Staci Stallings

Staci Stallings is a stay-at-home mom with three kids, a husband, and a writing addiction on the side. Her greatest accomplishment is learning to live in the ever-abundant provision of God! Other accomplishments are 8 fiction titles and being the owner of Spirit Light Publishing. Peruse her page at www.stacistallingslcom for encouragement. Staci's tagline is... You'll feel better for the experience.

Staci Stallings is the founder of Spirit Light Books which blends traditional and POD pub. At Spirit Light, Staci helps authors find their voice and then get their work out into the world. The author of 5 novels and 2 short story collections, Staci believes in the power of a unique voice, so much so that you can read the first three chapters of any of her books free by going to the Previews/Reviews page at Spirit Light.

Be True To You

“A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God.”
1 Timothy 6:6 (The Message Bible)

...and I didn’t even balk at that “final edit for length” that stripped what little was left of my voice ...

You’ve heard the horror stories of being self/POD-pubbed. “You’re not a real author.” “Self-pubs just couldn’t wait for God’s timing in their lives.” “Those who self-pub don’t have the discipline to do it the right way.” “Their books are sub-par. They are sub-par.”

Don’t worry. You don’t have to tell me. I’ve heard them all before and many more. That’s okay because I’m not in this to impress anybody. I learned a long time ago that trying to impress others will invariably lead you down a road you do not want to travel. Therefore, I will state this as plainly as I can so there will be no misunderstandings. I am self-pubbed (via POD), and I couldn’t be happier.

That’s right. I love being self-pubbed, and at this point I have no desire to be “validated” by having something I’ve written accepted by a traditional house, an agent, or an editor. Not that any of that is bad—for someone else, but for me, God has shown me that twisting my writing, my voice, and my style into something that “they” will deem acceptable is not where I’m supposed to be.

At one time I was there—desperately wanting to “learn” and “edit” so that I could be published. With my first published book, I had an editor and a massive desire to please. I made almost every change he suggested, and I didn’t even balk at that “final edit for length” that stripped what little was left of my voice and style right out of the book. It was a hard lesson, but one I am eternally grateful for having learned.

I see many new authors who have great, unique, God-given voices, and then they get taken off by the Pied Piper of being Published. They want to be accepted. They want to learn to write “marketable.” They want to make money at this writing thing. And so, they submit their work to be shredded by critique groups and agents and editors. When it comes back, bled all over, they change everything—the words, the story, the style, the voice—until the story they have isn’t the story they were telling in the first place, and no one could even recognize the voice.

In the first conception of the book, Sue was a horse wrangler in Texas whose wild horses were being stolen by Pete. After being sent through the critique/agent/editor shredder, Kelly is a horse trainer in Baltimore who hates Edgar because of something his grandfather did 50 years ago. You think I’m kidding? It gets just

about that ridiculous. And then after the author has made every conceivable change, they are told, “This just doesn’t work for me.”

In all honesty, that whole game doesn’t work for me. I have a voice. A unique voice that God gave me. I like my voice and my style. Because I’ve chosen to self-pub, my voice and my style are not on the auction block. I am not told at every turn, “You have to change this. This won’t work. It needs to be more like all the others out there to be marketable.” I’m not interested in being marketable or even impressive. I’m interested in being me.

I’ve found that the more I am myself in my writing, the more my readers enjoy my books, the more authors ask me to edit their work (because I don’t superimpose my voice and style on theirs, rather I help their voice and style shine through). Yes, I learned my lesson, and I’m using it to help others.

The extremes of traditional vs. POD can be detrimental to an author’s vision, style, and voice. The traditional route often stuffs an author’s voice and style into a “marketable” box. The story then sounds just like that other author who sounds like that other-other author. This is what I call the shredder. Many authors have gone through the shredder only to hold in their hands not their own work, but a conglomeration of the work of all the people who’ve edited it. (I call this “writing by committee.”) More than one author has quit writing forever at that point.

On the other end, I’ve seen authors who’ve gone the self/POD-pubbed route who came out in the end with a book that has errors in it, that sells for way too much, and that others put down and scoff at. I’ve seen my share of authors quit here too.

Neither extreme is what God intended. I want to help authors find their voice and use that voice to sing God’s stories to the world. I want to help them learn to “be themselves before God.” In doing so, I’ve seen lives open up, visions achieved, beautiful stories come to life, and even relationships with God set on a firm foundation.

I take this calling very seriously. My mother brought me home from the hospital in a green dress. For years I hated green until one day a friend of mine pointed out that I AM green because I am like the stem under the flowers. I nourish, encourage, support and help author-flowers to bloom and grow into the beauty God made them to manifest. That’s what being self/POD-pubbed did for me—it let me manifest my God-given writing beauty the way it was intended to be, and now, I want to pass that gift on to others.

Spirit Light