Today, I have the pleasure of having Author Traci Wooden–Carisle on my blog. Please welcome Traci.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in sunny San Diego, CA with my husband. I moved here fifteen years ago for a job and met my husband two weeks later. I grew up dancing and writing and still love to do both. Music has always been a friend. It soothed and comforted me before I surrendered to God’s beckoning. I write Christian Women’s Fiction, Christian Contemporary Fiction and Christian Romantic Suspense. I love the challenge of the different genres but most of all I love writing with the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing I am either creating graphics for churches or creating jewelry or swag for my online business. When I am not working I like spending time with my husband watching movies or working out with friends.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I have been writing since I was eight. I had a problem with my sight when I was six that was misdiagnosed as a learning disorder, but with the extra attention I was reading at the ninth-grade level by the time I was eight. Once my eyesight issues were addressed, I read anything I could get my hands on and when I ran out of books I would write stories to myself.
Despite my love for books it took me another thirty years to start writing to publish. It was always a goal of mine and with God’s help I was able to see it accomplished a month before my fortieth. My relationship with God has a huge influence on my writing because my goal is to express His message in the best way possible.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I would say the first genre I wrote in chose me. I had no idea what genre I was writing for until after I finished the book. I was published by a small publishing house and until I took over the promotions and marketing, I had no clue. I just wanted to tell the story that was in my heart.
A few years ago I joined a few authors in a multi-author romantic suspense branded series. I love reading romantic suspense and I wanted to challenge and stretch my skills by writing in that genre. Last year I wrote my first for-market Christian Contemporary romance and I like the lightness of the story after finishing the third book in my much heavier Promises to Zion series.
Where do you get your ideas?
Some ideas come from my childhood and the experiences I survived. Other ideas come from people watching, short stories I started when I was young, and conversations I’ve had with my husband. He is great at feeling out plots.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I don’t think I have. Sometimes I feel less motivated to write, but I try to stay on a schedule so I will write out a scene I would like to see happen between certain characters. The scene isn’t always relevant by the time I get to the place it fits in the story but I can usually use the stream of thought going on in the conversation for further my story.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I love just writing, but once I get to the second book in the series I need to have an outline so I will highlight descriptions, jobs, hobbies and idiosyncrasies of my characters while I write the first draft of the first book so I can easily go back to them for the rest of the books in the series.
I do loose outlines for my romantic suspense books because I write for a town shared by other authors and I need to make sure I remember secrets I set clues up for at the beginning of the story.
Is there any author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Gosh, there are so many. The first book I remember listening to was “Island of the Blue Dolphins”. I believe that book planted the writing seed in me. I wanted to be able to write descriptively enough to give people a clear picture of what my imagination could create.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I wrote a book of poetry comprised of a number of poems I wrote as a form of communication with the Holy Spirit. I wrote it out of obedience but had no idea of how to get it published so I set it aside for ten years until the opportunity came along. By that time I was in the middle of my first novel and the publisher loved both pieces so they were published a year apart and sat waiting for someone to buy until I took back the rights and researched how to market them myself.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I have had such a challenge with editors for my books. If I knew then what I know now, I would have saved the money for a more professional editor.
How do you market your work?
I do a lot of marketing through my newsletters, and utilizing resources from author groups. I mention other author’s books who write in the same genre I do in some of my newsletters and they do the same for me. Depending on the size of their newsletter I gain readers who may not have discovered my books as easily.
What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Recently, I have been taking Facebook and Bookbub ad classes and the different changes in targets, colors and sizes have made a difference in my sales. I will also use paid promotional sites for recently released books and books I place on sale. I’ve had great success with MyBookCave.com, Faithfulreads.com, Spiritfilledebooks.com, Christianbookheaven.com and Gospelebooks.net.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I am an indie author now so I have not experienced that since trying to publish my book of poetry.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
My upcoming book is an off-shoot from the Promise to Zion series. This story could be considered a prequel except it does slightly overlap the timeline of the first book in the series “My Beauty for Your Ashes”. It tells the story of two of the secondary characters in the series, Marcus Miller and Melanie Morganson Miller. The idea of the book came to me while I was writing “My Garment of Praise for Your Spirit of Heaviness”, the third book in the Promises to Zion series. I found myself intrigued with Melanie and I wanted to get to know her better. I think those who read the third book in the series will feel the same.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
In my current W.I.P. no, but the Promise to Zion series was loosely inspired by my childhood. This series is the gift and treasure formed out of the perseverance of hope in dark situations.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I have a few scenes I really like for different reason in “My Beauty for Your Ashes”.
There is one very intense scene for Victoria (who I loved to write about because I found her antics cathartic). Then there is almost every scene Paige is in because of the way she looks at life and her relationship with God.
Elder Paige Morganson sharing one of the reasons she needs to acknowledge God.
“There was a time when I didn’t know, let alone acknowledged, the Creator of all of the most gorgeous treasures we have been given dominion over. You may think me a fanatic in my beliefs, but my need to acknowledge and give thanks to God for all of the wonderful things I have experienced today is essential to me. Being able to thank Him is what makes the turning of the leaves, colors of the different stone structures, the sunset and your lake, that more glorious to me.”
How did you come up with the title?
I think I was in the middle of my first book. I was in the shower, where I seem to get a lot of ideas, (shrug). The scripture Isaiah 61:3 came to me. “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
It has carried me through my entire series. It revealed to me parts of my books even after I wrote them. It has been an amazing experience.
Will you have a new book coming out soon?
“Stolen Promises: Marc and Melanie” is due to be released in March.
Author web links: