Writing Process Update – Revision Stage!

Here’s another update for those of you who enjoy hearing about my writing process.

I’ve completed the first draft of my new book. I actually typed THE END almost two weeks ago, but then proceeded directly to the second draft, also known as the beginning of my revision stage.

Which I love.

The first draft is where you meet your characters and learn about their world.

Revision is where you find your story.

I feel – very strongly – that this stage is the most important part of the entire writing process (and for me it’s obviously the most enjoyable). You find out a lot about your characters in the first draft, but in order to develop them fully – to give them dimension, to make them leap off the page, to ensure their actions make sense – you need to be able to look at the story –and the active role your characters play in it – as a whole. And I really can’t do that until I’ve written the first draft.

The first thing I do when I start the second draft is send the first draft to my Kindle. Then, as I read the entire manuscript straight through, I highlight sections and take notes, adding them to the items I’ve already listed in my revision checklist. For example, there is an element of the hero’s backstory in the first draft that is totally cliché, and I’m sort of embarrassed that I couldn’t see it. But that’s one example of why revision is so important. Often the first idea that pops into your mind is the one everyone would probably think of, so it needs to be replaced by something not quite as obvious. A character’s backstory is part of the reason they act the way they do, and – bonus! – the element I came up with in the second draft actually makes more sense for the hero. Double bonus – it added some more dimension to a secondary character as well. This is the power of revision. 

I mentioned in my earlier updates that I’d written a synopsis of this book for my agent, and that it had really helped give me a road map to follow as I wrote the first draft. But with the good comes the bad, and there was one particular plot point in the synopsis that really didn’t work the way I needed it to once I’d written it. And that drove me NUTS because it was a pivotal plot point and I thought it would be so awesome when I finally got to write it.

But it wasn’t awesome.

At all.

Because by the time I wrote it, I knew a lot more about my characters and their motivations. And the reactions of both characters in this particular chapter didn’t really ring true for the stage they were at in their relationship. This realization was incredibly frustrating and at first I tried to force a solution, which only made it worse.

Last week I was on vacation with my family for spring break. I had lots of time to let my mind wander and when the answer finally came to me, I realized where I’d gone wrong and what I needed to do to fix it. But I was only able to do this by looking at the story as a whole (and allowing myself the necessary time to figure it out). Interestingly, I had originally planned for this chapter to occur earlier in the book but then moved it a few chapters later. This no longer works, so I’m re-writing the whole chapter and moving it to where I’d originally planned for it to go. Sometimes this is the only course of action and I’m just thankful it was one chapter and not half a book. However, any time you pull a plot thread you run the risk of loosening something in another location, which means I now have a few other things that also have to be changed and moved.

That’s okay. That’s revision.

One of the other things I’m able to do once I have a completed first draft is look at my story arc. I like using a three act structure (you may need to click on the picture to see it better).

3-act-structure

This doesn’t mean it has to be followed 100%. But it’s a great way to see if I’ve got rising action (including enough smaller conflicts), a big enough main conflict, and a nice wrap up.

I hope to be done with my revisions by early May. Then I’ll send the manuscript off for beta feedback. After that, I’ll write the third draft, do a hard line edit for grammar and rhythm, and give it a final polish. This is why I’ll probably always be a 1 book a year (or maybe 1 book plus a novella) author. I’ve learned (the hard way) that I really do need this much time in order to be satisfied with a book.

I would love to give you more details about this book (including why I decided to write it) and hope to do so in the next couple of months. I can tell you that it’s not The Girl He Used to Know, which is what I had planned to write next. I’ll still be writing that one, but not until I’ve completed my current project. This new book is straight-up adult contemporary romance, which is something I haven’t done since On the Island (at least in a full-length novel). After the heavier subject matter of Every Time I Think of You, I really needed to write something a little lighter (and I think my readers are ready for that, too).

In one word, this book is fun. The hero and heroine have lots of dialogue (and banter!). There is an external conflict in addition to the romantic conflict, which is my favorite kind of contemporary romance. Many of you have asked for a bit more steam, and I tried my best to kick it up a bit. However, you still won’t see certain words because I don’t think they’re necessary, nor do I personally find them romantic. The heat level of this book is similar to Jill Shalvis (who’s an author I love).    

So there you have it! I’m very excited about sharing more on this project in the coming months.

Tracey

 

 

Cherish Is Available Now!

Hello, everyone!

Today I’m celebrating the release of Cherish, the novella-length sequel to Covet. I want to thank everyone who reached out to me over the past year, asking if I might consider writing a sequel to the story. It’s because of you that I finally decided to continue the story from Daniel’s, and his ex-wife Jessie’s, point of view.

Here are the places you can find Cherish:

Amazon US (e-book and paperback)

Amazon UK 

Amazon Canada 

Amazon Australia 

Apple

Barnes & Noble 

Kobo

(Major Covet spoilers from this point forward).

For the longest time, I had no plans to write a sequel. But something happened during the revision of Covet which left the door wide open for me to explore a particular storyline. I didn’t know at the time how grateful I would be for that.

The ending in the published version of Covet is different than in the earlier drafts because in those drafts, Daniel did not survive being shot in the line of duty. I wrote funeral and cemetery scenes and was pretty much a bawling mess during the whole time I was writing them.

I’m not exactly George R. R. Martin, but characters can and do die in my books (7 so far, if anyone’s counting. Is that a lot? I sort of feel like it is). Anyway, I point this out only to highlight that it’s not out of the realm of possibility for me to kill off someone. But sometime during the writing of Covet, Daniel’s death started to feel a bit gratuitous to me. Was I killing him in the name of emotional manipulation instead of what was best for the story? Also, I’m a big fan of characters having to answer for their actions, and if Daniel wasn’t in the picture there would really be no reason for Claire to ever tell Chris about her and Daniel’s relationship. Before I sent the manuscript to my beta readers and editor, I told them I had an alternate ending I wanted to discuss but that they should read the original first. If memory serves, it was pretty unanimous that killing off Daniel worked fine, but that not killing him worked better. One of my betas said, “You know what I kept thinking? That I wished there was someone for Daniel so that he could have his own happily-ever-after. Like maybe with Jessie.” We brainstormed a little and I mentioned the idea about Jessie still being listed as Daniel’s emergency contact. It all fell into place fairly quickly after that, and I re-wrote the ending. And in the back of my mind I knew the story wouldn’t be complete until I explored how this new ending would ultimate affect Daniel and Jessie.

I guess you’re all about to find out.

Please head over to my author page on Facebook for the opportunity to win signed copies of On the Island, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, and Cherish.

xoxo,

Tracey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Time I Think of You Is Available Now!

Hello, everyone!

ETITOY AmazonGRSWToday I’m celebrating the release of my third full-length novel, Every Time I Think of You, and I’d love for you to celebrate with me. I’ve been waiting rather excitedly for the release of this book, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of this post so you can enter the giveaway. There are lots of fabulous prizes up for grabs, including signed books, gift cards, an ARC of my next book, and the opportunity to name one of the characters!

One of the questions I’m often asked is, “How did you come up with the idea for this book?” My books are fairly plot-driven, and Every Time I Think of You was no different. I could see the opening scene in my head like a movie so I knew what the inciting incident – in other words, the event that would send the main characters’ lives in another direction – would be. But in this case, my opening scene was the result of not only plot, but also a character. I have wanted to write a book where the main character was a crime reporter for a while now. I tend to gravitate toward heroes who are regular guys, and I wanted to see what would happen when I put this particular hero into various situations (and a little hot water). What would he do? How would he react? What, exactly, was he made of?

However, if main character Brooks McClain was going to be a crime reporter, that meant I had to come up with a crime (which ultimately, I’d have to solve). I’ve never written a book with a mystery or suspense element before, but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that get in the way of telling this story. I’ve said time and time again that I never want to be an author who writes the same book over and over, but with that motto comes challenges. I have to deal with the discomfort that comes from tackling something different than I’ve done before, and often this means learning new things.

I have a love/hate relationship with research. I keep telling myself I’m going to write a book that doesn’t require as much research, and then I write a book that requires extensive research. I should really start listening to myself! Some of the things I did in the name of research for Every Time I Think of You included taking a four-hour firearms safety course and learning how to load and shoot a gun, which was something I didn’t have any experience with.

I also studied ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, by reading memoirs and poring over countless websites dedicated to the disease. Although the timing of the recent ALS ice bucket challenge is merely a coincidence, it makes me happy to know that this devastating illness is receiving such an outpouring of support from the general public.

I studied addiction, specifically methamphetamine addiction. What I learned was heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and often tragic. In total, I read six memoirs about addiction and read countless online articles. I watched a fascinating Frontline documentary from PBS about methamphetamine addiction and its effects on law enforcement and the community.

I reached out to a criminal defense attorney in California so that I could gain an understanding of that state’s legal processes, and I spent several hours in person and on the phone with my cousin Jack, who is a detective with the Des Moines Police Department. Jack was instrumental in explaining the outcomes of all the different scenarios I proposed (naturally, I named the detective character after him). I interviewed three different crime reporters (who all told me slightly different things), and one of them saved me from a potentially embarrassing gaffe. In Every Time I Think of You, I include an actual newspaper article written by Brooks McClain. Newspaper reporters use the Associated Press Stylebook to ensure that their articles are written correctly whereas The Chicago Manual of Style is the go-to guide for fiction writers. The crime reporter who proofed my article had me make a small tweak so that it was correct in form.

I spoke to a nurse, to make sure I got the details of Daisy’s DiStefano’s work schedule correct. There were less significant things I needed the answers to, such as what kind of jewelry a nurse would be permitted to wear to work and what floor she might work on if she were involved with a particular patient.

In addition to the factual research necessary to write this story, I also had to choose the path I’d take to solve the crime. I learned that there were a few different ways I could handle this: One, I could write the story in such a way that the reader would probably not know who committed the crime until the very end. Two, I could choose the slightly-less-suspenseful route and let the reader be privy to clues that would allow them to guess the identity of the perpetrator much earlier. That way, I could let the focus of the story rest on how the person would be brought to justice. I chose option two because I felt it would lend emotional resonance and depth to the story.

Now that I knew how I’d tell the story, I needed to concentrate on the characters. I usually have a pretty good outline in place before I sit down to start writing. This method doesn’t work for everyone, but for me it helps to have a roadmap of sorts so that I don’t waste too much time writing myself into corners. This is not a spoiler because you know from the blurb that the book deals with the aftermath of the death of Daisy’s beloved grandmother. However, once I was about a fourth of the way through the first draft, I realized that the character I’d chosen to commit the crime didn’t actually do it.

I fought it for a while, but the more I got to know these characters, the more I realized my inner muse was right. This person couldn’t have done it.

Delete, delete, delete, delete. Sigh.

The real perpetrator had a motive, but it was subtle and at first I couldn’t see it. And the person who I’d originally intended to commit the crime was actually somewhat responsible. But it will be up to the reader to draw their own conclusions about what transpired that evening in Daisy’s grandmother’s apartment, because the opening chapter of the book is narrated by Daisy’s three-year-old son, who has a very limited ability to explain it. I actually first wrote this opening chapter from the point-of-view of Daisy’s grandmother, Pauline. It gave the book a much darker tone than I wanted so I scrapped it and decided to let Elliott take the reins.

There is also one final plot thread that I chose not to tie up with a big red ribbon. Initially I wrote a paragraph that would have explained why a certain character made the choice that he did, but then I realized it wasn’t necessary. Readers are smart and book discussions are extra fun when there’s a bit of speculation involved.

I’m not an especially fast or prolific writer, and that’s fine with me. Between the research and the actual writing time, this book took fourteen months to complete, and there were times I wanted to pull my hair out. I’d told my husband there were a couple of twists I was hoping to pull off, but wasn’t sure I knew how to accomplish them. I told several people that writing this book made my brain hurt (but one of the readers who received an advance copy told me she kept saying to herself as she read it, “This book is so smart!”). When I hear feedback like that, it tells me that everything I did in the name of Every Time I Think of You was worth it.

I hope you enjoy Brooks and Daisy’s story.

Synopsis

Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child.

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe.

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before.

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost.

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.

Buy Every Time I Think of You

Amazon US (paperback and e-book)
Barnes & Noble (paperback and e-book)
Apple
Kobo
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK
Amazon Australia

Giveaway (open internationally)

ONE WINNER WILL RECEIVE:

  1. ONE signed copy of each book: On the Island, Covet, and Every Time I Think of You
  2. $50 gift cards to Amazon and Barnes & Noble
  3. An ARC of my next work-in-progress, The Girl He Used to Know (an adult contemporary second-chance romance novel); and
  4. Finally, I will either use the winner’s name in The Girl He Used to Know (first name or last name only, or your actual real name if comfortable) OR the winner can suggest a name for a character.

**The restrictions are that it will not be the name of a main character. It will be a supporting or minor character. Also, this is a fictional character. It is not a character based on the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Every Time I Think of You and Cherish Pre-Order Links

Hello, everyone!

It’s hard to believe that the publication of Every Time I Think of You is only a few weeks away. Cherish is not far behind and will be here in a couple of months.

Two releases six weeks apart? How did that happen? I’m just as surprised as you are.

Here are the pre-order links for Every Time I Think of You (release date 9/16/14). I thought it would be easier to put them all in one post instead of trying to post them individually on Facebook and Twitter.

Amazon US (e-book and paperback)

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia 

Barnes & Noble

Apple

Kobo

 

Here are the pre-order links for Cherish (Covet, #1.5) (release date 10/28/14).

Amazon US (e-book and paperback)

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Barnes & Noble

Apple

Kobo 

Happy Friday!!

 

 

 

 

Cherish Cover Reveal!

Hello, everyone!

I’m so excited to share the cover of Cherish with you today. Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations has once again worked her magic. Isn’t it gorgeous?

*If you haven’t read Covet, consider the rest of this post a spoiler.*

Readers have been asking me for almost a year if Daniel would ever get his own happily-ever-after. For the longest time I wasn’t even really considering it. I didn’t have anything in mind for how I’d want the story to play out, but then an idea hit me pretty hard. Suddenly, Daniel (and Jessie) were all I could think about. I typed furiously, trying to get all my thoughts down so I wouldn’t lose them. I told my husband I wanted to write the story and I outlined it for him when we were in the car (I had a captive audience – he couldn’t escape and had to listen to me ramble on).

So, if you’ve been wondering what happened to Daniel after he was injured in the line of duty, you’ll be able to find out on October 28th. Cherish is a novella-length sequel, not a companion or alternate POV story.

If you adore second-chance romances, Cherish is for you.

Title: Cherish (Covet, #1.5)
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance

Add Cherish on Goodreads

Fans of Covet by New York Times bestselling author Tracey Garvis Graves will be delighted by this novella-length sequel.

Synopsis

When Daniel Rush wakes up in the hospital after suffering a gunshot wound to the head, the last person he expects to see at his bedside is his ex-wife Jessica. Their marriage disintegrated after the death of their infant son Gabriel, and Daniel gave Jessie what he thought she wanted: the freedom to start over with someone else. But Daniel never updated his emergency contact information, and Jessie is the one who receives the call with the devastating news.

Daniel was Jessie’s one true love. Together since college, Jessie had dreams of raising a family with Daniel, and growing old together. When Gabriel died, Jessie buried those dreams with her beloved son and shut everyone out, including Daniel.

Daniel faces months of grueling rehabilitation and he’s going to need some help. Jessie is the last person anyone expects to volunteer, but this is her one chance to make amends, giving her and Daniel a shot at getting things right this time.

The road to recovery will be long and arduous. But with Jessie leading the way, Daniel just might be able to get his old life back.

Daniel knows how to covet. But can Jessie help him remember how to cherish?

*Please note that this is a novella-length sequel. Reading Covet before Cherish is highly recommended in order to enhance your reading pleasure.

Pre-Order

Would you like to pre-order Cherish? Simply click on the highlighted link below. Pre-order links for additional retailers will be coming soon, and I’ll post them as soon as they become available.

Pre-Order Cherish at Amazon

Read Covet, to see where Daniel’s story begins

What Have I Been Reading Lately?

I’ve spent a lot of the last year in a major reading slump. My preferences in contemporary romance have not been aligning well with the current trends, which always leaves me in a bit of a funk. Consequently, I’ve been reading more women’s fiction (which I’ve always read and loved) and literary fiction.

I’m sharing these titles with you today because I enjoyed all of these books. But I urge you to download a sample first to see if the book is something you’d like. My recommendations are completely subjective and are based on my own personal preferences.

1. It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

Julie James goodreads cover image

When it comes to romance, I prefer older characters (30s or 40s), conflict over angst, heroines who are level-headed, and heroes who are smart, chivalrous, and preferably wearing a suit. This book certainly fit the bill. It’s part of a series, but each book can be read as a stand-alone.

2. The Unexpected Waltz by Kim Wright

the unexpected waltz

I read (and loved) Kim Wright’s debut novel, Love in Mid Air. The Unexpected Waltz features one of the characters from Love in Mid Air but can be read as a stand-alone novel. I loved this story of a middle-aged widow who embarks on a re-awakening through her love of ballroom dancing.

3. Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Your Perfect Life

If you’re looking for the perfect beach read, your search is over. I love how fresh Liz and Lisa made the premise of switching bodies in this highly relatable and often poignant novel. This is women’s fiction at its best.

4. The Vacationers by Emma Straub

the vacationers

The Vacationers is a book I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy. The reviews were quite mixed, which is why I always download the sample first. I’m so glad I did because I discovered this book was exactly what I was looking for. It’s about a family who goes on vacation for two weeks in Mallorca. It’s literary women’s fiction, and not only is it beautifully written, it’s one of those books where the setting is so vibrant you feel like you’re right there with the characters.

5. Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park

flat out celeste

No one writes snappy, sparkling, and intelligent dialogue like Jessica Park. No one. And if you’re already a fan of Celeste after meeting her in Flat-Out Love, you will love her even more in this full-length novel. And Celeste + Justin = simply adorable. I also flat-out love (see what I did there?) that this book explores first love in such a sweet and innocent fashion.

6. All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

all fall down

There is something so incredibly addictive about the way Jennifer Weiner tells a story. I’ve been a longtime fan and before I switched to an e-reader I used to love picking up Jennifer’s latest book at Target. All Fall Down tells the very troubling tale of a wife and mother who is addicted to prescription painkillers. It’s heartbreaking to follow the main character down the rabbit hole of addiction, but it’s an honest and eye-opening journey.

7. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

fangirl

This book blew me away. Frankly, I was not sure I’d connect with it because of my tendency to gravitate toward older characters, but Cath and Levi stole my heart and I really enjoyed the fact that their relationship developed slowly. Cath is a twin and I’m a twin, so I know a little bit about wanting to find your own identity. Rainbow Rowell also showed me how powerful a single POV can be. I did not need to know what was going on in Levi’s head, because Rainbow showed me via his dialogue and action. As a reader, I love discovering the nuanced character development that unfolds when a story is told this way. And just like Flat-Out Celeste, Fangirl has a romance that is sweet, innocent, and just as awkward as first love tends to be.

8. The Unimaginable by Dina Silver

The unimaginable

Dare I be so bold as to predict that this book will put Dina Silver on the map? Because I am. Dina is already the author of three delightful books, but The Unimaginable is her most ambitious novel yet. Do you want to know why I loved it? It’s got romance, action and adventure, and one of the most powerful endings I’ve ever read. And it’s different. Frankly, if there’s one thing readers seem to be clamoring for right now, it’s a book that stands out in a crowd. This one does.

9. The Player by Brad Parks

the player

My step-mom actually introduced me to the Carter Ross mysteries because she knew my main character in Every Time I Think of You was a newspaper reporter and so is Carter Ross, the main character in this series. I’ve read all five of the Carter Ross mysteries (they can all be read as stand-alone novels) and have enjoyed them immensely. Brooks McClain, the reporter in my book, is quite serious. Carter Ross, however, is hilarious. He’s also highly likeable, very resourceful, and super entertaining. And in The Player, I finally got something I’ve been waiting for for a long time. I can’t tell you what it is, but if you read all five books you’ll know what I mean.

10. Last (but certainly not least) This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

this is where i leave you

I know I’ve already professed my love for this book on my Facebook author page, but consider its inclusion on this list as just another testament to how much I enjoyed this book. This is what happens when excellent writing is combined with an engaging story. Jonathan Tropper writes in such a way that I totally “get” what he’s trying to say without him having to explain it. To me, that’s an example of perfect word choice. The narrator of the story doesn’t go on for pages, telling me what he means with inner dialogue. He shows me what he means. And I will go on record as saying that I’m a happily-ever-after, plot-threads-mostly-tied-up-kind of girl. But this story is a bit more open-ended. And I was totally cool with that. Am I dying to know what the outcome would have been for a few of the plot points? Yes. Will I pester Jonathan Tropper for the answers? No. (Maybe). No.

And in case you didn’t know, this book will be making its way to the big screen very soon. I cannot wait to see it!

So tell me, what have you been reading lately?

 

The Paperback Of Every Time I Think of You Is Now Up For Pre-Order

Happy Friday, everyone!

I am excited to announce that the Amazon pre-order link for the trade paperback edition of Every Time I Think of You is now available. If you type the title into Amazon’s search bar you will see a page that looks like this (you can click on this picture to make it larger):

Kindle page with arrows for blog post

As you can see, I’ve added some handy arrows. Under the words ‘Kindle Edition’ you will also see ‘Paperback.’ Now you can purchase whichever edition you prefer (on Amazon, not this blog post).

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could purchase the paperback and then get a discount on the e-book, so you could have both? With Amazon’s Kindle Matchbook program, you can! Look at the arrow just to the right of the cover image. If you purchase the paperback, you can buy the e-book for only $1.99. And if you’d like, you can mail that paperback to me at Tracey Garvis Graves, P.O. Box 71694, Clive, Iowa 50325. I’ll be happy to sign it and mail it back to you (along with a cute little bookmark). For information on how the Kindle Matchbook program works, click here (you’ll want to make sure you’re logged in to your Amazon account).

Would you like to pre-order the Kindle or Paperback version of Every Time I Think of You? Please click here.

More pre-order links and book news to follow soon. Please stop by on Monday, August 4th, when I’ll be revealing the cover for Cherish, my novella-length sequel to Covet!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Tracey