How to Find Purpose and Success with Your Writing | Author Interview with Stacy Hawks

What do you do when you're stuck editing or when finishing your book becomes too daunting?

There are many uncertainties as an author. Stacy Hawks walks us through her editing process, how to find encouragement, incorporate purpose into your novel, and best practices for marketing and publishing.

We're happy to have you join the Author Blog Series! This series is aimed at providing impactful content to help aspiring writers and authors. You can follow the rest of the series to here from other inspiring authors on character development, outlining your story, general topics, editing, and more. Click here to follow the series.

Let's Meet Our Author

Stacy Hawks is a resident of Alleghany County, NC located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She holds an A.A. in History from Wilkes Community College, B.A. in History from Brevard College, & an MEd. from Liberty University. While attending Brevard College Stacy focused on the creation of the Blue Ridge Parkway and its impact on her local community, and surrounding Appalachia.

Among her debut novel Dividing Ridge: the Unsolved Murder of Elva Brannock she is the author of three published poetry collections, her latest titled Inked in Blue.

Stacy's stories highlight the history, events, and people of the rural mountain community she is proud to call home.

Author Interview Questions

1. When publishing your work and sharing it with readers, what do you believe determines your own personal success?

For me, the fact that I have been able to share Dividing Ridge & this story with readers is in itself a success.

I never imagined this story would be published, never thought I would interact and connect with the families mentioned in this story. Or meet my Main Characters granddaughter, whom I have enjoyed getting to know. After two years now I feel that my personal success is determined by my ability to grow as a writer, reader, friend, and promoter of other indies' works.

2. What do you do to keep growing as a writer?

I read, I dive into historical topics that interest me and I stay active with my blog & podcast.

The blog and podcast truly provide me with a great opportunity to speak with indie and traditional authors from all over the world. It's always great to find new reads, explore other genres, ask for advice, & connect on social media with writers of your own genre. We learn from one another and really, for those who are not already part of a writing group, the communities on Instagram & Twitter feel like a giant writing group in and of themselves. It's amazing the support & information indies are willing to share or even collaborate with others on.

3. Self-publishing or traditional publishing? And what did you use for Dividing Ridge?

I am self-published.

I did years of querying before filing the book away for nearly a decade due to school, work, & just life in general. The first edition was printed by a local press in 2019. They were great, however, my team and I had a different vision for the book & the direction we wanted to take. The second edition was published December 2020 and is now under Dividing Ridge Books publications which house all of my books & offer promotional opportunities for North Carolina indies as well as book, & writing groups. I have considered querying a publisher for my second book however, I also enjoy the freedoms that self-publication affords.

4. What does your editing process look like?

  • My first draft is always printed out and I go through that page by page before transferring the edits onto the saved electronic WIP.

  • During that time between the second and third round, there's a lot of sticky notes, ink pens to make margin notes, checking research to make sure certain parts are accurate, or adding details.

  • It gets printed again and the process is redone.

  • By the third round, my editor gets the WIP followed by volunteer readers (aka betas).

My first book was read countless times by me, beta readers, & my editor. NANOWRIMO assisted with some of the edits for my upcoming second book, and I was glad to have had that opportunity to participate last year. It's definitely not an overnight process, but it's still fun to watch your book progress and grow.

5. What is an important theme in your book, Dividing Ridge? What advice do you have for authors for purposely and effectively incorporating themes?

When I found this article in my grandmother's scrapbook I had no idea the impact it would have on me, but I did know instantly the theme of this book would be community.

Rural small-town Appalachia, then and now, is often very community-centered. Everyone is often family, we know one another, our kids grew up together, some of us work together, or attended church together. So when something like a kidnapping & murder takes place it shakes that foundation of trust, & calls into question the safety of that community as a whole.

Back then, it suddenly caused people to lock their doors and refuse to let their children walk to school alone because they're afraid it might happen again. At the same time, neighbors & residents come out to support the family. They volunteer to find Elva in the hundreds, taking time out of their day to help. This is all taking place during the Great Depression and a lot of people traveled for work and had to work, but despite that these men stepped up and volunteered to help find her which is the kind of community we live in.

It's then that the Sheriff gets involved and he really goes above and beyond trying to bring justice to her family & put his community at ease, but the case is filled with complexities that the reader will learn more about as the story unfolds. Elva’s case goes to show that if something touches one of us, it touches all of us in this county.

6. What are a few marketing do's and don't for authors?

Honestly, promote.

Promote ahead of your book launch, build your platforms, reach out to bloggers & podcasts & connect with other writers either locally or via social media.

My one do not would be doing not edit or beta read your book yourself. Having a professional go-over it & beta readers is essential to helping you build your book's following and brand. If you cannot afford a professional editor then consider asking someone within a local writing group, a former or retired English teacher, even a local newspaper.

The best advice I received about self-publishing was your book is a business. Be sure to stay on top of that business by remaining engaged, resourceful, and adaptable.

7. When writing your book got hard and you didn't know if you could finish, what kept you going? What encouragement can you give to writers who may be struggling to push through?

There were many difficult scenes in Dividing Ridge I had to write, and many I had to step away from just because of the overall circumstances.

When I struggle with writing I take a step back. Sometimes that's your hint to relax, go do something for yourself, and maybe by doing so inspiration will strike.

If you're finding it difficult to write altogether, I have found reading to be a big help. Just jumping into a good story by someone else can really make a difference.


Discover Stacy Hawks

You can follow Stacy's journey with the links below!




Purchase Dividing Ridge on Amazon in Kindle & Paperback:


For more on the writing process from our author interviews, you can subscribe to my website: click here. If you want to be part of this series, you can contact me via my contact page or on social media.