Sometimes, hometowns and best friends afford us the opportunity to obtain unique insight into people who are successful and well-known in their particular sphere. I am no exception to this rule, as thanks to the lucky break of growing up in my small Nevada hometown, as well as being “besties” with my friend, Charmaine, since we were three years old, I have had the pleasure of meeting and knowing author Tammy L. Grace before she was an author!
There are a few people who were exceptionally helpful when I decided to embark on this crazy foray into the world of fiction writing, and Ms. Grace was certainly one of the most helpful of all. She graciously took the time to answer my questions and help guide my decisions about if I wanted to pursue the self-published route, or would rather instead try to find a literary agent and go the more traditional route. In the end, I found my publisher, Solstice Publishing, through direct submission, but Ms. Grace’s advice was well-heeded while I contemplated signing the contract or not. So, it came as no surprise when I finally got up the moxie to ask Ms. Grace if she would be willing to participate in an interview on my blog that she said, “Yes.”
Ms. Grace has a very impressive showing, having effortlessly (or so it seems… authors know writing and publishing are never as easy as it appears) secured her place as a successful author of women’s fiction with fifteen books under her belt, and counting. Even more surprising, Ms. Grace didn’t even start writing until her first career concluded.
So, without further delay, I hope you enjoy this interview with my fellow author and gracious mentor, Tammy L Grace, as much as I did conducting it!
Majken: Hello, Tammy! Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you! I am lucky that as you are from my hometown, (and the fact that you are related to one of my best friends!), I have had the pleasure of meeting you before. But, I don’t know what made you decide to take the plunge and become an author! Was this a spur-of-the-moment-I-wonder-if-I- can kind of thing, or have you always wanted to be a writer?
Tammy: I’m thrilled that you’re an author and so honored to be included for an interview! I had an incredible middle school teacher who introduced me to creative writing and that’s when the bug bit me. I wrote for our local newspaper when I was in middle school and junior high school, but never considered it for a career. When I was getting ready to retire, I decided to see if I could follow my dream of becoming a novelist.
Majken: I saw on your website, www.tammylgrace.com, that you had a career in local and state government, but didn’t realize that you had written for the local paper, or considered writing long before retirement!
After discussing with you which teacher was so influential, I can say that I had the same teacher and a lot of what I know today was learned from him!
I know that when I reached out to you when I started my writing carrier you very so kind to mentor me, and we discussed the differences between self-publishing and going through a publisher. I know that until very recently, you chose to go the route of self-publishing and have been doing very well with it. Do you have any secret “tips of the trade” you would be willing to share for those who are facing the same decision of self-publishing?
Tammy: I’ve learned that the author community and especially the self-published arena is welcoming and full of writers who are willing to share and help others. I always recommend authors attend a writers’ conference and learn all they can before they decide on a publishing path.
I’m not sure I have any secrets, but would stress that authors need to consider their strengths and do what they do well and hire someone to do the rest. You can do it all yourself, but your book needs to be polished and compete with the bestsellers in its genre, so you need to research, join online groups, talk to other authors, and decide if you want the responsibility of it all or are capable of doing it all and get help with things you don’t do well. I’ve read statistics where many self-published authors only sell a few hundred copies and that’s not enough to make you successful, so make sure you understand the business before you make a decision.
Majken: I can certainly agree with that. I know when I was deciding which route to take, cost was a big factor for me in my decision to pursue traditional publishing. Editing and the graphic designing of the covers can be significant (and daunting) costs, especially if you don’t know someone already in “the biz”. Speaking of which, your covers are adorable! Have you designed them yourself, or did you turn to a graphic designer for assistance?
Ms. Grace’s first novel of her Hometown Harbor series
Tammy: Thanks, Majken, you love them because I didn’t design them. I hired cover designers and have been lucky to work with some very talented individuals. Early on, I listened to the advice from several authors who recommended hiring a designer, unless you had experience with graphic design and specifically cover design. I think it’s fascinating to see a designer ask a few questions about a book and chat a bit and produce something that showcases the novel so well. It’s my favorite part of the process and only wish I had the skill.
Majken: I have absolutely heard that a cover can make or break a book in some cases. But, yours are great and your designers did an amazing job with capturing the essences of your stories. My publisher is primarily an ebook publisher, so their goal is to have the title, etc., easily distinguished in a thumbnail for online retailers, like Amazon.com, but I do sometimes wonder what a cover designer would have come up with for A Good Kind of Crazy.
Changing gears, you recently informed your fans that you have signed with the British publisher, Bookouture. What made you decide to make the jump from self-publishing to a publisher? What is the biggest difference in the two experiences you have noticed thus far?
Tammy: I’ve signed a two-book contract with Bookouture, both of which are emotional dog-centric stories about the connections we have with our canine friends. The biggest reasons I elected to do it were based on Bookouture’s stellar reputation within the author community, I get to write about dogs, and the fact that they approached me. It differs from the idea of querying agents or publishers to try to entice them to take a chance on your work. The biggest change between the two paths I’ve noticed is the length of time from start to finish. I am able to publish two books a year myself, but their process is elongated. They have a schedule and many steps the book goes through with regard to different edits and proofreading, not to mention dozens of authors to juggle. I’m curious to see how their marketing strategies differ from mine and hoping to learn things I can apply to my other work. I know their reach far surpasses what I can do, so am anxious to see the results next year.
I’m writing for them under a pen name, Casey Wilson, which is also new and interesting. If anyone is interested in these books, they can follow Casey on Facebook and Twitter to be kept in the loop.
Majken: That’s exciting! I am looking forward to those stories! I have to say that publishing a book takes much longer than I think most people ever would imagine.
Meanwhile, you, like me, grew up a native Nevadan! What is your favorite thing about living in the desert? What is your absolute favorite thing to do in Nevada that you would recommend everyone should do while visiting our great home state?
Tammy: I love living in my small hometown because of the sense of community, lifelong friends, and the idea of walking in the footsteps of my great-grandparents, not to mention the quiet and relaxed vibe. I’m not a big fan of heat, so the desert doesn’t appeal to me as much as our gorgeous mountains. I think we have some of the most beautiful sunsets and I love to go for a ride and see all the gorgeous green fields in our little valley or venture out in our side-by-side and explore areas you can’t get to from the road. So many people who are unfamiliar with Nevada only think of Las Vegas and so I make a point of explaining that vision of Nevada is nothing like where I live. My favorite thing to do is to spend time at Lake Tahoe and it’s where we always take people who come to visit. It’s gorgeous and calming – a perfect place to relax or plot a story.
Lake Tahoe- Picture courtesy of Pexels.com and Griffin Wooldridge
Majken: I so agree. I no longer live in Nevada and miss both the mountains and Lake Tahoe so much! I really hope that people who live there appreciate just how blessed they are to have the magnificent mountains and glorious Lake Tahoe in their backyard!
Though I could write a lengthy blog post on the attributes of Nevada, I guess I had better get back to focusing on the writing aspect of this blog post. Therefore, I am curious about what you feel is the single best thing about being an author?
Tammy: There are so many, but I’ll limit myself to one. I love hearing from readers. There is nothing quite like getting a note from someone who read my book and loved it or who read it during a tough time and it was the perfect escape for them. Writing is a lonely endeavor and hearing someone tell me my book entertained them or got them through an illness is so rewarding.
Majken: I agree that hearing that someone enjoyed, or even benefited, from reading our books is amazing! I never tire of it, but I have just written one… You have written at least fifteen books since 2014. That’s amazing! What is your writing process? Do you set aside time to write, or do you write when “the muse” hits you?
Tammy: I tend to write each day, usually in the morning, but sometimes all day. When I’m starting a new book, it takes a bit to flesh out the story and the characters, but once I have an outline, I sit at the computer and write. It typically takes me about three months to complete a novel. When it’s off to the editor, I work on marketing tasks and when I am done with the project, I like to reward myself with some time off to binge-read or splurge on movies or a series, since I tend to focus most of my time on writing when I’m in the midst of it.
Majken: I certainly understand that! Writing and editing can be all-consuming. It is a strange feeling to come back to the “land of the living” after putting a book to bed. With all that writing, though, one has to be comfortable. I am sure your fans would love it if you would describe your writing space. Do you have a dedicated office with a desk, or do you write in a favorite comfy chair, or by the dining room table? Every author I have spoken with has a unique setup for their writing space and I love to hear about them!
Tammy: I write on a desktop computer in my home office, but I always start with a notebook and ideas. There’s something to the actual holding of a pen and writing on paper that appeals to me and helps the creative juices flow. I write out lots of random phrases and ideas related to the story I’m working on, brainstorm character names, settings, and plot points. I dig into the characters and really try to nail down their motivations and backstories, so that I feel like I know them when I start the actual writing.
At another writers’ conference I attended several years ago, I listened to author talk about their processes and was drawn to the idea of a white board and sticky notes and that’s what I use now. The movable notes make it easy to plot out scenes and move them or keep ideas handy. I know many authors use software to do this, but I really enjoy the visual board and paper.
Majken: Thank you for sharing that. I find it fascinating how everyone does it just a little differently!
Your books always have an adorable dog on the cover, and I know that dogs play an important part in your stories. How did you decide that you wanted to have animals as such an integral part in your novels?
Sweet Izzy, Ms. Grace’s newest writing buddy. Photo courtesy of Facebook page Tammy L. Grace, Author
Tammy: My own golden retriever, Zoe, was my writing buddy when I first started this new adventure and the inspiration for the dogs I’ve used in my books. I think giving my human characters canine companions adds to their depth and lets the reader see more of them than is sometimes visible to others. I lost Zoe two years ago and have welcomed a new golden retriever, Izzy, who I am training to be my writing buddy.
There is almost a universal love of dogs and I think they make the books feel relatable to most people. I also enjoy the bit of humor they always add to the story.
Majken: I agree! Dogs are amazingly intuitive and make writing much less lonely. They are great feet warmers, too!
Your “Hometown Harbor” series is a reader favorite! Has the series concluded, or are there more stories on the way? Will your new publisher handle this series from here on out, or will you continue to do as you have done thus far?
Tammy: It’s a total five books, plus a prequel novella and while I think it’s concluded, I’m not opposed to adding to it or creating a special holiday book at some point. I truly love the characters and like many readers have told me, they feel like old friends. I just have too many other ideas at the moment! I’m focused on the Bookouture project this year and will move back to my new Glass Beach Cottage Series and another murder for Coop to solve when I wrap up A Dog’s Hope and A Dog’s Chance.
Majken: Thank you so much for taking the time to allow me to interview you! And, of course, I thank you, too, for your kind guidance and suggestions while I got started on my own journey into publishing. I thoroughly enjoy your books and find them entertaining and refreshing. Here’s to many more years of creating!
Tammy: Thank you, Majken, for reaching out to interview me. You ask great questions and it’s been quite fun. I’m so excited for your next book to release and can’t wait to see what you do next. It’s such a fun and rewarding process and I wish you continued success.
Wonderful! Thank you so much!
Below, find Ms. Grace’s Bio and all media links. If you are unfamiliar with her work, I would highly suggest checking out her stories!
Tammy L. Grace is an award-winning author who entertains readers with perfect escapes in women’s fiction and clever whodunit mysteries. Her works in women’s fiction include the best-selling Hometown Harbor Series set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and her latest release, Beach Haven, the first in her new Glass Beach Cottage Series, set in coastal Washington. She also writes the Cooper Harrington Detective Series, featuring a quirky private detective and his faithful golden retriever. Her heartwarming Christmas novellas are perfect for readers who enjoy Hallmark Christmas Movies.
She is and fan of dogs and includes furry companions in all of her books and is presently presently working on two dog-centric novels for Bookouture, under the pen name, Casey Wilson, to be published in 2020.
Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy L. Grace loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. When Tammy isn’t working on ideas for a novel, she’s spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a new golden retriever puppy.
Follow Tammy on your favorite platforms:
Subscribe to Tammy’s monthly newsletter and get a FREE interview with the dogs from her Hometown Harbor Series: https://wp.me/P9umIy-e
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuthorTammyLGraceBookBuddies/
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCei5GUWLSuD3tLBl81-Fa9w
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