By day, Tracey Devlyn is a Human Resources manager helping solve employee relation issues. By night, she writes historical romances in which she puts her characters in tough situations requiring her to come to their rescue.
Tracey began writing stories set in the Regency period but has recently tiptoed into the Victorian era. Her short story, His Secret Desire, with The Wild Rose Press in their English Tea Rose line, was released in July 2007. One of her full-length Regency romances, A Lady’s Revenge, is a current entry in America’s Next Best Celler Contest.
Tracey is co-founder of the awesome new blog, Romance University, along with Adrienne Giordano and Kelsey Browning. Three times a week, writers can find insightful posts that will help build their careers and hone their craft, learn more about their favorite authors, and open a window into the male psyche.
The Chicago suburbs are home to Tracey, her supportive hubby and her boxer/husky mix puppy. She loves exploring the natural wonders of the Chicago area, but she’s not fond of the cold winters. When not working or writing, Tracey likes to ride her motorcycle, garden and travel. She’s learning piano and does her best not to torture her instructor too badly.
Join me as we learn more about Tracey and her writing journey.
Tracey’s Journey Begins
•When and how did the desire to write romance come upon you?
Hi, Keli! Thank you so much for having me. After nearly a decade of reading romances (2-3 per week), I started visualizing different endings and wishing for more “gritty” reactions from the characters. About three years ago, I finally mustered up enough confidence to start researching what it takes to write a book. I picked up Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies by Leslie Wainger and read it from cover to cover. I went through three highlighters while reading that book.
•Why Regency and Victorian Romance? And is it true you add spice to yours with some suspense?
I’ve always loved history and gravitated to historical romances as a reader. I enjoyed escaping to another time and place and did so through hundreds, if not thousands, of books. I like reading all time periods, but the Regency (and Victorian) era seems to fit my writing voice the best. Plus, the early 1800s was a time of great transformation from the Georgian period. Boundaries tightened considerably. What was acceptable a decade earlier could ruin a young lady during Prinny’s “reign.” For me, boundaries are like a great red, Matador’s cape billowing before my crazed writer’s eye. I love to sock an unexpected, rule-breaking twist into my stories. I want readers to cry out, “That’s not supposed to happen!” and then turn the page to see what happens next.
Yes, I do add a suspense element to my plots. My writing leans toward the edgier side, so adding a layer of suspense helps me stay true to both my voice and what readers expect of a Regency romance. Minus the shocking surprise.
•What comes to you first? Certain characters? An amazing opening scene? Perplexing plot twists?
Actually, two things come to me at one time–a rule-breaking plot twist that involves one of my characters. I wrap the rest of the story around that one moment in time.
•July 2007 surely stands out in your mind. Your first short story was published. What’s the story behind the story? What were the steps between idea and publication?
July 2007 was definitely a highlight for me. In May that year, I finished the first draft of my first manuscript and decided to follow the advice of a few writer friends by setting it aside for a couple weeks before editing. During those two weeks, I wrote His Secret Desire. I sent it off to The Wild Rose Press and they offered me a contract. I cannot adequately express to you the level of surprise and elation I felt while reading my editor’s email. When I saw my cover for the first time, tears sprang to my eyes.
Selling my short story to TWRP allowed me to go through every step (except holding my book in my hand) of the publishing process–edits, cover, galleys, release day–on a micro level. It was an awesome experience and it helped quell some of my fears I had about the unknown.
•You’re currently in the midst of a big undertaking, America’s Next Best Celler contest. Please tell us more about this and what you’re learning from the experience.
Dorchester Publishing and Textnovel.com partnered together to create America’s Next Best Celler contest. This unique opportunity allows aspiring authors to link their social networking skills with their writing ambitions. Romance writers can compete for a chance to have their 50,000 – 75,000 word manuscript published by Dorchester. Between June 1 – November 1, 2009, contestants must post 20 chapters (approximately 500 words each) on Textnovel.com.
I’ve entered A Lady’s Revenge in this contest. Finding just the right place to end my mini chapter each time I post is helping me hone my ability to spot great ending hooks. I get so excited every time I receive an email telling me someone voted for my story. I love finding unique opportunities like America’s Next Best Celler that help writers stretch and strengthen their creative side.
Folks can find more information about this contest and A Lady’s Revenge at this link: http://www.textnovel.com/contest.php.
•May 18, 2009 was a big day for you. Romance University officially launched with a great post by my Sacramento Valley Rose chapter mate Brenda Novak. How did this awesome blog come into being? What kind of information can visitors expect to find?
Ah, you picked one of my favorite subjects to highlight. Romance University (RU) is a blog dedicated to helping writers establish and advance their careers, introducing readers to a variety of authors, and delving into the ever-inscrutable male mind.
My two blogmates (Adrienne Giordano and Kelsey Browning) and I started throwing around the idea of a blog in December of 2008. Our goal all along centered around education. And, if you jump on our site, you’ll notice everything is geared toward that one common goal. Even on our fun day, Anatomy of the Male Mind, we’re focused on helping women to better understand men.
As you mentioned, the blog launched on May 18, 2009 and we’ve been very pleased by all the support from our readers and guest bloggers (visiting professors). Each lecture offered is generously donated by our visiting professors. RU is a tuition-free campus. 🙂
For anyone interested in attending one of our lectures, here’s a schedule of weekly topics we explore.
Mondays (Crafting Your Career)
Business side of writing
Wednesdays (Anatomy of the Male Mind)
Exploring the differences between men and women
Fridays (Chaos Theory of Writing)
Craft side of writing
Empower Writers ~ Entertain Readers ~ Understand Men
•What do you do on those days when getting words on the page is more of a challenge than getting through a day without coffee or chocolate?
I really don’t have a set routine for getting over the hump. Sometimes I stare at the screen until inspiration hits, or I might re-read the previous sentence a dozen times until the next one magically materializes. And sometimes I walk away for a few minutes. Right now, when I need to regroup, I’ll take my puppy outside and throw his toy around. I’ll have to come up with a different plan for this winter. 🙂
•Are you a go-with-the-flow writer, or do you have a plan in place before you begin a story?
A little of both. I begin with a plan, but around the third chapter I become a go-with-the-flow writer. My characters start out one-dimensional to me. I might know their physical characteristics and some of their likes and dislikes, but I don’t really know them in the beginning. As my characters become more three-dimensional, so does my (or is it theirs?) story. New and interesting turns always present themselves as I write, so I jump on board and enjoy the ride.
Tracey’s Journey Continues
•What are you working on now, and what project is calling after that?
I’m working on my first Victorian novel. It will be book one in a four book series. I’m really excited about the concept and can’t wait to see how it all comes together.
Tracey’s Question for You
•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Tracey. Thanks for your great answers to my questions. And now it’s your turn to ask your visitors a question. Have at it!
Thank you so much for having me!
How many folks have written a short story (or considered doing so)?
To leave a comment, click on “Comments” below the date in the title at the top of the post.
Learn More About Tracey
Visit her Web site – http://www.traceydevlyn.com
Visit her group blog – Romance University
Visit her personal blog – http://traceydevlyn.blogspot.com
Friend her on Facebook – Tracey Devlyn
Follow her on Twitter – TraceyDevlyn
Leave a Comment for Three Chances to Win
To leave a comment, click on “Comments” below the date in the title at the top of the post.
Tracey has generously offered to give away a copy of her short story, His Secret Desire, to one lucky visitor.
To enter the drawing, leave a comment for Tracey by midnight Pacific Time on August 28th and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On August 29th, I’ll post the winner’s name here.
Congratulations to Leann Holland, winner of His Secret Desire.
Keli’s Regular Drawing
My next drawing will take place August 31st. The winner will receive a cute tote just the right size for a beach read, sunscreen and a soda.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by August 31st and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On September 1st, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.
You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!
If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and August 31st. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.
On September 1st, I will choose one person who will have her/his choice of several covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your debut novel in your hands.
(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)