How did you two meet?
Stacey: We were both mentors in Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars, a writer’s contest where mentors choose an unagented writer to work with to polish the writer’s manuscript for an agent pony show. Stephanie had the highest number of submissions, and I remember thinking, who is this rock star?
Stephanie: That’s so funny because I remember being intimidated by Stacey. Stacey is one of the sweetest people I know, but I’d heard of her book, UNDER A PAINTED SKY (which had a different title at the time), and I thought she was so much cooler than I was. I had no idea why she would want to be friends with me.
Stephanie, as a writing teacher, what is the most important thing you stress about writing to your students?
Stephanie: I don’t know if this is the most important thing that I stress when it comes to writing, but I feel as if I’m always telling my students to slow down. Many of them are so afraid of boring readers they rush their writing—they neglect their setting and their world building, or they don’t take time to show what their characters are thinking. I feel as if a lot of people suffer from the misconception that details slow things down—and sometimes they can—but I think it’s often the details that bring stories to life. So, I am always telling my students to flesh things out and make everything a little bit bigger.
Stacey: Piping in here to say that I love that advice. We’re constantly being told to make our writing fast and pacey, and writers are afraid that details will slow the story down. But I think you can do both at the same time by timing the giving of the details when they’re most needed, and using an emotional lens to describe things.
JJ: I also love that advice! I think I have the opposite problem; I overwrite. I spend a lot of time cutting words during revisions…
Stacey, what was the most unexpected thing about the publishing process you came across that you don’t think enough people know about?
Stacey: If I’m being honest, I would have to say the insecurity. There are so many steps along the way of getting published, and each step is rife with the opportunity to compare yourself with what others are doing/having done for them/achieving. I think the visibility the Internet provides is a grand thing. All the friendships and connections I’ve made with other writers and readers is probably the best thing about being published. But at the same time, that visibility can be a source of insecurity, especially during list season (this is when bloggers and industry professionals publish season’s ‘best of’ lists). If you don’t make a list that all your friends are on, it’s human to wonder why. It’s important to have our own personal markers of success going into the game.
Tell me about your friendship. How and why do you work together?
Stephanie: Sometimes I’m amazed Stacey and I can work together at all, because I’m pretty sure we spend most of our time laughing. Of course, I think that’s also one of the reasons we make such a good team, because it never feels as if we’re working. Another reason we work so well together is because we trust each other. Stacey is one of the first people I go to for advice, she always says what I need to hear, and she’s usually right about things.
Stacey: We teamed up to mentor in Pitch Wars last year and made a bunch of videos on the craft of writing, and may end up doing something like that here, as we had so much fun doing them.
What about the other would surprise people?
Stephanie: Stacey is one of the most generous people I know. She’s a former food critic, so whenever I visit her she takes me to the most interesting restaurants. One of the last restaurants we went to had this warning on label on the table:
Stacey also loves Star Wars—maybe even more than I do. When she got married she walked down the aisle to the Star Wars theme song.
JJ: Um…that is the MOST AMAZING THING EVER.
Stacey: There are things about Stephanie I am sworn to secrecy never to reveal. But I can tell you that Stephanie is a fabulous baker, loves to wear pink, and, like me, owns a large collection of hats. Also, Stephanie has an amazing positive energy around her. As writers, we need to have friends who lift us up. She does that for me!
Stephanie: Right back at you, Stacey!
And there you have it, folks! Please join me in welcoming these two wonderful ladies to PubCrawl!
STACEY LEE is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul. A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, wrangles children, and writes YA fiction.
STEPHANIE GARBER believes that Whole Foods is the Disneyland of grocery stores, and she loves the real Disneyland because it’s the one place on earth where it feels as if the fantastical stories she loves to write about could actually come to life. She writes young adult fantasy, and she also teaches creative writing a private college in northern California.