About: My Path as a Writer

I grew up with a Smith-Corona manual typewriter and Writer's Market on the dining room table - my mother wanted to be a writer. She never sold anything, but we developed serial bedtime stories together and she was a good first editor.

 

From the beginning of school, I considered myself a writer and helped compose skits and plays. My tenth summer was spent in the dusty archives of Patterson Library in Westfield, New York, researching captive stories so I could write a novel like Lois Lenski's book based on Mary Jemison's life. The firsthand accounts and those written by interviewers were much better than anything I could write from research alone, so I moved on to other projects. The next year in school, our fifth grade teacher regularly assigned stories of one hundred words. For our mutual entertainment, I would write mine in one grammatically correct sentence.

 

In my teens, I worked on school newspapers, becoming editor my last two years of high school. While I did not major in English in college, I accumulated more than twenty credits in writing and literature courses as an undergraduate, along with over thirty credits in drama and film, which helps my dialogue and scripts. In 1981 I wrote and pitched my first novel, then stuffed it in a drawer after two rejection slips. Family was part of the next detour. But my writing skills were useful in multiple careers, writing such things as investigative court reports, individualized education plans, and a grant proposal that resulted in $100,000 for Moffat County School District in Colorado.

Late in 2004, Michael Sellers, an independent film producer and friend from college days, asked me to help with a problematic script. He needed a major revision in four days with specific requirements due to costs. The revision helped land enough backing to allow him to return to the original concept and hire a known writer for the final version. However, I got my first paycheck for writing, an IMDb Credit as creative consultant on Eye of the Dolphin, and motivation to write for a living.

I wrote and polished a new novel with a great critique group and pitched it to agents and publishing house representatives at multiple conferences. Aside from the fact I was not pitching it as well as I would now, Running Away was realistic fiction while Twilight was still the rage and it was a YA/Adult fiction cross. Publishers prefer books that fit a category, because they're easier to market. So, in 2007, I used a "self-publishing company" and paid dearly for their "professional package" that did not live up to its name.

 

It took a few years to get my book away from them. I learned to buy my own ISBNs and get my own copyrights, then self-published my next books and new versions of Running Away through CreateSpace - Amazon's new, free POD (print on demand) service. To help others avoid predatory companies, I started talking to groups of writers and teachers about self-publishing and running self-publishing classes. I wrote a book for teachers, which I've since removed from publication rather than updating it as the industry changes. CreateSpace no longer exists! Amazon now does POD as well as eBooks through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). I've published Running Away: Maggie's Story and Peg's Story: Detours using both KDP for Kindle and IngramSparks for paperback and ePub versions. Distributors, bookstores, and libraries sometimes prefer dealing with Ingram.

Meanwhile, it took several tries to retire from teaching. I went back for a Master's of Administration with an emphasis in professional writing and editing to hone my skills and establish those credentials. While I've had short stories and articles published, sold a screenplay, and receive royalties from that as well as from my self-published books, writing alone has not yet paid all the bills. Thus, the twin emphases on this website.

I'm beginning to make a living writing (and editing).

 

Check out MY BOOKS, CREDENTIALS, and MEDIA.

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© 2019 Sheri McGuinn

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