A little bit about Tracie...
Tracie Peterson is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 100 books. Her work in historical romance garnered her the Best Western Romance Author of 2013 by True West Magazine. She was given the Life Time Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers in 2011 and the Career Achievement Award in 2007 from Romantic Times, as well as multiple best book awards.
Tracie has been married to Jim for over 35 years and enjoys working with him on historical research for each of her books. They make their home in the mountains of Montana. They have three grown children and three grandchildren. They also have an adopted family in Africa that has given them another seven grandchildren – two of whom were named for Tracie and Jim.
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Purchase: A Love Transformed
Get to know Tracie...
--> You and Writing
How did you start writing?
I’ve always loved to write and don’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read. I credit my mom for developing the storyteller in me, however. She would give me a pencil and paper in church to keep me quiet (those were the days before children’s church) and tell me to write a story. Of course at that young age most of the story was told in pictures. After church my mom would tell me to tell her my story. I think knowing I would have her undivided attention gave me a reason to create stories. I suppose it drives me still knowing that readers want to hear my stories.
What has kept you writing?
The love and passion I have for storytelling and servicing God.
What or who is the biggest influence in your writing?
That’s a hard question to answer because there are so many. As I mentioned my mother truly stimulated that creativity in my storytelling abilities, my husband has been my right hand in encouragement and historical research, and there are numerous authors who’ve stirred my passion to hone my skills and do a better job.
Why do you write?
For me writing is first and foremost a ministry. I use the stories to show people in situations that are similar to ones we’ve all gone through and then I try to offer Biblical insight and encouragement. I also try to always include the Gospel message of salvation. I know there are so many people out there who won’t read the Bible, but who love historical fiction. This is a nice, non-preachy way to share God’s Word with them. I always tell people I want my books to do three things. I call them my 3E’s. I want them to entertain, educate and encourage.
--> Your Writing
Tell us a little bit about your book...
Why did you write it?
I love history and the history of Yogo sapphires found only in Montana was something I could research right in my own backyard – well at least my own state.
Do you have a favorite character in this work?
If so, why? I think I would have to say Auntie Madeline and Unnca Paul because I based them on my own aunt and uncle. They are very dear people to me and quite wise.
What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
That God is a God of second chances and there is nothing so terrible about us that He can’t forgive and make right if we let Him.
What’s the theme? How did you come up with it?
Second Chances. I was actually influenced by something I’d heard someone say about their past being so bad that even God couldn’t forgive it. It saddened me to think that people out there honestly believe God incapable of something. I wanted to show how God is all about reconciliation and new starts.
What was a challenge you faced while writing it?
Satan is always trying to interfere with my work since it’s a ministry for God’s glory. There were all sorts of family issues and problems, as well as some health problems for me. However, God got me through as He always does.
What did you learn while writing it?
I learned quite a bit about the espionage going on in American during World War I.
Is there a funny story associated with writing the book?
I named the twins in the story after the children of a friend of mine. When she told the kids about this they were all excited and one of them exclaimed, “Now we’re going to be famous.” It made me giggle.
Was there a passage of scripture you came across or used while writing it that you’d like to share?
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
2nd Corinthians 10:5
Did you get to do any fun research for the book?
Always. I got to research sheep farms in Montana.
We're your characters easy to pin down or did you discover them along the way as you wrote the book?
They were well defined from the beginning. I knew I wanted to create a story about people’s past mistakes binding them and keeping them from moving ahead. It was easy enough to draw on examples from my own life and that of others around me.
What made you choose the setting for the book?
The books starts in New York City and moves to Montana. This happened for a couple of reasons. I wanted to show some of the espionage going on in New York during WWI, while keeping the entire series grounded in Montana.
What's the most random thing you had to Google for the story?
Cemeteries in New York in 1917
What was one thing (or character) that surprised you while writing this book?
Well, I knew my hero was going to have had a bad time in his youth, but I didn’t realize he was going to have served time in prison until I got into the story and it just seemed natural as I was talking about him taking up with the wrong kind of people.
What’s your favorite snack while writing?
Chocolate of course.
Let’s talk about your writing life...
How long did you write before you got published?
I tried to get published from about the time I was 12, but it wasn’t until I was 33 that I got my first book contract.
What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”?
I have a soft spot in my heart for new and young writers. It’s a hard industry to break into, but not an impossible one. I encourage new authors young and old to go to writer conferences. I can’t stress the value of them because you get to take classes and talk one-on-one with authors, editors and agents. The experience is invaluable and although expensive it has the potential to pay back in writing benefits.
How many rejection letters did you get before being accepted by a publisher?
Too many to count
Are you a Panster or Plotter?
Definitely a Plotter
What does your writing process look like?
I start looking for new ideas whenever I read or travel. Once a subject strikes me as something I’d like to write about, I start reading everything I can get my hands on about that event, time period, etc. Then I write an outline of what I would want to accomplish in a 3 book series. Almost all of my books are a part of series so it just happens that way. When I have this in hand, I turn it in to the publisher for their approval and then start putting together a detailed synopsis for the first book. I am almost always research one book, while plotting out another, while writing a third and sometimes doing galley proofs for a fourth.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?
Going through galleys. My books are turned into the publisher a year in advance, but final galleys come about 4-6 months before publication. This is the final read through I’ll have before the book is published and by then I’ve moved on to so many other projects.
Are there any books or resources you could recommend to younger writers looking to grow in their craft?
There are a lot of great resources out there and like I mentioned – the writer conferences are some of the best places to learn about these. Another thing I encourage new writers to do is read, read and read some more. Read a book once for pleasure then read it again and start taking it apart. I especially encourage this with best-sellers. I encourage them to make a list of what they liked and didn’t like. Why do they think this book became a best seller? Make a list of characters and their characteristics. This helps them learn to develop characters. Do the same for the details of the time period and the setting. Plot out the book in a chapter outline. This is one of the best ways I know to learn how to do some of this stuff first hand.
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In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
Chocolate chip pumpkin nut bread. Yum!
When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be?
A doctor and writer
Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month?
I had to laugh – for me – every month is National Novel Writing Month. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and write and read.
What are you currently reading?
A stack of research books on the Rogue River Indian wars and San Francisco 1906 Earthquake. For fiction, I have Becky Wade’s Undeniably Yours.
Emilie here: Thank you so much for being my guest Tracie! Isn't this a fantastic interview and what a generious giveaway! Make sure you share it around :)