Friday, November 16, 2007

FEATURED AUTHOR: Stacy Hawkins Adams

Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

I'm a lover of the written word who penned my first stories and poems when I was in first grade. My eldest sister would take them and type them up and return them to me in "book form," planting the first seeds that I could be an author. I majored in journalism in college and served as a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for 13 years, covering social issues and matters of faith. In early 2006, I left my long-time reporting position to become a full-time novelist, freelance writer and inspirational speaker. I have written three Christian fiction novels ( Speak To My Heart, Nothing But the Right Thing and Watercolored Pearls) and freelance regularly for publications such as Heart & Soul magazine, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. I'm married to my high school sweetheart and have two children, ages 6 and 9, who make sure we never have a dull moment at home.

Tell us about your current book?

Watercolored Pearls tells the story of three friends who find themselves on very different journeys, each doubting herself and questioning the choices she's made. Serena is an overwhelmed stay-at-home mom and pastor's wife; Erika is a single mother struggling with whether to leave her once-abusive marriage, and Tawana is a promising law school student in danger of losing a bright future because she's tormented by her past. By the end of the story, the women realize that the paths they have traveled thus far and the places they now find themselves in are exactly where they should be to grow into the pearls that God has destined them to be. Watercolored Pearls is the third and final book in a series that includes the titles Speak To My Heart and Nothing But the Right Thing; however, it was written as a stand-alone title so that readers can pick up this book first and still be fully engaged in the characters' lives.

What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

I'd like readers to laugh and cry with these characters and see themselves or their friends in Serena, Erika or Tawana. I'd like them to be entertained by the book, but also finish it and know that despite their circumstances, they, too, are "pearls in progress" and are loved unconditionally by God.

What inspired this story?

The story flowed out of my desire to develop realistic characters struggling with the tough issues many women face today - even women who fully embrace their faith. I wanted to tackle true-to-life issues and challenges and show how people of faith grapple with them and rely on their faith as a source of guidance and peace.

How long did it take from first word to sale? What were some of the steps along the journey?

Since this was my third book in a series, I had a contract to write the book over a nine-month period. I'm the type of writer who ponders the story for a while in my head before I put it down on paper. I can write a skeleton of the entire book within a week or two, then I go back and read through it more slowly to add context, meaning, twists and turns, and other layers. The key is to get a completed first draft so I'll have something to fine tune.

What have you learned throughout the process of writing, pitching - and now, promoting - a novel?

I've learned that as an author you have to wear the dual hats of writer and marketing expert. Authors know their books best, so that makes us the best ones to pitch them and sell them to readers. It's really important to work closely with your publisher's marketing team to make sure you're hitting your target audience as hard as you can to spread the word about your books. I've also learned that you can never stop growing as a writer - or at least you shouldn't. I try to improve my technique and my voice with each book I write so that hopefully readers feel rewarded each time they pick up one of my novels.

Any exciting things happening before or during the time period while the book is releasing?

Just before a book's release it's always a frenzy to get as much buzz about your book out there as possible, through online and radio interviews, book signings, etc. One of the exciting things that I did in conjunction with the release of Watercolored Pearls was host a community-wide book release reception that also served as an opportunity to recognize a nonprofit organization and a community volunteer in my local area (Richmond, Virginia) with Watercolored Pearl Awards. The organization and the volunteer each received a pearl-shaped glass trophy, and the volunteer also received a strand of pearls from a local jewelry store. In recognizing them during the signing, I helped raise awareness about their efforts and helped them secure more volunteers and supporters.

I will also be sponsoring various online contests and giveaways on my website during the holiday season for readers who purchase Watercolored Pearls. They can visit the website for details.

How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?

I do all types of marketing, because there's no one-size-fits-all way to reach readers. I do book signings, pay for online marketing promotions such as those offered by SORMAG, do radio and television interviews, blog occassionally, write freelance articles that include a mention of my books and publish an authors e-newsletter called Life Untapped. I profile a guest author in the newsletter, recommend books to read and also highlight the latest news about my books and speaking engagements .

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I had known:
1) How important it is for an author to do his/her own marketing
2) How important it is to brand your writing style and books and think outside the box regarding ways to promote the titles
3) Approximately 40,000 books are published every year. As an author, you can't just write a good book and expect it to stand out; you have to work hard to make it stand out, through marketing, word of mouth, connecting with booksellers, etc.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

Finding time for myself can be a challenge! In addition to penning books, freelancing and speaking, I'm always juggling community service endeavors and my children's activities. I find it relaxing most evenings to simply unwind with a cup of hot tea and something brief to read, like a magazine article or short devotional that I've been meaning to get to. I play an occasional game of tennis when I can, and I love bubble baths. I also get together with my two best friends from college once or twice a year for a girlfriend weekend, and we talk and laugh ourselves silly.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

I love hearing from readers. They can reach me in the following ways:

P.O. Box 25985
Richmond, VA 23260

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