Tuesday, May 18, 2021

City Stars: MSU alumna discusses winning on ‘Jeopardy,’ new book

April 12, 2021
<p>Laura Portwood-Stacer on &quot;Jeopardy&quot; on Monday, March 8, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)</p>

Laura Portwood-Stacer on "Jeopardy" on Monday, March 8, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)

After a successful stint on “Jeopardy,” Michigan State alumna Laura Portwood-Stacer is readying the release of her new book.

Portwood-Stacer appeared on the competition quiz show in early March, where she accumulated $42,601 across her two-day winning streak. 

After taking the online quiz for years, Portwood-Stacer said the opportunity to appear on the show came out of nowhere.

She had just moved back to Los Angeles after living there through graduate school, where she was able to audition and make it onto the show after applying once before in the mid-2000s.

She appeared on three episodes, winning two, and was able to successfully knock appearing on the show off her bucket list.

“It had been a long-standing item on my bucket list,” Portwood-Stacer said. “So, it was surreal that it got to happen … It was really great. It was definitely one of the best things I’ve ever gotten to do.”

While attending MSU in the early 2000s, Portwood-Stacer was a resident assistant in Mason-Abbot for two years, and she said she was active in a lot of different on-campus activities that gave her a sense of community on campus.

She was also active in the Honors College, and organized a “Geek Week” in 2004 with a capstone trivia game that pitted students against professors in a “Jeopardy”-like competition.

“It was funny to go back to that and realize, ‘OK, I’ve been preparing for ‘Jeopardy’ for a long time, and finally it’ll pay off,’” Portwood-Stacer said.

After graduating from the MSU Honors College in 2004 with a degree in telecommunications, she went straight to graduate school at the University of Southern California, where she received her masters and Ph.D. in communications.

Portwood-Stacer went on to be a professor at the University of Southern California and New York University before she changed her career path — instead of teaching, she wanted to help people write.

“I decided I wanted to help other people get their books published,” Portwood-Stacer said. “I have my own business where I’m a consultant and developmental editor, and I work with faculties and publish their books.”

That’s what Portwood-Stacer hopes “The Book Proposal Book” accomplishes — the step-by-step guide seeks to help authors see their book through to publication. 


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“That book builds on my work helping academics write their own books,” Portwood-Stacer said. “So, it’s sort of a ‘how-to’ book on how to write a book proposal and pitch it to an academic publisher and get your book published.”

The book draws from Portwood-Stacer’s own experience publishing academic work, as she published a book based on her Ph.D. dissertation titled “Lifestyle Politics and Radical Activism” in 2013.

“It was a study of anarchist activists and how they try to live out their politics — which are quite radical — in their everyday lives, and the tensions they run into when you’re trying to live ideals that are really at cross-purposes with our social structures of capitalism and white supremacy,” Portwood-Stacer said.

According to the book overview, “The Book Proposal Book” breaks the pitching and publication process down into manageable tasks, and features over fifty “time-tested tips” to make one’s proposal stand out.

The book also features sample prospectuses, worksheets and checklists and answers to common questions about the publishing process.

“The Book Proposal Book” is set to hit shelves July 13.

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