A writer inspired by nature and human nature

The Stories Behind Our Books

What Is Your Back Story?

Guest post by Lois W. Stern

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basLois. you have been a guest blogger here several times before, but as a quick intro, I’ll just say that you are an author, editor, presenter, marketer and innovator. Your title for this blog post really grabbed my attention. You are inviting our readers to tell their back stories. So please explain. What exactly do you mean by back stories?

lois_charli3_lite_blueBette, as authors we work so hard to polish our stories to perfection, often working for years before our manuscripts go to press. Hopefully, our readers enjoy the fruits of our labors; but as a presenter, I find that my audiences often find my back stories particularly compelling. So I share little back stories about what propelled me to begin my Tales2Inspire project. Why it was important to me to do this. How I went about the process. What challenges I faced along the way. If I had any cheering squad of supporters or any naysayers of non-support, and how they affected me as I pursued my dreams.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basSo now it seems you are inviting other authors to share the back stories to their books?


lois_charli3_lite_blueYes, that’s right Bette. And I’m hoping that we can select a number of their stories to appear right here on this blog. Does that work for you?


72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basLove that idea, Lois. Let’s go for it! For those of you who don’t know Lois yet, she is the creator of Tales2Inspire, an ‘Authors Helping Authors’ project/contest. Suppose you tell us a bit about the back story to your Tales2Inspire books. For openers, what propelled you to begin this project?

lois_charli3_lite_blueActually, my first full length book had nothing to do with inspiring stories, Bette. Its title, Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery, was a ground-breaker in many ways. (It even merited a few paragraphs on a front page of the Sunday Style section of the NY Times.) I secured a contract with a NYC agent, but despite a lot of publisher interest, ultimately they all turned it down. Why? Word was that I didn’t have a strong enough platform, and I didn’t even know the meaning of that word at the time!) That’s just the first part of my back story, the wake-up call to the state of traditional publishing today and my search for alternate paths to publication.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basWow, Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery sounds about as far from inspirational stories as you can get! How did that transition happen?

lois_charli3_lite_blueActually, it wasn’t a transition at all, Bette, just another side to my personality. I always loved inspiring stories, was drawn to them with an almost magnetic force. I even started a column for a New York webzine that I titled Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives several years before writing Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery. I have a passion for sharing uplifting stories about good people and wonderful happenings because we rarely read about them. It seems that stories of heinous crimes and violence dominate the news.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basWe sure could use more uplifting stories in today’s world, so I understand your passion for writing inspiring stories. But why did you open up Tales2Inspire to other authors and turn it into a contest?

lois_charli3_lite_blueGood question, Bette, and the one I’m asked most often. After my letdown experience with traditional publishing, I began to think, this must be happening to many other authors, talented authors who are never given a chance because they lack that elusive author platform. That’s when I began to envision creating an alternate path for all of us, seeking ways to help strengthen our opportunities for discovery and name recognition.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basIt sounds like initiating this Tales2Inspire contest was just a seed of an idea in 2012. My guess is that you never dreamed it would grow in such strength and numbers as it has.

lois_charli3_lite_blueYou are absolutely right, Bette. Tales2Inspire is like a dream come true for me. I have self-published five Tales2Inspire books filled with amazing stories from an incredibly talented group of authors.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basI bet readers would be interested in the back story to how you spread the word? Did you meet any naysayers along the way?

lois_charli3_lite_blueI sure did! I first introduced Tales2Inspire on some of the LinkedIn writers’ groups, and ran into a few skeptics who challenged me every step of the way. I can think of one person whose comments were so nasty that I felt like bopping him over the head. But when that happens, you really have to take a deep breath and step back. It would be the kiss-of-death to become confrontational and feed into that negativity. So I would say something like, “I’m so sorry about the misunderstanding. Let me give you a little more information to help allay some of your concerns.”

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basIt takes a lot of diplomacy when your back is pushed to the wall. What about supporters? Can you name anyone in particular?

lois_charli3_lite_blueYes, Dan Poynter, an extremely successful self-published author and author advocate, whose newsletter had a subscription base of many hundreds of thousands. I had met Dan at several writer conferences. When I spoke to him about my project, he encouraged me to write up a blurb for his newsletter. What a difference that made! The spread was enormous. I have received winning stories from South Africa, Australia, England, Canada and from across the United States, all because of Dan. And having information about Tales2Inspire appear in his newsletters certainly gave my project an air of legitimacy.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basSounds like Dan is the guardian angel every author hopes for!



lois_charli3_lite_blueYou’re right, Bette, but unfortunately now we have to use the past tense. Dan passed on several months ago, but his legacy lives on.


72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basBeautifully put, Lois. I think readers might like the back story to why you call Tales2Inspire a project as well as a contest.

lois_charli3_lite_blueI work feverishly to find new and innovative ways to strengthen my winning authors’ platforms, to give them many diverse opportunities for discovery. And I involve them in the judging phase of this contest. It’s all explained on my website at www.tales2inspire.com.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basFinally, I think our readers would be interested in your answer to this one front story question. What is the theme of your next contest and what are the entry criteria.

lois_charli3_lite_blueThis theme of this next contest is ‘inspiring animal stories’, subtitled Stories in Feathers and Fur. It’s underway right now and for any of your readers who are interested, or simply faintly curious, all the guidelines and submission details appear on my website at www.tales2inspire.com. And I guess I should mention that it is FREE. There are no submission fees to enter this contest.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basThank you, Lois, for a fascinating interview.

And now, readers, we’d love to hear from you. How about sending us the back stories to your books.

lois_charli3_lite_blueMy pleasure, Bette.

Before I say goodbye, I would like to offer your readers a gift —a FREE sampler of Tales2Inspire published stories. Just click on http://tales2inspire.com/?page_id=804 and it will be yours!


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Comments on: "The Stories Behind Our Books, an interview with Lois W. Stern" (30)

  1. Very interesting post, Bette.


  2. Thank you Bette for introduction me to Lois and her story, Going to find out more and connect right now!


  3. loiswstern said:

    Correction: The word above should be MEDIA. Sorry!


  4. tales2inspire said:

    Found the URL so you don’t need to send me that.

    I added the title of this interview to ARTICLES (under MEDIS) on my website, and linked bak to your blog. Also added my 2 cents comments to the board. This one might just be a winner. (Keeping our fingers crossed.)

    Warm regards, Lois >


  5. Thank you, Bette for hosting Lois here. I enjoyed reading her backstory and all about her project and the difficulties it initially met – never easy and so down heartening. It sounds a great idea and I’m off to take a much closer look at Tales2inspire.


    • loiswstern said:

      Glad this peeked your interest, Annika. The Tales2Inspire website just got a facelift (no pun intended) and is now so much cleaner and I think easier to navigate. Hope you get a chance to visit and let me know if you see any loopholes. Maybe it will even inspire you to submit a true animal story. We are already working on the book cover. Wish I could post it here as it is so adorable! But come to think of it, we did add a prototype to the website.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve had a good look around your website Lois and it looks great. Easy to read, clear layout and very interesting. You’ve done a lot of work. I’m busy finishing a project this month but will look out for your other submission calls.


      • loiswstern said:

        Annika, I sure understand being busy finishing up other projects as it seems to be my middle name! Do check back at the Tales2Inspire website after mid Feb. If I don’t get enough really quality FEATHERS AND FUR stories by then, I extend the date, because quality of the stories is always paramount to me before I publish a book.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Awesome, Annika! Thanks for checking it out. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m very proud to say that thanks to Lois Stern’s hard work and excellent marketing skills, 5 of my stories have been published in two of her Tales2Inspire series. She expects the best from her writers/contest winners and all of us are anxious to please her. She’s one of the best!! Now I must go look for an animal to write about.:)


    • Hi, Micki. Thanks for the shout-out for our fantastic friend and supporter. Can’t wait to find out what (animal) you come up with for this one and can’t wait for your children’s book to come out! ❤ 🙂


      • loiswstern said:

        Micki, my dear, you are such a joy!! Thank you for being a loyal friend and fantastic writer. Believe it or not folks, Micki has four winning stories in the Tales2Inspire – Crystal Collection No favoritism here .. . stories are all chosen anonymously by a jury of author peers. Hope you can come up with an inspiring animal story and keep on rolling with T2I!


  7. This was a great interview Bette. I will download the sampler and keep up with Tales2Inspire. Many thanks to Lois!


    • Great, Linda. Lois Stern is a great advocate for authors (providing us with a free platform to showcase our work) and has written several guest posts for my blog. thanks so much for stopping by for a visit. Happy writing & reading, my friend! 🙂


    • loiswstern said:

      Hi Linda,
      I already received your sign-up form and so you will receive the monthly Tales2Inspire newsletter from hereon. Did you receive the Tales2Inspire Sampler without nay difficulty? I always worry about these automatic forms, but mostly they seem to work pretty well.
      Hope you have a really inspiring animal story for the ongoing Tales2Inspire competition.
      Now we are friends so keep in touch.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Lois! Nice to meet you. Sorry, my dog hasn’t done anything inspiring yet. She’s just our love!. Yes, I received the sampler instructions.I look forward to reading it.


      • loiswstern said:

        Linda, dogs really give us the most pure form of love, don’t they?


  8. Very interesting Bette!


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