Friday, March 9, 2018

The Road to Publication is a Curious Journey by Ann Marie Stewart

Ann Marie Stewart

Writers often find that it can take years to get published. Author Ann Marie Stewart shares how she used time to prepare for success. ~ Dawn

The road to publication is a curious journey.

Thirty-five years ago, my dad encouraged me to record my grandparents’ harrowing escape from Russia. That book is not published—yet.  But in the meantime, I’ve learned a few things.

1. Set Goals

In the Extreme Novelist, Kathryn Johnson contracts with each student to write 90 minutes a day. James Scott Bell says to write the Nifty 350 (words) at the start of every day. Make yourself a contract to set a goal and write each day, stick to it, and you will finish your project.

2. Study

Twenty-five years ago, I took a break from teaching English to have my own writing critiqued in an MA program. I later took courses from a writers’ center to keep learning and to make contacts. Study your craft.

3. Collect People, Places, and Stories.

Someone once told me her parents always patted her three times to say, “I love you.” That anecdote appeared in my novel. Write from life so readers say, “I remember that!”

4. Make Connections
Fifteen years ago, my youngest headed to kindergarten, and I went to a Writers’ Conference. There I met two editors who so liked my Bible study proposal that I signed a contract three months later. I also made connections with two other agents instrumental in publishing my first novel.

5. Form a Critique Group

Ten years ago, I began turning my college short story Seeing from the Balcony into the novel Stars in the Grass. I connected with two strong writers who became my critique group. I would have never finished my novel without the discipline and accountability required in that group. Find writers you respect. E-mail pages, edit the work, and meet monthly to discuss suggestions.

6. Renew Connections

Five years ago, I contacted Chip again, who I met at a writers’ conference, to see if he’d become my agent. At first, he said, “No.” After extensive revision, I sent it to Nick, an editor I met at the same conference, who asked if he could show it to an agent friend of his. Chip. With Nick’s urging, Chip re-read the more polished manuscript, became my agent, and sold the novel to Barbour.

7. Market Your Book

One year ago, when the box of books arrived at my door, the real challenges began. After reading books on Social Media, I created a Facebook Launch Party, planned book signings, re-worked my website and Facebook site, and joined Goodreads and Twitter. This was tougher than writing.

Four months ago, Stars in the Grass won the Christy for Best Debut Novel 2017.

8. Restart

Now I’m taking another course, pulling together a critique group, and contacting my previous book doctor. After that, I’ll return to the book I began over three decades ago. The journey to publication takes time, but I take heart that some books need to steep while the author grows up and learns a few lessons along the way.

Nine-year-old Abby McAndrews has just experienced her greatest loss, and in its wake, her family is unraveling with guilt, grief, and anger. Her father, Reverend McAndrews, cannot return to the pulpit because he has more questions than answers. Her older brother Matt’s actions speak louder than the words he needs to confess, as he acts out in dangerous ways. Her mother tries to hold her grieving family together, but when Abby’s dad refuses to move on, the family is at a crossroads. Stars in the Grass, set in a small Midwestern town in 1970, is an uplifting novel that explores a family’s relationships and resiliency. Abby’s heartbreaking remembrances are balanced by humor and nostalgia as her family struggles with—and ultimately celebrates—life after loss.

Ann’s first novel, Stars in the Grass just won the Christy Award for Best Debut Novel of 2017. Ann originated AMG’s Preparing My Heart series, writes the column “Ann’s Lovin’ Ewe” for The Country Register and blogs for Mentoring Moments. She also directs musicals and teaches voice. In her free time, she hangs out with her husband watching UVA Basketball, raising two lovely daughters and a whole flock of fuzzy sheep on Skye Moor Farm, in Virginia—where unscripted drama provides plenty of entertaining material.

To connect with Ann and learn more about her books, please visit:

Author website:
Twitter: @AnnMariStewart


  1. This is great to see, Ann. Love this book!

  2. Thank you very much Ann. Truly appreciate the encouragement.


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