Friday, September 13, 2013

An interview with Stacy Hawkins Adams

Note from Alexis: Who would have thought that only two years after discovering one of my favorite books, I would have the opportunity to interview its author? Stacy Hawkins Adams is an author/columnist/speaker with a background in Journalism and a heart for touching people through her words. 

Without further ado, here’s the interview:

Alexis: Stacy, I am so honored to be able to interview you for my blog! Two years ago when I first picked up your book (Worth A Thousand Words) from the Christian fiction shelves at Barnes & Noble, I had no idea that I would, in the future, have the opportunity to talk with you and write an interview for my blog, “God is Love”! Tell me, how does it feel for you as a published author who has done many book signings, to connect with your readers?

Stacy: Well, first of all, thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. I’m really honored that you’ve read my work and that you patiently pursued me because I know I had a couple of deadlines that preceded our interview.

But for me, I guess connecting with my readers is so exciting. The exciting part is I love hearing firsthand how a particular reader has been impacted or has enjoyed a book or several books. It means a lot to know that my writing is making a difference. And then I guess I’m humbled because a lot of times, readers will tell me that the book did not just entertain them, but it changed them for the better so that really reminds me that I’m a vessel for the written word and that inspires me.

Alexis: So I see that you are not only an author, but a columnist and speaker. Tell me about how you got started and which you were first (author, columnist or speaker). Please tell me about the journey.

Stacy: Well, I would say columnist first. I’m one of those writers who knew as a child that I loved writing and wanted to one day write books and when I started researching careers, I discovered Journalism and decided to have a steady career. I worked in the newspaper industry for about 14 years. I spent my last six years working at the daily newspaper here in Richmond, Va.
Around early 2000 I started working on my first novel, because while I loved journalism, I still had this desire to write fiction, to write creatively.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your background. Tell me about your family, heritage and your history.

Stacy: I grew up in Arkansas in a town called Pine Bluff and I knew from about age five or six years that I loved writing. When I learned how to read, I developed a deep love for writing and everyone in my family recognized it and championed me. My teachers cheered me on…All these people along my journey inspired me as a writer, telling me I could do it, really receiving what I wrote well, so I could even see as a child the impact that my words had on people.

I went on to Jackson State University and received a full scholarship there. I majored in Mass Communications and minored in Political Science. I was the Editor-in-Chief of the campus newspaper there for two years before I graduated.

I really loved Journalism and was sure that I had chosen the right path, which I had for that season, but about five years into it, that’s kind of when I started getting the bug to return to writing the fiction in addition to writing the nonfiction. I started talking about writing my first novel. But it took me about three years to actually get it finished.

My work as a journalist actually opened the door for me to get my first book published. I remember like it was yesterday I had written the third draft of my first novel, but the agent who was tentatively interested still thought it wasn’t ready. So I put the manuscript on a shelf in my closet and issued this challenge to God that if he wanted it to be published, to let me know. So I had done the work and then I had set it aside and surrendered it to Him and in His own time, in His time, He brought it back to life. In February 2003 I received a call from an acquisitions editor who had connected with a woman I had previously featured in my newspaper column. He wanted me to help her write a book proposal, and also offered to look at anything I had written.

Alexis: How did you get a literary agent? What advice do you have for aspiring writers who want to be published authors?

Stacy: I was extremely fortunate that I had the book deal first, which made it easier to land an agent. However, I encourage most aspiring authors to get the latest edition of the Writers Market Guide— they publish one every year—research the different genres and find the agent for the genre that you’re interested in. At this point, you can Google them, you can get on their Twitter feeds, you can find out if they have blogs and Facebook pages and kind of follow them and see what they’re saying to their audiences and make sure that this is a person you’d want to represent (your work).

E-mailing and querying— I don’t say not to do that, I think that sometimes that is the best route, but if you can attend a writer’s conference where the agent you’re interested in will be presenting, or begin communicating with them online, that gives you a personal connection that always helps.

Alexis: What year did you creative writing career begin?

Stacy: My first novel was published in 2004.

Alexis: As a writer, what’s your greatest challenge?

Stacy: One of the challenges is making sure I keep the writing priority, that I put it on my schedule and that I honor the time and the second thing is to find ways to avoid distraction. You have to really prioritize and I tell myself this, When I do this I’m doing it for a season, so I call it going into my “writer’s cave” and all my friends and family know when I’m going into my writer’s cave so they know I probably won’t be calling or seeing them much for a period of time.

Alexis: Who’s your publisher?

Stacy: I’ve been published by two different companies. My first publisher was Revell Books, which is part of Baker Publishing Group. They published my first five books, and then my last four books have been published by Zondervan which is a division of HarperCollins. So I have written 8 novels and one nonfiction, spiritual devotional book. My first book was called Speak to My Heart and I developed a speech around that called “Who Speaks to Your Heart?”

Alexis: How did you prepare for that (opening the door and to hear God clearly)?

Stacy: I don’t think there’s a one-time preparation process for learning to hear God clearly. It is ongoing, and ebbs and flows based on how our relationship with God sometimes ebbs and flows – if we get too busy to pray, or for some reason pull away from God, maybe we won’t hear Him as clearly as we once did – just like with any relationship. I think it’s a process and when we do take the time to meditate and study the Word, we hear Him. Sometimes we do have to sit quietly and they’ll be a quiet thought that He drops into our spirit. Sometimes there’s a question to ponder or an answer we’re seeking and it will come from another person—someone will say just the right thing—and you think, “How did that person know I needed to hear that?” Or you’ll hear a song, or it’ll be a book you read or you open the Bible and you’ll land on just the Scripture you need to read…He speaks to us in different ways but if we’re not open to that, and we’re not ready for it, we don’t always recognize that it’s Him speaking.

Alexis: You’ve said that like me, your need to write is as strong as your need to breathe. Tell me more of what that means to you.

Stacy: Writing is such a huge part of who I am, it's the thing that gives me life. If I weren’t able to write, I’d feel like a limb was missing almost because that’s just the way I communicate best with people. I know it’s a gift because I see the impact that it has on other people. So for me, not being able to write would be like not having that gift of touching other people.

Alexis: Your characters sometimes struggle with their faith and face situations that challenge their faith in God. As a creative writer, I’m sure you know the rule of creative fiction is to “write what you know”. Have any of your characters’ stories been inspired by your own life experience?

Stacy: No. And people ask me that all the time. People think I’m every one of my characters—they think I’m Rachelle, they think I’m Indigo—I think probably a little bit of me is in each character, probably a seed of me is in every character that I write. For me, because I started out writing an inspirational newspaper column first…it was inspiring to hear from readers saying, “I don’t even go to church but I’m reading your column.” It helped me figure out that I wanted to speak to that person in my books – the person unsure of the role faith should play in his or her life, or the person angry with God, or who thinks you have to be perfect to be a Christian. That’s my ministry as a novelist. And when I’m writing my novels, I have at least one character struggling with faith and one character who deeply believes, but there’s a question like, “Wait a minute God, where are you in this?”

I feel like a lot of people reading my column when I worked for the daily newspaper, even though they didn’t want to do the “church thing” or the “God thing”, they were searching for Him in their own way, and I think a lot of people are in that place in their lives even today.

Alexis: Remembering all of the books you’ve written thus far, do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why are they your favorite?

Stacy: I think I love all of my characters so it’s hard to say if I have a favorite character. But I think my favorite book has been Watercolored Pearls which was published in 2007. I wrote the draft for that book in three weeks and that book is really about these women who are striving, striving, striving to do everything right and finally this older woman sits them down and says, “You know what? You’re okay right where you are. You’re going to be fine. You’ve got to work through these challenges because you’re going to be a pearl at the end of this journey.”

Alexis: Do you feel God speaks to you through your writing?

Stacy: I think He definitely speaks through my writing. 
I try to make myself open so he can speak through my writing and then there are times when I will go back and read something I’ve written and then He’s speaking to me.

Alexis: What would you say to someone who is about to give up on their dreams? When they’re at that place when they’re like, “Yeah, this is my dream but these are my practical needs—I’ve got to pay my bills and support my family.”

Stacy: I would say that life comes in seasons and in some seasons we have to surrender our dreams…Sometimes we have to surrender our dreams but that doesn’t mean that we stop praying about it, we never stop looking for avenues to revise and get back on the path. If there’s a desperate dream in your heart, and it’s good and purposeful, then God planted it there for a reason. Sometimes the things we want most can be the most challenging to obtain. But then when we do receive it, the challenges make us cherish it even more.

Alexis: Okay, we’re almost done! Thanks for your patience in this interview process. As we close this interview, I’d like for you to complete the following fragments (Words by Alexis in bold font, words by Stacy not in bold):

My greatest hope is that my life and my writing encourage everyone else to walk in hope and joy and faith and live their dreams.

My biggest fear is that I will not live a life that is pleasing to God. No one is perfect, but I want to be called a woman after God’s own heart, just as David in the Bible was called a man’s after God’s own heart.

My quietest dreams are simple and pure, and ones that I savor between me and God, since He is in divine control. I leave it to Him to decide whether they should become reality. When He brings them to pass, my responsibility then is to share the testimony!

As an author, I want my readers to laugh, cry and grow with my characters.

# # #

Author biography: Stacy Hawkins Adams is an award-winning author, freelance columnist and inspirational speaker. Her eight nationally-published women's fiction novels and one nonfiction book entertain and transform readers with plots and themes that highlight matters of faith, personal growth, and relevant social issues. 

Stacy’s most recent novels include Coming Home, a Library of Virginia fiction award nominee and a 2012 Target stores “Recommended Read,” and Lead Me Home, which was released in July 2013.

Stacy, a former staff writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, currently pens a freelance parenting column for the newspaper twice a month. She regularly speaks to corporate, civic and faith-based groups about purpose and relevance, and occasionally teaches writing classes at the University of Richmond and through book coaching teleseminars via

To learn more about Stacy or read excerpts of her books, visit,, or

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thankful Thursday: My first book

It’s Thursday and I am thankful for the publishing of my first book, Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories!

Words cannot describe the delight my heart and soul feels in finally completing my journey to become a published author!

Ever since I was a little girl, I DREAMED of this day and now it is here!

I don’t even know where to begin to share my sheer delight with you! But I will try by sharing a shorter version of my publishing journey:

My dream has always been to write books and so when I arrived in college, I dove head first toward developing my skills as a writer and to keep this story short, I will tell you that I prayed a lot about it and under God’s direction, studied Print Journalism. Soon I found that in addition to my creative writing pursuits, I wanted to become a journalist not only because I love listening to people and learning from their stories during the interview process but also because my second passion is photography and I love being able to capture life’s most memorable moments on camera. So I graduated with a degree in Print Journalism but did not land my dream job at a newspaper or magazine apart from a summer internship which did not end in me being hired.

My mom is an educator and after seeing my struggle, she suggested that I try substitute teaching because since I have a degree, they would pay me and I could stay financially afloat. So I faced my fears (thinking: “Manage a classroom of kids? All by myself?”) and absolutely fell in LOVE with the kids! So, after a year of working as a substitute teacher, I decided to become trained in teaching so I could be a teacher and a writer. I was exhilarated to be accepted into an alternative certification program which is geared to transition people who do not have a degree in Education, into the world of being a classroom teacher. And long story short, I failed. I loved the kids, the kids loved me and most of the parents applauded my work, but it just did not work out and so in June 2011, the door to education closed.

Now the backstory is that one day during the Spring Semester 2011, I was home sick and my dreams to become a published author were dancing in my head. So I decided to get out of bed, go to my computer and do some serious research on how to become a published author. And of course, I started off by looking up all of the big names in the publishing industry…Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Harper Collins, etc. Somehow during this search--
looking back, I see it was God directing me--, I found a self-publishing company called Crossbooks which is, according to their website, "an imprint of B&H Publishing Group, the trade publishing division of LifeWay Christian Resources." It was my first introduction to my destiny. So I called and unlike all of the other big names in the industry, less than five minutes later, a representative from Crossbooks who we will call M, returned my call.

I poured my creative heart out to M, sharing my dream to be a published author of books that inspire people to know their true value, educate and point them to Jesus Christ. And I explained what I had been doing all day—trying to get in with the big names in the traditional publishing industry. M kindly explained to me that it’s tough for new authors to get into the traditional publishing industry because traditional publishers tend to only want people who are: already famous, best-selling authors of multiple books or have a blog following of over 1,000 people. Since I did not meet those standards, M suggested I take the self-publishing route to my dream. He also told me how Lifeway and B&H Publishing have big-name authors on their roster such as Beth Moore. Really? Beth Moore? I thought. Tell me no more, I’m in! And so I signed up for a publishing package with Crossbooks.

To keep this story short, the main challenge in my self-publishing journey was money because when you go this route, you have to finance the process as opposed to traditional publishing where they take care of all the costs for you. But the benefit with Crossbooks as a self-publishing company is they, as far as I know, offer all the services of a traditional publisher and you still get to keep the rights to your book. God made a way for me financially and at first, I thought my book would be published by Christmas 2011. But then I was advised by a well-known Christian author to make sure I have a book editor go through my book before I publish it instead of relying on my own editing skills because if I want my book to be taken seriously, I need to have it professionally edited.

God helped me find an excellent freelance editor named Sally whose special skill is in knowing how to edit an author’s book without removing their “voice” or messing with their writing style. God made a way for me to pay my editor and she sent my book back to me with all of the suggested edits. I was overwhelmed because she wanted for me to change entire scenes, character names, places and so much more of my book—okay not that much but at the time it seemed that way—and so I did not touch my manuscript for all of 2012.

So what changed between 2012 and now? Earlier this year (Winter 2013), I had a talk with one of my pastors and I shared my news that I was working on a book project. Before then, I had not told anyone outside of immediate family. And immediately, my pastor admonished me, “Alexis! Why didn’t you tell me before that you were working on a book project? THIS could be the book that puts you on the map! THIS could be the book that launches your dreams to be a professional writer! You need to get this finished!” And then he added, “A lot of times, we sit around waiting for God to move in our lives when God is waiting for US to MOVE!”

And so I moved! One weekend in March 2013, I sat at my computer and tackled the content edits to my book and surprisingly, finished it all during that weekend. And my project just started moving forward from there: I resubmitted my manuscript to my editor, she applauded my work and performed the copy/line edit and sent it back to me for proofreading; the three talented professionals whom I asked to write an endorsement for my book all read my manuscript and sent their endorsements to me in a timely manner; my preferred book designer, Brenda McClearen, created my DREAM cover for my book and my book went into the final stages of production with Crossbooks in August 2013.

And then by surprise, I found out on the evening of September 7, that my book had gone LIVE a few weeks earlier than I thought it would which was great news!

So here I am, a newly published author and I am so grateful to God for taking me on this journey and making a dream of my heart come true!

All I have to say to you now is, God is AWESOME! And my pastor was RIGHT, sometimes we are waiting for God to move but not doing anything about it on our end. So if you are in a similar place where I was—overwhelmed by the work required to make your dream come true—I challenge you to MOVE! Trust in God and go with it! If it’s meant for you as part of God’s plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11), it WILL happen BUT you have to WORK for it and keep in tune with God through His gift to us, prayer.

I’d love for you to buy my book! It’s available on,, and you can also order it through my official website,!

Thank you for reading this testimony in its entirety! I hope and pray that God will make a way for you in whatever you may be going through and that God will bless you with your realizing that your GREATEST dream has already come true—you are LOVED, by GOD

I encourage you to share your dreams with the One who loves you most (God) and to trust Him to, in His perfect timing, make it happen!



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Reminders of God's Love

It's Thursday and I'm thankful for reminders of God's LOVE for me and you and honestly? Every single human that's ever existed and will exist! God LOVES you! SO MUCH!

Okay, here's the story behind my message: Earlier this week, I was talking with one of my aunts who lives in another country. She's new to Skype and was eager to try it out so I gave her a few pointers over the phone and eventually, we were able to see each other on our computers using our web cameras through the free online service of Skype. At first, I didn't want to turn on the camera on my computer which would enable my aunt to see my face because I was having a bad hair day. So, I wrote a message to her in the chat box of Skype saying that I was having a "bad hair day" and she wrote back saying, "The hair doesn't matter." And there it was, in those four words, a lesson point that reminded me of how God sees us.

God loves us, period. It doesn't matter if we're having a bad hair day or just stepped out of the salon with our tresses looking like a movie star's. It doesn't matter if you're struggling with your weight, battling an illness, suffering from a breakup with your significant other, or feeling like you're losing the battle to stay positive and enjoy life. Whoever you are, whatever you're going through, KNOW THIS- GOD LOVES YOU! And He will NEVER leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). TRUST!

Just like my Auntie who told me that the appearance of my hair does not matter, she just wants to see her niece and connect via a conversation over Skype, GOD sees you and LOVES you just as you are and He wants to spend time with you regardless of your condition. Remember, God is in the restoration business: He can take your mess and produce a message that will transform your life and change your world. He can turn your trials into triumph. He can help you overcome addiction. He can help renew your perspective on life when negativity gets the best of you. And most importantly, He and only HE can save your soul and ensure your presence in eternity.

Doesn't that sound beautiful? Beyond the beauty, there's truth.

I am so grateful that God sent a reminder of His love for me through my Auntie's message and I pray that today, God will send a reminder of His love to you. How He will do it? I don't know. But when He does it, you WILL know! :)

God bless you!