim hips. “But…but, Father, there are snakes in the Black Land! Poisonous snakes with hoods that make their scaly, ugly heads bigger! I am not going there! I want to go with Uncle Kukulkan!”

Kukulkan stifled a chuckle. Segund gave his older brother an angry stare and turned his attention back to Lilith. “Now, Lilith, you’ve simply got to get over this fear of snakes you have. After all, we are known to the world as the Serpent People.”

Lilith pursed her lips. “That’s because of the human-snake hybrids the dark magi created!”

“That is not the reason, Lilith,” Segund said, tapping the tip of her nose. “Serpents know the earth better than any other creature and Atlanteans understand this. Serpents teach us how to transmute the poison of our experiences into healing energy to share with the rest of the world.”

“Your father is correct,” Kukulkan said. “Besides, there are snakes living in the western land where I’m going too. Long, thick snakes that wrap around your body and slowly squeeze you to death before they eat you.”

Lilith squealed and covered her mouth.

Segund slapped his brother across the back of his head. “You’re not helping, feather-brain!”

Kukulkan rubbed his head. He winked at Lilith. “Don’t worry, Lilith, your father will keep you safe from these poisonous, hooded snakes.”

Another tremor shook the white marble tiles beneath their feet, and a crack that resembled a long serpent crept up between Lilith and her remaining family members, cutting them off from each other. Crystal dishes on granite shelves next to the large, stone fireplace in the main room crashed to the floor. Lilith jumped and hugged herself, feeling her soft linen top cling to her sweaty body like an oyster stuck in its shell.

Segund leaped over the crack and snatched his daughter up in his strong arms. He hugged her fiercely. “No harm will come to you, Lilith. I’ll see to that. I promise on your mother’s honor.”

Purchase Links:




Mirror World Publishing



Barnes and Noble



Sharon Ledwith and pets #3

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, TUMBLR, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Giveaway Information and Entry Form:aug 4 Necklace

One winner will be selected to receive the following prizes ~

A signed paperback copy of Legend of the Timekeepers

A custom crafted ceramic Spiral Life Seal

A signed postcard

Two ‘The Last Timekeepers’ wrist bands

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Local Author, Christine Hayton’s advice on “Editing the Editors”

1 Editing is an absolute necessity for any writer. It is very hard for a writer to catch his own mistakes. Editing puts fresh eyes on the work and is the best way to find the errors and generate the suggestions needed to polish the piece, and bring it up to the next level. Recently some comments rang alarm bells in my head. See what you think…

  1. Some time ago, I read a blog that claimed popular traditionally published authors were getting away with books full of writing errors. The article claimed that new authors simply could never get away with that kind of writing—their editors would never allow it.

An editor would never allow it—a perfect example of the tail wagging the dog. The writer should always be in control and never relinquish that control to anyone. Editors can make suggestions and corrections, put the final decisions must come from the writer – NOT the editor.2

  1. This week, I’m in a discussion and a supposedly experienced writer/editor demands that rules must never be broken. She went so far as to say if a writer cannot follow the rules, they shouldn’t write at all.

Unless a writer follows the rules, he shouldn’t write at all—a clear lack of understanding of the art of writing. If everyone follows every rule exactly, we will all write the same and individual styles will be lost.

  1. In another discussion, I find an editor who claims he can make anyone a best-selling author. Reminds me of the old wild west medicine shows, where one medicine could cure everything.

3An editor who can turn any manuscript into a best-seller is a fraud and out to take money from writers. The perfect “buyer-beware” situation if I ever heard one.

I know professional editors are hard to find and expensive. They are educated, trained, and usually have extensive experience since it is their career choice. They are very particular about what they edit and the writer’s work has to fit with their preferred categories and genres. There is usually a waiting list to engage their services.

Tradition publishers hire professional editors, either as staff or on contract, to edit the books produced by their authors. Their goal is to establish and preserve the commercial value of the book and their methods work extremely well. The authors are popular, and the books get good reviews and sell very well. These professionals do not follow the same rigid pattern of the non-pro editors. They edit the writing based on the rules of English and consider exceptions based on the author’s style. They give the author suggestions. He controls his work and chooses to make changes, if any.

Some non-pro editors feel they have the right to make demands, impose rules that strangle individual style, and of course, some are nothing more than thieves.

I considered how these non-professional editors evolved and how they directly influence the volunteer editors. When I started writing seriously a couple years ago, I joined online critique circles and a writing group, where fellow writers edited each others’ work. The editing left me confused and concerned. It had been a while since I left school, but some terminology was brand new to me. It kept popping up and I had to do some homework to figure out what they were saying. There was also an insistence on following language rules to the letter, with no allowance for exceptions.

The new terms turn out to be nothing more than editorial preferences – there are no rules. “Head-hopping” relates to POV changes, and “talking-heads” to dialogue. The point of these preferences is to avoid confusion within the story. Those two came up quite often, but there are others too. If POV or dialogue does not follow accepted procedures, these non-pro editors accuse the author of serious errors. Even when no confusion exists, they’re often still adamant it’s wrong and demand correction. The compliance to the preference is unwarranted if the premise for correction does not exist. In other words, there is no confusion evident so why make unnecessary changes.

Given my education and extensive reading, I always felt confident in my ability to produce good English, but these demands have nothing to do with accepted writing concepts. It took me a while to figure out why these editors created new terminology, allowed new interpretations, and took such a hard line with the rules.

Suddenly the light dawned – rather it hit me over the head. I remembered all those self-published books I TRIED to read, but could never get through. The unedited ones ran the gambit of writing errors – spelling, grammar, sentence structure, POV and tense issues. Obviously, the flood of self-published authors, many new and untrained, creates unique editing challenges. Before 2007, when self-publishing took off, the bad writing hit the agent’s slush pile before it ever got to an editor.

4Some perceptive entrepreneurs found editing a way to make money from the vast pool of new writers and I’m sure some are good at it. “Editors” popped up everywhere. They are relatively inexpensive compared to professional editors and readily available. They provide a badly needed service. But before writers pay for editing, they need to ask about the editor’s training and qualifications. They should feel confident about the kind of editing they will receive. A writer needs to be sure the editor will work with him and the results are worth the cost. In many cases that means the writer needs to do his own research.

The “free” editors are usually members of a writers group, or writers trading critiques in an online group. Their comments are free but they often propose the same strict adherence to rules and preferences as the non-pro editors—sometimes even more so. Like any preference or rule, there are always exceptions especially in any creative process. In many cases, the strict application pushed by non-pro editors could and would destroy a good writer’s individual style and voice. Hemingway and Dickens broke rules constantly and they were not alone. Many of our best classic writers fell into the pattern of artistic writing, and in doing so, maintained their own individual style and found amazing success.

I understand these new concepts. In many cases, they are instrumental in reigning in poor writing, and bringing it up to acceptable standards. My problem lies with many readers and writers, who voluntarily edit new writing, and blindly spread these strict concepts, and insist on their validity, without appreciating their purpose—that’s where my understanding stops.

Writers and editors need a good knowledge of the intricacies of the craft. Writers should never be in a position where an editor takes control or makes demands. There are some very good writers out there. I hate to see them compromise their writing by handing it over to an editor and allowing them to decide the style and voice.

To edit work for a fellow writer, the first step should be to read the story and decide if it works. This is the best way to give a fellow writer very helpful suggestions. Keep in mind if the genre is one you don’t normally read – you probably won’t like the story and probably shouldn’t be editing it at all. I’m sure any writer would appreciate your decision to edit what you know.

Once you’ve been over the story, read it again and look for errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Mark any corrections and write up any suggestions or comments. The writer should consider your edit comments, but always retains the right to accept or reject.

Editing your fellow writers with the sole intention of finding every perceived error is about maximizing criticism and is of no real value to anyone. Suggestions are only constructive if they provide ways to make the story better, or give the writer a chance to polish his own style.

Learning the craft, finding your own voice, developing great ideas, and executing your story is the objective. Editing is the polish that helps you take it to your audience. Writing should always be about telling a great story. Sometimes the best way to tell a great story is to break some rules. Produce that well-polished tale people want to read, and success becomes inevitable.

Sharon Ledwith’s 10 ideas to help authors with Book Promotion

Authors nowadays seem to have to wear two hats. One for the writing process and one for the business end. An online presence and platform is a must. One marketing firm suggests that book promotion should be done a year before the book actually hits the shelf (real and virtual). Yikes! I’ve been perusing the online discussions about marketing books and ebooks, and I post as much information as I can on Facebook, Twitter, and Google + to help my author colleagues with how to pimp their books. Even writing a blog is precious time away from creating an author’s bread and butter. So where does an author start to get the word out about his or her book?

Here are ten ideas to help with the book promotion process:promotion with megaphone

  • Create a professional looking website or blog (or both).
  • Get involved with Social Networking: Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Goodreads, LinkedIn etc. Don’t spam your book, but rather engage first, and let your followers get to know a little about you. They will quickly catch on that you’re a writer.
  • Create a video trailer for your book and get it in front of your readers. Make sure you post it everywhere – your website, Amazon Author page, Goodreads, anywhere you can!
  • Do a blog tour during your book release week.
  • Sign up for a book blast tour for any of your books that need some TLC.
  • Get reviews for your books through reputable book review bloggers, and make sure they post their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Create a Podcast.
  • Become a commenter and subscribe to a few blogs in your genre. You give, you get!
  • Join a book blog hop with authors in the same genre.
  • Do a Goodreads Giveaway (paperbacks only). Try to run the giveaway for at least three weeks.

Most authors dread the marketing process. It’s a tough gig if you’re not a natural born salesperson. Marketing gurus suggest building a media company, or join a book club with authors to help pimp each others’ books. Ultimately the success of a book now falls upon the author’s shoulders. Remember, if you want to be successful in any field, you have to take 100% responsibility for everything that you experience in your life.

The key is to coordinate your life. Know yourself enough so that you’ll promote your book in the areas you’re strongest in, and delegate the tasks that you’re weak at.

Thanks a heap for reading my post. Authors, if you have time, please leave a comment and share what you do to promote your book. If you’re a reader, please share what promotion strategy catches your eye, and leads you to buy a certain book? I’d appreciate your input. Cheers!

Sharon Ledwith #1 HeadshotSharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE