Monday, March 7, 2011

Childhood Clues Set the Path for a Mystery Writer

Stacy Juba is the author of the mystery novels Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and Sink or Swim (Mainly Murder Press), as well as the patriotic children’s picture book The Flag Keeper. Her young adult paranormal thriller Dark Before Dawn will be released by Mainly Murder Press in January 2012. She is a former journalist with more than a dozen writing awards to her credit.

When I speak at schools about being an author, I always remind the children to pay attention to their favorite hobbies as they provide clues about what might make them happy as an adult. For example, a boy who loves to draw will probably still enjoy sketching as an adult - if he allows himself time to pursue it. Taking a half hour to draw after a long day of work might give him great relaxation. A girl who loves sports might grow up and do some coaching, or she may simply find that her stress subsides when she sits down to watch a big game on TV. 

Sometimes, our childhood hobbies even turn into adult careers. I wrote my first story in third grade, and by fifth grade, I was winning writing contests and developing my own mystery series.  Below is a short excerpt from one of my many childhood mystery stories, written when I was 11 years old, titled The Secret of the Sea Falcon:

It was a cool day in May. A young woman of about eighteen years of age was waiting on the docks of Newport Beach for her boating teacher, Candy.

The girl’s name was Leslie Parker. She was a tall willowy redhead with a peaches and cream complexion.  Leslie stared into the sea green water. She knew she had a few days off from work owed her and was thinking of taking her first trip to New York.

Suddenly, she heard an ear piercing scream. It had come from Candy’s boat, The Sea Falcon.  Leslie raced toward it. Before entering, she pulled a gun out of her leather purse. Candy had given the pocketbook to her for Christmas some time ago. Leslie was a police rookie who worked for the Newport police force. Her father was the respected chief. Leslie cautiously pushed open the door to the boathouse where the Sea Falcon was kept. Candy was lying unconscious on the floor. Soon, a low, barely audible moan came from Leslie’s friend.  Her eyes then fluttered open.

Not bad for an 11-year-old, right? Funny, all my heroines back then had peaches and cream complexions, were 18 year old sleuths, and carried guns. Today, I'm writing about  Cassidy Novak and Kris Langley  - they don't have peaches and cream complexions, but I think Leslie Parker would have liked them anyway. If you'd like to check out much more recent excerpts, from my published  novels Sink or Swim and Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, please visit these links: and

What hobbies did you enjoy as a child? Do you still make room for them in your life?
Stacy is having a Buzz My Books Contest where she will be giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card (2 if she reaches 500 blog followers during the promotion.) The link is at  
It is going on till March 19 and is open in the U.S. If you tweet Stacy's Unpredictable Muse post or share it on a site such as Facebook, head on over to Stacy's contest post and let her know in the comments that you shared her article from The Unpredictable Muse. She will give you an extra entry in the gift card contest for each share and you can also follow the instructions in her post for additional simple ways to gain entries.


Unknown said...

Thank you for hosting me, Ellis! I will check in later in case anyone has questions or comes to share their own childhood hobbies.

Pauline Alldred said...

The child is father of the man is what I heard growing up. Also, the child is mother of the woman, I think. I won two competitions critiquing movies shown for children at a local cinema. My prize was free tickets for my parents to see movies of their choice. I was so proud to accompant my parents to see free movies. While I didn't end up as a screen writer (or not yet anyway), my writing is very visual and I think that comes from watching movie classics.

Loni Emmert said...

As a child I loved to bake, especially cup cakes and cookies and once dreamed of owning my own bakery. I also enjoyed candle making and, by high school, writing stories.

Stacy Juba said...

I love that, Pauline - the child is father of the man and mother of the woman. That's a fun story about the free tickets to the movies.

Thanks for sharing, Loni. I used to love to bake in my Easy Bake Oven. Candle- making sounds fun -- you'll have to get yourself a kit at a craft store as a break from all the writing and book promotion!

Ellis Vidler said...

If I couldn't play outside, I read or wrote stories. I loved Tarzan, Nancy Drew, Albert Payson Terhune's dog stories, and L M Montgomery. I never cooked, and I'm only a little better now. I hope the stories are a lot better. :-)

Stacy Juba said...

I loved Nancy Drew and I read all the Anne of Green Gables books also. I had so many books that one time my whole bookshelf crashed down onto the floor!

Kaye George said...

How nice that you saved your childhood stories! I remember mine, but I don't have them anywhere. I enjoyed it!

Unknown said...

Hi Kaye, I have a whole box full of them. I find them very amusing! I have some more excerpts on my blog in the category Blast from the Past. I have a couple more typed up that I'll run at some point. Some of them I remember writing, and some I don't. It's funny as I used to be so obsessive about my handwriting and every sentence looking perfect - now I just scribble!