Thanks for stopping by the ACFW Virginia Blog today!
Today we’re focusing on our member, Tracee Lydia Garner. Grab something warm to drink and sit down to learn about Tracee.
So happy to be featured on the Member Spotlight today and I thank you for joining me and I thank God for blessing me with a gift of storytelling. A little about me, hmmm? First, my name is Tracee Lydia and Garner and next to the Lord, my other love is writing romantic suspense and my sixth published book Deadly Affections debuts on Friday, March 30.
In addition to writing fiction which new stories will always be in the works, I wrote one non-fiction self-help book entitled Pack Light: Thoughts for the Journey and that came out in October 2016.
I live in Virginia, just a few minutes from Dulles Airport and I am a Virginia native. Besides writing, I also teach at our local college, I do speaking engagements and I work full time in social services.
My very first book came out when I was 23. I entered a contest hosted by a publisher and I was failing my “Math for Liberal Arts” and I just thought, this is hard, so I would disappear in my own world where I created stories of love and romance and where there were certainly NEVER a heroine or hero who was an accountant or a math teacher. Yuck!
Here are some of the questions I’ll move on to answer from the spotlight:
So first up, a fun fact about me is that I LOVE event planning. Not weddings so much, I’m sure I’d enjoy some aspects of that as well (until I met up with a Bridezilla of course), but I love parties, launch events and helping people conceptualize and putting together details -and though I love event planning- what I think I love about it is just getting people together to fellowship and have a positive, fun time. I’m also a HUGE list-maker, it’s so fun and you can find a zillion lists at any time on my desk.
Both of my favorite genres to read and to write are ROMANCE! Of course, I love reading about the elusive Happily Ever After, I always tell people if you want to have hope and escape (build your hope on Jesus and righteousness of course) but you can watch the news if you want to be depressed. Writing and reading is always a wonderful escape and there are hidden in the prose, themes of triumph over adversity, forgiveness, hope and so many things you find and learn as you read. I’ve read for such a long time. I couldn’t imagine my life without books. It was a kindergarten teacher of mine who when he read the stories aloud during circle time, I was front and center, not to mention, mesmerized by how his tone and voice inflection made the story come alive! I now know I fell in love with stories and story telling right then.
My favorite writing tip isn’t about story structure and development or plotting, so much, but it’s about process and in that process of writing is to learn how to WAIT. In the classes that I teach and in almost every article I write now, I am certain I take time to encourage other new writers AFTER they finish their very first book, take time, breathe, and WAIT to publish your book if you can.
The reason behind this? Most people are so excited about the one book that they just rush to publish it and then they underestimate the amount of work it’s going to take (not only to promote it) but, to complete and finish that next book. If you publish book one right away, you never ever know how long it will take you to complete book two. The other piece of that WAIT is to PLAN and to SEEK input/mentors. Writing is so solitary, find groups and people who are ahead of you with more books (than you) and think about your writing career long term. Those are things I wish someone would have taken the time to tell me at 23 when my first book came out. By saying this, I also want to remind anyone who is waiting to get out there don’t wait any longer. I know it seems like I’m contradicting myself with “Wait, plan…. no Go, Now!” LOL 🙂
The point is to find a middle balance. Don’t be too quick to publish without a plan and clarity for the long term and don’t be so fretful that year after year finds you tweaking the exact same manuscript over and over again.
One of the hardest things about writing and my writing journey, for me has been just trying not to judge myself. I have a disability and my muscles don’t’ listen to my brain because it’s the muscles that have the disability and not my brain. It’s a constant battle of prayer and peace and surrender to not compare my progress to other authors/writers and business people I watch all the time on YouTube. And I know, whether disabled or not, that comparison is an issue for so many of us. But I have to constantly yield to and work with this body that slows me down and keeps me from progressing at times and gets tired even when my brain is still chanting “Full steam ahead!”. I want to have written more books, to have released more projects, to do more online and in social media than just -what I tell myself- is seven measly books. In the end, however, I remind myself about God’s grace (and a small cheerleading section here on earth) lets me know I’m doing good and so I try to remember to pat myself on the back for the little things and cut myself a break. Not 70 books yet but 7 and that’s still wonderful. I believe sometimes I’d be father along without my disability but the reality is there, that’s not necessarily true. I do work full time outside the home and that’s no small feat to contend with while trying to write on the side. Everyone is struggling with something and we need to be more mindful that God is there through it all.
Tracee Lydia Garner is a bestselling, award-winning author who writes stories full of complex heroes and heroines, relationships and families that experience tough but realistic life challenges in their quest for love. Born and raised in a suburb of the DC metro area, Tracee works in health and human service by day, has a degree in Communication and is a speaker and advocate for people with disabilities.