Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SpotIight shines on Staci Stallings








Staci Stallings is visiting Write by Faith. She has to be one of the busiest people I have ever interveiwed. You will see what I mean in the interview. She also has offered everyone a free e-book. Details are at the end of this post. So be sure to check it out.






Tell us a little about yourself


I’m a stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids, six jobs, and a writing addiction! To be truthful, I’m not sure when all of this happened and it hasn’t at all gone the way I had thought it would, but I totally love where I am right now. On the six jobs part, as any stay-at-home mom will tell you (and any MOM for that matter), there are endless jobs to be done around here… laundry, cleaning, family finances, purchasing, etc. I am also the CFO for my husband’s construction business which keeps me busy. And I write and publish and own my own publishing company… which keeps me sane.

WOW!! You are a really busy lady.

What is your novel about ?


My current novel is called “Reunion.” It is the sequel to “Dreams by Starlight” which came out last year. “Dreams” is the story of Camille Wright, a shy studious high school senior who prefers books to people, and Jaylon Quinn, the star of the stage in high school who is living a role he hates but can’t seem to break out of. When the two of them come together in “Dreams,” they help each other break out of who they think they have to be into who they really are. However, part of learning who really you are means making decisions for where you want to go in life, and Camille and Jaylon’s dreams after high school lead them in different directions. “Reunion” is the story of them finding each other again after ten years. However, he’s now engaged to someone else, and she’s knee-deep in building a billion dollar fighter plane.


What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

The craziest thing I’ve ever done is to decide to follow the Holy Spirit. That single decision has led me down more insane paths than I can even count. On any given day you can hear me say, “Okay, Holy Spirit, where are we going with this?” at least once and often multiple times.

As a former and recovering control-freak, not knowing where I’m going and how I’m going to get there is like a never-ending spiritual and emotional roller coaster. I never know what’s coming next or what He is going to want to do through me. It may be talking with someone and being completely honest (in ways I would have shied away from being before). It may be in writing as there have been many times I have written things that made NO SENSE at the time and it wasn’t until the book was finished that I understood the seeds He was planting all the way back at the beginning. Let me tell you, that’s something of an emotional high-wire act.

This Holy Spirit ride is one I’m not sure I would ever have gotten on voluntarily when I was in my deepest control-freak era, but it has been the coolest thing I have ever done!

I think that is one of the best answers I have gotten to that question!

Beside salvation, what is the best gift you have ever received?

The gift of being me. For years, I was not me. Okay, maybe I should say I didn’t know who I really was. My life and decisions were based upon what everyone else wanted me to be. I worked and worked and worked to please them but often felt empty inside. I was lost and alone and afraid most of the time. And then God got ahold of me. I think it had something to do with my saying I trusted Him, and He took me at my word (which I’m not sure I even comprehended what I meant at the time I said it). I have been a Christian all my life, so my getting into Heaven was not the question. It was more the hell I was living in while on earth that God chose to save me from. He literally saved me from me, and there aren’t enough words in all the languages in the world to say THANKS for that!

Isn't it amazing how we can know who Christ is all of our lives but we don't know Him. It is the relationship that transforms us.

What is your favorite children’s book?

When I was a very little girl, I stayed with my grandmother because my mom worked. At noon Grandma and I would lay down for a nap, and I got to choose the book. Now, Grandma had lots of books to choose from, but on most days one of the books we read was CINDERELLA. There was just something about that girl who everyone overlooked but one prince saw her for the good person she was that just… UGH. Got me right in the heart. My poor Grandmother probably had that book memorized forwards and backwards, but interestingly, it’s 35 years later, and I’m still finding ways to tell that story over and over and over again—just with different characters.


That is one of my daughters favorites too. I love that it is retold so often with new twist. It is a timeless story.

What do you find most rewarding?

Hands down, the most rewarding thing about writing is getting to connect with readers on a deeper level. Because of the way the stories touch them, my readers often have a peace about sharing their deepest selves with me… even before we’ve really become friends. I love hearing about how this character or that book made them see life differently. I love to watch their eyes and listen to them talk about the story that touched them so deeply. It is a deep honor to me that God would use my fingers to write His stories so that His children can come just a little closer to Him in the process of reading. I’ve seen lives healed by the stories He’s written through me. I’ve seen flowers bloom… from people who were afraid to share what God has given them, to opening up to let their lights shine in our darkened world. I cannot put into words what witnessing God work through me has been like, but it is definitely the most rewarding thing about writing.

What are you working on next?

Well, true to the Holy Spirit’s “we never do anything the same way twice” theory… coming up I’ve got two very different projects. One is a novel that I’m really excited about. After having written 25 novels, people often ask me which is my favorite, and although I could make a case for every single one because of something it taught me, I think this one coming up is the one that comes to mind most forcefully when I have to answer that question. It’s called, “To Protect & Serve.” It follows the lives of a fireman and a workaholic ad agent who is pretty sure the world would stop if she did. This one was a real challenge to write because of the rescue scenes in it, but the Holy Spirit did some awesome work because I had a friend who is a fire-fighter to read it and he called so angry he was probably spitting nails. “What were you thinking putting yourself in that kind of danger?” I was like, “Huh?” He said, “You do not need to be anywhere NEAR a fire.”

Of course I laughed about that because the truth is, I’m desperately afraid of fire. I have a hard time lighting the candles on a cake. So I said, “What are you talking about? I’ve never been to a fire.” And he simply couldn’t believe it. He said, “I don’t know how you did it because that is exactly what it’s like for the firemen.” My theory is the Holy Spirit has been in countless fires with the fire fighters and knew exactly how it is.

The second project which may come out before or after the novel (I never know exactly WHERE we’re going with these things) is a non-fiction called, “Being God Positive in a Spirit Draining World.” This book came out of nowhere for me. One day all of a sudden the Holy Spirit said, “We’re going to write this book about all these principles that the characters live only it’s going to be about how YOU came to Me.” Lovely. (Did I mention something about high-wire walking?)

Very soon I’m going to put that whole book up in pdf form through the God Positive Blog for readers to give me feedback because I want to see if it even makes sense to anyone other than me!
Both of those sound really interesting . I'll stop by the blog and checkit out.

If your book was being discussed at a book club what do you think the focus of the discussion would be on?

The lesson of learning to be yourself and not letting everyone else’s opinions determine your worth. In “Reunion” Camille is working herself silly to please everyone else (hmm… this sounds familiar). She has this idea that others’ opinions of her are based on what she DOES rather than who she IS. Her life revolves around “topping the last project.” And let’s face it, when the present project is a billion dollar airplane, topping that might just be a bit difficult. As for Jaylon, he’s gotten himself into a mess because he never listens to his truest heart. He only listens to the world—what the world says he should want and do and be. Trust me, these two need each other desperately!

I always am trying to learn new ways to be organized in the office, what is your favorite organizational tool? I'm going to keep on asking this question until my office gets organized.
My office is a disaster, so we’re not going to talk about that.

But the best WRITING
organizational tool I’ve found is making a calendar for each book. I write five or six books at a time (don’t ask! It’s that Holy Spirit high wire thing again). So to put one down and pick another up can get very confusing because the timeline is so important to each one. So when I start a new book, I make a very simple calendar on my computer. (Seven columns, 25 or so rows) Then I fill out the calendar with the dates from the start date as far as I can. As I write, I put notations in the calendar—it may be on what day something happened (Maggie starts the job). Or it may be something that I want to happen later on in the story (The Scholarship Competition). As I write, I highlight what I’ve already written in red. That way I can just survey the calendar, and I know where I am and where I’m going. It also helps so that December in the book coincides with December when I write “Six months later…”


All I can say is Wow! I'm good at trying to write one at a time.

What are your pet peeves in the writing industry?

The thing that frustrates me most is the philosophy that everyone’s writing has to fit in this little box to be considered “good enough.” The truth is that God never did it the same way twice in the Bible. Seriously. Look it up and see for yourself. Jesus healed the sight of several blind men, but He never did it the same way twice. One, He put mud on eyes and told him to go wash. Another, He skipped the mud and just told him to go wash. Another, He touched his eyes. Another, He said, “Your faith has healed you” without touching anything. If you make a study of how Jesus worked, what you will see MOST is great variety. In fact, to see how much God loves variety, all you have to do is go look in your garden. If all the flowers were the same—same color, same type, same size, it might be beautiful, but it would be no match for a garden with variety. Some hang, some crawl, some are bushes, some on single stems, some are blue, some pink, some white, some are big, some are small… But I’ll be you can’t find two that are just alike.

It is the same way with writing (not should be… IS!). We each bring our own style, color, awareness, experience to the table, and then in a completely worldly way, we are told, “No. To be published, you have to write like THIS.” Sorry. God doesn’t work that way. It’s the WORLD that’s telling us we can’t… we can’t write like that, we can’t write that, we can’t be who God made us to be, we can’t write the stories He’s given us to write.



We’ve been conned into believing we have to become someone else before we are good enough to be published (and thus successful and happy). It’s not true. That makes me both incredibly sad and incredibly angry. And it is, I believe, one of the main reasons the Holy Spirit led me to first publish my own books and then to publish others who don’t fit in some neat, tidy, ready-made box.

What is your favorite verse from the Bible? Why?

“And the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13 Just start at the top and go down that whole chapter. If you are doing this—either writing or living—for some other reason than love, you are a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal. We were meant to be God’s clarions for each other, but that doesn’t start with craft or voice. It starts with your heart.
Is your heart in the right place? I don’t mean just doing this FOR God… that’s a great way to end up in misery. I mean letting God do it THROUGH you—HIS way. Letting Him make the decisions about what you write and how you write it. I mean letting God choose your path to publication and most especially after publication.

As writers, we get this crazy idea that publication is some utopia, that if we could just get THERE, then everything else would fall into place. It’s a lie that Satan holds out to us that entices us to destroy the precious gift God has put in our hearts. We work, we hone, we change… everything about our writing to make someone else happy.
We listen to critique groups and editors and workshop presenters. We change this and that. We call it working on craft, but too often it turns into stuffing ourselves into boxes that we were never meant to be in.

God has a plan for EACH of us, and each plan is different. On the other hand, Satan’s plan is the same for each one of us—to discourage us, to make us hate and doubt what we’re doing, to sideline us, to steal the dreams from our hearts, and then to destroy us. If any of that describes your life or your writing journey, it’s time to STOP going down that path, go back to 1 Corinthians 13, and start over from a place of love. That’s where God wants you.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Ha. Ha. See my above answer! ;)

On Ebooks

One of the bends in the road that the Holy Spirit has taken me on was in the area of publishing e-books. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with this type of publication, but many readers are waking up to the fact that digitally produced material is convenient and doesn’t require extensive shelf space! My newest books are available as downloads as well as in print, but prior to this incarnation of my career, I did cyber-serials for awhile with my newsletter. I would put out two chapters a month of a story for all those on my newsletter. Afterward, I found there was a market for the entire e-books, so I made those available on my website (on the Bookshelf page at: http://www.stacistallings.com/)

Currently, I’m running a special promotion through Spirit Light Books (at http://www.spiritlightbooks.com/) where if you sign up to be a subscriber to the blog, you will get an entire e-book (Deep in the Heart) sent to you for free. This is one of my books that I dearly love but that didn’t really fit into a good space to publish. So, rather than let it sit on my computer gathering dust, I decided to let readers who might not be familiar with e-books and blogs have a great reason to check them out. Plus, if you’ve never read a Staci Stallings book, you get to find out for free what you’ve been missing. Who can beat that deal these days?

Where can readers find you on the Web?

Several places:
http://www.stacistallings.com/ is my main author site
http://www.spiritlightbooks.com/ is my publishing site
http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com/ is the Spirit Light Books blog site
http://godpositive.wordpress.com/ is the blog site for my up-coming book “Being God Positive in a Spirit Draining World”

I want to thank Donna for inviting me over for this interview. It’s been great fun!
This week everyones a winner just go over to www.spiritlightbooks.com and signup to subscribe to the blog and you get an entire e-book. I would still love to hear from you so be sure to leave a comment telling me if you have ever read an e-book.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This author is a woman after my own heart. I lack her energy but she will not lay on her death bed saying, "Golly, I wish I had done that."

Please signe m up for this book as I love the feelings it expounds. I will buy Dreamer first.

Gayla Collins
gayla.c@bresnan.net

Lorraine said...

I never read an ebook. It must be tiring to sit at the compute to read but I would try it. Thanks.
Lorraine
MOML1@COX.NET