We love inspiring stories from amazing people across the globe who are doing great things. This week’s feature focuses on Monica R Sholar. A graduate of the Detroit School of Arts, Monica R. Sholar is best known for her work as storyteller and indie author. Her breakout novel, The 24th Letter, followed by 2015’s Esoteric Truth, holds a 5-star review rating on Amazon & Goodreads in her Michigan-based Suspense-Thriller series, aptly named Belle Isle Heights.
Who is Monica Sholar?
I am a wife, mother, and Michael Jackson’s number one fan.
What is www.monicasholar.com about?
This site is where new and existing readers can find updates on what I’ve been up to, my scheduled appearances, series info, and other fun things like reviews and event photos.
What made you leap forward to make the first step to becoming an author?
I had a 9-5 job doing payroll taxes. Every day going to work felt like I was underwater holding my breath. When I wrote at night it was as if my lungs expanded and I could breathe again–until the next morning came. I was tired of struggling to breathe. A friend of mine told me about his wife who got cancer in her spine, breast, and lymph nodes. I was devastated by what seemed a grim outlook. It made me think about what I would do with my life if I realized I only had a short time to live. The answer was to do what I love, which is write. A few weeks later, I quit my job to focus on writing full-time. I’ve been taking deep, relaxing breaths ever since.
How did you know this is what you wanted to do for sure?
Everyone around me has always said that I have a knack for storytelling, whether it was on stage when I was a modern dancer, in conversation with friends telling one of my infamously animated stories of an encounter I experienced, or one of the short stories I doodled when bored. I finally decided to take myself more seriously when I realized how well everyone seemed to respond to the stories I wrote. Making them feel good made me feel good, and I wanted to do more of that.
So after getting set up, what were the setbacks and what did you do to improve?
Sadly, my initial setbacks came at my own hands. Many times people talk about having haters, but what about when the hater is you? When I first started out, I had tons of doubts. Am I good enough to write a book? I don’t have a college degree; will people turn their noses up at a writer who wasn’t professionally trained? I was the hater. I was feeding myself these negative thoughts and my writing didn’t go anywhere because of it.
After a while, I got sick of the stress I was putting myself under, and decided that if I were going to call myself a writer, then I needed to put my best work forward and just write. To build my confidence, I educated myself. Granted it wasn’t a traditional education at an accredited college, but it was an education nonetheless. The writers whose books I’d read and loved became my teachers. I studied them and was able to create my own unique voice from the gems I’d learned from them. Once I did that, and released my work, things began to take off. My Belle Isle Heights series now has a 5-star review rating on Amazon. It’s as if the confidence I gained fed directly into my writing and resonated with people.
These days I no longer hate on myself. My talent, determination, hard work and the positive reactions I get from my growing following of readers is the greatest sense of validation. Period. I learned a helluva lesson there: believe in yourself and if you feel you’re lacking, do what you can to make yourself better. When you do, it will all fall into place!
You have two books out, tell us about them
The 24th Letter is book 1 in my Belle Isle Heights Suspense-Thriller series. It’s about an agent, deep undercover, who learns that the next murder for hire is his very own wife. Now he must find a way to keep her alive, maintain his undercover identity, and take down the city’s most notorious crime family that ordered his wife’s hit.
Esoteric Truth, book 2 follows the lead detective who botches a high-profile investigation and sends the wrong man to prison. To right her wrong, she reopens the case–making herself a target of the true killer who would sooner see her dead than go down for the crime.
My inspiration for creating the series was to give readers the thrill of danger from the comfort and safety of their sofas. I set it in fictional Belle Isle Heights, Michigan as sort of a nod of my cap to my hometown of Detroit. In between the action, I add in little pops of home like Michigan street names or a little Michigan culture like coney dogs and pop. It’s a hit of familiarity for Michiganders, and an enticing peek inside for all the out-of-towners.
What is your advice to potential writers having a fear of launching?
Don’t let your education level, others’ opinions, financial status, or anything else stop you from getting those words out of your head and onto the pages. If it makes you happy, go for it and don’t ever stop. Find a way to make it work.
Where and how can people find you?
My website has links to an events & appearances page in addition to my social media pages, Amazon Author page and purchase info.