Interview and giveaway with Author Staci Stallings!

Today I have my author friend, Staci Stallings, as my guest. Staci is giving away a copy of her ebook To Protect & Serve (The Courage Series, Book #1) to one lucky reader! Here is a bit about her book (and by the way, don’t you just LOVE the cover? And just wait until you read the blurb!)

To save others’ lives, they will risk their own…

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman’s fireman. He’s not afraid of anything, and no situation is too dangerous to keep him on the sideline if lives are at stake.

Lisa Matheson runs a semi-successful ad agency that’s on the brink of falling apart. Her employees are incompetent and her schedule has become exhausting. When she takes on a client with a brilliant idea for a big conference, she thinks that maybe, finally this is her lucky break. However, the fire station wasn’t what she had in mind for finding conference speakers. When she falls for a handsome but shy firefighter, it’s possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can’t control Jeff and the death wish he seems to have…


I haven’t yet read this book, but I have to say it does sound soooooooo good! Let’s take a minute to chat with Staci…

Welcome back, Staci. How did you come to be a writer? Was this something that you always knew you wanted to be or did you arrive at this point later in life? I’ve always loved words.  It fascinates me how you can take 26 letters and 10 numbers and fashion millions of different stories.  Stories fascinate me as well.  Think how many people have inhabited this planet, and every one has a different story–a unique experience not shared by anyone else who has ever been here.

When I was in my teens, I loved the Sweet Dreams series of teen romance novels.  I loved watching two people meet, become friends, get together, fall in love, and go through all the ups and downs life throws at them together.  So when I got older, quit teaching, had my first child, and then found myself at home for HOURS alone, I followed my heart down both paths and began writing my stories.

You have been a huge encouragement to fellow authors and have even started a Grace & Faith blog that features writing tips and guest interviews. Can you share with us a bit about that? I contacted author Karen Baney to see if she might want to form a group of Christian writers.  She was very interested.

Within six hours we had a Facebook group for authors, a Facebook page for readers, and a Twitter account.  Within a week we had 40 authors signed up, and we never looked back.

Over the course of the next couple months, I did things I never would have guessed–setting up two other blogs, learning to use Twitter and Facebook, and watching the group be a connection point for over 120 authors.  During those first few months, I said on many occasions, “God, You’re going to have to do this because I don’t know how.  Please show me what to do.”  And He did.  Over and over, He stepped in to show me exactly the next step at exactly the right time.

The truth is Grace & Faith is God’s group.  I just happen to be the one He told to set things up, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

Very cool! I’m excited about your latest book. What was the inspiration behind it? My newest book is called, “To Protect & Serve.”  It tells the story of a Houston firefighter named Jeff Taylor who is a firefighter’s firefighter.  He’s not afraid of anything, and if there is a chance of pulling a life back, no matter how dangerous the situation, Jeff is going to go in there and do his best to save that life.  Well, he falls for a serious control freak who thinks that if she can control everything, life will be wonderful.  The only problem is… she can’t control Jeff and the death wish he seems to have.

This particular story was so odd in how in came to me.  I had actually started writing another story, and I had chosen a well-known singer from a “boy band” that was popular at the time for the hero of that one.  I had recently hired a young woman to help with my kids, and she had gotten interested in my books enough to be following along in the process as I wrote. 

There are a couple of things I do with each book.  First, I compile a soundtrack.  These are songs that fit the theme or the mood of the book, and I play it as I write.  The second is I find pictures of my characters on the ‘net, put them together, and print them off.  As I write, I study them trying to capture the facial expressions, clothing choices, and body language of the character (I don’t download just any pictures, but specifically the ones I feel LOOK like the character I have in mind). 

Well, I had been doing those two things for this character in this other book, and my babysitter was looking at the pictures and watching the videos of the group singing… and she fell in love with one of the other guys in the band.  She kept saying, “You really should write one about him.”  I tried to explain that I was working on Story 1 and didn’t have time to work on a different one.  But she persisted to the point that one day, I asked God, “Okay. If I did write one about him, what would the story be?”  And almost without pause, the story flooded into my mind.  In a day I had 20 pages written, and that’s how “To Protect & Serve” was born.  (Side note:  I still haven’t finished Story 1, and that was 8 years ago. Funny how God works like that.  🙂

Speaking of books, what is your favorite book in the Bible? I think my favorite book is John.  I love how everything in John is a coming together of the rest of the Bible.  He tells stories that aren’t in the other Gospels like the wedding in Cana and the washing of the feet that are so profound and tie so many other stories in the Bible together. It is clear by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that John understood the history, the message, and the meaning of Christ, fully human, fully divine, and how His life changed everything about everything.

If you suddenly were given one million dollars to start a new charity, what type of charity would you launch and why? That’s funny because in one of my recent books “Deep in the Heart,” that actually happens to my characters.  🙂  If it happened to me, I would put the money toward helping children who have dyslexia caused by vision issues, which could be upwards of 90% of what causes dyslexia (having trouble reading). 

My son went through this horrible and frustrating issue.  When he was in kindergarten, we had signs that something was wrong, but we didn’t know what it was.  Then in first grade, he hit a wall. He even started having mini-seizures (didn’t know at it at the time, but his eyes were straining so hard, it actually shut down his brain for seconds to keep it from “overheating”).  We were practicing 10 spelling words for six hours a week, and he’d get a 65 on the test.  And no one could tell me what was wrong or how to fix it!

Finally, in second grade, God got my attention and pointed us toward Vision Therapy.  Turns out my son’s eye muscles were weak and very taut, so he couldn’t sweep them across a page to read.  Instead, they jerked and didn’t go end-to-end on the page.  He also couldn’t take details in  visually so he was either memorizing or guessing in order to “read.”  In fact, he was left trying to memorize every single word as a unit three times for each word–once to read it, once to write it, and once to spell it as if none of them had anything to do with the other. Talk about frustrating.

What I’m learning is just how many kids this issue affects–up to 20% in every classroom, and they, like my son, think it’s THEM.  They are labeled “slow” and sometimes “lazy.”  Homework takes hours, and they can’t get it finished in class because they are so distractible. Moreover, very few teachers know anything about Vision Therapy, so they will keep saying (if the child seems to be trying), “He’s smart.  He’ll get it.”  Except they don’t.

So my charity would help kids with this directly by providing Vision Therapy in schools, and it would help get the word out to parents that if you see these signs, there is help and here’s how to get it. 

I have a nephew who has struggled with that, so I agree, that would definitely be a worthwhile cause. Staci, can you share with us something silly about yourself that your readers might like to know? On the ‘net and in my writing, you might get the impression that I’m some kind of SuperMom/SuperWoman who can do everything well.  Ha!  Ha!  The truth is I’m a terrible cook.  I recently had to look up the word “Yech” for something I was writing, and several of my writing friends said they’d never heard the word.  I told them, “That’s weird because I hear it every night from my kids at suppertime.”  I’m also terrible with keeping my house.  I “organize” in piles.  There’s a pile on my desk that could avalanche at any moment.  Piles of bills and books and school stuff and papers I don’t know what to do with but can’t throw away on my kitchen table. I have three piles of laundry on my freezer, piles of clothes to be washed in both bathrooms and the hallway….

I told my son the other night that although I’m a great Mom, I’m a horrible housekeeper.  He agreed… and he’s nine!

LOL, I love that! What project(s) are you currently working on? Oh, gracious.  (This could explain why my house is a wreck, but here we go…)  I’m writing one story about a dyslexic writer that’s almost finished.  I’ve just started another story about popularity in high school.  I have 16 books out on Kindle and Nook that I’m marketing.  I’m doing cover design for the books coming out in the next six months as well as editing, and formatting those books.  I’m final-editing and finishing covers for three books coming out in print.  I run three blogs and the Grace & Faith Group.  I’m on a retreat team for a retreat that will happen the first week in June, and I’m directing VBS plays for the following week.  I’ve got a big book signing coming up in July.  Then… I have three kids (16, 13, 9) so final school projects and activities, concerts, awards banquets, etc.  My husband and I have two companies that I do all of the finances for both so taxes, bank statements, bills in, bills out.  Oh, and then there’s that house thing….  🙂

How can readers connect with you?

My Christian living blog, Spirit Light Books is at:  http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com

My Christian Romance Novel site (where you can read the first chapter, an excerpt, and reviews for all of my books):  http://ebookromancestories.com

All of my books can be found at:  http://stacistallings.wordpress.com

Twitter:  @StaciStallings

Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spirit-Light-Author-Staci-Stallings/266593276699576

Thanks so much for having me, Penny!  I’m so honored to count you as a friend!

Thank you, Staci, for being my guest. You are an amazing author and such an encouragement to other writers!

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And now my awesome readers, here’s all you do for a chance to win a copy of this awesome ebook…leave an encouraging comment for Staci Stallings,  and yes, anyone can enter, but confirmed subscribers receive two entries, so be sure to sign up to follow this blog, then check your email and confirm your subscription to be added to the subscriber list!) Giveaway ends on June 14, 2012. A winner will be chosen at random.

And the winners of Margaret Brownley’s and Nicole O’Dell’s books are…

Wow! I feel fortunate to be able to announce the winners of two books at once this week! And now, drumroll please…

The winner of Margaret Brownley’s book Dawn Comes Early is

KarenK!

And the winner of Nicole O’Dell’s book The Embittered Ruby is

Sarah!

KarenK and Sarah, the authors will be in touch with your shortly. A big thank you to everyone who entered. I so appreciate you! Don’t forget, there are still a few days left to enter to win Shannon Vannatter’s contemporary romance novel Rodeo Hero at this link: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/interview-and-giveaway-with-shannon-vannatter/

Also, if you love historical romance, I am giving away a copy of my book McKenzie over at http://guidinglighths.com/book-review-giveaway-mckenzie-by-penny-zeller/ and a copy of Hailee over at http://daily-bible-reading.com/

Thank you for stopping by. Have a blessed day. 🙂

Days of Christmas book giveaways galore!!!

Below are all the links for the past 10 days’ worth of giveaways. All in all, nearly 20 books will be given away!

And you can enter as many giveaways as you’d like!  (U.S. residents only, please). All giveaways end December 18 and the winners will be announced on December 19. I’ve enjoyed the giveaways, but I am eager to get back my regularly scheduled program with humor posts, movie reviews, and devotionals! I’ll be having some Favorite Top 10 Posts, and on December 20, please join me for my popular humor post “5 things a man shouldn’t buy his wife for Christmas!” You won’t want to miss that post!

Here are the links (each will open in a new window for easier use).  Happy commenting!

Day 10: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/final-day-of-the-days-of-christmas-book-giveaway-celebration-with-gina-conroy-shellie-neumier-and-darlene-shortridge/ (Contemporary romance, YA fiction and a contemporary women’s fiction novel)

Day 9: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/day-9-of-the-days-of-christmas-giveaway-celebration-with-nike-chillemi-ada-brownell/ (Suspense novel and a nonfiction book)

Day 8: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/day-8-of-the-days-of-christmas-book-giveaway-celebration-with-matt-patterson-stephanie-shott/ (Bible study and a touching nonfiction book)

Day 7: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/day-7-of-the-days-of-christmas-book-giveaway-celebration-with-penny-zeller-karen-baney/ (Two historical romance books)

Day 6: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/day-6-of-the-days-of-christmas-book-giveaway-celebration-with-lyn-cote-wendy-young/ (Historical romance and a mystery-suspense)

Day 5: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/day-5-of-the-christmas-book-giveaway-celebration-with-valerie-comer-naty-matos/ (Children’s devotional and a free download of Novel Morsels for every commenter, which includes recipes from your favorite authors)

Day 4: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/day-4-of-the-christmas-book-giveaway-celebration-with-shawn-lamb-suzanne-hartmann/ (YA and a suspense novel)

Day 3: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/day-3-of-the-days-of-christmas-book-giveaway-celebration-with-tracy-ruckman-jordan-t-maxwell/ (Suspense and YA audio CDs)\

Day 2: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/day-2-of-the-days-of-christmas-book-giveaway-celebration-with-amanda-beth-mukkove-johnson/ (nonfiction family book and a children’s devotional book)

Day 1: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/day-1-of-the-days-of-christmas-book-giveaway-celebration-with-staci-stallings-sarah-witenhafer/ (Contemporary romance and action-packed suspense)