Most articles I’ve read about personal encounters with authors begin with a physical description. I’m not going to do that with Parker Sinclair. Although she is young, and pretty, and wore a cute outfit, that’s not what this is about. This is about her book, the woman behind the book, and the advice she gave to a room full of aspiring writers and young professionals.
I had the fortune to meet Parker at the Her Campus 2015 Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiette Conference, an event organized by the online college magazine Her Campus, which brought in young professional women from a variety of fields to talk to college women about empowerment, networking, career opportunities, and how to make it in the post-grad world.
Parker Sinclair is a writer of adult urban fantasy and supernatural fiction. Her first book, Trust: The Alex Connor Chronicles Book 1 came out only last year. Trust tells the story of event-planner party-girl Alex Connor who has to confront some dark parts of her past in order to divest her psyche of the nightmares that haunt her and come to terms with her magic powers. It’s a love story and a story of magic, but mostly it is the story of a witty, flawed, powerful young woman who takes control of her life despite the memory of abuse from her past that threatens to overwhelm her. When it comes to inspiration for this story, Parker cited a childhood full of fantasy novels that were unfortunately lacking in female authors and protagonists. When she was older, she began to read more works by female authors such as Kim Harrison and was inspired by kick-butt female protagonists like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Parker determined to add her heroine to the growing ranks of relatable and admirable female characters in fantasy. Her book has received glowing reviews on goodreads, especially promising for a debut author, and I can’t wait to start reading the copy I bought from her at the conference!
Parker is currently working on book 2 of the Alex Connor Chronicles, entitled Truth, as well as a children’s book called Jack the Growling Dog, which may be published under her real name rather than her pen name. The first three chapters of Trust as well as a myriad of other information can be found on her website.
Parker Sinclair is the pen name of a young mother who works as a school counselor in addition to being a writer. She is self-published and in fact co-founded her own publishing company, Rawlings Books. The diligence, skill, and initiative that go into being independently published were some of the things she talked to us about at the conference. She had to buy the copyrights to her books, the ISBNs, deal with getting rights to the lyrics she quotes in her book, find a freelance editor through personal networking, and more. Everything that goes into making a book happen, she had a personal hand in, including posing for the cover image rather than trying to find the perfect stock photo. She even has to do all of her own marketing, all while working full time as both a school counselor and a mother. She always knew she wanted to write a book, and this particular book was 14 years in the making before it was finally published. If Parker taught me anything, it’s that you truly can do anything you set your heart on.
“Mistakes make us smarter,” she said, “and triumphs and goals make us stronger.”
The main focus of her speech was to tell us ambitious college women not to stress if we’re not 100% sure of what we want to do with the rest of our lives. There’s a lot of pressure around this time to pick the right path now, before it’s too late and we put a lot of wasted effort into something and then realize it’s not for us. Parker assured us it’s okay to pursue something now and change our mind later. “Mistakes make us smarter,” she said, “and triumphs and goals make us stronger.” The career path we choose isn’t the only strand of our life. Our hobbies, our side projects, our social and personal lives are all important and none is the sole definer of who we are. Her message to us was, “When you create your own path, it’s okay to stay on it, and it’s okay to diverge from it.” In undergrad she was a biology major and psychology minor. Now she works as a school psychologist. Do these undermine her writing career? No! Her experiences studying psychology and working as a counselor helped her lend depth and authenticity to her troubled protagonist. Settings were pulled from from a variety of childhood trips. Everything in her life, even experiences she hated at the time contributed to her book.
Everything in her life, even experiences she hated at the time contributed to her book.
During a panel with Parker and other speakers at the conference, I got the opportunity to ask her if she had anything to say about the unique challenges of being a woman in the professional world. She mentioned again the lack of female representation in the fantasy books she read as a kid and nodded along enthusiastically as one of the other panelists described women in the fashion blog industry tearing each other down and the need to build female comradery. Parker chimed in that she had observed little girls excluding each other as early as her daughters’ preschool class and that women often compete too much.
My take home messages from this meeting: 1) If you have a dream, pursue it, and do whatever it takes to make it happen, even if it means running a one-woman show for a while 2) whatever career decision you make at the end of college is not the end of the world, and you shouldn’t stress too much about it. 3) If women want to become stronger as a group, we need to lift each other up, not tear each other down. 4) I know what book I’m reading next. Alex Connor Chronicles, here I come!
To learn more about Parker Sinclair, check out her website where she keeps a blog, follow @Parker_Sinclair on twitter, and like her on facebook! Her book Trust is available in paperback and all ebook formats at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Spark, Smashwords, iBooks, Ingram, and Createspace.