♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪…The band ends their rendition of “Let it Snow”, in honor of the snow currently falling in Columbus, Ohio, the home of the The Blog Studio.
Carol Ann walks onstage between the burgundy curtains. “Hey, everyone! How you doing?”
APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE AS THE CAMERA PANS THE AUDIENCE
“Thank you all for coming by on this cold January morning. I’ve been looking forward to this interview. I want to make sure we have plenty of time to talk with my special guest this morning, so please put your hands together and let’s give her a warm Blog Studio welcome. Staci Stallings!!
CAROL ANN: Staci, welcome to the Blog Studio. I’m so glad you could join us this morning.
STACI: Thanks, Carol Ann. I’m delighted to be here.
CAROL ANN: Tell the audience a little about yourself and your writing.
STACI: I am a stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids, and a writing addiction. Writing for me is like breathing. It gives me a way to tap into life and learn about it in a ways that are often surprising and wonderful. Even those moments of frustration and angst because of writer’s block or trying to find that just-right word show me how God works in our lives and how very much He loves us. I think too often we are so wrapped up in the outcome (publishing or selling or finishing the book) that we forget to enjoy and learn from the process. That’s what I try to do—learn from the process, and to me, it’s made all the difference.
The book I just released in September ’07 is one that is near and dear to my heart because it talks about going for YOUR dreams regardless of what the outside world says about it. That was and is a lesson I need to hear and hear again. “Dreams by Starlight” features Jaylon Quinn and Camille Wright as the hero and heroine. Jaylon is the school’s “star.” He’s been the lead in all the plays, and all the girls are ga-ga for him. Camille is… umm… not. She’s the girl who melts into the woodwork and likes to be there because nobody sees her. In fact, she works pretty hard to stay in the woodwork. Her main focus is getting into Princeton’s aerospace program, and her grades are good enough to get her there. However, her counselor is worried that all she’s taken are academic classes. So he talks her into going out for drama to “round out” her record.
When she gets to drama, her plan is very simple. Take drama for one semester and then get into a “real class.” However, things don’t turn out quite like she thought they would… especially when she meets Jaylon, or more to the point when Jaylon meets her. These two who are from vastly different worlds learn to accept and appreciate the other in ways that the whole world would do well to really “get.” And in the process, they inspire each other to become who they were always meant to be.
(You can read the first three chapters for free at: http://www.stacistallings.com/Previews.htm )
CAROL ANN: HOLDS BOOK AND CAMERA PANS IN
CAROL ANN: Sounds wonderful, Staci. And I’ll be heading there after the interview to read those chapters. Is this your first book, and are you working on anything new right now?
STACI: Buckle up because this is going to be a confusing answer. “Dreams by Starlight” is my seventh published book, fifth published novel, and the tenth novel that I wrote. How’s that for confusing? If you ask why I get them so out of order, my only defense is that I put out what God wants me to when He asks me to. I’ve written 21 novels and 2 non-fiction inspirational/devotionals, so my backlist gets a little confusing and tangled with my to-put-out list and my written list. Suffice it to say, this is not my first published book, and it won’t be my last.
Right now I’m working on one that I have 250 pages and no title for (you’ve got to love how the Holy Spirit works some times!). This story is about a girl running from an abusive relationship who runs smack into the arms of a guy who turns out to be just the friend she’s been looking for. However, the demons of her past are trailing her, and she’s balancing on the wire between loving this new guy and protecting him from who she believes she really is. It’s very intense. Although I don’t really consider myself a suspense writer, most of my books, which I term Contemporary Christian or Inspirational Romance, have real tension. I don’t consider myself a comedian either, and there are laugh-out-loud parts. I am a Christian, but some of my books are VERY Christian and some are more inspirational or motivational. In short, I write the story God gives me to write rather than trying to make them all fit into neat and tidy little boxes. (I hate boxes!)
That’s one of the things I have learned about writing—to make it real. If you’ve lived ten days you know that not every day is heart-poundingly frightening OR roll on the floor laughing. There is a balance. I try to find that balance in the stories God gives me to write.
I should also mention that the sequel to “Dreams by Starlight,” (“Reunion”) will be out in 2008. And it is REALLY good…
CAROL ANN: I hate boxes, too. What do you consider the most challenging part of being a writer?
STACI: Letting go of “It has to be done right now!” I have a bad habit of thinking I know more than God does. He’s convinced me over the course of the last 12 years that I don’t, but sometimes that’s still a struggle. I have three kids (12, 8, 5) and many other commitments. What I would love to do is to just sit down and write every minute of every day. I don’t get to, and that’s frustrating in a lot of ways. I’ve had to learn to let go and let God take over ordering my days because when I was doing it, I made a giant mess of everything. I still don’t get to write as much as I’d like, but somehow the books are still getting written, and amazingly I still have a life outside of writing! God is truly good!
CAROL ANN: Amen! If you were speaking to the world on live television, what is one thing you would say about yourself that isn't related to your writing.
STACI: Hallelujah! I’m finally learning to like myself and to appreciate the gifts that God gave me. For a long, LONG time I hid them or compartmentalized them or just outright denied them, and I was miserable. In the last couple months I have begun to accept what I’ve been given and to allow God to show those gifts to the world through a variety of avenues. There was a time that doing that scared me to death. I was so afraid of being judged and rejected that I thought it was easier and safer to keep my gifts and talents to myself. Now I’m realizing how much fun it is to just be ME and not to have to apologize for that! I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone! What this world could be if we all encouraged each other to be who God made you to be without apology. The pieces are all here, the problem is we’re all too busy worrying about what everyone else thinks about our gifts that we forget to just relax and just be who God made us to be!
CAROL ANN: Good for you, Staci! If we were to tour your house, where would we find your "office." What does it look like?
STACI: You had to ask this question, didn’t you? * Sigh * Well, I have an actual office although when we designed and built this house, had I known I would be spending so much time in here, I would’ve put much more thought and space in it. What does my office look like? Hmm… For a moment picture Mount Everest, not made of rock and snow but of school papers, books, Bibles, a computer, boxes of books, CD’s, a Chips Ahoy package, DVD’s, letters, speakers, bottles, glasses, and actual office supplies. That pretty much describes my desk and my floor. I’m happy to say that right now at this moment, I have an actual trail to my desk. Most of the time, I’m stepping over toys and chairs and boxes to get to my desk. Yeah. I’m glad you didn’t ask me about how best to organize a writing desk. That might not have been pretty.
CAROL ANN: Your office sounds very similar to mine. Who is the one person you can always depend on to make you smile?
STACI: One? Who has only one person to make them smile? Goodness! I’d be sunk! I have several, but I’ll keep the list as short as possible: My kids (especially Andrew who’s 5), my husband, my sister, my parents, and my best friends (yes, that one has an “s” on it). One of my best friends, Dennis Bates, is a Christian author, and he would have to be at the top of my list right now. We’ve only talked over a conference call once, but we email sheets and sheets every day. He really can yank me up out of yuck quicker than just about anybody. I think a lot of that is because we’re both writers, and we get things that other people tend to think makes us somewhat suspect. We’re weird. We know it, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
CAROL ANN: Staci, thanks for sharing so much with the Blog Studio audience. Before you leave, tell everyone how they can learn more about you and your books?
STACI: Oh, see now this one’s EASY!
First, you can go to my website: http://www.stacistallings.com You can read to your little heart’s content for HOURS there.
Second, you can go to : http://www.stacistallings.com/Previews.htm to read the first three chapters of any of my published books FREE! (I’d like to say this is an exclusive offer, but it’s not… so please help me tell the world!)
Finally, you can go directly to the publisher: http://www.lulu.com/spirit-light for my newer releases including the two non-fictions.
CAROL ANN: Where can your books be purchased?
STACI: Technically you can purchase them from any bookstore; however, you will have to special order them (which is fine by me but can be a bit of a pain for you). They are also available on the big online bookstores—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders.
But the easiest way to get them is to go to: http://www.lulu.com/spirit-light or to my website for my two older books. These will come right to your door, and you can’t beat that!
CAROL ANN: It’s been so much fun, Staci. Do you have anything else you’d like to share before the show ends?
STACI: Anything else I like is an invitation for real trouble! Let’s see… Here’s what I most want everyone to know… Life doesn’t have to be a struggle. Yes, there will always be tough times, but the deeper you get to know God, the more you will understand that He is not out to get you but that He loves you more than you can ever know or imagine and He’s here right now in this moment to help you and to pull you up. The more you accept and appreciate those things, the more wonderful life will get inside you and around you. This promise (like the one about reading the free chapters) is not exclusive. It’s available to everyone, and it’s FREE! God wants your life to be all He imagined it to be. Seek that. Be who you are, and don’t apologize for it. That is His message today, through me, to you.
APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE. THE AUDIENCE GIVE A STANDING OVATION. THE CAMERA PANS THE AUDIENCE, THEN PANS OVER CAROL ANN AND STACI TALKING AS THEY WALK OFFSTAGE.