When Stephanie Allen Crist was a little girl—she was still just Stephanie Allen back then—she read lots of books as her family moved from town to town, state to state, every few years. Making friends with the characters in stories was far easier than making friends with the real people outside. Then, when she was about ten years old, she discovered for the first time that those books were written by real people. Some of them had lived and died before she was even born. Others were alive and writing right now. Someday if she worked for it, she could be one of them.
So, that’s what she decided to do. She co-wrote her first story at the age of ten, but found it was very hard work getting what was going on in their heads down on paper. She practiced telling herself stories. She practiced telling stories to her family and friends. She tried to pay attention to what engaged them, to what they believed and what they didn’t. Often, though, she was distracted by what interested her and what she believed—what she let herself believe even though she knew it wasn’t really true. When she was twelve years old, the stories came so strongly to her mind, keeping her awake at night, distracting her in school or when she was with her friends, that she couldn’t put off writing them down any longer. It was still hard work. It still didn’t come out as good on paper as it went off in her head. But she was writing. And because she was writing she was a writer. At least, that’s what made her a writer according to the first book about writing she’d ever read.
Time passed. Writing took on greater importance in her life. Her teachers were impressed with her work. They encouraged her. They read what she wrote, even when it wasn’t for class. They helped her improve her skills. They motivated her to finish what she started. And they published her work in the school newsletters and the school papers. Then, when she was eighteen, the first editor accepted her work and she was published for real. She didn’t get paid, of course, but she still got two short stories published online so all the world to see that she really was a writer.
Right around the time she was working on her very first novel, which had started as a short story that had gotten out of hand, her best friend asked Stephanie to come meet her brother Mark. Eight months later, Mark and Stephanie were married. Nine months after that, they had their first child. Twelve months after that, they had their second. Stephanie did finish that first novel. She even revised it completely once. But her children took priority. By the time her third child was born, her first son was diagnosed with autism. Stephanie tucked that unpublishable manuscript neatly away in a plastic box so she could devote herself to understanding and helping her children.
In time, a new form of writing took over. You see, all three of Stephanie’s children were eventually diagnosed with autism. We live in a world where children with autism are killed by their own parents. We live in a world where these murders are described as an act of love. We live in a world where parents, spiritual leaders, and medical practitioners will try anything to cure a child of autism. Sometimes these “treatments” end in the death of the child. The world shrugs, believing death is better that living with autism. Stephanie Allen Crist cannot live silently in such a world.
Now, Stephanie’s talent, skill, and effort goes into sharing her stories and her ideas and her research so that the world can learn that people with autism—and other neurological differences—have value as they are, for who they are. Stephanie still writes fiction, but fiction has taken a back seat to a desperate need that involves the lives of children just like hers, and the lives of adults who were once children just like hers.
When Stephanie started Caressing the Muse, she wanted to reconnect with other writers, particularly writers of fiction. It was an effort to keep her dream of one day writing fantasy novels alive. She’d already started building an autism platform. This was to be her fantasy platform. Even though the dream couldn’t come true for a while yet, it wasn’t too early to start building a platform.
You see, Stephanie had gone back to school and studied business. She’d learned to work as a marketer. She knew how business and marketing worked. She’d also done enough independent studying of the publishing industry to know how this particular business worked. She knew it took time to build a platform. She knew it was time to start.
The more Stephanie began to explore the world of writers’ blogs, the more Stephanie realized that there were still many, many writers who were desperately searching for more information about marketing. There were plenty of people to fill that hunger. Some were straight marketers who didn’t understand publishing. Others were invested in publishing for the sake of wealth—bestseller or bust seemed to be their motto. And the many writers who just wanted to know how to build a writing career—how to earn a living—were left on their own to pick and choose what to believe and what to do. Many of them didn’t have enough direction or enough purpose to truly succeed.
Stephanie Allen Crist started adding her voice to the din. She didn’t actively seek readers. She just shared what she knew and let those who found her beneficial come to her. But her work slowly gained more attention. More people wanted to hear what she said. She started answering this need by providing her marketing services to other writers. But that wasn’t enough, because most of the writers she knew couldn’t afford her fees. So, she started writing a book.
And that’s what Stephanie’s doing now. Marketing for Authors will provide other writers with enough of the knowledge and expertise Stephanie has gleaned from her formal education, her independent studies, her personal experience as a writer, and her experience as a professional marketer to build their own dreams, their own careers, their own living.
Meanwhile, Stephanie will continue creating posts that span the art, craft, and business of writing right here on Caressing the Muse.