Mt. Pleasant native writes paranormal romance novel
A love of reading has led to an unexpected new career for a former Mt. Pleasant woman.
“It feels great. I signed the contract exactly one year after coming up with this crazy idea. I never imagined when I wrote the first chapter that this is where I would end up,” said Sheila Hollums Bates, 38, of Greensburg.
Bates said she never dreamed as a little girl growing up on West Smithfield Street in Mt. Pleasant that she would one day be a published author.
“I didn't really. In March of 2012, I woke up one day with a scene in mind. I told my husband that after reading 200-plus paranormal romances that I thought I could write one.”
So that's what she did.
“I quickly found out that writing is more than having an idea, there is a science at the center of all of the creativity,” she said.
Bates completed the story in June 2012. She said that is when the hard part started — learning to write.
“I joined critique groups, and with the help of some very talented writers, I got a boot camp crash course and was knee-deep in revisions by August,” Bates said. “It took me until December to refine it. The query process took almost three months. In the end I received two offers and chose Etopia Press.”
“Symphony of Light and Winter” is a full-length novel Bates describes as being a unique paranormal romance that will appeal to readers of Nalini Singh's “Guild Hunter,” Jeannine Frost's “Night Huntress,” and J.R. Ward's “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series.
She said the novel is the first work in a planned series.
“Even though the heart of the story is a romance, I love the endless possibilities the paranormal fantasy realm allows,” Bates said.
She said she feels that readers will enjoy the unique mythos in the book.
“Paranormal romance is filled with vampires and werewolves, and even though this book will appeal to reader of those sub-genres, it should be a refreshing change — a taste of something new. They will also appreciate the fast-paced, character-driven nature of the story,” she said.
She said various locations in the local area were inspirations for some of the settings including the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, and there are western Pennsylvania references throughout the novel.
She used the pen name of Renea Mason, to separate the writing part of her life, she said.
“It's just easier to not have to answer questions when I wasn't sure if I'd succeed and knowing that the book contained steamy content, I hadn't really processed how I felt about it,” she said.
When she signed the contract in March with Etopia Press she realized it would be harder to keep things separate than she initially thought.
“I realized since a share of marketing falls to the author these days, it would be impossible to keep the identities completely separate, but for the most part Renea is the author and Sheila has a whole slew of other responsibilities to deal with,” she said.
Whether the name on the book is Bates or Mason, her brother Richard Meason, 30, of Mt. Pleasant said he is proud of his sister.
“I've always looked up to her. She is one of the strongest people I have ever met, and when she puts her mind to something she does it. I know this means a lot to her. She's been working hard on it for more than a year,” Meason said.
He said his wife Heidi Meason was one of the few who were asked to read the book before it was released.
“She said she loved it and said it was one of the best books she has ever read,” Meason said.
Patti Amato, 52, of Churchill is a former co-worker of Bates who was also given an opportunity to read the book before the release.
“I stopped reading romance books years ago, and I couldn't have been more surprised,” Amato said. “I started reading it one day and really had a hard time putting it down and only put it down to go to bed but finished it the next day,” Amato said.
The book became available to the public last Friday. It is first being released as an e-book.
Bates said the print version of the book should be available sometime in late fall.
Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.