Member Spotlight: Tracee Lydia Garner

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.


Hi Everyone,

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.

I enjoyed sharing and I hope you enjoyed finding out more about me, please visit me on my homes on the web: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter.

God bless,

Tracee


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.

Member Spotlight: Sarah Hamaker

Thanks for stopping by the ACFW Virginia Blog today!

Today we’re focusing on our member, Sarah Hamaker. Grab something warm to drink and sit down to learn about Sarah.

sarah-hamaker-squarePlease tell the readers about yourself:
I’m Sarah Hamaker in Fairfax City, a small community just outside of Washington, D.C. I’ve been writing since I was a child and was thrilled to learn that you could go to college to be a writer! As a freelancer, I now write about parenting and the convenience store association (yes, I can tell you why gas prices fluctuate), among other topics. I’ve had two nonfiction books published and am working with my agent on publishing a romantic suspense (which won the ACFW Genesis contest in 2015).

What’s a fun fact about you?
I had a paper route from age 12 to 17, delivering the local afternoon newspaper on my bicycle or walking with my border collie to around 60 or so customers in our neighborhood. One customer got a kick out of saying to me that she tells people, “My paper boy is a girl!”

What book(s) have you had published?
My two nonfiction books are Hired @ Home and Ending Sibling Rivalry.

What is your favorite writing tip?
You can write in any amount of time, no matter how small. I’ve been freelancing since my oldest was a baby, and it’s amazing how much writing you can cram into five, 10 or 15 minutes of time. Don’t focus on the time you have—focus on the writing you want to do.

What has been the hardest thing/things you have faced on this writing journey?
Waiting. I think that’s the hardest thing we face as humans. We can’t hurry so many things up when we want something to happen, and the same is true for publishing. I’m much better about this now, but I still have to give myself those pep talks about not getting discouraged because I haven’t heard about X piece of writing or Y book. Waiting is one of those things we must figure out how to handle as writers.

Is there one tip from your personal experience that you think would encourage your fellow authors in the area of writing, publishing, marketing, building a platform, a series, etc.?
Most authors hate marketing, but we shouldn’t. I call myself a “reluctant marketer” because it’s outside of my comfort zone and it’s just plain hard. But that doesn’t mean I don’t give it my all! View marketing as essential to your writing as actually writing. Because it is. Without marketing, no one will read your words. Don’t constantly try new things, but stick with ones you like doing, and add one new marketing thing a year. Make sure you can quantify your efforts and have a clear goal in mind, otherwise, you’ll be putting effort in without any idea what you want to gain. So embrace it, learn to like it and have patience—it takes many campaigns for success.

Thank you so much for being here today, Sarah! You can visit Sarah on her Website.

Member Spotlight: Melissa Henderson

Thanks for stopping by the ACFW Virginia Blog today!

Today we’re focusing on our member, Melissa Henderson. Grab something warm to drink and sit down to learn about Melissa.

melissa_hendersonPlease tell the readers about herself:
Hi, I’m Melissa Henderson residing in Mechanicsville, VA. My Husband (Alan) and I have been married for over 37 years. We have one son (Mike) who is married to sweet daughter-in-love (Christine).

What is a fun fact about you?
Stories are constantly flowing through my mind.  I can laugh at myself and at plenty of experiences in my life that bring laughter and joy. That is why our family motto is “It’s Always A Story with The Henderson’s.”

What’s your favorite genre?
I enjoy reading Christian inspirational fiction, and that is my favorite genre to write.  Children’s stories are also a favorite of mine to read and write.

Please share about your writing:
Currently, I am writing my first Christian inspirational fiction novel. Scheduling a specific time to write each day gives me focus and helps me be dedicated to the story I am creating. Attending writing conferences and workshops have given me courage and excitement about writing.  I learn something new at each event.

What has been the hardest thing you’ve faced on this writing journey?
The hardest thing about being a new writer is having a feeling of not being a “good” writer. Thankfully, there are many writers who are encouraging me along the way. Their wisdom and knowledge are great comfort.

How do you spiritually prepare for writing your stories?
I spiritually prepare for writing my stories by praying first and asking God to give me the words that He wants me to share with others.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about Melissa. You can follow her on her Blog.