Our interview today is with Staci Stallings. Thanks Staci for being here today and for doing this interview.
Answer: Well, “qualifies” is a pretty strong word. I don’t really feel qualified to write the stories I do. I spend the majority of my time on the floor in front of God’s throne begging that if He doesn’t show up here, I’m sunk!
As to WHY I write the genre I do, I blame God and my grandmother. God, because I’m nearly certain He wired me to be in love with love and romance, and my grandmother for consenting to read “Cinderella” to me nearly every day for the first 5 years of my life. My grandma babysat me while my mom worked, and every day before naptime, she let me choose which books she would read. Cinderella was always in that stack.
When I got older and into middle school and high school, I “graduated” to Sweet Dreams Romances, and I’ve been in love with love ever since.
Question: Tell us a little about your “real” (Non-writing) life — family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?
Answer: HAHA! Take a breath first… my “real” life looks kind of like this: I have a husband, three kids, a house, 4 businesses (3 online, 1 that’s my husband’s in the real world). I write a twice-weekly blog, volunteer at my children’s two schools, and teach Sunday School. I have two very active writing/reading online groups – CrossReads.com and GraceNFaith4u.com where I help promote other authors through blogs, book blasts, and newsletters. I serve on church retreats and hang out with my Holy Spirit friends online and in real life as much as possible. I love to watch TV with my kids, and I find all three of them simply fascinating!
I love life and learning and growing with God, seeing all the pieces He’s patiently putting into place in my life!
As to how I find time to write? Um. I have no idea. What I’ve been doing is picking ONE project and working on that in my “spare” time. Other than that, I’m not really sure.
Question: Have you done anything writing-related, but besides your books, that seemed to get a lot of positive response? Something that encouraged you?
Answer: In April of 2012, I put my book “Deep in the Heart” out as a free book through Amazon’s KDPSelect program. In two days it was downloaded 47,000 times, staying in the #1 free book spot for 36 hours. Then it went #1 in two Amazon categories for 6 weeks after that. The embrace that book received from readers was huge for me because it helped me to realize that I wasn’t the only one who liked the way I wrote. ?
Question: Tell us about your newest book. Make us want to read it.
Answer: The newest book, “The Easy Way Out” has been a 12-year Odyssey for me. In 2001, I put out the first book in this series called “Eternity.” At the time I was just beginning in the publishing world. I was eager and fragile. I did not realize there were sharks in the water and people who, though they said they were on your team, really weren’t. I had a publicist who thought her job was to run my life from New York. It wasn’t going well, and really, I should have cut that tie long before I did. But again, I was young and eager to please whoever would help me get my writing out there.
I was crushed. Looking back, I wonder if her game wasn’t going to be to sell me on someone who could “edit the book professionally.” (I’m glad I didn’t!) But I didn’t give her a chance. I was sick of leaving my young children here to go out and do publicity that often turned into a nightmare. I was tired of being told the day before that I was supposed to be at such-and-such the next day and having to round up babysitters at the last possible minute. So I cut ties with her.
That was 12 years ago. I guess a big part of me lost faith in that story because of what she said. That’s why I put out 23 other books and ebooks between there and here. Then a couple of close reader friends asked about Drew’s story, and I told them about the book. They wanted to read it, and lo and behold, they fell in love with it! So I repackaged “Eternity,” and final-edited “The Easy Way Out” and here they are!
“The Easy Way Out” is about making tough choices in life rather than skating by and hoping it will all work out. Drew and Charity are both damaged souls. I guess you could say the book is a life lesson in what happens when “hurting meets hurt.” It does have an inspiring ending and a great message, but the getting there, like life, is pretty messy.
Question: What is the “message” of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?)
Answer: Every one of my books has its own reason for being. Most of the time, I don’t even know what that reason is. Sometimes it becomes clear as I’m writing it. Sometimes it doesn’t show up until years after it’s finished.
I have a book called “Lucky” that’s been out for a LONG time. In the last week, three people whom I dearly love have read or re-read it, and it struck deep, deep chords with them. Interestingly, all three got a different message from it. One found new meaning in God’s Word, one was moved by the image of Jesus standing on the waves, the other realized just how much faith Kalin had to have to live like he did. That, to me, is cool. It’s not something I do, it’s something God does through me. I’m just incredibly honored to be a part of it all.
Question: Share something that’s amazing, touching, or that makes you angry.
Answer: I love seeing my characters through the eyes of other people. It amazes me the doors my books have opened for my readers. I’ve had people contact me, like one young lady who Facebooked me out of the blue to thank me. She had read “Cowboy,” and because of one scene in it, she had gone to patch up a broken relationship with her dad. They hadn’t talked in 15 years, and she wrote to tell me she had gone over there that day.
I love it when my characters can invite readers into new understanding of their own lives and how those stories can be a conduit to real people being reconciled with each other, with themselves, and with God. I remember one new author contacting me after reading “Dreams by Starlight” because she finally realized that God’s calling on her heart to write wasn’t some random thing. She went on to become a New York Times Best Selling author. And I remember the man who contacted me after reading “Reunion” to finally, for the first time, pour out his heart over the hurt of being left at the altar 40+ years ago.
I don’t do those things. God does. But it amazes me every time one of those stories crosses my life.
Question: What’s the worst trouble you ever had with getting a book written (plots, finding needed information, getting a cover done)?
Answer: ALL of the above!
I have yet to find one piece of any of this that I feel capable and qualified to do. Other authors will tell you that I’m some kind of “Superwoman,” but the honest truth is, none of what I do is me doing it. If it was, oh, I would have given up a LONG time ago!
Plotting? Um… I don’t do much of that. I pretty much put my fingers on the keys and let God tell the story through me.
Finding information? Just today I was trying to put a simple form on my website, and I was like, “Oh, Holy Spirit, help! Why does this have to be SO hard every single time?”
Covers? HAHAHAHHA! If you only knew how much I struggle with every, single one.
All I can tell you is God puts the steps in front of me, and I do my best to take them, falling on His Grace and help every step of the way.
Question: What’s your next project? Tell us so we can’t wait for it to come out!
Answer: I’ve been debating what my next book will be. It took forever to get “The Easy Way Out”… out. Now, I have about four options that could be the next book. The one I think that’s in the lead at the moment is the very first book I wrote back in 1996, when contemporary Christian romance wasn’t even a thing yet. It’s a high-suspense, high-drama novel, and very much an aberration from my “normal” books… whatever those are!
Question: What is your writing style?
Answer: My writing style is probably best called eclectic. I don’t tend to write the formula for romances though I’ve found some of my own conventions for writing romance over the years. In the non-fiction realm, I write real. I don’t try to sound “learned.” I just write as if you and I are talking and I’m telling you what happened and what I learned from it.
Conversational maybe is a good word for it.
One thing I learned a long time ago though is that words have a rhythm. I’m big on music as well. I play piano, guitar and a little bit of drums. To me prose (written words) have a rhythm, and if you get them out of rhythm, they are much harder to read. I think that’s why people who read my writing often comment that the words “disappear” as they read. They don’t have to struggle with strangely worded or difficult to read prose. I try very hard to choose words that complement the story. I will write the words of a college professor very differently than those of a high school freshman. So my style changes with the book as do the words and how I choose to use them.
Question: How many books do you have out?
Answer: 24… I think. I always lose count.
I have 17 novels, 2 Bible studies, 3 inspirational collections of true short stories, and 2 author help books. That’s 24, right?
Some of these are available in paperback. Some are available on Nook. All are available on Kindle. You can check out my website at: http://www.stacistallings.net Click on any of the top links to see series titles, adult romances, young adult romances, etc. I don’t tend to write in one genre and write it to death. I write what God gives me and put it wherever it fits.
THANKS FOR SPENDING A LITTLE TIME WITH ME TODAY! And thanks Russell, for having me over to your place! I enjoyed it!
First Review for “The Easy Way Out”
We are all faced with choices. As we mature and grow older, these choices, whether good or bad, can affect the rest of our lives. It is up to us how these choices are made. Do we make them and try to remain true to ourselves and God or do we let the world pressure us into taking THE EASY WAY OUT.
Thankfully, Staci Stallings chose to continue the story of Drew and Charity in the second book of The Friendship Series. At the end of the first book, hints are dropped of a possible relationship. The second book begins with Drew and Charity in Harmony and Aaron’s wedding, the two main characters in the first book, Eternity. Both are fulfilling their duty to friends and family but they both realize each can’t wait till the day is over. Hurts and heartaches from the past overshadow their day and their lives. As the story continues, Drew and Charity’s friendship and feelings for each other grow.
From the first pages, I was pulling for these two to simply confess their love and live happily ever after. However, it’s never that simple. Life happens for Drew and Charity. Choices are made. And consequences must be dealt with. Drew and Charity make some good choices and some bad that will totally redirect their lives. Together, they navigate these difficult choices one day at a time, one hour at a time and even during a very difficult time, one moment at a time. Most importantly, they learn during the bad, friends don’t run and take THE EASY WAY OUT!
I think my favorite scene and maybe the most heartbreaking is when Drew asks Charity to take her lunch break with him and he tells her he will always be there for her.
The wonderful thing about this book is the choice of characters and their development. I love how they are just average, every day people. They are not fancy. They are not rich. They are just common every day people who must get up and go to work every morning to simply pay the bills. Both Drew and Charity have problems with family, jobs, finances and each other but they learn to talk with each other, ask for help from each other and simply trust God to show them the next step. And sometimes, the hardest lesson of all is to simply just wait on God and not take THE EASY WAY OUT.
It’s a wonderful story of a love that has grown and blossoms between two friends and with God. I received a copy of this book for an honest review. And as usual, you will not be disappointed with the latest Stallings’ novel!
–Farm Girl, Amazon Reviewer
Amazon Link to “The Easy Way Out”: The Easy Way Out
Love to be inspired? A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, #1 Best Selling Christian author, 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!
Check out: http://www.stacistallings.net
UPDATE: Don’t miss out on Staci’s free book White Knight all today 4/28/2014: