December 6, 2009

Made It Moment: Shelley Stout

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 1:52 pm

Shelley Stout -- Radium Halos

This week’s Moment is an extraordinary thing: a novel I never would’ve picked up that I wound up loving. Part history, part mystery, part feminist manifesto, Shelley’s book exposes a little known slice of the American workplace post-industrialization. But this novel is much more than a learning experience. Shelley brings the girls of the Radium Dial Factory and their heirs to life, giving them all a dignity and voice that only the best fiction ever achieves. In the process we find out a little something about what to beware of, and what to embrace.

Recently, I met a woman who runs a booth at an antique mall. I mentioned I’d written a novel about the young factory girls who painted the numbers on the old clocks with the glow-in-the-dark dials. The woman told me occasionally visitors come in looking for the now rare clocks. She asked me more about the novel.

I handed her a copy of RADIUM HALOS and told her my publisher is a small press. She flipped to the back cover and read the short paragraph about the dial painters. “This novel would be perfect for my antique booth,” she said. “It takes place in the 1920s, and there’s that connection to the past. Why don’t you bring me a few copies, and we’ll set a little notice next to them with a picture of one of the old clocks.”
My novel. For sale. Where people can actually hold it in their hands before they buy it.

Now, that’s a moment.

There are moments when writers believe just maybe they’ve accomplished something extraordinary, and there are moments when others validate that belief. The first writing award I won—honorable mention in a local contest—meant I was capable of putting eloquent words on a page that would leave an impression. Then, knowing that someone liked my work enough to offer to share it with the masses—also a great moment.

Whether you’re an aspiring writer or a veteran, each little accomplishment is a boost to your confidence. My next moment will hopefully be when my novel is a featured publication at one of our indie bookstores. Later, is it okay for me to pine away for a film option?

I imagine a writing career will generate a succession of “made it” moments, which all have one thing in common: they connect us as writers and as human beings.


  1. What a great story! And your book sounds wonderful–I am now off to get it. I hope ALL your book dreams come true.

    Comment by Randy Susan Meyers — December 6, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  2. I am really looking forward to reading your book, Shelley! And I love how you are able to see Made It Moments in a variety of places and times.

    Comment by Judy — December 6, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

  3. I love both stories–Jenny’s about how much she loved the book, and Shelleys about the validation of seeing her book sold in an antique store. Gooooooo, Shelley! I loved your book (as you know). I think it is just fantastic. I wish you all the luck in the world, and tons of major-league blurbs! You are doing the right thing, getting the word out there!

    Comment by sapphiresavvy — December 6, 2009 @ 2:48 pm

  4. Having your novel for sale in a non-bookstore is a rare “made it” moment! Bravo!

    Comment by Sara — December 6, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

  5. Thank you all so very much! It’s tough out there, even for someone who’s with a big house. For those of us with a small press, we are grateful for any publicity, so a special thanks to Jenny. By the way, my publisher is Laura McDonald who owns Girlebooks and Librifiles. She has been so wonderful to work with!


    Comment by Shelley — December 6, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  6. This is such a lovely story. Thank you for sharing it.

    Comment by Carla Buckley — December 6, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

  7. Carla, it’s my pleasure.

    Comment by Shelley — December 6, 2009 @ 11:23 pm

  8. I have to admit Shelley’s novel really made me think of a made-for-TV movie (so hopefully that is in the works somewhere down the line. The characters were great and seeing a slice of the past in this format (flashbacks and the present time woven together) made it that much more enjoyable. I know it’s hard to get one book out there and get publicity so we take it anywhere we can get it. That was a great idea talking to the lady at the antique store – you never know where the right person is you talk to – that’s why we as authors have to talk up our books everywhere we go. Good luck with all of it, Shelley – E :)

    Comment by Elysabeth — December 13, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

  9. This is a nice recap of a very moving real-life story. Radium Halos is one of my favorite books of 2009, and I have recommended it highly to coworkers, friends, and relatives. Selling it at an antique store is a nice touch, particularly if some of the old clocks on display still glow in the dark.

    Comment by Eric Steiner — December 28, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

  10. Elysabeth, thanks for your comment– didn’t see it until now. Eric, thank you as well.

    It’s good to have such loyal followers!

    Comment by Shelley — December 28, 2009 @ 11:33 pm

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