Stacy Juba has written about reality TV contestants targeted by a killer, an obit writer investigating a cold case, teen psychics who control minds, twin high school hockey stars battling on the ice, and teddy bears learning to raise the U.S. flag: she pursues whatever story ideas won’t leave her alone. Stacy’s titles include the adult mystery novels Sink or Swim and Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, the children’s picture books The Flag Keeper and the Teddy Bear Town Children’s Bundle (Three Complete Picture Books), and the young adult novels Face-Off and Dark Before Dawn. She is also the editor of the essay anthology 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back.
Time to chat with Stacy!
What is your latest book?
My latest book is the Audible edition of Dark Before Dawn, a paranormal thriller about a teen psychic who gets involved with a mysterious fortuneteller in a Maine beach town. Cassandra Morris is the narrator. I’m excited to have worked with Cassandra on this project as she has narrated over 80 audiobooks and received multiple awards from Audiofile Magazine and Publisher’s Weekly. Among her credits, Cassandra has narrated books in the Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, Disney Fairies, and Magic School Bus series. She did a fantastic job performing Dark Before Dawn.
I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?
Over St. Patrick’s Day Weekend, my adult mystery/romantic suspense novel Twenty-Five Years Ago was ranked as the #5 book on Nook and was included among the top two bestselling mysteries on Nook and the top five romances on Nook. It also made the Amazon Kindle Top 100 Paid list for the first time, in the Top 30, and was #6 on the GalleyCat list of Self-Published Barnes & Noble Bestsellers for the week. I worked really hard on a marketing and advertising campaign and was thrilled to have such wonderful preliminary results.
What else have you written?
In addition to the above books, I’ve written the adult reality-TV themed mystery novel Sink or Swim, the young adult family hockey drama Face-Off, the picture book The Flag Keeper, and the Teddy Bear Town Children’s Bundle. I’ve also written a short murder mystery titled Laundry Day, which is a free e-book download and a free 23-minute audiobook narrated by award-winning narrator Nicole Poole. In addition, I edited 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back, an essay anthology inspired by Twenty-Five Years Ago Today. That’s currently a free download at many retailers. I’m finishing up a romantic comedy.
What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?
I enjoy writing the beginning the most as it’s exciting to start getting to know the characters and to embark on the process of shaping the plot. Writing the middle is the toughest as it can be hard to keep the pacing from lagging – and the middle is long! Sometimes the ending seems like the light at the end of a very long tunnel.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
I edit as I go along. I have my critique partners read individual chapters as I write the first draft and I’ll make changes based upon their feedback. Once in a while, I’ll read over my draft and mark it up. I also do editing at the end, going through the manuscript with different-colored highlighters to hone in on areas such as dialogue, description, internal narrative, conflict, and pacing, making sure everything is balanced. I also have beta readers provide feedback on the entire manuscript and then do one more edit
Can you tell us about your road to publication?
I had my first book, Face-Off, published when I was 18. I wrote the book in high school study halls and entered it in a contest for teenage writers. Despite that first success, it did not help get my foot in the door for subsequent novels. I went through a great deal of rejection for several years. It was a rollercoaster ride, with lots of form rejections, but I also had an agent for a couple years, received the William F. Deeck Malice Domestic Grant awarded at the annual Malice Domestic Convention for mystery authors and readers, and had many close calls with publishers and in contests. In 2009, I sold the paperback version of Twenty-Five Years Ago Today to a small press, Mainly Murder Press, and that was when I launched my website. I eventually started self-publishing some of my books, through CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, Pub-It, and Smashwords.
Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?
I’m an avid Twitter user and consider Twitter an important part of my marketing plan. I’ve connected with so many authors, book bloggers, reviewers, and readers over Twitter. I also use Facebook, Pinterest and Goodreads, though not to the same extent. I think social networking is important for authors, however the drawback is that it’s time-consuming. I’d like to be more interactive on Pinterest and Goodreads, but I have time constraints. My pet peeve about social networking in general is children using sites such as Facebook and Instagram – I get so frustrated when I see children with hundreds or thousands of followers and their parents have no idea what they’re posting or who they’re connecting with on-line.
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
I did the most research for Sink or Swim as I needed to research getting a license to carry a handgun. I participated in a one-day class as an unofficial student, obtaining some hands-on experience on the firing range. I also interviewed an FBI profiler for insight into the criminal mind on that book. For Dark Before Dawn, I did a lot of reading on psychics and crystals, and I actually took an on-line class in writing about psychics. For Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, I interviewed a local police chief about what penalty the murderer might be faced with 25 years after the crime was committed. For the Flag Keeper, I asked spokesmen from the national VFW Post and national American Legion post to look it over as I wanted to make sure that all of the facts about flag etiquette were accurate. I’ve been a journalist for many years, so when I need more information on a subject, I don’t hesitate to find an expert and ask.
Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
I was definitely born to write as I wrote my first mystery in third grade, a short story called The Curse of the White Witch. By fifth grade, I was writing a mystery series inspired by Nancy Drew. I won a few contests in elementary school and the local newspaper interviewed me about my writing accomplishments. I was very introverted and writing was a way for me to express myself.
What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?
Favorite: Spaghetti, meatballs and fresh Italian bread is my favorite comfort meal. Least favorite: yogurt. I can’t stand the taste.
What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?
For my 23rd birthday, my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) surprised me and took me to New York to see a play on Broadway. Titanic. It was a lot of fun. He knew I’d enjoy it as I had written a recent newspaper article on how the local area was affected by the sinking of the ship. I used the microfilm, much like Kris Langley in Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, and read issues of the newspaper from 1912. I enjoyed the play and we also visited the Statue of Liberty.
If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
I’d love to be better at math. Much better!
What might we be surprised to know about you?
I’m very holistic. I have a vision board over my desk and I’m trained in Reiki, a form of energy healing.
What music soothes your soul?
Strangely enough, slow music doesn’t soothe me. I like very few slow songs and change the station as soon as one comes on. I like Def Leppard, Aerosmith, and Bon Jovi. I love the Rock of Ages movie soundtrack. I’m listening to Firework by Katy Perry on my computer as I type, till I get tired of it.
What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?
My all-time favorite film is Return of the Jedi and my favorite book is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.
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