Friday, September 2, 2011

My Personal Path to Publication - Stefan Ellery

Thanks for joining us on what is likely your first day of a long, Labor Day holiday weekend.  I have a treat for you today.  We are showcasing Stefan Ellery, a wonderful children's book writer who is sharing his journey with us today.  I was delighted and heartbroken by some of his personal insights, as I'm sure you will be as well. Stefan, thank you for being so personal with us.  I, and I'm sure everyone reading this, will understand your experience.

1.   How long have you been writing?
I first started writing in high school when I was going through my teen angst.  We generally all experience it.  The feeling of being alone and and unwanted.  This came out in a form of miserable and depressing poetry.  There had also been some novel attempts in between my dark period  but they were unsuccessful.  The ideas were great, but they were to big for a person who did not have enough life experience and academic knowledge  to properly create worlds for epic fantasies and hardcore scifi novels.

I was lucky enough to have a creative writing class in high school taught by a teacher that was a published author.  Through her assignments I was able to direct my energies towards more positive and creative poems.  After high school I entered college and studied film and television production. My focus was production management and script writing.  The strange thing with scriptwriting I could never do an outline for a film without it coming out like a story.  I always added unnecessary details and believe me that’s not going to make a teacher who has written several scripts for a successful television series like your work.  In fact he was very hard on me and had called one of my outlines a slice of life.  

Still I finished the course successfully.  In between I had been writing a novel and managed to get up to fifty pages, it was a horror and what I had written was intense and dramatic.  It was nothing like king or Barker but I had thought I had gotten close.  I would also have to say this was the point in my life I gave up on writing.  I was stupid enough to lend my floppy (storage device) to another person in my class.  All my writing was on that disc.  The person I lent it too read my story and shared it with another.  They both confronted me and told me I was sick. Not only that but they started spreading rumors about me that were untrue.

When my disc was returned it was damaged and I suspect it was intentional.   The worst part was I did not know how to handle this, I was upset and needed to talk to a counselor.  Instead of getting help the counselor decided my wip was not normal for a person to write, he then betrayed my trust and used it for a thesis.  I have read novels by successfully published authors since then that proved what I wrote was light in comparison.  After I graduated I ended up moving into an audiovisual career that did not fit my creative personality.  My writing was dead and I would not attempt to write until another eighteen years had passed.  I had verbally made up stories for my son to get him to sleep.  unfortunately I had never written them down.

Now some things happened with my career where some changes were forced on me.  These changes created unwanted stress that led me too become sick with Pneumonia, strep throat, bronchitis and other diseases all one after another basically my immune system was shot.  I did not know I was suffering from depression, anxiety and stress until I broke down in my doctors office.  I probably had this going on with me longer than I had known, but may have controlled it with the karate classes I was taking. In the end I was overwhelmed and even martial arts was not enough to manage my stress. Things got to the point that I had become hospitalized. Somehow I turned too writing to heal me. It was almost instinctive.  The first thing I started writing was a novel from a first person view.  It did not go to well, the story was to similar to my life and full of hate toward what was done to me.  I couldn't finish it because it just increased my hurt.  This was also the time I discovered and where I started posting the story.  I was scared to post anything because I was afraid of a repeat of what happened to me in college and had a fear of my manager seeing me write anything while I was on short term disability.  Nevertheless I became inspired by the writers on the site who were brave enough to share the WIPS for the world to see. 

Abandoning my main novel and a couple of attempts I started writing children stories.  They were very cathartic for my soul and after I wrote one I could not stop.  I just kept on writing one after another.  Each time I wrote one they kept on getting longer until I started a series of a couple of lovable characters called Kalle Rabbit and Pelle Fox.  I found that I had developed a writing habit and started on a Novel called Fire of the Rose.  The basic idea was originally my sons but being ten at the time he insisted I write it. 

 With each thing I write I learn something different.  I once told my mom I wished I did not stop writing, thinking if I had not I would have had a career in writing when I was much younger.  What my mom told me was a truth that I had not considered.  Simply put I was not ready to be a writer until I hit my forties.  That was I needed the right set of circumstances whether it be good or bad to push me in the direction I needed to go.  I am still broken, but each word, each paragraph, each character I write is putting my pieces back together.

2.   Are you published and if so, how long have you been a published author?  If not, what’s your plan?
Apart from a poem in a college news paper I am not published as of yet.  I intend to send  my novels to indie pubs. All my children stories I will self publish once I have figured out how I am going to get the illustrations done. I will start with e-book and once I have raised enough capital I will put some of them to print.  I don’t believe traditional press would be interested in my children stories because I have a strong belief that children stories should be shared and enjoyed by both child and parent and my writing reflects that.  I think Beatrix Potter understood that.  Indie pubs can represent an author better than any legacy publisher.  They are more adaptable to the changes in the publishing industry and are more upfront about what they are looking for.  I would recommend that as a writer do your research to see what route fits best with your ideals and lifestyle 

3.   How long did it take you to write your first novel?
Fire of the Rose took me about five months to write and my children stories varied from one day to a week.  The best thing you can do is set small goals for yourself so you are not overwhelmed, once those goals have been met the bigger goals become that much more attainable.

4.   How many times did it get rejected before it got published?
I had submitted a couple of children stories to some legacy publishers and have received three rejection letters.  If I had not met amazing people online I would not of changed the direction of my publishing path and I would still be waiting for more rejection letters from legacy publishers.

5.   Describe your worst rejection letter.
The worst rejection letter was my first.  Not because anything bad was said, it was just the first time I had to deal with a rejection from a publisher.  Who cares if you get a rejection letter, it`s just one person`s view.  You can`t let it stop you from moving forward. If you are lucky you may get some good advise that will help you develop your manuscript further.

6.   Describe the best news you ever got in your writing life and how it felt.
The best news I had received was getting an editors choice award for Fire of the Rose by the text novel team.  It put me on a high and gave me the feeling that I was doing something right.  Use any good news you receive to push yourself further in your career.

7.   What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
The worst piece of advise came from someone close to me.  They told me my writing sucks and I should look for a real job instead of trying to make a career out of writing.  I can’t fault them for saying it, because if my situation does not change I will have problems financially in the future.
Negative statements like that are often untrue and encourage self talk.  That is in our mind we repeat the negatives over and over again until we are unable to function.  Ignore your self talk and work hard.
 If your serious about writing nothing will stop you from getting published.

8.   Now, tell us the best.
I can’t credit one person for the good advise I have received. But through positive comments on textnovel and having others look at my work I have gained more insight to writing.  In particular I would say that Crystal Ward, Kathleen Ball, SN Parish and Monique O’conner James have helped me with their comments and suggestions.  Though one person kept me going and that was my son.  I had to write something everyday so I could read it to him.

9.   What’s the one thing you would want an aspiring writer to take away from your personal path to publication?
If you are just starting to write, consider doing short stories before writing a novel.  You need to develop your style and the habit of writing before attempting something big.  For me it was children stories and now I am writing YA novels.  Also no matter what anyone says to you about your writing don’t let it stop what you are doing.
Just keep on going and going.  Also talk to published and unpublished authors they will happily give you advise.  You can reach them through facebook, blogs twitter and other forms of social media.

10. Where can we read your blog?  Buy your books?  Connect with you on facebook?  On Twitter?  Your website?
twitter  @sellery2010

Hope you enjoyed learning about Stefan!  He is very active on Facebook and belongs to many of the facebook groups.  After you connect with him here, make sure and friend him there.  He would love to meet you!  And stay tuned here on the blog, there are SO MANY EXCITING AUTHORS coming up in the series.  Have a safe and happy Labor Day Weekend!


  1. What a great interview- very personal. You've been on a long journey. I've read your writing and I know that a new journey has started- the journey of you as an AUTHOR!

  2. I could just sooooo KICK those folks that hindered your writing career by telling you something was wrong with you for writing what you wrote. I cannot imagine what you could've written that would've been perceived so poorly...even if it wasn't something they wanted to read. I'm glad you found your way back to writing. Boy, oh, boy, do I remember those teenage angst years. Writing saved me through them as well.

    Best of success to you, Stefan!