Friday, November 17, 2017

As a Writer, Whose Fame are you Seeking?

by Traci Tyne Hilton @TraciTyneHilton

Almost ten years ago a woman got very famous very fast with her indie publishing. The name Amanda Hocking was on the lips of every indie in the country. Readers loved her and she made a million dollars on the ten books that had previously been gathering dust in her drawer.

Of course I’d trade my experience for hers. I’d be a fool not to. But as I started my own journey I watched her and was determined to do it a little differently. I didn’t want my name to be famous. I wanted my characters to be famous. I wanted people to be talking about Mitzy Neuhaus, not Traci Tyne Hilton.
I wanted people to be talking about the story IN the book, not the story OF the book. I felt very proud of my selfless, pure vision.

But I was still wrong.

Anyone who has gone to Sunday School (or has taught it for 25 years, like me) should have been able to get it right the first time. The name I ought to have been praying would be on the lips of the readers is the name of the Lord.

And that doesn
t even mean you have to write Christian fiction. Any story of hope, redemption, or healing, can be used by God to draw people to himself. If He inspires you to tell a story, He is more than capable of using it for his glory.

I stumbled into Christian fiction. I had read plenty of it in the 90s, and still had a few authors I followed. But I was attempting to write cozy mysteries who just happened to be about Christian people. Subtle, but different. It meant to me that my characters didn
’t have to be having a crisis of faith in every book, and that the issue of faith didn’t have to be the center theme of the books. This was my first series. 

The readers spoke in reviews, saying things like “I sure wish she had told us this was a stupid Christian book before I bought it.” I took their advice, rebranded, and planned my next series accordingly. I had a main character whose struggles in faith reflected my own, when I had been her age. It was a great series for me to write, and readers seemed to dig it.

But I was s
till looking to make the character the star. I had Christ and his work in her life as a theme. I had her issues of independent spirit verses dependence on God as the theme that ran through every book, but it was still, in my mind, about her. Not about God.

Right now I
’m working on a book for the general market. The character is not a person of faith, and in fact, she is struggling with an issue that people of faith might clutch their pearls over. (Ghosts. She’s struggling with Ghosts.)

And yet, I feel li
ke there might be even more chance for God to be glorified in this book than in the others. Am I a dreamer? Yes? Am I crazy? Maybe! But I am looking at the book differently this time. I am not manipulating a theme to fit an expectation and make the character fit a pattern. I am, instead, looking at an issue (not Ghosts) and showing people fumbling towards the truth as they deal with it (insert Ghosts here.) There is an emotional honesty in this that is different to me…feels different to me…than in the 8 books of the Plain Jane Series.

I digress. That is my journey as a story teller. The main point is this: Out books will glorify someone. They will make someone famous. Are you hoping that someone will be you? Are you hoping it will be your character? Or are you hoping that in some way your book will illuminate the human condition (maybe even with Ghosts) and take your reader on a journey that makes them look inward and upward, to God.

I know, most of you are probably far more mature than I was, and already knew all of that. But for the one in a million little dope like me, I hope this post helps refocus your work.

As a Writer, Whose Fame are you Seeking? Thoughts from @TraciTyneHilton (Click to Tweet)

Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of The Plain Jane Mysteries, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries and the Tillgiven RomanticMysteries. Traci has a degree in history from Portland State University and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, two busy kids, and their dogs, Dr. Watson and Archie Goodwin.

More of Traci’s work can be found at


  1. Excellent post, Traci. Yes, the focus should be in the story and the characters. Our writing should inspire people to seek the Lord.
    Besides, fame is fleeting and overrated.

  2. Can only add an "Amen" Ms. Traci. In everything we write as Christian authors, we must always remember that the glory is God's and not our own. Before each writing session, I say a short prayer to ask God to bless my efforts by using me as a tool to bring the message He wants the world to hear. As an author, I strive to be only the conduit God chooses to share His message. Thank you for your candid honesty; and may God continue to bless your works on His behalf.

    1. And may he continue to bless you as well! It is funny to know a thing but have to relearn it, too. Whatever I do, I do it for the glory of God, and then, sometimes I have to remind myself again!

  3. Amen. I pray the words I write will bring others closer to God and His love for them.