New Voices of Experience Part III
Getting Those Stories out There: an interview with S.L. Partington
The dream of many writers is a publishing contract. But as author S.L. Partington has discovered over the last ten years, in many ways it is only the beginning, and there are many ways to define success.
I’m Sharon Partington. I live in Alberta, Canada, and I’m a retired uber nerd who plays video games when I’m not writing. I wrote my first story when I was nine or ten – Star Trek fan fiction. In high school I wrote an S.E. Hinton-inspired short story, which my teacher read to the class (I was thrilled and mortified). A high school creative writing course taught me to write an appreciate poetry. Then came the first fantasy novel, hand-written almost 30 years ago. Finally, in 2007, a contract with a small press, for Hunter, a science-fiction thriller.
All the feelings that come with that contract: elation, trepidation, disbelief: I’ve done it! I’m going to be a published author! But publishers are in business, and business models change. My publisher decided to change from a multi-genre publisher to focus on romances, and Hunterdidn’t fit. I requested my rights back, and they agreed. The contract didn’t specify that they had to, so one piece of advice I’d give new writers is make sure your contract covers rights revision to the author, in case of a change of publisher focus, or if it goes out of business.
Hunter then went to a second publisher, one my editor was working for at the time. That didn’t work out either, due to communication problems and creative differences. But what I learned was that I can do this writing thing: my stories, and my storytelling abilities are good enough. I’ve chosen to go indie at this point so I have absolute creative control over my books. I don’t have to worry about whether or not Vampires or Zombies or whatever are hot or trending. I can write my own stories and put them out there myself. There’s a huge amount of freedom in that.
Marketing has been an enormous challenge – mostly finding strategies that don’t cost a lot (I have a very limited budget) and actually produce results. I do have a Twitter presence, and I also have a Facebook author page, although the Facebook page doesn’t get much traffic. I also have an author website. I have tried the Amazon ads, but didn’t get a great result. Navigating the keywords is very much a mystery for me – finding ones that work can be daunting. There are resources to help with that – from Amazon itself, and from other authors – and I have looked at a few of them. It’s very true that it takes money to make money and that can be a real challenge when your budget is so limited. I don’t think my age has anything to do with it really – I do know how the internet works and readers don’t know how old I am, they just know whether or not I’ve managed to tell a good story.
Success for me has more to do with getting those stories out there as opposed to being on the best seller’s list. I write the stories that I want to read. That’s the main reason I chose to go the Indie route. I don’t have the patience (at the moment) to query traditional publishers and/or agents. That’s not to say it will never happen – just for now it’s not the way I want to go. There are lots of roads that lead to the same destination.
Hunter is the first of a series – there are 4 books planned. I also have a fantasy series in the works, but it’s still in the planning stage. Fantasy and science fiction have always been my genres of choice. Hunter began as a first line prompt that took on a life of its own. I write (and read) to escape reality for a while. Fantasy and scifi allow me to do that.
New Voices of Experience Part II
Deal with the Pain
Øle Ø is a former member (retired 2016) of SAG-AFTRA – the Actors’ union, and have a B. A. in Theatre and a minor in communication from the University of Minnesota, Duluth.(2000). He’s also worked in the construction trades in NYC (carpenter’s union) and many other various jobs in the Mid-West – too numerous to list. He puts memories on paper in humorous, sometimes sad ways.
“I’ve recently started calling my memories: “Bones,” after reading Natalie Goldberg’s book – Writing Down The Bones and when I write, I consider my writing as: “Crushing Bones”.
Think about being worried, in a hospital or going to the doctor “AGAIN.” Dealing with bad times or unexpected times – life issues stopping you cold from that deadline.
Why should I start writing again? I mean, I go from one uncompleted project for three weeks to another, because of my health.
I’ve been on crutches and can’t go to the bathroom without – excruciating pain. Who can write?!
But wait, I can deal with the pain. No one knows the pain I’ve been through. A small virus in my intestines is nothing like having your chest cracked open 3 times since you were 5 years old. OMG. No one knows that pain.
I swear at my parents. I swear at my doctors. I swear at myself. I swear at the gods that did this to me and realize I can’t do a fucking thing about it.
I AM THE PAIN. I LEARN THE PAIN. I DEAL WITH THE PAIN. (then I thank the doctors and nurses for the meds that temporarily stop my pain…)
My leg or arm wasn’t blown off in a bomb attack. I can’t think of that type of pain. Yet, pain is pain. It impedes a good writing session. No argument – hands down.
When I’m healthy, I can work – either with my hands or my head. Things are much easier then. Much simpler. AND, all those teachers and professors since the third grade saying to me: “You Should Write!”
It’s difficult when I can’t feel creative or looking at my heart rate monitor in a hospital and I’m being held hostage for four days because they can’t figure out what the hell is going on with my heart rhythm.
Yet I feel fine. They try to convince me otherwise and I start to wonder if I’m in a Twilight-Zone episode. Everyone in the hospital – especially the administration idiots in pig masks are messing with my head. Most of all, they’re LIARS. I threaten legal action and they take their masks off.
They can’t wait to sign me out.
But I won’t sign a damn thing. I get back at them for messing with my creative writing. Making them pay for their lack of knowledge.
I know my body better than anyone.
I get home and self-doubt enters my consciousness as I worry about my blood pressure rising every time I take it, 5 times in a row, starting to think I should call 911, when I’m trying to write.
But, I stop and rest and think hard.
Yes – I ate 5 pieces of bacon at the Windmill restaurant. They made a mistake with the “small order” of sausage links and brought five delicious, smelly bacon slices and my wife is on a plane to Denver for a week and she won’t know I’m eating them and the waitress swore allegiance to me and won’t tell.
I love her.
Did she know it could kill you? No. Anyway – It’s not her fault. She doesn’t know I’m a writer. Where are the words?
Follow Øle Ø on Twitter: https://twitter.com/doleolesen
New Voices of Experience Part I
Dream When You are Young?
Posted on July 5, 2010
“You say you should have been a ballerina, babe
There are songs I should have sung
But I guess our dreams have come and gone
You’re ‘sposed dream when you are young
And so you and I
We’ll watch our years go by
We’ll watch our sweet dreams fly
Dreams Go By: Harry Chapin
© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc
Maybe back in the 70s, when Harry Chapin wrote this and I was in my teens, dreams were only for the young. Maybe some people think they still are. But I dreamt of being a writer all my life, and I was 55 when I finally produced a book good enough to be accepted for publication. (I’m 61 now, and working on my fourth.)
Digital presses and the internet have changed the world of publishing. Small indie presses taking advantage of e-book and print-on-demand technologies, and self-publishers doing the same mean there are more books available than ever before. For the digital natives (a term popularized by Marc Prensky in his 2001 book Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, referring to anyone born after 1980, for whom electronic communication was always just there), perhaps adapting to a world where social media can make or break a product or person is easier than for those of us born before 1980, the digital immigrants. Perhaps keeping up with Office’s newest iteration, Photoshop’s changed interface, what the ??? does one do on Reddit, and just what is the purpose of Instagram are easier to comprehend if you’re under 40. But what does this all mean to the older writer? Because there are two overlapping subjects here: the art of writing, and the business of marketing.
In this occasional, on-going series, I and other ‘senior writers’ will be discussing how our age affects (or doesn’t affect) our writing, both its creation and its promotion. For the purpose of this series, we’re all baby boomers: born before 1964. We are traditionally published, indie-press published, self-published and not (yet) published. We write in a wide range of genres. We have commonalities, and we have differences.
If you fit this definition of a ‘senior writer’, and you’d like to contribute a blog post or be interviewed for this series, contact me by commenting on this post on Twitter, FB, or in the blog itself.