Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Author Interview ~ Stacy Juba


We have a wonderful triple-header for you today, tomorrow, and Thursday!
The three Resident Authors and Founders of the incredible BestsellerBound Forums.
Just scan their topics and you’ll want to dive in!!
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Today’s interview is with Stacy Juba

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Stacy, when did you begin writing and can you remember how it felt inside, back then?

I wrote my first story, a paranormal thriller, The Curse of the White Witch, in third grade. I remember the excitement of asking my parents to bind it into a folder. I started a mystery series in fifth grade about an amateur sleuth named Cathy Summers. I remember sitting in my bedroom, filling up lined notebook paper. Every sentence had to be perfect. If I made a mistake on the page and it looked messy when erased, I recopied the page.

Such devotion at such a young age

Was there any certain date or time you remember when you began to either think of yourself as or call yourself a “writer”?

My teachers and classmates started labeling me as a writer in fifth grade, and by high school, there were even rumors going around school that I had published a book. I actually hadn’t–my first book was accepted for publication shortly after graduating from high school. Back then, I resented the label as it made me seem different from the other kids. It’s ironic, as now, I work hard at branding myself as an author. That’s a big part of who I am. It’s interesting how we get more comfortable with ourselves as we get older.

Well, some of us do :-)

What are your hopes, or dreams, or goals for your writing?

My main hopes are to entertain people, and to make a steady income each year from my books.

Have you had any “formal” training in the art of writing?

A little bit, but not at first. I majored in exercise science in college as I didn’t know what kind of job I could get with a creative writing degree. I took one creative writing class in college and enrolled in an adult education class in creative writing. I participated in an intensive online mystery writers class through UCLA Extension and have taken about a half-dozen online classes offered through various professional organizations that I belong to, classes in the criminal mind, romantic suspense, pacing, character development, and synopsis-writing. I’ve also taken workshops at conferences over the years and have read multiple books about the craft of writing. Working as a reporter for a daily newspaper also honed my writing skills.

I’m sure it certainly would!

What do you feel has taught you the most about “how to write”?

I think just being in the business for so long and having received so many rejection letters. Many editors saw potential in my work and gave me ideas on how to rewrite to make various books stronger. I also had an agent for a couple of years who gave me similar feedback. For me, it wasn’t about learning how to write. It was about learning how to edit and fill in the gaps.

I hope a reader or two asks you more about your last two ideas in the comments :-)

Who are your favorite writers and why are they favorites?

My favorite author growing up was S.E. Hinton, the author of The Outsiders. I was inspired by her as she published her first book when she was a teenager and her books had a unique voice. As an adult, I admire J.K. Rowling because of the depth of her imagination and how she was able to carry on this huge series under a lot of pressure.

Where and/or how do you get your ideas for your writing?

I got the idea for Twenty-Five Years Ago Today because of my newspaper background. When I first started out in journalism, I was an obit writer/editorial assistant and one of my tasks was compiling the 25 years ago today column from the microfilm. I got the idea, what if an editorial assistant stumbled across an unsolved murder on the microfilm? For Sink or Swim, I didn’t really understand why reality shows were so popular. I wanted to explore why a regular person might go on a reality show and then weave a mystery story around what might happen after this normal person is thrust into the limelight. Ideas just pop into my head–some ideas keep persisting until I start writing, while other ideas just sit on the backburner as they don’t feel ready yet. I learned from my former agent to follow up on the ideas that have the most marketing potential.

Aha

So, what is your normal revision or editing routine?

I outline each book and refer to the outline as I write each chapter. I tend to write a handful of chapters, then go back and edit. Once I finish the manuscript, I use different colored highlighters to highlight description, dialogue, internal thought, action, etc. That way I can focus on tightening up or embellishing one aspect of the story at a time.

Please tell us about your published work.

My first book, the young adult novel, Face-Off, was published by Avon when I was 18 under Stacy Drumtra. It is long out of print as it was published in 1992, but I will be bringing it back in the next year or two and will also publish its never-before seen sequel Offsides. More recently, my mystery novel, Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, was published by Mainly Murder Press in late 2009 and Sink or Swim was published by Mainly Murder Press in January 2011. My children’s picture book, The Flag Keeper, was independently published last fall. My paranormal young adult thriller, Dark Before Dawn, is scheduled for release by Mainly Murder Press in January 2012.

Very impressive line-up of books, Stacy!

Tell us about your blog: its purpose, how you go about deciding what to post, and what you want to do with it in the future?

My blog ties in to my books. As a tie-in to Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, I invite guest authors to answer the question: What were you (or your character) doing 25 Years Ago? I also started a new feature called the Sink or Swim 6, where authors fill out a six-question “contestant application” interview from the perspective of one of their characters. The authors are encouraged to solicit comments from their friends and readers. At the end of the year, the three posts that drew in the highest number of unique commenters will be declared the winners of the fictional reality show, Sink or Swim. The features have been so popular that I’ve had to close submissions until mid-May. My blog can be found at http://stacyjuba.com/blog/blog/.

Wonderfully inventive idea, Stacy!!

Please tell us about the availability of your titles.

The mysteries are available in paperback and multiple $2.99 e-book formats. The picture book is available in paperback and will be released in multiple e-book formats in the near future.

And, synopses?

Sink or Swim: After starring on a hit game show set aboard a Tall Ship, personal trainer Cassidy Novak discovers that she has attracted a stalker. Soon, she will need to call SOS for real…

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today: For twenty-five years, Diana Ferguson’s killer has gotten away with murder. When rookie obit writer and newsroom editorial assistant Kris Langley investigates the cold case of the artistic young cocktail waitress who was obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology, she must fight to stay off the obituary page herself.

The Flag Keeper: This illustrated picture book teaches children about U.S. flag etiquette through a fiction story, flag facts, activity idea, and discussion questions.

Excerpts, books trailers and reviews of my books can be found at http://stacyjuba.com/blog/.

And, where can we get the books?

Buy links to different retailers are available in my store: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/store/

Stacy, thanks, so much, for taking the time to stop by and share all this information about your writing career!

And, here come the questions in the comments :-)
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Folks, be sure to visit Stacy’s links up there and don’t forget the forums she helped create and maintains at BestsellerBound!!
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28 responses to “Author Interview ~ Stacy Juba

  1. Karla Telega March 1, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I love how you took something as routine as converting files in the morgue and made it into a story. Did other aspects of your journalism background affect your creative writing?

    Like

    • Stacy Juba March 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      Thanks for coming by, Karla. My journalism background has affected my writing quite a bit, which is most apparent in Twenty-Five Years Ago Today. For example, it mentions in the book how newsroom callers have complained about the crossword puzzle in the newspaper – I got that call once. Kris has felt terrible for making mistakes in obits, and I felt terrible when I made a mistake a couple of times. It can be hard to catch everything when you have 20 obits to type, two hours to do it, and a skeleton crew to proof the whole edition. But still, you feel terrible if the mistake was in an obit.

      I also made use of my newspaper background in Sink or Swim, as a local reporter and photographer are following around my reality show contestant Cassidy to do a series on her return home. Writing for a newspaper also taught me how to write on a computer — when I was in college, I used to write my stories in longhand and retype them. My first editor broke me of that habit pretty fast! Lastly, my journalism background has come in handy for doing research. I’m so used to doing interviews for articles that I don’t hesitate to do interviews for my novels. In addition, writing articles taught me how to convey my research in a reader-friendly way that doesn’t bog down the story, and to break up long chunks of material with quotes.

      Like

      • Alexander M Zoltai March 1, 2011 at 5:59 pm

        Had to jump in here, Stacy, ’cause your answer to Karla anticipates Darcia’s comment down there :-)

        Be interesting to see what you tell her………………………………

        Like

  2. Stacy Juba March 1, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Thanks so much for the interview, Alexander. By the way, if anyone takes the time to tweet this post, or share on a site such as a Facebook, please come to the Feb. 25 post on my blog and let me know in the comments, as you’ll be entered into a drawing for a $10 Amazon Gift card for every time you share it – the link is at: http://bit.ly/egi4GM Just leave a separate comment to notify me about each share, and you’re also welcome to check out the post and follow then instructions for additional entries.

    I will check in here during the day in case anyone has any questions or comments on the above interview. Thank you for reading!

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm

      That’s exceedingly generous of you Stacy :-)

      Like

  3. Pingback: Amazon Gift Card Bonus Entry #1 – Share Interview and Leave Extra Entry « Stacy Juba

  4. Darcia Helle March 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Stacy, you know that I am a huge fan of your writing. I’m also impressed with your dedication. I need some lessons in your organizational skills., as I’m a scattered mess! :)

    Many people would assume that your journalism background would give you a huge benefit. But I’ve read fiction written by other authors who come from a journalism background and have been quite disappointed. The transition from nonfiction to fiction doesn’t always work well. For you, that transition is seemless.

    Like

    • Stacy Juba March 1, 2011 at 6:03 pm

      Thanks, Darcia! Am looking forward to your interview! As I indicated to Karla, I think my journalism background was a benefit, but I’ve also been writing fiction for many years. I’m a huge reader also. Journalists bring a lot of skills to the table and many journalists inject fiction techniques into their articles — for example, I used a lot of description in feature stories. But articles are short. Journalists who are writing fiction also need to train themselves on the elements of fiction-writing – things like characterization, pacing, dialogue, conflict, action, and plotting. Just because you can write an award-winning article doesn’t mean you can craft a publishable novel. And just because you can write a novel doesn’t mean you can craft an award-winning piece of journalism. Both types of writing have their own skills to master, it just takes discipline to learn those skills and practice them.

      Like

      • Alexander M Zoltai March 1, 2011 at 6:23 pm

        Discipline…

        I have some ’cause my dad was a perfectionist. But my own nature plus a kid’s normal rebellion have given me an acute taste for letting things unroll so I can see probabilities well-up from my unconscious.

        Naturally, I often end up behind schedule and frayed but I do love the surprising internal awareness it reaps.

        Dad’s training hasn’t left me though so I tend to get things done :-)

        Like

        • Stacy Juba March 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm

          I tend to get things done also. I’m pretty driven. I need to be more disciplined about giving myself down time. Am working on that!

          Like

          • Alexander M Zoltai March 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm

            O.K., the apparent contradiction of being disciplined about relaxing away from being disciplined made me go look up the etymology: “early 13c., from O.Fr. descepline (11c.) ‘discipline, physical punishment; teaching; suffering; martyrdom’, and directly from L. disciplina ‘instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge’…”

            Whew!! This explains the stress I’ve felt as I’ve disciplined myself to attack the never-ending tasks of pre-publication promotion–martyrdom, indeed… Reminds me of a maxim of my time on stage: “Anything for Art”.

            So, what is the word for a disciplined cyclic withdrawal from discipline?

            Like

            • Stacy Juba March 1, 2011 at 7:12 pm

              I don’t know what the word is for a disciplined cyclic withdrawal from discipline, but the key is to have a a disciplined cyclic withdrawal from discipline without feeling guilty! Maybe the word we’re looking for is Balance.

              Like

              • Alexander M Zoltai March 1, 2011 at 9:13 pm

                Hmmm…

                Guiltless Balance

                Maybe I should write that novel :-)

                Like

  5. Stacy Juba March 1, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Catchy! I could see that on the NY Times bestseller list and making the talk show circuit…of course, then you’d have no time for a disciplined cyclic withdrawal from discipline.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      WHOOT !!!

      Like

  6. Lainey Bancroft March 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Guiltless Balance is a great title…for fiction or nonfiction. Not to mention something great to aspire to. lol.

    And this was a great interview. Well done Stacy and Alexander!

    Like Darcia, I’m a fan of your writing, Stacy, and agree that you use all the best from your background. Your fiction experience shines in relatable characters and realistic dialogue, but your journalism background shows in the way you insert such authentic, well-researched details. Well done.

    Looking forward to your next book.

    Like

  7. Simone Benedict March 2, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Alexander, I sometimes really relate to what you say.

    You give a lot of great information here, Stacy. I’ve sometimes wondered how journalism would have affected by writing.

    Like

  8. Jaleta Clegg March 2, 2011 at 3:17 am

    Nice interview, Stacy. I enjoyed Sink or Swim (still need to get reviews up, talk about disorganized and needing balance! (My WiiFit tells me I’m totally unbalanced)). I’m looking forward to reading 25 years ago. It’s really interesting seeing where other authors are coming from and how they build their stories. Some things are the same across genres, but others are radically different.

    Like

    • Stacy Juba March 2, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      At least you’re using the WiiFit, Jaleta – that’s a good start! I’m trying to get back into a better exercise program. I’m so glad you liked Sink or Swim. I’m about to start Nexus Point. Thanks for coming by!

      Like

  9. Stacy Juba March 2, 2011 at 3:27 am

    Thanks so much for coming by and taking the time to comment, Lainey and Simone! It’s funny, other jobs have inspired my writing also. I was an exercise science major in college – which mystified my friends and family as they all thought I’d go for writing or English. I didn’t know what sort of job I’d get with an English degree though – at the time, i thought I was too introverted for reporting. I worked in a health club during my last year of college. I drew upon that experience for Sink or Swim, as my character, Cassidy is an exercise physiology major and is a personal trainer for a health club. At least my college education came in handy for something! My work-in-progress reflects my interest in, well, Guiltless Balance and all things holistic as my character is an energy healer and massage therapist. I tend to write about things that interest me.

    Like

  10. Joel Kirkpatrick March 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Great interview Alexander.

    Stacy, your editing process has really caught my attention. Novels are such rainbows of various elements, and I never considered how to see the true mix of them. To hi-lite those things separately, to expose the balance, is just a stroke of genius.

    Like

    • Stacy Juba March 3, 2011 at 9:08 pm

      Thanks for visiting, Joel! I wish I could take credit for the highlighting idea – one of my longtime critique partners learned it in an editing class and shared the technique with me. Once I started doing it, I loved it. It really helps you focus on different aspects of the manuscript, so that once you go back over it as a whole, it’s much more polished.

      Like

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