When I first starting writing fiction, my stories were what would be described today as “run-of-the-mill” or “generic.” Nothing about them really set them apart from any other story out there. Even once I ventured into the Christian fiction field, my stories were still rather plain. I fell into the stereotypical plots with no real unique twists or contest. Now, 6 years into my professional career, I know better. 🙂
So often, you hear that you must “write a good story” in order to sell it. But there is so much more to the challenge than that. And in Christian fiction, you get to add that third element combined with physical and emotional. The spiritual thread.
Like Kathy Kovach, my books so far have been published through Barbour’s Heartsong Presents line. They not only require a Scripture verse that embodies the story, but when you write the synopsis, the spiritual thread must be obvious and show progression/resolution. For some, that might sound easy, but for me, it’s not always the case.
See, I grew up in a Christian home, going to church every week, memorizing Bible verses and learning what it meant to be a “good Christian girl.” Unfortunately, I relied too much on the status quo and became complacent in my faith. As a result, the stories I wrote fell into that pit too. My characters were only two-dimensional, and their experiences didn’t resonate with readers. My books needed a major overhaul. But what could I do?
The answer? Get back to the basics and find the real source of my joy and faith again.
Let me tell you, it’s humbling to admit that you’ve been saved your entire life and been a follower of Christ for over 25 years, yet you have trouble defining your spirituality in a way that makes it easy to see from an outside perspective. And since I had pretty much become detached from that part of my life, everything I wrote showed it.
But there IS a good ending to this story. I promise. 🙂 Just when I needed it most, my church was beginning a study on “Back to the Basics.” It wasn’t only a sermon series, but also adult Bible studies, small groups and special classes offered. So, I took advantage of what I could and committed myself to digging deeper and discovering the true passion of my heart. As a result, I not only connected again with God in a more personal manner, but I became aware of my own spiritual highs and lows. And that allowed me to see them in my characters.
Of course, now I had to go back and revise my books to add that spiritual thread. Once I did, the characters fairly jumped off the page at me with realism. The true proof in the pudding didn’t come until the book was published, though. So, I waited with baited breath for the first reviews to come back once the book released. And when the first one came, I almost didn’t click on it to read it. But curiosity won out, and I did.
And I was blown away.
I’ll share it with you here:
“Amber is truly one of the strongest historical romance writers I’ve read in years. I just finished this book, and I’m thrilled with it! I told a friend, “It’s the perfect blend of story, history and spiritual truth” and it’s beautifully written, to boot! Sometimes historicals (as a whole) don’t hold my attention, or the reader tries too hard to impress with historical lingo/tidbits. But in this case, I found myself caught up in the action right away and also found the story very believable. I could relate to both the hero and the heroine. And I love the way Amber presents the spiritual elements. She uses analogies. Great symbolism. Very subtle, and yet very effective. The heroine is led (quite gently)to the Lord by the hero. It’s not at all manipulative. Believable. Real. And poignant. I can’t say enough about Amber! Wow! This is her first book? Pretty amazing, when you think about it. Some of us write for years to get to this quality. Kudos, Amber! I can’t wait to read the next one. And the next. And the next!” ~Janice Thompson, Double-Booked Reviews
And there you have it! Mission: Success. Lesson learned.
My writing has become ten times stronger, and the spiritual truths have only deepened my stories and added that bonus third element to help them resonate with readers. It’s a good thing God is patient and forgiving and keeps teaching us the lessons we need to learn. Otherwise, we’d all be up a creek without a paddle. 🙂
Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since she was a child. Today, she is an author, online marketing specialist and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart. They have 1 daughter and a border collie. She has sold eight books so far to Barbour Publishing, is a columnist for the ACFW e-zine and writes other articles as well. Read more about her at her web site: http://www.amberstockton.com/.