Most mornings, Shannon Wiersbitzky wakes up at 4:30 and heads to the guest room of her East Whiteland home. There, illuminated only by her laptop screen, she sets to writing.
"I tend to write that way, with the lights off. Just the computer is lit up. I wake up right from a dream state and go right into my imaginary world of writing," Wiersbitzky said.
Her first novel, "The Summer of Hammers and Angels," was published in July by Namelos, a New Hampshire-based publisher of children's and young adult literature. Her editor, Stephen Roxburgh, has worked with such authors as Maurice Sendak ("Where the Wild Things Are") and Madeleine L'Engle ("A Wrinkle in Time").
"Hammers and Angels" follows Delia, a down-on-her-luck West Virginian whose mother was struck by lightning and whose home is in danger of foreclosure. The story was partially inspired by Wiersbitzky's volunteer work in the South with Habitat for Humanity, and she's donating 10 percent of book proceeds to the nonprofit.
The book is not self-published, but it is print-on-demand and not available in bookstores. When she visited a class at who had read an early copy of the book, one of the students asked if it was available on Kindle, which she called "a sign of the times." (The answer is yes.)
After her pre-dawn writing sessions, Wiersbitzky heads to work at Vanguard as director of market research, where her focus is the "voice of the client." In the evenings, she spends time with her husband, Andreas, and their two sons, Ryan, 11, and Alexander, 8.
The book has garnered favorable reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, but Wiersbitzky said one of her favorites was from an Amazon user:
For those who give, it is a motivator to do more.
For those in need, it is a message of hope, faith, and courage.
Wierbitzky said she's already drafted another novel, but it won't be a sequel to "Hammers and Angels."
"I think the character, Delia, ended in a good place," she said. "I don’t think she needs me to write her story anymore. She’s good."