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To Published & Beyond – One Author’s Voyage Pt. 4

When we last left off, it had been six years since I started writing Starfire. I had learned a great deal more about the writing industry and the writing craft. And while my writing garnered me praise from my peers, […]

When we last left off, it had been six years since I started writing Starfire. I had learned a great deal more about the writing industry and the writing craft. And while my writing garnered me praise from my peers, there was no place for it to live. The industry was also coming into the age of practically requiring an agent for submission. By this time I’d already gone through the gamut of publishers who seemed somewhat friendly to the stranger genres of fiction.

So by the year 2007 I was uncertain as to what to do with my writing, or if I even wanted to continue.  I turned my focus to other things (like getting married) and walked away from my involvement in the writing world.

I had grown jaded with the circular arguments about why publishers were ignoring the obvious desire for fantasy and to a lesser extent science fiction in the markets. I had spent years trying to break through only to hit dead walls because my stories were in the wrong genres.  In short, I was tired of it all.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I married an author (Tiffany Amber Stockton), I may have very well ended my writing journey there. But my new wife wasn’t ready to let me give up on myself just yet. And by the summer of 2008 she encouraged me to submit Starfire to a new publisher on the scene… Marcher Lord Press.

I filled out the online form and sent off my manuscript as a final test. If a publisher solely dedicated to publishing science fiction and fantasy and everything weird turned down my novel, then I’d take that as a sign that it was time to move on and let go of my writing dreams.

Was this all overly-melodromatic?  Probably. And I don’t know if I would have walked away forever. But thankfully we’ll always just have to wonder about what might have happened, as in the fall of 2008 my writing life would take a new drastic turn that hinged on six words….”Want to be a Marcher Lord?

Stuart Vaughn Stockton is the author of the award winning science fiction novel, Starfire. His exploration into world creation began in Jr. High, when he drew a dinosaur riding a pogo-stick. From there characters, creatures and languages blossomed into the worlds of Galactic Lore, the mythos in which Starfire is set. He lives in the beautiful town of Colorado Springs with his wife and fellow author, Tiffany Amber Stockton. Together they have two incredible children who bring new adventures every day.

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E. Stephen Burnett

Having some familiarity at this part in the story, I’m enjoying reviewing it here — and it was especially great to hear about your wife’s encouragement, Stuart. If it weren’t for my own lady, I might not be going to ACFW this year, though things are a little different this time.

If Tiffany doesn’t mind, I’d enjoy learning more about how she encouraged you, and how that helped you keep trying, and how other spouses/family can help struggling authors.

Tiffany Amber Stockton

Stephen, glad to hear you’re enjoying Stu’s story and his book. It’s true. Even before we were married, I kicked Stu in the pants and gave him ultimatums regarding his book. To start, in 2005, I knew I’d be working registration at the ACFW conference. So, I told Stu he had to bring me a finished draft of his novel on CD or I wouldn’t let him register. Now, it’s true, I didn’t really hold that much power or control, but it worked! 🙂 He came to the registration table with CD in hand, and I gave him his packet.

Two-and-a-half years later, despite several courteous rejections from publishers and agents, Jeff Gerke came on the scene, and I felt it would be perfect for Stu. Jeff had seen Stu’s book before at Realms and liked it, but couldn’t publish it. So, Jeff polished it up some and sent it off. He was a bit dejected, and he didn’t really want to send it, but I kept at him, pushing and encouraging, even threatening to send it myself if he didn’t.

Once Jeff accepted the book, there were edits and revisions, and I did what I could to provide him with the quiet he needed to work on them. I even read through some of them for him or encouraged him when he was starting to get discouraged at all the “red ink” on his work. I’d just finished my 5th book and had been through revisions many times.

Now that we have a toddler and another baby on the way, it’s harder for both of us to really dig into writing. It helps that I’m also an author and have been down that road. But even non-writing spouses or family members can help by understanding writing is a career, just like going to work at a job outside the home. Authors need focused time without the worries of the house or family so they can write. Admittedly, there will be times that are unavoidable, but an awareness of their need is the first step.

Writing is said to be a solitary career, but when you have a family, your family is involved in it just as much as you. They have to support you and agree to help wherever they can. Even if it’s just getting out of the house for a bit or arranging things to give the author/writer solitary time. It could even be simple things like having the house clean, dinner prepared, the kids in bed or with friends, etc. Husband or wife, you both can take care of the house so your spouse doesn’t have to worry about it.

It’s a daily learning journey, though, and Stu and I both are growing or discovering new patterns or habits as a result.

Hope that helps!

Tiffany Amber Stockton

Whoops! Make that STU polished it up some and sent it off…not Jeff. 🙂 Hubby caught it.

E. Stephen Burnett

Great to see you around and to re-“meet” you. (The last time was at the 2007 ACFW conference). And I’m sure your unique perspective as both Stuart’s wife and an author yourself will help not only my wife and I, but others who hope to hone their craft and even break into publication, and the family members who love and support them.

Morgan Busse

I’ve really been enjoying reading Stuart’s writing journey. My husband is my biggest fan, cheerleader, and critic. During those moments when I want to highlight my entire manuscript and press the delete button, he helps me. But he also can be a ruthless editor. He knows what I can do and tells me when I’m not doing it (and to be honest, I’m glad he’s honest with me).

Congrats on your next bundle of joy 🙂