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Interview with Tiffany Amber Stockton

Tiffany Amber Stockton is a talented woman. She seems to have done it all, from running websites for famous people such as Jane Seymour to speaking events to writing fiction. Still, she manages to keep her faith, and her family, front and center.

I see you’re very active on Facebook. Can you tell us specific ways you use social media to interact with your readers?
This has been an up and down challenge over the past 8-10 years. I’ve experimented with all sorts of things on my quest to find my niche and what merits the highest return on my time investment. I’ve found readers love to know the authors they read are real people too. So, rather than use social media solely to promote, I try to have only 1-2 posts out of every 10 be a promotion. The rest are personal notes, quotes, photos, stories shared, promotions of other authors, questions posed to my readers, etc. Just a little glimpse of my life outside of my writing to give my readers a person with whom they can relate.

With over a dozen books in print, you’ve no doubt seen changes in the publishing industry since you began. What do you see as the pros and cons to these changes?
Without a doubt! When I sold my first novel, it was still possible for authors to submit an unsolicited query and to even negotiate contracts without an agent. Now, I believe every single publishing house has closed its submissions to everyone except agents or personal meetings at a conference or seminar. And even with that, the greater majority of houses have scaled back a significant amount on how many new books they’re acquiring each year. It’s becoming harder and harder to “break in” as a new author, let alone to even have your work be considered by an editor. It’s not impossible, but extremely difficult.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
By far, the demands of my children, who are 5 and 3 this year. It’s gotten easier recently, but the past three years have been a significant challenge. The first two years of my daughter’s life, I still managed to maintain writing 2-3 books each year. Once my son was born, though, my daughter became far more demanding, and my time to write dwindled. She just started school, though, so my new routine is going to afford me a larger chunk of time to get back into a regular schedule. That routine also still includes the home business I run, along with my work in women’s ministry at church, the duties around the home, and the marketing I do for both my books and my business, but I can see a less stressful phase I’ve now entered, and it’s feeling great!

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
My tagline is “Real Life Empowered by Faith,” and that’s exactly what I write. I take real characters in real situations and showcase how their faith—or lack thereof—impacts their day-to-day life. Whether my story is set in a historical time or a more modern setting, real life is what drives it and the faith levels of my characters give the story its depth. Faith has always come easy for me, but when I look back on my life, I realize it was my faith which kept me strong and enabled me to press on, even in the most difficult of situations. I seek to share that with my readers.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I write because I can’t not write. To me, communicating with and utilizing the tremendous power of words is as essential as breathing. God gave me this gift, and it’s up to me to use it to bring glory to Him. Initially, I had no clue what to do with this. Years later, after seeking His guidance, I’m humbled by the great honor bestowed upon me to be a vessel pouring out the story of God’s mercy and grace to anyone who might pick up one of my books.

As for ideas, they come from life itself. Everyone and everything has a story. It could be a newspaper article, another book, a TV show or movie, a conversation, or even a billboard on the side of the road. It only takes a moment, and my creative juices start flowing. That’s why I almost never am without a note pad of some sort close by. Just never know when the next New York Times best-selling idea will strike. :-)

I’m sure you receive fan mail. What do readers say about your writing?
For the most part, my readers love the simplicity of my stories and the feeling they can relate to my characters. I haven’t yet hit on any emotionally draining or truly traumatic themes, but I have portrayed my characters in ways my readers seem to view as “real.” The most common feedback I receive is how readers could imagine being right there with my characters, how they could imagine the scene or setting vividly, as well as the engaging and realistic dialogue. A dozen times or more, I’ve had a reader write to say how an issue one of my characters experienced helped her to work through a similar issue, and that lets me know that book hit its intended target.

What led you to choose the genre in which you write?
The genre actually chose me, if that makes sense. I began writing historical because I love history and was a History Minor in college. However, I felt the time period would be too constrictive and limiting, and I’d never be able to pull it off. So, I also worked on contemporary stories simultaneously. Turns out, you can accomplish a lot with a few amazing editors and lots of research. And my love for American history shows in the stories I write. I’ll still continue to write contemporary, but historical is where my heart lies.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Some of my hobbies include taking walks with my children, traveling, bowling, photography and photo-journal books, music of all kinds, and live theater. But of course, when I’m not writing, I’m usually working on my home business, or spending time with my children and family. There is rarely a dull moment in this house, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Best book you’ve read in the last year?
Wow! As tempting as it is to list a favorite fiction novel, I’d have to say it’s a tie between The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and Go Pro by Eric Worre. But I’ll throw in A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander too. :-)

Finish this statement: When I’m stressed, I ____________________.
…tend to shut out people while I work toward alleviating whatever is causing the stress. Since my Type A personality tends to get angry when I’m stressed, I try not to take it out on others and instead internalize it until I land upon a remedy or solution. Not the best recourse for my physical health or my mental, as we need people to balance out our shortcomings and encourage us to reach beyond our stressful circumstances. If I shut out people and instead dive into work or various tasks, I miss out on the people who are right here to help. Let’s call that a work in progress for me.

Any parting words?
When I first got involved in this crazy industry, I had no idea the challenges which would come my way. Many times, I’ve wanted to quit, and even more times, I’ve doubted whether my writing was even making a difference. But if this was easy, everyone would be doing it. One thing I like to share is, “God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.” That statement couldn’t be any truer for me. I fell into this zany career, and though I began as one of the biggest greenhorns to step onto the scene, it’s all been worth it. Have I achieved all my goals? Not yet. But the journey is the best part, and I won’t regret a single moment of it as I press on toward my destination, wherever that may be.

Thanks for sharing with us, Tiffany.

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