Please welcome Author Stacey Covington-Lee to my blog today. Show her some love.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A: Like many women, I’m a busy, multi-tasking mom, wife, and care taker of my aging mom. As busy as my family keeps me, carving out time for my writing is also a priority. It’s the gift I give to myself. I’m also a sickle cell patient and domestic violence survivor, so helping to raise awareness for both is very important to me.
Q: What do you do when you are not writing?
A: When I’m not writing or taking care of my family, I love to read! That is an incredibly relaxing treat for me. I also enjoy time with my girlfriends and I might have a slight addiction to the AB POP game on my phone.
Q: Do you have a day job as well?
A: I do, I work part-time as the office manager for a small manufacturing company.
Q: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
A: I started writing seriously in 2005. I finished my first novel, The Knife in My Back, in 2006 and it was picked up by a small publishing company in 2009.
Q: How did you choose the genre you write in?
A: You know it’s funny, I never set out to write in a specific genre. I simply had what I thought was a great story line and started writing. Once it was done, Contemporary Fiction just happened to be the genre it fit best.
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: Queenie, they can come from virtually anywhere. I’ve heard a song lyric and had it inspire an entire novel. Ear hustling on a conversation that I could easily relate to at the time inspired my first book. Ideas come from dreams, true crime shows, life experience, there is no shortage of inspiration.
Q: Do you ever experience writer’s block?
A: I have, but thankfully, it’s very temporary and usually due to fatigue. When I was younger, I could work into the wee hours of the morning. Now that I’ve joined the 50 club, by midnight my brain starts shutting down. The words/ideas don’t flow when I’m super tired.
Q: Do you work with an outline, or just write?
A: I just write. I know myself too well to open online tools. I’ll end up distracted by other online stuff and lose focus.
Q: Is there any author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
A: Judy Blume was a huge influence on me growing up. Her books made me feel like I also had a voice and a story to tell. I wrote my first story, 120 plus pages longhand, when I was twelve. As an adult, I’ve had many literary influences, too many to name. I think that every writer should read the works of others to make themselves better.
Q: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
A: Before I got picked up by that small publisher I spoke of earlier, I used a company to self-publish. That book was a hot mess! The editing was horrible and the cover even worse. I wish I had slowed down to really learn about the publishing business. I could’ve saved myself a lot of money and annoyance. After that fiasco, the book was picked up by two separate independent publishers and I wouldn’t change that. It was a great learning experience that has served me well now that I am self-publishing again.
Q: How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
A: Social media is a wonderful tool. It allows me to reach thousands of readers that I may not have had access to otherwise. Amazon marketing, online literary magazines, and email newsletters are also great marketing tools.
Q: Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
A: No, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to either have my books published or publish them myself.
Q: Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
A: I’m so excited about my next project. It’s going to be a true love story and my first time dipping my toe into the Christian Romance genre. Staying true to myself, there will still be plenty of drama, but it will be a beautiful story that will hopefully drop before the holidays.
Q: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
A: The bulk of my content is imaginary, however, in my third novel, Bitter Taste of Love, I drew from real life experience with the sickle cell aspect. Because of stress, the main character finds out that she has sickle cell disease. This is something that people are born with and it’s unusual to find out about it as an adult, but that is how I learned that I had sickle cell. Also, my fourth novel, Hate the Way He Loves Me, is a powerful story of overcoming domestic violence. While it’s not my story, I too survived a brief marriage plagued by domestic violence and I wanted to give it the attention, the awareness that it deserves.
Q: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
A: It depends on the book. I have a favorite part in each one, but if I had to choose one part in one book, it would be the last two chapters of Hate the Way He Loves Me because it is so empowering. It shows how much of a conqueror one of the characters become.
Q: How did you come up with the title?
A: My latest release is a collection of short stories titled The Love That Lies Between Us. I chose that title because it represents exactly what the book is about. Each story represents the love that we have for various people in our lives and how we learn to ultimately love ourselves. The stories are all fictional, some are beautiful, some painful, some dramatic, but all have a focus on love.
Q: What project are you working on now?
A: I’m still working on the Christian Romance. I’m pouring so much into it and hope that it will be received with the love that it is being written with.
Q: Will you have a new book coming out soon?
A: Yes, I hope to release the Christian Fiction before the holidays. Absolutely no later than the first of the year.
Q: Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
A: I would love to revisit the character that everyone loves to hate, Tamika Williams from The Knife in My Back series. I’ve been asked numerous times to do another Tamika story and hopefully everything will fall into place so that I can eventually continue her story.
Q: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
A: The toughest criticism was when I received a 1-star review. Initially my little feelings were hurt, then I realized that not everyone will like or appreciate your work and that’s okay. The best compliments are the positive reviews, the supportive readers and book clubs, and most definitely the private messages that I get from readers saying how my book touched them or how it spoke to their current situation. That means everything.
Q: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
A: Whatever you do, stay true to yourself, your voice. Remember, it’s your story. Also, writing is the easy part, the promotion is the hard part. Get a business plan in order so that you’re ready to hit the ground running when the book is finished.
Q: Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
A: I’d like to say thank you for all the support, it means more than you’ll ever know. I’d like to invite everyone to follow me on social media and especially my FB group, Stacey’s Reading Sanctuary. It’s a private group where we discuss all kinds of life topics, post short stories, and discuss our book of the month. It is the place where positivity lives.