Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Debut Author Spotlight ... Jerri Lynn Ledford

by Jerri Lynn Ledford

I guess I’ve always wanted to be a full time writer.  It just wasn’t always clear to me that it was a viable career path.
“Choose a real career. Unless you’re Stephen King, you can’t make a living as a writer.”
Ok. I dropped out of high school out of sheer boredom and tried on a few different careers. Dropped out of college. And wrote stories when I had time. I didn’t really try publishing until I was in my mid-20s. Even then I didn’t try real hard.
My thirties were fast approaching before I decided I wanted get serious about writing. I had sold my first non-fiction article a few years before. It didn’t count. At $25, it sure couldn’t be considered a viable way to make a living.
Besides, I really wanted to write fiction. I spent a couple of years writing, rewriting, and submitting short stories. I attended online classes, joined a local writing group and met a couple of great writing mentors. But my career went nowhere.
I also wrote my first novel. Then I spent some time polishing it and put it in front of an editor from Rutledge House at a conference. He loved the writing, but the subject matter of the book was “too intense.”
So, I put it on the shelf and went to work for a temp agency. They put me in a position working a call center job that I despised. I had two young kids that I wanted to be at home with but we needed the money. Even if most of what I made went to pay for daycare.
That Christmas season, my son came home from school the last day before Christmas Break with Chicken Pox. I had to take off work. About the time he cleared up, my daughter got them. More time off.
By the time the kids got better, I’d spent some serious time trying to find places to sell my writing. My desire to be a “real writer” was strong.
When I called to let my bosses know I was coming back to work I was told, “Come on in on Monday and we’ll let you know if you still have a job.” Uh, really?
I talked it over with my husband and we decided I would stay home and try to make a living writing. Non-fiction. Articles.
It took a couple more years and a lot of determination, but I was bringing in enough along the way to give us the little bump that we needed to keep our heads above water. We were used to living paycheck to paycheck. My income was a bonus.
Then a friend that I knew though an online message group needed help.  She had more work than she could possibly finish and she needed a strong writer that could write accurately and fast. About technology. Could I help her?
Wow. Um. No.
I didn’t know the first thing about technology. My computer skills were self-taught. And I had no idea what she was talking about.
“Just do the research. Call these people,” she named off a list of experts. “Ask questions. They’ll explain it to you. Then write what you learn.”
I could do that. I could learn anything. And that one little fact led me to a career with an income that very quickly exceeded my husband’s. I’d done it. I’d become a “real writer” with hundreds of articles published, and I was bored out of my mind, and burning out very quickly.
Then I got another call. “Jerri Lynn, I’ve signed a book contract and I don’t think I can write the book.  Will you co-author it with me.”
Wow. Um. No.
I’d never written a full-length book. I had no idea how to go about.
“The outline is written. It’s like writing a collection of articles that all fit together. And the money is pretty darned good for a first book.”
I could do that. Three years later I’d written more than a dozen books, most of them without co-authors.
During all of this lots of “life stuff” was happening. My kids were growing up. I homeschooled for a while. Got a divorce. Moved halfway across the country and then moved a little further. Started a new life. And spent a lot of time writing fiction that never saw the light of day.
Another of those “and then” moments came along. I got a call, because my name was associated with many articles and books related to Google. “Jerri Lynn, we’re redesigning some training, can you do some work for us and what’s your hourly rate?”
I quoted high, impressed them with my ability to write and understand what they needed, and I landed the corporate contract of a lifetime. But the best part? It freed me up to write fiction again. I was making enough money that I didn’t have to work myself into the ground (most of the time). I had time to figure out where I wanted my career to go next and how I planned to get there.
I dusted off the old novel, read through it, scrapped the biggest part of it, and started over. That novel ended up being Biloxi Sunrise, the first in a trilogy. And by command decision (command being me), it was released in digital format, self-published, in early October.
The next two books in the trilogy are in the works. Biloxi Sunrise will be out in print at the beginning of 2012. And I’m still working the corporate contract. 
The plan is to be self-sufficient with fiction before that contract goes away. It’s been a long journey, and one that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend for everyone. I don’t even know yet what the outcome will be.  But I know a few things for certain. I’m not Stephen King. And it’s completely possible to make a very nice living as a writer. If you’re willing to do the hard work.

The Biloxi Series
Debut Novel by Jerri Lynn Ledford

Deep South Press 2011

He hadn’t protected them.

When Homicide Special Investigator Jack Roe’s daughter is killed in an auto accident and his wife dies from a drug overdose, he abandons a promising career as a Military Police Officer. If only he’d been there when they needed him, he could have saved them both.

He didn’t protect her.

Six years later, Jack is in Biloxi, Mississippi to be close to his sister and her daughter, Lisa. As long as he’s around, nothing can happen to them. But then he’s called to the hospital in the middle of the night and learns that Lisa has been abused by her mother’s boyfriend. Jack must confront old wounds that never healed, and a burning anger that’s been buried for far too long.

She can’t protect him.

The same night, a woman’s body turns up on the beach. A few days later, so does another one. Jack must deal with his past and his present while he and his partner, Kate Giveans, race to find a killer before another woman dies. But Kate harbors a secret that just might get Jack killed.

Jerri Ledford has been a freelance business technology writer for nearly 20 years.  During that time, over 1500 of her articles, profiles, news stories and reports have appeared online and in print.  Her publishing credits include: Intelligent Enterprise, Network World, Information Security Magazine, DCM Magazine, CRM Magazine, IT Manager’s Journal.

She develops and teaches technology training courses for both consumer and business users including courses on security, customer service, career skills, and various technologies for companies such as: Franklin Covey, IBT Financial, Writer’s Village University, You Don’t Say, LLC., Hewlett Packard, Sony, Gateway, Forbes and CNET.
When she’s not writing for a consumer audience, Jerri also produces corporate collateral–white papers, case studies, web content, templates, help documents, and presentations.  Her corporate clients include Franklin Covey, Microsoft, Switch & Data, The World Health Organization, FujiFilm, Coca-Cola, and NaviSite.
Fiction is Jerri’s first love. Her first novel, Biloxi Sunrise, released in most digital formats in October 2011, and will release in paperback in early 2012. Biloxi Sunrise is the first in the Biloxi series. The second book, Biloxi Blues, is due out in Spring 2012.

Important Note from Jerri:
I'm embarrassed to admit that there has been some kind of formatting glitch with Biloxi Sunrise. At this time, there are numerous typos and errors in the book. However, I'm working furiously to correct them and will re-upload the book as soon as all of the corrections are made. These errors are entirely my fault and were NOT introduced by the wonderful people that edited the manuscript.
Biloxi Sunrise is available at the following retailers:

You can learn more about Jerri or read her blog at: http://www.JerriLedford.com


  1. I admire your determination, Jerri, to never quit and to have such an "I can do it" attitude.

    Those two qualities seem to be common threads with the majority of the authors who've shared their journeys.

    We can all learn so much from you.

    Thanks for sharing your journey! I pray God will richly bless your this new path.

    BTW - Love your cover and, more importantly, I love your story! Thank you for letting me play a part in your journey.

  2. This is what "they" mean when they talk about perseverance. Impressive, Jerri. And good for you in getting Biloxi Sunrise published. Congratulations.

  3. Nicole, I look forward to sharing your story on Thursday.

  4. I received this notice from Jerri:

    I'm embarrassed to admit that there has been some kind of formatting glitch with Biloxi Sunrise. At this time, there are numerous typos and errors in the book. However, I'm working furiously to correct them and will re-upload the book as soon as all of the corrections are made. These errors are entirely my fault and were NOT introduced by the wonderful people that edited the manuscript.