July 8, 2008

Author Stacey Joy Netzel

Today's guest is Stacey Joy Netzel. Welcome!

So, tell us a little about yourself? What is your typical day like?

A typical day for me depends on if I’m working my part-time day job as a corporate travel agent, or if I’m working for myself that day. For the former, I have a 10+ hour day, come home mentally tired and look at my e-mails after dealing with kid stuff and dinner. Then I check e-mail, try to write, or many times read. For the latter, I do my best to find a balance between family and writing, but am not always successful, so I take what I can get on ‘paper’ when I can get it. Even if it means staying up until 1-2am when the words are flowing.

When did you start to write and how long did it take you get published? How many stories did you finish before you were published?

If I go by when I started my first book that I finished, then it took me eleven years to get published. If I go by when I seriously/actively decided to pursue publication, then it took me three years. I’ve always written stories, but the first book I actually finished I started in 1996 and finished 8 years later. Then I had to type all 239,000 words into the computer. No, that’s not a typo. 239k. I sent off one of those query letters that agents and editors use as examples on how NOT to look like an amateur and received a rejection pretty fast (But really, my mom and Aunt read the book and loved it!). The literary agency suggested I look into joining RWA and thank goodness! Shortly after, I started my second book because I was bored, and I found a home with WisRWA. My second book took 2 years to complete, my third 8 months, and my next 2 took about 4-6 mo. each. Of the 5, none of them are published—yet. J My first contract was for an anthology I wrote with my friend and co-author, Donna Marie Rogers, Welcome to Redemption, released in September 2007, published by The Wild Rose Press (TWRP).

How did you break into publishing?

After numerous rejections from agents and editors alike on my full length works, Delia Deleest (It Takes Moxie and Eye of the Beholder) asked Donna and me to write an anthology with her. Only she had trouble getting into her story and stepped aside, so Donna and I submitted ours to TWRP along with short synopses of follow up stories if they were interested. They were. J

What influenced you to write?

I’ve always been a reader, so writing my own stories just seemed to be a natural fit. Then again, I know plenty of readers who don’t write...so maybe it was the voices in my head?

What inspired you to write romance?

I wish I had some wonderfully inspiring answer to this question, but the plain, boring truth is I love a guaranteed happy ending.

What genre or sub-genre do you write? Why did you choose this genre?

My first five manuscripts all have some suspense in them, all are set in my favorite state of Colorado, and all are contemporary. However, all my published work is heartwarming contemporary romance that, to me, focuses more on the relationship than the plot. I also have a short paranormal, If Tombstones Could Talk, where the hero is a ghost. I write contemporary because I have no desire for the work of researching for a historical, nor do I have the ambition needed to create some fabulous other-world of fantasy, and I prefer to write character dialogue the way people talk today. Basically, in some ways, I’m just plain lazy. J

What difficulties does writing this genre present?

This may sound stupid, but the hardest thing for me is describing what people are wearing. I hate fashion, and on occasion have my older sister shop with me so I can have more in my wardrobe than jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes. Sometimes I worry my characters dress as clueless as I do, only they care, whereas most times I don’t. (Most times. J) And many times, I just put the men in my absolute favorite clothes for a guy. Sleeveless t-shirt to show off an amazing pair of arms, worn jeans, and boots. My erotic-romance writing friend laughs because, for me, that’s sexier than a naked man. LOL

What motivated you to write your current book?

I’m in edits for my most recent book, Chasin’ Mason. There’s a country band in Milwaukee, WI by that name (great music, too www.chasinmason.net ) and I thought it’d be a great name for a book. So, this past National Novel Writing Month, Nov. 2007, I had a title, but had to come up with the story. Mason is a wild stallion, and the hero and heroine are chasin’ him so they can keep the ranch. Check out the Coming Soon (link: http://www.staceyjoynetzel.com/comingsoon.html ) page on my website for a blurb and excerpt, and take a look at my beautiful cover by the talented Nicola Martinez.

How much time do you devote to writing each day?

It all depends on what I’m working on at the moment. It’s easier to say I devote about 25-30 hours a week to my writing and all things related. And then, if it’s a really good week, and I’m into a new story, it can go as high as 50 hours.

Tell us about your other works, books, stories, etc.

I have the anthology written with my friend and co-author, Donna Marie Rogers. Welcome to
Redemption is four connected stories about second chances, set in a small fictional town in Northeast Wisconsin. With some cute, precocious kids, a crazy Great Dane, a couple Harley's and the paparazzi, it's got something for everyone. Oh, and I shouldn't forget to mention the hot heroes. Dragonfly Dreams is my Christmas novella with a historical twist that was inspired by a story a guy told at my mom's rummage sale last summer. Last is my short paranormal set in Colorado, If Tombstones Could Talk, but I'll explain how that came about in question 13.

What are you working on now?

I have a couple things in the works. A short story about two divorced parents who meet on their daughters’ summer school field trip to the zoo, which, coincidentally, happens to be having Christmas in July J; a longer book about a wedding cake baker and a photographer with a psychic thrown in, and last, a book where the beginning is based on the time my sister and brother drove off without me in Italy, taking my purse and passport in the back seat, after we’d only been in the country for about 3 hours. It took them 10 minutes to realize I wasn’t even in the car with them, and let me tell you, it was a long 20 minutes waiting for that car to reappear! How’s that for inspiration? J

How do you write? Are you a panster or a plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influences you the most? I’ve found it’s a little of all of the above.

I do prefer a basic outline, and I usually have an idea of how the story starts and ends. On some I’ve written a short synopsis on how I want it to go and then write it, and on others I just write because I’m not too sure where it’s going to go on the way to the end.

What was the most usual way you came up with a story idea? I mean, I’ve gotten a plot idea from a song I heard, from brainstorming with a classmate. What unusual thing caused you to think, ‘hey, I could make that into a story?’

It has to be the Chasin’ Mason thing. The same thing kinda happened with If Tombstones Could Talk. I saw an event listing in the local newspaper with that title, about a walking tour of the local cemetery, and thought it’d be cool if my hero and heroine met on that tour. However, I was very surprised to find out my main character, Andrew Lindeman, was a ghost. That’s not at all how I imagined the story at first.

14. Tell us some of the things reviewers are saying about your story or stories.

For Dragonfly Dreams, my Christmas novella released Nov. 2007, I was very excited this past year to not only receive a 5 Book review from Heather at The Long and Short of It Reviews, but also a nomination for Best E-Book Short Romance 2007. “Dragonfly Dreams is a heart-warming yet humorous tale…I highly recommend it for a good holiday read.” Linda L. at Fallen Angel Reviews gave it 5 Angels: “I adored Dragonfly Dreams… It is a tale that tugs at the heart and makes one feel the Christmas season any time of the year… So sit back and enjoy a page-turner that warms all the way to the toes. You won’t be disappointed in this splendid story.”

Welcome to Redemption received 4 1/2 stars from Romantic Times Book Reviews: “Four related tales told by two very talented authors make this anthology a keeper. With their easy, breezy style and skilled characterizations, Rogers and Netzel have created a town that readers won’t want to leave.” Donna Marie Rogers and I were also thrilled to receive 5 Hearts from Brenda at The Romance Studio, and a 5 Heart, Reviewer Top Pick from Diana at Night Owl Reviews: “I absolutely loved this anthology! …In my opinion, Donna Marie Rogers & Stacey Joy Netzel both have unique writing talents and clearly have a winner with this book. I loved the humor sprinkled throughout the stories and laughed at loud with Sugar’s antics. I am a Great Dane owner and I really appreciated reading a story with a Dane in it. I can’t wait for the sequel to come out. This is definitely a keeper in my library and I assure you that you will love it as much as I did. Wonderful job ladies!”

My short paranormal, If Tombstones Could Talk, received 4 Stars from Amanda at Romance Junkies: “IF TOMBSTONES COULD TALK is sweet, sensual and one of the most romantic stories I've ever read. This story had an incredible storyline that kept me intrigued until the very end. The ending brought tears to my eyes…I cannot wait to read another book from her very soon!”; and 5 Pixies from Becky at Dark Angel Reviews: “IF TOMSTONES COULD TALK…is a sweet and romantic read…I was very impressed with the feel of the characters. Melanie grabbed a hold of my heart on the first page of the story and held on. I absolutely found Andrew sexy, even for a ghost. Every time he spoke in the story, I had goose bumps. I love how everyone was connected in a roundabout way. The plot was brilliant and well played out. I enjoyed every aspect of the story; I only wish it were longer. The ended left me smiling and happy. Congratulations, Ms. Netzel, on a lovely tale. I hope to read more from you in the future.”
I still can't believe I've gotten so many wonderful reviews, and I'm thankful for each one of them.

What is your all time favorite book?

I still read at least 3-4 books a month, and when I wasn’t writing, I read 3-4 a week. Unfortunately, I don’t really have an all-time favorite book. I remember finishing a book on a flight and still having the connection flight to go, so I bought an Elizabeth Lowell romance at the airport. I was completely hooked and searched for anything I could find by her over the next couple months. Judith McNaught and Johanna Lindsey are other favorite authors of mine. Recently, I’ve enjoyed many great books by the authors of The Wild Rose Press. I know, it sounds like shameless promotion for the company just because I’m one of the authors, but I am on a very limited budget for buying books to read for fun, so I’m selective about what I spend my leisure dollars on. I have over forty e-books from TWRP and have yet to be disappointed.

How do you do research for your books? What’s the most interesting bit of research you’ve come across?
What little of it I need to do is typically done over the internet. For Chasin’ Mason, I had to find native trees & birds to a specific area of Texas, and find out all about rattle snake bites. In the story I’m working on now, my hero/heroine must contend with a sprained ankle at the zoo. Poor Marissa must endure being carried in Eric’s strong arms, pressed close to his firm, wide chest. (Hey, we’re supposed to put them through hell, right? ) I must say, though, the best research I ever did without even being aware of it was working for two summers at a ranch resort in Colorado after high school. My first ms (you know, the Rocky Mountain sized one?) is set on a similar ranch right next to the Rocky Mountain National Park.

What advice would you give aspiring writers today?

Join a writer’s group to learn your craft and have the support of like-minded people. Write what makes you happy. Lastly, if writing truly makes you happy, NEVER GIVE UP!

How do you like your fans to contact you?

Any fan is a friend, and you can reach me at snetzel@wildblue.net. Thank you so much for letting me entertain you for a little while. Merry Christmas, ;) and have a wonderful summer!




Anonymous said...

Hi Stacey, very nice to meet you and hear about your writing and books. I really adore you for that you can combine work and writing, although it must be hard sometimes, psysichally tiring, if not else, and for that you now are published. congratulations and best of luck to the future!

Penelope West said...

Enjoyed your interview. I can relate to the huge manuscript. I have one of those, too. I don't normally read contemporaries, but yours sound intriguing. Especially If Tombstones Could Talk. Congratulations on the great reviews, and best of everything in all your endeavors!

LuAnn said...

Great interview. I agree that jeans and a t-shirt can often be much sexier than nudity!

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Tessa, more than physically tiring, sometimes it's just mentally exhausting. I dread the thought of going back to work full time, but if gas prices continue to climb...? :( Lets hope not.

Penelope, thanks! I'll be posting more excerpts in a little while. If Tombstones Could Talk is next, and it'll be different than the one on my website, too.

LuAnn, I hear that from many people, too. I don't suppose it has much to do with the fact that I find my husband very sexy and his unofficial uniform around the house is a Haynes t-shirt with the sleeves ripped off (he's got Very nice arms) and old faded blue jeans, and work boots. :)

Liza James said...

Penny, I can assure you If Tombstones Could Talk is an amazing read. ;-) And as Stacey's critique partner I happen to know she works much too hard as it is, so hopefully she won't have to go back to work full-time.

And I just have to say that as much as I love good nudity (LOL), I agree there's nothing sexier than a man in faded jeans, a nice snug T-shirt, and black motorcycle boots...I think I feel a story coming on...LOL

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Thanks, Liza. ;) But I know we all work hard, whether it's at work, home, or split in between.

Saw you over at KyAnn Water's blog--looking good.

CrystalGB said...

Great interview. I enjoyed reading your answers.

Jane said...

Hi Stacey,
Did you ever consider giving up writing after receiving numerous rejections?

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Jane, before I joined RWA, I probably would've gotten discouraged VERY fast with a few more rejections after the first one, no matter how nice they were about it.

But in RWA, hearing stories of how many big name authors got rejections before publishing, including Stephen King, Dr. Seuss, and Christina Dodd, to mention a very few, I realized that if the dream is to publish, I had to keep going. If they could do it, so could I. And even if I hadn't published, I don't think I can ever imagine NOT writing.

Rejections still hurt and probably always will--we all want everyone to love our work, but we don't all agree on everything, and I have to remind myself of that. I received a rejection from Harlequin recently that was more like a revision letter, and with it came a request to see another manuscript. I'm working on getting one ready to send. :)

Which is why I say NEVER GIVE UP!

Cheri2628 said...

This was a very interesting interview. You are a new author for me, and I am now inspired to check out your website. It is a lot of fun to discover new authors!

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Just be kind, Cheri. :) I updated the home page of my website this morning and somehow screwed up the pictures on top. Dear husband is at work, so I have to wait until he can fix it. I also have other updates that have been neglected, but my goal is to have the Favorites section, and Recent Reads updated before the end of July.

In fact, I'm signing up for a website class today so I can try to learn to do some more of it on my own.

Estella said...

Great interview. I enjoyed reading about a part of your life.

Beth Caudill said...

Great interview Stacey.

Kris Kennedy said...

Hi Stacey (and Anna!)

I love how Chasin' Mason got its name, and can't wait to read the book! And I totally agree about RWA~I can't even imagine how I'd ever have got published without it!

Congrats on all your publishing sucesses, and here's to dozens more! :-)


Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Thanks for stopping by, Estella, Beth and Kris. :)

I wish you all (everyone reading and posting) the same success in your endeavors. Kris, you're on a roll! Despite it being a lot of work, there's nothing else I'd rather do. :)

Virginia said...

Hi Stacey, nice to meet you. I agree that jeans and t-shirts are sexy to. I like them better.

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

Love how you got the title for Chasin' Mason! Rhyming titles )ar allliterative, etc.) like that are also easy to remember when people go to the bookstore, thus increasing your chance of a sale! Keep up the good work! Sandy

Delia DeLeest said...

Interesting interview Stacey. Thanks for sharing with us.

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Sandy and Delia, good to see you! Glad you enjoyed the interview. :)