It's an every other Tuesday, which means I owe you a blog. But I'm begging off for a day or three 'cause I've been super busy with a fantastic project at work as well as a writing conference this past weekend. The blog, when I do get it posted, will be about the conference and include narrative structure and a hitman and Paul Newman and helicopters and HALO jumps and Myers-Briggs and third person limited point of view.
Are you intrigued yet?
Hi, Tracey, and welcome! Let’s see if I can manage to not sound like I’m really uncomfortable on a first date so…tell me about you!
Hi Taylor, and thank you for hosting me today! I’m writing from small-town Minnesota, where I live with my hubby and two kids, age 5 and 10. I work a full-time job, running our family motorcycle business.
At heart I am a storyteller; I love digging deep into a character and exploring how things that happen in their life impact and transform them. I’ve published two novels (both of which have been winners or finalists in contests), and my third will release this summer.
Writing being number one, of course!, what other activities do you enjoy?
My favorite way to spend time is riding my motorcycle, especially if my kids and hubby are with me. Unfortunately, here in Minnesota I’m lucky if I can stretch that to seven months of the year.
I’m also a vocalist (I’ve released two cover songs and been featured on other albums) and play taiko drums, which is like a cross between martial arts and banging on BIG drums (great exercise!). I’ve even toyed with video and production; in fact, my second music video, featuring a female motorcyclist, was just released: http://www.traceycramerkelly.com/cool-rider-music-video/
Do you have a writing schedule?
Do you have a favorite line from a book? Something literary and insightful, or so hilarious you snortle (that's a combination of snorting and chortling) every time you read it? I have favorite movie lines, and at least once a week I catch myself on Facebook posting a line or two of lyrics that struck me from whatever song was playing, but I realized I don't have any favorite book lines. Or even excerpts.
I'm always so envious of authors who find that exact phrase from Shakespeare or the Bible or some other piece of literature to start off a chapter. I read Shakespeare and honestly just get lost in the jumble of words, yet others can pluck out that one line that will perfectly define Part 2 of their novel. (I'm looking at you, Nora Roberts!)
So what's your favorite line(s)?
Though I don't have one from literature, I did memorize the first stanza of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Kubla Khan while in high school, and that imagery of emerald grass, clear water, and black caves has always stuck with me. As did the sibilance of Edgar Allan Poe's silken, sad, and uncertain violet draperies. Plus, I've always looked for ways to use the verb "wrought" in conversation without referencing pretty iron balconies.
I’m kind of addicted to music and I’ll have it playing 24/7 if possible. When I’m at work (my 9-5 office job) I usually have a classical station playing on Pandora. I love strings, and classical music makes for good background noise that doesn't interfere when I’m on the phone. It also ensures I don’t sing along and annoy my office-mate with my horrible voice. A songstress I am not!
On Fridays, if you follow me on Twitter or have liked my page on Facebook (yes, that’s a shameless plug), you’ll know that I usually pump up the jam in the office a bit. My office-mate works from home on Fridays, so I start the weekend early with some dubstep, which is dance music remixed by aliens, if you’ve never heard it.
When I’m writing, classical is best to keep me focused. But when I get stuck in a story and just can’t figure out what my characters are going to do next, I turn to country music for some inspiration. Almost every country song tells a story and that 3-5 minute mini-tale will get my creative juices flowing again. It doesn't matter if Hank Sr. is crying in his beer, Alabama is playing the fiddle in Texas, or Carrie Underwood is taking a baseball bat to her cheatin' ex's truck.
I’ve had satellite radio in my car since 2005 and there are many, many, many things I would give up (like cable and broccoli and my 401(k)) before I surrendered that radio. Long road trips will run the gamut from Ke$ha to Led Zeppelin to Bing Crosby to Tobias Hume (look him up, dude’s got a very interesting history). My satellite radio is portable, so if I know I’m taking a long trip in someone else’s vehicle, I have been known to bring it along just in case!
The clock radio at my bedside goes staticky when my phone is plugged in to charge near it, so at night I’ll turn on my tablet for music while I fall asleep. Sleepy time often includes Jason Mraz, Italian pop star Tiziano Ferro, or more classical. Are you seeing a pattern here?
There are two musical pieces I could listen to on an infinite repeat – J. S. Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: Prélude and Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The first time I remember hearing the Bach piece was in the movie Master and Commander. It’s a short piece featuring a single cello, under three minutes, but if I had to choose only one piece of music to enjoy for the rest of my life, that would be it. Barber’s Adagio is quite well-known also, and many people remember it from the movie Platoon.
What’s your soundtrack for life? Do you enjoy certain music in certain situations, or do you mainly stick with one genre?
This wasn't my original idea for a topic this week, but I watched Looper this weekend and it just cemented my love for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Who would have ever thought the long-haired kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun would turn into a Hollywood badass?
Then I looked up his work on IMDB and he has been in everything! Seriously, dude was in Family Ties and Murder She Wrote, China Beach, Quantum Leap, A River Runs Through It, Dr. Quinn and Roseanne. Everything!
So I’m tracing how nerdy Joe Gordon-Levitt turned into (okay, still admittedly kinda nerdy, but in a good way) upcoming action star JGL who is probably going to have his own Batman movie as Robin. He’s exactly what I think of when I hear the term “beta badass.” Beta heroes are pretty well-known in romance, but I’ve haven’t seen a lot of them in movies. I don’t watch much TV, so maybe I’m missing them all there.
What other beta badasses am I missing? Which actors play an unexpectedly awesome alpha character?
Lately, I’ve become a bit more analytical in my thinking about books. One of the things I’ve considered is what I like in a romance hero and who writes that hero best – in my opinion, of course! Sarah from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and I had a short discussion about this a couple weeks ago.
Linda Howard is the first author who comes to mind that writes the heroes I love. They are uber-alpha, supremely capable in every situation, and yet (often) completely befuddled by their attraction to and adoration of females who don’t necessarily make sense to their male minds.
I think my first Howard novel was Midnight Rainbow starring Grant Sullivan, secret operative extraordinaire, and a feisty rich woman. I don’t remember much about her, but I do remember that Sullivan was pretty darned swoon-worthy, especially considering I was a teenager when I read that book. But Sullivan’s not the only one. John Medina, who finally got his own woman in All the Queen’s Men after having cameo appearances in previous books, is another super spy who doesn’t break a sweat while the bullets are flying around him.
Howard’s heroes don’t have to be mercenaries or spies – though I’m certainly not complaining! – but they will be men who can maintain control of 99% of their environment. And they just might shoot the other 1%. Ben Lewis, the Amazon guide in Heart of Fire, and James Diaz from Cry No More, are two men who may occasionally take questionable moral stances in extenuating circumstances, yet they are 110% devoted to the safety and health of their women, even when they don’t understand what the women are planning or why.
She has also written two of my favorite cops (though I do adore Nelson deMille’s John Corey, but those aren’t romance, so we’ll save that for another day) in the hilarious Sam Donovan from Mr. Perfect and Dane Hollister in Dream Man. Honestly, how can you not love a man who ends up with sympathy labor pains?
And speaking of Danes, or Dains as it were, I have to add Sebastian Ballister, the Marquess of Dain, from Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels to my list. Not only is Dain another uber-alpha male completely confounded and besotted by Jessica Trent, LoS is simply one of the best romance novels ever written. Ever. Seriously. I’m pretty sure there are scientific papers quantifying that.
Who writes your favorite male characters, romance or not?
Remember MySpace? Of course you do. Remember those silly surveys with random questions that everyone would fill out? Of course you do. Well, I decided to bring them back.
On January 1st, 2013, we're going old skool! We're blogging up in here like it's 2005!
What is your favorite Kool-Aid flavor?
I like the green colored ones.
Do you have a wireless keyboard and mouse?
Do you like it when toothpaste bubbles in your mouth?
No! I use the Arm and Hammer brand to ensure I don’t get the bubbles.
How many songs are on your iPod or MP3 Player?
I would have to find my iPod to know that and I lost it months and months ago. I’ve lost every iPod I've ever owned since the first one in 2007.
Do you save Bed Bath and Beyond coupons?
Yes. The real question is whether I ever remember to use them.
When did you last eat waffles?
I don’t remember, though I did buy a waffle iron a few years ago.
What color is your bed comforter?
What is your favorite radio station?
DC101 in Washington DC; there used to be a great rock station in Savannah when I was stationed there in the late 90s.
Oh my gosh, you guys!!!
Not only was this my very first RWA conference, I was also extremely privileged to present a workshop with five of my amazing RomVet sisters on creating military characters -- Not Every Man in Uniform is a Navy SEAL! Developing Military Characters to Steal Readers' Hearts. If you didn't get a chance to sit in, the session was recorded and will be available on the CD/DVD.
If you did get up early enough on Saturday morning to see us live and in person - THANK YOU!!! We had over 30 attendees, quite a few of whom were veterans or military family members themselves, and we were so happy to see a great turnout. Hopefully we were able to offer you some useful information on the military in general and good resources for research.
Check my website again in a couple days, and I'll have AJ Brower's handout and Heather Ashby's characteristics worksheet both available for download.
I want you all to know how amazingly, awesomely, wonderfully welcoming Geri Krotow and Jo Anne Pinney were to me. I stayed with my bestie in Long Beach, so I commuted to Anaheim for the conference each day. Jo Anne handed me a key to their room and told me to use it any time I wished - to power nap during the day, take a bit of quiet time away from the crowds, stay overnight if I didn't want drive back to the house, whatever I needed. Geri introduced me to tons of new people from writers to editors to other RomVets and always made sure to point out opportunities to further my writing career. These two ladies made my first conference, an event with over 2000 strangers I was expected to hang out with for three days, a fabulous introduction to the writing world.
The event culminated with a delicious dinner and the RITA Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening. After three jam-packed days of Spotlights and workshops and introductions, it was great to get away from the hotel for a quiet and friendly dinner with Jo Anne, Geri and Teresa Bodwell at the Citrus City Grille in Orange, California. Seriously, eat at this place if you're in the OC. It's near Chapman University and on an adorable little downtown street filled with fun shops. Every bite of food we tried was delicious. When we told the server we were on a tight schedule, he ensured we were in and out quickly while maintaining great service.
Back at the hotel, we were excited for Heather's nomination as a Golden Heart Finalist for Cat on a Hot Steel Flight Deck and very proud of Cindy Dees for her RITA win with Soldier's Last Stand.
I really think our official motto should be RomVets ROCK!
...I'm completing this website. If there is information you'd like to see posted that isn't, let me know in the Comments below or by sending me a message from the Contact page.