Author, journalist and writing coach Stacy Hawkins Adams recently spoke with Magic City Momma about Finding Home, the final book in her Winds of Change series.
Tell me about your book, Finding Home.
In Finding Home, readers will meet Jessica Wilson Arnold, a superstar professional speaker whose husband and closest friends feel the strain of her ambitions, while she’s hungry for more. When a medical crisis forces her to slow down, Jessica must admit that her life isn’t as perfectly packaged as she wants to believe, and the quest to hold onto everything that matters most leaves her at a life-changing crossroad. Readers will journey with her as she decides whether to renew and rely on her faith or cling to a path that threatens disaster.
Why did you decide to write it?
First, I must share that I wrote this book to keep a promise to my readers who have been waiting for this novel for several years. I didn’t want to leave them hanging! Finding Home is the third and final book in my Winds of Change women’s fiction series, which centers on three sisters in one family, and how the impact of growing up as a preacher’s daughters in a small southern town has affected their self-image and their choices as adults. Each book in the series is written as a stand-alone title, so readers won’t feel lost or as if you’ve missed something by starting with Finding Home first; but the other two books in the series are Coming Home (published in 2012) and Lead Me Home (published in 2013).
With my “writer’s hat” on, the reason I wrote this book, with this particular plot, was to encourage women who are living with a chronic illness, and ultimately, struggling with any life-defining challenge that is beyond their control. My main character, Jessica, happens to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis; but I hope that readers dealing with any type of long-term health issue or personal challenge, and those who care for and love them, can gain understanding and hope from reading this book. I hope it informs or reminds readers that inner joy is possible in every season, and that God’s grace, help and miracles still abound, if we’ll look for them in big and small ways, in every aspect of our lives.
Why did you decide to write Christian fiction?
I didn’t make a conscious decision to become a Christian fiction writer; my goal was to write the most authentic, heartfelt novels I could, without pursuing a particular genre. But as the saying goes, you write what you know; so because I’m a person of faith, that’s what poured out of me. It was instinctive to write stories that featured characters who are in tune with their faith or struggling with matters of their faith—as people do every day—and my stories began to take shape with characters grappling with these kinds of issues in the early 2000s, at the height of Christian fiction’s popularity.
Tell me about your publishing journey.
My journey is a bit unusual in that I landed my first book deal as a result of my work as a journalist. While I was working on the manuscript for my first novel, Speak to My Heart, I was a full-time reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper in Virginia, where I still reside. In addition to writing news stories about social issues, family and children’s issues and nonprofits, I penned a weekly faith-based column for the newspaper called Inspirations. In one of my columns, I chronicled a local woman and her journey of faith, and the story was picked up by a national magazine. An acquisitions editor happened to read about her in that magazine and after contacting her for a book deal, he also reached out to me. A year and a half later, in 2004, the manuscript I had been working on sporadically for three years became my first nationally published novel—Speak to My Heart.
What advice do you have for people interested in publishing a book?
While my path to publication was unusual, I’ve now taught or spoken at enough writers’ conferences to know that an excellent route to getting traditionally published is to attend conferences where you’ll have the opportunity to meet editors or agents who might be interested in your work. I also recommend researching to find the agents you believe would be best-suited for representing your long-term author goals (including, but beyond your first book) and following those people on social media. You can learn more about their interests and the types of books they represent, and you can possibly interact with them and begin creating a respectful connection.
I also encourage writers to explore the self-publishing model, because sometimes this is a good alternative, if not a better option, for their particular book. In this day and time when it’s so easy to self-publish and do it well, it’s worth considering, as long as they’re willing to invest in professional editing and book cover designs and give some serious thought and effort to marketing their books for success.
What is the biggest lesson you want readers to learn from your stories?
What a great question. I’m not sure I have one lesson that’s the same for each of my nine novels (and one nonfiction book), because I try to tailor specific lessons to each particular story and character journey. If I have to choose one big lesson, I’d say I want my readers to put down each of my books with a renewed sense of hope that your life, and your particular journey through life, matters deeply to God, and He is willing to abide with you as you stretch and grow into the person He has called you to be.
What advice do you have for women who juggle raising a family with pursuing their dreams?
My advice is to understand that life happens in seasons, and to do your best to embrace and enjoy each one you’re experiencing. This means when you’re busy raising little ones, or prioritizing work and not finding much time to write (or pursue some other goal), it’s okay to take baby steps in that direction. If you can, make those small steps consistent, by choosing one morning a week to get up and write, or one Friday evening or Saturday doing something in pursuit of your passion. Feed those interests in whatever small way you can in your busiest seasons, so that when your time commitments change, you’re ready to roar into a new stage and flourish in your purpose.
What’s next for Stacy Hawkins Adams?
Well, talk about seasons, I’m in one now where I’m preparing to see my daughter off to college in the fall, just as my son begins high school, and I’ve decided that after releasing Finding Home I’m going to take a sabbatical from writing fiction. I’m going to spread the word far and wide about Finding Home and my other nine books over the next few years; but instead of tucking myself away in my proverbial “writing cave” to focus on more fiction, I’m going to shift gears and write more nonfiction— essays, columns and articles. I hope readers will appreciate this aspect of my writing as well, and will continue to enjoy and be inspired by it. I’ve been a professional journalist for more than 20 years; so this alternative to creating characters will still feed my love of writing for the next few years without requiring me to miss being present during these important parenting years, while I’m juggling a ‘day job’ that I love (as a communications and marketing professional), family commitments and writing. More fiction is definitely coming; it will just simmer for a few years! I hope Finding Home is a novel that deeply satisfies readers until then.
Do you have anything you would like to add?
I hope readers will enjoy Finding Home and my other books, and wind up caring about the characters so much that in the process, they begin caring more deeply about their own personal growth and their own journeys to deeper joy and greater faith. And I’d also like to thank my current (and future) readers for investing in my books and spending time with my characters. I couldn’t do what I do without them.