Thursday, May 24, 2012

Featuring Author Staci Stallings

I always say on Facebook that Texas born and raised Staci Stallings is my hero. She has published 31 novels and never ceases to astonish me with her ability to churn out interesting stories and then find the time to market and promote them like a seasoned publicist. And she gives back. She generously shares her marketing talent and tips with other authors.

Totally amazing is Staci Stallings, the Energizer Bunny-like wife, mother of three and author extraordinaire.  I have previously told her that I don’t think she sleeps at all. I believe that she is at her computer 24/7, 52 weeks a year! 

Below is a recent Q & A exchange with Staci:

1-You live in Texas…where (if you don’t mind saying), and what do you enjoy about living in your particular location?

I live in the Panhandle of Texas.  Yes, I love where I live although we've been in a really bad drought recently.  The sunsets are spectacular, and you can't beat the people.

2-What is a fun fact about Staci?

I love to snowboard on the Wii.  :)  I'm horrible at skiing (twisted my knee and now have altitude sickness so that's out).  My balance is terrible.  I'm terrified of going fast.  I would never be able to stand up on a real snowboard, but on the Wii... MAN! That's fun.  I love to do jumps and kicks and flips and tricks.  The best part is, when my little Mii guy crashes, he gets right back up again and I don't have to spend months in the hospital and rehab!

3-What type of books do you write?

Well, that used to be an easy question.  Contemporary Christian Romance.  But in the last three to five years, it has gotten much more complicated as I added young adult, inspirational (good and clean with a great message but no sermons or preachers), Bible studies, short story collections, and author help books.  So now, I'm kind of all over the map.

4-Your newest book is To Protect & Serve. Could you share just a little bit about it?

"To Protect & Serve" is the story of Jeff Taylor, a Houston firefighter, who is a fireman's fireman. No situation is too dangerous to keep him sidelined if lives are on the line. However, when control freak Lisa Matheson falls for him, she quickly realizes she can't control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have...

(And I'll tell you a secret... I think this one is my favorite of the 31 I've written... just don't tell the other 30 books that!) 
5-What is one way your current book helped you to grow?

To Protect & Serve busted me out of my comfy little writing shell.  Before it, I pretty much sat at my desk and spun my stories.  However, as you can maybe tell from my first answer, I'm not exactly a dare devil, and fires were NOT in my comfort zone.  I once nearly burned down my church trying to light a small candle with a match (don't ask!).  So going to a fire station and interviewing firemen about their jobs was WAY out of what I would normally do.  However, it was fun for an hour and a half to walk around the fire station with all of them trying to show me the equipment and tell me how they fight different kinds of fires.  (I know. I have a rough job, right? )

6-Why this story?

This one was not my idea.  I was dragged to it nearly kicking and screaming.  At the time I was writing a different book, and when I write, I make a soundtrack and I get pictures of celebrities for my characters.  A friend of mine had recently become interested in how I wrote, so she was watching the process.  Well, one of the characters in the other book was a guy in a 90's boy band.  My friend was looking at the pictures and watching the videos, and she "fell in love" with one of the OTHER guys in the band.  She kept asking me, "What's this other guy's story?  Why don't you write about him?"

She finally drove me nuts with this to the point that one day I said, "Fine.  God, if I was going to write this other guy's story, what would it be?" (I fully did not expect an answer and that way I could tell her I had asked and gotten nothing.) 

God, as He is wont to do in the surprising me category, dropped the story into my lap!  Within two days I was writing it, and within four I was walking around a fire station taking notes on the best way to cut an air vent in a roof.  Don't ask me.  I'm just along for the ride on this thing!

7-Is there something that you personally take away from this story?

Live every day to the fullest and love to the bottom of your heart.  So many of us either take love for granted or we choose not to love because we might get hurt.  Love can be such a tough thing sometimes.  Oh, the wine and roses sound really good, but then you have to make the decision if you are willing to put your heart on the line to love despite what life throws at you.  That's harder, sometimes much harder.  But I think that's real love--what happens after the wine is gone and the roses have wilted.  Does the relationship have staying power through everything life can throw at it?  I aspire to having that kind of love in all of my relationships--romantic and otherwise.  This book reminds me of why that's important and always worth the time and effort.

Visit Staci at:
Romance Novel Site:  Ebook Romance Stories
Christian living blog:

Links to purchase To Protect & Serve:
To Protect & Serve
The Courage Series, Book 1

To save other's lives, they will risk their own

Buy it on Barnes & Noble Nook:

I recently reviewed on Amazon one of Staci’s many novels:

Cowboy Lassoed Me!

Cowboy by Staci Stallings is a novel that entranced me from the first page. When the worlds of a Country & Western star and a waitress from a tiny Colorado town miraculously collide, their lives are never the same.

Just as God perpetually orchestrates our introductions to people who will have a dramatic impact on our lives in precisely His perfect timing, Beth and Ashton meet when they were both dealing with devastating loss. Cowboy covers coping with the loss of a loved one and navigating new relationships following such a traumatic experience.

I appreciated that the story encompasses and demonstrates the immense power of prayer and the importance of asking that God’s will be done instead of our own, even when we think we know what is best for us.

Another beneficial point in the book was relative to reconciliation with loved ones with whom we have been estranged, as well as the recognition of destructive behavior in past relationships and mending those broken ties while it is still possible to do so.

This love story brought a smile to my lips and a warm glow to my heart. I found myself wanting to stand up and cheer when Ashton said to God, “I give You today and every day to come.”

Closing thoughts:

Seriously, I can hardly wait to get lost in some of the other novels by Staci.  She is truly an inspiration to readers as well as to fellow writers. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Staci!

And just a shameless plug for my books:

Never Say Perfect-Looking for an intriguing beach read that will keep you glued to the pages? Available on Nook, Kindle and Amazon! 

Have a family reunion in the works for this summer? 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time will help you learn how to capture your family stories. Also available on Nook, Kindle and Amazon! 

Visit for links to all formats!!

Lots of good reading ahead for this summer. Don't forget to see what Staci's books have to offer. You'll love the skillful manner in which she weaves her stories.

See you again in June...

  Mary Anne

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Cleaner Ocean

Sullie Saves The Seas

Goffinet McLaren is on a serious mission! Her enthusiasm for the topic that resides deeply in her heart is hard to ignore. This feisty author and Pawleys Island, SC resident strives to raise awareness about the negative impact of plastic pollution that is so prevalent in our society today.
Goffinet McLaren

I met Goffinet a couple of years ago when she walked into a publishing workshop that I was teaching at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Coastal Carolina University’s Litchfield, SC location. Navigating the Publishing Highway was a class that I had developed to help people understand exactly what their publishing options are today, provide the facts and allow them to decide on an informed course of action for their particular projects.

Goffinet told us about her wonderful idea for a book, and she had already begun roughing out a manuscript. She wanted to learn more about publishing options, and she wowed everyone in the class with her adorable Irish accent and the information that she passionately shared. She explained that until people are presented with the facts, many do not realize that, at alarming rates, plastic ingestion is harming and killing our ocean wildlife.

Her book is now a reality, and although Sullie Saves the Seas is targeted at educating children, the powerful message it conveys is a subtle warning to adults as well.

I asked Goffinet two important questions:

1-What is most difficult about publishing a book?

The most difficult thing about publishing Sullie was knowing that I had very important information to impart to children and their parents, but being unable to find a traditional publisher to pay attention. Having read some books that were best sellers, I felt that Sullie had a much more substantial message and could be become a real icon for cleaner oceans, if given a chance.

2-What is the most rewarding aspect?

The most rewarding aspect of publishing the book was knowing that now I could spread the word about the damage that plastic is creating in our oceans and to marine life. And Sullie could  tell children about his mission.

Written from Sullie the Seagull's point of view and featuring his bird friends of the Secret Society, this book tells the story of beach litter and presents the startling revelation of the proven existence of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an enormous collection of plastic waste that threatens the ocean environment and its inhabitants. While it tells a compelling tale, it also offers a complete list of suggestions for eliminating as much plastic waste from our world as possible.

You will want to obtain a copy of Sullie Saves the Seas for your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews so they will understand these critical issues, but please take the time to read it for yourself—for the benefit of our planet!

Look for Sullie at Litchfield Books in Litchfield, SC or on Amazon at:
Also available on Kindle!

7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing:
I had the recent privilege of speaking to a wonderful group of ladies (and one gentleman) at a meeting of the Archibald Rutledge Club (a private book club) in Murrells Inlet. What a friendly, receptive group! A few shared some of their family history bits and pieces, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. I love having the opportunity to speak to small groups about the importance of preserving our life stories while it is possible to do so. We can't rewind.

In Never Say Perfect, Laina Strickland (normally very upbeat and positive) becomes involved in a tragedy that has shaken her life upside down and caused her to plunge deeply into a pit of depression for a period of time. Her friends come to her rescue and propel her from her state of despair. Do you have a friend who has lost a loved one and you really don't know what to say or do to help them? Please don't just ignore them because that's the easiest way to handle it. Certainly, it's difficult to know when it might be a good time to call or stop by. At least send them an occasional "Thinking of You" card, or an email or text. Just let them know they are in your thoughts and prayers. See if they would like to go to lunch or a movie when the time is right. They may just be feeling incredibly lonely, and your contact with them could be exactly the boost that they need today. Be an encourager, and the benefits come straight back to your heart.

See you soon with more author interviews and chats with fascinating people!!

Best of my love,
   Mary Anne