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Sherri Leimkuhler: Never too late to pursue your passion

In my last column, I wrote about how my path to becoming a published author began. Inspiration for my book, “What’s Left Untold,” struck in 2009, but life kept getting in the way and, ultimately, it took six years for me to write the book.

In 2015 I became a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and entered my manuscript in a contest for aspiring authors. Of the 75 entries accepted, “What’s Left Untold” was chosen as one of five finalists. What followed was a year of consults with industry professionals — as informative as they were subjective and contradictory — a major revision of my work, and numerous submissions to agents and publishers that ultimately resulted in very kind, constructive rejections.

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After a year of thanks but no thanks, of reading email replies to my submissions that I was an excellent writer with an intriguing story but it was not a fit for that particular publisher at that particular time, I became frustrated and needed a diversion.

In the summer of 2016 we decided to host a Spanish exchange student, which was an amazing experience but also one that rekindled my wanderlust. Before kids, my husband and I traveled extensively, to far-flung places such as Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, and Australia.

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I decided that my world had become too narrow and domestic, and I wanted to begin traveling more again. To fund this aspiration, I accepted a job as a market consultant and any time I had for writing evaporated.

The marketing job served its purpose of getting me out and about in the world again: my husband and I traveled to Costa Rica, Amsterdam, and Iceland and, with our daughters, we ventured to Spain, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. I also had the opportunity to travel with a friend to Peru. And though the travel was satisfying and nourished my spirit, my writing languished.

I decided to start writing a second book and made it my goal to continue sending “What’s Left Untold” out on submission once a month.

In April of 2018, I was about to give up and walk away from writing altogether. I posted as much on the WFWA community page and a fellow Pennsylvania-based writer threw me a lifeline; she delivered words of encouragement, offered to meet for lunch, and essentially talked me off the quitting ledge.

That summer, I returned home from our annual family vacation to the Outer Banks to find that a lightning strike had fried our phones and all voice messages had been zapped. Two weeks later I received an email from the owner of a small press asking if I was still seeking representation. In her message she explained that she’d called two weeks prior but never heard back, so she was making one more attempt to contact me via email.

She had me at “called.”

Because publishers and agents never call unless they’re interested. And since I never responded, this publisher could have easily crossed me off her list and moved on, the supply of would-be, hopeful authors far exceeding the demand.

I returned the publisher’s call — stat! — and, after a lengthy conversation, which occurred five whole months after initially submitting my book to this particular press, accepted her offer of representation.

In September 2018, I signed my contract with Red Adept Publishing — a small press with multiple USA Today bestselling authors — and I’ve spent the past year working through the editing process.

Though I do not yet have a confirmed release date, “What’s Left Untold” is expected to be published in early 2020. Meanwhile, I am putting the finishing touches on my second book with plans in the works for a third. I am hopeful that readers of this column, as well as members of my community, will enjoy my book and continue to support me on this journey.

Those who are interested can follow me on my Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/sherrileimkuhlerauthor/, on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/sherri.leimkuhler/, Twitter at https://twitter.com/SherriLeimkuhl1, and on my website http://www.sherrileimkuhler.com/.

My path to publication has been a long one, but I did not give up. Life may divert you and take you down different paths but, no matter what, it is never too late to pursue your passion, follow your dreams and achieve your goals.

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Editor’s note: This column is the second in a two-part series on my path to becoming a published author.

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