My name is Sharon Marchisello, and I’m a writer. Sounds like the mandatory confession at the beginning of a 12-step program. Except writing is a habit I don’t want to break; it’s what keeps me sane.
I always knew I was a writer. Even before I could spell my name, I entertained myself with stories after my parents put me to bed long before I was sleepy.
Writing fiction enabled me to create a world where I was in control. My heroines were prettier and smarter, and they succeeded where I failed, always firing off that zinger at exactly the right moment. If someone was mean to me, I‘d create a character in their likeness and make bad things happen to them.
I wrote short stories all through school, and although I received praise from teachers and peers, I got nothing but rejection letters when I submitted them to national publications.
My first novel, completed when I was in my early twenties, was a plotless, thinly disguised autobiographical rant. When I began the Masters in Professional Writing program at the University of Southern California, I showed my masterpiece to one of my professors. He suggested I start a new project.
This professor believed the way to get published was to pick a genre. Agents and publishers want to know what shelf your book belongs on in a bookstore. He was a fan of mysteries, but I wasn’t, and I didn’t think I could write one. I decided to try my hand at romance.
My master’s thesis was meant to be a romance novel, but I couldn’t follow the formula. The heroine doesn’t choose either guy vying for her hand but rides off into the sunset with her girlfriend for a summer of travel and adventure. Although it met my degree requirement, it never got published. Maybe someday I’ll rewrite it as a YA-coming-of-age novel.
Unable to find fame and fortune as a writer by the time I graduated, I got a real job working in the airline industry. Working for an airline enabled me to indulge my love of travel; I’ve visited over 100 countries and all seven continents. My first paid publication was a travel article about a trip to Greece.
I also wrote some screenplays. (I lived in Los Angeles; doesn’t everyone?) Got an agent for one, but the movie never got made. One script I worked on did get made into a film that never got released. Probably a good thing, because it was terrible—way too many cooks in the kitchen. My contract promised “deferred pay” from the profits; I never saw a dime.
One night, while working at the Los Angeles airport during a major construction phase, I walked through a long, deserted, temporary hallway to meet an incoming plane. The fog was rolling in, shadows loomed, the ramp area where I stood was almost dark. I thought, someone could get killed out here and no one would know. The idea for my first mystery, Murder at Gate 58A, was born.
I had a great time writing it, creating a cast of characters who all had motive and opportunity, and then trying to figure out whose motive was strong enough to commit murder. I was so excited when I found an agent to represent me, but unfortunately, after almost two years of peddling my novel around the publishing world, he gave up trying to sell it. Murder at Gate 58A sits on myshelf (or rather in my computer, in a very old version of Word).
My fourth novel, Going Home, is also a murder mystery, and it was my first novel to get published. Going Home was inspired by my mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease, which prompted me to wonder what it would be like to interview a witness or a suspect who could not rely on her memory. It opens when the heroine comes home to check on her elderly mother, who has Alzheimer’s, and finds her hovering over the bludgeoned body of her caregiver. Alone. And unable to explain what happened. Although I began writing Going Home in 2003, it was 2013 before I got a publishing contract from Sunbury Press, and 2014 by the time the book was released.
My latest novel, Secrets of the Galapagos, is also a mystery published by Sunbury Press. While not a sequel to Going Home, Secrets of the Galapagos features two of the same characters. Grandmother and granddaughter set off on a cruise of the Galapagos only to encounter murder and mayhem. The setting was inspired by a bucket-list cruise of the Galapagos Islands that my husband and I took in 2014.
I’m currently working on a sequel to Secrets of the Galapagos, as well as a cozy mystery where the heroine gets involved with an animal rescue group—and stumbles over a dead body. Now residing in Georgia, I’m an active member of Sisters in Crime, the Atlanta Writers Club, and several critique groups.
In addition to fiction, I write a personal finance blog, Countdown to Financial Fitness, and I self-published a nonfiction book about personal finance, Live Well, Grow Wealth. I don’t have a background in finance; my book and my blog are based on my personal experience of living frugally, saving and investing, and retiring early to do the things I love.
Besides travel and writing, I do a lot of volunteer work. I’ve participated in two international builds with Habitat for Humanity: one in Thailand, and another in China. My husband and I completed our Master Gardener certification in 2014, and to remain active, we have to spend at least 25 hours a year on community service gardening projects. I serve on the Board of Directors for the Fayette Humane Society, and I’ve been fostering cats for over a decade. I use my literary skills to give back by handling their grant writing.