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July 24, 2017

Today I have another interview with another writer friend of mine Tracy Gregory. She connected with me on Facebook and we became fast friends. I read her most recent book, her first novel called Ways of War. I wrote a review.

Review of the Ways of War

The Vietnam War was the most despised war in all of American History would have had to have been the Vietnam War. I remember being a young child while the war was going on. I remember the agony of daily body counts and the unbelievable celebrations of MIAs who returned after years of torture by the Viet Cong. I remember the reports of I remember draft dodgers and the protests.

What I didn’t know about was the secret war, the insidious war of mind control experiments that the government conducted at the same time. Tracy Gregory in this book brings them all together when Grant Windsor goes to Vietnam leaving behind a wife and two young children. Word comes back that he was killed in a fire, his body never recovered. The only sign that he had ever been there, was his dog tags. His wife Anna tries to move on, but even though she has Stephen waiting for her in the wings, she can’t seem to shake the idea that if she falls for Stephen, she will be cheating on Grant.

 

I highly recommend this intriguing spell-binding historical novel. I look forward to reading future novels by this author.

 

Interview withTracy Gregory

ME: Hi Tracy, I am glad you could join us today. First, would you be kind enough to tell my readers a little about yourself.

 

TRACY: Well, I was born in Concord, New Hampshire and raised in Soldotna, Alaska. My parents divorced when I was young. My mother remarried which resulted in our moving to the Last Frontier. We lived a simple life in Alaska. We lived without electricity and water for some years. Our free time consisted of hauling wood and water. I learned to appreciate every little gift, even the gift of free time. I am the second of six children. When I graduated from high school, I returned to New Hampshire to attend college. I got married, had two children and got divorced. I remarried when my children were young, and remain married today. I love to read and write. I’m an avid gardener, and I enjoy being outside. That’s the short version. Maybe the long version will show up in bookstores someday.

 

ME: What or who inspired you to start writing?

 

TRACY: Believe it or not, my desire to write came from Judy Collins. She is a folk singer whose stories mesmerized me and sparked my imagination. When I was eleven or twelve, I received a record player and a Judy Collins record from my mom for Christmas. I still remember the record “Early in The Spring.” I listened to the songs over and over wishing I could tell the stories she was singing.

 

ME: Do you find it difficult to get reviews from readers?

 

TRACY: At first, I was somewhat defensive when it came to comments made about my writing. But once a sat back and thought about the big picture I came to realize that the opinion of my reader is important. Their opinions and input are what will make me a better writer. I try to look at it as constructive criticism. I have learned you can’t please all the people all the time so I have resorted to pleasing my readers first by placing value in their opinion.

 

ME: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

 

TRACY: I love to read! I have a library of books that I have read and reread. I enjoy everything from the old classics such as Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Dickens to science fiction writers such as Wells, Bradbury and George Orwell. I would have to say my favorite genre is historical fiction. I enjoy Jeff Shaara, Phillipa Gregory, Michael Sullivan, Amy Harmon, Soraya Lane and Cygnet Brown of course.

 

ME: Do you have an interesting writing quirk? If so, what is it and how does it help your writing?

 

TRACY: I lead a busy life, as I’m sure you (and many others) do so I believe you can relate to that statement. Because of the interruptions, I find it difficult to write every day. I find the most productive writing time for me is at night when the world is asleep. I consider myself a marathon writer. What I mean by marathon writer is instead of writing a little each day, I find myself hiding in my library and writing forty thousand words at a time. I then set the work aside, and it could be weeks before I return to writing.

 

ME: How many books have you written? Which was your favorite?

 

TRACY: Ways of War is the first Novel in what will be a series. Usher of Truth will be the second and should be released by the winter of 2017. Days of Doom will be the third work in the series. I haven’t decided if that will conclude the series.  I also have some poetry available on Amazon. If I had to say I have a favorite Novel, it would be “Ways of War” as it is the first to be published. I will say my favorite work of poetry would be “Children’s Anthology.” The poems are all inspired by my children.

 

ME: What are some of the greatest struggles you’ve faced to further your writing career?

 

TRACY: The greatest struggle for me as with many other writers is the promotion of my first work. The idea of having to prove myself to a base of readers that have an interest in a topic so broad yet very targeted was challenging. Historical fiction in itself is as broad as the history that defines the genre. It is difficult to target a market of readers and present the “hook” so to speak that would draw them in and create a following.

 

ME: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

 

TRACY: It is my desire to be a successful author and create a following and keep those followers interested for years to come. I am only as successful as those that support me and share my work with their peers. I try to make sure I am available in as many ways as possible. My website address is http://www.tlgregory.com. You can also follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tlgregory.info/  My Twitter address is http://www.twitter.com/@TracyLGregory . In addition, I have a blog site Traces of Tracy Gregory the site address is http://www.tracesoftlgregory.com.

 

Tracy’s books are available on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, other local bookstore, and on her website.

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As you can see, I am doing something a little different. I read a book by Elisabeth Zguta called Seeking Redemption. Although it may not be the kind of book many of my readers like to read because there is some sexual content, I personally thoroughly enjoyed it. I wrote a review of this book and then I had the privilege of connecting with Elisabeth and was able to interview her.

Review of Seeking Redemption

Seeking Redemption is the third book in the Curses and Secrets series about the de Gourgues family. First, there was Breaking Cursed Bonds-Emily’s story and then, Exposing Secret Sins-Michelle’s story. In Seeking Redemption, Zguta wrote Robert’s story, another spellbinding suspense novel.

In Seeking Redemption, Robert wants to turn a new leaf and wants redemption for his past indiscretions including the murder of Tom Bennett. He marries the love of his life. Agent Sloan offers Robert a deal. Either he can help the US government discover the leader of the notorious Black Wolf Society, or he can go to prison for his crimes. By choosing to spy for the government in secret, he puts his family, with whom he is trying to reconcile, in jeopardy. This decision resulted in murder, attempted murder, and kidnapping.

Even though I did not read the first two books in this series, I was able to enjoy this story as a stand-alone book. It makes me want to go back and read the first two books. I would love to read more of Ms. Elisabeth’s books.

Elisabeth is an independent author. Seeking Redemption was edited by Richard Thomas of Dark House Press, and the cover was created by EZ Indie Design.

interview with Elisabeth Zguta

How long did it take you to write your first book?

Elisabeth:It took me over four years to write Breaking Cursed Bonds. I published the first edition in 2014. Then I decided to turn the storyline into a serial, so I rewrote Breaking Cursed Bonds with the eyes of a new editor, and I smoothed out the flow so that it would help set up the books to follow. I re-published the second edition in 2016. In total, it took six years for the first. The second story took two years, the third a year, but all of them had a lot of re-writes and editing

Has writing become an easier process with each book that you write? How has your writing style changed from your first book to this on

Elisabeth: Yes, of course, the more we write, the easier it becomes in some sense. Along the way, I’ve learned to understand the difference between showing and telling and overwriting. I still may err on those issues, but being aware of them is an important step to correct these when editing.

Once a writer understands story structure and the techniques to create tension, etc. then writing is easier. I think the writing flows better when the writer has a handle on the plot and characters. However, if you have no idea of what you want to say, then it will be hard to write no matter how many words you’ve previously written.

No author ever stops learning the craft, so there will always be challenges

What is your definition of Indie publisher and self-publisher? Are they the same or different? Do you see this trend toward Indie publishing and Self-publishing to continue? Are you a self-publisher or an Indie publisher/author? What do you think is the future of traditional publishing? Do you have any advice for the big publishing companies?

Indie Publisher can mean a small press like college and university presses, it can refer to a small imprint or an imprint of a larger publisher, and it can mean a single person registering their business as a company and imprint. Once a person takes on the role as an Indie Publisher, they become responsible for all aspects of publishing the book: editing, branding, formatting, interior design, cover designs, marketing, distribution, and publicity.

A self-publisher is a person who chooses to upload their manuscript themselves using their name, and may or may not use an ISBN that is registered through Create Space or Smashwords (or another aggregate) and the book would be listed as published by the entity where the ISBN was issued in the formal records. All the other aspects that follow still fall on the shoulders of the self-publisher.

I believe in the future, all forms of Independent Publishing and Self-publishing will continue to grow. The genie is out of the bottle, the tools are there to use, and the public has embraced the chance to be heard. The ability to publish a book, to share your ideas, is a freedom we are fortunate to experience.

What is your publishing process? What do you do yourself and what do you hire out?

Elisabeth: My process is a continuous work in progress.

I do everything myself regarding my platform and writing. That includes website design and maintenance, all social media posts and blog posts, and I format my books (eBook and print) and design the covers.

When I began writing, I got feedback from friends and a local critique group here in Memphis. I also belonged to an online small private critique. These were all a great way to dip my toes into the writer’s pond of knowledge. I think it’s crucial to have someone else read your work and offer feedback, and we must be brave enough to hear the critique with an open mind. We write for ourselves, but we edit for the reader.

After my drafts had been completed, I hired professional editors, and they have taught me the most about my writing’s weaknesses and strengths. I highly recommend hiring the best editor you can afford. There are also many valuable resources available online to learn about writing and marketing. In this evolving business, it’s beneficial for writers to check out as many resources as possible to hone their skills. There are many books by professional authors who offer their personal insights into what works and what doesn’t for them. I’d like to stress that we each have our path, so research always, pick what sounds right for you, and toss the other ideas to the side. Along my journey, I’ve taken online courses in creative writing and marketing.

The important thing to remember is that learning is never ending

You said at the end of Seeking Redemption that Richard Thomas, the editor-in-chief of Dark House Publishing was insightful and pointed you in the right direction to make it a strong story with developed characters and plot. Do you think that an author must have another set of eyes to edit his/her work? Do you think that it is possible for only the author to edit his/her own work?

Elisabeth: The editor gave me some insight on how to make the characters more visible, and he suggested adding their appearance from the beginning. I thought that since it’s the third book, and they had been fleshed out before in the others, that it might bore the reader. However, he was correct since it was a new story and even those who read the first two books may not have a good picture in their mind as they read the third. So I fleshed out the characters as soon as they were introduced, leaving nothing that could confuse the reader.

It’s extremely important to have an editor. I do think it is wise to have another set of eyes on our work. We get so involved with our stories that some things that are known to us (the backstory in our head) are not conveyed to the reader. We may think we’ve done so, but fresh eyes on the manuscript will tell you that the idea never made it to the pages. An objective set of eyes will offer feedback that will enhance the story to read stronger than if left unchecked

What advice would you give an indie author about publishing his/her own books? How would you suggest the indie author finance his/her endeavor?

Elisabeth: I think all Indie Authors have their unique paths, and there is no one right way to go. Each author needs to be open to possibilities and choose what works for them. One word of caution—beware of vanity presses who often try to look like legitimate deals. Read more about this at David Gaughran’s blog.

Some authors have found success beginning with a small press to help them get reviews and then later branch off on their own. There are downsides to this because the author loses control over the original work and they often have to buy back their rights later if they want to manage them on their own.

Some authors go hybrid, selling the paperback rights to a publishing house but keeping their digital rights. There are many scenarios, so best to do the research into this business to make the most informed decision possible.

Trying to do it alone does get costly. Be prepared to hire out whatever you cannot do or learn to do. Remember, there are many online resources where you can get free shareware, advice, and technical skill information. Read it, absorb it, and then decide what you can and cannot do on your own. Often it comes down to a matter of time rather than money.

Some authors have used a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds; however, I think that platform is more appropriate for projects that involve public appeals rather than personal ones.

Bottom line, save your money, use free software and tools whenever possible, do as many hands on as you can, and don’t be afraid to quote out the jobs that you cannot handle on your own. Compare prices; many people offer quality services for low cost. If you want to self-publish, you must seek out the information first, ask many questions, and follow the authors who have already done it. Do not reinvent the wheel; morph the process in place to fit your individual needs.

For more information on how to get those resources and answers, follow Elisabeth’s website.  https://ezindiepublishing.com

What changes have you made in your publishing practices since you first published your first book?

Elisabeth: I have slowed down; being too demanding of myself only caused the creativity to freeze up. Realizing that this is a long journey, not a short sprint, made it easier to budget the time needed to get things done right. Another epiphany – it will never be perfect. It’s all about the journey.

What other information would you like other authors/readers to know about your books, your writing, your writing style?

Elisabeth: My books have characters who deal with problems of the here and now; however, I like to add twists that bring back secrets of the past. Supernatural events, paranormal experiences, these are present in my stories, but they aren’t the main course. Though my work is not Gothic, I like to bring into the setting the feel of those tales by using architecture and landscape atmosphere in keeping with the old style.

My premise is that monsters are real and they live among us because people do dreadful things to each other. Although my stories have some scenes that fit the horror genre, the main substance of my books contains family drama, romance, and psychological suspense.

Some of the American writers who influenced my way of thinking are Poe, Lovecraft, Saul Bellow, and Hemingway. That doesn’t mean I write similar to them, though I wish I could. My tastes for books fringe on the strange and bizarre and I read many genres. I think my writing shows a melding of styles

You can get Seeking Redemption and any of Elisabeth’s books at the links below.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

Amazon CA

iBooks Apple

Barnes & Noble

Nook

Kobo

Smashwords

 

Did you like the change up to me doing a review and an interview? If so, leave a comment below. If didn’t like the interview, leave a comment below anyway and let me know what you topics you would prefer?

 

 

The author of this blog, How My Spirit Sings, Cygnet Brown has published several nonfiction books including Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

 

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag–and most recently–Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Millpond. She is also working on another nonficiton book: Living Today, The Power of Now.

 

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com

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