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Guest Post and Author Interview: Tracy Smith, author of Cedar Hollow

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Author bio:
I grew up in Southern California, but as a teenager moved with my family to a small town in Arkansas. It was there that I met my husband, who had also recently moved to the state. Fate brought us both to that same small town and into each other’s lives and it is where we remain today raising our two children and living out our happily ever after. As you can probably tell I’m a hopeless romantic.
I began my writing career in 2009 with the publication of my first novel Love’s Fate, which quickly grew into a romantic series. Since that first day that I sat down to write I haven’t been able to stop. Writing is my passion and has become a necessary part of my life. My new release, Cedar Hollow, is a romantic suspense novel.
Cedar Hollow blurb:
Cassidy St. Claire still wasn’t sure what she’d been hoping to find when she began the search for her birth parents, but all she’d uncovered was a bunch of death certificates and one ailing great-uncle who’d finally kicked the bucket last week. Since Cassidy is the last surviving member of the family that means his estate, a small seaside bed and breakfast in New Hampshire, has been left to her. An odd stipulation in his Will requires that she appear in person to inherit the property. Cassidy isn’t very hopeful that this weekend trip will lead to anything more than a momentary distraction from her busy life, and an excuse to take her convertible for a long drive up the coast.
She certainly isn’t prepared for Mr. Tall Handsome and Brooding; Ben Riley has been running the bed and breakfast for the last several years, and he is definitely less than welcoming. His instant dislike for her is staggering, but his penetrating green eyes burn with a dangerous mixture of hostility and attraction.
Within days of her arrival an attempt is made on her life and then another. Suddenly Cassidy finds herself trying to unravel the mysteries of the past, while outrunning the dangers of the present and finally turning to the strong, protective arms of Ben Riley and a future she’d never imagined.

ARamone: Do you have any projects you’re working on right now?

Tracy Smith: I’ve actually just started working on a new manuscript. It’s still in the very early stages.

A: (If yes) Can you tell us a bit about it?

T: I don’t usually sit down to write with a full outline in mind, instead I might have a character profile, a setting, possibly a “meet cute” and I just start writing allowing the story to reveal itself to me as I go. It may not be traditional, but that’s my style. So far my lead character has left behind a shattered life to take refuge at a southern plantation home where she will be staying as a summer caretaker. Enter sexy gardener ;).

A: What was your favourite part to write? Why?

T: The early stages of writing a story are the most exhilarating for me, as I get to know my characters and watch the story unfold. For me writing is a lot like reading, I can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen next. It’s a very creative and exciting process.

A: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What’s been the best compliment?

T: The hardest part for me has been the process of trying to get picked up by a traditional publishing house. It’s a very daunting and sometimes discouraging task. I’ve yet to have a really awful review, the biggest criticism I think I’ve received is the suggestion that I use an editor. I took that suggestion to heart and stopped trying to edit my own work :). The best compliment that I’ve received in reviews is when a reader comments that they couldn’t put the book down. For me that’s the highest compliment.

A: What would you like your readers to know about Cedar Hollow or you in general?

T: One of my favorite parts of writing Cedar Hollow was creating the backstory. I had to sketch out a history for this family and give depth to characters who are no longer alive in this particular chapter. So much of that family history did not make it into the final book, it’s only referenced or mentioned when it directly relates to the current plot. But developing those characters was integral to my overall understanding of the family dynamic and helped in creating the mystery that haunts the main characters of Cedar Hollow. I’ve considered actually publishing a prequel to the story, so much of it is already written.

A: Which of your characters would you like to meet in person? Or, are there any that you’d never want to meet?

T: All of them! I love each and every one of my characters. I’ve spent so much time with them, learning who they are. They each hold a place in my heart.

A: E-reader or print book?

T: I finally bought a Kindle last year. Before that I was a regular at the local buy/sell/trade used book store. At first I didn’t think I would like an e-reader, but the convenience of being able to shop and purchase a book and start reading it instantly has hooked me.

A: Ever killed off a character and then later regreted it?

T: As I mentioned before I began Cedar Hollow with the premise that all of Cassidy’s family was deceased. But then as I wrote the story and crafted the mystery that haunts her I had to develop those other characters outside the pages of the novel, and began to feel sad that they had met such tragic ends. With the idea of publishing a prequel my only hesitation is that I know it can’t really have a happy ending.

A: What inspired you to start writing? Are there any authors that you get inspiration from?

T: It all started with an idea about formatting. I thought that it would be interesting to read a book written from two different perspectives telling the same story. This idea slowly grew over the course of several weeks as I imagined what the story would be about if I were to write it. Of course it would be a love story, perhaps the story of how two people met. The story began to develop as I went about my daily life; work, kids, etc. It began to consume my thoughts, to the point that whole chapters were written in my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Finally one Saturday while the kids played I decided to sit down at my computer and just put my thoughts into words. I wasn’t honestly sure how far I would get, but thought at least I could stop obsessing about it. Once I started I couldn’t stop. The story flowed from me, my fingers could barely type fast enough. Three months later I had written a full book. I was just as surprised as anyone else.

This is how Love’s Fate was born. It is the story of how fate drew two people together time and again because they were destined to meet. It is written in alternating first person perspectives, allowing you to experience each encounter from both characters POV.

Through this process I not only fell in love with writing, but also with the characters I’d created. I couldn’t let them go, and Love’s Fate became the first in a romantic series with two follow up titles Love’s Destiny and Love’s Chance. All three books in the Love Trilogy hold to the same alternating perspective format.

Cedar Hollow has been my first new project as a writer. New characters, new format. I went with the traditional third person narrative for this new book, and I’m very happy with it. My Love Trilogy needed to be written that way, but with Cedar Hollow I enjoyed the freedom of being able to break out of that mold.

With each book I feel I’ve learned and grown as an author, and I’ve definitely found my true passion. I love to write.

A: Finally, if you could be any flavour of ice cream, what would you be?

T: Pralines and Cream. It’s rich, sweet and a little bit nutty :)

Aramone is someone who thinks a bit too much about the books she reads, to the point where she can probably give you a detailed break down of all the characters in any novel and how their past, personality and experiences lead to the conclusion of the story, and who writes books for fun. She's a third year in university and as a result has no free time anymore. ARamone owns two ferrets and intends to own more pets, and lives in Pickering, ON.

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