Caroline: Where did you grow up? Siblings? Locale?
Tracey: I grew up in White Bear Lake, MN, a sterotypical suburban middle-class neighborhood, with tons of other kids I ran around with (mostly outdoors) all day long. I have three younger siblings that I got to babysit after my parents divorced when I was 12. I eventually ended up with two MORE half-siblings.
Caroline: My half-siblings were older than me. Were you considered a “bookworm” or a jock?
Tracey: I was pretty nerdy in high school. Luckily I was also into singing, and that got me on stage (and my first serious boyfriend). The summer after high school I went to Army Basic Training, and started college that fall on crutches. Once I hit college I shed the shyness and had my share of dates. Even though I swore then that I’d never marry and DEFINITELY not have kids… I have now been married for 17 years and have two children! My son is 8 and my daughter is 4.
Caroline: We have the right to change our minds. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?
Tracey: Nicolas Sparks, Kristin Hannah … I like books with complex, more adult characters. And, of course, I’m drawn to characters in the medical and emergency services fields, or with jobs like search-and-rescue.
Caroline: How many books do you read a month? What are you reading now?
Tracey: I probably average only two books a month right now. It seems I can’t write heavily while I’m engrossed in a good book (and I don’t even finish the bad ones). On my stand now: A SOFT PLACE TO FALL (military characters!) and SALVATION RUN (biker novel).
Caroline: What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?
Tracey: The best stress reliever for me is getting on my motorcycle. Unfortunately, that’s only an option about half the year here in Minnesota. I also play taiko drums, which is very physical and a great team activity.
Caroline: I don’t think I’ve ever “met” anyone else who plays taiko drums. How interesting. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?
Tracey: I have one about writing: “Great imaginations are apt to work from hints and suggestions, and a single moment of emotion is sometimes sufficient to create a masterpiece.” – Margaret Sackville
Caroline: Great quote. How long have you been writing?
Tracey: In an earlier career, I was an editor of an obscure little magazine in the upholstery industry. The writing wasn’t very creative, but it was good practice. I would often write scenes and outlines when the muse hit, but I only seriously started writing about six years ago.
Caroline: Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?
Tracey: I do my best work when it’s quiet and I have NO interruptions. I usually write at night (9-11ish) after my children are in bed. I generally park on my couch in the sunroom (in warmer weather) or my living room, laptop in lap. But sometimes I need a change of scenery to get re- inspired. In that case, a stolen hour or two at a coffee shop (or Panera, where I’m addicted to the mango smoothie) is just the ticket (if I can swing it).
Caroline: I love Panera’s cinnamon crunch bagels with hazelnut cream cheese. Fortunately, we live almost an hour from them so I can't indulge my taste for them very often. Are you a plotter or a panzer?
Tracey: A little of both. I do better if I take time up front to flesh out the characters before I start writing, but if I’ve been inspired, I’m off and writing before I’ve got a full ‘picture’ of a particular character in my head.
And writing the story often comes down to just putting my butt in the chair. I often find it more enjoyable to just daydream and fantasize about the story and the characters … getting it onto the computer screen is much more difficult!
Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories? Have you or family members served in the military?
Tracey: I spent five years in the National Guard as a paramedic, and that figures prominently in my writing (especially so in TRUE SURRENDER!). Because of my hobbies and my military background, I’ve had the fortune of meeting, working and playing with some very interesting people! I think everything I write is affected by what I’ve experienced. Yes, there’s a healthy dose of imagination and plenty of creative license, but a seed has to be sown somewhere, and for me it is often a ‘human’ interchange.
Caroline: How true. We are the sum of our experiences. Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?
Tracey: Unfortunately, I do not get to write every day. My real job (the one that pays the bills) is running the business my husband and I own, Leader Motorcycle, and it’s very busy in spring and summer. I’ve tried setting word count goals, but find that it frustrates me more than motivates me. I prefer to focus on what I CAN and HAVE accomplished instead.
Caroline: Very healthy attitude. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?
Tracey: It may sound hokey, but I hope that my characters move the reader or touch them in some way. Perhaps they will see parts of someone they know in my characters.
Caroline: Not hokey to me--that’s what I hope too. What long-term plans do you have for your career?
Tracey: I am interested in the fusion of writing, music (I am a vocalist) and visual imagery. In fact, with the launch of TRUE SURRENDER, I also introduced my first full-length video, titled "The Rose (Surrender Version)." It's my own arrangement of Bette Midler's classic, but with a more upbeat rhythm and a bluesy feel. It contains scenes from TRUE SURRENDER enacted by actors (who did a phenomenal job). I loved this entire process and I’d like to do more of this type of project.
For more details about The Making of a Music Video, check out my blog posts http://www.traceycramerkelly.com/blog/.
To watch the video: http://youtu.be/7Urqfs6Oqms
The song is available for download on CDBaby.com and iTunes, and with some luck the video will soon be as well.
I’d also love to see one of my novels as a movie. Heck, if you’re going to dream, you might as well dream big, right?!
Caroline: Right! But it sounds as if you are translating your dreams into reality. Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?
Tracey: I think there is another novel working its way through my subconscious. I also have a couple of erotica short stories I may actually finish. I'm even exploring how taiko drumming might be fused with writing and visual imagery.
Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?
Tracey: Forget about writing what you know (that would be so boring for most of us!), but do your homework to make it as real as possible. Don’t write for a particular goal or market; write what makes your heart sing.
Caroline: Tell us about your latest release.
Tracey: Here’s the Blurb:
When Major Aaron Bricewick is rescued from Afghanistan terrorists, he thinks the worst is over. But his personal journey is just beginning...
The first surprise is the amputation of one of his legs. The second is the woman he left behind, now a widow with a 4-year-old son - and his new prosthetist (artificial limb maker).
He vows that losing his leg won't derail his career. But maintaining his outward appearance as a got-it-together officer becomes increasingly difficult as he faces one personal demon after another - and sees his career aspirations slipping away. And though he has no intention of expanding his life to include a woman, his heart has other ideas - and he finds himself questioning the very foundation of his personal beliefs.
When violence - and unexpected redemption - touch his life again, Aaron must make a stand. Which will he choose: duty or love?
Tracey: And here’s the Excerpt:
His bed was empty.
Impossible, she thought.
And then she saw him: motionless on the floor, a dark stain spreading underneath his body. A stain that she recognized instantly.
Oh my God, the terrorists found him!
She dropped to her knees next to Aaron. She spoke as she ran her hands across the back of his neck. “Aaron! Can you hear me?” As soon as she was certain he had no neck or spinal injury, she shook him gently. “Aaron, it’s Holly. Talk to me, Aaron.”
His arms snapped up, flailing for a moment before his good hand clamped onto her wrist—hard. His eyes were wide open, and in them she saw terror…confusion… pain…
They engaged in a macabre tug-of war as Holly stated repeatedly, “Aaron, it’s me—Holly. You’re okay. Take it easy.”
After what seemed like a long time, she saw recognition seep into his eyes. But then he shut them tight, and his body went limp. He released her wrists and dropped his hands over his face. “Go away,” he whispered, his chest heaving.
“I can’t do that, Aaron.”
“You shouldn’t see me,” he said. “Not like this.”
Unexpected tears stung her eyes.
“This isn’t who I am,” he rasped.
“You asked me to leave once already,” she said. “And I honored that request. Maybe I shouldn’t have. So please…”
She locked her eyes onto his, which were open again. Surely he could see that she was close to tears, but she didn’t care. “Don’t ask me to walk away again.”
Caroline: What a touching excerpt. Where can readers find your books?
or amazon (print and Kindle)
or smashwords (or mobile apps)
Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?
Web site: http://www.TraceyCramerKelly.com
Caroline: Thank you for sharing with us today, Tracey. And, readers, remember to leave your comment to be entered for Tracey's giveaway Fallen Soldier tee shirt.
Please return on Friday, December 9th, to visit with my friend, Beth Trissel.
Thanks for stopping by.