Leslie, describe yourself for our visitors.
I have been married for thirteen years and have three children, ages 4, 9 and 11. I earned my Masters in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and currently work as a therapist providing services to children and families throughout the Baltimore region. I love writing and could probably spend 12 hours a day working on a story; but life has laundry, dinner, trips to the park, and bills waiting, so I squeeze my writing fix in as much as I can and pray that I don’t drop all the hats I’m juggling. No matter how busy it gets, I see writing as a ministry and a calling; I have no choice but to keep at it! I’m trusting God to work out the details of my life and that He is getting the glory from my stories.
How do you find time to connect with God?
I can do nothing apart from him. I’m at a place in my walk where I’ve stripped down traditions and formalities and am just living before Him. I take each moment as one in His presence and often find myself either praying or just aware that He is there to help me and to live through me as I surrender to Him. On a practical level, that means that while I am peeling potatoes for the slow cooker, dropping my kids off at school, or sharing a laugh with my husband, I’m doing so before the King of Kings, i.e. all of these moments have purpose. Keeping that awareness and perspective changes the way I see my day, my life, and the world around me.
Do you have a favorite bible verse and or quote you wish to share?
For Losing Hope, a scripture that really applies is Romans 5:3-5 (NIV), “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Losing Hope is the first of a series that follows a social worker who comes to the rescue of the most vulnerable clients on her caseload, all while trying to come to terms with the regrets of her past. In this first book, Sienna St. James goes rogue trying to find a little girl who may or may not exist, and at the same time tries to track the whereabouts of her estranged husband. All she has to go with for both missions is a new foster child client who thinks someone is trying to kill her and a package from Portugal that delivers more questions than answers.
What influenced you to write this book?
I wanted to start a new series that would be a solid meld of suspense and women’s fiction with a good dose of inspiration. I love stories that have unpredictable plots, that keep me as a reader turning the page. With Losing Hope, I wanted to keep the surprises coming, but at the same time offer a message of, well, hope, especially for readers who may be struggling with disappointments of past decisions that changed the entire course of their lives.
What valuable lessons do you want readers to learn from your book?
There are many lessons in what is otherwise a light read. For one, I’ve come across women who have had their identities so wrapped up in the man in their lives, that if/when he leaves, these women are not sure who they are any more. Losing Hope has a message of living after heartbreak and reclaiming identity and purpose. Perseverance and making hard choices is also examined, as are themes addressing the foster care system and defining social justice. Hey, I am a social worker ; what else would you expect?
Are you available for speaking engagements? What are some of your popular topics?
Yes, I definitely am available for conferences, workshops, and other events. I’ve spoken at church functions, book clubs, and other venues. As I am also a therapist in addition to being a writer, I especially enjoy speaking about mental and emotional well-being. As a community, we tend to shy away from anything that has the word “mental” in it. I think it is important to discuss mental health and provide accurate information as too many people and families are suffering in silence. I’m all about removing the myths and the taboo surrounding mental illness. Talking about mental health, as well as offering information about the writing/publishing process, are two major topics which I will explore with a willing audience.
What’s next for you?
I’m continuing work on my Sienna St. James Series. The next book is entitled Without Faith and I am excited about the premise for it. I have several other novel ideas (and half-written manuscripts) outside of this series which I am looking forward to completing as well.
Where can visitors find you online?
Facebook Page: Leslie J. Sherrod