May 2020 – I have been following many wonderful authors on Twitter and Facebook. People that keep inspiring me and motivating me, while they work on their own projects and promotions. I’m curious to know who they are, where did they grow up, and how they handle their writing process and their everyday life. I also want to know how did they get to where they are.
I want you to meet another awesome author/writer whom I’ve invited to share a cup of coffee and a nice chat with me. I present to you author Stacey Agdern. I met Stacey on social media. We follow each other on Twitter, as we both are fans of the movies shown on the Hallmark Channel Network.
Stacey is from New York, and before being a writer, she was a romance bookseller. She does have a degree in International Law, but because of her love of books, she went into working as seller in a bookstore. She is a two time award winner for her genre specific book selling, and has given presentations on the effective use of booksellers at regional and national conferences.
Stacey has written for ‘HEA‘ (Happily Ever After) USA today’s online romance blog, Heroes and Heartbreakers, Criminal Element, Romance at Random, Romantic Times Magazine and Barbara Vey’s, Beyond Her Book, column at Publishers Weekly Online Site. She has been interviewed by the New York Times for her romance genre expertise and the phenomenal success of Fifty Shades of Grey.
She has published 3 romance anthologies, in collaboration with other authors: the Rogue Anthology, which includes Rogue Desire, Rogue Affair, Rogue Acts, and Rogue Hearts; the New York Empress Series (known as the hockey anthology) which includes Icing the Puck and Going All In; and Burning Bright: Four Chanukah Love Stories.
Stacey’s recent solo book, soon to be released, is Miracles and Menorahs. She told me all about it!
Here’s our conversation:
Welcome to Full of Coffee, Stacey! First, I want to know if you like coffee, and if you do, how do you prefer it?
- I love coffee 🙂 When at home, I like it with a packet of sweetener and just enough milk to cut some of the acid. But I also love sweeter drinks from any of the coffee chains. I love the gingerbread lattes and eggnog lattes, as well as a chai flavored with an espresso shot. I love iced coffee. I think the best way to say it is that I love the flavor and I’m open to trying anything that incorporates that flavor.
Tell me where did you grow up? Do you have any siblings?
- I grew up in the small town I live in now, Tarrytown, New York. I have a younger brother.
Did your childhood have any influence in your interest in reading or writing?
- My younger brother and I are both readers, as are my parents. We were encouraged, with weekly trips to the library where as a kid, I’d read half of the books we’d gotten on the way home. I read books of all sorts; fiction on fiction, stories from all of the world, history, sports stories. Stories about Jewish customs and kids like me. I remember when I opened ‘All of a kind family’ for the first time and I couldn’t stop reading that series.
When did you decide to give professional writing a try? Did it affect your personal life, your profession?
- I always wrote. Always. I wrote stories even when I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. As for when I decided to take writing seriously, as I was studying for graduate school exams, I opened a window in my word processing program and wrote stories. I think when I finished graduate school and couldn’t pass my licensing exam, but had managed to finish at least one book (which will never see the light of day), I decided that someone was trying to send me a message. So I stopped taking the licensing exam and started looking for jobs I could do while writing. I spent almost ten years working in an independent bookstore as the store’s romance buyer, until the closing of the store. I worked in grant writing and wrote articles and reviews for a whole bunch of different places. All the while I was learning craft, meeting other writers and writing stories.
You have worked as collaborator in a few romance stories, published as anthologies. How has been your experience writing and promoting those collaborations?
- All of what I write comes from what I love. The anthologies I’ve worked on have also been a part of that. The hockey anthologies started when I’d realized that two of my closest writing friends were also hockey fans. And I suggested that we should write an anthology about our favorite sport. One of my friends had to drop out after the first one so we continued on and added a writer team that I’d known for a while. As of now, there are two published, with a third on it’s way in June 🙂 . As a result, publishing them and promoting them has been a joy – what’s not to love about collaborating and talking about one of my favorite sports with some of my favorite people!
- Burning Bright was life changing for sure. I got the chance to participate in the first anthology about my favorite holiday published by one of the biggest traditional publishers. I adore Avon books. And my very first experience with traditional publishing came with a top notch team, some of my writing idols and my favorite holiday 🙂
- The Rogue Anthologies came out at difficult times. I focused my angst and my fear onto my characters, and I wrote them the solutions that I didn’t have in real life. Even if I couldn’t give them a solution, I gave them something that could make them smile. I was able to collaborate with some of my writing idols, with people whose books I enjoyed reading and who have some brilliant thoughts on the industry. It was an amazing process, writing four shorts in a span of time with publishing dynamos. I will always treasure this experience. Always. I’m also currently writing a wrap up to this series, which will publish at the end of may in a friend’s newsletter. More details on this to come.
Let’s talk about your first (solo) published book Miracles and Menorahs! How was the experience of getting this book published?
- So after writing the four very angsty shorts, I found myself exhausted. Tired. Writing is very much an escape for me, so writing stories driven by my fears was a different experience entirely. I needed something else, a fuzzy blanket to wrap myself in. That’s when I really started watching Hallmark movies. Regularly, nightly, new ones, old ones. But I was really and especially drawn to the Christmas movies. Not just because they were wonderful to watch, but because they soothed my writers brain. And soothing my brain watching a Christmas movie, I started thinking about my favorite holiday: Hanukkah. And I wondered what a Hanukkah story, a single title, full fledged, Hanukkah story would look like. The story I wrote in answer to that question, the fuzzy blanket I wrapped around my brain was ‘Miracles and Menorahs’. It’s about a Hanukkah festival, and how people celebrate Hanukkah; about lights in the darkness and the joy of community. And it’s a romance between a bookish, Hanukkah festival loving heroine and a quiet, sculptor hero who loves Hanukkah but not the Festival.
- I couldn’t be happier working with Tule Publishing. They love my voice, their editorial is brilliant and the cover they gave me is the most amazing thing. They also have faith in me as a writer and I cannot be more thankful for that.
Any other future project you want to talk about?
- I do! So we have ‘The Fifth Question’ the wrap up for my Rogue stories coming first at the end of May, ‘Roughing it’ the hockey anthology in June, and then October will see ‘Miracles and Menorahs’ release. There might be some other things coming too 🙂
Excellent news! I have to say I cannot wait to see all those out! I have the pleasure of showing the reveal of the cover of ‘Miracles and Menorahs’ for Stacey’s book!
To check more about Stacey, please visit her website https://www.staceyagdern.com/, follow her on Twitter @nystacey https://www.twitter.com/nystacey, and follow her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/staceyaagdern.
I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s a great deal for me to get to know all of these amazing writers. Stacey’s story also interest me as I think we all should learn about other religions and traditions. Getting to know other writers helps me find my own inspiration and create my own process.
I’ll keep reading, I’ll keep writing, I’ll keep dreaming! Thanks for reading. Until the next one! It’s time for my tacita de café. Salud!
Para versión en Español, vea https://fullofcoffee.blog/2020/05/03/una-tacita-de-cafe-con-la-autora-stacey-agdern/