Stacy Hawkins Adams Guides BWRC Attendees 'From Hobby to Career'


SHA_biopix2Stacy Hawkins Adams wears many hats. She is a skilled freelance journalist, author, and speaker as well as a wife and mother. Her first two books, Speak To My Heart and Nothing But The Right Thing have received acclaim, including Best Multicultural Christian Fiction and selection as a Black Expressions Main Selection. This year, she has two new releases, Watercolored Pearls, the third book in her inspirational fiction series, and a novella, My Mother’s Shadow in the anthology, This Far By Faith. Welcome to BWRC, Stacey!

Let’s get right to it. Where were you born and raised? Did you attend college or formally study the craft of writing? If so, where?

I was born and raised in Pine Bluff, Arkansas where my gift for writing was discovered and nurtured from the time I was about six years old. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, and by the time I entered high school, I had settled on a career in journalism. I majored in journalism/mass communications at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. Later, when I decided to begin writing novels, this professional writing experience helped me know how to tell a story and stay focused.

How did you get started writing/publishing/etc.?

I had been a newspaper reporter for about five years when the bug to write fiction again bit me. I dabbled in it for a few years, but was never serious. Then at some point, I realized I needed to stop talking about it and make it happen or I would always regret not taking the chance. So I began attending writers’ conferences where I could network with publishing house editors and with agents. That got me excited enough to become disciplined about my dream.

Who is one author that you look up to and why?

There is more than one! I look up to various authors for various reasons. Victoria Christopher Murray, whose first book, Temptation, inspired me to believe that I could write the book in my heart – one fusing faith and everyday life in a realistic and moving way. Jacquelin Thomas for taking me under her wing and mentoring me when I landed my first book deal. Anna Quindlen for serving as a model for how to thoughtfully cover social issues as a journalist and weave those themes into fiction in a compelling manner. And J. California Cooper, because I absolutely love and admire her body of work.

How long have you been writing, publishing, etc.?

I have been a journalist for 15 years. My first novel was published in 2004.

How did you master the topic you’ll be presenting at BWRC?

SHA_Cover1I am presenting two topics: From Hobby to Career: Crafting an Exit Strategy to Write Full Time and The Writer’s Journey: From Idea to Finished Draft to Publication. I mastered the ability to finish my first book by putting into practice all of those cliches you hear – discipline, perseverance, focus. But there are indeed tangible steps that writers can take to accomplish this goal. For me, the deadline training that comes with being a journalist was very helpful. It’s sort of like being in the military – the rules are the rules. In journalism the deadlines are the deadlines. :) So a big part of it was giving myself goals and doing my best to stick to my deadlines. We’ll explore this fully in the workshop and will also talk about audience members’ specific challenges to completing their books.

For topic two: Deciding to leave your day job to pursue the writing life is not for the fainthearted. :) And yet, with some planning, perseverance and focus, I managed to build up my writing, freelance and speaking business enough that it was competing for time with the day job. The key is to then take that to the next level. We’ll discuss various options during this session.

If you were to describe your upcoming session/presentation in one word, what would it be?

I would describe both of my sessions as “invaluable.” I intend for attendees to leave the sessions with tangible advice that they can actually put into practice to help them move closer to completing their books and pursuing their passion full time.

Who is your session particularly suited for, i.e., what skill level, interests, experience should they have to benefit most from your session?

My session on finishing a book is designed for new writers, who either haven’t started writing or have begun a book and haven’t managed to finish it. My session on becoming a full-time writer is for writers who are seriously considering making this leap in the near future and for writers who have this pursuit as a long-term goal.

At what other writers’ conferences have you presented a session?

I have presented sessions at various writers’ conferences, including the Virginia Festival of the Book, the James River Writers Conference, the Christian African American Booksellers Association (CAABA) Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christan Writer’s Conference.

What advice would you give to someone who has never attended a writers’ conference?

Come prepared to learn and to find yourself among kindred spirits. Writers are a unique bunch, in that not everyone understands what we do or why we do it and the focus and discipline it requires. It is great to be immersed in a sea of like-minded people, who “get” you and are there to encourage you and help you take your dream to the next level.

What are some of the projects you have in the works? Are there any in particular you’d like us to look out for in the near future?

SHA_Cover2My first novella, “My Mother’s Shadow,” is being published in April 2008 in a Kimani Press anthology called This Far By Faith. The anthology focuses on mother/daughter relationships and also features short novels penned by Kendra Norman-Bellamy and Linda Hudson-Smith. I recently finished writing my fourth novel, which is the beginning of a new series. It is tentatively titled “Tomorrow’s Chances” and is slated for release in early 2009.

What is one piece of advice that you’d give all aspiring authors?

My advice is to believe in yourself. I know that sounds trite, but think about the people around you who don’t take your dream seriously or who may support you but doubt whether you can succeed. You really have to believe in your ability to write, in the story you want to tell, and in the fact that you are worthy of being published.

What is something you wish someone would have told you about being an author/publisher/poet/etc.?

Just because you write it doesn’t mean readers will knock down your door to buy your masterpiece. You really have to be half writer and half marketer. Don’t rely on your publisher’s marketing team to do it all; they are looking to you to lead the way. After all, your book is YOUR baby.

Thank you, Stacy. Look forward to seeing you in Tampa!

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  1. I appreciate all of the advice given by Stacey. I am an aspiring writer in the midst of figuring this thing out. I can relate to all of the frustration going into making decisions about being serious, to the discipline it takes to make it happen. No one takes me serious. I have played into that by not taking myself seriously as well. I do plan to attend the BWC in 2009, for this is the first time I have sought out some intellect on a craft I hold so very dear to me.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Tina. And do attend the BWRC in 2009 in Las Vegas. If you’re serious about writing for publication, you have to be serious about learning both the craft and business of writing. BWRC is a great step in that plan!

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