Having a passion for history and flair for storytelling, Stacey Kayne strives to weave fact and fiction into a wild ride that can capture the heart. She will have four western romance novels available from Harlequin Historical this year. Stacey lives on a ranch near the Sierra Nevada Mountains with her husband of eighteen years and their two sons.
Awards: Four RWA Golden Heart finals and numerous regional contest wins.
Author Web site: www.staceykayne.com
BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Stacey: Jed knows he’s in for trouble when the widowed boardinghouse keeper he’s come to retrieve turns out to be a scantily clad saloon girl. He vows to protect Rachell and get her safely to California, after he takes care of the trouble on her tail by luring them to Shadow Canyon. As they face the feral wilderness of Utah and the man determined to keep Rachell’s voice in his saloon, it is Rachell’s innocent passion that becomes Jed’s greatest threat, threatening to bring the light of love into his shadowed soul.
BookEnds: How did you come to write this book?
Stacey: An American History college course was a major catalyst in my writing aspirations and completely responsible for unleashing the hero that led to Bride of Shadow Canyon. I had just gone back to college and bought my first computer, and while watching a documentary in my American History night class, Stacey-Vision kicked in. I had this strong visual of a woman in buckskins, surrounded by windswept foothills—I immediately began trying to figure her out: where was she from, why was she in danger, why was she sad, where was she going, what was she after, how was she going to get her man. . . ? For the fist time, I started jotting my thoughts onto paper as the story spun in my mind. That night I sat at my new/used computer and decided to try and type out my daydream. By the time the sun came up I had a hundred pages and the start of my first book. By the end of my history course, my first historical western romance novel was born.
While writing Bride of Shadow Canyon I discovered that an adventurous setting with ever-changing untamed scenery was a driving force of my imagination. My mind is constantly searching for ways to submerge my characters in the beauty and grandeur of the American West. And hey, what’s not to love about hunky, rugged cowboys?
BookEnds: What is your writing process like?
Stacey: A book usually emerges in my mind as a funny or high-tension scene—no telling where that scene will end up in the book, because I do absolutely nothing in a linear fashion. Once I have a solid vision and vague idea for the course of the story, I start throwing down the bones of the book . . . for me, that’s dialogue. I’ll sketch out the major turning points of the story, roughly one hundred pages of nothing but dialogue and a few placement tags here and there. Once I have a solid flow for the story and the voice and personality quirks of my characters, I’ll start fleshing it out until I end up with what I like to call—the chunky stuff. At this point, I start to mold and merge, bridging the chapters together and brushing in the scenery. I clean as I go—by the time I write the last word in the last scene (no telling what chapter that will be), the book is finished.
BookEnds: What was your road to published author like?
Stacey: Writing was more like a surprise detour. I ignored all the hazard signs and pressed the pedal to the metal 🙂 I’ve always been a daydreamer and used to wish I could find a job that would allow me to daydream all day . . . but I wasn’t a reader and I’d never written more than a term paper. I never guessed I would enjoy trying to pluck images from my mind and capture them on paper. It only took one night of watching my characters come to life on the screen to get me hooked. In 2001, when I realized I was trying to write a romance novel, I called up my mom and said, “Hey, can you bring me some of those books you read?” (It’s never too late to become a fan of romance!) I read at least a hundred novels that month, trying to unlock the rhythm of prose and dialogue. Over the next few months I began entering contests, a few months later I began winnings contests. I signed with an agent in January of 2002. When I finaled in the Golden Heart a couple months later, I made my career choice—I’d become a published author or go insane trying. No one told me that would be the year the bottom fell out on the western romance market *g*. After 4.5 years of trying, entering more contests than anybody should, and completing nine manuscripts, the insanity part was a near thing . . . but as I kept hearing over and over, persistence is the key.
BookEnds: What’s your next book? When and where should we look for it?
Stacey: Bride of Shadow Canyon is in bookstores everywhere. This title will have a follow-up late in the year, Bride of Vengeance. My third novel, Maverick Wild, will be out this fall, a follow-up to my debut novel, Mustang Wild, which was released in March.
BookEnds: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Stacey: 1. Get involved—join writers’ groups, network with other writers. There are great groups out there with wonderful resources for just about any genre. In addition to the advantages of networking and databases, having the support of a writing community, sharing successes and disappointments with other authors, is a huge bonus and really helps when the road gets long and bumpy.
2. Put your work out there—whether through critique partners, critique groups, or contests, get your work in the hands of readers. Personally, I was never comfortable in critique groups. I preferred the anonymity and no-holds-barred feedback of contests and the freedom to easily ditch feedback I didn’t agree with. The fact is, criticism is part of writing. Published or unpublished, not everyone is going to like our work. And that’s okay. A good book begins with the author’s passion—write the book that speaks to you.
3. Set short-term goals, give yourself deadlines—whether it’s a prospected complete date, agent submissions, or contest entries—mark the dates on a calendar and stick to them. It’s a great way to track progress and to keep moving forward. Above all, finish the book.
4. SUBMIT—you never know unless you try. To quote my pal Marlene’s sig line, “If at first you don’t succeed . . . try not to act astonished.” Start the next book and submit again.
5. Don’t lose sight of YOU. Writing requires hours of sitting in front of the computer, which is not so great for the cardiovascular system. Obsessive compulsive as I am, I found it quite impossible to make time for anything extra like exercise. After five years of full-time writing, it’s a scary thing to look down and realize you can count your finished manuscripts in weight gain—eesh. While talking plot with a few of my writing pals on the phone, we realized we all had headsets, a treadmill, and a need for more mobility. We formed the Sweaty Chat Sisters . . . teenagers aren’t the only ones who can tie up the party-line. For at least a half hour each day (okay, most days, a few days a week!), we talk plot, complain about stubborn characters, brainstorm, and walk . . . jog . . . lift weights . . . whatever gets the circulation grooving. Make time to get up, get out, and get sweaty.