Last month, Sharon Warchol released her book â€œJax Sheppard and the Seven Mirrors,â€� which is available in paperback on Amazon. Soon it will be available for eReaders through Amazon, Barnes Noble, and iBooks.
A stay-at-home mother, she lives in South Fayette with husband Dave, who runs Warchol Funeral Home in Bridgeville, and their three children.
She taught middle school math in the Canon-McMillan School District and was dean of discipline. She obtained her master’s degree in educational administration from Duquesne University and served as an assistant principal with Canon-McMillan.
She retired to stay home with her children and began writing full-time. â€œJax Sheppardâ€� is her first book.
All three of their children have been diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder known as PANS or Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome. It formerly was called PANDAS or Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections, but it has since been discovered that other infections can lead to the disorder.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PANS is a dramatic, overnight onset with symptoms that can include motor or vocal tics, obsessive and/or compulsive behavior, moodiness, irritability, and other concerns. Children with PANS are genetically predisposed to the disorder. It is not contagious. It was only identified in the late 1990s and awareness has recently begun to increase. Research studies have begun at Yale University and the National Institutes of Health. Oct. 9 was PANDAS Awareness Day.
When the children were younger and trying to go to sleep, Warchol said she would make up stories to distract them, eventually putting the stories down on paper. Her children suggested turning the stories into a real book. Initially she resisted because of the length of time it takes to become published.
Her son Zack encouraged her, saying â€œYou told us if we want to beat PANDAS, we can do it as long as we try hard enough. You need to try hard enough.â€�
With that inspiration, she started her own independent publishing company called PANDAS Press and found an editor and an illustrator.
The character Jax Sheppard is based in part on her oldest son, Luke. He struggles daily with fear and anxiety, yet always ends up doing the right thing. In the book, Jax sets off to find the seven mirrors of Kaptropoten, being pushed to confront his issues as he learns the truth about his superhuman strength. An entire series is planned that will feature Jax and his friends on various adventures.
Warchol’s children still struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder every day but have learned strategies and other tools to manage their symptoms. Warchol said her children have a desire to help others in these situations. The book is a small part of that.
Charlotte Smith is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media and can be reached at 724-693-9441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.