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. She is a former journalist with more than a dozen writing awards to her credit.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve been writing stories since childhood. I’ve always been an avid reader and writing is a form of escape for me. When I sit down to work on a book, an hour feels like ten minutes. It’s also rewarding to create something unique. It’s almost like assembling a puzzle as I piece together all the characters and how they develop and all the aspects of the plot, and then see how every component fits together. I’ve tried doing jigsaw puzzles and I’m no good at them if they are over 100 pieces! I’m much better at creative pursuits.
Tell us about your writing process
I do some character sketches when I first start a book and then I do an extensive outline. It’s generally about seven or eight typed pages. I like having a basic road map, although every aspect isn’t written in stone. Sometimes the characters surprise me and I need to pencil in some changes to the outline. I do a lot of writing on my AlphaSmart Neo word processor while I’m on the go and then transfer the files to my computer. I don’t know what I would do without that as sometimes getting writing done on my computer isn’t convenient. I take it with me to appointments and sometimes I meet a writer friend somewhere and we’ll have a “write-in” where all we’re allowed to do is write.
How do you think writing for children and young adults is different from writing for an adult audience?
When you write for children, you need to use vocabulary that’s at their level and you need to have the young characters solve problems for themselves. My picture books, the Teddy Bear Town Children’s Bundle and The Flag Keeper, are all about little girls using their imagination to solve problems. When you write for young adults, it’s important not to preach to them. Messages have to be subtle or it will turn them off. For example, Dark Before Dawn has themes of self acceptance and having the courage to be yourself in the face of peer pressure, but it’s something Dawn has to learn herself through the events of the book. It also helps with YA to use some of their slang and have an awareness of things that are important in their lives such as cell phones and texting. It’s tricky as you don’t want to date the book with references that teenagers won’t get five years from now, but you do need to write the book in a style they will relate to.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I fill out extensive character charts to get me started and I also use my deck of Archetype Cards by Caroline Myss to see what universal patterns of behavior my main characters might have embedded in their unconscious. This helps me to bring out their flaws and strengths and to develop their core characteristics throughout the book. Sometimes my characters will say something that surprises me. I’ve been known to say out loud, “I can’t believe you just said that!”
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first book, Face-Off, was published by a large publisher when I was 18 years old in the early 1990s. Many years later, my adult mystery novels were published by a small press. I decided to jump into self-publishing the e-book editions through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. I also indie published my YA book Dark Before Dawn, a re-issue of Face-Off, and my picture books. I used Createspace for paperback editions and also recently released audiobook editions using ACX. I like marketing directly to readers and being in control of decisions such as the price for e-book editions, the cover, and marketing plans. My advice to new authors would be to join online author groups and forums, such as the Bestseller Bound writing community and the Kindleboards, to stay on top of the latest news in publishing as things change at a rapid pace. You want to know where the hot sites are to place ads and to hear other authors share their experiences using different strategies. There are also many Yahoo groups of indie authors. Also be sure that your work has been well-edited and is ready for the world to see. And get on Twitter and be an active user! Tons of readers and book bloggers hang out there.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It’s hard to say as things are always changing. I’m uneasy about the trend of free books as I think that can hurt book sales, but that trend seems to be slowing down. Audiobooks are about to take off big-time through ACX. I think if you want to self publish your work, the time to get in on all of this is now. Don’t wait too long as the window of opportunity is right now to build a name for yourself.
What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write:: Young adult hockey, young adult paranormal, picture books, adult mystery/romantic suspense, adult romance
What formats are your books in: Both eBook and Print
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