Meet Staci Stallings

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Welcome

A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from.  Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again.  Every title is a new adventure!  That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. 

Her latest release is: 
                                     available for Kindle and Nook.


Let's get to know Staci! 
 
What made you decide to write?  What did you do before becoming a writer?

Before I became a writer, I taught high school English for three years. I quit that job to start my family.  A year later, we had finished building our house, which had kept me busy to then, and I had a one-year-old.  And I was bored silly.  So I got a book about living your dreams. It kept asking what did you love to do and why weren't you doing it? I'd completed a full-length novel (by hand) in middle school, and I thought, "I've always liked to write..."  That was how it started.

Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?

I do not recommend my writing schedule or my work area. My life right now looks like this:  3 kids in school, a husband, two businesses, 2 large extended families, two schools and their fundraisers, teaching Sunday School, writing my blog, marketing, helping other writers edit, publishing new books--therefore, doing cover design, etc., 5 cats, 1 dog, a yard and a house complete with laundry, dishes, etc.

"So when do you write?" That's your next question, right?  The answer is, I don't know. I don't know when I have time to do any of this and stay sane.  What I've learned is, I let God show me the next step and I take that. I put blinders on to everything else. When I do that, somehow I do get things written, and all the other stuff does get done.  My work space is about as crazy as my life.  So, the blinders things helps in many ways. :)

Is the life of a writer what you thought it be? What is different?

In some ways yes it's what I thought it would be.  I love connecting with readers, hearing what they took from the stories.  I love connecting with other writers--helping them with their stories and learning to write.  The one thing that's tougher than I expected is marketing. It's not that it's hard.  It's that it takes so much time.  In some ways that has gotten a lot easier with the Internet because now I can go on someone's blog rather than traveling to a book signing.  In others, it can be overwhelming because there are so many opportunities out there, and you can feel like you're missing so much.  The blinders and letting God figure it all out help here as well.

Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?

Breathe.  Pray.  And trust!
 (I may turn this into a poster and hang it above my writing space.) 
You say that each of your books has taught you something about God and his timing.  What do you hope your readers take away from your books? How do connect  with the reader who isn't a believer in God?

I don't consciously try to connect with anyone. I write the stories that God gives me the way He gives them to me.  Then I take the marketing and publishing steps He asks me to take and let Him worry about who is supposed to read what.  I had a lady that I knew from my hometown who came up one day after she had read "Cowboy," and she kept saying, "I just don't know how you would know all of that. I read it the whole time going, yes, yes, yes.  This is so right."  I was in a hurry during that conversation and I didn't get what she was telling me.  It was only afterward that I realized she had lost her husband to cancer some years ago just like Ashton has lost his wife to cancer in the book.  We got the chance to talk later and I said, "I realized why you said that."  She said, "I was just blown away that you would understand what that's like to lose someone like that."  Honestly, I don't know that I do, but I know God does.  He used that story to minister to this woman who was in so much pain.

That's what I see so often. I write the story, and God puts it in the hands of the person who most needs those words.  So it's not me.  It's totally HIM!


 Having completed over 30 novels , what do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do you combat that?

Writing to me is like breathing.  Really.  It is relaxing.  I don't fight it like I hear so many people do.  For me, I don't try to get every word perfect the first time. I just write.  I never know where the story is going. Is it one I will publish or not?  I don't know.  I just write.
But here's the thing.  When I was very young, at night I would come up with stories, "dreams," to put myself to sleep.  It was like I had a movie screen in my head.  So I would lay down, remember the dream that I liked, push play and "watch it" until I went to sleep.  So that's what I do now.  I pull up whichever "movie" I'm watching (I write 5-6 books at a time), push play, and watch the movie.  Then I simply transcribe what I'm seeing.  So I don't envision ever running out of stories.  In fact, I've got several that will probably never get written simply because I don't have the time!

 What sources do you use for inspiration?
( Music, movies, people watching)

I don't like camping, and I can't ski (and worse, I have altitude sickness so I can't even go to the mountains.  :)  What does that have to do with writing?  Well, a few times a year my husband takes the three kids to one or the other of those outdoor activities for a weekend.  During that weekend, I get enough Chinese food to last me three days, and I watch movies.  One after the other after the other after the other.  In fact, I buy movies throughout the year specifically for those weekends.

Invariably about midway through this movie marathon, BAM! I get a flood of ideas.  In fact, I think if I was able to watch something other than Disney Channel 24/7, I would probably have more ideas come at other times. (Oh, I hear you about the Disney Channel!)  Alas, that is not for this time in my life, and maybe that is for the best as I wouldn't have time to write them anyway right now!


 Tell us a bit about your work in progress.

The book I'm working on right now is about a dyslexic writer.  I didn't know he was dyslexic when I started the book.  But he would sit in the corner of this coffee shop all huddled over his laptop.  The waitress there falls for him.  However, he wouldn't let me see the laptop screen.  Now, I've been through deep-down life secrets with enough other characters that when I realized that, I was like, "What's up with that?"

Well, at the same time, my youngest son was struggling like crazy in school.  He was a VERY bright and creative kid, but reading and spelling were about to drive us all nuts.  During that summer we found out he had dyslexia.  Shortly after that I got back to writing, and it hit me.  Jake is dyslexic!  The cool thing is that we've found a real, honest-to-goodness answer for my son's dyslexia so that he no longer struggles like he was.  So I'm now writing that answer into the story.

God is so cool like that!


What is next for you?

Right now I'm knee-deep in putting books up for Kindle and Nook.  I'm about to release my eleventh novel there.  The next project in October is my first Bible Study called, "Theirs is the Kingdom."  It's about the first Beatitude and living with the mantra, "I can't but God can."

After that, I will be releasing one book a month.  At the moment I have enough material to go through 2015.  (WOW!) I guess at that point, I'll see what's after that.

 How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?



Twitter:  @StaciStallings


Thanks so much, Dawn!  This has been fun!
Thank you for sharing with us. 
 So, what questions do you have for Staci? Are you in as much awe as I am at the sheer amount of material she has prepared?

Jody Hedlund

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Please Welcome

Jody was actually my very first follower on this blog and I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to feature her. 

First, let  me tell you about her new book The Doctor's Lady. You can check out the beautiful book trailer below.


I will openly admit I am not an avid historical fiction reader. I finished The Doctor's Lady in one day, staying up until the wee hours of the morning, because I had to know what happened. It is a quick moving, fascinating read about the life of a woman travel across the country in the 1830's. The characters suck you in. By the time I turned the last page, I was sad to end my journey with them.
You can enter to win a free, signed copy of the book by leaving a comment this week. 
The winner will be chosen on Monday, October 3rd.
*U.S. mailing address only, please*

Let's get to know Jody!

  What was the inspiration behind The Doctor’s Lady?


This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.
It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.

 
What message do you hope readers take away?

I hope readers are inspired to try new things and brave dangerous prospects in the pursuit of their dreams. When we go after the things that matter, we’ll have to take risks and we’ll experience setbacks and obstacles. But if we persevere, we can reach our destination and do great things along the way.

What do you like most about writing and being a published author?


As a writer, I love telling stories. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I’m able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. I call it the first-draft love affair! I fall absolutely and madly in love with the story and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

As a published author, I love hearing from readers. I’m always thrilled to get emails or hand-written notes from readers telling me how much my story touched them.

 
What do you like least?
I struggle the most during the editing phase of each of my books. The love affair that started during the first draft comes to an end. I fall out of love with my books. By the last edit—called the Galley Review—I finally reach a point where I loathe the book, think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written, and wish I could just throw it away. During the Galley stage, I’m fraught with insecurity and fear. My agent did a great job of talking me off the cliff during my fears with The Doctor’s Lady. She encouraged and inspired me to keep going no matter what happens. 

  What’s coming next?
 In 2012, my next historical romance releases. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. Although the story isn’t inspired by a true person the way my first two books have been, I do include several real people, particularly a real villain by the name of James Carr who was notorious in central Michigan for his violence and for introducing white slavery into the state.

 The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.

   Where can readers find you?

I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com


 Thank you so much for stopping by, Jody!
Psst, you should also check out her first book 


So, do you like to read historical fiction?
Leave a comment or question for Jody to be entered  for a chance to win a free, signed copy of 
The Doctor's Lady!

My apologies to those who have tried to leave a comment and were unable to. Blogger must be having a hiccup because it is set for anyone to comment. 
Please email me at writer in waiting at gmail dot com and I will be happy to enter you in the drawing.

Jessica R. Patch

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

WELCOME

I am so excited to have Jessica on the blog and be able to say: She is represented by 
You can pop over to Jessica's Blog and read about how she got her agent( it just happened last week). It is a touching story that will bring tears to your eyes.  She also has a great post titled Top Five Ways I Warped My Little Brother. It will bring tears to your eyes also, but in a different way.

LET'S GET TO KNOW JESSICA! 
   What made you decide to write?  What did you do before becoming a writer?
First, let me say thank you, Dawn, for having me! I love reading your blog.

I’ve always had a love for making up stories, I would plot and act them out in my bedroom. Growing up, I thought I wanted to be an actress. Later, I realized it wasn’t the acting I loved, but the stories. I wrote several short stories in high school, but it never crossed my mind to be a writer, then. I began writing seriously in 2008.

I worked for a corporate childcare center for 10 years, most of them as the Director.

 
   Tell us about your stories. You call them relevant, provocative stories of inspiration. How does that work?
Mostly those are fancy words to lure you into reading my books! But seriously, (not that I don’t seriously want you to read my books) that simply means they are all contemporary and relatable to today’s group of women who are 20-30& 40-somethings. Relevant.

They aren’t your grandma’s romance. They have just enough heat to keep you hooked and fanning yourself, but not enough to make you hide it in between the bed mattresses for fear your tween might get a hold of it. It’s kind of like a Tango. It’s sensual, fun, captivating, and you get to see it all except the “dip!” wink. wink. That takes place behind closed doors. Provocative.

I write inspirational fiction. My tagline is romantic suspense…overflowing hope. I believe in writing about characters that readers can identify with. Some are Christians, some aren’t. All are flawed.

I want readers who feel like they’re in a sticky situation, or hopeless all together, to be able to find themselves in the story and close the book knowing they don’t have to stay that way. Inspiration.

   Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?

  I’m blessed to be able to stay at home most of the time. I write while my kids are at school, taking breaks for household stuff. That gives me time to spend with my family in the evenings and on weekends. Occasionally, I write on Saturdays.

  What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?

Study a few craft books first—there’s more to it than slapping words down on a page. And read blogs on writing/publishing. 
 
  What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do you combat that?

I don’t ever feel burned out, if anything I feel alive when writing. There are entirely too many things to write about. I’m constantly jotting down ideas. Stories are always there, we just have to let our creativity bring them out in new ways.

Do you ever write material based on your close relationships, such as a best friend?, and how do you balance that material with the need to tell an interesting story?

I wrote a saga and based the 2 main characters on the best qualities of my best friends. I asked permission first. I’m sure some of my conversations, or antics, come out in novels that are based off something I said or did with a friend.

I’ve never written anything personal, like a deep secret or scandal. 

What sources do you use for inspiration? ( Music, movies, people watching)

I’m sure besides my own life experiences, I find fodder in many things. People amuse me, conversations I overhear intrigue me, and yes, music. I write with music in my ears. It helps set the mood for me.

My greatest inspiration comes in the quiet mornings when it’s just me and Jesus. Usually, something in scripture will jump off the page and stir a theme, a character, or a particular plot.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I’m usually doing something ridiculous with my best friend. She helps me research for writing, and there isn’t much I won’t try. I enjoy going to the movies with my hubby. We love all kinds of movies, so we never argue over what we’ll see. Before we had children, we would go into one movie, come out, and buy tickets for another one. We don’t have that kind of time, or money anymore!

I love playing board games with my kids. Apples to Apples is one of our favorites, or the Wii. Nothing makes me want to wet myself from laughing like watching my 7-year-old son get down on Just Dance 2!
And I like to refurbish furniture. It’s soothing and fun.

  Tell us a bit about your work in progress.

I’m working on a third book in a trilogy, spinning off a character from the previous one, but all of them are standalones.

I’d love to tell you what it’s about, but I’m not even sure at the moment. I’m in the early stages, working on fleshing her out and devising a plot.

How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?

You can find me on Facebook at my writer page where I love to ask reader questions and at my personal page.
          I’d love to tweet with you! You can find me @jessicarpatch

          And come hang out at my blog. We have a lot of fun! http://www.jessicarpatch.blogspot.com/

It was so much fun getting to know you, Jessica!
Thank you so much!

Want to know more about Jessica's writing journey? Or torturing her brother? Or you could just leave her some congratulations for signing with her dream agent. 

Inspirational Romance: Ho-hum or Happening?



Welcome

Award-winning novelist Keli Gwyn is a California native who lives in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her stories transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. She fuels her creativity with Taco Bell® and sweet tea. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two skitty kitties.
Keli's debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, will be released by Barbour Publishing in July 2012.
Inspirational Romance:
Ho-hum or Happening?

By Keli Gwyn

Inspirational romance. What is it? How does a writer keep it from being preachy? And how do inspirational writers handle the sexual aspects of a story?

Dawn has graciously invited me to her blog to answer these questions. Let’s start at the beginning. . .

What is inspirational romance?

If you’ve ever wondered, you’re not alone. When I tell people at church, the grocery store, or the post office that I write inspirational historical romance, I often have to define the first word. I simply say Christian, which works for most people.

Sometimes, especially for my Christian friends, I’ll explain that I write sweet, traditional stories I’d let my daughter read. That’s my tactful way of saying the reader won’t encounter explicit sex scenes or strong language—without using the word sex. Sneaky, huh? J

How does an inspirational writer keep from being preachy?

Believe it or not, this is something we Christians often ask ourselves. We inspy romance writers don’t want to turn off readers by blasting them with hellfire and brimstone messages that will make them want to pitch our books into the nearest burn pile. What we endeavor to do is show our characters doing their best to live their lives according to Christian principles, those outlined for us in the Bible.

Are our characters perfect? No way. They blow it just like anybody else. Our goal as inspirational writers is to show them growing in their faith, which we do by including a spiritual arc for the main character(s). Those characters who aren’t Christian aren’t expected to follow the same guidelines as those who are.

If you pick up an inspirational romance, will you find a conversion story in every one? Nope. While some might include a character who comes to accept Christ during the course of the story, most characters are professing Christians at the beginning or are believers who might have strayed from the faith they once claimed.

How do inspirational writers handle the sexual aspects of a story?

Each publisher has different ways of addressing this issue, but there are some general guidelines. Inspirational writers (and readers) understand that God created us as sexual beings and that sex is an enjoyable part of the relationship, which is to take place between a married couple. There are, however, inspy books in which unmarried Christian characters have sex or had sex in the past, but often dealing with such choices becomes part of their faith journeys.

We don’t shy away from sex in our stories, but we do keep the sex act “behind closed doors” in most cases. Our primary focus is to show the attraction between a couple as being multi-dimensional. We work hard to bring out the emotional elements drawing the two characters together rather than putting the emphasis on the physical.

I’ve heard inspy writers say that it can be more challenging for us to write a sexual scene than for a non-inspy writer, and I’m inclined to agree. Whereas the latter can be vivid in their depictions and descriptions, we inspy writers are generally limited to glances; touches of the face, hands, arms, and small of the back; and, of course, kisses. Our job is to make those glances, touches, and kisses count.

And we do. Just because a book is an inspy doesn’t mean the sensual scenes are ho-hum. I’ve read a number of inspy romances with beautifully crafted scenes that make it clear the couple desires one another and leave me fanning myself. The very fact that the unmarried couple doesn’t give in to those desires increases the tension, which can be fun for the reader. Think of the tension between Bones and Booth or Castle and Kate. You can find that sizzle in inspy stories because they really are happening.

Keli, thank you so much for sharing with us!

Keli will be around today to answer questions or comments. What do you think when you hear Inspirational Romance? Do you agree it is more difficult to write a sex scene without any sex? Is tension enough to make a book hot?