Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Author Spotlight - Tracy Sumner

In today's spotlight we have historical romance author Tracy Sumner. Formerly published by Kensington, she has a slew of awards to her name, and is now branching out into indie publishing. She chats to us today about her two latest releases, Tides of Passion and Tides of Love.

• What is your writing process?
I think I’m in the middle between complete novel fleshed out and flying by the seat of my pants. For some reason, I’m always intrigued by the occupations of the hero and heroine and usually start my research there. For example, in TIDES OF LOVE, Noah is a marine biologist. I researched the time period surrounding (1898) and the location. I chose that based on a place I had prior knowledge of – Beaufort, NC. And a marine research laboratory built in the time period.

Once I start to visualize the characters, I start to see them interacting. That’s where the snaps of dialogue come in. I place these in chronological order in a scenes summary. So, when I’m writing that scene, I refer to these. Could also be setting snaps or something I think belongs in that scene. I do not plot completely. I have these scene summaries to guide me. And as I get through the book, the scenes get their own notes. Even if its only half a page.

• Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
Well, I’m not so great at this. But I think the best advice is to keep your butt in the chair. I just read a blog post about not feeling like the muse is with you for every word. To write when it stinks, when you don’t feel like, when it’s not flowing well.

• Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I like yoga and Pilates. I also have a four-year-old and a FT graphic design gig that keep me very busy!

• Do you believe in writer's block?
Yes. Though I think it’s self-imposed. Or a psychological thing writers do to themselves, if that makes sense.

• Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
No, I think I may use little pieces of dialogue – I see this when I read the book even if I didn’t see it when I was writing. But no actual instances. Though I write historicals, so this could hamper that a little.

• In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
I’ve been published for quite a few years. And I think I learned a lot after the initial “wonder” wore off. About how hard the business was. About how the first published book is not going to make a career. I think people are surprised by how much of a business it is. Promotion alone requires a great deal of marketing knowledge – and I work in marketing FT, so I see how hard it is.

• Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
Promotion is great! If you’re doing it for the right reason. I’m very interested in gaining new readers because I love the characters in my books as if I’d birthed them.  And I want people to love them – and enjoy the stories. I have a FT career that pays my bills.

What have I done to reach more readers? Ads, blog tours such as this one!, giveaways, contests on my website. Free copies of the books. I do that a lot.

• What is your top promo tip for other authors?
To know your audience. And, perhaps, that writing a great book is the best promotion ever.

• What did you learn while writing this book?
Which one?  I think I learned with TIDES OF PASSION to let my creativity flow and not worry so much. I wrote TOP faster than I’ve ever written a book and under a bit of duress, and it’s the one mentioned most often by readers, and it won the most awards (the biggest The National Reader’s Choice for Best Long Historical).

• What was the most fun part of writing this book?
Creating characters! With all their quirks and insecurities. And I love picking names!

• And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
Hmmm…for Noah, TIDES OF LOVE. His would be somewhere where he could complete a bit of research on the side.  He’s a sexy nerd. But a very, very sexy nerd! Elle is fairly intellectual, too, and would not mind the side trip for research. She’s very patient that way.

For more information on Tracy and her books, you can find her at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

National Reader’s Choice Winner: Best Long Historical
“Terrific dialogue…and hot loves scenes. If you haven’t read Tracy Sumner before, Tides of Passion is a good place to start.”
—All About Romance

“This novel realizes with a great and witty gusto that independence isn’t so much about being on your own as it is about choosing to be together.”
—Romantic Times

She is his greatest temptation.
He is her forbidden desire.
A battle of wills leads to love.

“I picked up Tides of Love…just to give the book a quick peak. That quick peak turned into four hours of reading that didn’t stop until I finished the book!”—The Romance Reader

“A powerful relationship novel that explores the heartache and triumph of love.”
—Romantic Times

He left all he loved behind...
Will he be able to return and win her heart?


Catherine Coles said...

Oh I love historical romance! I find the research *makes* me spend hours and hours finding out about the tiniest little details. I think I may be a research nerd. Can you find a Noah for me?

Kat said...

Hey Tracy,
Thanks for an interview jam packed with interesting details. I love name choosing too, am at the start of a new ms and spent most of yesterday working out my heroine's name. It's important, isn't it?
Lots of luck with the indie route, it's an exciting time in publishing.


Maya Blake said...

What a brilliant spotlight, Tracy. And your cover makes me swoon! Great to have you here today :)

Tracy Sumner said...

Thanks, everyone! So glad to be here. I love the covers, too. I'm a graphic designer - but I went with an established cover designer for all. And she really gets the genre.

Catherine, I would LOVE to find a Noah for you! I modeled him a bit on Indiana Jones (the classroom/glasses wearing version).

Romance Reader said...

Hi Tracy,

My new passion now is Historical Romances! And your cover is very, very romantic!

Anonymous said...

Great interview Tracy, I've nominated the minxes with a versatile blogger award if you want it.

Tracy Sumner said...

I love historical. I read contemporary, too, and have a novella coming out in April -- but there is something so romantic about the past. I'm also working on a historical set in London -- with a bit of a paranormal element. I love the "Lords and Ladies".

chey said...

Great interview!

Tracy Sumner said...

Just to let you guys, know. Tides of Love is free on Amazon today and tomorrow only. A promo in combination with a Pixel of Ink feature for TIdes of Passion! :)