8/5 Lucy Burdette, The Key Lime Crime
8/12 Maggie Toussaint, All Done With It
8/19 Julie Mulhern, Killer Queen
8/26 Debra Goldstein, Three Treats Too Many
August Guest Bloggers
8/8 Leslie Wheeler
8/15 Jean Rabe
8/22 Kait Carson
8/29 WWK Authors--What We're Reading Now
Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!
Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!
Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.
KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.
Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!
Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."
Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.
Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
An Interview with Author Stacy Juba
EBD: You’ve written nonfiction as a journalist, children’s books (The Flag Keeper), young-adult (Face-Off), traditional mystery (Twenty-Five Years Ago Today), suspense/romance (Sink or Swim) and paranormal young adult mystery (the upcoming DARK BEFORE DAWN) genres. Do you have a preference? Will you settle on one, or will you rove?
SJ: I do bounce around a lot, but writing adult mysteries is my first love. Both Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and Sink or Swim are traditional mysteries with an element of romantic suspense. My style for my adult mysteries is a traditional mystery with a romance subplot. I see myself staying within that genre in the future. I'm currently working on Sign of the Messenger, the first book in a holistic mystery series, about a psychic healer who co-owns a metaphysical center. She has a boyfriend and that relationship will be an important part of the series. I may do more young adult books, but I don't see myself writing any more picture books. The Flag Keeper was a special idea that came to me, about a unique way to teach children flag etiquette and it is easy to promote due to the subject, but I rarely get ideas for children's books.
EBD: Your new novel, Sink or Swim, has an unusual hook. What is it?
SJ: It's about Cassidy Novak, a personal trainer who goes on a reality show set aboard a Tall Ship. She comes in second and returns to her normal life, then learns she has attracted a stalker who may be killing off her former competitors. It takes a look at the reality show trend - what might motivate someone to try out for a reality show and how that experience could change their life. Although the reality show is the hook, most of the book takes place after the show ends, when Cassidy resumes her health club job in her hometown. It's a traditional mystery with an unusual hook.
EBD: As a writer, often the research for a book seems daunting. How did you research reality shows for Sink or Swim?
SJ: I don't regularly watch reality shows, but I made a point of watching one or two episodes of a half-dozen programs to get an idea of what they were like, and then I created my own fictional show. I'm familiar with game show auditions, as my husband and I have both tried out for The Price is Right and Jeopardy, and my husband has been interviewed for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. I incorporated some of that detail into the book such as what the application process is like for a game show and what a TV studio looks like. For the most part, I just used my imagination and figured that if it's my show, it's my rules.
EBD: You talked to former contestants on these shows. How did you make contacts to do that?
SJ: I didn't talk to them before writing the book, but I contacted some afterwards as I wanted endorsements for the back cover.
EBD: Did you give them advanced copies to read? Were any of them “technical consultants?”
SJ: I found Stephenie LaGrossa from “Survivor Palau and Guatemala,” (the tenth and eleventh seasons of the series Survivor) and “Heroes vs. Villains” (the twentieth season of Survivor) and Shawne Morgan from The Amazing Race, “Episode 16” through their web sites, and Michelle Costa from Big Brother, “Season 10” through Facebook.
I emailed them and asked if they would be willing to read the book and consider giving an endorsement, and they all were gracious enough to agree. About seven months before the book's release date, I sent them spiral bound early reader's copies that I had put together and gave them a deadline to get back to me. All of them followed through. They didn't serve as technical consultants, but they did tell me that the reality show aspects of the book were realistic.
EBD: Did you research celebrity murders and the psychology of psycho fans?
SJ: I interviewed an expert on psychology and the criminal mind to get his take on stalkers, and I took a lot of notes from several non-fiction books about the subject. I also did some research about celebrity murders and mentioned some real life incidents in the book.
EBD: So far, all of your books are stand-alone. Have you considered a series?
SJ: Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and Sink or Swim came to me as standalone ideas, but I am developing a series. The first book, Sign of the Messenger, was a recipient of the William F. Deeck -Malice Domestic Grant awarded at the Agatha Award banquet. That book is about a psychic massage therapist who co-owns a metaphysical shop and winds up investigating her client's death at the hands of a serial killer. I had to put the book aside for awhile when I got contracts for my other novels, as marketing takes up a lot of time, but I plan to finish it and write future books in the series.
EBD: What is the hook of your current project, DARK BEFORE DAWN?
SJ: Dark Before Dawn is a young adult paranormal thriller about a teenage psychic named Dawn who has always felt like a misfit, until she meets two other girls developing their psychic abilities and their mysterious fortuneteller mentor. When she learns her new friends may be tied to bizarre murders, she has an important choice to make - continue developing the talent that makes her special, or challenge the only people who have ever accepted her.
EBD: For a writer, what is the difference between writing for adults and writing for young adults?
SJ: I would say that the biggest difference is with regard to how you develop the characters. Unless you're a young author, it can be harder to get into character if you're writing a YA novel. When you're writing for young adults, you have to remember what it felt like to be a teenager. What was important to you? Young adults are on a journey to self discovery, and awkwardness and insecurities come with that.
Writers need to think back to their own adolescence. Those memories of hanging out with your friends, wanting to fit in, and feeling as if high school is going to last forever and is therefore the most important thing in the world, are pretty universal. Writers need to pull out those feelings, but remember that day-to-day life has changed since their own adolescence. Kids today are listening to different music, using different technology and using different slang. It helps to observe young adults, to read current YA books, and to watch some of their TV shows. When you're writing for young adults, I think there's a tendency to want to preach to them and teach them a lesson, and you have to avoid that.
EBD: Do YA novels have different parameters such as level of language, word count, etc.?
SJ: It depends on the publisher, but I did watch the language and the level of violence as my publisher will be marketing to school libraries. There are some words that I would use in an adult book which I wouldn't use in a YA. So I would say that authors should tone it down a bit for YA novels. You don't want to sugarcoat reality, but you can tone it down. My word count for Dark Before Dawn was about 55,000 words, which is around 6,000 less than for my adult books - so I do make them a bit shorter.
EBD: What attracted you to a paranormal theme?
SJ: I've always been interested in psychic themes, since I was a child. I grew up reading Lois Duncan. My novel-in-progress, Sign of the Messenger, is about a psychic healer. I'm trained in Reiki, a form of hands-on healing, and I collect angel cards. I'm very interested in the topics of intuition and energy healing. I'm not really interested in vampire books or ghost stories - it's more the mysteries of the mind and energy healing that I find fascinating.
SJ: My second book, Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, was published by Mainly Murder Press in October 2009 and they published Sink or Swim in January 2011. They recently started a young adult line and acquired DARK BEFORE DAWN for January 2012. I retain the digital rights for my books, and publish the eBook versions independently. My first book, Face-Off, was published by Avon Flare under my maiden name, Stacy Drumtra. Mainly Murder Press has been a wonderful company to work with. They produce quality books and are willing to take a chance on new authors and give them an opportunity to build their careers. I was very lucky to find them and am thankful that they believed in me enough to award me three publishing contracts.
EBD: The recent statistics show eBooks outselling print, yet you retain the epublishing rights to your books. How does your publisher feel about that? Was that issue a point of negotiation?
SJ: It's specified in the contract that Mainly Murder Press allows authors to retain their digital rights and I think this is a wonderful thing. Most publishers keep the digital rights. They are focusing on the print niche and doing an excellent job at that, and it's wonderful that authors have the freedom to explore e-publishing on their own.
EBD: Darcia Helle and you started a website and facebook page called Bestseller Bound. Tell me about those sites and why you developed them.
SJ: Independent author Darcia Helle started Bestseller Bound, http://www.bestsellerbound.com/, as an offshoot of her web site, Quiet Fury Books. She wanted to create a message board forum where indie and small press authors, readers, reviewers and book bloggers could network and invited me to brainstorm with her. We also brought in talented UK author Maria Savva, and the three of us are the moderators. We have different categories to post in and are developing various group projects to help independent books gain more visibility. It's a wonderful place to network and a lot of us have seen our sales increase as a result of all the discussion, networking and projects. However, it's not a place for authors to show up once and try to sell their books to the members. It's a team atmosphere where the author members are always discussing how we can pool our ideas and resources to grow our careers together.
EBD: I just downloaded Volume 3 of the First Annual Sample Anthology of http://www.bestsellerbound.com/. Did you publish this from authors on your website? How did it come to be?
SJ: Yes, author Joel Kirkpatrick is an active member of Bestseller Bound and he came up with the idea to publish an anthology of first chapters from the books of Bestseller Bound members as a way to get the word out about all the great indie and small press books which are available and to allow readers to sample a variety of authors. There were so many submissions that he made it three volumes. He invited members of the Bestseller Bound site to submit a chapter from one of their books, and they can be downloaded for free on sites such as Scribd and on this web site: http://www.quietfurybooks.com/bsbanthologies.html
This is more info about it: http://quietfurybooks.com/blog/2011/01/bestsellerboundanthologies/
EBD: You’re involved with charity drives. How did that come about?
SJ: One of the Bestseller Bound projects was seeing how powerful social networking (sites like Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads) are in helping to bring a book to the Kindle bestseller list. We did a campaign to see how many copies of Darcia Helle's book The Cutting Edge we could get to sell on a certain day in December and Darcia gave all of the proceeds from that day to a church that runs a food pantry. One of the Bestseller Bound authors, Susan Helene Gottfried, who writes a series about a rock band, donated 50% of her royalties from her three books to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, so I featured her on my blog. It's nice to see authors getting their books out there and trying to support a good cause at the same time.
Thanks for the interview Stacy. Put Sink or Swim on your reading list, and keep posted to http://stacyjuba.com/blog/ for updates on her upcoming novels and to participate in her website reality show.