Today’s spotlight has found author Tracy Lawson, twirling her way through to her next great book. But don’t let the dainty shoes fool you, this dancer has the heart of a lion, and the smarts of a master detective. Without further ado, here’s…Tracy!
Why don’t you tell a little about yourself?
I’m a dance teacher and choreographer-turned author. Writing has been my main focus for about four years now, but writing and choreography have a lot in common. I’m married, with one twenty-one year old daughter and two spoiled cats. I split my time between Dallas TX and Columbus, Ohio.
How did you get started writing:
I always wanted to be an author, from the time I could read. I had the idea for my first book many years ago, and worked on it whenever I had time, between work and raising a child and all the other things in life that take priority. That book was a non-fiction history, based on a journal written by my great-great-great grandfather in 1838. It required a ton of research. Looking back, I could have finished it in about a quarter of the time if I’d had the internet when I started the project!
What writers have influenced you?
I took creative writing from Daniel Keyes, the author of Flowers for Algernon, when I was in college at Ohio University. I learned so much from him. I’m also influenced by a number of middle-grade and YA authors, like Roland Smith, Margaret Peterson Haddix, John Green, Cory Doctorow, and of course, inspired by JK Rowling.
Tell us a bit about your book.
Ignite: Book Three of the Resistance Series continues the story of Tommy Bailey and Careen Catecher, who met during a terrorist attack and discovered a conspiracy that could destroy the country. Here’s a summary of the books thus far:
QUICK SUMMARY OF COUNTERACT: BOOK ONE OF THE RESISTANCE SERIES:
The Resistance Series takes place in a near-future version of the United States. The powerful Office of Civilian Safety and Defense has enacted a long list of Civilian Restrictions designed to keep the people safe from frequent terrorist attacks, but it hasn’t worked: as the story opens, the threat of a chemical weapons attack is literally hanging over everyone’s heads.
Careen takes the OCSD’s offered antidote, but the side effects cause her to hallucinate. Her erratic behavior attracts the attention of a young law enforcement officer, who mistakenly pegs her as a dissident. Careen doesn’t realize the antidote is causing her confusion…until she runs out on the day of the anticipated attack.
Tommy, recuperating from injuries sustained in a recent auto accident, is unaware that there’s a link between that accident, which killed his parents, and the chemical weapons attack that threatens him now. When he discovers that working out before he takes his dose of the antidote helps him feel more like himself, he defies the rules to regain his strength and his sanity. On the day of the attack, he meets Careen, who just might be the girl of his dreams, and tries to save her by sharing his last dose of the antidote, even though doing so could potentially hasten his own death.
What Careen and Tommy learn about the true nature of the terrorist threat spurs them to take action; their decisions lead them to run afoul of local law enforcement, team up with an underground resistance group, and ultimately take their quest for the truth to the highest reaches of the United States government.
QUICK SUMMARY OF RESIST: BOOK TWO OF THE RESISTANCE SERIES
In Resist, the second volume in the Resistance Series, Tommy and Careen are no longer naïve, frightened teenagers who believe the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense can protect them from terrorist attacks. They’ve discovered the OCSD’s miracle antidote’s true purpose: to create a population bereft of free will, incapable of defying the tyrannical OCSD. They join the Resistance, but on their first mission, things spin out of control and soon they’re on the run, dodging the quadrant marshals in a headlong dash for the Resistance’s secret headquarters.
Being part of the Resistance presents them with new challenges. Not everyone working for change will prove trustworthy, and plans to spark revolution go awry with consequences greater than they could’ve imagined. Tommy and Careen’s relationship is tested when their philosophical differences and the pressures of interpersonal rivalries and jealousy put a strain on their romance. Can they make time for each other while trying to start a revolution?
QUICK SUMMARY OF IGNITE: BOOK THREE OF THE RESISTANCE SERIES:
Nationwide food shortages have sparked civil unrest, and the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense’s hold on the people is slipping. The Resistance’s efforts to hasten the OCSD’s demise have resulted in disaster, with Tommy Bailey and Careen Catecher taking the blame for the ill-fated mission in OP-439.
Both teens struggle to survive the circumstances that force them into the national spotlight—and this time, they’re on opposite sides. On the run and exiled from the Resistance members in BG-098, Tommy makes his way to a Resistance safe house in the capital.
The OCSD is preparing to monitor all under-eighteens with the Cerberean Link, a device that protects them against hunger and sickness and can even locate them if they’re lost. Tommy’s now living in close quarters with Atari, an operative who has been assigned to sabotage the Link. But does Atari plan to use it for his own purposes?
Through it all, Tommy refuses to believe Careen’s loyalties have shifted away from the Resistance, and he’s willing to assume any risk to reconnect with her. Will they be able to trust each other when it matters most?
How are the titles significant?
The titles of each of the books in the Resistance Series are action verbs. I did this deliberately, and for two reasons. First, I wanted to convey the message that the books were action-packed. Second, my daughter and her best guy friend from high school are named Keri and Chase. We referred to them as The Verbs. Since they’ve both been involved in the process of writing and producing the books, it was a subtle tip of the cap to my two favorite Verbs.
Tell us about the characters:
Tommy Bailey and Careen Catecher grew up in very different situations. His home life was stable and secure. He was raised by loving parents and was a star athlete in high school. All that changed in the blink of an eye the summer after graduation. His parents were killed in a car accident. Tommy suffered grievous injuries that left him unsure if he’d be able to walk normally again. His friends all left for university without him. Alone for the first time, he wallowed in self-pity and allowed survivor’s guilt to overwhelm him. As the story opens, he’s just beginning to see progress in his physical therapy.
Careen lost her father in a terrorist attack at the age of nine. Her relationship with her irresponsible mother deteriorated during her teen years. She focused on her schoolwork, landed a full scholarship to a prestigious university, and looked forward to starting over with a clean slate.
But in late October, the imminent threat of a chemical weapons attack derails both teens from their goals. They take a government-mandated antidote to protect themselves from the effects of the poison. Neither considers stopping, even when strange things begin to happen.
How did you come up with them?
I have Chase to thank for creating Tommy. Chase is a pretty sharp guy and an excellent writer—and when he was in high school I had a lot of fun editing his short stories. We had just finished working on one about baseball, a broken nose, and a broken heart, and were ready to start something new, when he suggested we write scenes in response to the prompt: “What if everyone was on LSD and all thoughts were communal?” Well, it was certainly thought-provoking! Chase wrote scenes in which he introduced the characters Tommy and Eduardo, and I created Careen. Right away, we knew we were onto something. The story morphed and changed a lot before it became the finished version of Counteract, but that’s how it all began.
Who do you think would like your story?
Readers who enjoy fast-paced adventure stories and dystopian tales will like Counteract, Resist, and Ignite. My books are written for teenagers, but I’ve had many adults tell me how much they enjoy the books, too.
What is the message you’re trying to get across?
My first priority is to tell an exciting story and entertain my readers. But the books have a clear message: this is what could happen if we surrender personal freedoms in exchange for the illusion of security. This is what can happen if we let others decide what’s in our best interest.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I work part of the year doing choreography for middle and high school musicals. Writing takes a back seat when I’m in the middle of show season. Currently, I’m in writing season—so I’m writing and marketing my books full-time until next September, when I’ll be back in the theater again.
Do you work with an outline of your plot or do you prefer seeing where an idea takes you?
I create an outline for my fiction, but my characters often say and do things I wasn’t expecting. The first time that happened, I was struggling to write a scene in which Tommy and Careen have a disagreement. I ended up having the disagreement with Careen! All this took place inside my head, which was very weird, but now it happens so often I’m used to it! Careen insisted that what I’d written was not what she would do or say in that particular situation. I countered with my well-planned outline and suggested we stick to the script. Careen’s strong-willed nature won out when she told me what she would say—and had to concede that hers was the better choice! Once I made the changes, the scene flowed well and I made rapid progress. Now when one of my characters has suggestions, I pay attention!
How to you go about editing?
The books usually go through two or three drafts before I send them to my independent editor. Susan corrects my grammar and structure issues and offers suggestions about how to strengthen the story or trim scenes that run long. I trust her and am so happy to have her working with me.
Where did you find your cover artist?
I found my cover artist through a blog post. The blogger listed affordable cover artists who had won awards designing for independent authors. I checked out Dane at eBookLaunch.com, and loved his work. He has created all three covers in the Resistance Series.
How did you go about getting published?
I actually had a contract with a small publisher. I thought that was what I wanted, because I’d never worked in the business before and I had no idea how to market my books. I thought it would be better to have someone in my corner who knew what to do. It turned out I was responsible for about 90% of the book marketing anyway! Between the release of the first and the second books, my publisher fell ill, and all of us authors with books in the pipeline found our release dates getting pushed back…and back…and back. Finally, I asked to be released from my contract, and said I’d bring out Resist myself. I’ve been indie for about a year, and I’m so glad it worked out this way.
How do you go about promoting your book?
That’s the sticking point for every indie author, isn’t it? I maintain an active social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but I have learned not to count on those platforms to drive sales. I have a publicist and a marketing coach who have shown me other ways, like through a subscriber email list, that I can reach out to my potential market. The thing I love best is live events. I wish I could do a book festival or a school visit every day. I meet lots of people who turn into fans at live appearances.
Is there something you wish someone had told you?
I wish someone had told me how hard I’d have to work at marketing. I spend much more time marketing than I do writing. If I had a choice, I’d prefer to focus 80-90% of my time on writing, but it’s actually more like 40% right now.
Advice for authors?
Don’t be afraid to try self-publishing. Know that you’re going to be responsible for marketing your book. The world will not beat a path to your door, even if your book is spectacular! Also know that having more books in a series makes it easier to attract readers.
Future writing plans?
I’m working on Revolt: Book Four of the Resistance Series, which I believe will be the final volume in Tommy and Careen’s story. I have a YA historical fiction project I’d like to get going on, as well as the germ of an idea for a new YA series. I’ve also got another non-fiction history book that’s just about ready to go to the publisher. (I have a publisher for my nonfiction books). I’ve got enough ideas to keep me going for the next 6-10 years, and it feels great.
Ignite hit #1 on the Hot New Release chart on Amazon, in the Dystopian Sci-Fi category, and to celebrate the first two books in the series are on sale for .99 until the end of the month!
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Website and blog: http://tracylawsonbooks.com
Resistance Series Website and blog: http://counteractbook.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00E84PQMG
Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1935778196