Welcome everyone. Welcome Tracy. This young at heart author has come all the way from Atlanta, Georgia to visit with us today.
Tracy, why don’t you get us started with a little of your history and where you came from.
- I’m an information developer by day and novelist by night. I look forward to a time when I can say I’m a full time novelist! I have a husband, daughter, and two cats and they all give me the space to do my creative thing without too much complaint. Except for my cat Peaches, who insists on perching on my desk while I work.I have an MS in Technical Communications Management. Prior to changing my undergrad major to English, I majored in music and played clarinet and alto and tenor saxophone. Music features greatly in my books and I like nearly every kind of music, including some obscure things like Renaissance madrigals. I do have a particular affinity for jazz because I played so much.
::Chuckles:: The feline overseers can make life interesting can’t they? (Don’t answer that. No fair incriminating you or the cat.)
Do you remember what started your passion for writing?
- No, actually, but I wonder if having an imaginary friend as a child contributed to it!
- I’ve always had creative outlets and have been writing since I was in grade school. Back then I wrote in my top secret, padlocked diary about the happenings of the day, which boys I thought were cute, all the usual concerns of a ’tween girl’s mind.
- Years ago my hubby and I took our first trip to the Florida Keys and visited the Mel Fisher Museum—he’s the one who located and salvaged the treasure from the Atocha off the Florida Keys. The treasure is really something to see and the history of it speaks for itself. Then I met the author who wrote the memoir about his experience diving with Mel Fisher and finding some of that treasure from the Atocha, and the wheels in my head start whirring…
Is there a specific instance you can point to and say, “There! That’s when I became a writer!”?
- When I had a short story published in an anthology of creepy tales (Nightbird Singing in the Dead of Night ) I felt I could honestly say I was a writer and not just a “dabbler.”
Do you consider writing to be your career, or are you still working toward that point?
- I would love creative writing to be my next career or my career after retirement.
Do you have a particular writing style you call your own?
- I like to use a lot of dialogue to move the story forward. I want the readers to feel like they’re standing next to the characters as the action unfolds, rather than as outsiders looking in on the story.
While you are writing, do you use your own experiences, or those of others, or do you invent the situations as the story progresses?
- It’s historical fiction so everything is researched and realistic, in both story lines (present day and 1700s) As they say, unlike real life, fiction must be plausible.
- Most of my characters have personalities that are an amalgamation of people I know or have known. In the present day story line, some of the mundane, everyday experiences are based on events in my own life. But finding treasure is an event I hope will happen to me or someone I know!
::Grins:: Wouldn’t that be great? Maybe you already have, and are now waiting on others to find the treasure that is your stories. I’m sure, growing up you’ve found a few treasures of your own in that regard. Can you think of any favorite books or authors you’d like to share?
- My favorite author is usually the one I’m currently reading, so I have many favorite authors. One author I’ve continually read over the years is Stephen King. I love the way he captures the psyche of youth.
- Books with memorable characters, good or evil, who have made an impact on someone else, books with strong female characters, and stories that keep me thinking about them long after I’ve read them all have a big influence. One classic book I adore is Tess of the D’Urbervilles, also Kane & Abel by Jeffery Archer, anything by Stephen King and Graham Joyce, and children’s and YA books that I enjoy just as much now as I did when I was young—The Wind in the Willows, and All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot.
Would you consider any of these writers, new or old, as somewhat a mentor for you on your journey?
- [No.] Jeff Dennis, author and friend and the one who published my book, is my mentor. We were in a writer’s group together and he recognized the raw talent and encouraged and guided it, even though at times I fought it, not believing in myself.
With a more recent author who’s been your mentor, has that opened the door to discovering other new authors?
- Last year I joined an online writer’s group called Books Go Social and there are so many new authors with fascinating books that I hope to get to. There are too many to list here, but if you’re a reader, I suggest going to BooksGoSocial.com to find your next great read!
Has this group provided support along with your immediate family, or were there others?
- Well, there have been teachers in my school career who believed in me, sometimes with just a word or two of encouragement, but that was enough to keep me going. Can I group them together and call them an entity?
Sounds good to me – they all fall into one profession, “teachers”.
Are you reading any of the works from the BooksGoSocial group now, or someone else?
- [Right now, I’m reading] An Echo in the Bone, book 7 of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.
Heading back to your own work, and being a fellow author, I know that the writing never really stops. Since you’ve released Sea Beggar, I’m sure there is another projects in the works. Are you at a point where you can share anything about it?
- I’m currently working on the Sea Shadows, the sequel to Sea Beggar, plus doing book promotion and marketing.
- In Sea Beggar, I wrote in parallel story lines, in two different time periods and continue this format in Sea Shadows. Sea Shadows picks up directly where Sea Beggar leaves off, with Macy, the protagonist from the present day story line, on her way from Florida to Spain to verify and validate the treasure she found and where it came from. As Macy experiences great gains, Keary, the protagonist in the 1700s story line, suffers great losses. Keary’s ship is broken, she has lost some of her crew, and it’s time for her to take stock. Both women are in the process of rebuilding their lives, lives which may be connected.
Definitely sounds interesting. Since you mentioned earlier that this story came about after seeing the Atocha in a museum, I’m guessing that influenced the choice in titles. Do you have a method in selecting, or do they come to you as you write?
- My characters are gentleman pirates, buccaneers, and privateers. Honorable men, but pirates nonetheless. Through my research I discovered that “sea beggar” is an old Dutch term for privateer and I made it the name of the ship in the story.
Sounds like this is quite the fun story. Along with the interesting title, you have a stunning cover. Did you design it yourself, or work with someone?
- The artist for the Sea Beggar cover is Cheryl Dennis.
Available on Amazon here
While you were writing, did you hide any messages for your readers to find?
- I think different readers grasp different messages when they read and that’s good. One book reviewer had this to say: “The author’s parallel story lines powerfully express two timeless, universal truths – that true love appears unexpectedly and that family is not defined by bloodlines.”
What a wonderfully strong review! That leads to the next question – if you were able to start the last book over, knowing what you do now, would you change anything?
- The action in Sea Beggar is fast and furious and if I could redo it I’d slow the pace down a little, maybe add a bit more narrative and give readers more space to breathe.
::Chuckles:: Sounds like you learned quite a bit from your first book. Can you share some of your lessons, or other challenges you had to overcome?
- The hardest part was expanding it to novel length. It started out as a short story, turned into a novella, then finally turned into a book.
- Sometimes plausibility is a challenge. Characters must be real and as such can’t be invincible. Some characters don’t make it to the end of the book, and I really miss them!
- I learned that writing a novel is like peeling an onion, layer, by layer. You want to give readers enough to maintain interest, but not so much to overwhelm them with back story and detail or too much action all at once.
Sounds like you may have some excellent advice to pass on. Can you answer the “big” question almost all authors are asked: “What advice would you pass on to a new writer?”
- There’s no magic formula to becoming a good writer. Reading and writing are really the only things required. I’m honing my skills as I work on my sequel, and based on current feedback I think I’m on the right track. I read when I can to look at other writers’ style, technique, and story line. Somewhere between reading and writing you’ll find your own voice.
::Nods with a smile:: I hear what you are saying there, Tracy.
Before we wrap this up, do you have any last words you’d like to share with our readers?
- If you have read or are going to read Sea Beggar, thank you! I truly appreciate your interest.
And, to go along with that, if you do read any book, a wonderful way to express your appreciation is by leaving a review.
Tracy, thank you so much for stopping by today. It has been a wonderful treat to learn more about you, and your work.
If you enjoyed the interview, and wish to connect with Tracy, you can find her on her website here, her blog here, on Facebook here, or on Twitter here. If you wish to get a copy of Sea Beggar, you can find it on Amazon here.
If you enjoyed the interview, and wish for me to host one for you, please stop by my Offered Services page, and send in a submission.
And, make plans to come on back on Sunday, when Tracy returns for another visit. She’ll be bringing Keary Dunbarton from Sea Beggar in for an interview.