Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Guest Blogger Tiffany Stockton

I'm so glad to be able to post this blog from my friend Tiffany all about her love of writing historical fiction. Tiffany is a fellow Heartsong author and fellow history lover. Please give her a warm welcome to OTWP. And don't forget to read all the way to the end for a cool surprise.

Hi! My name is Tiffany Stockton, but I publish under Amber Stockton (my middle and last names). Erica has been kind enough to invite me here today as a guest blogger to share a little about writing historical fiction and the process I utilize as a writer. She'll also be spotlighting my available books with ordering information along with this post.

So, let's see. My journey began many years ago. I wrote my first short story in 5th grade with several accolades from both my teacher and my fellow students. It was even entered into a "Young Writers of America" contest and placed but didn’t get selected for publication. In 1994, during my Senior year in high school, the writing "bug" bit me. My English teacher saw potential, and as an author herself, she encouraged me to pursue the talent further. I dabbled in fan fiction, short stories and other writing for a few years. Then, in 2002, I took the step professionally to begin a career by joining a national organization called ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

Four years later, I sold my first book and took a rather scary step into the world of authorship. When I received the notification that my first book was going to be bought, the first thought that went through my mind is, "I have to tell someone!" Since the hour was late, and everyone had gone to bed, I logged online. The only one signed on was the man who is now my husband. Some people would call that ironic. I call it God. One of the biggest moments of my life, and the first person I tell is the man I would marry just 8 months later. Amazing!

But how did I end up writing historical fiction? Well, I've always loved history. I even minored in it during college. The lives lived, the experiences that took place, the emotions and feelings of those who have gone before us. All of it. Sadly, history classes don't often delve deep enough into those lives. So, I decided to tell some of those stories.

Quite often, I'm asked what my writing process is like. Well, I don't plot my stories in great detail. I begin with a basic framework and fill in the details as I go. It becomes more of an adventure for me as I journey with my characters from beginning to end and grow along with them. I've now written 8 books and I could never tell you how any of them would end until I finished them.

For research, if I come to a point that requires it, I make a note and come back later to fill in the accurate information. That way, I don’t interrupt whatever flow I might have at the time. If I get stuck, I usually skip it and work on another scene, or go do some research, then return later. Oftentimes, having a future scene completed gives me the inspiration I need to connect what I've already written to what I have upcoming, and that blocked scene becomes unblocked.

Another question I'm often asked (as is just about any author) is where I get my ideas. That's easy. Real life. *grins* It might seem like a pat answer, but it's true. An idea can spark from a conversation, a TV show, a movie, an article in a paper, a book I'm reading, and so much more. There is no end to the stream of ideas and inspiration. People get ideas all the time. It's putting those ideas down on paper and crafting a story others will want to read that takes the time and dedication and hard work. it's fun to take those modern-day sparks and transplant them into a historical setting.

Researching the specifics of these ideas is a core part of the story. I sometimes get lost in the pages of the newspapers or documents or books I studied and forget I was supposed to be taking notes! In this world of modern technology and fast-paced living, there is something to be said for that uninfluenced way of life. At times, I wish I could chuck it all and live like that, but then I realize how much I'd miss my electronics. :)

The characters I write wouldn't miss it, though. I've covered quite a bit so far, from Colonial America, the Great Awakening, the French & Indian War, and the Revolutionary War, to the development of factories, the invention of electricity, the creation of the automobile and the Industrial Revolution. It's fascinating to me to allow those characters to tell their stories and share their experiences. It's like living life through their eyes and getting a glimpse of what life might have been like 100 years ago or more. There's something to be said for those "simpler" times, and I love getting lost in the past.

Certain aspects of writing can be easy and others difficult. Writer's block for me is cured by jumping to another scene and coming back to that troublesome scene once I've filled in spots further along in the story. Oftentimes, the act of writing something that will happen in the near future to my characters gives me the incentive and inspiration I need to jumpstart the scene that had me stuck before. I am by no means a stickler to writing a book in order. Movie and TV producers don’t film them in order. Why should I write a book from start to finish? :)

And every book is usually a team effort. Rarely does an author go from start to finish to publication without a group of editors, proofreaders, critiquers and readers looking at it and making changes or suggestions. I am extremely grateful for the team who helps me from start to finish. My books wouldn't be what they are without each and every one of them!

So, what's next?

I have sold 6 books with 2 anthology collection repackagings of those 6 novels coming by the end of 2010. This year, I'm working on finding an agent so I can diversify a bit more and get my foot in the door with trade-length fiction. I have 2 historical fiction novels and 2 romantic comedies that I'd love to sell. Right now, I just turned in book #6 and am praying for another contract soon. It's rather humbling and somewhat disconcerting to be in limbo right now, but it's the life of a novelist and the truth for the majority of us out there.

And that's about it for me. Sorry for being so long-winded, but Erica asked for it. LOL! Kudos to those of you who have stuck it out with me and read all the way to the bottom. You deserve a reward.

I know just the thing. Leave a comment and be entered in a drawing for a FREE autographed copy of my 5th book, Hearts and Harvest. If you like historical fiction and the Industrial Revolution era, this book is for you. It's set during the Panic of 1893, but the premise could just as easily be applied today with the financial recession and loss of hope so many feel. And if you want to read the first chapter, you can visit the books page of my web site (www.amberstockton.com/books.html).

Erica will get in touch with me in a week or so to let me know who won the drawing. Good luck!

Thanks again, Erica, for having me here. It's been fun.
Erica Here: Thank you, Tiffany, for dropping by, and for being so generous as to give away a copy of Hearts and Harvest.
As an added bonus, I asked Tiffany to do a "Five" for you all. So, here are Five Things About Tiffany:
Topic: History
1. I minored in history in college.
2. My great-grandfather's cousin married President Woodrow Wilson during his presidency, so I'm "somewhat" related to American "royalty." :)
3. I spent most of my life living within 2-3 hours of historical landmarks and monuments in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Williamsburg.
4. I lived 20 years just outside of Old New Castle, Delaware, which was originally set to be what Williamsburg, VA, is today, only the residents didn't want to approve the legislature that would make it happen.
5. I am in possession of a family heirloom that includes 6 letters signed by President Woodrow Wilson and written to my grandfather, thanking him for providing oysters to the White House during the 19-teens.
Remember to leave a comment on this post before Friday, August 21st for a chance to win Hearts and Harvest. And remember to stop by Tiffany's website which you can reach by clicking HERE.


  1. I love listening to the creative process. Thanks for sharing, Tiffany.

  2. great post! I love being introduced to authors! Thanks for sharing your writing journey/process, Tiffany. And super cool about Woodrow Wilson!

  3. always interested in the creative process. Thanks for the post :)

  4. Wonderful interview! It's a little scary thinking that after selling more than six books, we still don't have security. I guess as writers we will always have to work hard at improving!

  5. I remember when Copper and Candles was coming out. Another so soon!! Terrific.
    Please enter me for your book. Thank you. desertrose5173 at gmail dot com.

  6. Tiff - what a fun post! Six books - wow! Praying you'll snag an agent and many more contracts in the future.

  7. I enjoyed getting to know Tiffany a little better. I'd love to win her new book! Thanks.


  8. Tiff, I didn't realize you had so many books out. The covers look great, by the way.