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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Interview With Tracy Krauss

Now that I have finally posted my review of Tracy's book, And the Beat Goes On, she has joined us today to tell us a bit more about herself.  Welcome to Write About Now, Tracy!  I truly enjoyed reading your book and it is a pleasure and a privilege to have you here today.  Can you give us a bit of biographical background to get us started?

I am a teacher, writer, artist, theater director, worship leader – pretty much everything I do revolves around the creative process. I have three daughters and one son who are all grown up. My husband, a chronic adventurer, was also a pastor for ten years, so I have also worn the ‘Pastor’s Wife’ hat.  I grew up in a small prairie town in Saskatchewan, Canada, but I have moved over thirty times in my life.  Many of these moves were to remote northern locations where all kinds of improbable (and sometimes unbelievable) situations arose, usually to do with nature!

Wow! Over thirty times!  And I thought that I had moved around a lot but you certainly have me beat! What were your favorite subjects in school?

I loved Art, History, English and Drama.  I now teach Art, History, English and Drama. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

Do you have a favorite comfort food that you consume when you are under pressure to meet a deadline or are you one of those people who forgets about eating at such times?

I’m one of those people that forget to eat when ‘in the zone’, so I don’t have a writing comfort food. (Or any comfort food. I just like FOOD!)

I think a lot of us can agree with that statement!  What is your least favorite part of the writing process?

If it counts, it is all the marketing and self promotion. Oh, for the days when someone else did it all and you could just sit back and be creative!

It counts all right!  I am not yet to that point with my writing but, from all I hear from other writers, I am definitely NOT looking forward to it!  How do you cope with writer's block?

I honestly don’t suffer from writer’s block.  This is probably because I always have several projects on the go at once.  If I get tired of one, or stall out, I just switch to something else.  I’ve currently got three novels finished and in various stages of revision (this is not counting the two I either have published or in the production phase), eleven plays, three WIPs, and about 10 outlines.

That is quite an impressive resume!  If you were not writing, what would you rather be doing?

Another easy question! As an artist, I often struggle to maintain some balance between my writing life and my painting and printmaking. I am also heavily involved in local theater, either directing or doing tech work. I love all of these creative pursuits.

How do you go about approaching the beginning process of a new book?  Are you a plotter or a panster?

I usually start with a brief outline – kind of a rambling synopsis of the basic storyline.  Then I get into characterization.  I am really big on this aspect, perhaps because of my involvement in drama.  I usually construct quite elaborate biographies for all my characters, even minor ones, which of course may change with the writing.  Then I go back and do a more thorough plot map of the sequence of events.  Sometimes I will insert bits of dialogue or description into this as I am inspired to do so.  Then, it’s back to the beginning where I just start hammering out the story itself.  Naturally, things evolve and change as I go along and often I need to go back and revise or change things many times.  Once the first draft is finished, I’ve found it takes about five rewrites (approx) to get it where I want it before I will then give it to a critique partner for suggestions and editing.  No wonder it takes me so long to finish anything!

What's up next for you, Tracy?

I am very excited about my soon to be released novel called MY MOTHER THE MAN EATER.  It is a redemptive story about a forty-something cougar whose life is a mix up of men, mayhem and the mafia.  The book is full of great characters and I am super pumped.  I’ve already had quite a bit of interested feedback.  I think the book is just as engaging as the title.

That sounds very interesting, Tracy.  I will be watching for it, and I am sure that many of your fans are eagerly awaiting its release.  On a parting note, do you have any words of wisdom for those of us who are still among the ranks of aspiring but as yet unpublished?

For people that are truly writers (ie: those of us that are driven to write no matter what) don’t get discouraged when it seems like nobody is listening.  I have been writing for over twenty-five years, and the satisfaction I get from expressing myself through the written word is enough to keep me going, whether anyone actually reads it or not.  Having said that, I believe that as a Christian my entire life (which includes my writing life) is in the sovereign care of God’s mighty hands.  Therefore, I must also release that aspect of my life to Him, knowing that my success as a writer is not dependant on sales, but on obedience to what He has placed in my heart to write and on what He has gifted me to do.

There is so much wisdom in those remarks - thank you for sharing them with us.  Thanks for joining us today, Tracy.  It was a real pleasure to have you on Write About Now.  Readers, don't forget to click on the review of Tracy's book to enter the giveaway that is currently ongoing.  The giveaway will end on November 1st, so get your comments posted for a chance to win this terrific book.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway ... And the Beat Goes On by Tracy Krauss

At long last, here is the book review that I have been promising for about two weeks now.  Thanks for your patience as I feverishly try to catch up on so many things that have been piling up.  Did you ever have those times where you felt like you were behind on everything and, no matter which direction you turned, there was something else waiting on every side that should have been done a long time ago?  Well, I am going through one of those periods in my life and I have to say that I just don't like it.  The mental pressure of knowing that things are still pending that should have been done long ago is not a pleasant experience.

Enough about my problems; let us proceed to more pleasant topics.  

About the book:

If you enjoy a book with lots of intrigue, hidden agendas, mystery, deceit, betrayal, and a bit of romance thrown in for good measure, then you will enjoy And the Beat Goes On by Tracy Krauss. Tracy told me that the book is officially categorized as "Romantic Suspense"  but I felt that other elements of mystery and suspense were predominant and the romance was not the main element of the story.    

The book begins in an ancient time in the heart of Africa in the area that  is now known as Zimbabwe.  (See map below for location).  
   
Tracy certainly knows how to grab her reader and draws them in with her very first words.  In her prologue, she portrays the enactment of a pagan ritual in extremely vivid detail and such gruesome acts of violence and depravity are committed that I felt unclean after reading it and felt the need to purify my mind.

She immediately jumps from this scene to the present day where Canadian-born archaeologist Mark Graham has uncovered artifacts which are the remains of the ancient civilization and proof of the existence of the mythical race of the Nephilim.  His find is so startling and of such import to the scientific community that Mark is guaranteed a place in the annals of history for his discovery.  Unfortunately for him, his find also places him at odds with members of governments, political factions, and even his fellow scientists.  This discovery causes Mark and some of his crew to begin to rethink their stance on creation and other important Biblical events.

When Mark begins to document some of his data, the government of Zimbabwe steps in to take control of the site and suddenly Mark is not only desperately trying to salvage his research and his reputation, he is also fleeing for his life.  Who is it that could possibly be so threatened by Mark's discovery that they want him dead?  Who is it that will benefit from Mark's death?  Tracy keeps the reader guessing throughout the book as to the answer to these questions.  It is astonishing to discover the great lengths that scientists and politicians will go to in order to keep the Truth from being revealed.
   
Thus begins the chase and the race for Mark to reveal the results of his excavation before he is either arrested or killed.  Through it all, God is dealing with Mark and showing him the truth about the reality of God's word; Mark is slowly being drawn back to a place with God that he had left behind years ago. 

This book is a very well-written and suspense-filled tale and contains just enough factual material to make a plausible story; a story that will cause some people to think again about the various theories that are espoused in order to discredit the facts about the creation.  I was not aware until after reading And the Beat Goes On that it is a prequel to Play It Again. I did not feel that there was anything that I could not understand due to not having read the first book and this book can stand alone quite nicely.

About the author:

[laughing+-+Sept+2010.jpg]Tracy Krauss grew up in Saskatchewan and has been writing stories, plays, and novels for over twenty years.  She received her Bachelor of Education degree in Saskatoon and lives in British Colombia with her husband and four children.  In addition to being a writer, Tracy also teaches high school English, drama, and art.  To read more about Tracy, you can visit her at Expression Express.

Tracy has provided a signed copy of her book for a giveaway.  This is a book that I am very reluctant to part with so whoever is the lucky winner of the giveaway will be getting an excellent prize.  This is not just any book - it is a very nice hardback copy and will make a nice addition to your personal library.  For a chance to win Tracy's book, leave a comment along with your email address in this format: jdoe[at]younameit[dot]com.  For an extra chance to win, please let me know if you are a follower of my blog.  The giveaway will run until November 1, 2010. 

As stated, the book for this giveaway has been provided by the author. I am not responsible for the content or for any comments made by the author or publisher. Giveaways are void where prohibited and are limited to the United States only. Chances of winning are dependent upon the number of valid entries. At the conclusion of every contest, a random winner is drawn and will be notified, providing they have met the giveaway stipulations. If the winner does not respond within one week, a second drawing will be held.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My humble apologies ...

I apologize to all of you who have been patiently waiting for the book review and giveaway that I promised was forthcoming.  You know what they say about good intentions, don't you?  Well, I had the best of intentions but somehow life has managed to interfere with those good intentions and has kept me away from the keyboard for far too long.  I won't bore you with the mundane details but I just wanted to let you know that I am currently working on two book reviews/giveaways with two additional ones lined up to follow shortly after.  

Thank you for your patience.  Please keep watching because I really hope to be able to post the giveaways within the next couple of days.   That's a promise!

We had a bit of excitement at our house today.  After weeks and weeks of practically no rain at all, we finally had a storm today.  It was a real doozy too!  One minute the skies were perfectly clear and  the sun was relentlessly beating down on the dried earth.  As I left the school this afternoon, I stood in the parking lot discussing with some coworkers about how hot it has been for mid-October.  We were talking about the fact that it appeared as if the predicted rain was not going to happen.  The newspaper today said that rain was coming but "would not be enough to make a difference."  Ha!  Less than a hour later the sky suddenly darkened, the wind became ferocious, and huge hailstones pelted down on the unfortunate vehicles.  It was spectacular in its intensity. 

Meanwhile, I had arrived home from work and gone to lay down for a minute before beginning dinner preparations.  I heard the sound of heavy equipment outside the house but gave it little thought because it is, after all, harvest season and our house is surrounded by fields.  Five minutes later, my husband walked in the door, calling out for me and asked me if I was unaware that there was a fire in our front yard!  Yes, I was completely unaware!  It seems that lightning struck one of our ancient and stately trees and, due to the fact that everything is completely bereft of moisture, it caught ablaze internally and flames were spouting quite a few feet into the air.    

I am so thankful to God that the fire was no worse than it was.  We live in the country, several miles from the volunteer fire station, and it could have been much worse if some Samaritan driving by had not seen the flames and called the fire department when they did.   There is a stand of trees near where the fire was that could easily have burst into flames too and the fire could have then spread to our four and a half acres of woods.  Since the woods is an unofficial sanctuary for the local wildlife, that would have been a disaster.   Thankfully, all is well, the fire is out, and the rain assured that the last surviving embers were extinguished.  We have lost another of the beautiful trees that were what initially attracted us to this house; but trees can, and will, be replaced and someone, many years down the road, will enjoy the tree that will be planted to replace the one that we lost today.