Q & A with author SS Hampton, Sr.

Thanks for being here today, Stan. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

Thank you for having me.
Well, I am a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. I am a serving member of the Army National Guard with the rank of staff sergeant, with prior service in the active duty Army, and the Army Individual Ready Reserve (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War). I enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004 and was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years, including Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). I have been writing most of my life—first published in 1992 after which nothing else happened until 2001. I am about to retire from the Guard so my second career goals include being an aspiring painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, I miss the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011, in Las Vegas, Nevada, I officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran. 

Thank you so much for your service! Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person? 

I was once shy (lacking confidence) and very introverted (still somewhat introverted). But as ruling personality traits, I would say no more.

What’s the hardest part of this business for you?

The public relations and/or marketing aspect. Unless you are a “big name” author most such activities are undertaken by you. Many people, as I do, write a lot of blog guest postings. Others, as I do, establish Author Pages at Amazon US and UK, and Facebook pages; we never miss the opportunity to let people know where they can find our work. Others do book signings at local bookstores and libraries. The list goes on and on. To me, all of this is harder than writing and editing.

I SO agree with you there. Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

That is easy: falling in love. As for “had to step outside”—that sounds like a choice, and such a circumstance, I believe, is not a choice. It happens. It is wonderful and frightening at the same time. It is a risk, sometimes successful, sometimes unsuccessful. And, that is all I will say about that.

What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you (whether you’re shy/introverted or not)?

First, there is nothing wrong with being shy or introverted—as long as they are not your dominant traits and you make decisions due to those traits. If you are going to be a writer, you need to develop a thick skin for the publisher rejections to come and those readers and reviewers who do not care for your writings once you are in print. You will need to get out in public to “hawk your wares” (I hope I used the right phrase) and that will require personal modesty, the ability to make a good impression on people, sense what they may be looking for, and projecting an air of friendly confidence. No room for shyness and introversion as dominant traits. 

Oh yes. Never sell yourself short even if someone calls your work “disappointing.” You already have the best validation there is: a valid publisher has accepted your work, sent you a contract, and is willing to invest the time, money, artwork, and editing necessary to turn your manuscript into the best possible story it can be.

Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?

“An Incident on MSR Tampa”

BLURB: Halloween Night, 2006 – a resupply convoy commanded by the Air Force and escorted by Army gun trucks, is leaving Kuwait for Baghdad. The lonely desert highway north is MSR Tampa, a bloody highway along which for years the convoys suffered insurgent attacks. And on MSR Tampa there is a particular wooded bend that no one speaks of, though many know of its haunted reputation, a reputation given new life by a gun truck crew testing a new generation of enhanced night vision goggles…

Buy here

Where can my readers find you on the web?

First, a lot of the guest blogging I have done in the past year can be found if you Google “author SS Hampton, Sr.” Otherwise, I can be found at the below sites:

Melange Books
Musa Publishing 
MuseItUp Publishing 
Amazon.com Author Page 

Amazon.com UK Author Page 

Starting Week 4 of... The Artist's Way

Well, I have three weeks of AW under my belt now. If you've joined me, how are you doing?

Week 3 Check-in:
Morning pages? Yes. Every single day. At least 3 pages. Sometimes more. They're still mostly a running To Do list of things I "should" do or want to do, but I'm working on writing about my WIP, trying to work through plot issues, setting goals, etc.

I did write a lot about one of Week 3's topics: anger. I am very angry with myself. Angry for wasting so much time these past few years, thinking and talking more about writing than actually writing. Spending time trying to build my blogs/FB/Twitter followings when I should be spending that time writing. In an ideal world, I could do it all, but it's not an ideal world. I'm not organized enough to do it all.

Artist Date? Yes, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd expected to. I spent an hour at the local dollar store, going up and down every aisle looking for bargains. I did find some bargains, but I had to force myself not to speedwalk through the store. Felt like a waste of time.

Synchronicity? Well, in an un-writing-related thing, every day I drive over the railroad tracks to get to work. And every day, I think to myself as I'm swerving to avoid the mega pothole against the metal rails, "I sure wish the city would fix this." Well, early last week, I said that aloud, rather than to myself, and on the way home that very day, there was a road crew working to fill the hole. So...I guess that's synchronicity, eh? I'd prefer some with my writing, but there you go. Maybe there's been some and I've been too dense to see it...

Did I do all/any of the tasks? Um, not too many. Only a couple of them "spoke" to me. The other ones I thought were stupid and a waste of time. Which probably means I need them most, but I doubt I'll ever go back and do them.

Any other issues? Yeah. I've realized I belong to certain groups and have certain acquaintances who don't make me feel good about myself and my writing career. It's not necessarily anything they're doing, but how I feel about myself around them. It's my insecurity. Until I deal with that, I'm going to step back from those groups/people.

Starting WEEK 3 of the ARTIST'S WAY

First, my check in from Week 2.

Morning Pages? Yes, I did them daily. I am trying to be more positive in them rather than using them as a bitch session. They are still somewhat of a glorified To Do list, though. I spend so much time day dreaming in the pages, talking about all the things I want to do and should do. What I need is a little less talk, and a lot more action (love that song BTW).

Artist Date? Sort of. I went for a drive the and listened to an old RWA workshop on tape--It's my process and I'll cry if I want to...by Jane Porter and Lillian Darcy. This is a great workshop that really spoke to me. Jane and Lillian talked about how their processes suck, how most authors' processes suck. And they go on to explain why. And I was set free LOL, because MY process sucks. I keep trying to change my writing process, but no matter what I do to it, it's a hot mess. But somehow, some way, I always seem to end up with a pretty good product. Maybe I just need to accept that writing does NOT come easily to me, that writing a first draft is NOT fun, and get over myself. Eh?

Any other issues? I have actually been writing every day consistently. Some days for just 15 minutes (I use a timer--that's my minimum time committment). But I still tend to put off my writing until the end of the day when I'm tired and would rather be reading a good book rather than writing a shitty one... Oh, that's being negative, isn't it?

Week 3: Recovering a Sense of Power
It's about listening to our anger. "In the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of breath," says Julia Cameron. She says if we really think about it, we can usually figure out what our anger is trying to tell us.

My anger is telling me to quit being a dumbass. I'm angry at myself for wasting so much time. If I spent half the time writing that I do THINKING about writing, I'd have much more to show for it. I'm also angry at myself for all the times I've been envious of other writers' successes. It's not those other writers I'm mad at--it's me. And I'm not jealous--to me, that implies I begrudge them their success. I don't. If they worked hard, they deserve to succeed. But I worked hard for YEARS and didn't reach the level of success I desire. So yes, I'm envious. But I let my pity party evolve into a huge blockage, and now I'm not doing what it takes to succeed. As I said earlier, time to get over myself.

This chapter also talks about synchronicity, my favorite thing. Synchronicity is simply answered prayers/dreams. When a door closes, somewhere God/the universe opens a window. You just have to be looking for that open window. And you also need to be willing to go through that open window.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this week. I'm more hopeful about my writing than I have been in a long time, so that's a good thing. And I'm also getting the itch to paint/draw again and play the piano...