By C.E. Stone
Starganauts. If you’ve been following me on Instagram or receiving my author emails, you’ve heard about the book I’m publishing in only one week! Publishing is truly a labor of love, and doing it yourself is even more laborious. However, my personal journey towards publication has been nothing short of miraculous. Thus, I’d like to share with you the twists and turns of how I finally got here.
First, the prologue! August 2018. My husband and best friend kept encouraging me to publish, so I spent the entire summer agonizing over it. Literally. The thought of querying, finding an agent, and all the pressures and waiting those entailed had me in hysterics. Confidence has been my Achilles heel all my life, largely due an over-critical sibling
who would mock my stories. At last, after much prayer, God gave me an answer to the “should I publish?” question. I sensed the Spirit saying He was pleased at my willingness to publish, but it wasn’t yet time.
I wondered why God wanted me to publish at a different time in my life, but I wasn’t about to argue with His will. So, I accepted it and kept on writing Starganauts stories. I looked into a few story contests to build my author credentials.
Then the worst happened. My 27-year-old husband’s health began to mysteriously deteriorate.
What started at the end of 2018 led to an 18-month saga. To call it a descent into chronic illness would be pretty accurate. Every day was a struggle to not lose hope, not lose sanity…it was all I could do to make it from one week to the next. Every day felt like the song “The Next Right Thing” from Frozen 2. I’ve written about this journey elsewhere, and you can read about it here:
I realized that God’s timing was indeed perfect. If I’d tried querying and finding an agent at that point in my life, I would’ve gone nuts. I was overwhelmed with sorrow, despair, and new life responsibilities without throwing publishing into the mix. I thanked God for guiding me and continued to “get ready” as much as I could. Part of that included starting an Instagram account. I actually never intended to create one, as I’m a super shy person and hate putting myself “out there.” But one night in December of 2019, God gave me inspiration, a plan, and uncharacteristic boldness. My IG account, ce_stone, is the result, and He’s been giving me ideas ever since.
I don’t think I need to dwell much on 2020, because that was a crazy year for all of us. However, I entered “Starganauts” into a publishing contest that January. The feedback I eventually got proved difficult to read. It hurt. The judges scored me surprisingly low in a lot of areas. However, once I recovered from the sting, I sifted through that feedback. I decided to learn from it and take some, while still remaining true to my style.
I again sensed direction from God. The Holy Spirit told me it was time to begin editing. This time, I raised an incredulous eyebrow. If you’ve read the scenes where Samantha talks with God, you’ll appreciate my interchange.
“Um, God, I plan to obey you and start editing. But…I’m nowhere near publishing. I can’t even begin to scrape together a budget. I’m totally torn between traditional and self-pub! I’d rather die than market. My platform is tiny. My husband’s health and our finances still aren’t stable. Is this truly what You want for me?”
I don’t want to reduce God to our level, but I can imagine He either groaned or chuckled. Maybe both. I simply sensed His reply: trust me. Yet I felt so overwhelmed, and it seemed so impossible.
“God, I know you can work out all things,” I said, “but it will take a miracle for me to ever publish. Seriously. You will need to send a literal miracle!”
He didn’t answer back immediately, but I began intensively editing. I was studying Genesis at the time, and God had kept hammering home the point that Abraham stepped out in faith to obey His calling. How could I not do the same?
As I edited, I realized how much God worked to orchestrate everything in His timing. 2020 was a lot tamer than 2019, so I had the opportunity to edit. Because I’d written Starganauts in 2016, enough time had passed that I was objective. Additionally, the contest feedback helped me see flaws I’d been blind to. The process took 10 months, with my super hectic life. At the end, my book baby emerged more dazzling than ever, but I didn’t know if that was my ego or reality. I still didn’t have a budget. I had no idea how to market…but I’d decided at that point to self-publish. How? I had no clue! Then, I received an incredible gift.
A non-Christian relative decided to gift me with a monetary amount that Christmas. It paid for my ENTIRE publishing budget!!!! A man who didn’t share my faith had provided for my very faith-centered books!
6 crazy but awesome months later, Starganauts is about to be released! God has gotten me through issues and problems with all of the major distributors (Goodreads, Amazon, etc.), but the biggest one? IngramSpark. My print copies were in peril of arriving after June 19th, my publishing date. How do you have a giveaway and signing with no books??? My cover kept getting rejected again and again, and I couldn’t figure out why.
I prayed about it and decided to hire a formatter. The amazing dude who eventually formatted my cover lives in Europe, so we emailed late at night (for me). But we got the formatting done. I uploaded his copy of the cover and Ingram accepted it!!! Then I had to decide whether to rush-ship my books or not. I went with standard due to affordability, which was supposed to take 1-6 business days. My first box of books arrived in ½ a day!!! Turns out, the printing facility is just an hour north of me! I got the 2nd box the next morning. God answered prayers, and my books came quickly!!! 😃
How does this parallel to Starganauts, you may wonder? First off, all the members of the team have to step out in faith. It’s no spoiler that Earth is attacked, so they lose the familiar and have to venture into the unknown. There are numerous setbacks and obstacles, which I can’t list here without giving away spoilers! They also face a race against the clock, as I’ve been facing a looming deadline. A great deal of risk is involved in their survival, as I’ve had to take risks and make hard choices with my book. Most of all, my characters have to trust God all the way, as I’ve needed to. Yet He pulls them out of crazy scrapes and provides for them, as He has done for me.
Thus, I can’t wait for you to read Starganauts! When you do, I hope you’ll keep in mind how God worked to get this book into your hands. He truly is active and cares for us. My publishing journey is proof, and I have expressed my gratitude in part through a little phrase on the
copyright page. Soli deo gloria. To God alone be the glory. I pray my life, and books, glorify my gracious Father. And I leave you with one final thought.
If you’re feeling discouraged, facing obstacles, or wondering if you’ll ever get published, don’t lose heart! God made a way for me despite having no budget, little time, and no marketing skills. He is faithful to provide when we trust, ask, and step out in faith.
If you enjoyed this blog post, you’ll love my story! Starganauts is all about God working through impossible odds. It also has action, heart, humor, and Biblical themes. Check it out here!