It’s never too late to pursue your true passion

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Editor’s note: This column is the second in a two-part series on my path to becoming a published author. 

In my last column, I wrote about how my path to becoming a published author began. Inspiration for my book, What’s Left Untold, struck in 2009, but life kept getting in the way and, ultimately, it took six years for me to write the book.

In 2015 I became a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) and entered my manuscript in a contest for aspiring authors. Of the 75 entries accepted, What’s Left Untold was chosen as one of five finalists. What followed was a year of consults with industry professionals—which were as informative as they were subjective and contradictory—a major revision of my work, and numerous submissions to agents and publishers that ultimately resulted in very kind, constructive rejections.

After a year of thanks but no thanks, of reading email replies to my submissions that I was an excellent writer with an intriguing story but it was not a fit for that particular publisher at that particular time, I became frustrated and needed a diversion.


In the summer of 2016 we decided to host a Spanish exchange student, which was an amazing experience but also one that rekindled my wanderlust. Before kids, my husband and I traveled extensively, to far-flung places such as Japan, New Zealand, Thailand and Australia. I decided that my world had become too narrow and domestic, and I wanted to begin traveling more again. To fund this aspiration, I accepted a job as a market consultant and any time I had for writing evaporated.

The marketing job served its purpose of getting me out and about in the world again: my husband and I traveled to Costa Rica, Amsterdam and Iceland and, with our daughters, we ventured to Spain, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. I also had the opportunity to travel with a friend to Peru. And though the travel was satisfying and nourished my spirit, my writing languished.

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I decided to start writing a second book and made it my goal to continue sending What’s Left Untold out on submission once a month.

In April of 2018, I was about to give up and walk away from writing altogether. I posted as much on the WFWA community page and a fellow Pennsylvania-based writer threw me a lifeline; she delivered words of encouragement, offered to meet for lunch, and essentially talked me off the quitting ledge.

That summer, I returned home from our annual family vacation to the Outer Banks to find that a lightning strike had fried our phones and all voice messages had been zapped. Two weeks later I received an email from the owner of a small press asking if I was still seeking representation. In her message she explained that she’d called two weeks prior but never heard back, so she was making one more attempt to contact me via email.

She had me at “called.”

Because publishers and agents never call unless they’re interested. And since I never responded, this publisher could have easily crossed me off her list and moved on, the supply of would-be, hopeful authors far exceeding the demand.

I returned the publisher’s call—stat!—and, after a lengthy conversation—which occurred five whole months after initially submitting my book to this particular press—accepted her offer of representation.

In September 2018, I signed my contract with Red Adept Publishing—a small press with multiple USA Today Bestselling authors—and I’ve spent the past year working through the editing process.

Though I do not yet have a confirmed release date, What’s Left Untold is expected to be published in early 2020. Meanwhile, I am putting the finishing touches on my second book with plans in the works for a third. I am hopeful that readers of this column, as well as members of my community, will enjoy my book and continue to support me on this journey.

Those who are interested can follow me on my Facebook Author Page, on Instagram at, Twitter at,  and on my website

My path to publication has been a long one, but I did not give up. Life may divert you and take you down different paths but, no matter what, it is never too late to pursue your passion, follow your dreams and achieve your goals.

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My path to publication

Sherri Leimkuhler: A path to publication

As some of you may know, I graduated from Ohio University with a degree in journalism and public relations from the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism, as well as a degree in aviation. Since graduation, I have worn many professional hats: flight instructor, sales rep, corporate pilot, editor, fitness and yoga instructor, annual giving coordinator, grant writer, columnist, marketing consultant, and freelance writer.

What you may not know is that I’m also soon to be a published author.

Many authors will say that they’d wanted to be an author for as long as they could remember. I was in fifth grade when my English teacher complimented a story I wrote and suggested that I could become a writer someday. And while I always loved to write — in a journal, notes to my friends, letters to a pen pal — it never really crossed my mind that being an author could be considered a career path. It didn’t seem practical. While my parents always encouraged me to pursue my dreams, their encouragement was always delivered with a healthy dose of reality: earn a degree in a field that is hiring, in a profession where you can earn a living.

And I did. But I also never stopped writing.

My path to becoming a published author has been a long and winding road. Inspiration for my first book struck in 2009 when I was on the verge of attending my 20-year high school reunion. I stumbled across a letter from a former classmate — you know, back when kids actually wrote notes to each other, folded into intricate shapes and clandestinely passed to one another during class or in the hallways. In the letter, the classmate indicated that she had “something important” to tell me.

I laughed and tossed the letter back into the box. Clearly, whatever the classmate had been referring to — whatever teenage drama had been unfolding at the time — was no longer relevant. Or was it?

I began to ponder what type of secret one could uncover, two decades after the fact, that could still have a major impact on one’s current life and, thus, my book was born.

What’s Left Untold tells the story of a woman who reunites with her estranged best friend and uncovers a devastating secret that threatens to unravel the life she has created with her husband and daughters.

While the story began to take shape in my mind ten years ago, it took six years for me to actually put “pen to paper.” In 2009, I had three children under the age of eight. Life was busy. I kept promising myself that when my youngest started kindergarten, I would write the book.

However, the year my youngest started school was the same year I began training for my first Ironman triathlon which, in itself, became a part-time job. In 2011, I completed Ironman Cozumel. Ironman Arizona followed in 2013.

There was no time for writing when I was spending nearly twenty hours each week swimming, cycling and running.

In 2014 there was a major shakeup in our lives when we decided to move. Though we weren’t moving far, packing up a household is a major undertaking. By that time, I’d also qualified for triathlon Nationals and had landed three corporate sponsors, which obligated me to continue racing, though my body was falling apart and, mentally, I was burnt out.

In exchange for corporate sponsorship, I was required to compete in a minimum of 12 triathlons over the next two seasons. But the race distances were shorter and I’d put most of my other projects on hold.

So when the dust literally settled on our move and its requisite renovation, I decided to finally focus my efforts on finishing the book. And I did.

Editor’s Note: This is the first column in a two-part series on my path to becoming a published author.

Cross-training to combat burnout, injuries

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Leimkuhler: Cross-training to combat burnout, injuries


Throughout the summer, I have written several columns about running injuries and various coping and preventative measures, including caring for injuries, acupuncture to alleviate knee pain, collagen to combat joint pain, and dynamic stretching to decrease injuries. But one of the best ways for runners to avoid injuries altogether is by cross-training.

As a multi-sport enthusiast, my cross-training go-to is triathlon. Not only do I enjoy swimming and cycling, but numerous sources site these activities as top cross-training alternatives for runners.


Put simply, to be a better runner, you have to run. However, in, running coach Nancy Howard says that “Cross-training should be part of every fitness plan because it helps reduce the risk of overuse injuries, improves muscular balance, targets your muscles in new and different ways, and aids in muscle recovery.”

Specificity, or how specific a certain exercise is to running, should be your top criteria when choosing an effective cross-training exercise, notes an article in Cycling, deep water running or aqua-jogging, cross-country skiing or using an indoor cross country ski machine such as a Nordic Track, and using the elliptical trainer are activities that utilize the muscles, connective tissues and joints in a manner similar to running but with lower impact on the joints.

Complementary cross-training activities such as swimming, rowing, stair climbing, plyometrics, and walking use the primary running muscles in alternative ways and engage additional muscles not typically used in running. This diversity allows athletes to build greater muscle strength and balance, which reduces the risk of injury.


Given that cycling and swimming are two of the best alternative exercises for runners, taking a break from a strictly running-based program to train for a triathlon would not only complement your running routine but it would also add variety to your workouts, keeping burnout at bay.


Weight lifting is another important piece of the cross-training puzzle. According to, lifting heavy weights uses more muscle fibers and increases strength, making athletes more impervious to injury, and allows the legs to apply more force to the ground in a quicker time frame, which improves running performance.


The article goes on to state that runners should “perform exercises such as dead lifts, pull ups, military press, bench press, squats, lunges, and overhead press that focus on multi-joint, compound movements that build functional strength.”


Adding yoga to your workout regimen will also prove beneficial in all facets of your life. This mindful practice increases flexibility, strength and balance, sharpens focus, fights fatigue, reduces stress, improves oxygenation and circulation of blood, builds a stronger mind-body connection, and fosters a sense of overall well-being.

In short, running too much — and pushing the mileage envelope — can lead to injuries. Adding alternative workouts to your schedule gives your muscles and joints a break from the pounding that’s associated with running while still burning calories and developing cardiovascular fitness.


By mixing cross-training workouts with running you can elevate your races to the next level and ultimately become a better runner. For best results, aim to add up to three cross-training sessions each week without compromising scheduled rest days, which are as vital to training as workouts are.